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Featuring 336 Industry-First Reviews of Fiction, Nonfiction and Children's & Teen

KIRKUS VOL. LXXXI, NO.

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REVIEWS FICTION

Sebastian Faulks brings back a classic. p. 20

NONFICTION

Johnny Cash

In celebration of 80 years, we remember the storied history of Kirkus Reviews and the dynamic life of Virginia Kirkus. p. 4

by Robert Hilburn An instant-classic music biography with something to offer all generations p. 60

CHILDREN'S & TEEN

Backward Glass

by David Lomax A complex mystery combines time travel with paranormal elements. p. 104

INDIE

Lessons Learned Indie best-seller Tracey Garvis Graves goes traditional. p. 142


Meet Virginia B Y C la i b orne

Smi t h

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

To learn anything substantive about Virginia Kirkus, you must get yourself to Laramie, Wyo. That’s where the University of Wyoming houses its teepeeshaped American Heritage Center, which has a collecting niche in the archives of people who are crucial in the history of American publishing. There, under call number 10953 and in a section of the library occupying exactly 2.35 cubic feet (in impersonal library-speak), are the papers of a woman who had done something no one had ever accomplished before. Diplomatic, tireless, savvy, with a smile that lit up her entire face, Kirkus managed, in 1933, to convince a bunch of men far more powerful than she was that they should routinely send her galley proofs six to eight weeks before booksellers and readers had their hands on a book’s final copy. They weren’t always happy to oblige. The media and booksellers take bound galleys as a given nowadays, but what Kirkus asked for would end up revolutionizing the relationship among publishers and booksellers, libraries, the film industry and the media that cover books. She didn’t ask for the galleys just so she could read a bunch of books: A former editor at Harper & Brothers (now HarperCollins), living at a time when most book criticism was too genteel to serve any useful purpose, she had seen firsthand that booksellers and librarians were adrift when it came to deciding which books would do well. Reading her letters from the early 1930s, when she was hopeful, confident and a little fearful, I found a woman who had a vision and the courage (it might have been called effrontery by some at the time) to persist until her idea became reality. There are many traditions Kirkus established that, 80 years later, we continue. From our first year, the “bulletin” has been delivered to subscribers twice a month (we now call it a magazine). As you’ll see in the article about Kirkus’ life beginning on Page 4, Kirkus Reviews has had a number of owners during its 80 years. But one crucial thing has stayed the same. Close to her retirement, Kirkus wrote an article that laid out the questions she asked of any book she was reviewing: Does the author succeed at what he or she set out to do? Does the publisher? Who’s going to buy the book? We’re still answering those questions in reviews that aren’t just dry reports, but are engaging to read. And we feel just like she did when she wrote, “We are idealists. We love books.”

for more re vi e ws and f eatures, vi si t u s on l i n e at kirkus.com.

Editor E L A I N E S Z E WC Z Y K eszewczyk@kirkus.com Managing/Nonfiction Editor E R I C L I E B E T R AU eliebetrau@kirkus.com Children’s & Teen Editor VICKY SMITH vsmith@kirkus.com Features Editor C laiborne S mith csmith@kirkus.com Mysteries Editor THOMAS LEITCH Contributing Editor G R E G O RY M c N A M E E Senior Indie Editor KAREN SCHECHNER kschechner@kirkus.com Indie Editor RYA N L E A H E Y rleahey@kirkus.com Indie Editor D avid R a p p drapp@kirkus.com Assistant Indie Editor M AT T D O M I N O mdomino@kirkus.com Editorial Assistant CHELSEA LANGFORD clangford@kirkus.com Copy Editor BETSY JUDKINS Director of Kirkus Editorial P E R RY C RO W E pcrowe@kirkus.com Director of Technology E R I K S M A RT T esmartt@kirkus.com Marketing Communications Director SARAH KALINA skalina@kirkus.com Marketing Associate A rden Piacenza apiacenza@kirkus.com Advertising/Client Promotions A nna C oo p er acooper@kirkus.com Designer ALEX HEAD #

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This Issue’s Contributors

Maude Adjarian • Mark Athitakis • Michael Autrey • Joseph Barbato • Adam benShea • Amy Boaz • Hamilton Cain • Lee E. Cart • Perry Crowe • Dave DeChristopher • Kathleen Devereaux • Bobbi Dumas • Daniel Dyer • Julie Foster • Peter Franck • Bob Garber • Megan Honig • Robert M. Knight • Christina M. Kratzner • Paul Lamey • Louise Leetch • Judith Leitch • Peter Lewis • Elsbeth Lindner • Georgia Lowe • Don McLeese • Gregory McNamee • Chris Messick • Carole Moore • Clayton Moore • Mike Newirth • John Noffsinger • Mike Oppenheim • Christofer D. Pierson • William E. Pike • Gary Presley • Lloyd Sachs • Leslie Safford • Bob Sanchez • Michael Sandlin • Rosanne Simeone • Linda Simon • Elaine Sioufi • Arthur Smith • Wendy Smith • Margot E. Spangenberg • Matthew Tiffany • Claire Trazenfeld • Steve Weinberg • Rodney Welch • Carol White • Chris White • Joan Wilentz Cover and Special Feature photos courtesy Virginia Kirkus Collection, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming


you can now purchase books online at kirkus.com

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

special feature On our 80th anniversary, we remember the storied history of Kirkus Reviews and the dynamic life of Virginia Kirkus.................................................................................4

fiction Index to Starred Reviews.......................................................... 13 REVIEWS............................................................................................... 13 Evolution gets personal in Lauren Grodstein’s new novel.........................................................................................22 Mystery.............................................................................................. 37 Science Fiction & Fantasy..........................................................41 Romance........................................................................................... 44

nonfiction Index to Starred Reviews..........................................................47 REVIEWS...............................................................................................47 Sheri Fink’s harrowing investigation of Hurricane Katrina.......................................................................62

children’s & teen Index to Starred Reviews..........................................................75 REVIEWS.............................................................................................. 76 Brian Floca breathes new life into an old story........92 interactive e-books.................................................................. 129 continuing series.......................................................................133

indie Index to Starred Reviews.........................................................135

Kazu Kibuishi presents seven graphic tales of great stylistic diversity but equally stellar execution, unified by island settings. Read the review on p. 100.

REVIEWS..............................................................................................135 Tracey Garvis Graves employs her indie success wisely.............................................................................. 142 |

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v i s i o n, i d e a l s and persistence On our 80th anniversary, we remember the storied history of Kirkus Reviews and the dynamic life of Virginia Kirkus By Claiborne Smith

Virginia Kirkus

In January 1933—the same month the Ford Motor Company laid off 100,000 workers and a record 242 U.S. banks failed—Virginia Kirkus started a business, the Virginia Kirkus Bookshop Service, that she was advised to file under “Pipe Dreams” by 24 of the 25 people she asked for advice. “If I had to sell the Service to regular bookstores by mail, I’d fast and pray for a few days (because I think it is a damn tough job),” one friend replied to her. “Virginia, selling gold bricks by mail would be much easier.” For as long as she lived, Virginia Kirkus told everyone that the idea for the Virginia Kirkus Bookshop Service came to her in the middle of the night. There’s no reason not to believe her, but the epiphany had been a 4

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long time coming. It reached her, she said, fully formed, aboard a ship returning to New York from Germany, where she went for eight weeks in the summer of 1932 to visit her parents; her father was an Episcopal minister serving at the American Church in Munich. Just before she set sail for Germany, Kirkus was told by her bosses at Harper & Brothers (now HarperCollins) that in six months’ time, not only her job as the head of the Department of Books for Boys and Girls, but the entire department would be “laid upon the shelf,” as she put it, at least temporarily. “The ‘depression’ was making its impress on our sales,” she later reflected. “People were thinking that new books for children were unnecessary, while the old ones could serve.” Nevertheless, Kirkus didn’t change her travel plans (except to downgrade to tourist class). On her second night of the return voyage to America, she dreamed “so vivid a dream that it seemed to be an outline written on a blackboard.” She jotted down the bare bones of what the Service would accomplish and how. She went back to sleep. “In the morning it still looked like a good idea,” she later wrote in the Vassar alumnae magazine, “so I took the remainder of the voyage to chart my procedure, to write letters sounding out key people, and to work out details.” Although the idea for the Service blossomed that night on the ship, it had been bubbling in Kirkus’ mind for at least several years. When she directed the Department of Books for Boys and Girls, she would occasionally make trips around America visiting booksellers. “It struck me the booksellers were usually in the position of buying a pig in a poke,” she explained later in life. “They looked over all the publishers’ lists and ordered books with nothing but the publishers’ say-so to guide them in deciding which books they needed in quantity.”

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“Everything that Kirkus Reviews stands for—integrity, honesty and accessible reviews written with an insider’s eye—started with Virginia Kirkus.” What Kirkus’ article in the Vassar magazine doesn’t reveal, however, is her eye for dramatic publicity. Rather than wait until she returned home to New York to mail the 25 letters seeking the opinions of important booksellers and publishers, she decided to bring a little flair to the endeavor: When the ship was still 24 hours away from the New York harbor, she paid to have a helicopter airlift the letters. Virginia Kirkus, who was 38 at the time, was never faulted for a lack of conviction in her own ideas. Everything that Kirkus Reviews stands for— integrity, honesty and accessible reviews written with an insider’s eye—started with Virginia Kirkus. She was a persuasive, hard-charging businesswoman, a visionary who saw a need in publishing that no one before her had adequately addressed. The author of four books, she took more pride in having created Kirkus Reviews than in calling herself a published writer. In 1940, the New York Times reviewed her book A House for the Week Ends, describing her as a woman “of indomitable efficiency and zest.” “Neat, almost prim, in appearance,” Kirkus had “dark blue-gray eyes, softly bobbed gray hair, and she wears discreet little white button earrings,” one reporter wrote in 1943. She was also a polished speaker who was sought out and represented by a lecture agent for paid engagements, a rarity for women at the time. She deeply loved the publishing industry, despite the tussles she engendered and endured to make the Service happen. She saw herself less as a literary critic and more as a soothsayer, a forecaster of which books would succeed and which wouldn’t. She said many years later that the Service wouldn’t have flourished “if it hadn’t been rooted in the heartbeat of America.” In other words, she didn’t write her reviews to admire the art of her own |

writing; she wrote them to give booksellers and librarians a leg up, to let them know whether a writer had succeeded in his or her endeavor and whether anyone would actually buy the book. Nowadays, of course, galleys, the advance reading copies publishers create for booksellers and media, are bound like published books; that wasn’t the case in 1933. Kirkus wrote that the number of galleys publishers disbursed to booksellers and librarians pre-publication was “infinitesimal.” They were long scrolls that must have been bulky to read—particularly for someone like Kirkus, who bragged about reading 999 books in her first year of business and “reporting on” (as she described reviewing) all of them. Although other publishing industry magazines have longer histories than Kirkus Reviews, it was Kirkus that revolutionized the industry by fundamentally changing the relationship between publishers and the professionals who buy books. By giving booksellers, librarians and eventually the film industry an early, honest assessment of books, Kirkus

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Speed Reader

In 1937, Virginia Kirkus told the AWA Bulletin that “I’ve always been a very fast reader.” We hope so (see the sidebar revealing Kirkus Reviews’ history by the numbers). She said that running the Service had increased her reading speed but that she also read everywhere she went. She didn’t specify the year, but a stranger (who clearly worked in publishing) approached her one day in the Times Square metro station, asking her if she was Virginia Kirkus. She asked him how he knew. “I couldn’t imagine anyone else reading [a full] galley proof between 14th and 42nd streets,” he said. She averaged six to eight books on weekends. “It is claimed, you know, that most fast readers run their eye down the left hand side of a column only,” she told the AWA Bulletin. “But I don’t do that. I read diagonally. After discovering the peculiarity about myself I learned that that was the secret of Theodore Roosevelt’s omnivorous reading.” —C.S.

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gave buyers more control in the decision-making process, forever changing the balance of power and helping book buyers become more discerning. At the time, books weren’t reviewed as close to publication date as they are now because many critics didn’t have access to early galleys. And when reviews did appear, it was evident that the craft of reviewing wasn’t exactly a high art. In 1920, a writer named Burges Johnson joked about how books were assigned for review “in our average newspaper”: “Give me a book,” says the sports writer to the head office boy, who is acting literary editor. “My wife’s sick and she wants something religious.” “Sure,” says the literary editor. “Take anything off that pile. You can have it if you’ll review it.”

The Numbers, Then and Now

Kirkus Reviews’ history, told by the numbers: • In the Service’s first month, there were 10 subscribers, and Kirkus reviewed 999 books in 1933; 10 years later, there were 400 subscribers in 36 states, and the Service covered 4,000 books per year. • S  ome 300,000 books have been reviewed during the magazine’s 80 years. • T he magazine published 8,022 reviews in 2012, 21 percent more than during 2011. Kirkus is on track to increase that number in 2013 by roughly 15 percent. • In 1953, Virginia Kirkus told a Swedish newspaper that she didn’t have to read 1,000 books a year anymore, “only about 800—because I have such excellent and effective assistants to help me.” • T he Kirkus Star was first introduced in the April 1, 2000, issue. —C.S.

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“By giving booksellers, librarians and eventually the film industry an early, honest assessment of books, Kirkus gave buyers more control in the decision-making process, forever changing the balance of power and helping book buyers become more discerning. ” Professional book buyers at the time had to rely on “faith and hope,” Kirkus said, to inform their decisions. “These, plus a sixth sense that every bookseller and librarian worth her (or his) salt develops over the years—the ‘hunch’ that makes one sense what book will click and what one is predestined to flop.” Kirkus’ comment hints at the seemingly counterintuitive underpinnings of her new venture: No one at the time had a more sharply honed, albeit unscientific hunch about books than she did, and yet she sold the idea of the Service based on the belief that it would, in a way, scientifically decrease the gambling and guesswork of publishing. “Advance book buying should be put on a more scientific basis,” she insisted, and booksellers—or dealers, as they were called then—“should have access to actual readers’ reports, unbiased, based on a study of the public taste and the dealers’ needs. There should be a middleman who could provide dealers with a service of prepublication information, not connected with any agency whose bread and butter depended on selling the actual books.” That first year, she asked 20 publishers to send her galleys; all complied, and she sent her first bulletin in January 1933 to 10 subscribers (she called those early subscribers “optimists”), each of whom paid $10 a month. Why did publishers go along with her request for galleys when they weren’t accustomed to a reviewer telling the truth about a book pre-publication? It appears that most of them thought she couldn’t pull it off. Three months after the first bulletin, the business was in the black. For the first six months, she worked alone, writing all the reviews and mailing the bulletin

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While Virginia Kirkus was still running the magazine, galleys were long, scroll-like papers that made for bulky reading; she also had to return galleys to publishers after reading them.

herself; then she hired an assistant. Two years later, librarians started subscribing to the Service, and 50 publishers were submitting their galleys. One of the library subscribers justified the $25 a year he paid for the subscription by telling the library’s board of directors, “If I could get a member of the staff who never answers back, is never underfoot, gave reliable information on over 4,000 books a year and cost 50 cents a week—would you think she was overpaid?” ^ From its inception, the Virginia Kirkus Bookshop Service was a high-wire act of diplomacy. To create the Service, publishers needed to trust Kirkus with their galleys (which she had to return after reading), but bookstores and librarians expected the unvarnished truth about a book’s quality and its potential to sell. There were bound to be dust-ups. In 1935, despite all of her careful negotiations with publishers, |

a letter Kirkus wrote led to 10 publishers wanting the Service to end. Publishers Weekly referenced the fracas when they profiled her in 1943 on the Service’s 10th anniversary. If the letter were seen only in part, the article stated, “it was possible to think she had implied that publishers’ salesmen never read books and hence were not first-rate guides for buyers.” When Kirkus found out about the situation—part of her letter was circulating among publishers and being taken out of context—she immediately took charge. A sales manager warned her that some publishers wanted her to close shop but wouldn’t tell her which publishers were unhappy. Sales reps “were finding hurdles in their way if I had not recommended a book,” she later observed. At the time, 30 publishers sent her galleys, so she wrote all 30. Twenty of them told her they supported her and the Service. To the remaining 10 holdouts, she mailed the complete letter, which is when they set

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up appointments to meet with her to talk about their disagreements with the Service. At the meetings, she reiterated that she needed complete editorial control over her reviews and still needed galleys from the publishers. She couldn’t do anything about negative reviews; she wrote it as she saw it. All but one of the 10 complaining publishers came back on board. The one “rebellion,” as she put it, was a publisher named Appleton-Century. “I’d feel differently about it if you were a man,” their president told her as a parting shot. “That’s something else about which I can do nothing!” she retorted. The publisher Kirkus locked horns with most frequently was actually her former employer, Harper & Brothers, the house where she acquired the first of the Little House on the Prairie books, Little House in the Big Woods. As late as 1940, Kirkus was still standing up for the integrity of her reviews and defending the necessity of impartial pre-publication reviews. In May of that year, Kirkus was corresponding with the editor in chief of Harper, Eugene F. Saxton (a man John Tebbel calls “one of the best [editors] in trade history” in his authoritative A History of Book Publishing

in the United States). The issue, Saxton wrote her, was “critical reviews in advance of publication—wherever they appear.” He would be happy, however, for her to publish “advance information” (presumably publication date, a summary of the book and maybe a book’s cost, for example). Kirkus was quick to defend the industry’s need for honest reviews. “Your request that I give out only ‘advance information’ through the service about Harper books and not ‘critical comment’ can be answered in only one way: —No!” she wrote. “Any such stricture on the part of any publisher would cut at the very root of the purpose for which the service exists. For the protection of my subscribers and for the maintenance of my own integrity, no such agreement could for a moment be sanctioned.” That wasn’t the end of it. Kirkus wrote some of her subscribers, asking them if they’d send a letter to Saxton expressing their confidence in the Service and their displeasure with his decision. It worked; Harper & Brothers continued sending galleys to the Service. ^

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Virginia Kirkus always said that publishers— and her subscribers—gave her a rating of 85 percent accuracy in forecasting which books would do well and which wouldn’t. She fessed up when she knew she’d gotten it wrong. In the first bulletin of 1953, Kirkus took “inventory on what our first twenty years contributed to our growth—to our reputation—and, for the good of our souls now and again, to our humility.” She took pride in calling attention to George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (1934), John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat (1935) and Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country (1948), among others. She knew she’d messed up in 1940 on both How Green Was My Valley by

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Richard Llewellyn and Walter Clark’s The OxBow Incident. She was embarrassed that in 1936 the Service failed to even review Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. She wrote in 1939 that there was “no assurance it will reach the market it deserves” about Sholem Asch’s The Nazarene; but it was a hit. Kirkus was accustomed to defending her reviews when she felt she was right, however. She once spoke at a convention for librarians, who didn’t like the fact that she didn’t endorse Thomas Wolfe’s Of Time and the River (1935). She had written that the novel had “snob appeal.” During her speech, she asked, “how many of you have read it?” Only five people of the hundreds there raised their hands. —C.S.

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Twenty years after founding the Service, when her subscribers were largely librarians rather than booksellers (1,400 libraries, to be exact), Kirkus instigated one of the strangest episodes in the history of American publishing in the 20th century. At 2 a.m. on December 27, 1952, she was reading a galley from Little, Brown titled Position Unknown, by a new writer named Robert E. Preyer Jr. She realized that she knew what was going to happen next in the book before she read the actual words; she remembered the characters. She asked her husband, Frank, to come down to her office (their home was also the Service office) to help her find the book she was certain Position Unknown had been copied from, word for word. She had a “haunting sense of familiarity” reading the book, she wrote later that morning to Arthur Thornhill, the president of Little, Brown, and Harold Guinzburg, the co-founder of Viking Press.

“ ‘I’d feel differently about it if you were a man,’ one publisher told Virginia Kirkus. ‘That’s something else about which I can do nothing!’ she retorted.”

Both Thornhill and Guinzburg sent Kirkus kind letters thanking her for discovering the fraud, Thornhill informing her that he had the presses stop printing the book. No letter from Little, Brown asking Kirkus to keep quiet about the plagiarism can be found, but Kirkus later said that the publisher asked her not to talk about the incident, which she agreed to do. The consummate insider, she saw an innocent mistake on the publisher’s part and was happy to keep quiet. The prison warden made no such promise, however, and leaked the story to the Associated Press. “I certainly never dreamed the press would take the story so strenuously,” she wrote a friend who worked at Little, Brown. Behind the scenes, she was less than tranquil. She had heard from Viking that Preyer was a convict. She had recently read My Six Convicts, an account—later adapted for a film featuring a young Charles Bronson—by Fort Leavenworth prison psychologist Donald Powell Wilson of some of the prisoners he knew. On New Year’s Eve 1952, she had a nightmare in which Preyer had sent word to his underlings to “get” her. She wanted to honor her promise to Little, Brown, but she was scared about the consequences of keeping quiet. She told Frank about her dream on the way to work (she and her husband spent

Kirkus was a meticulous indexer and organizer of the books the Service had reviewed, so it didn’t take her and her husband very long to find Island in the Sky by Ernest K. Gann, published in 1944 by Viking. Position Unknown and Island in the Sky were, in fact, the same book: the story of a World War II pilot who, after his plane crashes in icy northern Canada, must keep his men alive. Preyer had merely changed the title and the name of the original author, conveniently, to his own. Preyer had a lot of time to re-type Island in the Sky: He was serving 1-to-15 in the Ohio State Penitentiary for stealing a motorbike. A newspaper described the 24-year-old Preyer as a “surly, weasel-faced youth” (oh, for the bygone days of journalism!) who plagiarized Gann’s novel in the prison chaplain’s office. The Ohio State Penitentiary was apparently destined for literary infamy: O. Henry served time there for embezzlement. |

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the weekends and holidays in Connecticut). But the minute she stepped into her office, her assistants told her that the AP had broken the story. That’s when the woman who was famous in the publishing industry became a nationwide story. “Prison Inmate Pens Almost Novel Crime But Alert Book Reviewer Unmasks Him,” the New York Times headline read. “Publisher Cancels a Fine Book: ‘Author’ (He’s in Prison) Stole It,” read another paper’s article. Ernest Gann, who wrote the novel in the first place, couldn’t have been happier: Production on the film version of Island in the Sky, starring John Wayne, started in January 1953, so Kirkus’ sleuthing earned him a bunch of free PR.

Kirkus was at the heart of one of the strangest episodes in 20th-century American publishing.

^ During Virginia Kirkus’ remaining years at the helm of her creation, she saw the publication grow. In July 1962, she decided to incorporate. She was still president of the Virginia Kirkus Service, Inc., but Alice 10

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“The consummate insider, she saw an innocent mistake on the publisher’s part and was happy to keep quiet. The prison warden made no such promise, however, and leaked the story to the Associated Press.” Wolff, who had become a partner in the business in 1948, was named vice president and executive editor. “The Service has too long been an integral part of my life for me to step out of the picture,” she wrote in an article for Publishers Weekly in 1963. She had had “various” offers—it’s not known exactly how many—to buy her company, but “faced with the possible sacrifice of our identity,” she turned them all down. She retired in 1964, when she was 71, though she stayed on as a consultant to the business. It wasn’t easy for Kirkus to walk away from something she had fought so hard to create. The publication underwent several name changes in the ’60s. It was called Virginia Kirkus’ Service beginning with the December 15, 1964, issue and Kirkus Service in 1967, but the January 1, 1969, issue was the first to broadcast the magazine’s definitive title: Kirkus Reviews. In 1970, the New York Review of Books bought Kirkus Reviews, though the editorial operations of the Review and Kirkus Reviews were kept separate. The company has had several owners since then, most recently the Nielsen Company, which decided to shut down operations in 2009. A businessman named Herbert Simon subscribed to Kirkus Reviews at the time and read what was then considered the magazine’s final issue. On the face of it, he is perhaps the most unlikely reader of Kirkus Reviews in the magazine’s history: He is best known as the owner of the Indiana Pacers and the chairman emeritus of the shopping mall developer Simon Property Group. But he is also the co-owner, with his friend and business partner Marc Winkelman, of Tecolote Book Shop in Montecito, Calif., and a voracious reader. He called Winkelman, the owner of Calendar Club, a distributorship of toys, calendars and games. Winkelman is a veteran of the publishing industry, having worked in bookstores. “Marc, we’ve

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got to save Kirkus,” Simon said. Since their acquisition of the company, the magazine’s circulation has grown 217 percent, and its website now averages more than one million page views per month. When she decided to hand over the reins, Virginia Kirkus no longer needed to defend the idea of unbiased pre-publication reviews, but she was brooding over the future of the industry. Kirkus was wary of big publishing mergers in 1963. Everyone around her was merging, she said, and she worried that publishing, which had given her such a rewarding life, was becoming impersonal. Every book that the magazine covered was considered individually, she wrote in the article for Publishers Weekly. “What is the intent of the author? Of the publisher? What is the potential market and does the book meet that need? To what extent is the quality of the writing a factor?” Those are questions that “an IBM machine” could not answer, she wrote. Mergers might be all the rage, but she planned on keeping her creation personalized. “The integrity of the business will be sustained,” she wrote. “We are idealists. We love books. We still love to read.” Claiborne Smith is the features editor of Kirkus Reviews.

An undated photo of Virginia Kirkus; she and her husband, Frank, were known as frequent entertainers.

The History of Kirkus Reviews (And Its Many Names)

Initially titled the Bulletin, the title was changed to Bulletin from Virginia Kirkus’ Service with the January 1, 1955, issue and successively shortened to Virginia Kirkus’ Service with the December 15, 1964, issue and Kirkus Service in 1967, before attaining its definitive title of Kirkus Reviews with the January 1, 1969, issue. Kirkus was published by Virginia Kirkus Bookshop Service from 1933 to 1954, Virginia Kirkus’ Service from 1955 to 1966, and Kirkus Service starting in 1967. It was sold to the New York Review of Books in 1970. It was later sold by the Review to Barbara Bader and Josh Rubins. In 1985, magazine consultant

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James B. Kobak acquired Kirkus Reviews and renamed it Jim Kobak’s Kirkus Reviews. David LeBreton bought Kirkus from Kobak in 1993. BPI Communications, owned by Dutch publisher VNU, bought Kirkus from LeBreton in 1999. VNU was renamed the Nielsen Company in 2006. At the end of 2009, the company announced the end of operations for Kirkus. The journal was purchased from the Nielsen Company on February 10, 2010, by businessman Herbert Simon. Kirkus Media, the company that publishes Kirkus Reviews, is led by Marc Winkelman, a book-industry veteran who is CEO of Calendar Holdings. —C.S.

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on the web and personal fulfillment. Four decades ago, John Cheever pronounced Allan Gurganus “the most technically gifted and morally responsive writer of his generation.” Read more about Gurganus and Local Souls this month on the Kirkus site.

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

Photo courtesy Tony Cook

At the core of Men We Reaped: A Memoir, Jesmyn Ward, who received the National Book Award in 2011, grapples with the pressures of growing up an AfricanAmerican in poverty with the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. In five years, Ward lost five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Ward ask: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth: Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Men We Reaped is about her community and provided the platform to write their stories and her own. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. Jesmyn Ward talks to Kirkus writer Joshunda Sanders in September about what it was like writing the book. Local Souls, Allan Gurganus’ first new work in a decade, offers three novellas mirroring today’s face-lifted South, a zone revolutionized around freer sexuality, looser family ties and superior telecommunications. The works uncover certain old habits—adultery, incest and obsession—still very much alive in the New South, a “Winesburg, Ohio” with high-speed Internet. Wells Tower says of Gurganus, “No living writer knows more about how humans matter to each other.” One novella, “Fear Not,” gives us a banker’s daughter seeking the child she was forced to surrender when barely 15, only to find an adult rescuer she might have invented. In “Saints Have Mothers,” a beloved high school valedictorian disappears during a trip to Africa, granting her ambitious mother a postponed fame that turns against her. In “Decoy,” the doctor-patient friendship between two married men breaks toward desire just as a biblical flood shatters their neighborhood and rearranges their fates. Gurganus finds fresh pathos in ancient tensions: between marriage and Eros, parenthood

The November 1963 coup in which the president of South Vietnam and his brother were brutally executed in the violent ouster that was sanctioned and supported by the American government marked the collapse of the Diem government and became the U.S. entry point for a decadelong conflict in Vietnam. President John F. Kennedy told his friend Paul “Red” Fay that the reason the United States made the fateful decision was in no small part because of South Vietnam’s first lady, Madame Nhu. Fay remembers President Kennedy saying, “She’s responsible, that bitch stuck her nose in and boiled up the whole situation down there.” Finding the Dragon Lady: The Mystery of Madame Nhu is Monique Demery’s story of her relationship with Madame Nhu and how she was entrusted with her unpublished memoirs and diaries from the years leading up to the coup. By 1987, Madame Nhu had retreated into exile and seclusion and remained there until Demery tracked her down in Paris 30 years later. This is the first full history of the Dragon Lady, a woman who was feared and fantasized about and who single-handedly frustrated the government of one of the world’s superpowers. Monique Demery speaks with Kirkus in September about Nhu’s unique story. Photo courtesyJessica Tampas

Check out these highlights from Kirkus’ online coverage at www.kirkus.com 9

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

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

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fiction THE FIRST PHONE CALL FROM HEAVEN

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Albom, Mitch Harper/HarperCollins (272 pp.) $24.99 | Nov. 12, 2013 978-0-06-229437-1

JEEVES AND THE WEDDING BELLS by Sebastian Faulks.............. 20 THE HIRED MAN by Aminatta Forna.................................................21 SEA OF HOOKS by Lindsay Hill........................................................ 26

Albom (The Time Keeper, 2012, etc.) goes divine again in a story about love, forgiveness and the hereafter. Sully Harding’s a disgraced ex-military pilot. Sully hadn’t expected the assignment to ferry a jet crosscountry, and so he’d indulged in a drink the night before. Making a stopover to meet his wife, Sully received incorrect instructions from ground control, resulting in a midair collision. There were no serious injuries, but driving to the airport, Sully’s wife was mortally injured in a car crash, hit by the controller attempting to flee his mistake. Flight recording missing and blood alcohol content registered, Sully pled guilty and was sentenced to prison. Depressed after his wife’s death, Sully’s now home in Coldwater, Mich., selling newspaper ads just as Coldwater’s spotlighted in an astounding news story: Residents are receiving phone calls from heaven. Katherine hears from her beloved sister. Tess hears from her mother. Even the police chief hears from his son killed in Afghanistan. The messages are brief and reassuring: “The end is not the end.” Angry and bitter, worried about his young son awaiting a call from his dead mother, Sully wants to prove the calls a hoax. The church hierarchy’s befuddled by the apparent miracle, but wise old Pastor Warren’s skeptical. Amy, ambitious small-time television reporter, is reluctant to join the media circus but grows jealous as Oprah-types bask in the hype’s spotlight. Sully himself faces a momentous decision as the phone calls are broadcast worldwide in a television spectacular. Albom’s story is simplistic theology about love’s eternal nature, forgiveness and the afterlife. There’s a hint of romance and some formulaic secondary characters, including the crusty old seen-everything local reporter and the odd, out-of-place funeral director. Framed by short anecdotes relating to Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, Albom’s story unfolds in reportorial-style sketches, right up to a double-twist conclusion. A sentimental meditation on “[w]hat is false about hope?”

THEN WE TAKE BERLIN by John Lawton........................................ 28 THE POMEGRANATE LADY AND HER SONS by Goli Taraghi; trans. by Sarah Khalili.......................................................................... 33 THE END OF LOVE by Marcos Giralt Torrente; trans. by Katherine Silver.....................................................................34 TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY SCIENCE FICTION by David G. Hartwell; Patrick Nielsen Hayden—Eds...................... 42 THE GRIM COMPANY by Luke Scull..................................................43

THE HIRED MAN

Forna, Aminatta Atlantic Monthly (304 pp.) $24.00 Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-8021-2191-2

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“...honest, probing and moving. ” from a permanent member of the family

ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS

Balson, Ronald H. St. Martin’s Griffin (400 pp.) $15.99 paper | $9.99 e-book Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-250-04639-0 978-1-4668-4670-8 e-book

An elderly Holocaust survivor accuses Chicago’s most prominent philanthropist of crimes against humanity in Chicago attorney Balson’s novel, originally self-published. An opera gala, attended by the pillars of Chicago society, is disrupted when octogenarian Ben Solomon holds a Luger to the head of Elliot Rosenzweig, a wealthy insurance magnate known for his civic works and beneficence. After Elliot magnanimously drops charges—the Luger was not loaded—Benjamin goes free, but he is determined to press the charge he made at the soiree: Elliot is not a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz who immigrated penniless to the United States after the war, but Otto Piatek, a vicious Nazi who used the Solomon family’s wealth as his stake in the U.S. Seeking out Catherine Lockhart, a junior associate at a leading law firm, Ben confesses to her an equally shocking allegation: Otto grew up with the Solomons, who raised him as their own son after his drunken Polish father and his ambitious German mother abandoned him. After the German invasion of Poland, Ben’s own father convinced Otto to join the Nazis in hopes that his influence could save his foster family. In a series of meetings, Benjamin gradually persuades Catherine to take his case pro bono—at the cost of her job. For much of this book, the author employs the awkward device of having Benjamin relate his World War II experiences verbatim to Catherine. However, suspense mounts as he reveals each stage in his family’s destruction. In spite of the problematic narrative structure and some clunky prose, readers will be riveted by this novel’s central question: Will justice long delayed be denied?

too proud to admit to his adult sons that he can no longer take care of himself. In the heartbreaking title story, the death of a beloved dog signals the final rupture in a family already rent by divorce. Fraught marriages in all their variety are unsparingly scrutinized in “Christmas Party,” Big Dog” and “The Outer Banks.” But as the collection moves along, interactions with strangers begin to occupy center stage. The protagonist of “The Invisible Parrot” transcends the anxieties of his hard-pressed life through an impromptu act of generosity to a junkie. A man waiting in an airport bar is the uneasy recipient of confidences about “Searching for Veronica” from a woman whose truthfulness and motives he begins to suspect, until he flees since “the only safe response is to quarantine yourself.” Lurking menace that erupts into violence features in many Banks novels, and here, it provides jarring climaxes to two otherwise solid stories, “Blue” and “The Green Door.” Yet Banks quietly conveys compassion for even the darkest of his characters. Many of them (like their author) are older, at a point in life where options narrow and the future is uncomfortably close at hand—which is why widowed Isabel’s fearless shucking of her confining past is so exhilarating in “SnowBirds,” albeit counterbalanced by her friend Jane’s bleak acceptance of her own limited prospects. Old-fashioned short fiction: honest, probing and moving.

NEVER COME BACK

Bell, David New American Library (448 pp.) $15.00 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-451-41751-0 In Bell’s (The Hiding Place, 2012, etc.) thriller, Elizabeth Hampton confronts a fractured family history in the aftermath of her mother’s murder. Elizabeth is a grad student in her hometown in Ohio. There’s a call from the police. Her mother is dead. Meeting authorities at her mother’s home, she’s shocked to learn that Leslie Hampton’s death is considered suspicious. Her older brother, Ronnie, “a high-functioning adult with Down syndrome” who resided with their mother, soon becomes a suspect and is hospitalized for evaluation. Once told by her mother in a fit of pique that “the main reason they had me was to take care of Ronnie after they were both gone,” Elizabeth hadn’t talked with Leslie for six weeks after an argument over becoming Ronnie’s eventual guardian. Bell does solid work with characters: Elizabeth, isolated, closed off, unable to commit to a devoted boyfriend; Paul, Leslie’s brother, once Ronnie’s constant supporter, now worried over Ronnie’s recent displays of anger; Leslie, ordered, neat, withdrawn, obsessed with Ronnie’s care; the police detectives, skeptical Richland and empathetic Post. Bell’s portrayal of Ronnie is sensitive, offering a sense of the reality facing those with Down syndrome. Eventually, Elizabeth learns that Leslie’s will includes one Elizabeth Yarbrough as an heir. Enter Gordon Baxter, shocking Elizabeth by claiming to be Leslie’s first husband. Bell makes Gordon ominously real, a high school sports

A PERMANENT MEMBER OF THE FAMILY

Banks, Russell Ecco/HarperCollins (304 pp.) $25.99 | Nov. 12, 2013 978-0-06-185765-2

One of America’s great novelists (Lost Memory of Skin, 2011, etc.) also writes excellent stories, as his sixth collection reminds readers. Don’t expect atmospheric mood poems or avant-garde stylistic games in these dozen tales. Banks is a traditionalist, interested in narrative and character development; his simple, flexible prose doesn’t call attention to itself as it serves those aims. The intricate, not necessarily permanent bonds of family are a central concern. The bleak, stoic “Former Marine” depicts an aging father driven to extremes because he’s 14

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star whose life spiraled down into violence and prison. Gordon’s connection with the struggling Elizabeth Yarbrough hides a grotesque secret that will destroy lives. An intriguing, layered psychological thriller. The chapters are short, flow easily into one another and carry their own twisted logic to a believable conclusion.

man with a go-nowhere adjunct gig teaching composition at a Chicago university who spends his spare time with his pug and imagines punny, unworkable concepts for restaurants. Despite this lassitude, he manages to win the love of Isabelle, a local celebrity TV-show host who demystifies wine for the masses. Their love blossoms fast—they tie the knot within weeks— but so does trouble: Peter is increasingly running afoul of his bosses, their new condo loft has high-volume neighbors, and an old flame appears to have insinuated himself back into Izzy’s life. This is all in service of what’s meant to be a comic work of commercial fiction, down to the adorable dog and the makeor-break trip to Greece in the novel’s closing chapters. But the book too often feels contrived on the structural and sentence level: Drowsy scenes of parties and tastings are engineered to work in pairing tips but do little to propel the story; the conflicts among Peter, Izzy and her domineering manager are overdramatized and unrealistic; and Izzy’s character feels flimsy, her up-from-her-bootstraps back story notwithstanding. Those flaws are exacerbated by stretches of clunky prose. (“Breakfast at one thousand six hundred sixty meters was an alluring and

VINTAGE ATTRACTION

Blackstone, Charles Pegasus (336 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-60598-482-7

A romance built on fine wine threatens to go sour in this light novel with a lot of snarky undertones. Peter, the narrator of the second novel by Blackstone (The Week You Weren’t Here, 2005), is a bright 30-something

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“A poignant love story featuring refreshing characters in their 60s.” from thursdays in the park

THURSDAYS IN THE PARK

jeopardous bounty.”) Blackstone’s attempts to give Peter a kind of emotional reckoning are half-hearted at best (indeed, his sniffy solipsism is often presented as a kind of badge of honor) and essentially abandoned by the end thanks to a forced and disappointing deus ex machina plot turn. Blackstone is a witty writer with a great subject, but the plot and tone of his story feels unfinished.

Boyd, Hilary Quercus (336 pp.) $15.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-62365-096-4

A sincere tale of late-in-life love. The book, first published in 2011, was a bestseller in the U.K. The year Jeanie turns 60 marks a decade since her reliable but controlling husband, George, started sleeping in a separate room and refused to tell her why. Adrift in a marriage that is now more comfortable routine than partnership, she focuses instead on the health foods store she owns, outings with her frank friend Rita and play dates with her granddaughter Ellie, whom she takes to the park on Thursdays. It’s there that Jeanie and Ellie meet Ray and his grandson Dylan. While the kids play, the adults feel an immediate connection, unlike what Jeanie has felt before. Soon, they are sharing life stories—each including the heartbreaking loss of a loved one—and enjoying a clandestine, burgeoning romance. When her husband decides, against Jeanie’s firm protestations, that they will move to a house in the country and that she should retire and sell her store, the choice, to readers, will seem obvious. But how can Jeanie end 32 years of mostly happy marriage? Who would care for George? And though her daughter, Chanty, is no more supportive of Jeanie’s desire to keep living and working in the city, Jeanie is loath to disrupt Chanty’s (and Ellie’s) life with such a thing as divorce. Even Rita, who initially encourages a full-fledged affair, citing the improvement in Jeanie’s life since meeting Ray, cautions her against abandoning a stable marriage. When none of these prove reason enough to ignore potential happiness with Ray, a revelation takes the decision out of Jeanie’s hands, at least for a while. A subplot involving Chanty and her surly artist husband is the least subtle of the obstacles facing Jeanie and Ray, but it adds good dramatic spice and satisfyingly prolongs the outcome. Boyd’s delicate rendering of Jeanie’s interior grounds the novel, and readers will root for her to finally get her own. A poignant love story featuring refreshing characters in their 60s.

THE ICE-COLD HEAVEN

Bonné, Mirko Overlook (432 pp.) $27.95 | Sep. 26, 2013 978-1-59020-140-4

A young stowaway becomes an integral part of Shackleton’s 1914 attempt to cross the South Pole. With the help of some friends on board, 17-year-old Merce Blackboro sneaks aboard Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance, bound for Antarctica during the early days of World War I, as it re-supplies in Argentina. Shackleton intends to become the first to cross the continent from sea to sea, via the pole. Soon after Endurance sets sail, Merce is discovered hiding in a supply locker. Despite giving him a vicious tongue-lashing, Shackleton is impressed by young Blackboro’s verve and gives him a job helping in Endurance’s galley, as well as making him his personal steward. However, spots on Shackleton’s ship were highly sought after, so there are those aboard who might begrudge Blackboro’s place among the crew, especially when Sir Ernest assigns him the relatively labor-free task of organizing his library while reading accounts of previous polar expeditions. Unfortunately for Shackleton and his crew, they make their attempt during a particularly chilly winter, and the Endurance is trapped by pack ice before ever reaching the continent. After being lost for 635 days, Shackleton must use all of his skills as a seasoned explorer—and as a leader—to get his crew safely home. Bonné (Wie Wir Verschwinden, 2009) has crafted a compelling adventure novel drawn from actual events. His characters live and breathe, as does the book’s desolate setting, which draws the reader deep into Shackleton’s frigid world. There is a stunning level of technical detail—of the ship, the crew, Shackleton’s place in the history of Antarctic exploration, etc.—all of which does nothing to clutter or detract from the gripping narrative. Nor does the rather dreamlike language, which helps conjure the icily surreal world of the Antarctic. Even readers familiar with the historical events on which the book is based will find themselves turning pages to find out what happens next. A compulsively readable adventure yarn, all the more so for being based on real events.

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THE DARK

Chejfec, Sergio Translated by Cleary, Heather Open Letter (143 pp.) $14.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-934824-43-6 In this novel from Chejfec (The Planets, 2012, etc.), originally published in 2000 in the author’s native Argentina, a man remembers his relationship with a factory worker whose life was different from his own. Readers will find here a meditation on the working class, the circle of life and the pitch blackness of night. The |


nameless narrator tells the story as a remembrance, albeit one that haunts him. “It has always unsettled me that geography does not change with time, with the changes that take place within it, within us,” Chejfec begins. Every day, this writer sees a woman, Delia, get off a bus at the street corner near his home. Gradually, the pair begin to take long walks through the wastelands of the slums, as Chejfec lays out the geography of their nocturnal promenades, both literal and emotional. They become lovers locked in a secret embrace. However, the writer’s interest in Delia also extends to her work in a local factory. Coming from such a distinctly different social class from her intellectual paramour, she seems very alien to him, and he ruminates at length about the affect her work has on her, her relationships with co-workers and so on. There is much talk of the titular dark along the way. “Once there, I saw the silence before I saw the dark: a false murmur floated across the air, a hollow reverberation that came from nowhere in particular, but rather from the night as black as pitch,” Chejfec writes. This is a story that remains determinedly unresolved, as the writer mourns his relationship with Delia without saying what transpired. Readers who dare to navigate Chejfec’s intellectual labyrinth may find themselves mystified. A wistful, winding contemplation of that long dark night of the soul.

the least desirable prostitutes occupy cribs, men make wagers in gambling joints, and opium dens provide mind-numbing retreat; but they also pursue suspects who rank among the city’s highest social strata and occupy mansions in the best part of town. Sorting through numerous suspects—and veteran Dallas deftly offers a wide array of shady characters to choose from— Beret has a tough time eliminating anyone as she searches for a pair of diamond earrings, which she believes were stolen from her sister by the murderer. A lightweight, innocuous narrative. For many readers, the resolution (when it finally comes) will be no great shock. Still, not a bad choice for a lazy, low-key weekend.

FALLEN WOMEN

Dallas, Sandra St. Martin’s (352 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-250-03093-1

Murdered prostitutes, unsavory characters and high society provide fodder for scandal sheets—and for author Dallas (True Sisters, 2012, etc.)—in 1885 Denver. Beret Osmundsen is upset when she receives news of her sister’s death and discovers she was murdered during a brutal attack in a high-class brothel. Beret raised her much younger sibling following their parents’ deaths, but a bitter argument led to their estrangement. Lillie moved in with their socially prominent aunt and uncle, Varina and John Stanton, in Colorado, and Beret assumed that she’d been residing in their home since she left New York. Determined to discover the circumstances of Lillie’s murder, Beret travels to Denver and teams with Detective Michael McCauley, who’s in charge of the investigation. Although sparks don’t immediately fly, the detective and Beret develop a mutual respect for each other as they question those who were part of Lillie’s circle during her final days: McCauley quickly learns that Beret has the mettle to stand up to almost anyone, and Beret discovers McCauley is a man of principle. She also slowly realizes that she never really knew her sister at all. Pretty certain Lillie’s murder was not a random act (although a second murder points in that direction), the unlikely pair pursues leads in Denver’s seediest businesses in the tenderloin district, where |

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OUTLAW

Tito, too, as is the CIA, which makes for some particularly unlikely bedfellows as the story progresses. Russell isn’t necessarily likable, but he’s certainly believable, as are his motives— chief among them keeping his beloved Effi, a German actress, and their child alive and well. Downing writes with a sure grasp of the way bad situations become worse (“Oh, shit, Russell thought, a psychopath with an identity crisis”); he’s a master of heightened tension and the sweat-bedewed upper lip, and he shares with Le Carré a cynical sense that no matter how things turn out, the wrong people will have carried the day. The local color and cigarette smoke are thick, and so is the plot, with fine MacGuffins, a truly red herring or two, and even a man in the boot to keep things interesting. Will Russell want to face another narrow scrape? By every evidence, this ends the series—but Downing seems to leave room for another adventure. Stay tuned.

Dekker, Ted Center Street/Hachette (352 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-59995-415-8 Dekker’s latest centers around the life of a mother who is stranded with a savage race unknown to modern man. When pampered Julian, a beautiful Atlanta belle, takes off for Australia and beyond, she doesn’t expect to end up on a sailboat, tossed around by the sea and fighting for her life and that of her little boy, Stephen. After her rescue by strange natives she cannot understand, she is carried into the valley and forced into captivity. Soon, she discovers that she is going to die as a sacrifice to local traditions and suspicions unless she can gather her wits and find a way to make the warring tribes that have caught her spare her life. Despite the odds against her (white skin is looked upon as something to abhor, and most Tulim people find her ugly), Julian manages to form an alliance with the wife of a powerful prince in line for the throne. Unfortunately, this prince is also the brother of another man who wanted her, and if he can’t have her, then he prefers her dead. Over time, Julian makes and forms alliances and, finally, presented with an unexpected gift she treasures above all else, finds a way to survive her captivity. Although the author exhibits a keen imagination, the story is repetitive and lacks focus. Known primarily as a Christian writer, Dekker leans heavily on Christian analogies that are, at times, heavy-handed. For fans of Dekker’s Christian-inspired fiction.

THE PURE GOLD BABY

Drabble, Margaret Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (304 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-544-15890-0 Drabble (A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, 2011, etc.) enfolds the moving personal story of a single mother’s care for her mentally disabled daughter within a somber narrative of aging families and declining social optimism. Anthropology student Jess Speight’s affair with a married professor resulted in Anna, born in a National Health hospital that “is now a moderately expensive hotel for foreign tourists.” (One of the novel’s themes is the contraction and decay of a once-expansive welfare state.) Anna is “a pure gold baby,” sweet and happy, but it soon becomes clear that she is severely developmentally delayed and will never be an independent adult (no exact diagnosis is given). The unnamed narrator, one of the other mothers among the young families in their North London neighborhood, chronicles the way Jess’ life is shaped by her daughter’s needs—she separates from both a husband and a lover when she decides the men interfere with her commitment to Anna—and also traces the trajectory of their community: Kids grow up and marriages break up, some people move to more affluent areas as North London fills with more recent immigrants, everyone gets older and sees their futures shrinking to a decreasing number of days and possibilities. Jess remains haunted by memories of a field trip to Africa, where she observed physically deformed children functioning well within their accepting tribe; the novel closes with her and middle-aged Anna taking a trip there with her husband (still a friend after decades of separation), who snaps a photo of Jess kneeling among some local graves. “She is old now, and she is in the process of transfiguration....Time has come full circle, and the river flows with time.” The Victorian explorer David Livingstone, William Wordsworth’s poetry, Auguste Rodin’s sculpture and Marcel Proust’s novels all play a part in Drabble’s deeply

MASARYK STATION

Downing, David Soho Crime (330 pp.) $26.95 | Jun. 18, 2013 978-1-61695-223-5

Downing returns with another taut tale of espionage as World War II shades deeper into the Cold War and good guys get harder to tell from bad. Named, as with the five books preceding in his series, for a continental European train station, Downing’s latest finds hero—or antihero, for he’s of a John Le Carré cast of dubious servant—John Russell struggling to keep from being found out. He’s a double agent, you see, working for both Joseph Stalin and Harry S. Truman in the fraught year of 1948, and there are plenty of people gunning for him. Ostensibly a journalist, Russell has a talent for getting people to open up to him, a talent that may prove his undoing. The station in question is in Prague on the way to the Balkans, where some particularly unpleasant opponents of the rising Tito regime (“they had routinely committed atrocities the Nazis would have shrunk from”) are doing particularly unpleasant things. Of course, the Soviets are intriguing against 18

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CITY OF LIES

intellectual, though never pretentious consideration of our intricate connections and obligations to others. Thoughtful and provocative, written with the author’s customary intelligence and quiet passion.

Ellory, R.J. Overlook (464 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 31, 2013 978-1-59020-465-8

CARTWHEEL

An operatic, excessively serious thriller about an angry, feckless, blocked writer lured back to New York City to learn that there is more, much more, to his past than he thought. The most verbose gangsters that ever lived populate Ellory’s latest novel (A Quiet Belief in Angels, 2009, etc.). The story has more plot points than a star map. John Harper has a lousy job with the Miami Herald. He’s written one book and can’t figure out how to write more. About to go on assignment, he’s called back to the office. Evelyn Sawyer, the aunt who raised him, calls to tell him his father has been shot— the father who left the family when John was 2. He flies to the Big Apple, and Aunt Evelyn starts the “everything you know is wrong” story. Turns out, John’s absent father is the underworld big shot Edward “Lenny” Bernstein. While visiting his father in the hospital, Lenny wakes up in the ICU long enough to tell John to leave, and John meets Frank Duchaunak, a haunted NYPD detective long obsessed with Lenny and his dark doings. Soon, Walt Freiberg and his femme fatale sidekick Cathy Hollander are squiring John around the city, buying him clothes, putting him up in a posh hotel, calling him “Sonny.” Walt was a sort of uncle to John back in the day, before he left for Miami. Things get curiouser and curiouser. Bodies pile up. John ends up “caught between darkness and its shadow.” The action is brisk and bloody. But John and a half dozen other characters must have their identity crises, and they talk the reader half to death. If garrulous gangsters appeal, this is the thriller for you.

duBois, Jennifer Random House (384 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-8129-9586-2 A young, white American woman studying overseas is accused of murdering her roommate. She is seen through different prisms in this second novel from duBois (A Partial History of Lost Causes, 2012). According to the author, “the themes of this book were loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox.” The first link is the title, which appropriates Amanda’s notorious cartwheel while in police custody in Italy. The cartwheeler here is 20-yearold Lily Hayes. She has come to Buenos Aires, ostensibly, to further her studies. Her roommate is bland, beautiful Katy Kellers from Los Angeles. Their neighbor, who lives by himself in a decaying mansion, is the ridiculously rich American Sebastien LeCompte. The young, lonely, epicene Sebastien, who hides his true self under layers of affectation, belongs in Capote country. He would seem an improbable boyfriend for either of the women, yet he and Lily begin a relationship, with Lily calling the shots. The horror comes one night when Lily finds Katy stabbed to death. The state investigator, Eduardo Campos, is convinced of Lily’s guilt. The novel begins with Lily’s professor father, Andrew, visiting her in a holding cell. It cycles through four viewpoints (Andrew, Lily, Sebastien, Eduardo) and moves between the buildup to the murder and its aftermath. The author may have been hoping to combine a crime novel with a novel of character. Neither one works. The awkward construction means suspense is minimal. Attempts to cannibalize Amanda’s story, such as Lily’s fingering of her black boss at the club where she worked weekends, fall flat. Lily herself is a not very interesting addition to those thousands of young Americans looking to spread their wings in an exotic locale. Readers are meant to presume her innocence while retaining a tiny sliver of doubt, reinforced by that ballyhooed, albeit irrelevant, cartwheel. So what really went down? The dubious confession of the killer is the only clue. A tangled tale that leaves protagonist Lily, and the crime, unilluminated.

THE SPANISH QUEEN A Novel Of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon Erickson, Carolly St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-250-00012-5

Catherine of Aragon does not go down without a fight in Erickson’s sympathetic rendering. Portrayed as a hapless pawn of power plays and circumstance in so many other Tudor historical novels, Catherine here displays the mettle of her ruthless royal forbears Isabella and Ferdinand. But that does not mean that fate and rivals are not out to get her. Betrothed from toddlerhood to Arthur, heir apparent of Tudor dynasty founder Henry VII, it first appears that Catherine has beaten the royal marriage odds: There is actually affinity and attraction between her and her intended. But once married, her hopes are soon dashed: Prince Arthur is so sickly that the marriage cannot be consummated. |

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His untimely death places Catherine in a dangerous limbo: She can’t return home, and the increasingly demented Henry VII won’t approve her marriage to his second son, Henry. After his father dies, Henry VIII eagerly weds the beautiful but older Catherine. She proves herself a worthy queen when, while Henry is engaged in a largely symbolic skirmish with the French, she wins a decisive battle against the Scots. However, she fails in her primary duty to produce a living prince. After six pregnancies and difficult deliveries, only daughter Mary survives, and unlike the Spanish, the English do not exalt female heirs. Although Henry’s antipathy toward Catherine began with her Scottish triumph, his infatuation with cunning courtier Anne Boleyn accelerates his desire for a divorce that will upend Christendom. Catherine’s Spanish relatives are no help: When they’re not spreading vicious rumors about her, they are supporting Henry VIII’s argument that his marriage to his brother’s widow was an abomination, grounds for annulling the union under canon law. When the king weds Boleyn, the English people continue to clamor for Catherine’s restoration. Although even Erickson’s fact-bending “historical entertainment” cannot alter the grim outcome, Catherine’s ordeal is so sensitively recreated that readers will still hope for a different ending. A vivid evocation of a queen who refused to be written off.

as a bit melodramatic by today’s standards, but this ageless and much-emulated tale (turned into a classic film starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford) still resonates. The book includes three additional, never-before-published Farrell stories. “Whatever Happened to Cousin Charlotte,” the story that birthed the film Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, is another relatives-gone-bad story in the same vein as Jane; “The Debut of Larry Richards,” about a successful actor whose path crosses with an actor he has spurned, with disastrous results, tips its hat to the old Twilight Zone television series; and “First, The Egg” provides a fanciful, light look at a romance between a man who finds what he believes to be a dinosaur egg and the woman who loves him, even if she does think he’s a bit batty. Farrell’s psychological thriller-classic holds up. The bonus stories add value to this edition.

JEEVES AND THE WEDDING BELLS Faulks, Sebastian St. Martin’s (256 pp.) $25.99 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-250-04759-5

Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, the feckless young master and his erudite gentleman’s gentleman, creations of the great English humorist P.G. Wodehouse, are back, courtesy of his inspired fellow countryman and novelist Faulks (A Possible Life, 2012, etc.). This is the first Jeeves and Wooster novel in some 40 years. Faulks notes modestly that he has “tried to provide an echo” of the originals. He has done more than that. He has captured Bertie’s voice, his innocent zest and his spirited banter with Jeeves to a fare-thee-well. This novel begins boldly with a role reversal—Bertie as servant waiting on Jeeves—but the real beginning is on the French Riviera, where Bertie meets a stunning beauty, Georgiana Meadowes. He’s smitten, she’s encouraging, but there’s a problem. Orphaned early, Georgiana has been raised lovingly by her uncle, Sir Henry Hackwood, currently strapped for cash. To help him save the family home, Georgiana feels obliged to marry a fella with moola: Her fiance has been designated. Back in London, there’s a further complication. Bertie’s best friend Woody had been engaged to Sir Henry’s daughter Amelia; a misunderstanding has caused the dear girl to break it off. Good egg that he is, Bertie sees his first order of business as reconciling Woody and Amelia. More misunderstandings ensue, resulting in Jeeves being mistaken for a peer of the realm by Sir Henry and invited to his home in deepest Dorset; to gain access to the premises, Bertie must willynilly become Jeeves’ manservant and fraternize below stairs. The comic possibilities are legion, and Faulks exploits them all, with Bertie threatening to land in the proverbial soup at every turn. Meanwhile, Jeeves, always a fount of knowledge, proves himself also a master strategist of the mating game. Bertie, still in thrall to his former teacher’s dictum (“Women

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?

Farrell, Henry Grand Central Publishing (304 pp.) $15.00 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4555-4675-6

Farrell’s groundbreaking tale of two elderly sisters caught up in a murderous web has been re-released. This volume includes three additional, never-before-published short stories from the author (1920-2006). Baby Jane Hudson was a child star in the early 1900s. A Shirley Temple type of wunderkind, Baby Jane sang, danced and enthralled audiences all over the world. She was also a tiny terror, holding her family hostage with her bad temper and earning power, tormenting her younger sister, Blanche, and dominating her doting parents. Since then, Blanche has had a sparkling career as a Hollywood star, appearing in dozens of movies and dazzling audiences everywhere. But a terrible accident has forced a change in her lifestyle: She is now a cripple that Jane cares for in the fortresslike atmosphere of the former movie star’s once-fashionable home. And Jane is deluded. Although close to 60, she cakes her face with makeup and dresses like a little girl, dreaming of the day when she can once again return to show business. In order to prepare for that day, Jane hires an accompanist and starts practicing for the resumption of her childhood career; but she’s also immersed in a deadly game with her dependent sister, making certain that Blanche becomes more and more isolated from the outside world. In the process of ensuring that isolation, Jane resorts to cruel tactics that reinforce her mental instability. Farrell’s writing comes across 20

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“...haunting...” from where the moon isn’t

THE HIRED MAN

are queer cattle”), needs nudging. A smackeroo on the lips from Georgiana during amateur theatricals does the trick. Faulks has risen to the challenge splendidly with this “homage” to Wodehouse. Jeeves and Wooster live again!

Forna, Aminatta Atlantic Monthly (304 pp.) $24.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-8021-2191-2

WHERE THE MOON ISN’T

English tourists visiting a small Croatian village unwittingly stir up memories of the past, a legacy of horror which still holds the locals in its thrall, in a persuasive tale of silent secrets. Dark and troubling, this novel by award-winning British-based writer Forna (The Memory of Love, 2011, etc.) returns to the territory of tragedy and aftermath, this time in Europe, where the beauties of a summer cottage in Gost, a village in Croatia, are undercut by recollections of the terrible events that mar the community’s conscience. Narrated by the titular hired man, Duro, who offers to help the visitors repair the blue house they have bought as a holiday home, it is a story of slow, incremental animosities that find full expression once

Filer, Nathan St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $24.99 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-250-02698-9

A fatal accident forever marks the life of a young British man struggling with his own demons. Originally published in the U.K. as The Shock of the Fall, this debut novel by mental health nurse Filer is a startlingly authentic portrayal of the rigors and tribulations of navigating the modern health care landscape while struggling with mental illness. The novel’s protagonist is Matthew Holmes, a fairly typical 19-year-old lad living in Bristol under the shadow of terrible grief. When Matt was very young, he and his brother Simon, who had Down syndrome, sneaked out one night, like boys do, and Simon died. Slowly, we learn that Matt now suffers from a potent form of schizophrenia, accompanied by command hallucinations that come in the voice of Matt’s dead brother. Filer ably captures what’s going on in Matt’s head, and it’s not the gibbering, 12 Monkeys caricature that so often emerges from these kinds of tales. As Matt himself says, he may be mad, but he’s not an idiot. Even more interesting is that Matt’s story comes in the form of a diary, both hand-scribbled and hurriedly typed on a computer in the health care center where he seeks treatment and is given the plan. “It tells me exactly what I have to do with my days, like coming in for therapy groups here at Hope Road Day Centre, and what tablets I should take, and the injections, and who is responsible for what,” Matt says. “This is all written down for me. Then there is another plan that comes into play if I don’t stick to the first one. It follows me around, like a shadow. This is my life.” This is a terribly unsettling novel, but it works on many levels—as family drama, as a searing indictment of Western health care and as a confession. A haunting story about how to mourn when the source of your grief will never go away.

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Lauren Grodstein

The intellectual debate between a student and a professor gets personal in Grodstein’s new novel By S. Kirk Walsh Almost every aspect of his life is suffused by the sudden loss of his wife. Andy’s scientific research has moved from degenerative diseases to alcoholism. “He had spent the past five years at Exton Reed just, like, experimenting, trying to prove that the genetics of alcoholism lead to immutable behavior patterns,” writes Grodstein. A few pages later, the author writes, in reference to Andy’s lab specimens: “Poor mice. They were the only animals whose alcoholism he was able to forgive—he knew the genetics behind it, after all— and he often found himself envying them their singleminded devotion to drinking, and their peace.” Initially, what appears to be a traditional campus narrative of a widower professor transforms into a well-crafted debate about evolutionary science and intelligent design. Every third semester, Andy teaches a course provocatively titled “There Is No God (Special Topics in Evolutionary Biology: Ethics and Debate).” A majority of his students are often content to digest his theories of Darwin while the right-wing religious detractors on campus stay away. During this particular semester, a couple of ardent believers come knocking on his office door. One is a transfer student named Melissa Potter who asks if she can sign up for an independent study with Andy; she is attempting to prove that there is some kind of science behind the evangelical underpinnings of intelligent design. Reluctantly, he signs on as Melissa’s academic sponsor—and their debate becomes an entangled relationship that opens up Andy’s way of seeing the world and experiencing the loss of his wife. In the process, Grodstein takes on this complicated subject matter and effortlessly dramatizes it in an engaging narrative of grief, faith, doubt and redemption. “I’ve always been interested in evolution and evolutionary science,” explains Grodstein, “but I’m not

“The first time Andy met Louisa, she was covered in blood,” begins Lauren Grodstein’s thought-provoking fourth book, The Explanation for Everything. Quickly, the reader learns that the two characters are meeting in the waiting area of an emergency room in Princeton, N.J., after enduring minor mishaps (a bike accident and an encounter with a kitchen knife, respectively). By the next chapter, the narrative jumps forward 12 years; Andy Waite is seeking tenure at a small liberal arts college in southern New Jersey as well as a hefty, midcareer grant from the National Science Foundation. His life has changed radically since his first meeting with Louisa in the ER. After getting married and having two girls together, Andy is now a 40-year-old widower tenuously trying to hold his life together after a drunk driver kills Louisa. 22

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a scientifically inclined person. I’m more of an ideal lay scientist because I find the topics so fascinating.” In order to prepare for the writing of The Explanation for Everything, Grodstein read up on the subjects by studying the giants—Richard Dawkins, Charles Darwin, C. S. Lewis, Francis Collins. In addition, she visited the science labs of Columbia University and Rutgers-Camden (where Grodstein teaches and directs the graduate MFA writing program) to observe the lab mice in their element and the precise mechanics of running electrodes into their tiny brains. For the dynamics of the student/teacher relationship, Grodstein was able to draw loosely from her own experience. “I love talking to other writers,” she says about her position at Rutgers. “I like helping people to shape their own writing. I always see myself in them.” Though none of Grodstein’s relationships with students ever strayed from the realm of the platonic, some of the author’s closest friends are former students. “I started teaching at 22, so some of my students were close to my age. I can understand how a teacher can feel really fulfilled by a student/teacher relationship,” she says. “In the novel, that’s the way I envisioned Andy—he needed someone to offer new ways of seeing the world. He was trapped in his whole revengeful misery.” The emotional tenor of the narrative is very much shaped by the shock of the unexpected death of Louisa and Andy’s ensuing grief. Andy’s former wife drifts in and out of the story, often like an apparition—always there, but not quite there. “The ghost was wearing what she always wore, a white T-shirt, a bloody bandage around her wrist,” writes Grodstein. “She had a different look on her face now, frank, apologetic. She was sorry she had died. She had wanted to live a long life with him and his girls. She should have buckled her seat belt. She should have been paying more attention to the road. Oliver McGee had been swerving, driving erratically. She had been taking a French fry from the bag. She had been dipping it in ketchup. She had never seen what was coming because she wasn’t paying attention.” Seven years ago, Grodstein’s grandmother was hit by a car and killed. “She was the first person who died suddenly and left a hole in me,” says the author. “Even though she was 82 years old, she was very vibrant.” Her grandmother had gone to buy groceries for a family dinner. “A car blew a red light,” remembers Grodstein, “and she was gone. I felt like she was ripped from me too soon.” The author’s own grief certainly translates into an authentic portrait of what it is like to lose a loved one

suddenly. “People learn to live with it,” says Grodstein. “It changes, but it doesn’t end.” For her next project, the author is writing her first novel from the perspective of a woman. “I try to first think of the character rather than the gender,” Grodstein says. “What’s important is whether that character is strong enough to sustain an entire novel.” Like many fiction writers, Grodstein attended a graduate writing program to hone her craft of character development and scene building; in her case, she attended Columbia University in upper Manhattan. There, Grodstein studied with several writers who continue to inspire her—Binnie Kirschenbaum (most recently of The Scenic Route), Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad) and Helen Schulman (This Beautiful Life)—particularly when it comes to balancing the writing, teaching and parenting equation. “It’s really hard to write around raising a child,” says Grodstein, whose son is now 5 years old. In order to write The Explanation for Everything over a 2 1/2 year period, she woke up at 5:00 or 5:30 most mornings. “It was grueling.” For inspiration and advice, Grodstein turned to Schulman and Egan, who are both working authors and mothers. “They told me that I could do this: You can have a family and be a writer. It’s not impossible.” S. Kirk Walsh has written for Guernica, the New York Times Book Review, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. She is at work on a novel. The Explanation for Everything is reviewed on p. 26 of this issue of Kirkus Reviews. The Explanation for Everything Grodstein, Lauren Algonquin (352 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-61620-112-8

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“...intelligently imagined...” from havisham

war descends on the village. Duro, a taciturn loner, once had a happy life in Gost, complete with a family, friends and a secret romance with Anka. But the couple’s betrayal forces Duro to leave and, on his return, 10 years later, Anka is married to another. Restoring the blue house, where Anka lived, reminds Duro of the somber events he has both witnessed and perpetrated, as well as evoking intense responses from other villagers. Forna’s storytelling is beautifully paced, chilly and brooding in tone, and powerfully gripping. The miasma of foreboding hanging over the book is finally explained in a haunting conclusion that takes the long view. A low-key but sophisticated portrait of history—and evil—at a local level.

certain that “true life is too awesome and terrifying to bear” can only be conjured up as her death looms. An intelligently imagined Dickens prequel.

THE STRANGER’S SHADOW

Frei, Max Overlook (352 pp.) $27.95 | May 16, 2013 978-1-4683-0027-7 Series: Labyrinths of Echo, 4

Frei, the alter-ego creation of Russian writer Svetlana Martynchik, returns with a saving-the-otherworld tale that doesn’t yield any surprises but that suitably closes the Labyrinths of Echo series. Frei, of course, is the hero as well as the pseudonymous author. He’s a creature of habits, most of them bad. He frets. He kvetches. Yet he rises to occasions, even if he grumbles about that, too, and he puts up with every bit of weirdness the world-that-isn’t-quite-his-own throws at him— even when it takes him into the underworld, or the alterworld, or anyway, some different address from the strange one he’s just gotten used to, populated by characters such as Gen. Boboota Box and Sir Juffin Hully. Having risen to a position of authority within the Minor Secret Investigative Force of the City of Echo, paired up with dudes such as the Master Eavesdropper (oh so timely, given the ways of the NSA and the GRU), Max is now called on to determine why figures out of the shadow world are creeping up on good citizens and relieving them of existence. The storyline isn’t much more complicated than an hourlong episode of Doctor Who—shadows in libraries, anyone?—but Frei the author has good fun putting Frei the character into impossible situations, winding the players up and watching them go. Suffice it to say that elves figure into the equation, and vorpal blades, and huzzahs from the people, and all to one glorious end. Or, as Max says: “Never in my life had I imagined I would have to save so many people in such an absurd manner.” Running out of steam, yes. But still good entertainment for those who’ve already entered Max’s beguiling world and lived to tell the tale.

HAVISHAM

Frame, Ronald Picador (368 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-250-03727-5 Frame (The Lantern Bearers, 2001, etc.) writes the story of Catherine Havisham, recluse of Satis House, in this prelude to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Despite her mother’s death in childbirth, the Great Expectations of Miss Havisham come naturally. Her father, owner of a prosperous brewery, spoils her beyond measure. Then, as Catherine matures, he dispatches her to Durley Chase, home of Lady Chadwyck and her children Isabella, William, Marianna and cousin Frederick. The Chadwycks are to add the social polish necessary for Catherine to marry well. There, Catherine has eyes for William but soon learns that titled folk do not marry merchants’ daughters. She then meets Charles Compeyson, charming, enigmatic, vaguely roguish. Class prejudices aside, the Chadwycks attempt to dissuade Catherine from Compeyson, but she is enthralled, even ignoring Chadwyck cousin Frederick, thinking him overly religious, awkward and unambitious despite his shy admiration for her. Then her father dies. Catherine allows Compeyson to run the brewery. He soon proposes then leaves her at the altar. Frame’s chapters are short, written from Catherine’s point of view, and laced with elements of classical poetry and song. Aeneas, Tom O’Bedlam and Henry Purcell deepen a narrative appealing to the modern ear yet suitably Dickensian. Subplots follow Sally, a village girl who becomes Catherine’s childhood companion, and Arthur, Catherine’s wastrel half brother. The book ripples with social commentary, an example being Catherine’s attempt to manage the brewery only to be stymied by gender prejudice and her own obstinacy. Finally, she closes the brewery. Catherine then adopts Estella, intending revenge on the masculine world—“all of the genus who conceitedly, smugly supposed that they were indispensable to a woman’s personal completeness, her felicity.” Minor characters, Pip included, strengthen the story, and Frame’s presentation of the era is substantial but not overdone. Young Catherine’s character earns little empathy, and any sympathy for the recluse of Satis House 24

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THE O. HENRY PRIZE STORIES 2013

Furman, Laura—Ed. Anchor (448 pp.) $15.95 paper | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-345-80325-2

The esteemed literary award volume returns for another installment, full, as ever, of exemplary short fiction. Money can make a fellow murderous, especially when that fellow has come from out of nowhere—say, Jay Gatsby—and sort of fell into |


what he found to be a pretty nice way to pass the time, being rich and all. Or maybe it was something else: “I told you, that guy might have been successful but he wasn’t quite right up there, he’d been in Tiananmen, maybe it messed up his head.” So writes Tash Aw, a Malaysian novelist long resident in London, in his illuminating story “Sail,” psychologically dense and strange enough to be memorable, not to mention beautifully written. Published in A Public Space, Aw’s story comes from among the least-known authors and venues in this collection. Others are the usual suspects, published in places such as the New Yorker, Tin House and the Kenyon Review: Andrea Barrett, Alice Munro, Ann Beattie, Donald Antrim. Elite status is no hindrance; this isn’t the Pushcart Prize, with at least half an eye out for nurturing newcomers, but instead, as good a picture of the state of the art of short story writing as there is. Munro’s story, for instance, published not long before she announced that she was retiring from writing, is an evocation of a past when “there was a movie theatre in every town” and people didn’t think to lock their doors at night; it being Munro, though, that past harbors its own secrets, some of them quite disturbing. Other stories are meta-referential without being archly so; Beattie, for example, does a nice bit of intergenerational banter on the large topic of anecdote, while Ruth Prawer Jhabvala slyly opens her contribution with, “Kishen’s university friends at Cambridge completely understood when he talked to them about the sort of novel that should be written about India—the sort of novel that he wanted to write.” There aren’t many surprises in the collection, but there are no disappointments, either. Essential for students of contemporary fiction.

were children. Along the way, she meets a handsome, struggling nobleman of little means who is trying to hold onto his family’s ancestral home, a batty older woman traveling alone, a shifty doctor and a poor Egyptian boy. Jessie and the nobleman, Monty, follow the trail from 1932 London to Cairo and on to Luxor, where they find a complex conspiracy and a surprise awaiting them. Furnivall, beloved by her fans for her romantic historical thrillers, has written a book her followers will like, but the thinly constructed plot barely holds together, especially where the relationship between the two brothers is concerned. Furnivall populates her book with memorable characters, but the story’s just so-so.

SHADOWS ON THE NILE

Furnivall, Kate Berkley (448 pp.) $15.00 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-425-26508-6

Furnivall’s plucky-as-usual heroine finds adventure and love from London, England, to Luxor, Egypt, in this formulaic romance/adventure (The Russian Concubine, 2007, etc.). Little Jessie loves her brother Georgie, although her parents find him loathsome. Mentally disturbed and difficult to handle, Georgie is spirited out of the house in the middle of the night, and when Jessie awakens the next morning, she finds another blond, blue-eyed cherub in his bed. Her mother and father introduce him as her new brother, Tim. Jessie is adamant that she wants Georgie back, but Tim, who is even stuck wearing Georgie’s left-behind clothes, grows on her; despite the fact that Jessie never forgets or gets over losing Georgie, she dotes on Tim and they grow close. When Tim, an archaeologist specializing in Egyptian relics, disappears following a mysterious séance, Jessie is determined to follow the clues she believes Tim left her, all derived from the Sherlock Holmes mysteries she used to read to him when they |

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OSTRICH

but nothing rational explains his agreement to mentor Melissa Potter’s independent study: an objectivist argument for intelligent design. Images of Louisa linger as Andy interacts with Sheila, divorced neighbor and recovering alcoholic. As his emotional relationship with Melissa skates toward intimacy, Andy is plagued by doubts—over his project’s validity after befriending Sheila; over his unbending opposition to parole for the young driver who killed Louisa; and over his rigidity as Melissa’s warmth and generosity make real the power of spiritual belief. Rather than offering the works of St. Augustine or C.S. Lewis as rationalizations for belief, Grodstein offers the homilies of a fictional local pastor; it’s a bit of an easier road, but her narrative sparkles with irony and wry observation. A fundamentalist student, Andy’s vocal opponent, loses his faith. Rosenblum’s overbearing prodding of a brilliant student who rejects science for marriage to a pastor results in her suicide. As the possibility of the divine sparks emotions Andy cannot comprehend, he learns he’s caught up in another person’s experiment. A college professor, Grodstein is perfect with her description of campus tremors radiating after a colleague strays from conventional wisdom. While Melissa’s motivations and actions are sometimes contradictory and counterintuitive, Grodstein’s portrait of Andy is spot-on, as is that of the evangelical student, Sheila, Rosenblum and the minor characters. A rumination on love and loss, faith in reason and faith in the divine.

Greene, Matt Ballantine (336 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-345-54519-0 Are Mum and Dad splitting up? What’s with the hamster? And how to handle this brain tumor thing? These questions weigh on the 12-year-old protagonist of British author Greene’s slack first novel. Clearly, Alex Graham has a lot on his mind. One might think the tumor would be uppermost. He’s been having chemo for two years and is facing high-risk surgery, yet the operation is dispatched briskly, and the intermittent postoperative seizures are not that big a deal. Alex as narrator is intent on passing on to readers everything he has learned in class. A graffito on a bathroom wall gets him started on tautologies. He’s a precocious kid but hardly an endearing one. And while he may be a whiz in the classroom, he’s an amateur at reading his parents. They may have a spat or two, and Dad, a driving instructor, loves to kid around, but their devotion to Alex and to each other is not in doubt. This does not make for an exciting story. His friend Chloe, whose parents actually have split, does try to stir the pot. This is where the hamster, Jaws 2, comes in. Mum was supposed to care for him while Alex was in the hospital, so why has the critter lost all of its energy? Had Mum, Chloe wonders, been distracted by Dad’s possible affair? As Alex’s English teacher tells him, “there’s nothing worse than a narrator who doesn’t know what kind of story he’s in.” Exactly right. The elliptical writing style doesn’t help. Looming over this novel is Mark Haddon’s tale of an autistic boy, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. This work is its miniature. (Agent: Gordon Wise)

SEA OF HOOKS

Hill, Lindsay McPherson & Company (352 pp.) $25.00 | Nov. 1, 2013 978-1-62054-006-0 A remarkable and multifaceted novel— philosophical, poignant and puzzling. The central event of the narrative is Christopher Westall’s discovery of the body of his mother, Evelyn, who died by suicide. Christopher was 22 when this happened, and the novel moves chronologically both backward and forward from this one event. Although a few weeks after his mother’s death Christopher goes to Bhutan, most of the book is taken up by Christopher’s life before his mother’s suicide. We find a number of complexities in his character—for example, although he was a fairly mediocre student, he was a prodigy at bridge. At a young age, he’d gotten sexually involved with a Stanford graduate student, and later in his adolescence, he became intrigued with Dr. Thorn, whose philosophical mind appealed to the many questions Christopher was raising at the time. The central relationships of his life, however, remained those with his mother and, to a lesser extent, with his father, Westy, a gruff atheist with little emotional subtlety. In contrast, Evelyn was hypersensitive and always a tad strange. The form of the novel is fragmented and recursive, with chapters ranging from one sentence to several pages. While there’s a linearity of sorts, Hill is far more interested in moving the narrative along through

THE EXPLANATION FOR EVERYTHING

Grodstein, Lauren Algonquin (352 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-61620-112-8

In her fourth novel, Grodstein (A Friend of the Family, 2009, etc.) writes of loss of love and belief. Andy Waite’s a biology professor at Exton Reed, “eleven hundred students and forty-two acres of crumbling quad hidden at the ass end of New Jersey.” Andy loves teaching a class entitled “There Is No God,” a Darwinian homage. Andy’s mentor was a notorious Richard Dawkins–like professor, Hank Rosenblum. But Andy’s morose; his wife, Louisa, was killed by a drunken driver. He does have two precocious daughters, and tenure’s imminent, and there’s a possible National Science Foundation grant, one related to studies about alcohol and the brain. Louisa’s death explains his research, 26

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image patterns (fire, destiny, the “knife-people” lying flat and “sharpening themselves against each other”) as well as through the preoccupations and questionings of Christopher’s mind. A tour de force, but definitely not for every taste.

to drive P&B’s stock to the bottom and buy controlling interest. Enter Anglia, Josh Katz’s troubled investment firm, in need of a cash infusion. Anglia will front for Volkov, a decision complicated by the fact that Josh’s former wife, Emma Conway, is a high-ranking P&B executive. Mentioning all the right addresses, the right schools and the right brand names, Kaplan moves the setting from London to Philadelphia to Connecticut. Volkov sparks P&B’s collapse by having his agents add cyanide to a batch of Acordinol. The first poisoned pill kills P&B’s CEO and then six innocents. Amid panic, corporate leadership falls to Conway. There’s a minor plot hole, but Kaplan does a decent job of ratcheting tension as the leveraged buyout attempt unfolds, exacerbated by personal tension between Conway and Katz. In a parallel thread, Peter Katz, the pair’s teenage son, and Tanya Volkov, the Russian’s just-out-of-college daughter, meet at Kroesus Kids, a luxury camp for billionaire progeny. The youngsters stumble over their own emotional immaturities and then become part of the problem—and part of the solution. Other minor characters, including Conway’s always-wisecounsel mother, Katz’s cut-any-corner PR guy and Volkov’s amoral henchmen, run to the formulaic. A good-enough drama of the clash between greed and good guys, albeit saddled with a too-neat conclusion.

BEFORE I MET YOU

Jewell, Lisa Atria (448 pp.) $16.00 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4767-0294-0 Who is Clara Pickle? And why has Betty Dean’s grandmother left her a large sum of money? British novelist Jewell (After the Party, 2011, etc.) delivers the answers in a drawn-out tale of parallel destinies set in London’s Soho. Moving to the island of Guernsey at age 10, Betty Dean meets Arlette Lafolley, her stylish stepgrandmother whom, a decade later, Betty will nurse through the closing chapters of her life. After Arlette dies, Betty learns the older woman has left her a little money, her wonderful vintage clothes and a mystery. The will names a stranger, Clara Pickle, last known at a Soho address, as the recipient of a much larger amount of cash; Betty decides to move to London, find Clara and start her own life. With Betty efficiently established in her new London home, Jewell then sets up the parallel story: Arlette’s arrival in the same city in 1919. Arlette’s friendships with a portrait painter and a black jazz musician become the subject of Betty’s search, narrated in alternating chapters. Betty makes new friends herself, including an attractive DJ/market stall holder and a famous rock musician. Both women are on voyages of discovery, both make mistakes, but whereas Arlette’s destiny goes distinctly haywire, Betty not only solves the mystery, but gets her guy as well. A capable romance with fashionable period angles, yet the general impression is perfunctory.

RASPUTIN’S SHADOW

Khoury, Raymond Dutton (416 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-525-95313-5

Khoury’s thriller reaches back into history to set up a 21st-century showdown that adds a nice touch of science fiction. In 1916, Russia is mired in a bloody, losing war and rapidly approaches dissolution. The mystic Rasputin exerts disastrous influence over the czarina, and his enemies resolve that he must die. His foes fail several times before finally doing him in, but his legacy lingers. In the Prologue, a “man of science” bears witness to strange murders in Siberia, which will leave readers wondering how it can possibly be relevant to the novel. But this back story frames a modern drama involving FBI agent Sean Reilly (the hero), a Russian scientist, a Russian intelligence operative and a formidable terrorist named Koschey. The scientist has a device that is certain to wreak immeasurable havoc on any people it targets. There is just enough of pre-revolution Russia to support the 2013 story, but Rasputin was such a compelling real-life villain that more back story woven in would have added to the fun. Still, the old ogre casts a long shadow: A Russian attaché jumps to his death in Queens; a CIA spook disappears; a retired Russian physics teacher goes missing. When Reilly finally learns how everything connects, the threat is both dire and hard for his superiors to believe. The premise requires mild suspension of disbelief, but Khoury carries the story off nicely. Sure, the main action takes place far from Mother Russia. Still, this is a fast-paced, enjoyable tale.

POISON PILL

Kaplan, Glenn Forge (352 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-7653-3690-3 Kaplan (Evil, Inc., 2007, etc.) spins another tale of amoral ambition among the possessors of Gulfstreams, private estates and offshore bank accounts. In the high-stakes sport where people are game pieces and dollars are on the scoreboard, the players are Percival & Baxter, a major pharmaceutical manufacturer; Anglia Partners, a capital investment firm; and Viktor Volkov, a billionaire Russian oligarch. P&B’s rumored to have developed chemistry that could result in the “first female orgasm pill.” Residing in London, the wily Volkov, attempting to shift crime-earned billions into legitimate enterprises, intends |

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“...wonderfully complex...” from then we take berlin

THE PRESERVATIONIST

on colleagues who irk him. Then he falls in love with Nell, a young German woman deeply scarred by the war. And when he undertakes Frank’s caper nearly 20 years later, whom should he encounter but...? A wonderfully complex and nuanced thriller, first in a new series, by the creator of Inspector Troy (A Lily of the Field, 2010, etc.).

Kramon, Justin Pegasus Crime (336 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-60598-480-3

Arriving at college with heavy emotional baggage, Julia picks the wrong guy to unload on: cue the slow build to mayhem. Julia Stilwell has issues. Though a freshman at Stradler College in Pennsylvania, she is still recovering from a terrible car accident; she’s not all there. When the awkward Marcus starts to flirt, she doesn’t know quite how to respond. When Sam, the guy behind the counter of the school snack bar, shows up at a party Julia received an invitation to, they fall into something. Marcus has suspicions about Sam, but to Julia, he sounds bitter, not prescient. Julia and Sam stumble along, and Julia loses the last bit of good sense she has. She can’t talk to anyone. Her parents are a mess, suffering from the same tragedy that weighs on her. She can’t connect with her fun-loving roommate Leanette. This predicament leads to a classic thriller trope Kramon handles with skill. What distinguishes this book is Kramon’s willingness to put predator and prey on almost equal footing: The predator is inhumane but not inhuman. A respectable thriller. Don’t be surprised if the movie appears at a multiplex near you.

THE REVOLUTION OF EVERY DAY

Luna, Cari Tin House (368 pp.) $15.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-935639-64-0

Luna’s debut novel, about the lives of homesteaders who occupy abandoned tenements in New York’s Lower East Side, is an unvarnished glimpse into a fringe sector of society during the latter part of the 20th century. The occupants of Thirteen House are NYC’s invisible people, imperfect and damaged, who nevertheless strive to maintain the community and families they’ve created. Philandering husband Steve, who opened the building in the 1980s, professes to love his wife, Anne, and wants to protect her; but Anne becomes increasingly distant and resentful. The product of a middle-class upbringing, she’s suffered four miscarriages and has nothing to show for her years of marriage, especially when she compares her life with her sister’s. Dutch-born Gerrit, a veteran homesteader and Steve’s best friend, is ashamed of his physical deficiencies and past decisions; but he’s consumed with love for young Amelia, the former junkie/runaway whom he rescued from the streets seven years ago. Amelia’s now pregnant—though not with Gerrit’s child—and she’s worried about her future and the looming decisions she must make. Steve’s first love, Cat, lives in neighboring Cat House, which is named for her. Cat’s a legend among the squatters due to her association with certain celebrities when she was young and beautiful. Now she prefers a more insular life with her menagerie of cats, and she and Amelia develop an unlikely rapport. With other members of their squatter family, the five make ends meet with mainstream day jobs, but evenings find them Dumpster diving and salvaging materials to feed themselves and repair their buildings. However, the city’s plan to evict them forces the squatters into action: They set up an eviction watch and enlist a lawyer to argue their case. As their convictions become embroiled with their crumbling private lives, they are swept into actions that determine their fates. Luna creates an array of complex characters caught up in emotions, relationships and situations far from the ordinary as they examine their commitments to their merged family and explore their own ideals and expectations. Enlightening and marked by inventive subject matter, intense reflection and stark eloquence.

THEN WE TAKE BERLIN

Lawton, John Atlantic Monthly (400 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-8021-2196-7

A dangerous assignment in East Berlin is fraught with complex memories from postwar Europe. London, 1963. John Holderness gets a late call from expansive Frank Spoleto, a big New York advertising exec, offering him a well-paying job. So close is their bond that Holderness, known as Wilderness due to his raucous past, agrees without further details. After reminiscing with Wilderness about their days together at MI6, Frank asks him to get his partner Steve’s beloved Aunt Hannah out of East Berlin. A flashback to 1941 presents Holderness at 13. His mother, Lily, has just been killed in a pub by a Luftwaffe air raid. His violent father, Harry, is away in the service, so Wilderness moves in with his granddad Abner and his sexy, much younger wife, Merle. Abner and Wilderness make a decent living as burglars. When Abner dies after a big job, Merle helps Wilderness avoid prosecution. As the war draws to a close, Wilderness is called up to serve. Contemptuous of authority, he barely escapes court martial, rescued only by his impressive scores on intelligence tests. Fast tracked into the spy game, he uses his criminal skills to avenge himself 28

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SOMERSET

in general, earning a living and upholding the family’s good name has fallen to him. But when he arrives at the family’s bayside British home in December 1863, he’s in no position to help. He’s been rusticated—effectively expelled—from college for poor conduct, thanks largely to the opium habit he’s picked up. The opening pages have a pitch-dark cast: Richard’s sister, Euphemia, pounds out angry music on the piano; the roads are muddy when they’re not frozen; and every local seems to drip contempt upon the family. As Richard befogs his brain and pursues an untoward relationship with a homely maid, the plot comes into view: Somebody is sending vicious, profane letters to various townspeople threatening violence and accusing the local women of all manner of sexual indiscretions. The letters, along with Richard’s entries about his sexual adventures, are deliberately provocative, but, like most gothic literature, this is a highly moral novel: It’s about the struggle to live rightly when nature and man alike send storm clouds your way. The story turns on whether or not Richard is the author of the letters, but—odd for an epistolary novel—Palliser doesn’t go as deeply into Richard’s head as the setup and themes demand. Much time is spent elaborating on the complex web of relationships in the town, particularly Euphemia’s pursuit of a husband, which saps the emotional power of Richard’s effort to redeem himself. Appropriately moody, lurid stuff but with plenty of plot cogwheels exposed.

Meacham, Leila Grand Central Publishing (624 pp.) $26.00 | Feb. 4, 2014 978-1-4555-4738-8 Of teary eyes and torn crinoline: an appropriately big Texas saga by homegrown romance maven Meacham (Tumbleweeds, 2012, etc.). The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children. Or maybe the other way around, since this book covers the generations before the Warwicks and Tolivers donned Ralph Lauren, before their Dallas dust-ups in Roses (2010). Meacham’s steamy prequel opens in Tidewater country, where young Jessica is pitching a wobbly because—well, because the pressure is on to do right by the paterfamilias and marry well onto some rich plantation, the ethical niceties of human bondage notwithstanding. Quoth she, in language befitting a coarser but more modern version of Gone with the Wind, “I’d rather copulate with a mule than a slave owner.” It takes many pages before Miss Jessica bestirs herself for the westward movement and Manifest Destiny, for a vast landscape fussed and feuded over by stalwart Jeremy Warwick and Silas Toliver. Well, you can’t settle a frontier or found an empire without breaking eggs, and Meacham’s latest is littered with broken shells—most of them broken at just the right moment and not haphazardly, but always with the opportunity for bosoms to heave into view. Meacham writes skillfully, if never stretching the bounds of the historical romance genre; readers expecting a yarn of the Lonesome Dove school will find that they’re in Barbara Cartland territory instead. (Miss Jessie, after all, belongs not to the local chapter of the Texas Rangers auxiliary but to a book club.) Still, Meacham writes competently, if without much flair, and her tale delivers what it sets out to do: Namely, it’s a historical oater with oodles of emotion, rent hearts, sundered friendships and fierce Comanches. And does Ms. Jessie ever get around to bedding down with an anti-abolitionist? There’s the question. Meacham’s fans—and she has many—will be glad for this prequel.

SIDESHOW OF MERIT

Pietsch, Nicole Namelos (328 pp.) $22.95 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-60898-163-2

In Canada in 1966, two male traveling companions in their early 20s become carnival performers. Tevan and James arrive at Buddy Merit’s carnival broke and fresh from an unpleasant incident the details of which readers do not yet know. They offer themselves as a sideshow act: Large, simple, taciturn James will choke the smaller Tevan until he falls unconscious and then resuscitate him. The history of how the two friends came to perform this act is revealed slowly, alongside flashbacks of their shared past at a sanitarium where, as they recovered from tuberculosis, the same boy sexually violated both of them. The evocative first-person narration skillfully interweaves past and present, and readers see how narrator Tevan’s present physical encounters vividly and painfully recall his history. He wrestles with these questions: Is sex the currency of love or of power? Is there such a thing as surety? The sideshow and its cast of troubled performers and greedy bosses come to life through slow and careful characterization, as do the intimate and caring friendship and interdependence between Tevan and James. As a portrait of a victim emerging from trauma, it compels unreservedly. It is unfortunate, however, that there are no positive portrayals of same-gender sex in the novel despite Tevan’s deep understanding

RUSTICATION

Palliser, Charles Norton (336 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 4, 2013 978-0-393-08872-4 A reprobate college student stands accused of a host of moral failings in an intensely gothic tale from Palliser (The Unburied, 1999, etc.). Richard Shenstone, author of the diary entries that make up this novel, was once his family’s great hope: With his father dead, his sister despairing of finding a rich husband and his mother despairing |

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of the world’s fear of “men and women with particular desires”; the effect is to crystallize same-sex encounters as sources of trauma and deviance, and only heterosexual relationships offer an escape. An eloquent, elegant exploration of trauma and memory, though more care could have been given to its treatment of same-sex relationships.

on the cover of forbidden magazines, she and her younger sister, Pearl, live in the strict world of the ultra-Orthodox in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where knees and elbows must be covered and where each of them can expect to be married off by the age of 16. Though unable, at first, to articulate it to herself, teenage Rose comes to understand that this is not the life for her. Her self-discovery unfurls alongside a passion for photography but results in a series of heart-wrenching events, which culminate in total estrangement from her family. Rose’s story picks back up 40 years later in a circuitous way, when her college-student daughter, Hannah, is contacted by Pearl’s teenage daughter, Rivka. By now, Rose is a successful and famous photographer, and Rivka, raised ultra-Orthodox, is hellbent on following in her secular footsteps, not knowing that Rose’s pain from being alienated from her roots has never subsided. Where the first section of the novel is a simple story, told in deeply felt detail, the second section explodes in turmoil. Runaway Rivka is like a pinball in New York City, ricocheting impulsively from thorny Hannah’s apartment to Rose’s sanctuarylike dwelling, sowing drama along the way. Without the self-knowledge and direction that Rose had at her age, Rivka is less sympathetic, but her combination of ego and innocence seems fitting for 2007, when her story is set, and her future is every bit as vertiginous. Ragen uses Hannah’s role as a scholar of women’s history to remind readers that Rivka’s quest for freedom is as necessary and important as the plight of any subjugated woman in history, but the effect is didactic. Rose and Rivka are more convincing when they speak for themselves. Of the complexities embraced in this intergenerational drama, some are harsh and difficult to relate to, while others are universal. The book is unflinching and surprisingly suspenseful.

BLOWBACK

Plame, Valerie; Lovett, Sarah Blue Rider Press (336 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-399-15820-9 Having told her real-life story in the memoir Fair Game (2007), former CIA agent Plame teams with Lovett, author of the Dr. Sylvia Strange series, to relate the adventures of undercover CIA oper-

ative Vanessa Pierson. Pierson is obsessed with tracking down the world’s most dangerous terrorist, Bhoot, who is said to be stockpiling weapons of mass destruction in Iran. His location is secret, but his closest associate, a grim sniper assassin named Pauk, is roaming around, knocking off people who threaten to expose closely held secrets. Those targets include Vanessa’s informers, the first of whom gets shot in the head in Prague in a meeting she was told to abort. Readers who have watched TV’s Covert Affairs, featuring slightly perkier undercover agent Annie Walker, will pretty much know what to expect here. In her intense pursuit of justice, which takes her to numerous scenic locations, Vanessa goes against her superiors’ orders and violates basic rules— including the one that you don’t get romantically involved with a connection in the field. That leads her to a predictable dilemma in which she has to decide whether or not to trust her lover. However unoriginal it is, the book moves along briskly and intelligently, informed by the disillusionment Plame suffered in having her cover blown by the Bush administration. There are plenty of action scenes for Vanessa to fling herself into and, in this first installment in the series, a decently drawn, if not yet scare-inducing, villain. Making her spy fiction debut, Plame, with the seasoned Lovett’s help, delivers a solid, entertaining thriller.

THE HEAVENS RISE

Rice, Christopher Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4767-1608-4 Rice’s supernatural thriller (A Density of Souls, 2000, etc.) returns readers to familiar stomping grounds in New Orleans and features three teenage friends brought together by personal tragedy. Niquette “Nikki” Delongpre has lived the perfect life. She’s beautiful and surrounded by people who love her: Ben, devoted best friend; Anthem, her handsome boyfriend; and her parents, a respected surgeon and his cherished wife. But all the good things in her life begin to go sideways when Nikki breaks up with Anthem after another girl claims he was with her. Enter Nikki’s jealous would-be suitor, Marshall Ferriot, who maneuvers Nikki into going out with him. That date turns out to be a nightmare; Marshall is not only abusive, but during the evening, the couple ends up in a pool of water that infects them both with a type of parasite that causes them to undergo radical changes. Marshall, embittered that Nikki reconciled with

THE SISTERS WEISS

Ragen, Naomi St. Martin’s (336 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-312-57019-4

Ragen (The Tenth Song, 2010, etc.) sensitively explores the repercussions in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family when one of its members leaves the fold. It’s the early 1960s, and though Rose Weiss has seen Marilyn Monroe 30

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BELLMAN & BLACK

Anthem, decides to get even, setting into motion a series of events that result in the Delongpre family car plunging into a river with all three family members inside and culminating when Marshall suffers a bizarre accident that leaves him in a wheelchair. Throw in some atmosphere, and the stage is set for Rice to work his clever, complicated plot around New Orleans and its environs. The author makes Katrina and its aftermath part of the story and creates some original characters in the process, but original characters can’t redeem this novel once it goes off course. Although filled with early promise, the book sputters about two-thirds of the way through, when Rice veers away from a complicated and compelling story and takes off in a new, unexpected and disappointing direction. Rice’s latest has a very strong start but loses steam in the last third.

Setterfield, Diane Emily Bestler/Atria (336 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-4767-1195-9 A boy hits the wrong bird with a slingshot, with lifelong consequences, in this second venture into gothic territory from Setterfield, author of the hugely popular The Thirteenth Tale (2006). The book begins in the mid-19th century, in an English village whose focal point is a textile mill. At age 10, William Bellman, showing off for two friends, shoots a rook with a slingshot. Two decades later, William is rising rapidly through the ranks at the mill. He is the nephew of Paul, the owner’s son, however, William’s advancement is due more to sheer diligence than to nepotism. He has mastered every aspect of the mill’s operation when a series of unfortunate events advances his career prospects beyond his wildest dreams. The owner dies, apparently of old age, then Paul expires suddenly. Other deaths follow in quick succession, including those of William’s mother and Luke, one of two witnesses to the slingshot incident. Only the reader is aware, due in part to the appearance of these birds before each death and intermittent segments detailing the mythology and lore surrounding them, that rooks are harbingers of doom. William is oblivious, although a stranger in black appears at each funeral, regarding him sardonically. By now, William owns the mill since the last heir, Charles, an artist, also suffered a rook-related death after William’s artistically gifted daughter Dora showed Charles a drawing of her favorite blackplumaged bird. It isn’t until most of William’s family are wiped out by an epidemic that he suspects the strange Mr. Black’s role in all this. Desperate to save Dora, he enters into a bargain with Black, the exact terms of which remain obscure, even at times to William, but it involves opening a Selfridge’s-like London emporium specializing in the trappings of mourning and funerals. Although this novel succeeds in creating an atmosphere of creeping dread, the effect is attenuated by too much detail about the running of mills and department stores and also by a growing puzzlement over why an impulsive childhood transgression, never repeated, should exact such a terrible penalty. A gothic tale in which moments of tedium are relieved by morbidity.

HALF THE KINGDOM

Segal, Lore Melville House (176 pp.) $23.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-61219-302-1

Is dementia catching? The possibility sends one emergency room into a tizzy in Segal’s latest, a surreal black comedy. It’s Miriam Haddad, an ER doctor, who lets the cat out of the bag. She confides to Joe Bernstine, a regular patient, that they’re tracking “all the sixty-two-pluses who go around the bend.” Smiling Joe is unfazed. Nothing fazes Joe, not even the fact that he’s terminal. He’s the retired director of a think tank that figured prominently in Segal’s previous novel, Shakespeare’s Kitchen (2007), and is busy cataloging, in his small Manhattan office, end-of-the-world scenarios. His staff consists of family and friends, most notably Lucy, a 75-year-old poet with emphysema. It’s she who notices the body hurtling past the window. One of the black dressmakers whose space they acquired has committed suicide after taking her sister to the same New York hospital ER where Joe is a frequent visitor. Soon, Joe’s outfit is working with Dr. Haddad to investigate the staggering surge in Alzheimer’s cases. Joe has hinted that undefined “entities” may be using the ER to create an epidemic. Stated that baldly, it sounds pretty silly, but then, this is not a conventional medicaldisaster novel, but a wild flight, complete with loops, tangents and quizzical asides. What follows is a parade of new intakes, all about to lose their minds. Observing them unofficially is Lucy, who is being driven crazy herself by the refusal of a magazine to pass judgment on a months-old submission. Back to Dr. Haddad, who, as the hospital’s spokesperson, declares “[t]here is no emergency room...that is not liable to raise the stress level to one that can cause temporary dementia.” That exposes Segal’s debunking of the Byzantine bureaucracy of the American hospital, but it does not prepare readers for the dark ending: a tableau of the demented, all stark naked, and Joe on his deathbed. A sassy circumnavigation of hospital culture and mortality.

THE LIGHT AND THE DARK

Shishkin, Mikhail Translated by Bromfield, Andrew Quercus (368 pp.) $24.95 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-62365-046-9

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“...gorgeous, glorious...” from the best american comics 2013

throughout the novel; usually Vovka or Sashka will begin with an endearment, but these are monologues, not letters—neither responds to the other. Think of them as ships that pass in the night, again and again. Once, they spent some time together in a Russian dacha. That’s the extent of our knowledge of them as a couple, for Shishkin conceals as much as he reveals. Nor do readers know when this is happening, until they reach the only historical marker: the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Vovka decides at the outset to “choose myself a war.” He is assigned a position at staff headquarters, writing death notices to next of kin. As the army arrives in the Far East, there are some magic realist elements: an island that’s a fish, people with dog heads. Indeed, the whole conflict in China has an otherworldly tinge, with seven Western nations allied against the anti-Christian Chinese peasantry. The high death toll, though, is uncomfortably real. Sashka’s monologues concentrate on domestic matters: her marriage to a painter, her complicated relationship to his ex-wife and daughter, her attendance as a nurse on her mother, dying of cancer. In the constant tension between the life force and death, the scales are weighted toward death. Yet, in a significant moment, Sashka encounters a burning bush, an obvious Biblical allusion, and understands that she and Vovka “are already husband and wife.” Outside of time, no doubt. It is also significant that the novel finds Vovka meeting Prester John, the Christian king of medieval legend whose territory the army had crossed en route to China and who will, maybe, effect the lovers’ reunion. Shishkin expects his readers to do some serious decoding; whether it’s worth the effort is an open question.

his fascinating memoir-cum–investigative journalism about his adolescent friendship with Jeffrey Dahmer. Backderf presents a sympathetic though creepy portrait of the future serial killer, made all the more perverse when viewed through the cartoonish, R. Crumb/Mad Magazine lens of his art. Another standout is Eleanor Davis’ “Nita Goes Home,” a near-future homecoming that ingeniously nails its science-fiction tropes, highlighted by a scene in which two sisters mourn their father’s passing, clinging to each other and bawling while the suits they wear for protection against a degraded environment render their faces as expressionless bedsheet ghosts. The best panel work comes in Sam Alden’s pulse-pounding “Turn Back,” Sammy Harkham’s fine-lined grotesquerie “A Husband and a Wife,” Joseph Lambert’s chalky depiction of a young Hellen Keller’s world in “Discipline” and the percussive pulp punches of Tony Puryear’s “Concrete Park: (Chapter 1).” While all the stories are executed crisply, some feel a bit pat (Vanessa Davis’ “In the Rough”) or uninspired (Faith Erin Hicks’ “Raiders”) or strain for cleverness (Grant Snider’s “Four Comics”). At its best, a gorgeous, glorious inferno of imagination; at its worst, great art.

VICIOUS CIRCLE

Smith, Wilbur Dunne/St. Martin’s (480 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-250-00031-6 Smith (Those in Peril, 2011, etc.) continues the saga of Hector Cross, warrior, rich man. Hector ran Crossbow Security, until he attempted the rescue of Cayla Bannock. Cayla died, but Cross married Cayla’s mother, Hazel, widowed Bannock Oil heiress. Now, Hazel’s pregnant. After a gynecologist visit, the pair set out in separate vehicles for their English estate. There’s an ambush. Hazel is mortally wounded, but baby Catherine Cayla is saved by cesarean. Cross believes the ambush is the “blood feud” work of the “survivors of the family of Hadji Sheikh Mohammed Khan Tippoo Tip,” engineers of Cayla’s kidnapping. Clan leader Aazim Muktar is in Mecca. Cross secures Catherine in a fortress atop a skyscraper in Abu Zara, fount of Bannock wealth. Cross then slips into Mecca to confront Muktar, only to learn he’s a peaceful holy man. Smith simplifies narrative action with a moneyed protagonist able to afford cutting-edge weaponry and technology, and he pads the tale with a hard left turn in midstory to present a novel within a novel about the villain, Carl Peter Bannock, born Karl Pieter Kurtmeyer, spawn of a Gestapo officer adopted by Bannock Oil’s founder. Carl’s imprisoned for incestuous rape but is still a Bannock Trust beneficiary. He wants the final heir, Catherine, eliminated. In a Texas prison, Carl befriends Johnny Congo, aka King John Tembo Kikuu of Kazundu—refugee African royalty gone bad. Carl’s released, engineers Johnny’s escape, and the two psychopaths restore Johnny to his African throne. Cross learns this from a former trust lawyer. Smith’s narrative

THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2013

Smith, Jeff—Ed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (352 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-547-99546-5 The eighth volume of the series collects 30 examples of graphic storytelling—either in whole or as excerpts— from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, minicomics and Web comics. Editor Smith (RASL, 2012, etc.) explains his selection criteria as “originality; grasp of the tools and syntax of panel-to-panel progression; and most important, if the thing surprised me, it was in.” In terms of surprises, Michael Kupperman’s “Scary Bathtub Stories” offers a hilariously absurdist, 1950s-style warning about the dangers of bathtubs, such as their ability to expose bathers to Lovecraft-ian beasties and horrific demises (“I can feel its eye-mouth on my genitals!!”). Wry wit and simple lines are on fine display in James Kochalka’s excerpts from American Elf, his semiautobiographical, slice-of-life comic strip featuring the artist and his family (and a cat who scratched Kochalka’s face “just because I tried to play him as a harmonica!”). The collection offers strong personal, emotional stories, the most striking being Derf Backderf ’s “The Strange Boy,” excerpted from 32

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is bloated, sometimes fact deficient, reliant on implausibilities, and laced with gratuitous, gut-churning violence inflicted upon innocents. The dialogue is often affectedly old world; action regularly stops to order the right wine or exotic foodstuff or summon obsequious staff. Characters are either flat or overthe-top superhumans and impervious to harm, although a bad guy does survive to populate a sequel. Not for the faint of heart, or stomach.

Taraghi, Goli Translated by Khalili, Sarah Norton (320 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 21, 2013 978-0-393-06333-2

An Iranian writer prized internationally and among fellow writers of fiction deserves a wider American readership for this rich, provocative collection of stories. Though there’s occasionally a “once upon a time,” fablelike quality to these stories, Taraghi’s fiction (A Mansion in the Sky, 2003, etc.) reflects her own experience as a woman born in Tehran in 1939; she has suffered the upheavals of war and revolution, seen the rules change and disappear, and has long lived in Paris. Many of these are tales of two cities, of relocating to a city where one cannot be at home—“Our lives as foreigners in Paris are full of hidden anxieties,” she writes in “The Neighbor,” one of the shorter and strongest stories here—while their home in pre-revolutionary Tehran exists only in memory. “If Iran was not at war, I would go back home,” explains the narrator of the same story. “If it weren’t for my fear of the bombs and the rockets, I would not stay here a single day. But in truth, the real battlefield is here.” Though the turbulence gives each story a political dimension, the human condition is at the heart of these stories, which explore the ambiguities of freedom and the essence of exile through a series of narrators, many of whom share gender, generational and geographical specifics with the author, but most have a limited perspective and some seem to have blinders on. One of the longer stories, “Amina’s Great Journey,” traces the arc of a Bangladeshi maid’s life and travails, as recounted by the condescending narrator who employs her, first in Tehran and later in Paris, and who becomes her reluctant benefactor. In “The Encounter,” the narrator finds herself at the mercy of a nanny she had fired, perhaps unjustly, in the post-revolution turning of tables. There is plenty of dark humor in these stories amid “the painful ambiguity of conjecture and uncertainty.” The simple diction throughout belies the depth and ambition of this fiction.

THE SLEEP ROOM

Tallis, F.R. Pegasus Crime (400 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 15, 2013 978-1-60598-476-6 A remote psychiatric hospital in the 1950s is the perfect setting for progressive treatments...and paranormal activity. Young psychiatrist James Richardson is excited to be hired by the celebrated Dr. Hugh Maitland to work at Wyldehope Hall, a psychiatric hospital in a remote part of Suffolk. Since he has no attachments, Richardson doesn’t think that the isolation of the place will bother him, and he’s looking forward to learning about Richardson’s unique treatment, in which disturbed patients are kept asleep for long periods. But he finds several aspects of the place unsettling, beginning with the air of secrecy surrounding many procedures. The imperious Sister Jenkins runs day-to-day operations with an iron hand. Her polar opposite is Mary Williams, who’s loath to ask for help even when she twists an ankle. Richardson passes the time by playing chess with delusional patient Mr. Chapman, who maintains that the nurses move his bed at night, and entering into a covert affair with nurse Jane Turner. One night after sex, he sees what he can only describe as a ghost passing over the bed. Jane laughs it off, but Richardson is spooked. Mary begins to act erratically then disappears. Richardson decides to leave Wyldehope, a choice confirmed by a long meeting with his predecessor, Palmer. But the offer of a promotion and his deepening feelings for Jane cause him to change his mind, an impulsive move he later deeply regrets. Layering several familiar elements expertly, Tallis (Death and the Maiden, 2012, etc.) creates a deliciously creepy mood of neogothic suspense.

LIES YOU WANTED TO HEAR

Thomson, James Whitfield Sourcebooks Landmark (416 pp.) $14.99 paper | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-4022-8428-1

First-time novelist Thomson explores the excruciating pain of a marriage gone wrong in this dreary tale stretched out over two decades. In the summer of 1977, two Bostonians are set up on a blind date: Lucy Thornhill, a sensual, free spirit from a privileged background, and Matt Drobyshev, a straight-arrow policeman who grapples |

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with a volatile temper. On the rebound from a passionate fling with the noncommittal Griffin, Lucy feels drawn to the handsome, steady Matt; soon, she and the smitten cop glide effortlessly into marriage and a quiet domestic life in Jamaica Plain. After the births of her two children, Lucy is struggling with postpartum depression and drug use when Griffin reappears, potently seductive. Furious over his wife’s affair, Matt pushes for a divorce and sole custody of Sarah and Nathan but is thwarted by the exigencies of family law, which favor the mother. Fearful for his children’s safety, he abducts them; under new aliases, they hopscotch across the country before settling in Southern California. Sara and Elliot, as they’re now known, grow up in a stable, loving one-parent household, well-adjusted students that believe their mother perished in a house fire when they were toddlers. Elliot eventually enrolls in a music college in Boston, where he stumbles upon Lucy, a divorcee who’s never given up hope that she’d see her children again. Thomson writes in clear if pedestrian prose, shifting between Lucy and Matt, but unfortunately, the novel never transcends the dour particulars of its own he said, she said storytelling. As Lucy notes, Matt “was always so sure of himself as a father....I loved my children beyond measure, but I had a hard time finding my rhythm with them, as if mothering were a dance and I had to keep looking down at my feet.” Relentlessly grim melodrama, in the vein of Ordinary People and Kramer vs. Kramer.

to terms with a nagging obsession with a memory from boyhood. The shortest story, “Joanna,” is also the most devastating, with its undercurrent of incest that the narrator can only acknowledge by deflection but which has required years of therapy for him to address. “What moves the world is not exactly will,” explains that narrator. “There are habits, passions, commendable goals that prevail through outlandish pathways, genes we cannot imagine that connect us with the most distant past.” Stories of love at its least sentimental and most richly, maddeningly inscrutable.

THE SUPREME MACARONI COMPANY

Trigiani, Adriana Harper/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $25.99 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-06-213658-9

The third in a trilogy about the life of Valentine Roncalli. Trigiani (The Shoemaker’s Wife, 2012, etc.) re-enters familiar territory here, both in that this book follows two previous novels about the Roncalli family and in that it has many of her hallmarks: sprawling Italian families, old-world craftsmanship, and melodious love letters to New York City and Italy. Narrator Valentine Roncalli is (as she frequently declares) an artist, designing shoes for a small, family-owned and -run shoe company. As the novel begins, she is being proposed to by Gianluca Vechiarelli, an Italian purveyor of fine leathers 18 years her senior. Readers are told immediately of several possible conflicts in this marriage, outside of the age difference: Both characters have layered romantic pasts; neither are sure how Gianluca will fit in with the shoe business; and he’d prefer to live in Italy. These issues mostly simmer in the background as the book plods through the next few years of their life together. The beginning is largely devoted to the lavish wedding Valentine’s family plans for them. Then it’s back to the shoe business, a lovely trip to Tuscany and the birth of a daughter. The simmering issues come to a boil at intervals throughout but rarely spur character change. While the narration is exposition-heavy, readers unfamiliar with the first two Valentine books may have trouble fitting the pieces together. Fans of Trigiani’s Valentine books will find plenty of fodder here.

THE END OF LOVE

Torrente, Marcos Giralt Translated by Silver, Katherine McSweeney’s (176 pp.) $22.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-938073-56-4 A stellar collection of stories about the mysteries of love as it ebbs and flows, from a well-regarded Spanish novelist. The first work by the author to be translated into English and published in America, these four stories each shed some oblique light on what one of their first-person narrators terms “the sinuous intricacies of the human heart,” typically from the perspective of someone observing a relationship that he finds unfathomable. Most of the narrators have a literary sensibility, invoking authors from Joseph Conrad to Alice Munro, but the stories undermine the possibility of literature—even these particular narratives—to help the reader (or the narrator) understand relationships that belong “to the terrain of speculation, of the ineffable.” The reader might well feel like the narrator, considering a marriage he can’t understand, who feels “a similar sensation as when I read a text that fails to offer up all its meaning in one reading: confident at having all the pieces of a puzzle but not having found the guiding principle to assemble it.” Most of these four stories (three of them fairly long) ultimately reveal more about the narrator than about the couples he’s struggling to understand. The last two find the narrator, decades older but not necessarily any wiser, attempting to come 34

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“...poetic, no-holds-barred...” from the misfortunates

THE TULIP EATERS

free-wheeling lifestyle that has long-term effects on the narrator recalls nothing so much as the bittersweet flavor of Charles Bukowski and, by extension, Tom Waits. There’s something of a meditation on fatherhood; the patriarch of the family takes his son on a tour of the bars immediately after his birth. But unfortunately, the novel’s women become mere afterthoughts to the sport of the day. Drinking, as the narrator Dimmy explains, becomes something of a contest. “God created the day and we dragged ourselves through it,” Verhulst writes. “When we still lived like characters in the songs of Big Bill Broonzy, Omer organized an assault on the world drinking record.” And the men, be it Dimmy’s father or his extended family of uncles, are rather disgusting: sweating, farting, scratching, cursing behemoths for whom beer and the consumption of said is a religion. The novel’s pinnacle comes in the form of “The Tour de France,” a monumental tribute to the pub crawl, replete with the contestants speeding through the suburbs in their underwear. Verhulst wraps things up nicely as Dimitri outgrows his roots. “I’m not one of them, but I’d like to be,” he says. “I wish I could show my loyalty or my love, whatever you want to call those feelings.” A poetic, no-holds-barred slice of the European lowlife, with lots of drinking.

van Heugten, Antoinette Harlequin MIRA (400 pp.) $15.95 paper | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-7783-1388-5 Nora de Jong’s life is turned upside down when she comes home from work to find her mother murdered and her infant daughter gone; following the minute clues leads her to some devastating secrets from her family’s past and a violent legacy of betrayal and resentment. Suddenly, in one tragic moment, Nora goes from being blissfully happy to being distraught over her mother’s murder and her daughter’s disappearance. But there is another body at the scene of the crime, someone Nora doesn’t know. Why he would be there and what he has to do with her daughter’s abduction are driving questions that will force Nora to reexamine everything she knows about her Dutch parents, their past and her heritage. Following what seems like bread crumbs, Nora winds up in Amsterdam and the dusty archives of the War Institute, where endless files and records from the Nazi occupation are kept. What she finds there will shed light on Europe’s dark history during World War II and the suffering the Dutch populace endured under Hitler’s brutal grip. She will learn that her own family’s history reflected a microcosm of the violence and confusion of savage times and that the hate and misunderstanding of war can shadow generations. Author van Heugten’s novel plots an ambitious mystery that blends historical elements with a modern kidnapping arc. As Nora seeks clues to find her daughter, she must research her family’s history and uncover the secrets of her past; along the way, the author takes the opportunity to highlight some forgotten details of Dutch wartime history. This is a worthy and noble story, but there are too many moments that don’t quite work—awkward segues, simplistic character reactions, graceless dialogue. However, the arcs will keep readers engaged, and this war-torn family drama will win fans despite its weaknesses. Flawed yet gripping.

THE LAST WINTER OF DANI LANCING

Viner, P.D. Crown (400 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-8041-3682-2

In Viner’s feverish psychological thriller, family and friends of Dani Lancing, who was raped and murdered 20 years ago, go to frightening lengths to get to the bottom of, or obscure the facts of, the cold case. Dani’s disappearance in 1989, when she was a London college girl, devastated her parents and ultimately drove them apart. Encouraged by advances in DNA testing, her mother, Patty, a former investigative reporter, is obsessed with identifying the killer. She is willing to commit violence of her own to gather fresh evidence. Dani’s father, Jim, who is retired, suffers from night terrors, eased only by regular visits from his daughter’s ghost. Jumping back and forth in time and switching points of view, the novel connects all sorts of dots, on multiple narrative levels, in establishing suspects. They include Sep, a manipulative druggie who turned Dani on to heroin; Duncan, a married man who was once Dani’s lover; and Tom, her childhood best friend, who never got over his unrequited crush on her. Now a police detective called the Sad Man for his teary sensitivity to cases such as hers, Tom cozies up to shady characters as well as Dani’s reunited parents in conducting his own investigation. It takes a while for the reader to get on the same page with Viner, and the climax is over-the-top. But once readers hook into the book’s fragmented approach, this becomes a chilly, emotionally charged page-turner. Oddly enough, for all its London references and locations, the novel has an American flavor. Perhaps

THE MISFORTUNATES

Verhulst, Dimitri Translated by Colmer, David Dunne/St. Martin’s (208 pp.) $23.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-250-03516-5

A family of deeply entrenched alcoholics stumbles its way toward grace in this 2007 novel of misadventure from awardwinning Belgian writer Verhulst (Goddamn Days on a Goddamn Globe, 2008, etc.). The grotesque nature of chronic drinking is played as absurdist comedy in Verhulst’s book. Admittedly autobiographical, Verhulst’s rendering of pub life and the liver-crushing, |

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the author, who has achieved success as a filmmaker, spent a lot of time viewing Hollywood noirs? Viner’s debut is not completely convincing, but it will hook readers with its intensity and puzzlelike plot.

Winston Bates. In a story that is part Our Man in Havana and part Forrest Gump, recruited spy Winston is lacking in the subtle skills of espionage but still manages to fumble his way into key positions of influence within the post–World War II American political machine. Along the way, he encounters the central actors who shaped U.S. Cold War policies and many of the peripheral characters hidden in the shadows of covert affairs. Helped in large part by his prodigious memory for even the most insignificant details, Winston becomes the preferred aide for two U.S. senators and one president: Lyndon B. Johnson. His proximity to the principal figures of power enables Winston to influence the direction of international happenings, ranging from the Suez Crisis of 1956 to the Iran-Contra Affair. Along with actions that have unforeseen but lasting impacts on American foreign policy, Winston engages in a lively social life where he uses his gift of information retention to participate in Beltway gossip. While continually concerned with when his “handlers” will call on him, Winston’s first-person account of the people he meets and the secrets he hears make for interesting reading. Warner’s skillful descriptions of major political players will intrigue the politico junkie but may be a little too detailed for the casual reader. An intelligent fictional memoir.

SHE WALKS IN DARKNESS

Walton, Evangeline Tachyon (192 pp.) $14.95 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-61696-133-6

A good old-fashioned gothic suspense story, heaving bosom included. This posthumous tale from Walton (1907-1996), a pioneering female fantasy author who published her first novel in 1936, finds honeymooning American couple Richard and Barbara Keyes embarking on an ill-fated stay at a remote Italian villa, an imposing structure that conceals both ancient, eerie Etruscan tombs and a family history of madness and murder. Left to fend for herself after her husband is rendered unconscious in an auto accident, Barbara—isolated in a desolate mountain pass without access to a telephone—stumbles upon the gory remains of the villa’s caretaker and finds herself menaced by a mysterious young villager whose connection to the house and its history provides the story’s lurid throughline. The book teems with gothic detail: a mad old prince bent on vendetta, intimations of ancient civilizations, skeletons chained in subterranean tombs, leering sexual threat, lowering shadows and an overwhelmed young heroine besieged by forces she can barely comprehend. It’s mostly good fun; Barbara, while a bit hysterical, is a plucky protagonist, and Walton (The Sword is Forged, 1983, etc.) lards her potboiler with intriguing historical detail—there is much talk of the mysterious, ancient Etruscans and their peculiar notion of justice. But too often, the narrative bogs down in clunky exposition (the prince is an incorrigible monologist) and thin characterization. Still, there is considerable charm in this old-fashioned hair-raiser, and Walton’s focus on history and myth is distinctive. A slightly awkward but diverting thriller, rich in historical detail, with a peculiar flavor all its own.

MY MOTHER’S SECRET

Witterick, J.L. Putnam (208 pp.) $19.95 | Sep. 5, 2013 978-0-399-16854-3

A debut novel of Jews and Germans, families and soldiers hidden from the Nazis. Based upon the true story of Franciszka Halamajowa, Witterick’s novel is told by four narrators, beginning with Franciszka’s daughter, Helena. Raised in Germany with her older brother, Damian, Helena recalls her mother’s hard work and generosity. A strict, selfish man, their father sympathizes with the Nazi movement. In contrast, Franciszka judges people by their behavior, and her return to Poland effectively ends their marriage. In Sokol, Damian begins working at an oil refinery, enabling him to support the family and to become a skilled machinist. Helena lands a secretarial job at a garment factory, where she falls in love with the general manager, Casmir Kowalski, a good man. Like Franciszka—who entertains German commanders while harboring Jews—Casmir understands the importance of appearing to befriend officials on different sides of the conflict. Yet Helena is afraid to embroil Casmir in her mother’s secrets, so she cannot follow him to Germany when the Nazis invade. The perspective then shifts to those Franciszka sheltered. She rescues Bronek, his wife and child, as well as his brother and sister-in-law, from certain death in a Jewish ghetto, offering them asylum in her pigsty. She rescues Dr. Mikolaj Wolenski and his family, providing them safe haven under the floorboards of her kitchen. She also rescues Vilhelm, a German soldier, giving him refuge in the

THE MOLE The Cold War Memoir Of Winston Bates: A Novel

Warner, Peter Dunne/St. Martin’s (336 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-250-03479-3

A fictitious account of an untrained spy’s pivotal role in many of the 20th century’s significant political happenings. Warner (Lifestyle, 1986) introduces readers to the surprisingly politically adroit character of 36

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cramped attic. Franciszka’s thoughts remain a secret, revealed only through her own behavior. The Halamajowa family’s courage is inspiring. Yet, instead of illuminating the transcendence of their work, the simplicity of Witterick’s prose dulls the story. Instead of universalizing the tale, the underdeveloped characters and thin descriptions flatten the effect. Frustratingly sparse.

m ys t e r y BEHIND THE SHATTERED GLASS

Alexander, Tasha Minotaur (304 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-250-02470-1

Nothing lowers the atmosphere of a country estate more than a corpse on the library floor. Fortunately, no one can solve the murder more graciously and expeditiously than Lady Emily Hargreaves in this frothy Victorian whodunit. When Archibald Scolfield, the Marquess of Montagu, staggers into the Hargreaves’ ancestral home and falls dead on the Axminster carpet, Lady Emily is reluctant to consider the most obvious suspect: his cousin and her neighbor, Matilda. Archibald’s death means that Matilda will become a marchioness in her own right—until a long-lost heir conveniently arrives to claim the title. In the course of their decorous probing, Lady Emily and her husband, Colin, discover that Archie was not quite as noble as his lineage would suggest, and the list of suspects grows accordingly. A subplot about illegitimacy and downstairs intrigues involving the housemaid, Lily; a vindictive kitchen maid; and Simon, Earl Flyte, further confounds the Hargreaves, who have to contend with a gaggle of suspects until they realize where they should have been looking all along. The cigar-smoking, Homer-quoting Lady Emily, who’s meant to be a liberal-minded renegade in a Worth gown, is jarringly misplaced in her century, and it’s especially disappointing that she uses her wealth and influence to steer events toward not one but two improbable outcomes. Alexander brings back her husband-and-wife detective team (Death in the Floating City, 2012, etc.) in a tale most likely to appeal to readers who like a little naughty homicide blended into their cozy period romance.

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THE LITTER OF THE LAW

Brown, Rita Mae; Brown, Sneaky Pie Bantam (256 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-345-53048-6 Murders in a small town leave an armchair detective and her pet family with too few motives, or perhaps too many. Mary “Harry” Haristeen just can’t stay out of trouble. Now, she and her loyal brood of animals stumble upon a scarecrow whose straw form has been replaced with a corpse. Harry didn’t know the late Joshua Hill and can’t seem to find a reason anyone would want him dead. Harry’s friend Hester Martin has concerns of her own, from her resolve to save historical buildings to her determination to educate the consumers at her vegetable stand on the importance of organic foods. With Halloween fast approaching, Harry would love to get to the truth before the spooky mood settles over her little Virginia town. Before she can solve the case, however, one of Harry’s friends is struck down in another grisly scene. Now, Harry’s husband, Fair, insists that she carry her father’s .38 and try to stay out of trouble, even though both are against her nature. On top of all this drama, sassy cat Pewter is working the last nerve of tiger-striped Mrs. Murphy and corgi Tee Tucker even though the crew have banded together to protect Harry, their mom. An animal-centric cozy that settles for educating rather than preaching, a nice shift from Brown’s recent outings (Sneaky Pie for President, 2012, etc.). (Agent: Emma Patterson)

THE CHOCOLATE BOOK BANDIT

Carl, JoAnna Obsidian (240 pp.) $22.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-451-23954-9

Who knew serving on a library board could be so dangerous? When Lee McKinney Woodyard is asked to serve on the Warner Pier Library board, she attends a meeting to see if the task fits her already busy lifestyle, which includes running TenHuis Chocolade. The meeting is uneventful until library clerk Betty Blake discovers the body of board member Abigail Montgomery dead at the bottom of the basement steps. Although Abigail’s death looks like an accident, further investigation shows that the murder weapon was a wooden rod Lee finds on the floor. It soon becomes obvious that several members of the board have something to hide. Lee, whose uncle by marriage is the police chief, realizes that she can get access to insider information by becoming a board member. Lee’s life is already in turmoil because she suspects her husband, Joe, a lawyer, is far too interested in his recently returned high school sweetheart, while Lee finds herself attracted to hunky Butch kirkus.com

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MURDER BY SUNLIGHT The Charity Quilt

Cassidy, the newly hired library director. When Betty Blake is also found dead at the library, Lee continues to investigate her fellow board members. Even the bossy retired English teacher whose family donated the library building comes under suspicion. An attempt on Lee’s life only makes her more determined to reveal the killer. The latest installment in Lee’s chocolate-themed series (The Chocolate Moose Motive, 2012, etc.) includes lots of suspects, red herrings and chocolate trivia.

Graham, Barbara Five Star (290 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 23, 2013 978-1-4328-2727-4

An East Tennessee sheriff wonders if his county is becoming the murder capital of the state. Life is good for Sheriff Tony Abernathy, his wife, Theo, their twin baby girls and Theo’s quilt shop. In the run-up to the Fourth of July, Silersville has been spared all but run-of-the-mill crimes until a man is found dead in a tree. From that point on, the sheriff ’s problems multiply. A second man is attacked and almost killed while showering. Soon afterward, there’s still another attack, apparently by a complete stranger. But Tony’s most baffling case is the murder of Candy Tibbles, who’s addicted to drugs and men. Candy’s son Alvin, who’s emancipated from his mother, lives with Tony’s aunt, does yard work and is fascinated by botany. Tony soon discovers that Candy had been collecting hush money for years from a large number of men, any of whom could be Alvin’s father. Candy keeps a locked mailbox stuffed with envelopes filled with varying amounts of money and marked with code names. Alvin tells Tony his mother loved spy games and had a small pink book with the keys to her codes, but it’s nowhere to be found. All the men Candy slept with provide such an abundance of suspects that figuring out who did her in may not be easy. Graham (Murder By Vegetable, 2012, etc.) again includes instructions for a mystery quilt, but her latest outing, despite obligatory appearances by the usual group of oddballs, is so slow reaching a conclusion that readers may cease to care whodunit.

BLOOD ON A SAINT

Emery, Anne ECW Press (300 pp.) $24.95 | Nov. 1, 2013 978-1-77041-122-7

A blues-singing lawyer, an operaloving priest and a loudmouthed talkshow host rock Halifax in this offbeat whodunit. Befanee Tate, the former secretary from St. Bernadette’s, is in the midst of a wrongful-dismissal suit against the church when she claims to see the Virgin Mary near the statue of the church’s namesake. Pilgrims flock to the statue and salty-tongued Father Brennan Burke reluctantly appears on CTV’s Pike Podgis Show to discuss the supposed miracle. Instead, he makes a fool of Podgis. The TV host, a practitioner of scandal and shock journalism, creates plenty of both for himself when he’s arrested for the murder of Jordyn Snider, a prominent worshiper at St. Bernadette’s feet. Podgis can’t even get respect from his defense attorney, Father Burke’s friend Monty Collins, who nevertheless tries conscientiously to find an alternative explanation for Jordyn’s death. Father Burke, prevented by the seal of the confessional from telling all he knows, struggles to protect a street missionary implicated in the murder. Following Monty and Father Burke through the back streets, blues clubs and waterfront district of 1992 Halifax in search of the truth is an enjoyable quest, even though the tale would have benefited from adding a few minor resolutions and subtracting one melodramatic moment in Monty’s efforts to reunite his estranged family. Emery (Cecilian Vespers, 2009, etc.) skillfully blends homicide with wit, music, theology, quirky characters and a Nova Scotian atmosphere.

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GHOST GONE WILD

Hart, Carolyn Berkley Prime Crime (320 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-425-26075-3 A heavenly sleuth gets hijacked on her way to apply for a new case. Bailey Ruth Raeburn is one of the most unorthodox sleuths in Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions. So she’s far from sanguine about her chances of getting sent back to Earth by department head Wiggins, who often chastises her for ignoring the rules. All that changes when a stunning woman riding a magnificent black horse sweeps up Bailey Ruth, thrusts a ticket into her hand and throws her on the Rescue Express, which spirits her back to her old hometown of Adelaide, Okla., just in time to prevent a young man from being shot. Nick Magruder, the nephew of equestrian Dee Delahunt Duvall, has recently returned to Adelaide a very |


“One of Joe’s best.” from three can keep a secret

wealthy young man after selling the spider-based video game he developed. Nick has a chip on his shoulder and intends to get even with all the high school jocks who tormented him. He’s madly in love with Jan, whose mother, Arlene, is having an affair with Cole Clanton, one of the worst of Nick’s high school tormentors. When Jan arrives on the scene, Bailey Ruth pretends to be a private detective hired to protect Nick. She and Nick are forced to spend the night at Arlene’s B&B when Bailey Ruth realizes that her usual power to change her wardrobe or vanish has forsaken her. Clanton is deeply involved with an upcoming historical recreation, but Bailey Ruth suspects that his sudden interest in the town’s history is financially motivated. When Clanton is shot dead, Nick is arrested, since half the town heard him threatening Clanton. So Bailey Ruth and Dee persuade Wiggins to let them get to work identifying the real killer. Hart’s ghost mysteries (Ghost in Trouble, 2010, etc.) are often amusing and never easy to solve. Bailey Ruth’s latest is one of her toughest cases.

TAKEN BY THE WIND

Hart, Ellen Minotaur (336 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-250-00187-0

The case of two missing boys forces a community to face the possibility that they may be gone for good. When they decided to take some time from their marriage, Eric and Andrew still tried to make sure their teenage son Jack wasn’t traumatized by their escalating domestic drama. The two are both shocked, then, when Jack and his cousin Gabriel go missing after a backyard sleepover and even more surprised when the police suggest that the two boys may have run away rather than been kidnapped. When this theory stalls the investigation, the former couple turns to their friend, restaurateur and newly licensed investigator Jane Lawless (Rest For the Wicked, 2012, etc.), to pick up the slack. Jane revisits the last place the boys were seen in hopes of turning up evidence, but she’s no more inspired than the police. Her personal life has become equally enigmatic since Avi, her latest flame, has put Jane in the unaccustomed position of being more interested in the relationship than her partner. Things get even more complicated when Jane’s ex, Dr. Julia Martinsen, shows up. Julia’s never been the most stable personality, and now she has her eyes set on meddling in Jane’s otherwise happy relationship. A judicious balance of long-term development and short-term storytelling; even readers who come for the ongoing characters will stay for the mystery.

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DEAD MAN’S TIME

James, Peter Minotaur (416 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-250-03018-4

A series of murders with century-old roots provides Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, of the Brighton and Hove Response Team, with another full plate. On a dark night in Brooklyn 90 years ago, four members of the White Hand Gang, armed with baseball bats, hustled stevedore Brendan Daly out of his house after killing his wife, Sheenagh. The men left Daly’s son, Gavin, and his daughter, Aileen, alive, a Patek Philippe pocket watch their only legacy, wondering where their father disappeared to. Many years later, Aileen, now 98, is viciously attacked by home invaders who strip her Brighton home to the floorboards. Gavin, still formidable at 95, tells Grace that he doesn’t care about the millions of pounds worth of antiques the thieves made off with; he only wants that watch back. What Gavin really wants, of course, is information about his father, but Grace can’t help him there. In fact, all he can do, it seems, is watch while a series of fences and thugs are killed in the crossfire among Gavin; his estranged son, Lucas, with whom he’s seriously at odds; Lucas’ enormous Albanian henchman Augustine Krasniki, aka the Apologist; and yachtsman/ gangster Eamonn Pollock. As the pot boils furiously, Grace’s domestic life is equally fraught. While he’s waiting for his wife, Sandy, who vanished 10 years ago, to be declared dead so that he can marry his live-in lover, Cleo Morey, and give her baby boy, Noah, a proper dad, Sandy is plotting her return from foreign parts. And Amis Smallbone, the longtime home invader who emerged from prison in Not Dead Yet (2012), is cackling to himself as he plots condign revenge against Grace. The surprises are few but genuine, the police procedure appropriately grueling, and the back story jumbled but heartfelt. Middling for this strong, starchy series, which increasingly deserves to be measured against the best in the genre.

THREE CAN KEEP A SECRET

Mayor, Archer Minotaur (336 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-250-02613-2

Sweeping through Joe Gunther’s Vermont, Hurricane Irene leaves a lot more damage in her wake than power outages and floods. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. Caspar Luard, the halfwit repeat criminal who’s being transported by a pair of cops not much brighter than him, is lucky: He doesn’t get drowned when they drive their cruiser into a puddle a little too deep. Carolyn kirkus.com

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CROOKED NUMBERS

Barber, the Vermont State Hospital patient whom everyone calls “the Governor” in reference to a years-ago, cooked-up publicity stunt that made her governor for a day, might seem even luckier: During the evacuation of her psychiatric ward, she gets separated from her caretakers, enters the warren of tunnels beneath the hospital and is seen no more. Joe’s ex-lover Gail Zigman, the state’s governor, comes out less lucky: She’s caught in a serious political bind after she fields an offer from rightwing activist Harold LeMieur, of Catamount Industrial, to provide direct assistance to families who aren’t eligible for FEMA loans or can’t wait for them. Unluckiest of all are Carolyn’s sister Barbara, Barb’s son William Friel, and ex–State Senator Gorden Marshall, all of them found dead under variously suspicious circumstances, in ways that make Joe and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation squad (Paradise City, 2012, etc.) wonder how much longer Carolyn’s got before her number comes up too. Nor can Joe forget Herb Rozanski, whose coffin Hurricane Irene reveals has actually been nothing but a box of rocks for 27 years. Wonder what he’s been doing in the meantime? A deft mix of storm stories, political shenanigans, small-town procedural stuff and some pretty shocking buried secrets. One of Joe’s best.

O’Mara, Tim Minotaur (320 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-250-00900-5

A second case for a soulful Brooklyn schoolteacher who keeps forgetting that he’s no longer a cop. All the evidence says that Douglas William Lee’s death in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge was a gang killing. He was found stabbed 11 times, with marijuana in his sock and the purple and gold beads of the Royal Family gang around his neck. But Dougie wasn’t the kind of boy to associate with gangs, his mother, Gloria, tells Raymond Donne, who taught the boy in middle school before Dougie was accepted to Upper West Academy, a snooty Manhattan private school looking to burnish its diversity credentials. Ray, who’s already gotten in trouble with his uncle Ray, New York’s police chief, over his last involvement in extracurricular homicide (Sacrifice Fly, 2012), reluctantly agrees to ask a few questions and is instantly sorry he did. Detective Dennis Murcer, the cop working the case, indicates that he’s just fine working it alone and wonders, incidentally, why Ray broke up his romance with Ray’s sister, Rachel. Tio, the Royal Family gang leader, makes it clear that he has little patience for outsiders. So does his female counterpart, China. John R. Quinn, the father of Dougie’s Upper West pal Jack, threatens Ray with his lawyer, who just happens to be Dougie’s uncle and namesake. And Allison Rogers, the reporter who’s highly motivated to help Ray dig up the truth and signals that she’d be just as highly motivated for something else, keeps on pulling him back into the investigation even though he keeps promising Uncle Ray to leave it alone. Only Elliot Henry Finch, a classmate of Dougie’s whose Asperger syndrome hasn’t kept him down, is a reliable ally. The slender mystery won’t keep readers awake all night. But thinking about inner-city kids like Dougie, rescued by doubleedged scholarships that threaten to sink them, just might.

A FINAL RECKONING

Moody, Susan Severn House (240 pp.) $28.95 | Nov. 1, 2013 978-0-7278-8288-2

A woman desperate for peace of mind looks for it in an unlikely place— the English country house where her sister was murdered. When Chantal Frazer arrives at the luxurious Weston Lodge in Oxfordshire, it’s not to enjoy a resort getaway but to be where her sister Sabine had worked as an au pair when the Lodge was a private home. Twenty-three years earlier, the Honorable Clio Palliser, Sabine’s employer and then-owner of Weston Lodge, was arrested for stabbing her two sons and Sabine to death. Gavin Metcalfe-Vaughn, a young friend of one of the sons, managed to escape. Now, he’s also come to the Lodge in its new incarnation. While the recently widowed Chantal is seeking answers about that bloody night, she falls in love with Gavin. After his initial visit to the Lodge, Gavin wants Chantal to let the past stay past. But she can’t dismiss the persistent notion that the unhappy Clio, who disappeared after serving her sentence in a high-security mental hospital, is innocent. Both of Clio’s husbands and some valuable works of art are missing as well. In her obsessive search for answers about her sister’s death, Chantal will also encounter a secondhand lover, a determined detective and an addled neighbor, as convolution follows convolution en route to an implausible resolution of past and present secrets. Moody (Loose Ends, 2013, etc.) knows how to build suspense, but it’s hard not to keep yelling “don’t go there” at the drippy heroine in this overwrought thriller. 40

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BEYOND REDRESS

Roby, Kinley Five Star (370 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 23, 2013 978-1-4328-2726-7

Despite the invasion of Florida by the veracious Nile monitor lizard, humans are still the most dangerous game. Wealthy socialite Gwyneth Benbow wants private eye and game warden Harry Brock to find out who murdered activist Henrico Perez. Although his political activities have earned him many enemies, Perez’s death may be a more personal matter. Gwyneth was having an affair with Perez that led to her divorce. When she’s wounded, Harry not only considers |


her ex a suspect, but casts a cold eye on her first marriage, which ended in her husband’s death and a nasty scandal. Since Harry doesn’t have an enviable track record with women, he’s nervous about his blossoming relationship with Holly Pike, whom he met while solving the murder that widowed her (Death’s Long Shadow, 2011), and conflicted about going to see his first wife, who’s dying of cancer. A new complication arrives with a bang when Harry’s shot in the leg. He escapes death only by taking to the water near his home in a quiet Hammock he shares with his wise, elderly neighbor Tucker, Tucker’s dog and mule, and, lately, a few Nile monitor lizards. It seems absurd that anyone would want to kill Perez, Gwyneth and Harry. But since ballistics connect all three shootings, Harry resolves to brush aside his many personal problems and find the unusually determined killer before he becomes the next victim. As easy to solve as most of Roby’s South Florida mysteries, but one that offers in compensation much steamy atmosphere, both in and out of the bedroom.

DARK PASSAGE

Talley, Marcia Severn House (208 pp.) $28.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7278-8278-3 All the three sisters want is pleasant company and a little pampering on a luxury cruise ship—not a murderer for a shipmate. After the funeral of an elderly relative brings Hannah Ives and her sisters, Georgina and Ruth, together for a few hours’ respite from their busy lives, they enjoy the reunion so much that they decide to book an eight-day cruise from Baltimore to Bermuda on the Phoenix Islander. Although they agree that it’s sisters only, at the last minute, Georgina has to bring along her 14-year-old daughter, Julie. The first hint of a crack in the Islander’s glamorous veneer comes from the ship’s magician’s assistant, who warns the three sisters to take extra care of Julie. Adding to their unease is a fellow passenger wandering about with a red shoe, a broken heart and an unanswered question about the death of his daughter, who worked for one of the other Phoenix liners and knew about some unsavory goings-on. When Julie is drugged, attacked and abandoned on a lower deck, the sisters vow to trap an assailant whose identity ought to be more obvious to them than it is. The lovingly detailed descriptions of spa sessions and dinner parties that pad the slender plot prove no substitute for suspense. Although Talley (The Last Refuge, 2012, etc.) has a knack for sketching character and setting, this voyage is only mildly diverting.

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science fiction and fantasy THE LAST PRESIDENT

Barnes, John Ace/Berkley (400 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-937007-15-7

The final entry of Barnes’ near-future apocalypse trilogy (Daybreak Zero, 2011, etc.). The stunning premise here is that a hostile and malevolent entity known as Daybreak has deployed biological weapons that destroy oil and oil-based products, fusion bombs and EMP bombs that wreck electronic devices and components, apparently with the purpose of obliterating technology. Many of the survivors, their minds controlled by Daybreak, have formed weird, anti-technology tribes eager to mount appalling, zombielike assaults against fortified positions. A few scattered, still-sane communities, using biplanes, black powder and steam trains, struggle to reinstate law and order and reconstitute some sort of U.S. government. Only then can humanity rebuild its shattered civilization—at least, so reasons Heather O’Grainne and her small community operating out of Pueblo, Colo. Other groups, in Athens, Ga., what’s left of New York, the U.S. Virgin Islands, San Diego and what seems like dozens of other locations, have similar ambitions, while still others have independently found ways to resist Daybreak and have set themselves up as feudal lords. Daybreak itself, however, remains an enigma, since those that try to study it closely risk being subverted. There is a fair quota of action, often involving brave defenders attempting to resist ravening zombies in human-wave assaults. But again, the cast of thousands, incessant scene shifts and sheer density of the narrative makes for tough going. Nevertheless, the story inches toward a conclusion. Fans of the previous entries will keep reading.

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YEAR OF THE DEMON

Cory Doctorow meditating on the society that results from a handful of hyper-rich owning and running everything; intelligent warships that become infected with Asimovism (John Scalzi); Charles Stross’ amusing but rather gloomy glimpse of an all-too-possible future; Elizabeth Bear’s dying war machine that befriends a semiferal boy; Paul Cornell’s alternate world, where physics itself is different; a drug that brings dramatic psychological changes while some things are eternal (Daryl Gregory); and a robot existential crisis from Rachel Swirsky. Elsewhere, the brilliant Ken Liu offers another wrenching tale of a researcher into artificial intelligence who finds she can no longer distinguish between the artificial and the real; Neal Asher presents an Earth swarming with almost unimaginably advanced aliens; Ian Creasey writes of a not-so-distant future when humans adapt themselves to survive in alien environments; Karl Schroeder’s characters lose themselves in virtual realities; David Levine tries to sell computer software to aliens who have no need of it; Vandana Singh’s mathematician has a revelation; and the remarkable Hannu Rajaniemi again pushes the envelope farther and faster than anyone else. And all these are not necessarily the best on display here, just a sample. Grab this book. Whether newcomer or old hand, the reader will not be disappointed.

Bein, Steve ROC/Penguin (480 pp.) $16.00 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-451-46519-1

Sequel to Bein’s exotic law-and-order fantasy, Daughter of the Sword (2012). Tokyo’s DS Mariko Oshiro, the lone female on the elite Narcotics unit, has a price on her head thanks to a local yakuza boss known as the Bulldog. Then things get seriously weird. After a successful if routine drug warehouse bust, a man dressed as a SWAT team member steals an ancient iron demon mask from the premises—and the Bulldog declares that he’ll lift the bounty if Mariko recovers it. That night, somebody enters her locked apartment and steals the rare Inazuma sword that hangs on the wall above her bed—without waking her and without leaving a trace. The sword has the peculiar property of guaranteeing victory to those who wield it—but only if they don’t want to win. The mask grants the ability to seek out Inazuma swords but renders the wearer dangerously obsessive. Somehow, mask and sword are linked, and Mariko delves into the voluminous notebooks of her late sensei, professor Yasuo Yamada, who was not only a swordsman and scholar, but also knew of the magic properties of both items. In two historical excursions, cumulatively larger than the main story, Bein details the association between mask and sword. In the late 16th century, the samurai Daigoro wields what will become Mariko’s sword against the mask’s wearer, who is clearly insane, while more than 100 years earlier, ninja cultists force young shell-diver Kaida to use the mask’s power to retrieve the sword from a deep shipwreck. There’s no doubting the authenticity of Bein’s creation as he elegantly binds all the elements together, even if the points of attachment are things rather than people. The main flaw is long-windedness, with long sentences preferred over telling phrases. A solid effort but one that badly needs streamlining.

DAY ONE

Kenyon, Nate Dunne/St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-250-01321-7 Malevolent computer intelligence aims to take down humanity in this apocalyptic thriller set in New York City, from the author of Diablo III: The Order (2012, etc.). Former hacker John Hawke’s career as a reporter is going nowhere, and he’s pinning his hopes on getting a big story from Jim Weller of Manhattan Internet security firm Conn.ect, Inc. Suddenly, however, computer systems everywhere go down; bank accounts empty, the stock market crashes; millions die as bridges and tunnels collapse, cars try to kill their occupants, trains derail, power plants explode, buildings lock themselves. What’s going on? Weller admits that his former company, Eclipse, ripped him off by stealing his project for developing an artificial intelligence, and it seems as though the AI has completed its own programming and broken out— with hostile intent. And pretty soon, it’s clear that the cops have been instructed to shoot Weller and anyone associated with him on sight. Kenyon maintains the tension and excitement competently enough as Hawke battles to return to Hoboken, where his developmentally challenged child and pregnant wife are threatened by a psycho neighbor, but don’t expect the plot to do much else. Before reaching this point, however, Kenyon lays the foreboding on with a trowel and reiterates ad nauseam in flashback/anxiety attacks just how much Hawke loves his wife and son, and he won’t endear himself to New Yorkers

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY SCIENCE FICTION

Hartwell, David G.; Hayden, Patrick Nielsen—Eds. Tor (576 pp.) $34.99 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-7653-2600-3 A bumper crop of 34 stories from authors who first came to prominence in the 21st century, compiled by two of the most highly respected editors in the business. Thematically, all the entries are science fiction even though some are from writers better known for their fantasy. Some stories won or were nominated for awards, as were many of the authors. Dipping into the pool at random, readers discover 42

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“...noteworthy and gripping...” from the grim company

by describing a Hoboken-to-Manhattan PATH ride in which he gets details wrong. Occasionally thrilling but not very credible and full of blunders.

THE GRIM COMPANY

Scull, Luke ROC/Penguin (400 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-425-26484-3

Dark, bloody fantasy: first of a series from video game designer Scull. Five hundred years ago, the world’s greatest wizards assaulted heaven and, after terrible battles, killed the gods. The few surviving wizards styled themselves Magelords and divided up the world. Unfortunately, when the gods died, so did the magic, and now the only source left is their slowly decaying corpses, which the Magelords fight among themselves to control. Magelord Salazar and his magically enhanced Augmentors rule Dorminia with iron fists, with most ordinary people living in conditions of appalling neglect. Nevertheless, revolution simmers below the surface. Rich merchant’s son Garrett has built a group known as the Shards, among them Davarus Cole, a vainglorious and foolhardy but goodhearted young man whose father gave him a magical dagger capable of killing a Magelord. Also drawn into the Shards’ affairs will be old, weary barbarian swordsman Brodar Kayne and his surly axe-warrior sidekick Jerek; Eremul the Halfmage, once apprenticed to Salazar before the Magelord ordered his legs cut off; and Eremul’s peculiarly competent servant Isaac. When the Shards learn that the White Lady, Magelord of the beautiful City Of Spires, plans to invade Dorminia, they decide to assist her by striking at Salazar’s sources of magic. Of course, nothing is as it seems. There are further complications, both here and as foundations for future installments. The characters begin as boilerplate but develop satisfyingly as the plot widens, deepens and twists. And the backdrop shows Scull’s first-rate worldbuilding skills even if few of the elements here demonstrate any remarkable originality. As the outline and title suggest, the tone is predominantly grim and exceedingly dark, illuminated with flashes of wit and bleak humor. A noteworthy and gripping debut that promises to develop into an altogether superior series—one well-worth getting hooked on at the outset.

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BURNING PARADISE

Wilson, Robert Charles Tor (320 pp.) $24.99 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-7653-3261-5

Skewed, alternate-world, aliens-amongus yarn from the talented author of Julian Comstock (2009). The world Cassie Iverson of Buffalo inhabits has been peaceful since the Great Armistice of 1914. As a result, social welfare has advanced, technology has lagged and computing is primitive. Cassie, however, is a member of the Correspondence Society which, years ago, discovered that the atmosphere’s radio-reflective layer is actually a living entity, a cellular hypercolony that mimics intelligence through sheer computational power. And through its human agents, or sims, who look normal but have no individual awareness and bleed green goo, it controls human progress. In 2007, sims murdered Cassie’s parents and other leading Society members; the rest scattered and went into hiding. She lives now with her aunt Nerissa and younger brother Thomas. One night when Nerissa is out, she sees a sim watching the house—a sim that dies in a traffic accident crossing the road, leaking green goo—and immediately flees with Thomas to Leo Beck, another Society member who lives nearby. Together, they formulate a desperate plan to locate Leo’s rich father, Werner, who has long nurtured plans to destroy the hypercolony. Meanwhile, in rural Vermont, another sim visits Cassie’s reclusive uncle Ethan—but this sim says it wants to talk. When Nerissa shows up, they disable the sim and interrogate it. It says it isn’t part of the hypercolony but another, parasitical, entity—and it says it wants their help. This dazzling, complex and typically weird backdrop, augmented by nifty, character-driven plotting and action, leaves no doubt that it’s all scarily real. However, later revelations tend to undermine all this excellent work, leaving a final third that doesn’t convincingly add up. Regulars know where Wilson is coming from and probably won’t mind, but it’s impossible to avoid just a tinge of disappointment.

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DECEPTION COVE

Castle, Jayne Jove/Penguin (368 pp.) $7.99 paper | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-515-15285-2

MY FAVORITE MISTAKE

Cameron, Chelsea M. Harlequin (400 pp.) $11.95 paper | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-373-77829-4

Alice North spent one honeymoon on Rainshadow Island, after which her husband turned up dead; still dealing with the ramifications of that marriage of convenience, she isn’t too keen on entering into another one, no matter how powerful, protective or sexy Drake Sebastian is. Alice has taken care of herself for far longer than she should have had to, but things became even worse after she wed Fulton Whitcomb in a marriage of convenience and he wound up dead on Rainshadow Island, the mysterious island preserve known for its unstable paranormal energy. Fulton insisted the two spend their honeymoon there so they could track some ancients crystals that Alice has an affinity for. Since Fulton’s death, his powerful mother has made Alice’s life a living nightmare, so when magnate Drake Sebastian enlists Alice’s aid in cleaning up the mess Fulton left behind on the island and offers his protection through yet another marriage of convenience, Alice is skeptical. Yet the crystals and the island represent a connection to a grandfather she never knew and a legacy of wealth and family history she craves to learn more about, so she agrees. She finds herself falling in love with the compelling yet enigmatic Drake. In order to save the island, the two must face physical and paranormal peril. In order to find happiness, they must navigate emotional and earthly minefields and get past distrust and danger to forge a shared future. Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick) brings her signature smooth writing, deft plotting and artful romantic touch to another pitch-perfect romance, this one set in Harmony, Castle’s futuristic, yet recognizable world wherein the popular dust bunnies reside. Castle is a master at combining suspense elements with her own paranormal worldbuilding, tossing in tried-and-true romantic tropes, stirring them together and coming up with satisfying, innovative storylines, no matter the time period. Her newest is no exception. Another successful, absorbing winner from Castle. With dust bunnies.

Taylor and Hunter are inexplicably thrown together as roommates in a college dorm; drawn to each other despite— or perhaps because of—deep-seated wounds, they develop a close bond that leads to romance. On move-in day of her sophomore year, Taylor Caldwell discovers that she has been assigned a male roommate. And a dangerously sexy one at that. Taylor has generally avoided men since a traumatic childhood experience left her distrustful of them, so sharing a room with one of the most gorgeous males she’s ever seen is disconcerting. The fact that he is also charming, talented and clearly attracted to her makes him terrifying. When it becomes apparent that he has his own traumas to overcome, the two forge an unexpected friendship that is complicated by blazing sexual tension. Taylor is convinced she’ll never want a man, and she’s determined to never need one. At first, Hunter views Taylor as a challenge, but he soon decides she’s his once-in-a-lifetime mate, without even sleeping with her. The few sizzling kisses they share are evidence enough of a physical connection, and his emotions just keep getting more and more entwined with the prickly girl who refuses to get close to anyone. But Hunter is on a mission—he’s known heartache and once believed all was lost, so he recognizes the symptoms in Taylor. He wants to remind her how to trust and love. And when a shadow from Taylor’s past threatens to overwhelm her, he’ll stand by her side, no matter what. New adult author Cameron is a smooth writer who has a great feel for story and character. She deftly moves the pace along through realistic dialogue and a well-balanced narrative. However, readers could find the premise of the story—that an unknown male would be assigned to a dorm room with a coed and she wouldn’t deal with it immediately—far-fetched. Also, the buildup to Taylor’s trauma is so tensely drawn that it ultimately proves anticlimactic when readers find out what it is. Overall, though, a fine effort. A sexy, generally affecting romance. This is the first entry in a two-book series that was originally self-published in 2012..

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TEAR YOU APART

Hart, Megan Harlequin (304 pp.) $14.95 paper | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-7783-1477-6 A middle-aged married woman meets a photographer at a gallery opening and enters into an erotic affair, leading her to consider her current life and the moments in her past that led her to where she is. Elisabeth works at her best friend’s art gallery, and openings are an everyday part of her life. Everything changes, however, when she meets photographer Will at the opening of his show. Before too long, they’re involved in a passionate affair. Elisabeth is bored and unfulfilled in her marriage, and Will adds intensity and sensuality to her life. But he isn’t relationship material, whereas Ross, her husband, may be disappointing, but he’s steady, and leaving him would completely upend a comfortable life. Meanwhile, Elisabeth’s twin daughters are just graduating from college and beginning their own “real lives,” complete with fiances, wedding planning and professional anxieties. And her closest friends are going through life challenges. All of these events make Elisabeth contemplate her own choices and wonder what might have been. Or what could be. At the simplest level, this book is about a woman having a midlife crisis, being tempted by a sexy artist and revisiting some of the odd events of her life. However, Hart’s beautiful use of language and discerning eye toward human experience elevate the book to a poignant reflection on the deepest yearnings of the human heart and the seductive temptation of passion in its many forms. Erotic, with elegant yet graphic descriptions of sex, the book explores one woman’s dissatisfaction with her life and her ambivalence toward past and current choices. The storytelling is smooth, the characters textured and the plot compelling—though the use of first person, present tense at times seems to create an odd narrative distance, given the intimate subject matter. A gripping, lyrical journey into one woman’s turning point in a life half lived.

A MOST DEVILISH ROGUE

Macnamara, Ashlyn Ballantine (352 pp.) $7.99 paper | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-345-534-76-7

George, a wounded rogue, rescues the son of Isabelle, a ruined gentlewoman, from drowning and then must rescue him again from abductors. As the two work together to find her son, their lives and emotions become entwined. George Upperton’s life is a mess. He’s gambled away a fortune; he can’t escape a family determined to get him settled; and he’s taken up with a mistress whom he |

doesn’t like, who has extravagant tastes and is, apparently, pregnant. Escaping a house party for some fresh air and a seaside stroll, George witnesses a young boy get swept into the water and rushes in to save him. Rather than gratitude, his mother expresses cold disdain and rushes away with her child. But the two cross paths again when Isabelle’s son disappears. Seeking clues and comparing notes on possible suspects, George and Isabelle work to find Jack and bring him home, at the same time finding they share some surprising and disturbing connections, not to mention a blazing attraction. Passion flares and secrets are shared, but George and Isabelle can’t overcome their own fears and insecurities to admit their deepening feelings. In her second historical romance, Macnamara uses smooth writing to create well-rendered characters and a complex storyline. However, some plot elements are a little too contrived to seem realistic, and Isabelle is hard to warm up to, so the reader might be unconvinced by George’s quick romantic feelings for her. Still, the sensuality is high, and the plot holds together. An imperfect yet satisfying romance.

DECLAN’S CROSS

Neggers, Carla Harlequin MIRA (320 pp.) $24.95 | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-7783-1463-9 When Julianne Maroney accepts an invitation to spend time in the tiny Irish village of Declan’s Cross, she has no idea that she’s stepping into a decades-old mystery, a criminal conspiracy and the sight lines of a killer. Marine biologist Julianne escapes her small town in Maine to nurse her broken heart and visit an acquaintance in Ireland, but when she arrives, the woman, Lindsey, has disappeared. Coincidentally, Julianne’s childhood friend and FBI agent—and brother of the man who broke her heart—Colin Donovan is nearby, taking a long break from his undercover responsibilities with his companion, fellow agent Emma Sharpe. At first annoyed at this perceived intrusion on her privacy, Julianne reconsiders when Lindsey turns up dead and the clues connect her death to a decades-old unsolved art theft. There are suspects aplenty, but there are also a lot of equations that don’t add up, and since it’s a case that Emma’s grandfather worked on, she has some insider information and a bit of intuition that tells her all is not as it seems. There are connections to the States, too, and Colin’s family starts to work the clues in the U.S., including Andy, his brother, who is in love with Julianne but is determined that she have every opportunity in her career, which he believes is limited in their tiny hometown. Also on the case is a retired policeman who was a suspect in the original crime and whose life was turned upside down by the event. The investigation takes some odd turns, and while the mystery deepens, the one thing that becomes clear is that Julianne is in danger and some questions must be answered to keep her alive. Neggers’ Sharpe & Donovan series has developed a wide following, and her books kirkus.com

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“Steamy romance and quirky supporting characters make this an appealing start to the series.” from ten tiny breaths

maintain a potent combination of suspense and romance. Wellplotted, intriguing and set mostly in the lushly described Irish countryside, the novel is smart and satisfying, and the paths of three couples growing even more devoted to each other are deftly woven into the suspenseful storyline, though the jumps back and forth from Maine to Ireland can be jarring. Another impressive romantic thriller from Neggers.

TEN TINY BREATHS

Tucker, K.A. Atria (304 pp.) $15.00 paper | Sep. 24, 2013 978-1-4767-4032-4 After a drunk driver kills her parents, her best friend and her boyfriend, Kacey Cleary is left with her younger sister, a phobia of holding hands and a deepseated hatred for the man who survived the car wreck. She turns to drugs and sex until Livie begs her to stop, afraid that an overdose will kill her older sister. Kickboxing helps ease Kacey’s anger, but life at home is tough with Aunt Darla’s Christian fanaticism. When Uncle Raymond begins to cross the line with Livie, she grabs her sister and heads for Miami to start a new life. They end up in a funky apartment community, complete with Storm, the Barbie–look-alike neighbor. Storm, however, turns out to be a struggling single mom, running from an abusive ex-husband and trying to make ends meet by working as a rather acrobatic stripper. There’s also the very hot boy next door: Trent Emerson, who instantaneously pushes every one of Kacey’s buttons, chipping away at the shell protecting her from ever feeling anything. Soon, Kacey snags a job bartending at Storm’s bar, and Livie is enrolled at school, babysitting Storm’s 5-year-old daughter and getting her feet back under her. Author of the best-selling Causal Enchantment series, Tucker (Allegiance, 2012, etc.) parlays her success with YA paranormal fantasy into this adult romance series. She relentlessly ups the erotic ante with every encounter between Kacey and Trent. Breathless meetings in the laundry room lead to heroic rescues from snakes lurking in the shower and creeps lurking in the bar, yet Trent frustrates Kacey with his determination to take things slowly. Inevitably, the revelation of his secret devastates both of them and leads to some interesting— if implausible—plot twists. Steamy romance and quirky supporting characters make this an appealing start to the series.

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nonfiction HOW TO FAIL AT ALMOST EVERYTHING AND STILL WIN BIG Kind of the Story of My Life

These titles earned the Kirkus Star: A MASSACRE IN MEMPHIS by Stephen V. Ash................................ 48

Adams, Scott Portfolio (256 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-59184-691-8

THE LEONARD BERNSTEIN LETTERS by Leonard Bernstein; Simeone, Nigel—Ed..............................................................................52 HERETICS AND HEROES by Thomas Cahill.....................................54 JOHNNY CASH by Robert Hilburn................................................... 60 MY MISTAKE by Daniel Menaker........................................................68 HERETICS AND HEROES How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Create Our World

Cahill, Thomas Talese/Doubleday (368 pp.) $30.50 Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-385-49557-8

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Failing and succeeding, the sarcastic comic-strip–artist way. Dilbert creator Adams has failed where others have succeeded, and he has a chapter to prove it: a 10-page list of mistakes, misfires and entrepreneurial blunders that humbled him time and again. Not every business venture crashed and burned, of course; the massive success of Dilbert is proof enough of that. As the title of the book suggests, Adams’ path to cartooning fame and fortune was uneven, fraught with missteps and largely unrelated to cartooning. Fans of Dilbert will find the author’s less-than-orthodox approach to a “win big” guide to be in keeping with the tone of the comic strip. Some of the themes of the book include “goals are for losers,” “conquer shyness by being a huge phony (in a good way),” and “simplicity transforms ordinary into amazing.” Adams has extensive experience in data-driven office environments, and the long-form writing gives him a chance to examine the many approaches he’s tried to making positive changes in his life and career. Many of the themes are common to this type of book—e.g., the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, the benefits of having a “system” to follow over a long period of time instead of passions or goals that leave you feeling empty as soon as you achieve them. Adams has a funny, refreshingly considered set of ideas about how to find success—and what that success will look like when one gets there. While Adams implores readers not to consider this book’s suggestions as advice (“It’s never a good idea to take advice from cartoonists”), he does turn the many lemons of his work history into something akin to a helpful guide for young adults stumbling through the early career years.

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“Drawing on a large archive of interviews conducted during federal investigations, Ash provides a wonderful overview of life in [Memphis] in the early wake of the Civil War.” from a massacre in memphis

THESE FEW PRECIOUS DAYS The Final Year of Jack with Jackie

Andersen, Christopher Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $27.00 | Aug. 6, 2013 978-1-4767-3232-9

A sometimes-revealing but never earth-shattering portrait of John and Jacqueline Kennedy’s life in the White House—only within whose walls and only at the very end would they “finally bridge the yawning emotional chasm between them.” Much-practiced celebrity biographer Andersen (Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger, 2012, etc.) digs beneath the surface—and certainly deeper than in many of his other books— to examine the essential loneliness of both Jack and Jackie, both the products of privilege, both essentially abandoned, and both tough and independent. (Both were voracious readers, too, and of better things than celebrity biographies.) Jack channeled his emotional neediness through womanizing (and, courtesy of Andersen’s careful approach, we learn his pet name for his penis), including an undeniably sordid episode with a drunk teenager on Jackie’s own bed. Jackie channeled hers, in part, by riding horses, which occasioned barbs among the pair, he saying it was a sport that “appeals to some awfully dull people,” she saying, “I think Liberace looks in the mirror less often than Jack does.” But after the loss at birth of their son, Patrick, the two drew together, with JFK concerned that Jackie would slip into depression. Then came Dallas, and with it, Jackie’s steady role in holding the nation together in a profound moment of grief— grief that, as befit her character, she nursed in private. Andersen is evenhanded, but even so, he slips into the overstated clichés of the genre, as when after Jackie’s death: “Americans… contemplated what their world would be like without this living, breathing reminder of a man and an era of political idealism that…seemed at one time to hold so much promise.” JFK completists may find this useful, but Caroline Kennedy’s recent collection of interviews with her mother should be readers’ first pick.

SOME NERVE Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave

Anker, Patty Chang Riverhead (368 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 10, 2013 978-1-59448-605-0

A blogger’s humorous account of how she transcended her “nervous nature…bookish upbringing and midlife responsibilities” to discover her courage. Anker grew up “eating fear of failure like the breakfast of champions.” But as she neared her 40th birthday, she became 48

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aware that her timidity was not only limiting her, but also her two small daughters. So Anker dedicated herself to finding her “nerve.” She began her project by jumping into the murky waters of her anxieties by using the diving board at a community swimming pool. Mortally afraid of moving water, she learned how to boogie board in the Atlantic and surf the ice-cold waters of a half-frozen Lake Michigan. On land, she learned how to ride the bicycles that had secretly terrified her and speak in front of an audience without crumpling. As she let go of her anxieties, she uncluttered her own personal space, since “holding on to… belongings was tantamount to fear.” Anker also came into contact with others who were dealing with phobias similar to her own—such as fear of driving or heights—or who were helping others move beyond their own psychologically imposed limitations. Not only did Anker realize that she was not alone in her suffering, she also learned that, as both a person and a parent, the most important thing she could do was to “keep [her] eye on where [she] want[ed] to go” rather than listen to her inner “Greek Chorus” of self-doubt. By changing herself, she could also transform everyone with whom she came into contact: “we start to shimmer, and the world is never the same.” Lightweight but honest and inspiring.

A MASSACRE IN MEMPHIS The Race Riot that Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War

Ash, Stephen V. Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (288 pp.) $27.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-8090-6797-8 Meticulous account of a long-overlooked racial clash during Reconstruction. This is the first book on events of early May 1866, in Memphis, Tenn., in which 46 blacks were murdered during three days of “barbaric” rioting by lower-class whites. Drawing on a large archive of interviews conducted during federal investigations, Ash (History/ Univ. of Tennessee; The Black Experience in the Civil War South, 2010, etc.) provides a wonderful overview of life in this “dusty, crowded, deeply divided city” in the early wake of the Civil War. Captured by federal forces in 1862 (a small military force remained), Memphis on the eve of the riots brimmed with tensions. The city was awash in war memorabilia, with photos of Robert E. Lee displayed in shop windows and talk of the Emancipation Proclamation as an abomination. Many whites resented the presence of black federal troops, as well as missionaries and the Yankees of the Freedmen’s Bureau, who worked to assist former slaves. The greatest antipathy existed between recently freed blacks (half the population) and Irish-American policemen and local officials. Triggered by clashes between black men and police officers, the rioting consisted of whites rampaging through black neighborhoods, assaulting residents, breaking into homes, and setting churches and schools on fire. Congressional investigators blamed the riot on “the intense

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THE HISTORICAL DAVID The Real Life of an Invented Hero

hatred of the freed people by the city’s whites, especially the Irish—a hatred stoked by the Rebel newspapers.” Widely reported nationally, the massacre was seen as an omen of what might lie ahead for the postwar South and the country. Ash offers remarkable portraits of ordinary Memphians (grocers, firemen, soldiers, etc.) caught up in the tumult of their time. Well-written, riveting and bound to attract many readers.

WHAT IS CHEMISTRY?

Atkins, Peter Oxford Univ. (152 pp.) $19.95 | Nov. 1, 2013 978-0-19-968398-7

Atkins (Chemistry/Univ. of Oxford; Reactions: The Private Life of Atoms, 2011, etc.) presents a rounded view of chemistry in hopes of dispelling the noxious fumes produced by the high school classroom. Here is chemistry as seen through chemists’ eyes, taking into account the fundamental chemical properties and processes that play in the backs of their minds while they work. The author sings the praises of the science while intoning chemistry’s dark side, for to abjure chemistry—as if that was possible— would be an express lane back to the Stone Age: “no metals, no fuels except wood, no fabrics except pelts, no medicines except herbs, no methods of computation except with your fingers, and very little food.” In a voice at once owlish and inviting, Atkins scans the periodic table to introduce the structure of atoms, the compounds of carbon and the many other elements. He is happy to drop little bombs along the way—“That [quantum mechanics] remains largely incomprehensible is admittedly an irksome deficiency”—and even in those moments when readers may feel like he has left them dangling (“Broadly speaking, there are energy advantages in an atom acquiring a complete cloud layer”), Atkins eventually circles back to underscore his points. With light-handed skill, the author ushers chemistry into the everyday world, from the fabrication of dyestuffs to the potential heat in firewood to why breathing carbon monoxide results in suffocation. Atkins also wisely addresses popular concerns about chemistry, including the construction of the tools of war and the environmental costs associated with the chemical industry, which in turn leads to a discussion of the prospects for a “green” chemistry and the responsibilities that attend “this Merlin-like ability to conjure with atoms.” A concise introduction to chemistry that has an alchemy all its own.

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Baden, Joel HarperOne (352 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-06-218831-1

Following the lead of other scholars seeking to recreate history as portrayed in the Bible, Baden (Old Testament/Yale Divinity School; The Promise to the Patriarchs, 2013, etc.) sets out to thoroughly upend the story of King David. The author asserts that the entirety of the biblical account about David was written for the sole purpose of legitimizing and glorifying a man who was, in fact, a thug, murderer and usurper. Baden begins by rejecting fundamental tales about David’s youth—e.g., that he played music for King Saul, slew Goliath and was anointed by the Prophet Samuel. He then theorizes that David was a minor officer in Saul’s army who decided to

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overthrow the king, a coup that completely failed. Forced to live on the run, David nonetheless managed to gain a following and become a leader of the opposing Philistines, eventually bringing about Saul’s downfall. Baden portrays David as ruthless and cunning, willing to kill anyone who got in his way, his own children included. As a final twist to the story, the author declares the story of David and Bathsheba, as it has been known for centuries, to be almost entirely fictional. He declares that Solomon was not David’s son and in fact took the kingship from David against his will as David was dying. Solomon’s own partisans made up the lurid story of David and Bathsheba to make Solomon appear to be a legitimate king by birth. Though certain theories, taken individually, have credence, Baden’s front-to-back rewriting of David’s life as a lurid soap opera will leave many readers mystified. Baden views the Bible as one rambling piece of propaganda: “Not a word of the David story—and perhaps the entire Bible—is intended solely to describe things as they truly were.” Baden ensures readers will see things his way by declaring anything that refutes his thesis to be “unverifiable.” And, no surprise, there’s a lot of that. This unflattering portrait of King David is a hard pill to swallow.

OUR FINAL INVENTION Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era Barrat, James Dunne/St. Martin’s (336 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-312-62237-4 978-1-250-03226-3 e-book

Cars aren’t out to kill us, but that may be a side effect of building cars, writes documentary filmmaker Barrat in this oddly disturbing warning that progress in computers might spell our extinction. Computers already perform essential tasks in our national infrastructure and daily lives, including several beyond the capacity of the smartest individual—e.g., playing chess or competing against humans on Jeopardy. While dazzling, these accomplishments are too specialized for the artificial intelligence the author and the many philosophers, scientists and entrepreneurs he interviews have in mind. Within decades, computers will operate at the speed of a human brain and become rational, allowing them to learn, rewrite their own programs to learn better, solve problems better, make decisions and perhaps create more computers like themselves. Having reached this level, they have achieved artificial general intelligence. Inevitably, working on their own without human input, they will exceed human intelligence by factors of 100 and eventually thousands, achieving artificial superintelligence. Many experts assert that the first ASI machine that humans invent will be our last invention due to the fact that it will leave man’s brainpower in the dust. Whether or not designers build friendliness or empathy into these machines (no one is doing that 50

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now), no ASI computer is likely to defer to our interests any more than humans deferred to, say, mice, bison or even indigenous tribes as they spread across the world. As researchers on climate change know, warnings of future disasters are a hard sell. Enthusiasts dominate observers of progress in artificial intelligence; the minority who disagree are alarmed, articulate and perhaps growing in numbers, and Barrat delivers a thoughtful account of their worries.

VIVIEN LEIGH An Intimate Portrait Bean, Kendra Running Press (288 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 1, 2013 978-0-7624-5099-2

Sumptuously illustrated life of one of stage and screen’s greatest tragic figures, published in time for the centennial of

her birth. Vivien Leigh (1913–1967) will forever be associated with two milestone, Oscar-winning roles in film: Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind and Blanche DuBois in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. Both happen to be larger-than-life Southern belles, but Leigh was, of course, British (born and raised in India during the Raj period) and fervently patriotic about it. A woman of strong ambition and will, once she decided, as the young wife of a magistrate, that it was the actor’s life for her, her ascent to stardom was rapid. The catalyst for her rise was a passionate love affair with another ambitious young actor, Laurence Olivier, who would become her husband within a year of her triumph as Scarlett and whom she regarded as both mentor and the love of her life. Leigh began with limited talents (a weak, high voice and little experience and training), but she was determined to keep pace with her husband, whether playing opposite him or in roles of her own choosing. Most critics thought she succeeded admirably in the theater and on film, but she let the cruel dismissals of Olivier-worshipping critic Kenneth Tynan get under her skin. Though hardworking by nature, she was prone to both physical and mental illnesses, from manic depression, which ultimately alienated her from Olivier, to tuberculosis, which killed her prematurely at age 53. First-time author Bean tells Leigh’s story affectingly, aided by access to personal letters from the principals and the memories of some of her closest friends. A worthy tribute to an eternally fascinating star. (Hundreds of full-color and b/w photos throughout)

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“A treasure trove of culinary history, sound advice and easy enlightenment—though consuming the narrative in one sitting is not advised; try spreading the enjoyment by dipping in often for tasty bites.” from 50 foods

50 FOODS The Essentials of Good Taste Behr, Edward Penguin Press (432 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 4, 2013 978-1-59420-451-7

A delicious compendium of food facts and practical advice showcasing 50 foods that everyday cooks, gardeners, foodies and the modern gourmet should include in their culinary repertoire. The Art of Eating founder Behr deftly makes the leap from magazine to book format in this delightful handbook. Rather than a cookbook, the collection succinctly provides details of the provenance for each food combined with practical aspects of buying, using, preparing, harvesting and storing them, including notes on wine pairings. Using the guideposts of aroma, appearance, flavor and texture, Behr hones in on what the slippery concept of “the best” means for each of the highlighted foods. Beginning with

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anchovies, the author moves alphabetically through foods that include cabbage, chestnuts, eggs, figs, honey, lemons, rice, plums sweetbreads and walnuts. Most are raw, but a few, such as a selection of cheeses, bread, and ham and bacon, have been “fermented or otherwise transformed.” Behr proposes using the least amount of industrial processing possible, which results in foods closer to nature that yield more complex flavors. The author’s harvesting, buying and storing tips will be useful to anyone confused when confronted with a pile of cantaloupes or the proper way to purchase a fresh goose. Though no recipes are included, Behr’s advice on complementary foods goes a long way toward helping cooks head in the right direction tastewise: Components of a pear salad might include walnut oil, lemon juice, crunchy lettuce or Belgian endive. Ham has an affinity for cooked greens, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, a little garlic, onions or a few hot peppers. Don’t dip blue crab in butter, or the “subtle flavor is lost.” A treasure trove of culinary history, sound advice and easy enlightenment—though consuming the narrative in one sitting is not advised; try spreading the enjoyment by dipping in often for tasty bites.

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“Bernstein emerges as highly literate, compassionate, astonishingly busy and gifted almost beyond measure.” from the leonard bernstein letters

THE LEONARD BERNSTEIN LETTERS

Bernstein, Leonard Simeone, Nigel—Ed. Yale Univ. (480 pp.) $38.00 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-300-17909-5

Nearly 60 years of revealing letters to and from the composer of West Side Story, a musical colossus who stood with one foot on Broadway, the other in whatever of the world’s symphony halls he wished. Meticulously and even lovingly edited and annotated by Simeone, the author of Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story (2009), the volume begins in 1932 with a letter from the 14-year-old to his piano teacher, Helen Coates, who reappears throughout. Simeone does not reproduce every letter here (he focuses principally on Bernstein’s musical life), but even so, Bernstein’s list of correspondents is a virtual who’s who: Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Judy Holliday, Randall Thompson, Jerome Robbins, Bette Davis, Farley Granger (with whom he apparently had a fling), Lena Horne, James M. Cain, Martha Gellhorn, Arthur Miller, Aldous Huxley, Cole Porter, a 10-year-old Yo-Yo Ma, Thornton Wilder, and on and on. There’s also a touching late-life letter from Miles Davis, who wrote, “You are one of America’s true geniuses.” Indeed, Simeone also focuses—though softly—on Bernstein’s sexual identity (his wife was well-aware of his homosexuality) and includes a few letters mentioning the births of his children (much more appears in the footnotes). Bernstein was generally exuberant in his letters, reporting his podium successes around the world with great panache. He encouraged other musicians, was grateful for those who had helped him, and was generous to his collaborators. He and Robbins admit towering admiration for each other—though recognizing, as well, how they got on the other’s nerves. Simeone’s notes are numerous and thorough (though he errs when he claims that Billy the Kid’s real name was William H. Bonney; it was an alias), and the letters become weighty with poignant and wrenching dramatic irony as we recognize the end nearing. Bernstein emerges as highly literate, compassionate, astonishingly busy and gifted almost beyond measure.

OUR BOSTON Writers Celebrate the City They Love

Blauner, Andrew—Ed. Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (368 pp.) $16.00 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-544-26380-2

In response to the terrorist attack on the 2013 Boston Marathon, editor Blauner (editor: Central Park: An Anthology, 2012, etc.) presents a collection of essays celebrating the City on a Hill. 52

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The lead essay, Kevin Cullen’s “Running Toward the Bombs,” harrowingly recounts the bombing attack that occurred on Patriot’s Day at the conclusion of the Boston Marathon and the manhunt for the perpetrators that followed. Cullen’s account is riveting, horrifying and ultimately inspirational in its depiction of the courage demonstrated by the first responders and ordinary citizens who reacted to the unimaginable trauma with selflessness and life-saving competence. The other writers included offer personal histories and reflections on the city without focusing on the attack (Cullen’s piece obviates the need for further elaboration) in a series of essays that range from wistful to (gently) sardonic. The contributors note Boston’s provincialism, distinctive dialect, confounding topography, and heritage as a center of American history, intellect and sport. Though nobly intended, the collection becomes repetitive in its litanies of fondly remembered landmarks and observations of the city’s distinctive character; the effect is somewhat like being subjected to the protracted narration of an unusually eloquent acquaintance’s vacation slides. The quality of the writing is uniformly high, and there are moments of welcome humor and surprise, but the standout pieces (excluding the heart-rending report of the attack) are reprints of George Plimpton’s “Medora Goes to the Game,” a droll and affecting account of the author and his young daughter attending the Harvard/Yale football game, and John Updike’s “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” the much-anthologized tribute to Red Sox great Ted Williams. Unencumbered by elegy, these famous essays more fully engage and entertain as well as pay deserved tribute. Other contributors include Susan Orlean, Bud Collins, Dennis Lehane, Leigh Montville and Pico Iyer. A worthy and moving but monotonous paean to the resiliency and character of Boston.

FIRE AND LIGHT How the Enlightenment Transformed Our World Burns, James MacGregor Dunne/St. Martin’s (400 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-250-02489-3 978-1-250-02490-9 e-book

The great ideas and personalities of the Enlightenment condensed and compressed for accessible consumption. The unleashing of the human mind from orthodoxy ushered in one of the most exciting periods in history, and consummate historian Burns (Emeritus, Government/Williams Coll.; Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court, 2009, etc.) proves a lively guide to the great currents of Enlightenment thought, from the justification of civil society by the gloomy theorist Thomas Hobbes to the clash over slavery and abolition in America’s Civil War. As announced by Martin Luther’s nailing of his Theses to the Wittenberg church door in 1517, the mind of man was the measure of all things, and only through rigorous empirical tests could ideas be tried and accepted. The received teachings of the medieval church were

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“Clearly written—and clearly angry—chronicle of the 2012 terrorist assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.” from under fire

discarded in favor of “natural philosophy,” and men, although brutish, according to Hobbes, were governed by reason and “motivated to join together in a social compact by fear and the desire for self-preservation.” From Descartes, Spinoza and Locke, among numerous others, ideas of liberty, free thought and speech, religious toleration, and the ability of each individual to transform himself through environment, education and experience shook the “fixity and fatalism” of the Old World, unloosening the bedrock of absolutism and playing out successively in the English civil war, the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Burns maneuvers gracefully through these cataclysmic events, weaving in minibiographies of the notables and significant currents like the Scottish national school system, which gave rise to the stunning contributions of Scottish Enlightenment thinkers like Francis Hutcheson, David Hume and Adam Smith. Happiness, property, reform, universal suffrage: The author traces these key concepts to our own era, still worthy of fighting for, as evidenced by the recent events of the Arab Spring. An impassioned, big-picture primer ideal for college students.

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UNDER FIRE The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi Burton, Fred; Katz, Samuel M. St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $26.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-250-04110-4

Clearly written—and clearly angry— chronicle of the 2012 terrorist assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Co-authors Burton (Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent, 2008) and Katz (Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al-Qaeda Terrorists, 2002, etc.) bring their insiders’ perspectives to bear on this disturbing incident, clarifying the facts for lay readers. They focus on the State Department’s little-known Diplomatic Security Service (DS), whose agents wound up in the cross hairs of a jihadist attack in the postrevolutionary chaos of Libya’s second-largest city. The authors

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“Cahill sets his delightfully analytic mind to the major transformations prompted by the Renaissance and Reformation.” from heretics and heroes

suggest that DS attracts both SEAL-style operators and idealistic would-be diplomats, yet the light footprint required by “expeditionary diplomacy” limits the agents’ abilities to respond to threats, despite their training and resolve. The narrative presents a gripping chronological account of the attack. Readers will clearly comprehend how the DS agents were put into an impossible, life-threatening situation with few of the ready assets associated with American power. As the vicious attack intensified, the ambassador and a staffer were killed; the agents found themselves “having a terrible time digesting the fact that those they were charged to protect were now dead and missing.” Meanwhile, an elite CIA paramilitary team mounted a rescue attempt from their own not-so-secret base, which itself then came under siege. “The CIA never seemed to think through the geopolitical ramifications of its Benghazi outpost being discovered,” write the authors. Despite occasional vitriol, the authors do not blame Benghazi on the Obama administration: “The true story of the Benghazi attack is not one of failure or coverup.” Instead, they contrast the DS agents’ skill and valor against a bureaucratic culture of confused timidity and the sense that America’s crisis-management resources are spread dangerously thin, especially in the Arab world. Authoritative account of a still-controversial spasm of anti-American violence. (16-page color insert)

YEAR ZERO A History of 1945

Buruma, Ian Penguin Press (384 pp.) $29.95 | Sep. 30, 2013 978-1-59420-436-4

Insightful meditation on the world’s emergence from the wreckage of World War II. Buruma (Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism/Bard Coll.; Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents, 2010, etc.) offers a vivid portrayal of the first steps toward normalcy in human affairs amid the ruins of Europe and Asia. The end of hostilities left landscapes of rubble and eerie silence and an economic collapse that gave rise to countless black markets. There was widespread hunger and misery. Millions were displaced, including Buruma’s grandfather, who was seized by the Nazis, forced to work as a laborer in Berlin and finally reunited with his family after the war. Many of the displaced were afraid to go home, fearful that their homes were gone or that they would be regarded as strangers. Buruma re-creates the emotions of the time: the joy that lipstick brought to emaciated women in Bergen-Belsen; the wild abandon and eroticism of the liberation; and the desire for vengeance, sometimes officially encouraged, as in Russian road signs that said, “Soldier, you are in Germany. Take revenge on the Hitlerites.” By the end of 1945, after years of danger and chaos, most people yearned for a more traditional order to life. They “hungered for the trappings of the New World, however crude, because the Old World had collapsed in such disgrace, not 54

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just physically, but culturally, intellectually, spiritually.” Recounting the occupations of Germany and Japan and life in the Allied nations, Buruma finds that the war was a great leveler, eliminating inequalities in Great Britain and rooting out feudal customs and habits in Japan. Despite much longing for a new world under global government, postwar life was shaped not by moral ideals but by the politics of the Cold War. An authoritative, illuminating history/memoir.

HERETICS AND HEROES How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Create Our World Cahill, Thomas Talese/Doubleday (368 pp.) $30.50 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-385-49557-8

Cahill (A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green, 2009, etc.) sets his delightfully analytic mind to the major transformations prompted by the Renaissance and Reformation. This sixth book of the author’s wonderful Hinges of History series shows how events and a change in philosophical views can uproot and reconfigure entire civilizations. Cahill begins with a little-known insurrection of the Sicilians against the French in the 13th century. They annihilated the French and their fleet and thwarted an invasion of Constantinople, which halted an East/West reunification under a single pope, giving rise to nation-states and, ultimately, Protestantism. The coming of the black plague decimated the peasant population, investing them with the economic power to demand an end to the rich/ poor gap and giving birth to the middle class. Cahill illustrates societal changes as reflected in the writings of Dante, Boccaccio and Erasmus, “the Jon Stewart of his day.” Artists from Botticelli to da Vinci to Caravaggio bestowed their gifts upon us as iconic religious imagery was replaced by truer visions of flesh, warmth and perspective. Luther’s first vernacular printing of the Bible not only gave everyone the chance to learn to read and think, but actually helped developed written language. The author makes it seem so simple to connect the dots, as the 14th through 16th centuries witnessed changes to every facet and walk of life—from the expulsion of the Moors in Spain to the emergence of nations and massive religious upheaval. The breadth of Cahill’s knowledge and his jocular style of writing make for a remarkable book. (Author tour to Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Portland)

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EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI The Concubine Who Launched Modern China Chang, Jung Knopf (480 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 1, 2013 978-0-307-27160-0

An impassioned defense of the daughter of a government employee who finagled her way to becoming the long-reigning empress dowager, feminist and reformer. Chang (Wild Swans: The Daughters of China, 1991) strongly argues for a fresh look at this much-maligned monarch, who presided over China at a challenging period, when it was on the cusp of modernization and foreign invasion. Chosen as one of several concubines for the teenage Emperor Xianfeng in 1852, 16-year-old Cixi possessed more poise than beauty and was used to asserting her will in her own family; her star rose when she gave birth to the emperor’s first son. A shrewd observer of the failed policy of trying to block Western influence in China, Cixi believed shutting out the enemy only brought catastrophe for the empire. After engineering the coup in 1861 that defeated the regents, effectively installing the two dowager empresses to power, Cixi ushered in a new era in the expansion of foreign trade centered in Shanghai and the buildup of a modern navy and arms industry. She welcomed foreigners and sent emissaries to tour Europe to report back on the outside world for the first time. The short-lived reign of her son Tongzhi, who died in 1875, meant that she continued on the throne, installing her sister’s son, Guangxu, as her adopted son, so that her popular modernization policy continued—e.g., the beginning of coal mining and the installation of electricity. The coming-of-age of Emperor Guangxu meant the retirement of Cixi and a heap of foreign humiliation on the country, starting with the war with Japan. Yet this tenacious empress rebounded from an assassination plot and exile to implement a series of remarkable reforms in the six years before her death in 1908. In an entertaining biography, the empress finally has her day. (8 pages of color and 24 pages of b/w illustrations. First printing of 100,000. Author tour to Houston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C.)

WOULD YOU KILL THE FAT MAN? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong Edmonds, David Princeton Univ. (240 pp.) $19.95 | Nov. 1, 2013 978-0-691-15402-2

An investigation into how we make moral decisions. A trolley is hurtling down a track on which five people are tied to the rails. You are standing on a footbridge beside a fat |

man, a stranger to you. If you push him onto the tracks, he’ll stop the trolley. Of course, he would die; but you would have saved five people. Do you kill the fat man? This thought problem, invented by philosopher Philippa Foot, is central to Edmonds’ (co-author: Philosophy Bites Back, 2013, etc.) sprightly history of moral philosophy. The author is a master at distilling the work of some difficult writers, most importantly Immanuel Kant and Jeremy Bentham, whose opposing views are still being debated. Kant believed in certain moral absolutes—murder is wrong, for example—that should never be breached. Bentham, the father of utilitarianism, believed that moral actions are those that cause the greatest good, ensuring pleasure and well-being to the most people. Presenting contemporary perspectives, Edmonds turns to philosophers such as John Rawls, Bernard Williams, and utilitarian Peter Singer; behavioral economists, such as Daniel Kahneman; psychologists, such as Jonathan Haidt and Joshua Greene; and neuroscientists, such as Antonio Damasio. How, these thinkers ask, do we distinguish “between negative and positive duties, between doing and allowing (killing and letting die), and between acting and omitting?” Moral decisions raise big questions: Do we, for example, have free will? Are we more charitable if we have just had a positive experience, such as a delicious lunch? Are we programmed genetically to act morally? Are we guided as much, or more, by intuition—a gut feeling—as by rational thinking? And finally, “do philosophers have any special authority over—any unique insight into—what’s right and what’s wrong?” As Edmonds amply and lucidly shows in this cogent book, moral questions have no easy answers. (10 line illustrations)

BLOCKBUSTERS Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment

Elberse, Anita Henry Holt (320 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-8050-9433-6

The story of the entertainment blockbuster model and why it isn’t going anywhere. Elberse (Business Administration/Harvard Business School) marshals nearly a decade’s worth of in-depth research and analysis to identify the strategies entertainment companies employ to maximize profits in a uniquely competitive and unpredictable market. Her somewhat depressing conclusion is that there is no surer bet than focusing the lion’s share of resources on “blockbusters,” products intended to make the biggest initial splash with the largest possible audience. While this approach might seem intuitively obvious on the surface, Elberse’s research suggests that even in the era of the digital revolution, in which the means of production are available to the masses and niche content is produced in more variety and volume than seemed possible a mere decade ago, selling the biggest names to the widest audience continues to drive the economics of

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entertainment. The author also examines professional sports teams who invest in marquee players, online video providers like Hulu and Netflix, music megastars such as Lady Gaga and Jay Z, and superstar “brands” like Tom Cruise and LeBron James, charting in impressive detail (often literally; the book abounds with graphs and charts) the ways in which distribution, promotion and partnership-building favor the bigger-is-better model. Elberse’s argument is dispassionate—there is no chest beating over the marginalization of quirkier, more personal or artistic works—and, as a result, the book is a bit of a dry reading experience. This is about the numbers, not the passion, and on that score, Elberse delivers an accessible, convincing accounting for the ways in which contemporary entertainment is produced, marketed and consumed. A compelling answer for those who wonder why Hollywood seems obsessed with superheroes and all hit songs sound alike: The formula works. (21 b/w charts and graphs)

MURDOCH’S WORLD The Last of the Old Media Empires Folkenflik, David PublicAffairs (336 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-61039-089-7

The story of the global Murdoch media empire’s alternately triumphant and tumultuous journey into the 21st century. Media reporter Folkenflik (editor: Page One: Inside the New York Times and the Future of Journalism, 2011) regularly covers Murdoch’s News Corporation (as its American branch is known) for NPR. Articles he wrote for the Baltimore Sun in 2002 questioning the accuracy of Geraldo Rivera’s reporting from Afghanistan earned him the enmity of the News Corp–owned Fox News. That network’s pugnacious conservatism is a hallmark of the Murdoch brand all over the world, most obviously at tabloids like the New York Post but also at the jewels in the empire’s crown: The Australian, the Times of London and the Wall Street Journal. Though a public corporation accountable to stockholders by structure, News Corp is run like a family business for the benefit of chairman Rupert, primarily, and his heirs. An insular “mate” culture throughout the company encourages staff and management to view outsiders as the enemy. “It is the defining contradiction of Rupert Murdoch and his corporation that it has accumulated more influence than any other media company in the world and yet remains convinced of its status as an outsider,” writes the author. Usually, this patently hypocritical stance serves them well in the bloody battles for properties and viewers. But in 2011, when rivals broke the story that Murdoch employees in the U.K. routinely hacked phones of politicians, royalty, and even ordinary people, like a 13-year-old murder victim, in search of scoops, it looked like the corporation’s Achilles’ heel was finally located and would foil its steady march to world domination. 56

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While chapters on Fox News—though amusing and of interest to American media watchers—can seem like material from another book entirely, Folkenflik lucidly and effectively sorts out the complicated phone-hacking story and its political ramifications.

LOVE AND MATH The Heart of Hidden Reality Frenkel, Edward Basic (288 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-465-05074-1

An award-winning mathematician explains his passion for pure mathematics, a subject that reveals a “hidden parallel universe of beauty and elegance, intricately intertwined with ours.” Growing up in the last days of the Soviet Union, Frenkel (Mathematics/Univ. of California) benefited from the richness of a mathematical culture that still survived despite the brutally oppressive regime. Jews were denied education in fields such as mathematical physics, which were considered important for national security. As the son of a Jewish father, Frenkel was denied admission to Moscow State University (despite his brilliant showing on entrance exams) and tracked instead to study applied mathematics at a different school. Frenkel’s parents, who worked as professional engineers in an industrial town 70 miles from Moscow, had recognized the brilliance of their son and enlisted a local college professor to mentor him in higher mathematics while he was still in secondary school. Through this professor, the author gained access to a circle of top Soviet mathematicians in Moscow, who allowed him to secretly attend seminars at the university and gave him challenging problems to solve. Fortunately for him, with Gorbachev’s rise to power, Frenkel was allowed to immigrate to the United States and attend Harvard. “Suddenly, as if by a stroke of black magic, it all became clear to me,” he writes of his first independent discovery. The author’s specialty became the “Langlands Program,” which unites abstract algebra and topology and ultimately has provided insights into quantum theory. Frenkel’s attempts to explain the mathematical search for symmetries among different operations (beginning with modular arithmetic and leading ultimately to the behavior of quarks) will be difficult for the mathematically unversed to follow. A fascinating peek into the author’s life and work. (b/w illustrations throughout)

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“The wonder continues in the fact that, regardless of subject, each story takes its place in the collection proudly and deservedly.” from the best american travel writing 2013

THE BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING 2013

Gilbert, Elizabeth—Ed. Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (256 pp.) $14.95 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-547-80898-7

The latest installment of the travelwriting series upholds the tradition of world-expanding excellence. Series editor Jason Wilson begins this collection with a tale of overcoming adversity. After years, he found volume editor Gilbert’s (Committed: A Love Story, 2010, etc.) schedule finally jibed with his, and thus, the 2013 collection was born. This is not a book full of traditional travel stories. Instead, under Gilbert’s stewardship, the articles are tidbits from another place, time or culture, and one from the mind of a man who contemplated travel but never got around to it. Readers won’t find any pieces to help them plan a trip, but they will be inspired to

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travel somewhere. “Some of these stories find their authors flinging themselves into mad acts of danger and some do not,” writes Gilbert, “but every piece contains awe in strong enough doses to render the reader enchanted, delighted, compelled, or forever unsettled.” The stories range from typical subjects with atypical treatments—e.g., Kevin Chroust’s recounting of running with the bulls in which he examines not the thrill of the terror, but the sheer stupidity of it—to the completely unexpected—e.g., Sarah A. Topol’s “Tea and Kidnapping,” in which an event that should be terrifying is surprisingly giggle-inducing. “Travel should be just as much about light delights as about dark daring,” writes Gilbert, and both are represented here, well-balanced. So Grant Stoddard’s article about making up his own Manhattan tours and David Sedaris’ piece about his dentist in Paris slide into the collection seamlessly while offering a needed comedic break. Other contributors include Ian Frazier, John Jeremiah Sullivan and Christopher de Bellaigue. The wonder continues in the fact that, regardless of subject, each story takes its place in the collection proudly and deservedly.

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THE WHY AXIS Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life

Gneezy, Uri; List, John PublicAffairs (288 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-61039-311-9

More fun, Freakonomics-style stories about why people do the things they do. In this debut, Gneezy (Behavioral Economics/Univ. of California, San Diego) and List (Economics/Univ. of Chicago) draw on 20 years of pioneering field research to explain human motivations. Conducting randomized experiments that examine people’s behavior in the real world, they have explored “the real underbelly of human motivation” behind problems in such areas as education, discrimination and gender equity. Their informative stories about the behavior of people in real-life situations discuss their fascinating discoveries: Most modern-day discrimination stems from people or companies trying to increase their profits. Women earn less because of deeply held cultural worldviews. Financial incentives help underachieving school kids get higher grades. Donors give money mainly to feel good about themselves. In sum, write the authors, “self-interest lies at the root of human motivation—not necessarily selfishness, but self-interest.” Once one understands what people value (money, relationships, praise, etc.), it should be possible to help close the achievement gap in schools, get donors to give more money, and so on, by designing incentives that work to change behavior. Gneezy and List offer illuminating discussions on many topics, from the differences between animus-based and economic discrimination to how women can grow up to be more competitive and close the gender gap in the labor market. Their book brims with stories of the Chicago public schools, the matrilineal society of the Khasi tribal people, and the thinking behind charitable appeals to help children with cleft palates, among others. Weak title aside, this book will interest general readers as well as individuals and companies seeking to influence behaviors.

HOUSE OF PAIN New and Selected Essays

Gonzales, Laurence Univ. of Arkansas (300 pp.) $24.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-55728-999-5 978-1-61075-521-4 e-book

Journalist and novelist Gonzales (Lucy, 2010) gathers scattered essays that speak to his current interest as an observer of the human capacity to endure. The author has expressed that interest in books such as Deep Survival (2003) and Surviving Survival (2012), which make 58

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one wonder how our species has lasted as long as it has. “In a sense,” he writes, “my career as a writer has been a long quest for…authenticity. And these essays are a product of that quest.” In the opening essay, Gonzales turns his attention to the federal prison at Marion, Ill., a place that will make readers wonder how anyone survives incarceration—especially among the criminals who are tucked away for safekeeping in this “modernday replacement for Alcatraz.” It might be enough to lament the fate of those whom society has condemned, but Gonzales digs deeper, making it clear that there is good reason for such facilities but also noting a takeaway: Act tough enough without actually killing or maiming someone, and “the guards finally back off and leave you alone.” That’s good to know, just as it’s good to know how to navigate one’s way around another kind of prison, a mental hospital, which lends Gonzales a poignant closing image: that of inmates “standing in the rain, trying to figure out the right thing to do.” In between, Gonzales visits impenetrable swamps, tightrope walkers, oil rigs, airplane landing strips on the edge of the Arctic Ocean and his own family history—including that adventure that no one wants to have: a bout with cancer. Gonzales travels where few people might want to go, and he brings back wondrous tales. This is more diffuse than his previous books, but it will be a pleasure for his admirers.

FRIENDSHIP

Grayling, A.C. Yale Univ. (248 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-300-17535-6 A philosophical inquiry into friendship with a historical perspective. The foreword to the first in the publisher’s Vices and Virtues series describes the unifying principle as a “commitment to examine moral issues from a historical perspective, with attention to how the cultural understanding of each category has shifted over time.” A prolific academic, philosopher and humanist—as well as founder and master of the New College of the Humanities, London—Grayling (The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism, 2013, etc.) brings more than enough intellectual breadth and depth to give this discussion a thorough airing. He takes issue with Aristotle (or at least the common understanding of Aristotle’s views on friendship), showing how the religious embrace of universal love contrasts with the exclusivity of friendship, explaining why women hardly figured into the discussion of friendship until recently. He also explores how, historically, the distinction has blurred between close male friendship and homosexual desire (even pederasty). For all its provocative insight, the book might prove both dense and dry for a general readership—for those who think the value of friendship requires little explanation or academic justification. As Grayling makes plain, there is often an unbridgeable gap between the ideal (be it religious or

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philosophical) and the real: “The idea that one’s love for others should be universal and should not single out any one person more than another would not merely be unacceptable but unlivable, exactly like the Gospel teaching that says if we really wish to follow Christ we must give away all our money and possessions.” As an old English proverb puts it, “A friend to all is a friend to none.” Some fresh ways of looking at and thinking about a very familiar topic.

MORAL TRIBES Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them

Greene, Joshua Penguin Press (432 pp.) $29.95 | Nov. 4, 2013 978-1-59420-260-5

Greene (Moral Cognition Lab/Harvard Univ.) combines insights from psychology and philosophy to illuminate “the structure of modern moral problems.” The author suggests that the human brain utilizes two separate moral systems. The first relates to behavior within the tribe—our family and the social groups with whom we identify. Modern evolutionary psychologists convincingly explain that both cooperation and competition have had survival value for humans and also animals. The author describes this as “a problem that our moral brains were designed to solve.” We are emotionally programmed to make rapid, instinctive judgments between right and wrong, which are shaped by group norms but translate into gut-reaction intuition. Greene distinguishes this as a kind of moral, common-sense reaction appropriate to maintaining harmony with a group while competing with rival groups for resources. The author’s concern is with the kind of “metamorality” that demands a reasoned response in order to adjudicate between different tribes. This second kind of morality requires reasoned rather than emotional judgment—e.g., the attempt to find common ground between rival philosophies, regarding issues such as abortion, religion and competing national interests. Greene’s solution is an elaboration of the utilitarian conception of happiness as the greatest good to the greatest number. To value one’s own happiness is “to value everything that improves the quality of experience, for oneself and for others.” To illustrate the two distinct moralities, he discusses a number of variants of the Trolley Problem: Is it appropriate to throw a switch on a train about to collide with five people if doing so will injure one person? Most people will answer “yes.” However, they will say no to physically throwing a bystander in front of it. In principle, utilitarianism would seem to work, but not necessarily in practice. A provocative, if Utopian, call for a new “common currency of observable evidence…not to gain advantage over others, but simply because it’s good.”

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BREAKFAST WITH LUCIAN The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain’s Great Modern Painter Greig, Geordie Farrar, Straus and Giroux (272 pp.) $28.00 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-374-11648-4

The editor of the Mail on Sunday and a veteran art critic explores the outsized talent and Pangaea-sized libido of painter Lucian Freud (1922– 2011), grandson of Sigmund. The exploits of Lothario, Casanova and Don Juan seem to pale in comparison to the astonishing sexual appetites and attitudes of a man who seemed interested in only two things: painting and sex. OK, gambling on horse races, as well (he lost millions of pounds). Freud’s personal privacy was, as Greig (King Maker, 2011, etc.) shows, quite difficult to penetrate—unless, of course, you were a young woman, in which case Freud would find a way to…work you in. The author had a relationship with Freud, meeting him, late in his life, for weekend breakfasts at a favorite restaurant, one that allowed Freud the privacy he craved. Greig interviewed Freud—there are some transcripts here—and many of his intimates and tells an astonishing story of appetite and accomplishment. He follows the painter from childhood to the grave, fills the book with photographs of the author and his work, and expands our notion of the capabilities of the human male. Freud had several wives and fathered 14 children (whom he basically ignored, though he did paint several of them, including nudes of 14-year-old Annie), most of whom remained devoted to him. Freud always had multiple relationships going—with models, with women he met accidentally, daughters of friends, whomever. Some partners accepted his busy agenda (or at least endured it) better than others; some were devastated by his betrayals. Greig also follows the arc of Freud’s career, which took years to flower but bore plenty of fruit once it did. Greig tries hard to avoid judgment, but in this case, mere reporting supplies judgment enough. Of interest to art history students and ardent fans of Freud’s work. (39 full-color illustrations and 17 b/w illustrations; family tree)

STILL DREAMING My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill

Gutierrez, Luis with Scofield, Doug Norton (352 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 7, 2013 978-0-393-08897-7

An Illinois congressman’s straightshooting, spirited memoir about his transformation from Chicago barrio boy into dedicated champion for Latino civil rights. Gutierrez grew up the son of two working-class Puerto Rican immigrants who came to the United States to escape

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“The personal knowledge aided by extensive archival research and always compelling, accessible writing make this an instant-classic music biography with something to offer all generations of listeners.” from johnny cash

poverty. But instead of settling permanently on the mainland, they left Chicago to return to Puerto Rico so that their children could live apart from American street violence and acquire traditional Puerto Rican values. Suddenly, Gutierrez went from being a Latino boy with an exotic last name to a brown-skinned “gringo” who could barely speak Spanish. By the time he was in college at the University of Puerto Rico, however, Gutierrez had not only become fluent in his second language, he had also become a radicalized supporter of island independence. He finished his studies at Northeastern Illinois University and was “ready to agitate for fairness for Latinos and independence for Puerto Ricans.” But before he could realize his dream, he took every kind of odd job imaginable to survive and became, among other things, a door-to-door spark plug salesman, an exterminator and a cab driver. It took getting fed up with Chicago “machine” politics to set him on the political path that would take him from city alderman and right-hand man of reformist mayor Harold Washington to congressional representative. Rather than try to “get along with people” and play the Washington power game, Gutierrez immediately made himself unpopular by calling for congressional pay freezes. He also began working on immigration reform, a cause for which he was cheerfully willing to get himself arrested. Gutierrez takes pride in his nearly 20 years of accomplishments and especially in his status as congressional gadfly. Unlike so many other political memoirists, however, he resists the temptation to use his book to memorialize his ego. Funny, feisty and heartfelt. (8 pages of photos)

JOHNNY CASH The Life

Hilburn, Robert Little, Brown (608 pp.) $32.00 | $14.99 e-book | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-316-19475-4 978-0-316-24869-3 e-book

Veteran music writer Hilburn (Cornflakes with John Lennon, 2009) masterfully separates fiction from fact in an exhaustive, but never exhausting, biography of the legendary musician. Even as a child, Johnny Cash (1932–2003) knew he wanted to write songs and perform them in front of large audiences, but he had no realistic plan to accomplish those goals. After high school, he joined the Air Force, a choice that taught him a great deal about life outside Arkansas but did not seem to bring him closer to his musical goals. He met Vivian Liberto while still in the military. They eventually married and had four daughters amid numerous struggles with Cash’s marital infidelities and amphetamine addiction. As for the professional dream, Cash reached fulfillment only due to his gutsy foray into Memphis, where record-company impresario Sam Phillips eventually succumbed to the novice’s entreaties. Hilburn expertly navigates the ups and downs of Cash’s music career before, during and after stardom; the divorce from Vivian and eventual marriage to June Carter; 60

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his debilitating addiction to pills; the TV and movie appearances that increased Cash’s cultural presence; the slide into apparent professional has-been status; and the unlikely pairing with music producer Rick Rubin after the fall that not only revived Cash’s fame, but took his singing in amazing new directions. Hilburn packs his mostly chronological narrative with cameos by famous artists who admired Cash, including Carl Perkins, Waylon Jennings, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and even some heavy-metal and rap musicians. As the longtime music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn followed Cash’s career vigorously and interviewed him multiple times before his death. The personal knowledge aided by extensive archival research and always compelling, accessible writing make this an instant-classic music biography with something to offer all generations of listeners. (16 pages of b/w photos)

MEATY Essays

Irby, Samantha Curbside Splendor (250 pp.) $15.95 paper | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-9884804-2-1 A raunchy, funny and vivid collection of essays chronicling intimate acts and everyday life as perceived by Chicago blogger and performer Irby. No topic escapes the author’s blunt analysis, whether it pertains to herself or others. The author opines on how other people have sex, her relationship with her gynecologist, her ongoing and graphically depicted battle with Crohn’s disease, the embarrassment of sucking her thumb or the overall icky behavior of men. As a black child growing up on Chicago’s North Shore, Irby experienced a life sandwiched between white and black cultures. “I am pretty much an expert in white people,” she writes. “I don’t really understand lacrosse, but I do pay for a subscription to the New Yorker.” Irby sniffs out and confronts the racial ticks both races engage in—e.g., “black people who are uncomfortable in their own skin…try to control and demean other black people by challenging their “blackness.’ ” Or whites burdened by guilt, engaging in racial profiling and taking her at face value: “I love that you have no idea that I don’t know what the fuck I am talking about. I’m not Cornel West, bitch.” Irby refuses to adhere to any boundaries in her selection of topics or language. The subject of sex runs throughout the collection. The titles of two of the essays give some indication of the author’s take on the topic: “How to get Your Disgusting Meat Carcass Ready for some New, Hot Sex” and “Massive Wet Asses.” Irby’s vocabulary is akin to that used in late-night comedy clubs. Those faint of heart beware. If you are ready for strong, sarcastic language paired with attitude-laced humor, strap in and get ready for a roller-coaster ride to remember. (Barnes & Noble Discover Series selection)

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MALIGNANT How Cancer Becomes Us

Jain, S. Lochlann Univ. of California (309 pp.) $24.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-520-27657-4

A dark journey into cancer as it is understood, diagnosed and treated in America today. Jain (Anthropology/Stanford Univ.; Injury: The Politics of Product Design and Safety Law in the United States, 2006, etc.) aims to balance the objectivity of the field anthropologist with the perspective of being a cancer patient herself. The author does a fine job critiquing a controversial article damning early screening, but she also finds fault with cancer statistics, including five-year survival rates (since they emphasize survival against the odds and one’s personal agency in the “battle”). Elsewhere, Jain’s voice is angry and embittered, amplified in her case by three years’ of misdiagnoses; by the time she was correctly diagnosed, her breast cancer was in its late stages. Her personal involvement prompted research into cancer history, attendance at oncology conferences, and participation in survivor groups and retreats. She has also explored the cancer industrial complex, noting that companies developing treatments might also market pesticides or dump toxic wastes. She is angry that, for all the billions poured into research, we still don’t understand what cancer is and where it comes from. She faults the National Cancer Institute for looking more at the genetics of cancer rather than environmental causes. Ditto the Food and Drug Administration for their failure to test myriad new or already marketed chemicals for cancer risks. In that regard, Jain wonders whether the intense hormonal treatment given to generate multiple eggs for in vitro fertilization (that she went through for a friend) might have contributed to her cancer. Finally, she observes that with all the publicity and promotion of runs “for the cure,” cancer still stigmatizes and blames the victim—or else mitigates the aftermath of treatment with cheery brochures of smiling bewigged women with new breast prostheses. Not a pretty story, but a heartfelt communication to patients and families that merits study by government agencies, policymakers and health professionals. (21 b/w photos; 6 illustrations)

ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD A Book of Hours Jenkins, Jessica Kerwin Talese/Doubleday (336 pp.) $28.95 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-385-53541-0

A literary excursion around the clock and through the year in miniature essays about a host of diverse, fanciful topics. This Book of Hours, unlike traditional breviaries, does not follow the ecclesiastical calendar through the seasons and times |

of day with psalms and prayers. Instead, Jenkins’ (Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights, 2010, etc.) book is a collection of curiosities. In its chronological presentation, there are more than 75 chunks of oddities of civilization from, for example, the mounting taste for coffee to old Shanghai’s cabarets. There’s a bit about bebop, a description of rainbows, a history of microscopes and the romance of the Coliseum by moonlight. Clearly, it would be an understatement to call this entertaining compilation of miscellany simply eclectic. Among Jenkins’ myriad notes to quirky human history are quick appraisals of the baths, walks, snacks and naps that were quite fashionable not so long ago. People and places, too, are celebrated. Did you know that the legendary prognosticator Nostradamus was a jam-and-jelly enthusiast? Jenkins also includes several recipes, mostly for desserts—e.g., the Crêpe Suzette. It is an entertaining accumulation, certainly, with frolics, some bibelots and some bagatelles. Some whimsical pursuits are more interesting than others, but most readers will be happy to contemplate the likes of Charles Blondin on his tightrope over Niagara Falls or Nelly Bly’s circumnavigation of the globe. To be taken in measured amounts for best effect, the text, bearing copious bibliography, is accompanied by mannered drawings somewhat reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley. A small Cabinet of Wonder, detailing some diverting oddments and minutiae of past times.

THE BOOK OF MATT Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard

Jimenez, Stephen Steerforth (320 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-58642-214-1

An award-winning journalist uncovers the suppressed story behind the death of Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student whose 1998 murder rocked the nation. Jimenez was a media “Johnny-come-lately” when he arrived in Laramie in 2000 to begin work on the Shepard story. His fascination with the intricate web of secrets surrounding Shepard’s murder and eventual elevation to the status of homosexual martyr developed into a 13-year investigative obsession. The tragedy was “enshrined…as passion play and folktale, but hardly ever for the truth of what it was”: the story of a troubled young man who had died because he had been involved with Laramie’s drug underworld rather than because he was gay. Drawing on both in-depth research and exhaustive interviews with more than 100 individuals around the United States, Jimenez meticulously re-examines both old and new information about the murder and those involved with it. Everyone had something to hide. For Aaron McKinney, one of the two men convicted of Shepard’s murder, it was the fact that he was Shepard’s part-time bisexual lover and fellow drug dealer. For Shepard, it was that he was an HIV-positive substance abuser with a fondness for crystal

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Sheri Fink

The patients at New Orleans’ Memorial Hospital got dedicated caregivers during Hurricane Katrina; the caregivers got arrested By Megan Labrise

Photo courtesy Jen Dessinger

New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center during Hurricane Katrina was a surreal hell: penetrated by fetid floodwaters, generators kaput, sporadic communications, erratic leadership issuing countermands, animals barking inside, gunshots outside, unsanitary lavatories, sick and dying patients in the halls, sleep-deprived staff, oppressive heat and the intermittent arrival of rescue helicopters at an unmaintained helipad. The chapel became a makeshift morgue. More than one witness said it was straight out of a disaster movie. In the midst of this miasma, real doctors and nurses made decisions that shortened the lives of real patients. Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in 62

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a Storm-Ravaged Hospital (which Kirkus starred) is the breathtaking, definitive account of an American hospital’s worst nightmare. The book builds on “The Deadly Choices at Memorial,” Fink’s 2009 ProPublica article on the same subject, which was the first work of online journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize. (The piece was co-published by the New York Times Magazine.) For the book-length narrative, Fink interviewed approximately 500 people, including doctors, nurses, patients, family members, emergency services personnel, government officials and investigators. Not all involved were willing to talk. “There are many people committed to the idea that this story should not see the light of day,” Fink says. Those people thought, “ ‘It happened. We need to put it behind us.’ ‘People could get in trouble.’ ‘What if somebody reopened the case?’ There’s all sorts of fear out there. Because of those stakes and being very aware of them, I felt a huge burden of responsibility to try to get it right and to also let people know what I was saying about them and give them the chance to make sure that it sounds right to them or to explain it from their perspective,” says Fink, who attempted to contact everyone mentioned in the book ahead of publication. What happened, in part, was this: Dr. Anna Pou and nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry administered lethal doses of palliative medicines, morphine and a benzodiazepine sedative, to patients of LifeCare, a hospital within the hospital, designated for the complex’s sickest residents. These desperate times were met with disparate efforts from hospital staff: A few abandoned ship; others evacuated with their patients. Many of those who stayed, including registered nurse Cathy Green, kept up care as usual. “Green saw the sick lady before

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her as somebody’s mother, somebody’s grandmother,” Fink writes. “Many people probably loved this lady. Green felt love for her, and she didn’t even know her. The woman was precious, whether she had six months to live, or a year to live, whatever it was.” Isn’t that what we’d want for ourselves? It is possible that, days into the crisis but not entirely certain that help was on the way, the “Memorial Three” believed they were acting in the best interests of patients in varying states of ill health. Some patients were unresponsive. At least one, however— Emmett Everett, a paraplegic 60-year-old awaiting bowel surgery—had been alert, aware and anxious to be reunited with his family earlier that day. At an estimated 380 pounds, his size precluded easy egress from the hospital’s eighth floor to a rescue vehicle. But what did he want for himself? Fink artfully interweaves different opinions and remembrances of the same events into two distinct sections: “Deadly Choices,” a retelling of the events as they unfolded, and “Reckoning,” a detailed analysis of the aftermath, including the legal ramifications of the physicians’ and other caregivers’ actions. By incorporating so many threads, she provides for a gamut of perspectives. One universal experience of Hurricane Katrina at Memorial was fear. “[Americans] don’t deal with these types of Spartan situations very often, and it is true that our medical profession is now very dependent on technology and very dependent on electronic medical records,” Fink observes. “There’s very little of the just kind of hands-on, old-fashioned medicine anymore, [and the adverse conditions] really stunned them. It really made some of them panic.” Hospital operations suffered severely from a lack of disaster preparedness. This is not a local problem: National regulations for hospitals are lax. Generators are not required to be tested for long-term viability and are often located on first-to-flood floors. A successful interagency chain of command has yet to be defined and implemented. “Doctors and nurses were suddenly thrust in the horrible situation [without] guidelines for who gets the first seat on the rescue helicopter when the rescue helicopters are coming slowly,” says Fink. “I think [this is among] the questions that we should all be thinking about, that we should all have a say in.” Fink’s perspective is especially well-informed. She is a trained physician who spent time in a Bosnia-Herzegovina war hospital and in Haiti after its devastating earthquake in 2010. She is well-acquainted with the concept of triage, |

a rationing of medical resources based on patients’ prognoses—the instrumental concept in deprioritizing evacuation of the LifeCare patients. “Who decides how care is allocated is critically important because it is, at its heart, a question of moral priorities,” Fink writes. And: “Life and death in the immediate aftermath of a crisis most often depends on the preparedness, performance and decision-making of the individuals on the scene.” The patients got Pou, Budo and Landry. In turn, Pou, Budo and Landry got arrested on four counts of principal to second-degree murder, and a grand jury investigation ensued. More than a chronicle, Five Days at Memorial is a call to arms illuminating the critical need to create effective policies and guidelines for health care professionals in large-scale crises. As Hurricane Sandy swept northern shores in 2012, it threatened to put North Shore-LIJ Health System in a similar situation—but a combination of quick thinking and creativity kept generators running and patients alive. “I just feel that we need to know the story,” Fink says. To know, as harrowing as that process may be, is the first step toward improvement, prevention and protection. Megan Labrise is a freelance writer and columnist based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @mlabrise. Five Days at Memorial was reviewed in the July 15 issue of Kirkus Reviews.

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Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital Fink, Sheri Crown (576 pp.) $27.00 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-307-71896-9

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meth and history of sexual trauma. Even the city of Laramie had its share of dark secrets that included murky entanglements involving law enforcement officials and the Laramie drug world. So when McKinney and his accomplices claimed that it had been unwanted sexual advances that had driven him to brutalize Shepard, investigators, journalists and even lawyers involved in the murder trial seized upon the story as an example of hate crime at its most heinous. As Jimenez deconstructs an event that has since passed into the realm of mythology, he humanizes it. The result is a book that is fearless, frank and compelling. Investigative journalism at its relentless and compassionate best. (8-page photo insert)

TO BE A FRIEND IS FATAL The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind Johnson, Kirk W. Scribner (336 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4767-1048-8

A highly readable memoir from a former USAID worker who battled PTSD and bureaucratic red tape to help Iraqi refugees find asylum in the United States. As a consequence of a childhood trip to Egypt, Johnson took an interest in Middle Eastern civilization and became fluent in Arabic. After the American invasion of Iraq, the author intended to use his Arabic skills as a tool for rebuilding the war-torn country. He arrived in Iraq in early 2005 to find life inside the Green Zone too confining, so he shifted into the role of USAID reconstruction coordinator in Fallujah, where the exposure to the tensions of a war zone proved to be a tremendous emotional strain. While on Christmas vacation with his family in the Dominican Republic, a dissociative fugue state caused Johnson to leap from a building and narrowly escape death. Instead of returning to his work in Iraq, Johnson moved into his parents’ suburban home for a period of prolonged rehabilitation. His injuries drew him into a dark depression and increasing paranoia, until correspondence with former Iraqi co-workers provided a route away from his personal demons. Through emails, Johnson heard stories and saw videos detailing the threats, physical abuse and assassinations waiting for the former Iraqi employees of the American military and government. Using American diplomatic actions in Vietnam as a legal precedent, Johnson constructed an ever-growing list of Iraqis needing rescue and, eventually, a nonprofit organization (“The List Project”) to bring Iraqis to safety in the United States. Johnson makes sharp criticisms of the maddening government administrations that continue to block the implementation of this project. A well-written account of one man’s righteous quest to overcome government bureaucracy. (Author tour to Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C.)

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MOZART A Life

Johnson, Paul Viking (176 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 18, 2013 978-0-670-02637-1 An impassioned mash note to an immeasurable artist. In the latest of his short biographies of great men (Darwin: Portrait of a Genius, 2012, etc.), historian Johnson doesn’t stint on his love for the singular life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). The facts, of course, remain staggering: Mozart was playing piano at 3, composing at 5, touring and writing piano minuets and violin sonatas by 7, an opera, and a mass and two symphonies by 12; he was knighted as a maestro by 15. He was gifted with a phenomenal memory for everything he heard, a mastery of instruments, a perfect ear for tone and pitch, and a work ethic spurred by ceaseless inspiration. He wrote all the time—during his morning wig fittings, in a coach, in between playing billiards or all through the night. The faucet never shut off, particularly in his last decade, when he was churning out immortal symphonies, operas and concertos at warp speed, bouncing from one form to the other without breaking a sweat. This is a very personal appreciation, and Johnson captures the depth of Mozart’s achievement with a scholarly fan’s feverish and at times overweening enthusiasm. He barely notices the composer’s wife, children or negative attributes, presuming he had any. This Mozart is not only great, but exceptionally good, a kind, warm, deeply religious, financially astute—despite Johnson’s own evidence to the contrary—artist who was adored by women, beloved by all, resentful of no one and died at 35: “He seemed to know he was dying, but his mood was composed, tranquil, resigned to accept his fate, and grateful for all the mercies life had brought him.” A hard-sell hagiography but also a compact and knowledgeable portrait of genius.

DRINK The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol Johnston, Ann Dowsett Harper Wave/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-06-224179-5

Award-winning Canadian journalist Johnston expands on her 14-part Toronto Star series on women and alcohol. “Has alcohol become the modern woman’s steroid, enabling her to do the heavy lifting necessary in an endlessly complex world?” asks the author. Coming of age in the 1970s, Johnston was part of the first wave of women inspired by Gloria Steinem. As both a devoted mother and an editor at Maclean’s, she played her part in closing the gender gap.

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Like other women of her generation—and to a greater degree, the young women who followed her—she also fell into the trap of using alcohol as a crutch to ease the stress of balancing career and motherhood. She uses her own experience of increasing dependency on drinking to illustrate a broader, worsening trend among young Canadian and American women of out-of-control, binge drinking. “One in five high-school girls binge drinks,” writes Johnson. Among women of childbearing age, the number is higher. If they drink while pregnant, they put their babies at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome. Johnston explains how young women are not only vulnerable to sexual abuse when they drink to excess, but they also endanger themselves physiologically (for metabolic and hormonal reasons) when they try to match men drink for drink. In the author’s opinion, a misplaced idea of female entitlement is partially responsible, but the alcohol industry also plays a significant role through the marketing of new brands of trendy wines for women with names such as “French Rabbit” and “MommyJuice.” There are also “Skinnygirl Cocktails” packaged for the calorie-conscious drinker. Today, Johnston is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and an advocate on public policy. A compelling sociological study and memoir.

FIRE BASE ILLINGWORTH An Epic True Story of Remarkable Courage Against Staggering Odds Keith, Philip St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-250-02495-4

The propulsive history of American soldiers under siege in the last days of the Vietnam War. Keith (Blackhorse Riders: A Desperate Last Stand, an Extraordinary Rescue Mission, and the Vietnam Battle America Forgot, 2012), a decorated veteran of three tours in Vietnam, explains that by 1970, as part of Nixon’s “Vietnamization” strategy to conclude the war, lightly fortified “fire support bases” were increasingly positioned to lure the North Vietnamese Army into mounting cross-border attacks from Cambodia. At FSB Illingworth, a hodgepodge of ill-equipped infantry and artillery units, along with a cavalry unit with inoperable tanks, were well-aware that the FSB had not been moved in far too long; in effect, the luckless soldiers were being used as bait. Their suspicions proved correct during a massive pre-dawn NVA assault, which Keith depicts with precise chronology and gruesome detail. The author highlights both the bravery of individual soldiers and the impractical planning that pervaded the conflict. He suggests that the battle’s survivors still feel they were treated shabbily by the command structure: “They do not see their victory as an accomplishment, except in terms of making it out alive.” Yet, to the officers behind the confrontational strategy, the fewdozen casualties were deemed “ ‘acceptable’ if the action had destroyed the enemy’s capability to conduct operations in this |

sector.” But Keith also claims that news of the engagement traveled far up the chain of command. His extensive research produces impressive verisimilitude, and the moment-by-moment accuracy of his battle re-enactment makes up for occasional purple prose—e.g., “the entire company…were on the hot seat again, and the NVA was turning up the flames.” A respectful account of a battle that was “a perfect microcosm of what the Vietnam War was becoming in the early days of Vietnamization.” (8-page b/w photo insert; map)

OUT ON A LIMB What Black Bears Have Taught Me About Intelligence and Intuition Kilham, Benjamin Chelsea Green (244 pp.) $24.95 | Nov. 11, 2013 978-1-60358-390-9

Independent researcher Kilham (Among the Bears: Raising Orphaned Cubs in the Wild, 2002) shares what he has learned over the decades about black bears and their society. The author is a state-sponsored researcher whose work with the black bear population in northern New Hampshire is safe, methodical and sanctioned. Since he does not currently hold a doctorate—he’s now working on that—much of his fieldwork has been discounted by the scientific community. On the other hand, his outsider status has allowed him to go his own way and trust in his natural skills rather than bemoan his shortcomings revolving around his dyslexia. Despite his condition, he is blessed with the ability to recognize patterns and see systems where they are not self-evident. The tone of his presentation allays criticism or hostility with its frankness and generosity, as he plunges into what he has observed: how bears use scent and body language, how they compete and cooperate, how they enforce house rules and exhibit a social code of justice and punishment, and how they communicate. “They use ear, eye, eyebrow, and facial expressions,” writes the author. “They also use a wide array of emotional vocalizations, which they emit at different levels of intensity, such as when they are reacting to danger.” Though he has interacted with hundreds of black bears, one in particular—Squirty, whom he adopted as a cub and released into the wild—has allowed Kilham to experience an intimate association with him, from comfort to anger and many other emotions in between. The author presents a solid case for bears as primal actors of social exchange—cooperation, altruism, morality—and their study, a “gateway” to understanding “how surplus fitness and an increase in population density have affected human behavior.” A powerfully original study of bears. (16-page color insert)

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“A spirited recounting of a highly unusual life in the law.” from the investigator

THE INVESTIGATOR Fifty Years of Uncovering the Truth Lenzner, Terry Blue Rider Press (384 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-399-16055-4

The founder and chairman of Investigative Group International looks back on a professional career filled with glittering names and important cases. Lenzner deplores the hyperpartisan tenor of today’s Washington, D.C., where “all that matters is the spin.” Fearful, perhaps, that he’s become too closely identified in recent years with this unseemly scrum due to his investigative work on behalf of the Clintons, he repeatedly assures readers that he’s his own man, interested only in ethically gathering and analyzing facts and dedicated solely to uncovering the truth. Thus, he has monitored anti-war demonstrators on behalf of the Department of Justice and defended peace activist Philip Berrigan; represented the CIA’s notorious “Dr. Death,” Sid Gottlieb, who administered LSD to unwitting subjects; refused to work for Daniel Ellsberg or under Ted Kennedy’s grandiose nephew. Lenzner has investigated the United Way’s shady president, William Aramony, the New Republic’s notorious plagiarist and fabulist, Stephen Glass, and the oil companies who overcharged Alaska for building the pipeline. For pressing his case too forcefully, he’s been fired by Donald Rumsfeld from the Office of Economic Opportunity, as well as by Mohamed Al-Fayed, who let him go when he reported no evidence to support the billionaire’s bizarre theory that the royal family had murdered son Dodi and Princess Diana. Lenzner’s investigations have helped to identify the Unabomber, to recover magician David Copperfield’s equipment confiscated in Russia, and to ease racial tensions in Boston’s housing projects. The author’s best stories emerge from his DOJ work during Freedom Summer and his sleuthing for the Senate Watergate Committee. Mentored by the likes of John Doar, Sam Dash, Robert Morgenthau and Edward Bennett Williams, Lenzner explains how his private practice evolved and how he came to assemble and rely on a cadre of ex-reporters and law enforcement officers to conduct wide-ranging interviews, scour public records and prepare lawsuits based on solid information. A spirited recounting of a highly unusual life in the law.

MY VENICE AND OTHER ESSAYS

Leon, Donna Atlantic Monthly (240 pp.) $26.00 | Dec. 3, 2013 978-0-8021-2036-6

An American mystery writer reveals a new character: herself. Leon (The Golden Egg, 2013, etc.) is the author of the Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, set in Venice, where she has lived for more than 30 years. In this new collection, Leon muses about that celebrated city, its inhabitants and visitors, unique landscape, arts, culture and food, and also about men, music, animals—and America, which, she admits, she continues to call “home.” Most of the pieces are very short, more like journal entries or blog posts than well-structured essays; at best, their form gives them an easy, conversational quality. At worst, they flit too quickly from thought to thought as Leon reveals her passions—for Baroque opera, for example—and her many strong dislikes. Here, a selective list is in order: fat people, hunters, the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, selfabsorbed American men, the proliferation of the words “like” and “I mean” in American speech, sanctimonious diplomats, the grim players of slot machines, and the hordes of tourists who defile whatever place they visit, causing “far greater harm to the planet than have terrorist bombs.” Leon writes warmly about music and animals, offering a charming portrait of the modest and articulate mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, an artist she much admires. A lifelong “dog addict,” the author fell in love at first sight with Blitz, a dog trained to sniff out drugs and bombs. The essays grouped under the heading “On Books” are not, as readers might expect, about literature but instead include her experiences with the seduction of email, her astonishment over a physician’s powers of observation and her incredulity about the outpouring of grief at Lady Diana’s death. An uneven collection showing Leon to be a cranky, though sometimes witty and insightful, critic of her times.

UNDER ONE ROOF Lessons I Learned from a Tough Old Woman in a Little Old House Martin, Barry with Lerman, Philip St. Martin’s (272 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-250-00304-1

The true story of how two adversaries became good friends. When Martin became project superintendent in charge of building a new shopping mall in Ballard, Wash., he had no idea how his life would be changed by the one woman who refused to sell her house to the developers. Even though she’d been offered $1 million for her place, 66

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Edith wouldn’t move. However, she was in her 80s and in need of help, so, with some trepidation, Martin took on the role of caregiver. After all, “this was a feisty old woman who seemed to have every intention of hanging on for a long time, and making my life as difficult as possible in the process.” At first, he did little things, like driving Edith to her hair appointments, then he began cooking for her; eventually, as her health steadily declined, Martin became her main means of support. While the mall went up around her, Edith’s personal walls came down, and Martin caught glimpses of the myriad, almost improbable lives she had lived. Told with frankness and sincerity, Martin, with the assistance of former USA Today editor Lerman, skillfully blends his deep desire to aid Edith with his frustrations with this cantankerous woman, his need to spend time with his own children and wife, and his thoughts and feelings toward his ailing parents. With a bit of humor and the determination to do right by this stranger-turned–close friend, Martin was able to help Edith do as she wished—spend the last years of her life in her home, surrounded by a lifetime’s accumulation of books, music and trinkets. A tender tribute to Edith and her will to do things her way.

TIP AND THE GIPPER When Politics Worked

Matthews, Chris Simon & Schuster (496 pp.) $29.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4516-9599-1

An amiable but tough-minded political ramble with TV pundit Matthews (Jack Kennedy, 2011, etc.), who records a political mood clearly in need of revival. “Don’t get caught obstructing the political process. Give Reagan his chance.” So said an aide to Thomas O’Neill, Speaker of the House during the Reagan presidency. O’Neill, as anyone who remembers him will recall, was a blustering, tough Bostonian who came up through the ranks of Congress, a consummate political insider; Reagan, by contrast, liked to portray himself as an outsider somehow innocent of the machine. Yet Reagan also knew a number of things that kept his popularity reasonably high during his terms—for one, that Americans like to feel good about themselves, which he played to the hilt. His politics are still being played out today in the suspicion of all government programs and the conviction that all taxes are bad, which led to what now seems a curious accommodation between O’Neill and Reagan. In trying to push through one set of proposals that involved an increase on some taxpayers, Reagan faced a revolt in his own party and required O’Neill’s help in enlisting sufficient Democratic votes to “sell the public a budget with so large a deficit.” Though it was not all beer and skittles (“Tip refused to let me speak to the House,” Reagan recorded in his diary. “I’m going to rub his nose in this one”), that accommodation spoke to what Matthews regards as a bygone bipartisan spirit that, as he notes, was like gladiatorial combat in that it made each opponent seem stronger and better |

in the contest simply for each to be up against the other—especially two opponents who liked to out-Irish each other. The idea of compromise and reconciliation being anathema these days, it’s no wonder nothing happens on the Hill. Matthews’ solid book points to a way out for “people who care about our republic.” (23 b/w photos)

THIS LAND WAS MADE FOR YOU AND ME (BUT MOSTLY ME) Billionaires in the Wild

McCall, Bruce; Letterman, David Blue Rider Press (112 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-399-16368-5

A busman’s holiday through the imagined, exaggerated playgrounds of the unconscionably rich. The subjects of this gorgeously illustrated, drolly written satire are those who combine stratospheric wealth with zero social conscience. As the introduction puts it, “Because it takes more than money and privilege and cronies in all the right places to ransack Nature’s bounty for the private pleasure of the demanding few, a kind of sublime idiocy is needed to obliterate what always was and make out what never existed before.” Though the credits never specify who did what, the art that carries this project is plainly that of McCall, who has some 50 covers of the New Yorker to his credit. Taking second billing is TV host Letterman, whose previous books have generally sprung from bits or trivia on his program. Many of these short chapters could have worked even better as video shorts or as graphic narrative, since the writing generally supports the visuals rather than vice versa. The acknowledgements credit “Amanda McCall’s indispensable role” in coordinating the project; she is one co-author’s daughter and long worked for the other. What we have here is an entire globe turned into kind of a prefabricated Las Vegas for the superrich, with one famous landmark rechristened the “Taj Me-All,” while other diversions include bison paintball, nude golf and a pyromaniac’s construction of the world’s longest fireplace: “It’s the only domestic hearth in America with its own fire department, on alert 24/7 to monitor the more than sixty blazes simultaneously crackling away day and night.” There’s also a scam that “has…made billions overestimating the intelligence and underestimating the gullibility of the international art scene.” And the Godlandia theme park, where a top attraction “features a mechanical Peeping Tom caveman being shooed away from ogling a naked Eve in the Garden of Eden by a righteous mechanical Adam.” Lightweight, mostly amusing fare.

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“A well-known editor’s funny and thoughtful memoir of wrong turns, both in and out of publishing.” from my mistake

DIVINE FURY A History of Genius McMahon, Darrin M. Basic (352 pp.) $29.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-465-00325-9

McMahon (History/Florida State Univ.; Happiness: A History, 2006, etc.) examines the varied meanings attributed to the word “genius.” Once upon a time, the author freely admits, his approach “might have been glibly dismissed as oldfashioned or methodologically suspect.” Perhaps he should have wondered why. It is not simply a matter of the long-running debate as to whether genius is borne or made, but also how far other meanings referencing different times, contexts and peoples can be enfolded into usages now employed. “Even today,” he writes, “more than 2,000 years after its first recorded use by the Roman author Plautus, it continues to resonate with power and allure.” As the author notes, Hitler presented himself as a genius, and his flatterers and sycophants—e.g., his propaganda chief Goebbels—agreed. Albert Einstein was certainly a scientific genius. McMahon proposes that the moral and political differences that separate the two can be included as attributes of “genius.” The author’s method includes stretching the current meaning of the word “genius” to include the quality that the ancients Greeks associated with Socrates: his daimon (demon). With great detail and useful scholarship, McMahon uses the word “genius” to assimilate the different qualities of these meanings under a common heading. In the process, the author presents intriguing information—e.g., regarding the 19th-century origins of race science and eugenics and the application of eugenics in both the early days of the Soviet Union and under Hitler. However, his attempt to use what has become such a conflicted, and debased, vehicle to organize the material is a bit disjointed. After all, the word “genius” can now reference sports figures, musicians and nearly anyone somewhat exceptional in their field. An uneven but wide-ranging and intermittently illuminating survey. (48 b/w illustrations)

BEATLES VS. STONES

McMillian, John Simon & Schuster (288 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-4391-5969-9

A history professor makes a case for a professional and artistic rivalry between the two bands but presents no new evidence and reaches no absolute verdict. “Who wants yesterday’s papers?” Mick Jagger sang with the Rolling Stones and then answered his own question: “Nobody in the world.” The framing of this book’s title requires the analysis by McMillian 68

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(History/Georgia State Univ.; Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America, 2011) to end with the disbanding of the Beatles in 1970, before dismissing the Stones’ “outlandishly undignified” money grab as an oldies band and concluding abruptly with the murder of John Lennon. The author’s tone balances the academic (“Rock ’n’ roll had always been a popular and performative art”) with the colloquial (“At least the Beatles didn’t break up because they started to suck”). But what the author describes as “a joint biography” offers little except for occasionally misguided opinion and unsupported conjecture that far more exhaustive and deeply reported biographies of each band (and its individual members) have illuminated. Readers won’t be surprised to learn that the Beatles weren’t the lovable, cuddly mop tops of their popular image and that the Stones were more patrician than naughty in comparison with their purported rivals (who usually appeared to be pretty good friends, or at least foxhole buddies). It isn’t much of a critical stretch to show that the Stones often seemed to follow a Beatle template in terms of their creative progression. What skews the parallel analysis is that the Stones reached their peak as recording artists after (though not because of) the Beatles’ breakup, leading to speculation such as, “even if the Beatles had stayed together, some find it hard to imagine that their output in the very early 1970s would have matched what the Stones accomplished. Of course we’ll never know.” Nothing new or particularly provocative in this retelling of well-known stories. (16-page b/w photo insert)

MY MISTAKE A Memoir

Menaker, Daniel Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (256 pp.) $24.00 | Nov. 19, 2013 978-0-547-79423-5

A well-known editor’s funny and thoughtful memoir of wrong turns, both in and out of publishing. As Menaker (A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation, 2010, etc.) sums up his life, he can’t get past his mistakes—the big ones he’ll never stop paying for and the small ones that changed his life. As a young man, he goaded his older brother during a game of touch football, leading to his brother’s fatal injury and leaving himself with a lifetime of guilt. He smoked, quit and got lung cancer years later. He began working for the New Yorker, where it was easy to sweat the small stuff under the famously idiosyncratic editorship of William Shawn. Urged to find another job, he stayed for 26 years, skating on thin ice even as he climbed the editorial chain. There were rules of decorum (“You don’t say ‘Hi’ to Mr. Shawn—you say ‘Hello’ ”) and regular surprises on what would or would not pass the Shawn smell test. When Menaker suggested ending a story with a mild pun, Shawn told him it “would destroy the magazine.” “What you want to write is an article,” Shawn admonished him at one point, “and the New Yorker doesn’t publish…articles.” On the plus side, Menaker

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learned high-level editing, not just from Shawn, but from the contrasting examples of magazine stalwarts Roger Angell (rough and tumble) and William Maxwell (kind and gentle). After the Tina Brown coup, Menaker moved on to Random House, where he eventually became editor-in-chief, wrestling to stay afloat and to stay alive. Menaker doesn’t just recount experiences; he digs away at them with wit and astute reflection, looking for the pattern of a life that defies easy profit-and-loss lessons.

WILLIAM WYLER The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Most Celebrated Director

Miller, Gabriel Univ. Press of Kentucky (512 pp.) $39.95 | Jul. 22, 2013 978-0-8131-4209-8

Comprehensive biography of the pioneering Hollywood director, whose oeuvre included such diverse films as Wuthering Heights (1939), Mrs. Miniver (1942) and Funny Girl (1968). Wyler, writes film historian Miller (English/Rutgers Univ.; editor: William Wyler: Interviews, 2010, etc.), made numerous contributions to filmmaking, including the development of techniques of depth-of-field cinematography that are still studied and used today, to say nothing of crafting superb yarns in words and images. Yet, since his work dwindled in his later years and included some dogs (The Liberation of L.B. Jones) and puzzling near-dogs (The Collector), Wyler’s contributions, Miller suggests, may be undervalued. Wyler himself, writes the author, jokingly said that he was no auteur, “although I’m one of the few American directors who can pronounce the word correctly.” Yet he left a personal stamp on his films, and he even managed to sneak in a political message or two into films such as Ben-Hur in the face of repression at home, courtesy of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and the blacklist. Wyler may be in eclipse today, but in his day, he was “considered a preeminent director by his peers,” including Billy Wilder, who thought that the opening scenes of The Best Years of Our Lives were “the most moving he had ever seen.” And Wyler made films that earned 38 Oscars and 127 nominations—no small achievement. Miller sometimes strikes overly academic notes (“The attitudes and ideologies that were taking root in the 1930s had their basis in the criticisms of American capitalism arising in the previous decade”), but for the moment, this is the best study of Wyler that we have. A welcome addition to the literature of filmmaking. (24page photo insert)

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BEING BOTH Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family

Miller, Susan Katz Beacon (264 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-8070-1319-9

A story of raising children in two religions. Like interracial families, interfaith families, in which two different religions are practiced in the same household, are becoming more common. Former Newsweek and New Scientist writer Miller examines the experiences of her childhood, during which she was raised by a Jewish father and Protestant mother. Since Judaism is matrilineal, Miller was not always accepted as a Jew in more orthodox circles, but she still considered herself Jewish. When she fell in love with a Protestant, “[m]any of our friends and relatives experienced our wedding as a symbol of hope for peace between world religions, a sign that love can overcome differences, and an education for those from both sides of the aisle.” Consequently, when they had children, it was only logical to raise them to take part in both religious worlds. Part memoir and part how-to for families facing questions of faith, Miller provides answers to the sometimes-overwhelming dilemma of choosing between faiths or choosing both faiths. By finding supportive religious leaders and other families in similar situations, a couple can incorporate the best of both religions, providing a richer, varied faith-based experience for children. Miller addresses such topics as circumcision, baptism, coming-of-age ceremonies and education. Using stories from other families who practice two faiths, the author generates a well-rounded take on how they have handled this complex scenario and how interfaith children continue to follow (or not) once they come of age. Most interfaith families are Jewish and Christian, but Miller points out that Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus are just as likely to intermarry with Christians and others, and she provides sound advice for these complex relationships as well. An insightful examination of one way that religious beliefs are shaping American families.

WILD TALES A Rock & Roll Life

Nash, Graham Crown Archetype (368 pp.) $28.00 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-385-34754-9

Down-to-earth autobiography of one of the great voices and songwriters of classic rock. Nash was raised in a Manchester, England, council house by working-class parents who allowed him to pursue his musical dreams rather than let him fall into the pattern—school, work, marriage,

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“A lucid, well-written survey that covers a lot of ground—well, of fathoms.” from the sea and civilization

retirement, death—of so many of his fellow Mancunians. As a member of Crosby, Stills and Nash in the 1970s, he would note his narrow escape from that fate in the song “Cold Rain.” Nash was also fortunate to be a member of the Hollies just when London record company executives were falling all over themselves looking to duplicate the phenomenal success of Liverpool’s Beatles. With the Hollies, he honed his voice for harmony and his ear for the elements of a hit (including his 1968 classic “Carrie Anne”). But as the 1960s progressed and he developed a curiosity about art, drugs and big ideas, Nash grew apart from his old mates, especially as they failed to support his interest in nontraditional song approaches like the druggy pop of “Marrakech Express.” In Los Angeles, he fell in with a hipper crowd that included David Crosby, Stephen Stills and an intense Canadian-born genius named Joni Mitchell, who became his lover and muse (notably, in the monster hit “Our House”). Nash has some insightful things to say about that other Canadian-born genius Neil Young, as well as other lions of the period, including Cass Elliot, Rita Coolidge, Paul Simon, Ahmet Ertegun, Jackson Brown and others. Nash pulls no punches, shining light on his peers’ good and bad points (as well as his own), but he manages to come across as a solid, sensible, bighearted chap. An entertaining, intimate portrait of rock music—and how it was made—in an age of excess.

HUNTING SEASON Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town

Ojito, Mirta Beacon (240 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-8070-0181-3 978-0-8070-0182-0 e-book

A disturbing account of how attacks on Latino immigrants became a teenage sport in one suburban town, whose bigotry is seen here as typical of much of America. Ojito (Journalism/Columbia Univ.; Finding Mañana: A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus, 2005), who was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on race in America while at the New York Times, takes an in-depth look at the entwined issues of racism and anti-immigration sentiment. Where once new immigrants headed for large cities, now the destination is often suburbia. In this account, it was an influx of Ecuadorians to Patchogue, N.Y., that aroused hatred to the point of mayhem and manslaughter. The author tells her story through key players in the drama, among them Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian who was stabbed to death; Angel Loja, his companion, who was also attacked; Julio Espinoza, the “pioneer” Ecuadorian emigrant to the town; the librarian who started an outreach program to the town’s Spanish-speaking immigrants; and Jeff Conroy, the teenager stabber, and his six buddies who, on a November night in 2008, were out “hunting for beaners,” as they called their search for Latinos. In the background are politicians, TV pundits, lawyers, police officers, ministers and, 70

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importantly, parents. As Ojito reports, the message that many young people in Patchogue receive over the dinner table is that immigrants are despicable pests and that hunting them down meets with parental approval. The author lets participants tell their own stories, and their words reveal much about their attitudes. Conroy, who received a long sentence, was surprisingly willing to talk to the author, and his father and several Ecuadorian parents are well-portrayed in the later chapters. A dark reminder that anti-immigrant sentiment has a long history in this country and that the immigration issue is not going away any time soon.

THE SEA AND CIVILIZATION A Maritime History of the World Paine, Lincoln Knopf (784 pp.) $40.00 | Oct. 30, 2013 978-1-4000-4409-2

A sprawling, readable history of the world from the sailor’s point of view— and not just on the oceans of the world, but also its lakes and rivers. Maine-based maritime historian Paine (Down East: A Maritime History of Maine, 2000, etc.) takes a broad view of his subject, beginning in deepest antiquity: “It is impossible to know who first set themselves adrift in saltwater or fresh and for what reason, but once launched our ancestors never looked back.” Indeed, the Americas might have been first peopled by migrants traveling not via a land bridge but by boat, while the shipbuilding industry as such is at least 4,000 years old, represented by a site on the Strait of Hormuz at which ship hulls were found made of reeds, mats and animal skins “coated with a bitumen amalgam.” Many of the great historical maritime episodes figure in Paine’s pages, from Salamis to the Columbian crossings—including the fourth, after which, to Columbus’ shame, he was stripped of titles and land, “bitter that licenses were now being issued to others to sail to Hispaniola.” The author does a fine job of educing a-ha moments from his material, as when he notes the importance of river and sea travel in America’s westward expansion and accounts for the lopsided British victory at Trafalgar by noting that the Royal Navy “had cultivated a psychological advantage based on a belief that the point of battle was to attack.” Fittingly, recurrent themes include the sea as a medium for spreading not just trade, but also ideology, as with the Muslim conquest of much of the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages and subsequent spread of Islam. With so large and diffuse a book, Paine skips over a few things and heavily condenses others; his account of the rise of containerization, which has had so profound an effect on international trade, merits far more than the few pages allowed for it. A lucid, well-written survey that covers a lot of ground— well, of fathoms. (16 pages of full-color photos; 46 illustrations; 17 maps)

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IN THE SECRET SERVICE The True Story of the Man Who Saved President Reagan’s Life Parr, Jerry with Parr, Carolyn Tyndale House (236 pp.) $15.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4143-8748-2

A former Secret Service agent looks back on a life dedicated to protecting the powerful and serving the weak and needy. More than 30 years ago, John Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan, barely three months in office. Only recently have we learned how close the president came to dying. Instead, he completed two historic terms and lived another 23 years. For saving the president’s life, many thank the quick thinking of Parr, lead agent of the president’s Secret Service detail, who diverted the presidential limo directly to the hospital. But the deeply religious Parr recalls the abiding childhood impression made on him by Code of the Secret Service (1939), starring Ronald Reagan, and he credits a higher power. In this slight but affecting memoir, Parr, with the aid of his wife, Carolyn, recounts his Secret Service years and charts his growing commitment to his Christian faith. While the concluding chapters dealing with his post-retirement work as a pastoral counselor for a variety of churches have their charm, most readers will be drawn to his insider stories about conducting investigations and providing security. He examines the toll high-tension protection work takes on agents and their families, details the exhausting travel, explains the complex advance work that precedes any presidential trip, and offers numerous behindthe-scenes anecdotes about our political leaders: JFK electrifying a crowd at the Waldorf, Carter at a soldier’s bedside, the just-defeated Humphrey embracing his Down syndrome granddaughter. Parr came late to the Secret Service, after an unsettled childhood, a four-year Air Force hitch and more than a decade as a lineman for electric companies. During his career, he protected presidents from Kennedy to Reagan, vice presidents Humphrey, Agnew and Ford, and a variety of foreign dignitaries including Marshall Tito, King Hussein, Golda Meir and Yasser Arafat. A worthy life sincerely and modestly recalled.

INFORMING THE NEWS The Need for KnowledgeBased Journalism

Patterson, Thomas E. Vintage (256 pp.) $15.00 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-345-80660-4

Patterson (Government and the Press/ Harvard Univ.; The Vanishing Voter: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty, 2002, etc.) delivers an impressive evaluation of a crisis he identifies as just as bad, if not worse, than that associated with the “yellow journalism” of the early 1900s. |

The author reports on the Carnegie-Knight Initiative, which was launched in 2005 with the purpose of strengthening the education and practices of journalism. He draws on the supporting work of the leading schools of journalism and references several multiyear research surveys of the media across multiple markets. He emphasizes that democracy and press freedom are inseparable; this relationship, he writes, “has been the bedrock of First Amendment jurisprudence.” Patterson shows how, as a profit-driven business, journalism has devolved, permitting inaccurate information to be presented as news to a public whose interest is at an all-time low. During the run-up to the Iraq War, misinformation—e.g., nonexistent links to al-Qaida and nuclear weapons—joined with news as a form of entertainment and just plain partisan opinion-mongering. Sources, otherwise known as politicians, seek advantage from strategic spin. Journalists and their masters feed controversy. The public is left polarized and uninformed. These things all combine to undermine truth and an informed citizenry. Practitioners have come to represent stories as what the sources say the story is and, thereby, have reduced their professional skills to “stenography.” Reviving truth-based standards will not be a simple matter, writes the author. Technological change and demographic shifts each have compounding effects, and news companies are often bound by the desires and requirements of profit-driven corporate executives. A well-organized and detailed book that underlines the need for remedial policy action and effective oversight.

THE SCHOOL REVOLUTION A New Answer for Our Broken Education System Paul, Ron Grand Central Publishing (224 pp.) $24.00 | $10.99 e-book | Sep. 17, 2013 978-1-4555-7717-0 978-1-4555-7716-3 e-book

Self-styled libertarian and former presidential candidate Paul (Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect Our Freedom, 2011, etc.) outlines an educational curriculum that he believes offers parents the ability to restore their authority by pulling their children out of schools and colleges. The author envisions a curriculum that will enable a student “to be a productive member of a society that is fundamentally not political” and, at the same time, “will inoculate the student against the Keynesianism of the typical university” and the “standard textbook accounts of [the] New Deal.” Paul argues that the Internet provides the means to create this new system. He claims that teaching methods based on lectures delivered to hundreds of students “became obsolete sometime around 1450.” Taking college-level courses online is the answer to that obsolescence. Paul also argues that the Internet allows parents to reestablish their authority over the lessons taught to children in the K-12 age group. He strongly believes that the Internet will lower the cost of education, and parents will be able to afford

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“A work of great affection—for people, a violent sport and magical moments.” from their life’s work

to do on their own what previously required the involvement of “big government” and the teachers’ union. Paul offers different examples of available curricula, pointing out that top-flight universities like Harvard and Yale are making classes available online, and others are following suit. He similarly reviews sources for K-12 programs. In promoting his agenda, Paul recommends that parents choose curriculum units from programs that have been “designed by somebody who shares your worldview.” The author promotes self-improvement skills and touts the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, “one of the best programs of self-improvement anywhere,” as a model. A politician gleefully anticipates the destruction of traditional education in the name of saving children.

THEIR LIFE’S WORK The Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, Then and Now Pomerantz, Gary M. Simon & Schuster (480 pp.) $28.00 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-4516-9162-7

The saga of the rise and fall of the 1970s NFL powerhouse. Pomerantz (The Devil’s Tickets: A Night of Bridge, A Fatal Hand, and A New American Age, 2009, etc.), a veteran sports and general journalist (Washington Post and elsewhere), steps back and forth in time, blending moments from specific games—Franco Harris’ celebrated 1972 “Immaculate Reception” and its aftermath get a nine-page treatment—with interviews and observations from recent days. The author’s focus is, unsurprisingly, on the principals in the production: the Rooney family (Art Rooney is “The Chief ” throughout), coach Chuck Noll, quarterback Terry Bradshaw, receivers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, running back Harris, center Mike Webster, linebacker Jack Lambert and defensive lineman “Mean” Joe Greene. (An interesting section covers the filming of Greene’s noted commercial for Coke.) But the other players—and some wives—get their moments, as well. Pomerantz’s diction is sometimes excessively enthusiastic and forced—the Rooneys were like John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Lambert was like both King Arthur and Hemingway, Pete Rozelle like Caesar, Webster, a gladiator. The great strength here, however, is the author’s hard but sympathetic look at what’s happened to everyone since those years: the drugs (Joe Gilliam), the madness (Mike Webster), the estrangements, the financial successes and failures, the effects of injuries and the many deaths. The author reports on the surprising number of former Steelers who have died before reaching age 60, as well as the many Steelers inducted into the Hall of Fame. Pomerantz ends with a series of portraits of his key subjects, and Stallworth imagines just one more sauna experience with the old crew who used to gather there to avoid celebrity’s crush. A work of great affection—for people, a violent sport and magical moments.

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SIX WOMEN OF SALEM The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials Roach, Marilynne K. Da Capo/Perseus (472 pp.) $18.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-306-82120-2

Roach (The Salem Witch Trials: A Day by Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, 2004) explores the lives of six women involved in the Salem witch trials. The author’s deep knowledge of virtually every man, woman and child affected by the trials in this bizarre period tends to get in her way during the narrative. More than 200 people were accused of witchcraft in the mass hysteria, precipitated by a few pre-pubescent girls who suddenly developed seizures and blamed local women. Curiously, many of the afflicted had feuded with the accusers’ families. Tituba, a Caribbean slave, was accused and fearfully told them what they wanted to hear: that she’d signed Satan’s book. Then she named names, since they expected it, feeding the fury. Anyone with a grudge could suddenly remember an evil eye or a sudden death and cast blame. Roach gives too much background on superfluous accusations that really didn’t affect the six primary subjects. The specially called Court of Oyer and Terminer asked each of the accused the same questions over and over, ignoring pleas and even proofs of innocence. Hearings were distracted as victims collapsed upon seeing the accused. One girl was found to have brought pins to stab herself and blame the accused; no doubt this was not an isolated incident. Twentyeight were condemned. In 1711, 22 of those were pardoned, way too late for those who had already been executed. Had Roach been stricter in adhering to the stories of the six women, without naming all the other accused, the book would have provided better insight into a strange period. As it is, there is just too much information, too many asides, too much confusion and too many victims.

THE 34-TON BAT The Story of Baseball As Told Through Bobbleheads, Cracker Jacks, Jockstraps, Eye Black, and 375 Other Strange and Unforgettable Objects Rushin, Steve Little, Brown (352 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-316-20093-6

A veteran writer for Sports Illustrated takes us through baseball’s odd attic, pointing out and narrating the history of the quotidian and the curious. Few objects escape the notice of Rushin (The Pint Man, 2010, etc.), who invests each not only with the skill of a career

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sportswriter, but also with the passion of a fan. He begins with some personal history (as a youth he prepared hotdogs at Minnesota Twins’ games) and then proceeds to the most significant object: the baseball. He offers some amusing (and even frightening) tales of players trying to catch balls dropped from great heights, as well as the story of Spalding and the slow move by clubs to let fans keep balls hit into the stands. Rushin then moves on to the story of bats, with Louisville sluggers and metal and the threat of the ash-borer all figuring prominently. He describes early spring training sites and then embarks on an enthusiastic history of the glove, noting that a 1938 X-ray of Lou Gehrig’s glove hand showed 17 breaks. Next come the uniforms and the slow evolution away from flannel (in which players baked for decades) to double-knit pieces. Rushin also relates the history of the baseball cap, noting how its design has spread around the world. He pauses to chat about eye black, the development of headgear for hitters, cups to protect the family jewels and sufficient urinal space in the ballpark (a necessity, he notes, due to the torrents of beer consumed). Owners offered salty food (to increase beer consumption) and then numerous other gimmicks and novelties to brand fans and make megabucks. The author rounds third with stories about ballpark seating and slides home with a return to his own story—with some comments about the construction of the bases themselves. Not just sportswriting, but also graceful and gripping cultural history. (40 b/w photos)

A THOUSAND HILLS TO HEAVEN Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda

Ruxin, Josh Little, Brown (304 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-316-23291-3

The upbeat story of an American couple raising their three children in Rwanda and making a huge difference in

the lives of thousands. Ruxin (Public Health/Columbia Univ.), an adviser to government and business leaders on business strategy and economic development before becoming director of the Millennium Villages Project in Rwanda, narrates with assurance and gusto. The author includes horror stories of the 1994 genocide, but this account is essentially a positive one about how to succeed in ending poverty in the developing world. Ruxin has five rules: 1) feed starving people, since hungry people cannot do what needs to be done to move forward; 2) demand high standards where they improve performance, and upgrade institutions that benefit people; 3) do not attempt development in hopelessly corrupt countries; 4) do not start any project that won’t be sustainable after you leave; 5) trust the market to be the biggest player. In the author’s experience, the profit model can carry the heaviest load for long-term development. While he was busy bringing health care and sustainable farming techniques to |

the Millennium Village, his wife launched Heaven, an upscale restaurant in Kigali, recruiting and training Rwandans to prepare and serve gourmet meals using local products. There were setbacks in both projects, and Ruxin does not hesitate to describe many of them. He gives credit to talented, hardworking Rwandans, experienced international experts and generous American donors. A staunch proponent of applying strict management standards and demanding measurable results, Ruxin makes a strong case for this position. For those seeking to sample Rwandan cuisine, an appendix offers some intriguing recipes from Heaven’s bar and kitchen. A personal adventure tale with a serious message for those concerned with eradicating poverty.

FROM SCRATCH Inside the Food Network

Salkin, Allen Putnam (352 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-399-15932-9

Fact-packed insider dish on the unlikely rise to prominence of the Food Network. In his debut, former New York Times food reporter Salkin serves up a heaping portion of cable TV history on the Food Network: from its humble beginnings in 1993, broadcasting from murky, ratinfested studios, to the culinary-themed reality TV behemoth it is today. The author introduces us to all the major personalities that helped further the popularity of the network over the years: Julia Child, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali, among many other foodie luminaries. Salkin’s writing is more nuts-and-bolts reportageoriented and research-heavy, and he is not always meticulous about separating the wheat from the chaff regarding indispensable facts and anecdotes. Nevertheless, the author gives a reasonably vivid sense of the machinations that took the Food Network from their original blueprint of traditional, by-thenumbers cooking shows to ownership under corporate giant Scripps and their innovative new wave of sexy culinary melodrama in the vein of Iron Chef. Salkin also charts how, not surprisingly, the Food Network went from a loose, anything-goes business model to a more conservative, risk-averse operation by the 2000s, when executives began to turn more toward focusgroup surveying and statistics rather than rely on their own gut feelings or instincts for what kinds of shows would appeal to the public. As it turns out, only a few of the network’s mainstays, such as Bobby Flay, for instance, have what it takes to change with the times and tastes of viewers over the years. Obsessively detailed, but often too exhaustive for its own good.

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“Somerset’s impressive scholarship...shows Anne as a masterful, even authoritative, queen who survived the influence of her ‘friends.’ ” from queen anne

QUEEN ANNE The Politics of Passion Somerset, Anne Knopf (656 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 31, 2103 978-0-307-96288-1

Somerset (The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV, 2004) delivers an exhaustive and easily readable history of a queen trying to emulate Elizabeth I with none of the Tudor forcefulness and too much of the Stuart feebleness. The much-maligned Queen Anne (1665–1714) was never expected to reign. Her father, James II, was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and succeeded by his daughter, the childless Mary, and her husband, William of Orange. Anne’s 17 pregnancies before her accession produced only one child, who survived only to age 11. Her devotion to her friend and First Lady of the Bedchamber, Sarah Churchill, was a most unfortunate liaison. Sarah treated Anne as an uninformed fool, unable to form opinions of her own. However, Anne blossomed when she became queen, a situation that Sarah never accepted. Sarah’s husband, the Duke of Marlborough, and Lord Treasurer Sidney Godolphin, were Anne’s primary ministers; many thought they completely controlled her. Anne’s correspondence shows just how malicious and even criminal Sarah was. Her dictatorial domination is evident in her demands, harangues and diatribes. Even Marlborough phrased his letters to the queen based on instructions from his wife and Godolphin. They viciously abused Anne’s rejection of their politics while encouraging the future George I to invade England after they fell from favor. Today’s reader will easily recognize the rancorous party politics, obstructionism and inability to enact laws that existed in that period. Anne’s natural reserve and her instinct for discretion has led historians to believe that she was weak and dominated by women of stronger character. Somerset’s impressive scholarship debunks that belief and shows Anne as a masterful, even authoritative, queen who survived the influence of her “friends.” (8 pages of color illustrations)

that the term “Janeite” was coined to describe a devoted fan. Yaffe (Other People’s Children: The Battle for Justice and Equality in New Jersey’s Schools, 2007) explores the dimensions of modern Jane-o-mania, her own included. There’s the Jane Austen Society of North America, whose members (Yaffe among them) spend months acquiring just the right Regency gown for the annual gala. There are regular visitors to the Republic of Pemberley website who argue the finer points of Mansfield Park well into the wee hours. We meet Cisco Systems co-founder Sandy Lerner, who spent $20 million of her buyout money on the purchase and renovation of Austen’s Chawton House in England. We also meet readers who simply love the stories, fan-fiction writers (some quite successful) who indulge them, and serious academics who loathe both. On the other extreme are people who read too much between the lines, like the full-time explicator who sees every Austen novel as a labyrinth of subtle clues, disclosing a “shadow story” of family abuse beneath the surface romance. Others similarly create Austen in their own image: A nurse practitioner sees “borderline personality disorder” in the female characters; a speech pathologist thinks Mr. Darcy has mild autism. For Yaffe and others, there’s a constant tug of war between sharing Jane with the world and keeping her for one’s self. Yaffe honors her hero throughout: a smart reader and a shrewd but sympathetic judge of character who knows that Austenophilia has its own laws of attraction.

AMONG THE JANEITES A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom Yaffe, Deborah Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (272 pp.) $15.95 paper | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-547-75773-5

A witty expedition into the wilds of Austen City Limits, where there’s no such thing as being too obsessed with the author of Pride and Prejudice. Although barely known in her lifetime, the works of Jane Austen (1775–1817) were so popular within a century of her death 74

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children’s & teen These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

THE TWISTROSE KEY by Tone Almhjell; illus. by Ian Schoenherr....76 THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS SPARKLES IN THE SNOW by Julie Andrews; Emma Walton Hamilton; illus. by Christine Davenier.....76 LEO GEO AND THE COSMIC CRISIS by Jon Chad.......................... 82 THE TABLE SETS ITSELF by Ben Clanton..........................................83 FREAKBOY by Kristin Elizabeth Clark............................................. 84 THE KINGDOM OF LITTLE WOUNDS by Susann Cokal.................. 84 TEA PARTY RULES by Ame Dyckman; illus. by K.G. Campbell........87 HOW THE METEORITE GOT TO THE MUSEUM by Jessie Hartland................................................................................ 96

MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER by Mal Peet; Elspeth Graham; illus. by P.J. Lynch............................................................................... 113 THE SECRET POOL by Kimberly Ridley; illus. by Rebekah Raye....116 WHAT THE HEART KNOWS by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Pamela Zagarenski...........................................................................................120 HOW TO HIDE A LION by Helen Stephens........................................122 DESMOND PUCKET MAKES MONSTER MAGIC by Mark Tatulli................................................................................... 123 THE GIRL WHO SOARED OVER FAIRYLAND AND CUT THE MOON IN TWO by Catherynne M. Valente; illus. by Ana Juan...................124 PALACE OF SPIES by Sarah Zettel...................................................128

FRAIDYZOO by Thyra Heder.............................................................. 96

THE BOOK OF HOLES by Poul Lange; dev. by Chocolate Factory... 131

FIRST BIG BOOK OF THE OCEAN by Catherine D.Hughes..............97

CHARLIE BROWN’S ALL-STARS! by Charles M. Schulz; dev. by Loud Crow Interactive.......................................................... 131

THE TINY MOUSE by Janis Ian; illus. by Ingrid Schubert; Dieter Schubert.....................................................................................97

MIDNIGHT FEAST by Lynley Stace; dev. by Slap Happy Larry...... 132

KING FOR A DAY by Rukhsana Khan; illus. by Christiane Krömer................................................................100

KING FOR A DAY

Khan, Rukhsana Illus. by Krömer, Christiane Lee & Low (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-60060-659-5

EXPLORER by Kazu Kibuishi—Ed...................................................100 REALITY BOY by A.S. King...............................................................101 BACKWARD GLASS by David Lomax............................................ 104 HENRY’S HAND by Ross MacDonald...............................................106 SON OF FORTUNE by Victoria McKernan.......................................108 TREASURY OF EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY by Donna Jo Napoli; illus. by Christina Balit...................................................................... 111 KENTA AND THE BIG WAVE by Ruth Ohi...................................... 112 PETEY AND PRU AND THE HULLABALOO by Ammi-Joan Paquette; illus. by Joy Ang.................................................................................. 113

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“Skillfully blending facets of classic high fantasy, this debut novel will captivate readers with its rich plot and detailed worldbuilding.” from the twistrose key

THE TWISTROSE KEY

Almhjell, Tone Illus. by Schoenherr, Ian Dial (368 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-8037-3895-9

Skillfully blending facets of classic high fantasy, this debut novel will captivate readers with its rich plot and detailed worldbuilding. Sylveros is populated by the formerly beloved pets of Earth children. After an animal’s death on Earth, it passes over to a life of apparent harmony in the winter beauty of the Sylver Valley. While a winter setting inevitably invites Narnia comparisons, this layered plot holds its own. The peace in Sylver has been disturbed, and chief chronicler Teodor does not know why. Nightmares are threatening the protected border. In times like these, a Twistrose—a human child—is called from Earth to give aid. Lin Rosenquist, mourning her tamed pet vole, Rufus, who died some five weeks earlier, finds herself magically transported to Sylver and is met by Rufus himself, now as big as she is. Teodor tells Lin she is the Twistrose and charges her with finding Isvan Winterfyrst, a “glacial-kin” child who has mysteriously disappeared and whose presence is imperative to continue the magic that keeps Sylver safe. Lin’s only clue is an ancient, nonsensical ballad. Deeply drawn characters with heart combine with meticulous details to convincingly bring readers into the fantasy world, while a revelatory ending makes this a satisfying read that may be enjoyed even more the second time around. Fantasy that evokes the classics of yore and stands proudly among them. (Fantasy. 9-13)

THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS SPARKLES IN THE SNOW

Andrews, Julie; Hamilton, Emma Walton Illus. by Davenier, Christine Little, Brown (32 pp.) $18.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-316-21963-1 Series: Very Fairy Princess, 5 Geraldine returns in her fifth adventure with as much “sparkle” as ever. She is preparing to sing at the Winter Wonderland Festival and hopes she will be the star of the concert. Andrews and Hamilton tell the tale in first person from Geraldine’s charmingly spirited point of view. Her excitement about the upcoming event and her hoped-for part in it is delivered with a peppering of exclamatory sentences: “I get to sing with the chorus!” and “I am the most ENTHUSIASTIC singer in our school!” She would love to be chosen to sing the solo, but her bubble is burst when Mr. Higginbottom announces that a professional singer will be performing the cherished part. Her family attempts to cheer her up, and she gets ready for the big 76

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day. When a snowstorm keeps the guest singer from arriving on time, this princess is ready—“Fairy princesses are ALWAYS happy to lend a hand in a crisis.” As she is about to go on stage, Geraldine realizes she has left her dress-up shoes at home. Big boots won’t do and neither will her mismatched socks with one big toe poking out. A last-minute decision to paint purple ballet slippers on her socks at first leads to anxiety, but her princesslike poise swells with the music and “[s]uddenly [her] sparkle comes RUSHING back.” Davenier deftly illustrates all the drama in ink and colored pencil. Readers will cheer this princess’s gumption and almost unfailing optimism as she navigates disappointment and a momentary case of stage fright. Kids are sure to applaud this encore performance. (Picture book. 3-6)

ELLA AND THE BALLOONS IN THE SKY

Appleby, Danny Illus. by Pirie, Lauren Tundra (32 pp.) $15.95 | Nov. 12, 2013 978-1-77049-528-9

This earnest effort to put a metaphorical spin on themes of loss and grieving misses the mark despite having its heart in the right place. Ella awakens to find that her pets—a dog, a fish, a bird and a cat—are gone. After searching her house, she sees them suspended from balloons and floating in the sky. She calls for them to come down and climbs a tree to reach them, but they just float higher and higher. Her mother soothes her, delivering the overt moral of the story in rhyming text: “When things float away / we must stay on the ground / and know in our hearts that / someday they’ll be found.” Ella isn’t ready to accept her mother’s advice and continues to reach for them by floating aloft with a bunch of her own balloons. Mom repeats her advice, but the emotional resolution only emerges when she later tells Ella to look for the lost animals in her own heart. Throughout the story, the line between metaphoric intent and the reality of the story-world is fuzzy. Are readers to understand that Ella’s pets have died? The ambiguity is ultimately problematic given the seriousness of the book’s apparent aim, and the simple line drawings do little to clarify things. A missed opportunity to shed light on important themes. (Picture book. 4- 7)

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THE WHATNOT

Bachmann, Stefan Greenwillow/HarperCollins (432 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-06-219521-0 978-0-06-219523-4 e-book At the end of The Peculiar (2012), Bachmann’s debut, the evil faery Mr. Lickerish had used half-faery Bartholomew’s little sister, Hettie, as a Door to open the way between England and the Old Country; here is what happens next. Years have passed in England, and humans are winning the country back from the faeries. One-eyed orphan Pikey (his other was stolen one night, a clouded, useless orb left in its place) ekes out a meager existence in London’s underbelly. When a faery returns a favor with an astonishing gem, he tries to pawn it and, predictably, ends up in deep trouble. Meanwhile, Hettie struggles to survive in the Old Country, where just a few

days have passed. Captured by the lady Piscaltine and kept as her pet Whatnot, Hettie waits in terror for Bartholomew to rescue her. The story alternates between the Old Country and England, between twig-haired Hettie and Pikey; somehow, he can see her through his clouded eye, which makes him very valuable to Bartholomew, who rescues him from jail for its sake. Bachmann unleashes his boundless imagination in his descriptions of the Old Country, whose rules and landscape are capricious and ever-changing. Hettie’s terror is well-justified. Detail upon baroque detail piles up as Bartholomew and Pikey race to find Hettie, the war between humans and faeries inevitably catching them up in it—as does friendship. It’s a bleak and breathless read, one that will have readers hoping for a peaceful outcome as fervently as its characters do. (Fantasy. 10-15)

I Am A Reader! Beginning reader chapter books

stalgic tone in this jewel of a book...” —School L es a warm and no ibrary Journa k i r t s g n i t n u “B l

Frog

and Friends Series, ages 6-8

“Frog and his friends Rabbit, Possum, Raccoon and Squirrel tickle the funny bone, explore the world, solve problems and support each other in this trio of stories.” —Kirkus Reviews

To order: 866-918-3956

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SPENDING SPREE The History of American Shopping

Bix, Cynthia Overbeck Twenty-First Century/Lerner (64 pp.) $24.95 e-book | $33.27 PLB | Nov. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-1658-1 e-book 978-1-4677-1017-6 PLB

Behind the jaunty cover lies a pedestrian account of shopping in America’s past and present. The first of the five chapters looks briefly at Native American and colonial bartering, peddlers and general stores, and the effect of railroads and manufacturing on shopping. The writing presents facts chronologically with only occasional intriguing details, like the fact that Sears sold more than 75,000 mail-order houses between 1908 and 1940. The next chapters examine the rise and fall of department stores; chain stores from five-anddimes to big-box stores; the evolution of malls; and online shopping. A handful of sidebars highlights topics like charge cards and mall-related slang, while the attractive design incorporates pullout quotes from books, slogans and celebrities. The many black-and-white photographs, many archival, have useful captions, but most are visually dull. The writing is equally lackluster, with one paragraph starting, “One fun retail trend is the store on wheels,” and the next paragraph, “Another new trend is the small, individually owned specialty shop.” The generally proconsumerist text touches on credit-card debt and the possible harms of advertising but fails to engage issues like the international labor practices that make goods so cheap or carbon footprints. An important, potentially fascinating, topic that falls flat. (source notes, bibliography, further resources, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

BROWNIE GROUNDHOG AND THE WINTRY SURPRISE

Blackaby, Susan Illus. by Segovia, Carmen Sterling (32 pp.) $14.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4027-9836-8

In this sequel to Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox (2011), the two pals meet a new friend, Bunny, and together, the three animals enjoy a winter celebration. Brownie Groundhog just wants a long winter’s nap after a December picnic with her friends the fox and Bunny. The fox is bereft at the loss of Brownie’s companionship, so he visits her tree-trunk home to borrow her red scarf while she is sleeping. A comical series of misinterpreted questions from the fox and mumbled responses from Brownie ensues, and the fox loads up on all sorts of supplies from Brownie’s well-stocked cupboards to create a surprise for his beloved friend. A decorated tree outside, musical entertainment, presents and a candlelit supper appear as if by magic, all planned to astonish Brownie, 78

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who is woken by the noise. She’s cross, but she forgives the fox when she sees the “wintry surprise holiday feast.” A hip design with lots of white space and appealing illustrations using a palette of cool hues complement the snappy dialogue and clever humor. (“[D]on’t eat Bunny. She’s company.”) Each animal has its own distinct look and personality: the grumpy groundhog, the dependent, determined fox, and the cheery, polite rabbit attuned to the feelings of others. Quirky, quiet, clever. Watch for more seasonal adventures from this tantalizing trio. (Picture book. 3-8)

THE RAVENS OF SOLEMANO Or the Order of the Mysterious Men in Black

Bowditch, Eden Unger Bancroft Press (464 pp.) $22.95 | Jun. 14, 2013 978-1-61088-104-3 Series: Young Inventors Guild, 2

In the middle volume of a planned trilogy, Bowditch’s Young Inventors Guild travels to an ancient Italian village, unearthing more questions than even an international team of geniuses can answer. It’s 1903, and for a moment, Jasper, Lucy, Faye, Wallace and Noah (five brilliant children) have everything: longed-for parents who’ve magically returned to them, well-stocked labs, and their faithful teacher, Miss Brett. But the children are devastated when, whisked away by their darkly clad guardians, they see all they love explode. The story starts fast, generating many questions: Why is villain Komar Romak still after them? Why do their diaries vanish? And are the men in strange black garb friends or foes? Despite that quick start and some engaging ideas (explosive mirages, a meeting with Nikola Tesla, an escape in a ship-turned-submarine), the book slows when the travelers reach Solemano. There, the plot bogs down amid myriad details, including descriptions of a snowball fight and baked delicacies, childish squabbles, and unresolved emotional dramas (where have the children’s parents got to?). Like its guild members, this story seems to lack a clearly defined mission; there’s just too much for readers (especially those new to the series) to keep track of. The pace quickens in a suspenseful end that answers many questions but leaves others unresolved for the conclusion. Despite an engaging start and intriguing finish, Book 2 suffers from an overloaded middle that lessens the punch of its plotline. (Fantasy. 11-13)

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“…readers jonesing for an adrenaline fix will delight in 16-year-old Ruby’s return as a reluctant resistance fighter.” from never fade

NEVER FADE

Bracken, Alexandra Hyperion (512 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-4231-5751-9 Series: Darkest Minds In the follow-up to Bracken’s The Darkest Minds (2012), readers jonesing for an adrenaline fix will delight in 16-yearold Ruby’s return as a reluctant resistance fighter. Having erased every trace of herself from Liam’s mind and abandoned her friends in order to protect them, Ruby throws herself into mission after dangerous mission for the Children’s League. Though purportedly fighting to save a generation of children stolen from their families and locked away in camps for possessing powers they barely understand, it quickly becomes clear to Ruby that the good guys may not be so good after all. A Hail Mary mission to recover a flash drive containing secrets about the origin of the disease that killed most American children and left survivors a persecuted and feared band of misfits forces Ruby on a perilous cross-country journey. It’s a ride worth taking with her, particularly as Ruby collects a small posse of sidekicks who again become the beating heart at the center of this dark, dystopian series. Ruby is a wonderfully flawed heroine: fiercely loyal to the ones she loves and refreshingly conflicted about the enormous power she possesses. The intricate plot and diverse cast of recurring and new characters make this book difficult to fully appreciate as a stand-alone. But after reading the first two books, readers will be left clamoring for the third. (Dystopian thriller. 14 & up)

(“voxpods” are thinly disguised smartphones; “lethal” has taken the place of “awesome”) do little to disguise this series opener’s formulaic nature. Still, formula or no, the characters are agreeable enough, if extremely young for their ages, and the focus on science is nice to see. But it is too bad that key technological advances, most notably the shrinking device, are given only hand-waving explanations rather than real scientific grounding. Perhaps most readers won’t notice this, but in a book that seeks to celebrate science, it’s a shame to see it treated casually. Apt for scientifically minded Magic Treehouse graduates. (Science fantasy. 8-12)

HIVE MIND

Bradley, Timothy J. Argosy Press (143 pp.) $5.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4807-2188-3 Series: Sci Hi, 1 By the early 22nd century, postal robots deliver packages via 3-D printers and scientists shrink themselves to study microbiology, but no one’s solved colony collapse disorder. Sidney Jamison’s crushingly bored by the curriculum at Bleaker High School, where they’re still studying butterfly metamorphosis. When he’s tapped to attend the legendary Sci Hi, a sort of Hogwarts for science geeks, he leaps at the opportunity. Once there, he joins forces with newfound buddies Ron and Hermione—er, Hari and Penny. The students are shrunk so they can enter a beehive in Japan to study bees there (a different species from the one suffering from colony collapse disorder, which is never indicated in the book). They seem to be resistant to varroa mites, a suspect in CCD now and evidently in the future. Mild adventures ensue. The veneer of futuristic details |

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“...Mouse Nation’s efficient, rational society, from Mouse Sign Language to legal proceedings, remains enchantingly believable.” from mousemobile

MOUSEMOBILE

Breitrose, Prudence Illus. by Yue, Stephanie Disney Hyperion (288 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4231-7412-7 In this charming sequel to Mousenet (2011), mice who use tiny Thumbtop computers need some rescuing by the very few humans who know that mice have evolved. Everything’s going fine at Planet Mouse, the mostly mousestaffed factory that manufactures Thumbtops in Cleveland. Thumbtops are critical for Operation Cool It, Mouse Nation’s plan to stop climate change. These mice have no special powers —only sophisticated brains and regular 21st-century technology (if very small)—so when they hear of a threat to (literally) exterminate Mouse Nation headquarters in Silicon Valley, 11-year-old Megan and her uncle Fred rush to California. Carefully protecting the secrecy of the intelligent mice, they drive an RV holding 2,243 mice up through Oregon, pursued by a mysterious truck. One not-too-bright mouse offers sensitive information to climate-change deniers in exchange for an Amazon gift certificate to buy a sparkly pink dress. The text chides her girlieness and fondness for “chick flicks”; action films, conversely, are lauded, and action-movie stars help save the day. Credulity strains sometimes—the Rocky Mountain valley that’s home to mercenary climate-change deniers is, coincidentally, right next to Megan’s mom’s summer job, and the ending is too neat—but Mouse Nation’s efficient, rational society, from Mouse Sign Language to legal proceedings, remains enchantingly believable. Closing the book, readers may wonder: Will these mice return, and can they really stop climate change? They will hope so. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

1 COOKIE, 2 CHAIRS, 3 PEARS Numbers Everywhere

Brocket, Jane Photos by Brocket, Jane Millbrook (32 pp.) $19.95 e-book | $26.60 PLB Oct. 1, 2013 Series: Jane Brocket’s Clever Concepts 978-1-4677-1702-1 e-book 978-1-4677-0232-4 PLB

Brocket continues her Clever Concepts series with this look at numbers from one to 20. From ordinary objects and shots of the numbers found in the world to cookie cutouts of the numbers and graffiti on a wall, the brightly colored and patterned photographs take center stage. “We can find four things / that are the same. / Four that are different. / Or two of each.” The photos show a “4” on a door, four identical striped beach chairs, four different-colored triangle pennants on a string and a checkerboard-patterned 80

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slice of cake. Clever use of embroidery melds the real and the sewn on some pages. But readers need to have a firm grasp of the slippery concept of numbers-vs.-numerals once they get into the double digits so as to avoid some headaches and confusion. The page devoted to the number 10 also uses numbershaped cookies, so there are actually 11 cookies; Brocket states that “There are twelve / numbers on the clock”; and, really jarring, the end copyright page includes a picture of the actual cookie cutters from 0 through 8—6 must double as 9. But with an adult to guide children, the pictures should help them parse the distinctions. Brocket once again presents a pleasingly huge variety of objects, from the mundane to the fantastic and everything in between. (Counting book. 4-6)

MARC BROWN’S PLAYTIME RHYMES A Treasury for Families to Learn and Play Together Brown, Marc Illus. by Brown, Marc Little, Brown (48 pp.) $18.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-316-20735-5

Twenty of Brown’s favorite finger rhymes, complete with tiny pictograms to demonstrate motions and actions for each phrase. Compiled from Brown’s previous collections (Finger Rhymes, 1980; Hand Rhymes, 1985, etc.), all of the rhymes are classics. The words themselves will take adult readers back to childhood, and candy-striped endpapers and cozy illustrations painted on wooden panels give the whole package a decidedly old-fashioned warmth. Familiar rhymes such as “I’m a Little Teapot” and “The Wheels on the Bus” are mixed in with the simple (literally, only using one hand) “Whoops! Johnny” and “Sleepy Fingers.” As with all folklore, there are many versions of these rhymes. Some individual words or actions may be different than remembered, but nostalgia will carry readers through. The animated gestures next to each line are relatively easy to imitate and will send hands whirling, fingers fluttering, and arms stretched out wide. Brown created all new illustrations for this work, but alas, some are only slightly re-imagined from his previous collections. Parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians will surely appreciate having these favorites in one treasury, but an additional spark would have been welcome. Just right for family play, while honoring the tradition of passing these rhymes to future generations. (Picture book/ poetry. 3-6)

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KILLER OF ENEMIES Bruchac, Joseph Tu Books (400 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-62014-143-4

This near-future dystopia starring an Apache female superhero has the soul of a graphic novel, if not the art. Like her famous Chiracahua ancestor, Lozen too is a warrior, but unlike her namesake, it’s by coercion. Her masters are four semihuman rulers of Haven, a walled fortress in what was once Arizona. Much of humanity perished when the Cloud, a mysterious force that’s rendered human technology useless, arrived from beyond Jupiter. Although their bio-enhancements no longer work, the despotic overlords that survive rule. Holding Lozen’s family as hostages, Haven���s rulers send her out to battle gemods, genetically modified monsters left over from pre-C days. Lozen complies while working toward her family’s escape. On each trip, she caches supplies, food, weapons. Allies—natural and supernatural, known and hidden, at Haven and in the wild— offer guidance but not rescue. For that, Lozen must rely on her wits, tracking skills and weaponry (guns have survived the Cloud), drawing strength from her warrior heritage to dispatch monstrous birds of prey, a giant anaconda and more (the cartoonish tone helps mute the graphic violence). Lozen’s tactics and weaponry are detailed at length but within a cultural framework that fosters respect for the planet and its surviving natural inhabitants. A good bet for fans of superhero fiction and graphic novels and readers in search of superpowered female warriors. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

ENTANGLED

Capetta, Amy Rose Houghton Mifflin (336 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-544-08744-6 The slow pace of a teen’s attempt to locate the boy that scientists cognitively linked to her in infancy makes this sciencefiction/adventure tale more plodding than thrilling. Cadence suffers from a debilitating mental static that abates only during her raucous electric-guitar solos. After a performance, a holographic scientist reveals that Cade’s music has reopened her repressed connection to Xan. The connection alleviates the Noise, but it also places Xan in grave danger from the Unmakers. Joining forces with a band of space outlaws and using the Xan connection for guidance, Cade attempts to rescue Xan from Hades, an area of space littered with black holes. On the journey, Cade learns that she may hold the key that will cure humans from the mentally incapacitating spacesickness that has plagued them since Earth’s destruction years earlier. Cade’s evolution from a loner to a friend is predictable, though her nonverbal connection |

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with Renna, the living spaceship, is somewhat more inventive. However, Cade rarely interacts with additional creatures that are dramatically nonhuman, a missed opportunity considering the futuristic space setting. The largely unremarkable prose becomes more spirited during the descriptions of Cade’s musical talents. Though not especially thrilling or fresh, this far-future space adventure might appeal to readers looking more for an emotional journey than for a technical science-fiction yarn. (Science fiction. 14-18)

FRIENDS

Carle, Eric Illus. by Carle, Eric Philomel (32 pp.) $17.99 | Nov. 19, 2013 978-0-399-16533-7 Carle revisits the timeless topic that he explored with Kazuo Iwamura in the bilingual animal journey Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! (2001); this time, a boy yearns for the girl who moved away. Readers first see the pair frolicking in small vignettes against a white background. When the girl departs, the protagonist counts to 10 before disappearing into glorious spreads. The hop-along narrative conjures up We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: “The boy landed in a broad meadow. It was a hot day. The grass was dewy, damp and cool…A-h-h-h.” Six additional double-page spreads depict a river, a star-filled sky, a mountain, a rainstorm, a forest and clouds. While familiar collage images dominate some scenes, suggestive abstract paintings comprise others. The forest is a dense world, with layers of liquid green and black on a distant yellow. The river creates a different mood with casual swirls of brightly lit blues and greens. A happy reunion leads to a dress-up marriage; in a slightly disorienting turn-of-the-page segue, Carle provides a photo of his 6-year-old self and the never-seen-again friend who inspired the story. Some may see this as an abrupt change, a jolt of reality after the fantasy ending. Nevertheless, children will identify with the longing to be with distant loved ones and will revel in the sheer joy of Carle’s forms, colors and textures. (Picture book. 3-6)

PAWN

Carter, Aimée Harlequin Teen (304 pp.) $17.99 | Nov. 26, 2013 978-0-373-21055-8 Series: Blackcoat Rebellion, 1 This new dystopian series opener wants to be a romance novel but skews toward suspense. Seventeen-year-old Kitty and her true love, Benjy, live in Washington, D.C., more than 70 years in the future. |

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America has become a totalitarian dictatorship under the devious Hart family. Upon turning 17, everyone must take a test that will determine their rank and role for the rest of their lives. Although extremely intelligent, dyslexic Kitty can’t read, so she emerges from the test as a III and is assigned to clean out sewers in Denver. She tries to escape by becoming a prostitute, but Prime Minister Daxton Hart buys her at auction and Masks her into an identical copy of his popular niece, Lila, whom he recently murdered. Thereafter, the story revolves around Kitty’s struggles to impersonate Lila, find Benjy and deal with the constant conspiracies involving the Harts. Carter doesn’t make much use of her new world, focusing almost entirely on palace intrigues instead of the society she’s created. Boyfriend Benjy comes across less as a character than as a prop: He’s useful to the Harts and to the plot only as a constant threat to keep Kitty in line. Meanwhile, Kitty tries to learn who’s a rebel and who isn’t and which side she should take to save herself. Another forgettable genre entry. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)

LEO GEO AND THE COSMIC CRISIS

Chad, Jon Illus. by Chad, Jon Roaring Brook (40 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-59643-822-4

Starting at opposite ends of this follow-up to Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth (2012), the intrepid explorer and his space-based scientist brother Matt Data trace looping paths through crowded spacescapes toward each other. Before they meet in the middle, both encounter black holes, white holes, wormholes, asteroids, space pirates and some distinctly more unusual “space sights.” Hidden among improbably thick floating clouds of aliens and miscellaneous detritus are such items as “someone taking candy from a baby,” “a doubleended feline ferocity” and “some cute cookie thieves”—all detailed on preliminary lists inside the covers. Readers who carefully trace the science-minded sibs’ circuitous pathways will be rewarded with a nonstop barrage of chases, battles, goofy sight gags and silly details. They’ll also enjoy numerous meaty minilectures on topics astronomical, from how multistage rockets work and types of asteroids and stars to algebraic formulas for computing gravitational attraction and escape velocity. “I thought we were goners for sure,” proclaims Leo as he and Matt exchange a high-five at the volume’s center point. “But luckily I had good, sound science on my side!” Don’t leave home without it. (Graphic fiction/nonfiction. 9-11)

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TIGER GIRL

Chai, May-lee Gemma (240 pp.) $14.95 paper | Oct. 30, 2013 978-1-936846-45-0 Nineteen-year-old Khmer Rouge survivor and Cambodian refugee Nea Chhim sets out to uncover a lifetime of lies in this quietly powerful sequel to Chai’s Dragon Chica (2010). It’s been a year since Nea found out she was adopted by Ma, and the people she’s always known as Auntie and Uncle are her biological parents. Plagued by nightmares about her childhood, Nea decides to confront the past in order to exorcise the ghosts of the present, resolving to gain Uncle’s love and approval as his daughter so her mind can rest. Nea is shocked to find that this once-wealthy man is now a low-key bakery owner living a monklike existence, donating most of his inventory to local charities in penance for the guilt he feels over his wife’s death. Nea plans to win him over by helping him prosper, but when the bakery becomes a local hot spot, her plan doesn’t yield the results she desires. When a family member long thought lost reappears, Nea must learn to let go of what’s she been trying so hard to grasp. Nea’s narration is meticulous, recapping the events of the earlier book and then proceeding, describing events and emotions in detail. Readers need not have read the previous book to understand this story of family, forgiveness and belonging, and it provides a jumping-off point for further reading about Cambodian history. (Fiction. 15 & up)

RED

Cherry, Alison Delacorte (320 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-385-74293-1 978-0-307-97991-9 e-book 978-0-375-99085-4 PLB In a town where being a redhead is everything, a teen struggles with her identity. In the book’s unsubtle analogy to the theme of racial inequality, Scarletville’s residents profess no prejudice toward those not redheaded, but reality proves otherwise. No dissident, Felicity’s mother has spent years prepping her daughter to win the popular Miss Scarlet pageant, but she’s also been secretly having Felicity’s below-par strawberry locks dyed just the right copper red. Felicity has performed well and won many pageants to please her superficial mother, but her mother’s discouraging attitude toward Felicity’s pursuit of studio art causes growing resentment. Though she has remained with her hunky, superficial boyfriend, Felicity is attracted to Jonathan, a talented art student and a staunch supporter of rights for blonds and kirkus.com

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“…when Dish runs away with Spoon, chaos, hunger and silly puns ensue.” from the table sets itself

brunettes, as well as redheads. The real trouble starts when Felicity’s dye job is discovered. Felicity’s efforts in support of hair-color equality begin only when her own rights have been trampled—they are more self-serving than altruistic. There’s not a lot of rich nor particularly original description here, and many analogies are stretched farther than a jumbo-sized hair elastic. Though the ending isn’t predictable, it isn’t satisfying enough to justify this long journey. And it’s hard to get past the laughable premise; if this were a futuristic novel in which oppression was the law or even if it were simply exaggerated more for effect, it would be easier to buy. Not satiric enough to succeed in its evident aim. (Fiction. 12 & up)

THE BELT OF FIRE

Chin, Oliver Illus. by Chua, Charlene Immedium (36 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-59702-079-4 Series: Julie Black Belt

THE TABLE SETS ITSELF

Clanton, Ben Illus. by Clanton, Ben Walker (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-80273-447-1

A young girl receives a new responsibility, but when the prized task becomes a boring duty, she and her tableware friends must find a way to keep things fresh and funny in this winning tale. Izzy and her anthropomorphized cutlery and crockery finally get to set the table themselves, but excitement wears thin after completing the chore a zillion times. To break the ennui, they try different arrangements to comical results. But when Dish runs away with Spoon, chaos, hunger and silly puns ensue. Letters home from the travelers boost the absurdity; references to the familiar nursery rhyme add still more fizz to the fun. After traveling the world, the two voyagers return home to a glorious macaroni-and-cheese dinner—until the Chopsticks

Chua’s energetic cartoon scenes of children in graceful martial arts poses fail to animate this ponderous tale of dissonance in kung fu class. Rival yellow belts Julie and new student Brandon have thrown one another badly off their rhythms on the mat. Seeing this, their instructor, or Sifu, pairs them up and sends them outdoors for private lessons with his own teacher, Master Zhou— an elderly woman, in a very nice twist. In time, the two students become good partners, regain their mental balance and go on to ace their orange-belt tests. Rather than mention specific techniques, Chin intersperses hyperbolic lines such as “Brandon struck like a lion. Julie soared like an eagle.” Portentous statements include “Though sparks may fly, two blades can sharpen each other,” and “Kung fu means strengthening your own discipline and ability.” In a subplot capped by an anticlimactic, clumsily handled surprise, the author shoehorns in episodes from a parallel-themed martial arts movie for which Master Zhou apparently turns out to have been a technical adviser. Chua’s images of figures with wide, bright eyes—and in Julie’s case, a pink kitty hairpin—add plenty of visual syrup but not enough to make this palatable. Vague martial arts platitudes told but not really taught. (Picture book. 7-9)

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“This gutsy, tripartite poem explores a wider variety of identities—cis-, trans-, genderqueer—than a simple transgenderstoryline, making it stand out.” from freakboy

stop by to stir things up. The author’s amusing text is enhanced by simple illustrations full of energy and charm. Done in pencil and watercolor, his playful characters enliven the pages. Repetitious panels and a witty design make for one enjoyable journey. Clanton makes chores a delight! (Picture book. 4-8)

FREAKBOY

Clark, Kristin Elizabeth Farrar, Straus and Giroux (448 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-374-32472-8 A must-buy that showcases three teen voices in free verse as they experience just a few of the myriad ways people experience gender nonconformity. Brendan is a reluctant wrestler and a dutiful boyfriend. His social life is a minefield, his athlete friends casual with their homophobia. One dreadful day, the wrestling team all dresses as cheerleaders, just a joke—for everyone else. Vanessa is Brendan’s girlfriend, a wrestler herself. The only girl on the boys’ team, Vanessa defends herself against homophobia at school and a family who tell her, “No boy wants a rough girl.” Her love for Brendan is a signpost that she’s normal. Angel is an indomitable community college student who’s seen her share of the crap life throws at queer kids: beaten and rejected by her father, almost killed by a john. She works at the Willows Teen LGBTQ Center, helping other teens, says she’s “blessed to like me / the way I am,” and is unbent even by the vandalism Brendan commits in a fit of internalized transphobia. In alternating and distinct sections, these three young adults navigate love, family and society. Angel’s position at the LGBTQ center provides narrative justification for the occasional infodump. There are no simple answers, readers learn, but there will always be victories and good people. Though the verse doesn’t always shine, it’s varied, with concrete poems and duets keeping the voices lively. This gutsy, tripartite poem explores a wider variety of identities—cis-, trans-, genderqueer—than a simple transgender storyline, making it stand out. (Fiction. 12-17)

PRE- AND RE-, MIS- AND DISWhat is a Prefix?

Cleary, Brian P. Illus. by Goneau, Martin Millbrook/Lerner (32 pp.) $16.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7613-9031-2 978-1-4677-1712-0 e-book Series: Words Are CATegorical

A bright, busy and colorful addition to the Words Are CATegorical series, this time about prefixes. From the definition of prefixes on the dedication page to the helpful chart on the final page, teachers will find many reasons 84

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to turn to this reliable series to supplement their grammar lessons. Fully saturated colors accompany the rhyming text, introducing common prefixes like re- and un-. Goofy characters like wildly colored animals and extraterrestrials move the light verse along, extending the text and helping readers understand more challenging concepts. Using kid-pleasing words like underclothes and bicycle adds to the interest and fun. The final page, a chart with prefixes, meanings and examples, is a particularly helpful addition, allowing students both to study the concept and to add examples of their own. At times, design choices detract from the content. The prefixes are in slightly different colors from the root words, on top of colored pages, which sometimes makes them difficult to discern. Whether it’s for vocabulary building or helping students understand how to take apart a word to discover its meaning, Cleary and Goneau have the right touch. (Informational picture book. 7-11)

THE KINGDOM OF LITTLE WOUNDS

Cokal, Susann Candlewick (576 pp.) $22.99 | $22.99 e-book | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-6694-1 978-0-7636-6907-2 e-book In the royal Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn, in 1572, two women who work in the palace find themselves involved with poisons, intrigue, violence

and history. Many voices weave together to form the narrative. Ava Bingen, a seamstress whose fortune changes when she mistakenly pricks the queen with a needle, narrates many chapters. Midi Sorte, the “Negresse” taken aboard a slave ship from an unnamed part of Africa and now a royal nursemaid, tells her story in a stylized, lyrical voice (“I do not like to hold a pen....It feel a silly thing to me, to tell a story through the fingers”). A third-person omniscient narrator adds more perspectives, among them the pained, ineffective king, Christian V, who loves a ruthless male adviser, and Christian’s petulant, bloodthirsty daughter, Beatte. Interspersed throughout are short fairy tales with dark twists— a princess rewarded for her craftiness when she steals from a girl who eats a poisoned apple, for instance. The story never disguises the grotesque and public nature of bodies or the violence of the court. Readers frequently see Christian talking to his beloved Nicholas while seated at his toilet stool or doctors meticulously examining royal women’s genitals. Both Ava and Midi experience rape at the hands of a powerful man, and Midi in particular is routinely dehumanized, lending the story a sad ring of authenticity. Though the publisher suggests a 16-plus audience, it is not beyond sophisticated younger teens. Sometimes bleak, but complex and carefully crafted— mesmerizing. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

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GOODBYE, REBEL BLUE

Coriell, Shelley Amulet/Abrams (320 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0930-2

A teen fills a bucket list. The problem is, it belongs to a dead girl. Detention is a second home for loner Rebecca, aptly nicknamed Rebel Blue, but it’s the first time for the straight and narrow Kennedy Green. (The irony of their names is not lost in the story.) The guidance counselor asks the detainees to create a list of accomplishments they’d like to attain, and the two mismatched teens briefly bond. When Kennedy ends up mysteriously dead, Rebel feels compelled to complete the charitable girl’s bucket list, especially when it won’t disappear. Can the edgy teen who lost her photographer mother, has never known her father, and feels disconnected from her aunt, uncle, popular cousin and, well, everyone actually learn to tango, adopt endangered turtles or perform random acts of kindness? Rebel’s snarky, first-person narration celebrates her artistic spirit even as it tries to hide her grief and sense that she is out of sync with the world. As she begins to check off Kennedy’s items, she discovers that she does need friends, family and even a team. Of course a love interest, like seemingly opposite Nate Bolivar, would also make a fine addition to her support system. And along the way, Kennedy’s desires slowly make way for Rebel’s. As true as the blue streak in her hair, Rebel will encourage readers to follow their own hearts and dreams. (Fiction. 13 & up)

SNAKEROOT

Cremer, Andrea Philomel (336 pp.) $18.99 | Dec. 10, 2013 978-0-399-16422-4 Series: Nightshade, 4 This new Nightshade sequel takes up the action after the close of the first trilogy, when the wolf Guardians finally won their epic battle to banish evil Bosque Mar into the Nether. Now, Bosque wants to come back. By playing on the emotions of Ren’s sister, Adne, now romantically entwined with Connor, Logan manages to infiltrate the Searchers at their headquarters, Rowan Estate. Thinking the war is over, the Searchers let their guards down until events finally compel them to see that another battle looms. By that time, much has been done against them, and there’s a new war that should provide many more sequels for happy fans. Cremer, as always, keeps the narrative moving along briskly, but the focus here is more on magic than suspense. The wolves, including former protagonist Calla, remain wolves, never to return to human form. Instead, the |

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Weavers, who create magical portals, and the fighters such as Connor appear to be taking center stage. Much intrigue results when the evil Logan dupes major Searcher figures into helping him. Those new to the series would be well-advised to read the first trilogy before beginning this book, as the history is so complicated and the characters so numerous that readers need a good background to get a grip on the plot. Plenty of suspense sets the stage for continuing this hit series. (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)

ONE CROW ALONE

Crockett, S.D. Feiwel & Friends (304 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-250-02425-1 Crockett returns to the harsh, wintry world of After the Snow (2012) in this prequel, which traces the harrowing journey that begins when Magda survives the destruction of her Polish village and culminates when she meets Willo and his

father. Magda, in spite of her admirable ability to find contentment in difficult situations, is a character destined to suffer, as the violence of the decaying world strips her of one caring relationship after another (aptly foreshadowing her sad fate in After the Snow). From her grandmother’s death to her abandonment when pregnant with twins, life offers her little but heartache. However, her tragedies lack the emotional depth of Willo’s comparable losses from the first novel, perhaps because Crockett omits the bold dialect and narrative style that made her debut characters so riveting. Also missing in this installment are the infusions of joyful humanity that provided such devastating points of contrast to the brutality of humanity’s moral decline in After the Snow. Occasional brief narrative shifts that examine the lives of an elderly woman, a jaded city dweller, a soldier, a crow and Willo add interest and broaden the novel’s scope, contextualizing Magda’s story as one strand of suffering among many. Ultimately, this prequel lacks the inventiveness and atmospheric intensity of the first novel, but it still works as a stand-alone cautionary tale about environmental change. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 12 & up)

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GHOST PRISON

water buffalo they can beat up in their imaginations. Labeled sketches on the endpapers provide a “Field Guide” to various jungle animals that put in cameos. Fans of Kevin Sherry’s I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean (2007) or Bob Shea’s Cheetah Can’t Lose (2013) will enjoy this lively exchange of views. (Picture book. 5- 7)

Delaney, Joseph Illus. by Fischer, Scott M. Sourcebooks Fire (112 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4022-9318-4 Billy’s new job at the ghost prison may be the death of him. Billy Calder’s spent nine years at the Home for Unfortunate Boys, and he’s ready to get a job; he takes one as a guard at the prison in an old castle on the hill outside his medieval village. He and the other orphans have always enjoyed frightening one another with tales of witches and ghosts dwelling in the castle, but Billy was never sure if those tales had any truth to them—until he’s asked to work the overnight shift. Mr. Adam Colne, Billy’s boss, tells him that someone requested that Billy be assigned to the night shift…someone dead. Netty, the ghost of a witch hanged at the prison, asked for Billy, and she usually gets what she wants; her displeasure’s hard to bear. Colne tells Billy Netty’s story and warns Billy to stay away from the Witch Well, for something awful dwells there. Billy follows that rule until one night when the rest of the guards are sick…and Billy has to feed what lives in the Witch Well. Delaney, author of the Last Apprentice series, packs a lot of scare into this slim volume, and Fischer’s blackand-white illustrations delightfully increase the fear factor. Not for the faint of heart, this probably should be read with the lights on…they’ll likely have to stay on. (Horror. 8-11)

I’M THE SCARIEST THING IN THE JUNGLE!

Derrick Jr., David G. Illus. by Derrick Jr., David G. Immedium (36 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-59702-087-9

A tiger cub and a baby crocodile square off for bragging rights. In language that evokes the backyard more than Bengal, a little crocodile erupts from the river with a “BOO!” to make the title claim. The startled tigerlet responds: “Excuse me? I’m a TIGER. Way scarier than you.” The squabble escalates quickly both in scope (“I can scale the skin off a sambar. You’re just a dinky lil’ mudpuppy”; “You don’t know diddly squat”) and volume. It breaks off suddenly as ominous shadows signal the arrival of something “BIG…and SCARY!” That would be their moms, coming to collect them and who, both youngsters agree with relief, are really the scariest. Said moms have actually been intermittently visible all along, hanging back with indulgent looks in Derrick’s loosely drawn and brushed cartoon scenes. Perspectives vary, including a vertically oriented spread in which the tiger boasts of attacking from trees, and the climax of the argument faces the two off nose to nose in close-up as their tiny avatars pose atop all of the rhinos, elephants and 86

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FAULT LINE

Desir, C. Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (240 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4424-6072-0 A well-meaning but deeply flawed account of the aftermath of rape. Beez and Ani start dating and eventually having sex in a joyful, caring and mutually respectful relationship. Then Ani goes to a party without Beez, and the next day, Ani’s friend Kate calls Beez from the hospital. In a believably confusing incident, Ani has been raped by multiple boys, and, in a final act of hostility, the perpetrators “left a lighter inside of her.” (The gruesome specifics of this act are left, uncomfortably, to readers’ imaginations.) Ani and Beez are both understandably overwhelmed and confused after the incident, but readers are given few tools with which to make sense of their feelings or behavior. A largely ineffectual counselor offers buzzword-laden suggestions, but the book never expands on the meanings of terms like “empower” or “victim-blaming.” The narrative never challenges Beez’s refusal to let Ani break up with him nor his attempt to heal her sexually by focusing on her body without regard to her stated wishes. Worst, an incident in which Beez finds Ani in a compromising position with a teacher is presented as evidence of Ani’s dysfunction rather than a teacher violating a student. An issue this sensitive should be presented with far greater care. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE SNATCHABOOK

Docherty, Helen Illus. by Docherty, Thomas Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4022-9082-4 Thomas Docherty’s art is the strongest element of this sweet story whose rhythm sometimes misses the mark. The story opens with a rabbit named Eliza Brown happily reading herself a bedtime story, when a creature called a Snatchabook flies into town. Beginning with Eliza’s book, the Snatchabook snatches the stories of everyone reading that night—both individuals and families of charmingly illustrated forest-dwelling creatures—right out of their hands. The sometimes-uneven meter (“Tales of dragons, spitting flames; / Witches playing kirkus.com

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“The pages are artfully constructed, with white space highlighting Cub as the girl scrutinizes his appearance. Readers will easily see that Cub is not happy….” from tea party rules

spooky games; / Pirates on the seven seas; / Princesses trying to sleep on peas”) grates, but it only slightly diminishes the charm of the story and illustrations. Thomas Docherty successfully increases suspense by at first offering just glimpses of the Snatchabook’s silhouette. When the disturbing thefts continue, Eliza sets a trap for the thief only to discover the culprit is an adorable creature with no one to read to him. Astute readers may wonder how stealing books would solve the Snatchabook’s dilemma, but the resolution, in which the Snatchabook returns the stolen tomes and joins nightly read-alouds, satisfies. While the story is sweet and the illustrations darling, it’s a pity it doesn’t read aloud as smoothly as the books it celebrates. (Picture book. 3-6)

DARKNESS EVERYWHERE The Assassination of Mohandas Gandhi

Doeden, Matt Twenty-First Century/Lerner (80 pp.) $31.93 | $23.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7613-5483-3 978-1-4677-1659-8 e-book

The assassination of Mohandas Gandhi, India’s spiritual leader and the world’s most famous pacifist, shocked the world. Doeden chronicles Gandhi’s life, accomplishments, assassination and legacy in this compact biography. The first half of the biography describes Gandhi’s religious beliefs and moral convictions, his personal experiences with discrimination in South Africa and his leadership in a civil rights movement for Indians. Doeden provides background information about India under British colonial rule, India’s caste system, and the tensions between Hindus and Muslims, offering valuable contexts to readers unfamiliar with the region’s history. The second half of the book thoroughly explores the circumstances of Gandhi’s assassination, the motives of the conspirators, the background of assassin Natharum Godse, and the trial and executions of Godse and a co-conspirator. The book concludes with a discussion of the influence of Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance on leaders of social-justice movements such as Martin Luther King Jr., Lech Walesa and Cesar Chavez. The design uses orange as a highlighting color, a decision that makes photo captions rather difficult to read. Though brief, this informative and insightful overview of Gandhi’s life, assassination and legacy is a solid introduction to the subject. (photographs, timeline, glossary, source notes, suggestions for further reading) (Biography. 12-18)

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TEA PARTY RULES

Dyckman, Ame Illus. by Campbell, K.G. Viking (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 3, 2013 978-0-670-78501-8

What stops a bear cub from gobbling down a plateful of delicious cookies? Tea

Party rules, of course! When a little bear cub follows his nose to a plateful of cookies laid out for a little girl’s tea party, he takes the place of a stuffed bear at the table, generously telling the teddy that he will eat the cookies for him. When the young hostess emerges, Cub pretends to be stuffed. “You’re grubby,” she tells him, carrying him inside. “Tea Party Rule: you must be clean. Then we can have cookies.” Dyckman’s sophomore title (Boy and Bot, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, 2012) successfully uses role-reversal comedy in developing this friendship. Amusing illustrations by Campbell in sepia marker and colored pencil reveal the emotions of both the disgruntled Cub and the girl. The pages are artfully constructed, with white space highlighting Cub as the girl scrutinizes his appearance. Readers will easily see that Cub is not happy being clean and neat and polished in order to enjoy those cookies. With perfect pacing, the tension builds along with the rules. Young listeners will want to shout out “He’s a BEAR!” The lesson—playing together is much more fun when both parties agree on the rules—goes down easy in this tale of newfound friendship. Strong storytelling, pacing, emotive illustrations that match the deceptive plot and an exuberant sense of fun make this little gem a winner. (Picture book. 3-7)

THE CROCODILE AND THE SCORPION

Emberley, Ed Illus. by Emberley, Rebecca Neal Porter/Roaring Brook (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-59643-494-3 It’s all about the squabble in this odd variation on a fable that usually, to clearer purpose, pairs a suicidal scorpion with either a hard-shelled turtle or a vulnerable frog. The narration begins by strenuously emphasizing the stupidity of both creatures—the crocodile’s “brain was very small,” the scorpion’s “stinger was very sharp, but his mind was not,” and then again: “They both had brains no bigger than a pebble.” The tale puts the scorpion upon the crocodile’s back for a river crossing after a mutual promise to refrain from stinging or biting. The scorpion can’t restrain himself, though. This leads to a splashy battle and mutual recriminations that stretch on for four spreads, after which both sink to the bottom, where, instead of dying, “you can hear them arguing still…that is if someone has not settled the argument for them.” With the color contrast among the green croc, the purple scorpion and |

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“…thanks to the tongue-in-cheek premise, a cast with names like Blusta and Mongrel, some colorful invective…and the uncomplicated humor in Simard’s angular cartoons, it manages to stay afloat.” from horrendo’s curse

the blue river dialed up to the max, the spiky cut- and tornpaper collage illustrations practically glow—but the two animals seem to lose track of each other and just float separately through the last several spreads. The authors provide no source note to the original tale. The usual morals about the consequences of treachery or the inflexibility of innate nature don’t apply here in this uncharacteristically unsatisfying retelling. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

HORRENDO’S CURSE The Graphic Novel

Fienberg, Anna Illus. by Simard, Rémy Annick Press (104 pp.) $24.95 | $14.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-55451-549-3 978-1-55451-548-6 paper A lad bearing the “curse” of unfailing politeness wages peace in this graphic version of a 2002 novel. Much trimmed from its original, the tale sweeps Horrendo and the other 12-year-olds in his ill-tempered town aboard a pirate ship that puts in regularly to pillage and replenish its crew. Being cursed at birth by a “wise woman” annoyed at everyone’s hostility, he cannot curse, swear or hurt anyone—but he can cook like a pro and also concoct clever, if not always successful, escape plans. Ultimately, he beguiles the salty pirates with tasty victuals and kindness, leads them to hidden treasure and at last returns in triumph to his town. There, he helps to found a tavern with pirate gold and to revise the local school’s curriculum to include classes in (wait for it) anger management. The story still bears a heavy message. Still, thanks to the tongue-in-cheek premise, a cast with names like Blusta and Mongrel, some colorful invective (“Now get off my ship, you bottom-dwelling swill-suckers!”) and the uncomplicated humor in Simard’s angular cartoons, it manages to stay afloat. Just a sketch of the earlier plotline remains, but the pictures make the action easy to follow, and the theme is as sweet as Horrendo’s delectable French toast. (Graphic novel. 9-11)

LITTLE RED HEN

Finch, Mary Illus. by Slater, Kate Barefoot (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-84686-575-6

This serviceable retelling of the classic tale is made different by an added scene of redemption, colorful collage art and a story CD narrated by Debra Messing. In this adaptation, the little red hen’s lazy companions are the rooster and the mouse. When she finds a grain of wheat, 88

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she plants it, waters it, harvests it and so on, requesting help each time. The familiar refrain, “Not I,” repeats throughout. The typeface is playful and bouncy, but unfortunately, it is hard to distinguish commas from periods. Given the minimal story structure, the one misstep in sequence seems confusing: The hen asks for assistance kneading the dough and is then said to be kneading the dough “again,” without, apparently, having kneaded it beforehand. The illustrations, made in collage and paper cuts, have a three-dimensional effect and invite inspection. Indeed, youngsters will need to pore over them to catch the subtle changes in the characters’ expressions: After being refused aid so many times, the hen’s eyelids droop; when denied bread, the rooster’s sagging eyelids communicate his dismay. The story concludes with the lesson learned. The next time the hen finds a grain of wheat, rooster and mouse know what to do. Though this has its moments, Paul Galdone’s version (with or without story CD) is still the benchmark. (recipe) (Picture book/folk tale. 3-6)

FRACTURED

Fine, Sarah Skyscape (368 pp.) $17.99 | $7.99 e-book | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-4778-1729-2 978-1-4778-1729-2 e-book Series: Guards of the Shadowlands, 2 At the end of Sanctum (2012), sweethearts Lela and Malachi found themselves returned to the world of the living to track down the evil, soul-destroying Mazikin that had escaped from the dark city of suicides Malachi had protected. Back in suburban Rhode Island, Lela needs to navigate the end of her senior year even as she acts as Captain of a Guard unit that must work at night to track and banish the Mazikin. Joining her and Malachi are Jim, from the Blinding City of addicts and thieves, and Henry, from the Wasteland, that section of the Shadowlands reserved for murderers. Archangel Raphael provides intermittent help and healing but never as much as Lela would like. Per the now-standard formula of paranormalromance middle volumes, Fine provides a nominal reason to separate Lela and Malachi—here, Malachi’s fear that his love for Lela will cause him to make bad decisions—and stretch out the sexual tension. This contrivance is made less irritating than it might be by the teens’ involvement in the student body of Lela’s high school and its shifting romantic relationships. Lela has to admit that the attention hunky, normal Ian pays her is pretty appealing. Alternating high school banality with the surreal danger of the Guards’ mission, Fine kicks it up a notch when Lela encounters the mother who abandoned her, now possessed by a Mazikin. Between the expanded worldbuilding and well-paced suspense, Fine presents a sturdy-enough bridge to carry readers to Book 3. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

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LET’S MAKE A DIFFERENCE We Can Help Orangutans

Francine, Gabriella with Vayanian, Solara BBM Books (32 pp.) $15.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-938504-00-6 A naked appeal to support efforts to save these endangered primates. Heartstring-tugging photos of an orangutan mother and baby form the core of this well-intentioned title. Crudely drawn paintings of young activists (and one weeping orangutan) have been digitally collaged in—an unfortunate and distracting design decision. The narrative text, in large type, supplies background and “fun facts” about the animals’ habits and behavior in the wild along with vague references to conservation efforts and warnings about their declining population due to habitat loss. The authors then go on to suggest that motivated readers who “live near or travel to Indonesia” can visit a “care center”— or, more feasibly, adopt a two-pronged strategy. Children are encouraged to save loose change in a jar to send to the several charitable organizations listed at the end and campaign for the use of only sustainable palm oil as a food ingredient. Children who don’t know what “sustainable palm oil” is or why they should focus particularly on that product (that is, because Indonesia exports most of the world’s supply) won’t find out here, however. A worthy cause to support, but this is too superficial to light many fires: a brochure between hard covers. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

ONCE UPON A BALLOON

Galbraith, Bree Illus. by Malenfant, Isabelle Orca (32 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4598-0324-4

A lighter-than-air answer to that eternal question: Where do balloons go? Chicago. Specifically, they end up with Frank, Chicago’s Nocturnal City Collection Custodian, who travels around the Windy City with a bouquet of specialized tools to retrieve lost balloons. Poor Frank is overworked and dreams of eventual replacement by a robot that might liberate him to enjoy Chicago in the daytime. At least this is the story that Zeke tells his little brother, Theo, after Theo lets go of the string of his new green balloon. Theo is so taken by the story that Zeke writes a message to Frank on his orange balloon, and then the brothers let it go as well. Malenfant uses a deliberately childlike style to illustrate this sweet flight of fancy, which celebrates storytelling, the bond between siblings and the wonder of a serendipitous connection, all at the same time. The image of lonely, hardworking Frank sitting in a deserted dugout with a few stray balloons says |

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it all. But appealing as Theo, Zeke and the perhaps-fictitious Frank are, it’s hard not to wonder whether yet another story that celebrates releasing balloons is the best thing we could be doing for the world, particularly as Theo’s killjoy mother delivers a story that is probably closer to the truth than Zeke’s: that balloons probably pop as the air pressure changes, resulting in balloon fragments on the ground. Maybe it’s time for balloon stories to retire along with Frank. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE GRIMM CONCLUSION

Gidwitz, Adam Dutton (368 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 8, 2103 978-0-525-42615-8

The names change, but the characters and themes not so much as Gidwitz takes a pair of children through a third series of folk-tale scenarios punctuated with washes of blood, fire, tears and parental issues that presage readers’ encounters with Bruno Bettelheim. Before finally making good on their vow never to part, twins Jorinda and Joringel hie off on separate plotlines. Jorinda, as Ashputtle (freely translated as “Toilet Cleaner”), is betrothed to a comically clueless prince, survives three nights in an ogre’s haunted castle, becomes a child tyrant queen and is murdered. Joringel, magically reconstituted after having his head snipped off by his stepfather, swallows a fear-killing juniper berry, gives Sleeping Beauty CPR and rescues his sister from hell with help from the devil’s grandmother. So intrusive a narrator that even his characters hear him, Gidwitz offers commentary and (necessarily frequent) warnings about upcoming shocks. He then later steps in to shepherd his protagonists to modern Brooklyn for some metafictional foolery before closing with notes on his sources. After many tears, few of them happy ones, and much reference to suppressed feelings of anger and guilt, the children are reconciled with their neglectful, widowed mother and go on to a happy-ever-after in an anarchic day camp dubbed Jungreich, the Kingdom of Children. Entertaining story-mongering, with traditional and original tropes artfully intertwined. (Fantasy. 11-14)

GRAVE IMAGES

Goebel, Jenny Scholastic (208 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-545-51930-4 978-0-545-52254-0 e-book Is Abbot Stein predicting deaths with his etchings…or causing them? Twelve-year-old Bernadette “Bernie” Morrison wants to help her father in his |

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“With the worldbuilding’s heavy lifting taken care of in BZRK, plots upon plots race forward….” from bzrk reloaded

business, Alpine Monuments, so that he can spend more time with her mother, who is still deeply depressed—to the point of being bed-ridden—over the death of Bernie’s infant brother Thomas nearly a year ago. When a stranger, Stein, appears with an apparent talent for creating portraits in stone, Mr. Morrison hires him and lets him stay in the carriage house. Bernie’s elation at the new face and a possible source of training vanishes in the face of Stein’s gruff attitude and general creepiness. When Bernie discovers Stein has etched portraits of townspeople before they died, she sets out to find out how and to stop him with the help of oddball new kid and sheriff ’s son Michael Romano. Does Stein have anything to do with the deaths? And what does any of this have to do with the mysterious Isabella, whose portrait in stone Stein carries with him? Goebel’s debut is a plodding, slightly supernatural thriller wrapped around an after-school special. Inoffensive enough (except, perhaps, for some kissing between Bernie and Michael) and far from frightening, the plot and setting are nearly as stock as the characters. For budding fans of problem fiction interested in a little spookiness. (Supernatural fiction. 8-11)

JUMPING PENGUINS Goossens, Jesse Illus. by Tolman, Marije Lemniscaat USA (56 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 3, 2013 978-1-9359-5432-3

Whimsy rules this pairing of unusual animal facts and droll illustrations. Goossens blends more or less common knowledge about 25 creatures, such as the fact that panthers are a kind of leopard or that sharks have to keep moving even when they sleep, with assertions that may set even well-read young naturalists back. Polar bears are left-handed (“...as are most artists”); both bison and penguins can jump six feet or more into the air; a drop of alcohol on a scorpion’s back will cause it to “go completely berserk and sting itself to death.” Interpreting this information with tongue-incheek literal-mindedness, Tolman supplies spacious painted scenes that dominate each spread. Small daubed images of bison meet for a long-jump competition; an expired scorpion lies next to a spilled glass of wine; drowsy sharks drift with plush toys tucked under their fins; in more gruesome turns, crocodiles and lions chow down bloodily (or is that ketchup?). Outré as the author’s unsourced claims might be, readers may be inclined to go with the flow just because they are presented in such a lighthearted way. And who knows? Perhaps most of them are true, or at least truthy. A distinct change of pace from the general run of animal galleries, if better suited for chortling over than mining for school reports. (Picture book. 6-8)

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SWEET FEET Samantha Gordon’s Winning Season

Gordon, Samantha with Bruening, Ari Bloomsbury (176 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-8027-3654-3

In a homespun style, this autobiography showcases co-author Gordon, a 9-year-old football phenom whose firstseason highlight reel became an overnight YouTube sensation. Sam is charming, from her admiration for her coaches to her continual ability to beat the odds against more experienced competitors. Co-author Bruening allows Sam’s youthful voice to shine in endearing moments, such as her repeated reflections on the free food available at many of the publicity events she has attended. However, Bruening fails to supplement Sam’s recollections with factual information. The conspicuous absence of specific dates makes understanding Sam’s timeline of sports experiences challenging, and few comparisons are included to help non–football enthusiasts (clearly part of the target audience) understand the significance of her football statistics. Additionally, the book merely skims important factors contributing to her success, like her agility training with a former NFL player. Readers of a book subtitled Samantha Gordon’s Winning Season will expect a focus on Sam’s experiences leading up to and during her first football season, but media-appearance memories sometimes dominate. Unfortunately, they often read like celebrity guest lists, a problem compounded by the frequently redundant sidebars. Overall, Sam’s voice is authentic and her sports talent undeniable, so her existing young fan base may enjoy reading more about her path to fame. (Memoir. 9-11)

BZRK RELOADED

Grant, Michael Egmont USA (432 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-60684-394-9 978-1-60684-395-6 e-book Series: BZRK, 2 Freedom fighters BZRK may have lost the first battle, but the war is far from over. New York’s BZRK cell took heavy losses in series opener BZRK (2012), including one of team leader Vincent’s biots, genetically engineered, microscopic organisms controlled via psychic link. It was killed in battle with Bug Man’s nanos, the technological counterpart to the biological biots. Experiencing death over the psychic link plays havoc with Vincent’s sanity, which forces reluctant Nijinsky to step into leadership. But BZRK has no recovery time: Bug Man’s nanos are in the U.S. president, allowing him to rewire her brain kirkus.com

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and control her behavior on behalf of the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corp. in their bid for world domination via enforced happiness. Meanwhile, on the AFGC side, holding the dominant position is harder than expected—Bug Man struggles to control the president, Burnofsky has his own agenda, the Anonymous hacker group sniffs for leaks, and some of the conjoined Armstrong Twins’ past scientific indiscretions start attracting notice. Through all of this, Plath comes into her inheritance and toys with running from BZRK and its morally dubious tactics, even though if the Armstrongs win, free will loses. With the worldbuilding’s heavy lifting taken care of in BZRK, plots upon plots race forward, almost every character is sympathetic to some degree, and microscopic world descriptions from the biots’ views are oddly beautiful. High-octane; high stakes; high cool-quotient. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

GUINEA PIGS ONLINE

Gray, Jennifer; Swift, Amanda Quercus (192 pp.) $12.95 | Nov. 12, 2013 978-1-62365-037-7

Fuzzy and Coco, two very different guinea pigs, are very good friends. Fuzzy and Coco live in London with Ben and Henrietta Bliss, an animal-rescue worker and a veterinarian, respectively. Fuzzy loves to cook (though he’s bad at it), and Coco loves to talk about her relationship with the queen (no one believes her, but her origins are murky). When Fuzzy’s celebrity-chef idol, Scarlet Cleaver, opens a new restaurant nearby and advertises for guinea pigs, Fuzzy scampers out the cat flap despite Coco’s warnings. Coco turns to the Internet to find the restaurant. What she and new friend Eduardo find is terrifying-ish. Can they save Fuzzy? And does Coco really know the queen? Gray and Swift’s occasionally smile-inducing series debut may disturb its target audience stateside, who likely do not know guinea pigs are eaten elsewhere in the world. Several events played for laughs (an encounter with a fox posing as a guinea pig online, serving the queen a live guinea pig because there’s no time to cook it) are unfunny head-scratchers. Horne’s black-and-white illustrations are delightfully goofy if occasionally misplaced, but they and an associated website listing with some activities, recipes and Internet safety tips just don’t make this worthwhile. Vast libraries of humorous animal fantasies available both locally and from across the pond make this an easy title to ignore. (Humor. 7-10)

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LOSING IT

Gray, Keith—Ed. Carolrhoda Lab (200 pp.) $17.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-2041-0 978-1-4677-2049-6 e-book The “it” in question is likely just what those noticing the title will expect in this beautifully varied collection of 10 short stories about teens losing their virginity. Most of the well-known authors here have a flair for getting inside the heads of the people about whom they write, and common themes emerge. Often wickedly funny and deceptively insightful, these stories are populated with multidimensional characters who delve into issues such as body shame, reputation and the disconnect involved for teens in talking honestly with adults about sex. One of the undeniable jewels here is the offering by Patrick Ness, “Different for Boys,” which carries off a brilliant metaexamination of the supposedly controversial nature of writing about sex for teens by using black bars to censor sexual language. “Certain words are necessary…but you can’t actually show ’em because we’re too young to read about the stuff we actually do, yeah?” remarks the protagonist. The only real break in the cohesion is a work of historical fiction by Mary Hooper, in which an impoverished young woman is forced into prostitution—its melodramatic tone is at odds with the contemporary feel of the rest. This is a fresh, smart collection with a can’t-lose subject. (Short stories. 14 & up)

SAVE THE ENEMY

Greenwood, Arin Soho Teen (288 pp.) $17.99 | Nov. 12, 2013 978-1-61695-259-4

Reminiscent of A Wrinkle in Time, Greenwood’s debut for teens twists and turns with mysterious men, real bullets and numerous candidates for worst parent ever…. Senior year is already off to a tough start for social misfit Zoey; now Dad’s been kidnapped, the computer file that could save him is missing, autistic brother Ben is getting night visits from Mom’s ghost, and cute high school classmate Pete is hanging around. Despite these complications, Zoey gives developing a social life her best shot, stopping at a party before taking the next investigative step and sometimes worrying more about what to wear than her missing dad. With a side trip down Memory Lane to patch things up with ex–best friend Molly, a meteorite killing a few alpacas, and Pete sharing initials (and more?) with a team of assassins, readers may empathize when Zoey notes that plans change “every fifteen minutes or thereabouts for reasons that don’t seem entirely, sometimes even at all, obvious.” Teens with a philosophical bent may find references to Kant, Nietzsche and |

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Brian Floca

The picture-book artist and writer makes the transcontinental railroad both epic and intimate in Locomotive By Julie Danielson

To say that author/illustrator Brian Floca’s newest picture book, Locomotive, is well-researched is an understatement. His research spanned multiple years and involved driving the route of the first transcontinental railroad, a trip he describes as “invaluable.” Why such a journey? Locomotive is an intricately detailed, 64-page book about America’s “iron horses” that rode the transcontinental railroad—the great trains of 1869, when “the world [was] speeding up,” that took Americans on the “new road of rails” made for crossing the country. It’s a book Floca makes both epic and intimate. His talent for such feats in nonfiction is why he’s claimed a Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal Honor award more than once (Lightship; 92

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Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11; Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring). Through vivid, carefully crafted free verse, Floca frames the story in this large-trim book with a family traveling to California. It is with them that readers take this exhilarating ride, while learning all about the Union Pacific, the Central Pacific and the spike made of gold that once joined them. This engaging, highly approachable piece of nonfiction comes on the heels of Moonshot, Floca’s masterful 2009 picture book about the flight of Apollo 11. Locomotive, Floca says, began as a much simpler book, one meant to be a change of pace from the complexities of Moonshot and one that would simply show a locomotive going from point A to point B, while also depicting how these machines worked. “But then,” he explains, “once I shifted the book from a generic look at a steam locomotive to a book that was interested in the transcontinental railroad, I realized that, as complicated as bits of Moonshot were, there was also something contained about that story. There was nothing contained about the transcontinental railroad, though. It sprawls. It’s history, it’s engineering, it’s the landscape, it’s the West!” After researching photos of the railroad and squinting and scrounging, as he puts it, for even more details, the sheer amount of work necessary to do justice to the story began to sink in. Wondering if he’d get to the bottom of his research, he decided to drive the route, and it “opened everything up again. On and on it all went.” Thus, a 48-page book grew into a 64-page one. “The more I learned about how the machines worked, the more interesting they became to me—in the same way that a puzzle can become more interesting kirkus.com

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as you begin to solve it. And the more I thought about and read about and then saw the landscape through which the transcontinental line traveled, the more amazed I became. Some of that landscape is beautiful and frightening in its openness, emptiness, grandeur. I remember cruising along state Route 233 in Nevada, absolutely alone, and imagining what it would have been like to be out there, building that line in 1869.” Channeling those experiences into this story, written in a direct and immediate second-person voice, Floca captures the poetry of the locomotives and the astonishment of that first adventure: The iron horse, the great machine! Fifty feet and forty tons, wheels spinning, rods swinging, motion within motion, running down the track!… She pulls her tender and train behind her, she rolls up close, to where you wait, all heat and smoke and noise… Hear the engine breathe like a beast… “I don’t know if all of my research marks me as dedicated or just disorganized,” Floca jokes. Either way, the results are impressive. With spot-on pacing, Floca brings to life the sounds and sights of the journey, detailing the job of each crew member; chronicling the mighty sounds of the locomotive (displayed via various dramatic typefaces); describing the sights from the window (“the country opens, / opens wide, / empty as an ocean”); noting the thrills (passing through a mountain summit in the Sierras), challenges (cramped quarters at bedtime) and dangers (crossing “rickety” trestles); and plenty more. Even the endpapers are elegantly designed and filled with detailed information about the locomotives. There are maps, background information, a diagram of the machine itself and an explanation of steam power. It’s a lot of information but never overwhelming. Clearly, a smart design team took on this extraordinary book, working with Floca to lay out the information in a clear and accessible manner. Floca decided to frame the story with a family traveling to California when it became clear to him that telling the story through one crew, as they traveled the route, possessed a fundamental flaw: A single engine with one crew would not have gone the entire distance in 1869. “It’s naturally a less contained story,” Floca says. |

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“It’s a book with bits and pieces and asides and a little bit of (I hope) appealing sprawl. And I hope in the end that this change became something good about the book.” Indeed, readers identify with the family and vicariously experience the thrill of the ride. Our eyes get wide, just as theirs do, as the conductor walking down the aisle calls “tickets!” right after the train “gives the cars a jerk and a tug,” pulling out from the station. Perhaps we also utter a quick prayer with them, as they cross rickety Dale Creek Bridge. We sense the tension and wonder as they pass through the long, dark “shadowy sheds” of Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada range. And we feel the joy as we meet up with the family at journey’s end and reach “new cities, new towns beyond mountains. On the Pacific, by that new sea…a new place to call home.” What Floca hopes is “appealing sprawl” works on every possible level. “So much of all that time period in history,” Floca adds, “comes down to us in posed, sometimes-stiff, always-still, black-and-white pictures, but the period and its inventions would amaze any age with their color, motion and vitality. Getting a feel for that and getting to write and paint about it—it was a great experience.” Julie Danielson conducts interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books. Locomotive was reviewed in the July 15 issue of Kirkus Reviews. LOCOMOTIVE Floca, Brian Richard Jackson/ Atheneum (64 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4169-9415-2

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WELCOME TO THE TRIBE!

Ayn Rand entertaining; those who appreciate adventure over plot will also be entertained, but others will wish an everything-but-thekitchen-sink plot didn’t distract from genuine teen dialogue and Zoey’s frank inner discourse. Sometimes less really is more—or maybe it’s just less confusing. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Grimaldi Illus. by Bannister Graphic Universe (48 pp.) $6.95 paper | $19.95 e-book $26.60 PLB | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-1522-5 978-1-4677-1656-7 e-book 978-1-4677-1297-2 PLB Series: Tib & Tumtum, 1

LOUD AWAKE AND LOST

Griffin, Adele Knopf (304 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | $19.99 PLB | Nov. 12, 2013 978-0-385-75272-5 978-0-385-75274-9 e-book 978-0-385-75273-2 PLB There’s not a lot that Ember is certain about except that she barely survived a horrific car accident, and her

passenger did not. After emergency surgery followed by eight months in a hospital, 17-year-old Ember arrives home with many visible scars, but the most troubling are those that don’t show. Her memory is fragmented; some of her recollections of the crash and of her life before that fateful night are jumbled, while others are simply missing. She scans her bedroom for clues and finds a business card for a dance club called Areacode. In hopes it will shake loose a memory, Ember takes the subway to the club, where she meets Kai, a handsome, engaging artist to whom she is instantly drawn. Not wanting to worry her overprotective parents—or be hassled by them—Ember keeps their growing relationship under wraps. Something about the electrifying and elusive Kai allows Ember to be herself, to feel alive and ready to pursue her own dreams. Readers will feel right at home with the dialogue; sarcasm, glee and angst are spoken in pitch-perfect teenagese. That the story’s emotional currents are weaker than the engaging narrative is no matter; Ember’s unraveling of the mystery is compelling enough to keep the pages turning quickly and steadily. The startling conclusion itself is worth the ride, and chances are that readers’ “aha” moment won’t come any sooner than Ember’s. (Mystery. 12 & up)

A boy bullied on account of his birthmark befriends a vivacious vermillion dinosaur in this delightfully whimsical tale of friendship. Young caveman Tib is relentlessly bullied by his tribe. Born with a scarlet birthmark around one eye, the other kids call him things like “polka-dot face” and continuously hurl insults about the “blob on his face.” After making a wish to see “new faces,” he stumbles on a plucky red dino he names Tumtum. Tib tries to tell the others about his prehistoric discovery, though he is dismissed almost instantly. His father, a great teller of wildly tall tales, has paved the way for him, and most think that this apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. When Tumtum makes a decision to help save Tib and his tribe from imminent danger, Tib must work to keep the hunters from targeting Tumtum as prey. As Tib is bullied, he tries to work out new ways to deal with the bullying, and it’s refreshing to see him try—and fail—as he struggles to fit in with the group. Constructed with a uniform panel structure and rendered in an upbeat palette, Bannister’s illustrations have a clean efficiency about them that helps drive many of the sight gags. In a nice touch, silhouettes of Tumtum are superimposed over a Lascaux-like background on the endpapers. Fun, imaginative and inventive—dino-mite! (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

BILLY THE KID IS NOT CRAZY

Guerra, S.F. Illus. by Davies, James Two Lions (224 pp.) $16.99 | $3.99 e-book | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4778-1732-2 978-1-4778-6732-7 e-book

Billy March isn’t crazy, but he does get into more trouble than your average kid. If you’re a kid like Billy, who has a speedy brain and lots of energy, 63 percent of a month is a long time to be grounded. His parents, fed up with Billy’s bad behavior, send him to a psychiatrist in hopes that therapy will help him choose not to doodle in his textbooks or play a real-life video game with shopping carts in a busy parking lot. It’s only a near tragedy, though, that brings Billy and his parents together in a way they never expected. Guerra, author of the teen novel Torn (2012), infuses her younger characters with energy, wit and sensitivity, but her plot too often feels like a lesson. The takeaway message is evident on nearly every page: When children 94

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“While never shying away the from the tragedies of battle, Darling’s story focuses on bravery, sacrifice and devotion.” froms darling, mercy dog of world war i

DARLING, MERCY DOG OF WORLD WAR I

behave badly, it’s usually for a good reason. Davies’ comic strips provide an amusing, welcome diversion from the sometimes heavy-handed narrative. Most readers, children and adults, will cheer for Billy instead of his folks the whole way through, even as he’s acting up; parents who keep a padlock on the snack cabinet are just asking for their offspring to revolt. Strong characterizations help to balance didacticism; it’s really hard not to like Billy. (Fiction. 8-12)

THE MESMER MENACE

Hamilton, Kersten Illus. by Hamilton, James Clarion (144 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 19, 2013 978-0-547-90568-6 Series: Gadgets and Gears, 1

Steampunk with training wheels for the chapter-book set. Set in 1902, this series opener features a dachshund narrator, Noodles, with a human companion, young Wally Kennewickett. Their home is the Automated Inn in Gasket Gully run by Wally’s parents, eccentric geniuses, and staffed by their inventions. In the first chapter, President Theodore Roosevelt turns up in hobo disguise seeking help to foil a plot by evil magicians to achieve world domination via hypnotism. After this spirited opening, blending familiar steampunk tropes (Nikola Tesla, the Ottoman Empire) with quirky original elements (demented pigeon fanciers, a genial conspiracy theorist), the plot stalls. Its villain is sidelined and unmet, while characters interact and Noodles fills in back story. The picture brightens whenever the inn’s mechanical staff is on hand. Gizmo supervises the housekeeping Dust Bunnies and shares cooking duties with Knives, whose many attachments “allow him to slice, dice, chop and puree at incredible speeds.” These appealing automated characters need more to do. Noodles, whose role as omniscient narrator stunts his character development, is similarly underutilized. (Let’s face it—dachshunds are wasted as straight men.) A surfeit of alliteration and arch dialogue amplifies missteps, but flashes of originality and sly humor, bolstered by nifty, gear-laden illustrations, keep the enterprise afloat. Awkward plotting and clichéd language hobble but don’t quite defeat the imaginative, engaging premise. (Steampunk. 9-12)

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Hart, Alison Illus. by Montgomery, Michael G. Peachtree (160 pp.) $12.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-56145-705-2 Series: Dog Chronicles, 1

Darling, a rambunctious family dog, is drafted to serve in the British Army

during World War I. The dog’s-eye view offers a unique look at the lives of both two-footed and four-footed soldiers fighting at the front. Darling, desperate to return home, looks for every opportunity to run away, but when she happens upon a wounded soldier, she also discovers her true calling as a “mercy dog,” searching out soldiers in need. Other dogs in her regiment are trained as messengers, scouts or sentries. Dogs travel with their handlers through France and Belgium toward their ultimate destination: no man’s land. Darling quickly learns the brutality of war, watching dogs and soldiers die on both sides of the battlefield. She notes that the hated Germans are barely older than the children she left behind at home. The simple narrative is detailed but never graphic. Specifics about weapons and geography often outpace a dog’s understanding, but this break in narration is only occasionally distracting. While never shying away from the tragedies of battle, Darling’s story focuses on bravery, sacrifice and devotion. Finely detailed pencil sketches and an afterword explaining the history behind the story are included. Wartime adventure with plenty of heart. (Historical fiction. 7-10)

EAT, BRAINS, LOVE

Hart, Jeff HarperTeen (352 pp.) $9.99 paper | $9.99 e-book Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-06-220034-1 978-0-06-220035-8 e-book Slacker Jake and beautiful highachiever Amanda find themselves unlikely allies when they both turn zombie in the cafeteria of Ronald Reagan High School and eat most of their friends. They leave the carnage behind and light out together, just steps ahead of the Necrotic Control Division, the top-secret military unit that seeks to control the zombie threat and conceal it from the general populace. The NCD’s secret weapon is Cass, a teenage psychic who can survey the devastation and telepathically track down zombies. But in Jake’s case, she finds herself, bizarrely, falling for him. Hart’s sexually transmitted zombie virus doesn’t permanently necrotize its victims; regular helpings of human flesh (rats or other animals will do in a pinch) |

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“Nuanced details add whimsy, such as a black-and-white cat that meanders in and out of the scenes.” from fraidyzoo

help them heal from catastrophic injuries and seem normal— until it’s time to eat again. Jake and Cass alternate narration, Jake’s convincingly teenage, profanity-laced voice describing his increasing attachment to Amanda despite her rotten taste in music, and Cass’ revealing a lonely, isolated girl increasingly questioning the morality of her mission. Once readers decide to accept both a zombie virus and telepathy, they’re in for one hell of a road trip, one that’s funny, gross and scary in equal, alternating measures. What will they find in zombie-controlled Iowa? Readers will be slavering for the sequel to find out. (Horror. 14 & up)

HOW THE METEORITE GOT TO THE MUSEUM

Hartland, Jessie Illus. by Hartland, Jessie Blue Apple (40 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 13, 2013 978-1-60905-252-2

Hartland follows up earlier titles about museum acquisitions of an ancient Egyptian sphinx and remains of a dinosaur with a lively new one based on the travels of the Peekskill meteorite to the American Museum of Natural History With a catchy, cumulative “House That Jack Built”–like refrain, a science teacher chronicles for her students the travels of a meteoroid from outer space to the atmosphere over the United States, across several states, into a parked car in Peekskill, N.Y., and on to the museum. Text introducing the various role-players is set on double-page spreads of childlike paintings full of interesting details. The meteor zips across the sky past a barking dog in Kentucky, sports fans with cameras in Pennsylvania and on down through a teenager’s parked car, where various officials investigate. Finally, there are the museum employees who identify, acquire, explain and display it. Each participant’s title is written in capital letters and given a recognizable typeface and color. The verbs in the refrain vary intriguingly: The dog barks, yelps, woofs, howls, ruffs, arfs, yips and yaps. The backmatter includes more about the history of this particular meteorite and meteorites in general. This lighthearted, behind-the-scenes look at museum work does double duty as a much-needed introduction to meteorites: most children’s closest possible connection to outer space. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

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FRAIDYZOO

Heder, Thyra Illus. by Heder, Thyra Abrams (48 pp.) $16.95 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-4197-0776-6 What kid is afraid of going to the zoo? Little T, that’s who. To find out exactly which animal Little T is so afraid of, her parents and older sister strike poses with household props and act out the unnamed, alphabetic animals A to Z. Little T laughs and giggles at their mimicking antics, saying “No” to each of the monkeyshines. Of course she winds up joining in the fun, and the family makes it to the zoo. The surprise ending is a hoot and will have readers laughing out loud. The witty watercolor-andink illustrations invent humorous clues: Dad mimes “alligator” with his arms; big sister decorates an umbrella with bubble wrap and pink streamers to make a “jellyfish.” Nuanced details add whimsy, such as a black-and-white cat that meanders in and out of the scenes. Though the animals are never labeled in the story, the rear endpapers present pictures of each creature pinned to a bulletin board. Q stands for Quetzal; N for Narwhal; U for Unicorn; X and Y for Xantis Yak; V for Vampire Bat. WARNING: Expect riotous buffoonery after reading this clever and original alphabet story, as kids will definitely want to “parrot” the examples. (Picture book. 4-8)

TOWER OF THE FIVE ORDERS

Hicks, Deron R. Houghton Mifflin (320 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-547-83953-0 Series: Shakespeare Mysteries, 2

Colophon Letterford and her cousin Julian tour Oxford and Cambridge and take to the London sewers to find whatever it takes to refute claims that the family’s new-found Shakespeare manu-

scripts are fraudulent. This sequel to The Shakespeare Mysteries (2012) opens with a 16th-century prologue starring a soon-to-be-dead Christopher Marlowe, but the action really begins in a storage locker, where the man hired to catalog the manuscripts is revealed to be a thief. The camera then shifts to Coly’s home in Georgia shortly after the cousins’ last adventure. The cataloger has announced that the documents may be forgeries. Once again, a man identified only as Treemont is scheming to take control of the family publishing company. Readers will be justifiably confused by this array of apparent bad guys. When Coly leaves for London, however, her adventures prove to have been worth waiting for. Cutting suddenly from one perspective to another, this modern mystery makes use of Internet connectivity and old-fashioned stealth snooping. What began as a mystery ends with found treasure, and an epilogue seems to offer grounds for yet another kirkus.com

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installment. Each chapter opens with a word that Shakespeare coined or first used; an appendix provides the context for the word. It’s a pity there isn’t a more substantial explanation about the posited Shakespeare/Marlowe connection, though. While the adventure may be worth the wait, Hicks would be well-advised to tighten up his next book. (Adventure. 9-13)

THE MAGIC BOJABI TREE

Hofmeyr, Dianne Illus. by Grobler, Piet Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-84780-295-8

In an animated retelling well-suited to reading aloud, this object lesson in the virtues of concentration features starving animals, a tree that must be named to give up its luscious fruit and a particularly bad-tempered lion. In a time of drought, one tree offers relief. Told by the giant python guarding fruit “smelling of sweetest mangoes, fat as melons, juicy as pomegranates” that the tree must be addressed by name, Zebra, Monkey and Elephant in turn set out to learn it from distant Lion. So self-congratulatory and distractible are all three, though, that by the time they return, they’ve forgotten it. This leaves small Tortoise to crawl slowly, slowly to Lion and then slowly, carefully back, chanting the tree’s name over and over. Readers and listeners are invited to do the same, though considering the tongue-twisting names in other versions of this African tale, “Bojabi” won’t be that much of a challenge. The story’s narrative pattern is humorously highlighted by the increasingly choleric Lion’s ever-louder responses to the animals’ repeat visits. In eye-catching contrast to the wilted-looking sufferers in Grobler’s fine-lined watercolors, both Python and Tortoise sport bright patterns. A lively alternative to the standard renditions, Celia Barker Lottridge’s The Name of the Tree, illustrated by Ian Wallace (1989), and Joanna Troughton’s Tortoise’s Dream (1980). (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

FIRST BIG BOOK OF THE OCEAN

Hughes, Catherine D. National Geographic (128 pp.) $14.95 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-4263-1368-4 Series: National Geographic Kids

big, bright nature photos, the captions, fact boxes and short passages of narrative present accurate, basic information about size, range, diet, common habitat, physical characteristics and even sounds in simply phrased, easily digestible morsels printed in several sizes and weights of type. The author uses several reinforcement techniques to help readers retain what they’ve learned. She repeats terms like “sessile” and “phytoplankton” that were defined in context earlier and asks questions that draw connections or spark reflection: “What is the tiniest kind of food that you eat?” Moreover, she closes with a spread of enrichment activities, a couple of websites for further information and an easy review quiz. Substantial but never heavy, this is likely to float to the top of any young naturalist’s reading list. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

THE TINY MOUSE

Ian, Janis Illus. by Schubert, Ingrid; Schubert, Dieter Lemniscaat USA (32 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-9359-5430-9 A little whimsy, a little darkness, a little music for a song turned into a picture book by veteran singer/songwriter Ian. The tiny—and quite dapper—mouse of the title lives in a house “full of drafts and doubts, and incredible things.” Incredible things notwithstanding, he is restless and wants to go to sea. He is ill-prepared, however, and gets seasick at once. In his search for a bathroom, he discovers that the captain of the vessel he has stowed away upon is a cat! He, er, high-tails it out of there with help from a flounder, marries his “mouseketeer” and regales his dozens of children with his adventures. The Schuberts’ illustrations are brightly colored and often surreal, from the cat-in-the-box jack-in-the-box to the mer-cat figurehead on the ship’s prow, the mouse-snacks in the captain’s quarters (all with their tails attached—eewww!) to our hero coughing up “seven oysters and a clam.” Both words and music are appended, and a CD is included with three versions: vocal with band (that includes quite a wonderful clarinet), a bandonly karaoke version and vocal with guitar. It is a rollicking little number—a little piratical, a little klezmer—and once heard, it is impossible to read the tale without singing it. A thoroughgoing success from these trans-Atlantic collaborators. (Picture book. 4-8)

Equally suitable for quick dips or lengthy dives, this gallery of ocean dwellers will attract schools of newly fledged readers. Grouping her profiles by ocean (but noting wider distribution where appropriate), Hughes introduces 33 creatures or types of creature. These range from krill to blue whale, stony coral to Atlantic puffin and “deepsea anglerfish.” Coupled to |

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OLD MIKAMBA HAD A FARM

Friendship, crafting and a touch of magic all in one. (Picture book. 3-6)

Isadora, Rachel Illus. by Isadora, Rachel Nancy Paulsen Books (40 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 31, 2013 978-0-399-25740-7

ATLAS OF ANIMALS

A familiar text is adapted to use in an unfamiliar environment with happy results. Old Mikamba’s game farm includes a host of animals from the African plains, including baboons, elephants and cheetahs. After the traditional e-i-e-i-o, the baboon cavorts and says, “ooh-ha-ha.” The elephant snorts, “baraaa-baraaa,” and the cheetah makes a “grrrrgrrrr” sound. It’s hardly a revolutionary formula, but the combination of the known and the unknown (Isadora introduces springboks and wildebeests), the amusing noises that each animal makes, and the exuberant collages incorporating woven fabrics, newsprint, and other materials all make for a winning strategy. Mikamba’s child helpers on the game farm appear from time to time, but the animals take center stage. Tidbits of information about the animals are presented at the end, but their ranges are omitted. Although these animals can be found in different parts of Africa, the game-park setting allows all of them to be found together. From dawn to dusk, as represented in the handsomely painted endpapers, young children will want to visit this farm and “grunt-grunt” with the hippos and “chirp-chirp” with the ostriches. (Picture book. 3-6)

THE MAGIC BALL OF WOOL

Isern, Susanna Illus. by Hilb, Nora Translated by Brokenbrow, Jon Cuento de Luz (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-84-15619-89-5

Knitting needles create a world of delight for small forest animals and a means of rescue for a blue whale in this Spanish import. After a ball of wool gently falls onto a hedgehog, a spider teaches him to knit. The other animals in the forest, curious as ever, come to visit. First, the mouse asks for a sweater, which magically turns into a ball of cheese. Mittens for a vain frog become a mirror. A balaclava for the bear becomes a shell that sounds of the sea. One hundred socks for a centipede become castanets. A scarf for a snail becomes a scooter. Alas, when the crab arrives all the way from the beach to ask for a strong rope to help a stranded whale, the hedgehog discovers that the wool is all but gone. Again, news spreads quickly, and the animals return their gifts. The hedgehog rewinds the bits of yarn from each item to fashion a rope, and butterfly emerges from the rope to save the whale. Writing in the style of a traditional folk tale, Isern has crafted a gentle story of camaraderie and magic with a light dose of ecology. Hilb’s colorful art creates a fairy-tale world with spotted mushrooms, swirls of crayon lines and miniature domiciles that will delight young readers. 98

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Johnson, Jinny Illus. by Johnson, Jinny Millbrook (128 pp.) $26.95 e-book | $35.93 PLB | Nov. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-1691-8 e-book 978-1-4677-1327-6 PLB Series: Animal Planet Tailor-made for the laps of armchair travelers and naturalists, this big but not unwieldy animal atlas offers a huge array of sharp, finely detailed pictures paired to pithy facts and observations. Grouped by continent and then by habitat type, the selected animals share space on full but not congested spreads with maps, labels and easy-to-retain notes on size, diet, memorable physical features or behavior. Though generally trimmed or cut out, the photos all seem to have been taken in natural settings, and they show each creature at revealing angles or in action poses. Seamlessly interspersed among the multiple photographs on every page are painted images rendered with equal exactitude—mostly more single animal portraits but also composites that extend them, such as a gallery of chimp facial expressions and a visual key to life at different depths along a continental shelf. With little if any duplication of pictures, Wild World: An Encyclopedia of Animals (978-1-4677-1597-3) presents a similarly teeming survey of the animal kingdom—arranged by class rather than range—with an added section for insects and other invertebrates. In both volumes, unusual creatures, from Baikal seals to the ogre-faced spider, mingle with more familiar wildlife. Though there is much flashing of teeth and mention of prey, scenes of predators actually chowing down are rare and nongory. Too light on detail to serve as one-stop shopping for school assignments, but visually and intellectually stimulating dives into the natural world. (indexes) (Reference. 6-11)

BORIS SEES THE LIGHT

Joyner, Andrew Illus. by Joyner, Andrew Branches/Scholastic (80 pp.) $4.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-545-48454-1 Series: Boris, 4

In his fourth outing for emergent readers, Boris, a warthog, shares a camping misadventure with his two friends, Frederick and Alice. Boris’ parents help the trio set up in the backyard for their night of camping. The first several pages all feature bits of brief text—“Dad helped them light a campfire”—that sharply kirkus.com

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“…Meteor’s enthusiasm is as infectious as ever.” from mousetronaut goes to mars

and humorously contrast with the cartoon illustrations, as, for example, Dad tries and tries but can’t quite get the fire started. Eventually, Mom and Dad go off to bed, leaving the brave campers to gradually become frightened of the breezy night. One after another, they head out, the first looking for a safer spot and the other two searching for their missing friend. Reunited, hiding under a shrub, they notice a bright—and very scary— light beyond the fence. (It turns out to be a neighbor trying out his new putter while wearing a caving helmet.) In a predictable conclusion, the children finally opt to sleep indoors. Like others in this series, this brief effort has the shape of an early chapter book but the content of a very early reader, giving children a welcome sense of accomplishment as they breeze through it. Attractive, slyly humorous illustrations, simple text and a related craft included at the end all serve to make this a welcome addition to collections for beginning readers. (Early reader. 4-7)

DOGS OF WAR

Keenan, Sheila Illus. by Fox, Nathan Graphix/Scholastic (208 pp.) $22.99 | $12.99 paper | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-545-12887-2 978-0-545-12888-9 paper Three illustrated vignettes evince the deep bond between a man and his best friend in the midst of wartime. Man’s best friend didn’t rest while he fought across the lines of battle during wartime. Focusing on three major wars—World War I, World War II and Vietnam— Keenan uses the graphic medium to show how dogs aided soldiers both physically and mentally. The opening piece, “Boots,” portrays a border collie in the trenches of Ypres in 1914 who is able to help sniff out wounded soldiers. When Boots and her young British handler find themselves facing the enemy on December 25, they take part in the famed Christmas truce. In “Loki,” the most thrilling offering, a strong-willed sled dog helps an American soldier serving in Greenland during World War II navigate perilous weather and impending enemy advancement. In the moving “Sheba,” an African-American soldier develops a strong bond with his scout dog during the Vietnam War—only to have her treated like a piece of equipment and wrenched from his life. The bonds between these men and their dogs are palpable; the visual component of this work adds a layer of pathos that shows just how strong the connection between man and dog can be. Keenan adroitly captures this work with her parting words, “Semper Fido!”; a truer tenet was never spoken. A must for dog lovers and fans of military history and historical fiction. (author’s note, further reading) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-12)

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MOUSETRONAUT GOES TO MARS

Kelly, Mark Illus. by Payne, C.F. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4424-8426-9 When NASA announces the crew of the upcoming Mars mission, Meteor the Mousetronaut is, shockingly, not on the list. No matter; the little mouse isn’t about to let his training go to waste. He packs his spacesuit and stows away on the Galaxy, floating out to scavenge crumbs while the human crew sleeps. After six months, the Galaxy reaches Mars orbit—but one of the landing craft’s engines fails, and the remaining one isn’t strong enough to transport even one human. Meteor volunteers for duty and, equipped with a tiny American flag, descends to the Red Planet to gather rock samples. Six months later, he returns to Earth to be welcomed as a hero with the other astronauts. While this story inevitably lacks the freshness of Meteor’s debut (Mousetronaut, 2012), Kelly’s prose and storytelling have matured, and Meteor’s enthusiasm is as infectious as ever. Payne’s delightfully regular-looking, multiethnic and genderinclusive crew displays the same winning combination of heroism and lumpiness (the mission commander has an endearingly potatolike face) that distinguished the first adventure. Perhaps what’s most striking about this book, though, is the four-page afterword, in which Kelly summarizes the history of Mars exploration and discusses the potential for a real manned mission. His eloquence in advocating for a vigorous space program bespeaks both passion and experience. Rodent or no, Meteor sure is one heck of a space ambassador. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE SPOTTED DOG LAST SEEN

Kerrin, Jessica Scott Groundwood (196 pp.) $14.95 | $8.95 paper | $8.95 e-book | Aug. 6, 2013 978-1-55498-387-2 978-1-55498-401-5 paper 978-1-55498-388-9 e-book A sixth-grade community-service project at the town cemetery leads to mystery, new friendships and a cathartic resolution for a troubled young boy. He and his fellow project members, each with their own quirks, meet first at the library, where they learn about cemetery maintenance from a group of elderly men led by Mr. Creelman, who barks out information and gives pop quizzes. Along the way, they discover a mystery book with a secret code scribbled in the margins, and they find all kinds of interconnections among Mr. Creelman, other members of the community, past and present, and a time capsule. The project unleashes a |

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“Krömer’s inventive compositions are a visually exciting match for Khan’s introduction to an appealing event….” from king for a day

COME BACK, MOON

host of painful memories for Derek, who has persistent nightmares involving his best friend, Dennis, who was hit by a car and killed when he was chasing a ball that Derek had kicked. Kerrin makes it all work. Derek tells his own story, allowing readers to empathize with his fears and struggles as he comes to grips with them. The supporting characters are pleasingly eccentric, and the action is fast-paced. The plot is convoluted and deals with some serious issues, but it all comes together in a manner that seems perfectly reasonable. There is even a secret code for readers to solve for themselves. Surprising twists and turns amid laughter and tears. (Fiction. 9-12)

Kherdian, David Illus. by Hogrogian, Nonny Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) $16.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4424-5887-1 978-1-4424-5888-8 e-book Poet and Newbery Honoree Kherdian (The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl, 1979) teams again with his wife, distinguished two-time Caldecott-winning illustrator and author Hogrogian, for this gentle animal fable (Lullaby for Emily, 1995, etc.). “Bear couldn’t sleep and blamed the light of the moon.” He steals it and stuffs it into his pillowcase. Other animals—Fox, Skunk, Opossum and Raccoon—miss the moon and speculate as to its whereabouts. Crow says to Fox, “You’re the clever one. Where did it go?” Fox suggests asking wise Owl. Hogrogian’s soft, muted watercolors, further grayed by pencil, depict the parade of woodland creatures en route to Owl’s perch, trailing behind Fox’s white-tipped tail. When Owl fingers Bear, Fox and Crow hatch a plan. Crow tells Bear a slumber-inducing story, then he and Fox snatch the pillowcase and release the moon. The happy ending reveals the animals dancing by moonlight while Bear sleeps contentedly on. Within plainspoken text and dialogue, Kherdian weaves a folkloric motif—the moon’s theft and restoration—with child-resonant tropes: mistaken judgment, compelling curiosity and cooperation to right wrongs. Hogrogian subtly characterizes the animals’ emotions and responses without anthropomorphizing them unduly. The keen tilt of Fox’s head indicates acute observation, while Bear’s heavy-lidded eyes and relaxed pose telegraph imminent napping. (Incidentally, only Bear’s gender is conveyed, permitting diverse interpretations for the other creatures.) Charming. (Picture book. 3-7)

KING FOR A DAY

Khan, Rukhsana Illus. by Krömer, Christiane Lee & Low (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-60060-659-5 Set in Pakistan during Basant, “the most exciting day of the year,” this story focuses on the strength and resourcefulness of a child in a wheelchair as he navigates the skies at the spring kite festival. Perched on the rooftop and assisted by his brother and sister, Malik launches his small but swift creation, named Falcon, into the stratosphere, where it defeats both of the kites that belong to the bully next door. (Unlikely as that may be, it will undoubtedly please the intended audience.) Falcon sends many others to the ground, where “they’ll belong to whoever finds them. But at least they will have tasted freedom.” Silk, burlap, brocade, embroidery, ribbons and rice paper mingle with light brown figures outlined in black within exquisite and dynamic mixed-media collages. In one particularly successful scene, layered buildings and billowing laundry form a backdrop, the three siblings dominate the middle ground, and Malik’s white robe becomes a sky against which small figures cycle in the foreground. Pointed Moorish arches are a design element on almost every page, often framing the text and lending a cultural reference. Displaying another side of his personality, the “King” concludes his day of warfare with a secret act of kindness. Krömer’s inventive compositions are a visually exciting match for Khan’s introduction to an appealing event (originally published in Canada in 2001 with art by different illustrators). This story soars. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

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EXPLORER The Lost Islands

Kibuishi, Kazu—Ed. Amulet/Abrams (128 pp.) $19.95 | $10.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4197-0881-7 978-1-4197-0883-1 paper A second gathering of new graphic tales, diverse of plot and atmosphere but thematically linked by island settings and every bit as stellar as its predecessor (Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, 2012). All seven anchor scary or exhilarating nautical adventures to metaphorical underpinnings. In Kibuishi’s own “The Fishermen,” for instance, an Ahab-like obsession with catching the big one leads a sailor into a cave that turns out to be a giant mouth. One young castaway meets a crab ghost with a massive “Carapace” (Jason Caffoe), and another bonds with an older version of herself in the enigmatic “Desert Island Playlist,” by |

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REALITY BOY

Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier. In the eeriest entry, Chrystin Garland’s “The Mask Dance,” a young island girl is lured to join tiki-masked celebrants who turn out to be dead. Printed on coated stock that really shows off the rich, clean colors, each tale’s art is drawn in a different style but with easy-to-read figures, background details, dialogue and narrative. Each also ends with a rescue or a promising development, which gives the entire collection a buoyant tone. First rate. (Graphic short story anthology. 7-12)

King, A.S. Little, Brown (368 pp.) $18.00 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-316-22270-9 “Everybody’s so full of shit,” declares the epigraph of this heart-pounding and heartbreaking novel, setting the tone of the narrative: cynical, disappointed and slyly funny. Gerald “the Crapper” Faust has not yet outlived the notoriety he achieved at age 5 by defecating on the kitchen table during their stint on Network Nanny, a “reality” television show that edited out most of the truth about his dysfunctional family life. Gerald has struggled to manage his anger in the 12 years since with the help of a few compassionate adults at school and work, but at its root, his rage remains unmitigated. In suspenseful flashbacks, Gerald details the damage wrought by his oldest sister, Tasha, a spoiled sociopathic despot. When he meets Hannah, a troubled beauty who sees him as he is instead of as he was, he cannot resist the possibility of genuine connection, despite the dangers. King deftly depicts the angst of first love in all its awkward, confusing glory. Even when she trots out the archetypical road-trip-as-journey-toself-discovery, King writes with an honesty that allows Hannah and Gerald to call each other on their bullshit and ultimately arrive at an intimacy that feels neither forced nor false. This is no fairy-tale romance, but a compulsively readable portrait of two imperfect teens learning to trust each other and themselves. (Fiction. 14 & up)

GO A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design

Kidd, Chip Photos by Spear, Geoff Workman (160 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7611-7219-2

Beginning with the striking cover design—a red stop sign reading “GO”— this book challenges our assumptions about what we see and read. Kidd skillfully uses typography and illustration to demonstrate how graphic design informs the ways we make decisions that affect our lives. In his introduction, he emphasizes that graphic design, unlike industrial or architectural design, is “purely a head trip, from your eyes to your mind.” We are bombarded with thousands of images every day, all of which influence our decisions about what to wear, do, see or buy. Everything that is not made by nature is designed by someone, even such mundane objects as TV remotes and baseballs. Beginning with a comprehensive analysis of form, Kidd explains key fundamentals of design in an engaging, colorful style, with extensive visual references to his own and others’ designs and an eclectic range of ephemera, from book covers to razor-blade wrappers. Budding graphic designers will relate to his emphasis on the importance of developing one’s own visual style; the 10 design projects at the end include, appropriately, creating your own visual identity. In spite of its trendy presentation, this book is firmly rooted in traditional graphic design for printed products; the specific technical knowledge required today to design for the Web is not touched upon. Not for artists only; an engaging introduction to a critical feature of our modern, design-rich environment. (further resources) (Nonfiction. 13 & up)

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THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR

Klehr, Dawn Flux (336 pp.) $9.99 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-3804-8

An aspiring filmmaker exhibits disturbing controlling tendencies toward more than just his art in this interesting but complicated murder mystery. The novel opens in the weeks following the unsolved murder of a teacher at their high school. Cinema geek Dez (short for Desmond) is certain he is in love with his childhood friend and neighbor, 17-year-old Riley—so sure that he has taken to engineering some nasty, behind-the-scenes schemes in an effort to drive her away from others and toward him. Though Riley is open about being attracted to girls, she is still working out her sexuality, and for a time, it seems that Dez’s plot may be successful. As she becomes more and more involved in uncovering details of the murder, the situation slowly unfolds and comes to a head. While certainly an original premise that makes effective use of the sinister tone set by Dez’s stalker tendencies, these two storylines don’t always completely mesh. The employ of a dual |

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narrative (Riley alternates with Dez), though useful in conveying the inner emotions and thoughts of both main characters, may further divide readers’ focus. A distinctive thriller that is most successful in its nuanced exploration of a young man’s obsession and a young woman’s journey to self-knowledge and less so in delivering a convincing whodunit. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Lauren is the first step on his new path to an exciting life as a filmmaker. As far as he’s concerned, he’s single, notwithstanding an “accidental post-breakup sex scene” with Lauren. So even when he starts hanging out with Hannah, an assertive, sexy girl who steps in as soon as news of the breakup gets around, he doesn’t think of himself as anyone’s boyfriend. His mother died less than a year ago, and like his father, he finds solace in drink. Filmmaking gives Cole needed distance from his home life, which sometimes feels like “part of a mandatory group project, like in health class.” While he’s working on a documentary that he thinks will reveal how tangled Webster’s residents are in its web, he’s utterly clueless about the real drama right in front of him—Lauren’s pregnant. Cole eventually finds that everyone’s life is complicated, and he’s the only one who feels trapped. Clever chapter headings move the story toward a tidy ending, and Cole’s voice is convincingly filled with a combination of angst and nonchalance. (Fiction. 12–17)

ARCHON

Krumwiede, Lana Candlewick (324 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-6402-2 Series: PSI Chronicles, 2 This sequel to Freakling (2012) offers a solid story and character development that can be enjoyed by fans of dystopia whether or not they’ve read the first installment. Thirteen-year-old Taemon is tormented by guilt, knowing he is responsible for the loss of psi—or telekinetic ability— among his people. His guilt is compounded when he discovers he alone still possesses psi. When Taemon discovers his missing mother, now in a fragile and untrustworthy mental state, she hints that his father has been taken to the Republik, a land that exists over an impassable mountain range. Armed with this tenuous knowledge, Taemon undertakes a dangerous journey to save his father. Joining him is Amma, a wonderfully strong friend on whom Taemon must rely heavily, both figuratively and literally. While some of the events of the book feel a bit convenient and the conflict is resolved too quickly and easily, these are minor quibbles with a story that has solid worldbuilding and a satisfying conclusion. The main weakness of this book is Krumwiede’s reliance on old tropes: While Taemon and Amma are both described as having dark eyes and hair and light brown skin, the book’s villains are described as dark-complexioned. Isn’t it time to retire this stereotype? All in all, though, a better-than-average addition to the plethora of dystopias being published today. (Dystopian adventure. 10-14)

THE SULTAN’S TIGERS

Lacey, Josh Houghton Mifflin (304 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-544-09645-5

In Island of Thieves (2012), Tom Trelawney took off with his uncle Harvey to Peru in search of lost treasure, guided by the diaries of buccaneer Sir Francis Drake. Now they’re off again. Being the middle kid in a normal Connecticut family may be one reason 12-year-old Tom is always acting out…or perhaps he takes more after his roguish uncle and grandfather than anyone realized. In Ireland to attend his grandfather’s funeral, Tom is grounded and must remain at home alone. He’s not bored for long, however. A stranger breaks into the house, looking for some hidden letters that Tom’s grandfather had agreed to sell him. In no time at all, Tom brokers a deal with the intruder himself, then finds the 200-year-old letters. They are from a Trelawney ancestor to his wife, telling her of the fabulous treasure he has stolen and stashed away for her in India. Uncle Harvey is only too eager to finance the expedition to retrieve it, as he’s in need of some new treasure himself or he will fall foul of some pretty unscrupulous characters from his past. With villains hot on their trail, they head for the nearest airport. All plot, the story presents engaging, if totally reckless lead characters; Tom’s encounters with the abject poor of India provide opportunity for thought for both him and readers. Lessons both social and geographic are laid on lightly in this rip-roaring adventure. (Adventure. 9-12)

ANYWHERE BUT HERE

Kyi, Tanya Lloyd Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4424-8070-4 978-1-4424-8069-8 paper Small-town life has Cole down. Everyone and everything in Webster, aka “the Web,” is holding him back. He dreams of moving to Vancouver after senior year to avoid the prospect of a ho-hum life with a boring job, wife and kids. Breaking up with 102

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“Between the pacing and the heroes’ salty, blue language (full of lovingly creative, genital-inspired insults), reluctant readers who love zombies will devour it….” from sick

MEETING CHANCE

excite readers about the next installment even as it frustrates them. Seven Wonders Journal: The Select is available as an e-book prequel for those who crave more. New setting, same sorts of adventures will be the script for each volume, but fans will get hooked on the mysteriousness of it all. (Adventure. 8-14)

Lavoie, Jennifer Bold Strokes Books (217 pp.) $11.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-60282952-7 In a heartwarming if sometimes clunky dog story, a traumatized teen regains his confidence after a dog attack. When Aaron was 9, a Dalmatian attack left him with both physical scars and an enduring fear of dogs. Seven years later, Aaron signs up to volunteer at an animal shelter in hopes of overcoming his fear. There, he meets a new friend, Finn, and an abused pit bull to whom he becomes attached. There is nothing subtle in the connection made here between Aaron and the dog he names Chance (in Finn’s words, “You’re both afraid of other dogs. Some people have hurt you...and you both carry the physical and emotional scars from your ordeals”), but their relationship is heartfelt nonetheless. Most refreshing about the book is that Aaron is gay and came out to his parents at age 12 or 13. His sexual orientation matters as he navigates friendships and family relationships, but it is not the core issue here. The book aims to educate readers about the merits of pit bulls and the workings of animal shelters, and readers who don’t mind somewhat clumsy infodumps will come away having learned something about both animals and people. Like Chance himself: a bit rough but ultimately lovable. (Fiction. 12-16)

SICK

Leveen, Tom Amulet/Abrams (288 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0805-3 Zombie virus? Check! Locked high school? Check! Brian is a class-cutting, fence-hopping high school senior whose best friend, Chad, has a blue mohawk. They don’t fit in with the drama kids in seventh-period stagecraft class, which they take for the easy A. By the end of the period, a horrible, cannibalism-inducing virus has spread through the student body. The class barely manages to barricade part of the theater building—a setting Leveen uses to good effect. They use Brian’s smuggled cellphone to hear scant and ominous information from outside the school’s locked gate. Although Brian’s carved out temporary safety for their small group, Brian’s younger sister and his ex-girlfriend (with whom he might be on the verge of reuniting) are somewhere in the school. The diverse cast negotiates group management, plans rescue missions, and struggles to decide between waiting for a rescue that might not come or braving the killing field to try to climb the fence. Leveen keeps his story straightforward and fast-paced, with no padding but plenty of gore and deadly peril. It’s much faster than its zombie-peer novels but (aside from a slight spin on the virus’ workings) solidly performs in the genre instead of innovating. Between the pacing and the heroes’ salty, blue language (full of lovingly creative, genital-inspired insults), reluctant readers who love zombies will devour it, right up to the abrupt end. (Horror. 14-18)

LOST IN BABYLON

Lerangis, Peter Illus. by Norstrand, Torstein Harper/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-06-207043-2 Series: Seven Wonders, 2 In the second of the seven-volume Seven Wonders series, Jack McKinley seeks the second of seven stolen Loculi of Atlantis, magical orbs planted in each one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Jack, Aly Black, Cass Williams and Marco Ramsay are genetic time bombs, each having G7W, a gene that will kill them at age 14 if they don’t find the seven Loculi. In The Colossus Rises (2013), they found the Loculus for flight in the Colossus of Rhodes, and now they’re searching for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Jack’s narrative, slow at first, becomes an Indiana Jones–style adventure into ancient Babylon. The foursome faces a giant lizard-monster, monkeylike creatures with lethal spit and a cloaked apparition with one shining eye. What they hadn’t bargained for is a conflict over which secret organization they should be working for—the Karai Institute or the group of fanatic monks from Greece they encountered in the last book. The conflict adds complexity to the tale, and the final sentence holds a huge surprise, which will |

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WHY? Answers to Everyday Scientific Questions Levy, Joel Zest Books (192 pp.) $10.99 paper | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-9827322-9-8

In an entertaining and mostly readable (but definitely not simple) format, Levy explores a variety of questions that teens may ponder. Why is the sky blue? Why can’t we breathe underwater? Why can’t we travel faster than light? Why does iron rust? These are some of the 50 questions explored in this sometimes |

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“Readers sadly accustomed to slapdash plotting may well be forgiven for their shock that all the plot threads come together, brilliantly.” from backward glass

NEVER PLAY MUSIC RIGHT NEXT TO THE ZOO

rather challenging text. Each question is answered briefly, and then the answer is expanded into several paragraphs of more detailed information. For example, in the section on rust: “the electrons come from a piece of metal called an anode. The anode combines with oxygen and releases an electron, which travels through a fluid called an electrolyte.” Although the explanations can require careful reading, many include vivid, simplified examples that reveal scientific principles without adding unnecessary confusion: “Imagine a crowd of people concentrated in a field, each person tied to the others,” begins the section explaining the hydrostatic equilibrium involved in making the Earth round. Considering the complexity of the answers, this effort is not likely to appeal to all readers, but those with a scientific bent and inquiring minds may enjoy it. Given the wide range of topics, it’s probably better for browsing than report writing. Packed with detail and brimming with trivia, but best saved for a sophisticated audience. (Nonfiction. 11-18)

Lithgow, John Illus. by Hernandez, Leeza Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-4424-6743-9 978-1-4424-6744-6 e-book

One can easily guess from Lithgow’s admonishing title just what might be in store. A boy and his family go to an outdoor concert in the park. However, the band shell happens to be right next to the zoo. (Cue disaster chord.) Suddenly, the animals storm the stage, knocking over the musicians and grabbing all of the instruments. Lithgow pleads with readers: “Oh, children! Remember! / Whatever you may do, / never play music right next to the zoo. / They’ll burst from their cages, each beast and each bird, / desperate to play all the music they’ve heard.” The ferret plays the flute, the yak plays the sax, the bonobo plays the oboe (naturally), and the goat… well, the goat just eats the sheet music. Hernandez’s digital art shines during the frantic tussles between the orchestra members and the animals. They won’t give up their instruments without a fight! In an oft-used trope, the little boy finds out that he was just dreaming in the end. But that brings up Lithgow’s second most important rule: Never fall asleep during a concert! Move over, Carnival of the Animals (illustrated by Boris Kulikov, 2004); here’s another snappy, yet lighter and younger, zoological fantasy to add to Lithgow’s repertoire. (CD included) (Picture book. 2-6)

INDIGO

Linko, Gina Random House (304 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-449-81283-9 978-0-449-81285-3 e-book 978-0-449-81284-6 PLB After her younger sister’s tragic death, Corrine and her family move from Chicago to their summer vacation home in New Orleans to rebuild their lives, which they quickly realize brings challenges and unexpected blessings. Although Corrine’s sister’s death was ruled to be cardiac arrest, the 17-year-old is convinced that it was her mysterious, high-voltage touch that killed her sister. Determined not to harm anyone else, Corrine imposes a no-touching rule, which seems to work until she meets Rennick. Rennick is a local teen who, through his family history, is familiar with Corrine’s powers and their deadly nature. Together with Rennick, Corrine begins experimenting with her touch. She quickly discovers that although her powers are dangerous, if she can control them—no small feat—then she can provide miraculous healing. Corrine proves to be an engaging and believable narrator, weaving into her story snatches of teen angst, New Orleans vernacular and formal music terminology that is a holdover from her earlier life in Chicago, where she was a serious violinist. Predictably, there is an undeniable sizzle between Rennick and Corrine, which helps to balance some of the supernatural elements and mitigate the fact that the provenance of Corrine’s powers is not explained, which makes the text’s opening feel slightly undergrounded. A paranormal love story with plenty of spark. (Paranormal romance. 14-17)

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BACKWARD GLASS

Lomax, David Flux (360 pp.) $9.99 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-3751-5

Intricate, lusciously creepy paranormal mystery. It’s 1977, and 15-year-old Kenny Maxwell has just moved into the weird old Hollerith place. While helping his dad renovate the carriage house, Kenny finds a dead, mummified baby in the wall. And right there with the baby, he finds something even creepier: a list of years, names and birthdates starting in 1917 and going through 2017. Right there, labeled “1977,” it lists Kenny’s own name and birthdate. It’s not long before Kenny starts meeting the other names on the list, as the carriage house (now an inexpertly blocked-off crime scene) also hosts a magic mirror that empowers one kid in every generation with the ability to go backward or forward a decade. Luka is only 7 in Kenny’s time, but she is 16 when he meets her through the mirror, and when she brings him forward to her own time and shows him Nintendo, it’s a revelation. As Kenny starts to figure out the time-travel rules (aided both by his fellow travelers and by notes he leaves himself from |

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the future), he becomes convinced he can save that mummified baby. Readers sadly accustomed to slapdash plotting may well be forgiven for their shock that all the plot threads come together, brilliantly. Following the complex threads of adventure as they come together through the multitude of intertwined journeys is a joy. (Paranormal mystery. 13-15)

the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children. Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

NUMBED!

Lubar, David Millbrook/Lerner (144 pp.) $15.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-0594-3 978-1-4677-1699-4 e-book Sixth-graders Logan and Benedict are zapped by a mathematics-loving robot, numbing them to the power of numbers. Benedict cannot obey the rules, and Logan tries to keep his buddy in check in this over-the-top school fantasy. While on a boring trip to the Mobius Mathematical Museum, Benedict sees a restricted experimental area, roped-off and forbidden. Of course he ducks under the ropes and into danger. Soon, the boys meet Dr. Thagoras and his amazing robot, Cypher. After they insult the robot, he zaps all number knowledge out of their brains. Only relearning math in the controlled environment of the museum will allow them to regain the use of the mathematical parts of their brains. What raises this from sheer silliness is the way the boys earn their math powers back. First, they learn addition and subtraction and think they are done. But no, they need to remaster multiplication and division, geometry and probability as well. The tests the boys have to pass are enjoyable and entertaining, stretching readers’ brains and reinforcing the power of math. Teachers will enjoy reading this aloud and challenging their students. While the plot might be a little thin, the number ideas more than make up for it. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole here, which is probably exactly the point. (Fantasy. 8-12)

THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK

Lundquist, Jenny Running Press Teens (352 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-7624-5109-8 Inspired by The Man in the Iron Mask, The Prince and the Pauper and the eerie magic of twins, a novel of royal intrigue. The chapters alternate the voices of the two 16-year-old protagonists: the orphan Elara, kept like an ill-treated servant for the money paid for her keep; and Wilha, the Masked Princess, fated to wear a mask all the days of her life. Wilha doesn’t know why: Does the populace of Galandria fear that she is hideous? Cursed? Blessed? Wilha is reserved; Elara is bold and canny. When Wilha is betrothed to Stefan, the prince of Kyrenica, as a gesture of peace between the uneasy kingdoms, Elara is captured and brought to the palace. She is actually Wilha’s birth twin, needed as a pawn for the dangerous journey to Kyrenica. The girls circle warily around each other in this overwritten plot that includes hidden passages, secret letters, a lost book, a lot of political machinations and a tiny bit of romance. Nobles, peasants and objects pop up, do their thing, and fade away. The story ends with each girl poised for the sequel; they’ve found their strengths but left a lot unresolved plotwise. As this first of two volumes ends just when things are getting interesting, it’s possible that readers who have made it to the end will stick it out for Book 2. (Fantasy. 11-14)

THE INVISIBLE BOY

Ludwig, Trudy Illus. by Barton, Patrice Knopf (40 pp.) $16.99 | $19.99 PLB | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-582-46450-3 978-1-58246-451-0 PLB This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity. Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get |

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HENRY’S HAND

concocting an elaborate charade to avoid them, surely a lesson for all ages. The story jumps around a bit distractingly, but the premise is intriguing, and the whimsy quotient high, especially for keen-eyed observers. An imaginative, visually dynamic picture book that playfully touts the advantages—and even pleasures—of just getting things done. (Picture book. 4-8)

MacDonald, Ross Illus. by MacDonald, Ross Abrams (48 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0527-4 A good old-fashioned man/appendage love story for the ages. Henry’s just your typical Frankenstein’s monster, “bits-andpieces kind of guy.” Prone to having his body parts wander off without him, he’s closest to his right hand. Alas, Henry fails to appreciate the hand’s work, cruelly exploiting its helpful little green digits, sending it out to start the car on cold mornings and making it get up to change the channel. Little wonder that, one day, he finds that it has taken off for the big city. There, it saves a rich man from certain death and instantly becomes the talk of the town. Yet at the end of the day, even fame and fortune cannot compare to a good friend who knows you like the back of… well, you know. The combination of a rags-to-riches tale and the monster genre might appear jarring in the abstract, but MacDonald manages to make the enterprise work. The text is warm and friendly, though adults of a certain age will have a hard time not thinking of Thing from The Addams Family. Meanwhile, the art takes advantage of classic 1930s tropes, from crooked caps and newsboys to mailrooms and wealthy socialites. Kids will come for the monster and the disembodied hand. They’ll stay for the story. (Picture book. 3-7)

LUCY AT SEA

Mariconda, Barbara Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-06-211993-3 Series: Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons, 2 The adventure continues for Lucy as she searches for family members, a family fortune and a family curse. When The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons (2012) concluded, Lucy’s seaside home in Maine had been transformed into a sailing vessel. Now, with the mysterious Marni, housekeeper Addie and three children fleeing an abusive father, she sets sail for Australia. Hopefully, she can locate a long-lost aunt and learn why the family has been cursed. Marni arranges for a crew which consists of a typical assortment of characters, including two from the Caribbean who practice voodoo. Magic was an important player in the first volume, but it takes center stage here in the second. Storms brew and dissolve by way of magic as a spectral ship appears and disappears. A deck of cards magically provides clues to Lucy’s family history and a surprise relative. A flute magically plays notes that help Lucy work out the combination to her father’s safe. Mariconda still provides highly visual settings, but she relies on magic too heavily, letting supernatural forces control the voyage in place of character development or actual navigation. A breathless run of events concludes the tale, which could be tied up in a final installment. Lucy’s fans and fans of magic will enjoy the trip. (glossary) (Historical fantasy. 8-12)

STANDING IN FOR LINCOLN GREEN

Mackintosh, David Illus. by Mackintosh, David Abrams (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0787-2 Who wouldn’t want a “handy standin” to take over life’s most tedious tasks? Lincoln Green, part-time cowboy, calls his mirror reflection You Know Who, and he makes him do you-know-what—the dirty work. Lincoln Green can “grab some shuteye” and “shoot the breeze” while You Know Who waters the plants, does homework (albeit writing back-to-front as mirror reflections do), tidies up and takes on all the other chores Lincoln Green’s mom says “MUST BE DONE TODAY.” In Mackintosh’s stylized, cartoonish, pencil-sketch drawings, wishful thinking materializes in the most delightful way: Lincoln Green is identifiable as the carefree boy in the “L” sweater, and You Know Who is the industrious boy in the “reverse L” sweater. When You Know Who’s eventual rebellion starts to reflect badly on Lincoln Green, the petulant cowboy throws a boot at the mirror and cracks it. He can rake up the leaves himself! (Or perhaps—“Yipyarr!”—his neighbor Billy will help rustle them up.) Surprise! Just tackling his tasks head-on proves easier—and more fun—than 106

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THE CASE OF THE VANISHING HONEYBEES A Scientific Mystery

Markle, Sandra Millbrook/Lerner (48 pp.) $21.95 e-book | $29.27 PLB | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-1700-7 e-book 978-1-4677-0592-9 PLB

Markle presents a solid, respectful overview of colony collapse disorder for an audience slightly younger than Loree Griffin Burns’ The Hive Detectives (2010). The author opens her story in October 2006, with a beekeeper checking on his hive to discover that thousands of his workers have disappeared. From this compelling opening, she |

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“In his picture-book debut, Larkin provides mixed-media cityscapes that, eventually, brim with the fruits of Allen’s labor and match Will’s exuberance and spirit of community.” from farmer will allen and the growing table

A thoughtful selection of exquisite literary amusebouches; it will take a little work to connect teens with it, though. (finished illustrations not seen) (Fantasy/short stories. 14 & up)

backtracks to discuss the importance of honeybees in pollination as well as bee basics. She then moves on to discuss possible causes of CCD: monoculture and suburban sprawl, overwork (a map provides graphic testimony to commercial bees’ arduous schedules), mites, fungus and pesticides. Both natural and human defenses against CCD present some hope. Bees reproduce fast, and adjustments made to bees’ schedules and feeding can help, as does breeding mite- and diseaseresistant bees and the rise in hobbyist beekeeping. Markle never talks down to her audience, using specialized vocabulary—Nosema ceranae, varroa mite, neonicotinoid—and lucidly defining it in context as well as gathering it in a glossary. Big, full-color photographs are reproduced against honey-colored backgrounds. (Sharp-eyed readers will wonder why there is no mention of a mite clearly attached to a dead bee in a photograph captioned, “This bee didn’t have any symptoms to show it was sick before it died.”) Further facts as well as ways to help honeybees appear in the backmatter. In all, a solid addition to the insect shelves, with a valuable emphasis on science as process. (bibliography, index). (Nonfiction. 9-12)

FARMER WILL ALLEN AND THE GROWING TABLE

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs Illus. by Larkin, Eric-Shabazz Readers to Eaters (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 24, 2013 978-0-9836615-3-5

Martin (Snowflake Bentley, 1998, etc.) shares the real-life story of Will Allen, innovative farmer and founder of Growing Power, an urban farm in Milwaukee. “Will Allen can see / what others can’t see. / When he sees kids, he sees farmers.” Martin begins and ends with this positive premise. In between, she sketches salient events that stoked Allen’s commitment to empowering people to grow their own food. Raised in a food-loving family that grew and shared its own, Will eschewed weeding and picking for college and a move to Belgium to play pro basketball, where he continued gardening on the side. He brought an acumen for growing veggies home to Milwaukee and saw that “fresh vegetables / were as scarce in the city / as trout in the desert.” Will bought a polluted city lot and created compost from food waste, aided by red wiggler worms. He taught kids and teens to farm and traveled the world with his message. Martin’s verse text, laced with word bursts in ebullient display type, engages both readers and listeners. In his picture-book debut, Larkin provides mixedmedia cityscapes that, eventually, brim with the fruits of Allen’s labor and match Will’s exuberance and spirit of community. From the small press Readers to Eaters, this worthy collaboration reveals how one man’s vision of food for all has inspired an amazing life of service. (afterword by Will Allen, author’s note, bibliography of resource materials) (Picture book/biography. 6-11)

RAGS & BONES New Twists on Timeless Tales

Marr, Melissa; Pratt, Tim—Eds. Illus. by Vess, Charles Little, Brown (368 pp.) $18.00 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-316-21294-6 978-0-316-21292-2 e-book

Twelve popular speculative fiction authors riff on classic literature, but for an ill-defined audience. Inspired by sources as old as Edmund Spenser and as recent as William Seabrook, from authors entrenched in the literary canon and those considerably more obscure, this collection is an eclectic mix of sequels, retellings, homages, pastiches and even responses with only tenuous connections to the originals. While the tone varies from witty to poignant, from lush and sensual to dry and didactic, the stories share a darkly fantastic sensibility, often with a horrific undercurrent. Though told mostly from a male—and usually adult— perspective, they also exhibit a common concern with the limited choices available to women and minorities in patriarchal, Eurocentric cultures. Standouts include Neil Gaiman’s clever, biting crossover between “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White”; Holly Black’s reshaping of the lesbian subtext in Carmilla into the intense friendship of pre-adolescent girls; co-editor Marr’s savage and heart-rending updating of selkie legends; and Saladin Ahmed’s impassioned defense of the nameless Other so often caricatured as a fantasy villain. It seems likely that adults will be the most appreciative audience, as few teens will be familiar enough with the originals to catch the subtle resonances, and most of the themes and language are as mature as the characters. |

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THE VOW

Martinez, Jessica Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (432 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4424-5864-2 Two privileged Kentucky teens concoct a sham marriage to prevent one’s deportation, generating fallout neither is prepared to cope with. Mo (short for Mohammed), 17, and Annie, 18, have been platonic best friends since she rescued the newly arrived immigrant from ridicule in fifth grade, and in turn, he coaxed Annie, socially immobilized by her sister’s death, back into the world. Mo’s summer |

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“The powerful narrative asks Aiden and readers to consider what may constitute slavery without actually using that label and the consequences of exploiting that servitude.” from son of fortune

SHADOWS

plans include basketball camp and eventually Harvard or Yale, Annie’s, a summer job her sister once held, then art school. Both are devastated when Mo’s father is laid off and must take his family back to Jordan. Annie talks Mo into marriage though they’re warned of potentially grim legal consequences. Narrating alternating chapters, Mo and Annie are rounded, believable and sympathetic; yet to serve the plot, they must behave in ways that make little sense. Both are careful and observant, unlikely to jump off a bridge without at least looking over the edge first. An odd narrative tension results, as if the characters would much rather do something else. Looming over the story is the urgent, hot-button issue of U.S. teens raised with American identities but lacking legal status. For Mo, deportation means returning to his wealthy family in Jordan and applying for a student visa for an Ivy League education—lowering the stakes from potentially devastating to merely inconvenient. Strong characters resist but can’t overcome a frustratingly unrealistic plot. (Fiction. 14 & up)

McKinley, Robin Nancy Paulsen Books (368 pp.) $18.99 | Sep. 26, 2013 978-0-399-16579-5 Insanely detailed, sometimes confusing, ultimately rewarding; in other words, classic McKinley. This book is not the eagerly anticipated follow-up to Pegasus (2010). The sooner readers get past that, the sooner they can dive into the stream-of-consciousness, first-person narrative, which rushes along despite the fact that not very much happens for quite a while. Magic versus science: In Maggie’s world, an alternate Earth, civilized countries like the U.S. are Newworld, all science all the time, while everyone else is Oldworld, magic steeped and probably pretty dreeping awful. McKinley shines when she invents new worlds, slang and all, and she is clearly having some fun with her bright but cranky teen heroine. Maggie unexpectedly finds herself, her unusual algebra book, her motley friends and lots of critters (both origami and real) caught in the middle of a massive “cohesion break” that could destroy the world. Newworld Maggie, who sees shadows around her secretly-a-magician Oldworld stepfather, might be in a position to save everyone, which provides some action in the second half, but this is a slow, immersive read despite the high stakes, more concerned with family and friendship than pacing. McKinley’s writing is an acquired taste. While this is not the book to start with, for those who have already fallen under her spell, it’s bound to appeal. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

SON OF FORTUNE

McKernan, Victoria Knopf (400 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | $19.99 PLB Nov. 12, 2013 978-0-375-86456-8 978-0-375-89585-2 e-book 978-0-375-96456-5 PLB Aiden’s story takes up where it left off in The Devil’s Paintbox (2009), with Aiden heading toward Seattle as he leaves the Northwest lumber country in the late 1860s. Nearly a man at 16, his journey becomes inextricably woven into those of two other young men. They are as unlike Aiden as they are each other, yet all want to make their fortunes. Fish is the son of a Swedish captain plying the coastal waters between Seattle and San Francisco, and Christopher Worthington, wealthy and bored, is the son of an influential financier. Together, they embark on a scheme to import guano from Peruvian mines, which involves them in a tangle of ethical quandaries that arise naturally from realistically depicted 19th-century conditions. As capable as he is impetuous, Aiden’s essential goodness is never in doubt, but he does wrong, gradually learning to take responsibility for his actions and choices; he must struggle with his own prejudices and rise above them. The powerful narrative asks Aiden and readers to consider what may constitute slavery without actually using that label and the consequences of exploiting that servitude. A hint of romance blossoms into much more without detracting from these serious questions or slackening the brisk pace. Aiden’s dilemmas are rooted in the time and yet move beyond it, creating a glimpse into the past that is relevant today. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

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PREMEDITATED

McQuein, Josin L. Delacorte (336 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-385-74329-7 978-0-307-98316-9 e-book 978-0-375-99105-9 PLB A character-rich thriller keeps the pages turning until the very end. Dinah is bereft when her cousin Claire, the Cuckoo to her Dodo, attempts suicide and ends up in a coma—especially when Dinah finds out that Claire did it because she lost her virginity to the boy with whom she had a summer romance. Now Dinah is out for revenge on the boy, Brooks Walden, all-around golden boy and seemingly nice guy. To put her plan into action, Dinah takes Claire’s spot at the Lowry School, a venerable prep school where Claire was supposed to begin her freshman year. It means bleaching her dark hair and taking out her piercings, but Dinah would do anything for her Cuckoo. Helped by Jackson “Dex” Dexter, a scholarship student at Lowry, and her friends Tabs and Brucey, Dinah starts turning |

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the screws on Brooks. But the more she gets to know him, the more she doubts whether she’s doing the right thing. Will Dinah stop herself before it’s too late and she makes a horrible mistake? Dinah is a totally engaging protagonist: flawed, honest and real. The secondary characters are similarly well-drawn, although Brooks’ poor-little-rich-boy drama is a trifle underdeveloped. Although the critical plot twist is somewhat telegraphed, McQuein’s talent shines in this compelling character study. (Thriller. 14 & up)

be a worthy prop when reading Maryrose Wood’s story about a teenager who finds herself under the reluctant tutelage of an aged, renowned singer; she is stingy with compliments but has a tremendous heart and a tragic secret. Cynthia Hand’s “Stage Kiss” is a hilarious tale about a high school junior who seeks to change her never-been-kissed status by auditioning for a play in which the last scene ends with a kiss. Her plan goes comically awry, but readers will swoon at the ending that plays out at the final curtain. Each story is followed by a first-person anecdote by a noted performer, which is itself followed by a brief biography. Teens needn’t be star-struck to enjoy this collection, as under the hubbub of the theater world are themes that deal with common teenage issues such as insecurity, jealousy, the fear of coming out and young love. Definitely worthy of applause. (Anthology. 12 & up)

ROCK-A-BYE ROOM

Meyers, Susan Illus. by Bates, Amy Abrams (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0537-3

MIMI POWER AND THE I-DON’T-KNOW-WHAT

As gentle a rocking rock-a-bye as anyone’s likely to find this side of the moon. An electric guitar–playing mama sways her little one to sleep. As her toddler daughter puts her rocking horse, dollies, trains and blocks to bed, her mother urges the child to, “Say good night to the pictures / That hang on the wall,” along with everything in the room. Then it’s time for a bedtime story, and this dozy-eyed girl is down for the night. In the midst of their loving routine, the bedroom is transformed from everyday playroom to a place of sleepy-time magic. Though it attempts a rockabilly sensibility, there is little jumping or jiving to be had in this quiet little tale. The most rocking allusion may be an Elvis poster or perhaps a portrait displaying Little Boy Blue in seemingly blue suede shoes. In this way, Bates peppers the pages with sly allusions to classic nursery-rhyme characters, sometimes getting a bit too oblique for the intended readership. Though it sometimes threatens to veer too close to saccharine, the pairing of words and text in this book instead makes it a real, if not rocking, bedtime treat. (Picture book. 2-4)

Miles, Victoria Illus. by Mongeau, Marc Tradewind Books (224 pp.) $12.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-896580-65-4

Life is 10 times harder when you have a really annoying little sister. At the ripe old age of 9, Mimi Power has “bigger things going on” than having to freak out over squished vitamins or anything red. But younger sibling Lily June Power, aka “Waby,” can lose her cool over anything, frequently demanding to “DO IT THE SELF! THE SELF!” According to Mum, “She’s not crazy, she’s three.” As if that would make everything all right. Narrator Mimi is a likable, insightful and long-suffering heroine with her own challenges—including learning how to swim, making inspired art and deflecting the vortex that is Waby. Eventually, she incorporates the “je ne sais quoi” of Henri Matisse (and the title) and “paints” with scissors. Canadian writer Miles’ Power sisters are reminiscent of Judy Blume’s Peter Hatcher and his little brother, Fudge; Mongeau’s illustrations add a modern freshness to the story. A humorous and affectionate look at the trials and tribulations of family life. (Fiction. 8-12)

STARRY-EYED 16 Stories that Steal the Spotlight

Michael, Ted; Pultz, Josh—Eds. Running Press Teens (384 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7624-4949-1

Sixteen stories of performing are each paired with anecdotes about life behind the scenes and in front of the footlights. Even a teen with only a pang of stage or screen hunger will be fascinated by this book, with its various accomplished contributors, from the introduction by Clay Aiken to stars from television shows such as Modern Family and Glee. The stories run a rich and varied emotional gamut. A handkerchief might |

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RECENTERING THE UNIVERSE The Radical Theories of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton

appeal to very young children. Unfortunately, the book’s plot does not match the bold and striking illustrations. Apparently monolithically bent on promoting the value of family, the ensuing lackluster text and simplistic plot may disappoint readers hungry for a rich storyline. (Picture book. 2-6)

Miller, Ron Twenty-First Century/Lerner (88 pp.) $23.95 e-book | $31.93 PLB | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-1662-8 e-book 978-0-7613-5885-5 PLB

MAPS

Mizielinska, Aleksandra; Mizielinski, Daniel Illus. by Mizielinska, Aleksandra; Mizielinski, Daniel Big Picture/Candlewick (112 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-6896-9

A compact, engaging look at how the revolutionary theories of Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton completely changed humankind’s understandings of the Earth and the universe—and caused tremendous controversy. For over 1,000 years, the Earth was the center of the universe according to established scientific thinking going back to ancient Greece and to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Scientists challenging this long-accepted geocentric view of the universe risked their reputations and even their lives for contradicting biblical authority and church doctrine. Miller explains how the “radical” theories of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton complemented one another and, in less than 200 years, completely overturned established ideas about the universe that had lasted more than a millennium. His discussions of each scientist’s theories are accessible, clear and concise, though his emphasis is on their courage in challenging the very heart of religious and scientific tradition. Archival material illustrates the book, and sidebars help to provide specialized background information. An inspiring, holistic take on milestones of scientific progress. (glossary, source notes, bibliography, resources for further information) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

A tourist atlas of sorts, in which maps of select countries are reduced to little more than natural and political borders to serve as backdrops for thousands of small images. Arranged by continent—with Europe’s section first and by far the largest—the maps each fill an oversized spread. All are the same size, so that, without regard for scale, the illustrators allot Iceland and New Zealand the same space as, for instance, Antarctica and Russia (including Siberia). Every map teems with labeled, colored drawings of characteristic wildlife and local residents, renowned figures from history and legend, major cities and landforms, famous buildings, important industries, foods, foliage, works of art, musical instruments, and other placelinked sights and items. The images overflow into neighboring oceans and seas, where they share space with pictures of sea life, boats and water sports. Sidestepping the stereotypical tendencies common to older illustrated maps, here human figures sport modern dress as well as regional costume (with labels for most of the latter that note “traditional dress”) and, often, specific tribal or cultural identifications. Flags and basic facts are tucked into the corners, but the intent here is plainly to present crazy-quilt impressions of each country’s history and culture rather than systematic geophysical information. Not a complete world, but rewarding fare nonetheless for both young cartografiends and armchair travelers. (Informational picture book. 6-12)

THE TINY KING

Miura, Taro Illus. by Miura, Taro Candlewick (32 pp.) $14.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-6687-3 Lonely little monarch seeks more interesting plot… The Tiny King lives all alone in a gigantic castle, commands a large army, rides a huge horse (which he falls off every time he tries to ride), eats a tiny meal at a vast table, takes a modest bath in a monstrous bathtub (with a fountain), and lies sleepless and lonely in the corner of a massive bed. Rather abruptly, he meets and falls in love with a big princess and marries her, just like that. Somehow, they rapidly produce 10 children, oddly almost the same size as the king himself, who are identified only by number. The Tiny King achieves instant nirvana now that he has a large family with whom to share his castle, dinners, horse and carriage, bathtub and bed. Now his need for company is satisfied; he is happy and able to sleep soundly. Miura’s exquisite design and strong graphic illustrations, consisting of simple cut-out shapes in vibrant colors and collages using images drawn from eclectic sources, often on matte black paper to enhance the effect, will 110

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CAPTAIN CAT

Moore, Inga Illus. by Moore, Inga Candlewick (48 pp.) $15.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-6151-9 This quirky tale has something for everyone: an adventurous sea captain, a mysterious island, mounds of treasure, a spunky princess, handsome sailors, charming cats (who are also ruthless hunters), and a clever, if not entirely intentional, comeuppance for a band of greedy merchants. |

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“[R]eminiscent of Leo and Diane Dillon’s figures in gravitas and richness of color and detail, deities and earthly creatures lend visual dimension to the mystical, larger-than-life grandeur of the stories….” from treasury of egyptian mythology

BABA DIDI AND THE GODWITS FLY

The lengthy text covers a fair amount of time and distance in a conversational tone that suits the story’s origin as an “old Italian tale” (according to the flyleaf; there is no other source note). Captain Cat’s business sense, according to his colleagues, is sadly lacking, as he cheerfully trades goods of great value for his feline friends. Moreover, his urge to explore eventually sends him off in the opposite direction from the traditional trade routes. Ironically, he winds up on an island where his cats are more precious than gold—and where they are more than happy to settle down. Captain Cat, on the other hand, continues to sail, first back to his home port, where his wealth dazzles the other merchants, and then on across the open seas. Moore’s mixed-media illustrations have the appearance of pen and ink and watercolor. A preponderance of mostly muted blues, greens, browns and tans create convincing watery vistas and rocky beaches as well as a plethora of cheerful-looking, big-eyed cats. Though it’s on the long side, Moore’s tale combines traditional themes and spritely illustrations to create a satisfying, offbeat adventure. (Picture book. 4-7)

Muir, Nicola Illus. by Hayward, Annie New Internationalist (32 pp.) $8.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-78026-130-0 This unassuming New Zealand tale parallels the extraordinary migration of the bar-tailed godwit with the Croatian immigration to New Zealand. A lengthy foreword hails the migratory achievements of the godwit and describes the work of the U.N. Development Programme in building resilient communities that are able to resist the environmental and socioeconomic conditions that cause refugee migration. The story proper is told from the point of view of Isabella, Baba Didi’s granddaughter, whom Didi encourages to observe the characteristics of the godwit and imagine the challenges and perils of their miraculous migration. According to the immigrant grandmother’s didactic advice, success is only achieved by hard work, stamina and resilience. The Croatians’ dream was realized when they found “gold”: amber that they traded for profitable vineyards. Like the migrating godwit, the immigrants had to shake off their worries and “instead of being preoccupied,…[get] occupied.” In spite of the substantial foreword, this book fails to supply readers with sufficient context. Anyone unfamiliar with Croatian immigration to New Zealand will have a hard time understanding the story except at a most basic level. Hayward’s swirling, colorful acrylic paintings are attractive but too generic to be satisfying. Though the clumsy title beckons readers to a story of a fascinating migration, the tale never gets off the ground. (Picture book. 4-8)

MEETING CÉZANNE

Morpurgo, Michael Illus. by Place, François Candlewick (80 pp.) $15.99 | $15.99 e-book | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-4896-1 978-0-7636-6717-7 e-book A sweet slice of life in 1960s Provence. Former British Children’s Laureate Morpurgo reunites with the talented illustrator of the 2004 commemorative U.K. edition of his now-classic War Horse in this stand-alone short story drawn from the admired collection Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew (2009). When Yannick’s mother is scheduled for surgery, she arranges for him to stay at her sister’s family inn in Provence, preparing him for the trip with a book about post-impressionist Paul Cézanne, a native of Provence. Arriving in Provence, Yannick begins working evenings in the restaurant with his warm aunt Mathilde, his bustling, kind uncle Bruno and his vivacious, impatient older cousin Amandine. Days, he freely roams the hills, immersing himself in the glorious region that Cézanne so evocatively captured. When a man noised about as a “great painter” comes to dine, Yannick mistakenly destroys the drawing the artist leaves behind as payment. Crushed by this error, he visits the artist’s château in order to secure a replacement drawing from the man he thinks is Cézanne. However, it is kindly, bald, striped-shirted Picasso who comes to the rescue. Savvy art lovers will have already guessed the painter’s identity, as the restaurant is decorated with similar drawings left in payment by this most famous diner. Place’s full-color paintings bring Yannick’s sojourn to life. Art lovers of all ages will find this charming read-aloud as delicious a treat as a serving of crème brûlée. (Fiction. 7-10)

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TREASURY OF EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Monsters & Mortals

Napoli, Donna Jo Illus. by Balit, Christina National Geographic (192 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-4263-13806

Napoli (Treasury of Greek Mythology, 2011) again challenges readers to regard the old gods in new ways. The author provocatively explores the thesis that ancient Egyptian worship could be considered monotheistic, considering how closely intertwined the culture’s gods were in origins and natures. She introduces 17 major deities and a handful of minor ones in a mix of equally lively stories and exposition, beginning with Ra’s self-creation from the unchanging (“Boring, really”) waters of Nun. The divine council known as the Pesedjet convenes, and Usir (Osiris) is killed by Set but magically revived |

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“Young children are exposed to the realities of loss and damage while also viewing such things as...dolphins frolicking in the same waves that have carried people’s belongings far away from their homes.” from kenta and the big wave

FAIRGROUND LIGHTS

for one night with his beloved Aset (Isis). A final chapter introduces Imhotep, architect of the first pyramid, who was born human but later deified. Depicted in a flat, art-deco style but reminiscent of Leo and Diane Dillon’s figures in gravitas and richness of color and detail, deities and earthly creatures lend visual dimension to the mystical, larger-than-life grandeur of the stories as well as reflecting their more human griefs, jealousies and joys. Reinforcing a sense of otherness, Napoli uses the Egyptian forms of names throughout, though they are paired to their more recognizable Greek equivalents in running footers. To shed light on the mortal Egyptians, she intersperses boxed cultural notes, as well as chapters on mummification and “The Great Nile.” Sumptuous of format, magisterial of content, stimulating for heart and mind both. (map, timeline, gallery of deities, postscript discussion of sources, bibliography, index) (Mythology. 11-14)

Nuño, Fran Illus. by Quevedo, Enrique Translated by Brokenbrow, Jon Cuento de Luz (24 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-84-15784-20-3

Every attraction here has a fanciful twist, and every illustration is a work of art. Dad takes the young narrator to a very special fair, far away from home. The Witch’s Train, his very first ride, is driven by a real witch, and it flies through the air! His bumper car leaves the track, taking a scenic route all over the park. The roller coaster, called Helter Skelter, is so tall that there’s snow at the top, as if it were a mountain. The fun-house mirrors turn people into storybook characters, and the horses on the merry-go-round have scuff marks on their hooves. Dad explains that this is because when no one is looking, they run off into the fields to gallop and play. The Ferris wheel resembles a clock, and time stands still for its riders. The narrator’s final wish comes true: A giant constellation of circles in the sky forms a picture of him holding hands with Dad. Quevedo provides complex and imaginative illustrations, like Fernando Botero crossed with Terry Gilliam; they invite readers to pore over them. Unfortunately, Nuño’s flat-footed text, translated from Spanish and artificially flavored with many exclamation points, deflates the buoyancy of the surreal images. A trip to the fair, particularly one as spectacular as this, should be more fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

THE MAGICAL FRUIT

Nesbø, Jo Illus. by Lowery, Mike Aladdin (320 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-4424-9342-1 Series: Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, 4 Amid drama in both the sewers of Oslo and London’s immense Wobbley Stadium, the intrepid trio that previously saved Legoland (Who Cut the Cheese?, 2011) tackles an even more nefarious threat. Maximus Rublov is gathering astronomical sums to purchase soccer great Ibranaldovez for his Chelchester City team and has stolen Norway’s entire strategic gold reserve (one bar). To retrieve it, diminutive Nilly (the “biggest—and also the smallest—liar in all of Norway”) with his friends Lisa and brilliant scientist Victor Proctor hie off to London. They are armed with courage, quick thinking and several of Dr. Proctor’s unusual inventions, notably a potion that turns pee into a freeze ray and his puissant “fartonaut powder.” The three not only break into the Bank of the Very Rich located beneath Parliament (one of Rublov’s recent acquisitions), but pull off both a (more or less) successful mission and a stunning victory on the pitch for underdog Rotten Ham. Readers of Nesbø’s mysteries for adults will find less hard-boiled crime and more Terry Pratchett–like foolery in this 4th outing with Dr. Proctor. Another lighter-than-air exploit from Norway’s bestselling novelist, buoyed by alimentary humor and occasional illustrations (the latter not seen). (Light fantasy. 9-11)

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KENTA AND THE BIG WAVE

Ohi, Ruth Illus. by Ohi, Ruth Annick Press (32 pp.) $19.95 | $9.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-55451-577-6 978-1-55451-576-9 paper In this testament to resiliency and kindness during natural disasters, the Japanese boy Kenta’s soccer ball is swept away by a tsunami and eventually returned by a child living across the Pacific Ocean. The opening double-page spread depicts an aerial view of lower-elevation homes being swallowed by waves; the ending spread, Kenta’s reunion with his soccer ball while nearby, construction workers re-build his town. From beginning to end, author/illustrator Ohi manages an admirable balancing act. Young children are exposed to the realities of loss and damage while also viewing such things as children at play in the emergency shelter at the school gym and dolphins frolicking in the same waves that have carried people’s belongings far away from their homes. Clever but accessible wording abounds, as in “The school gym was crowded with people looking for what they’d lost. Kenta found his mother and father. The ocean found |

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Kenta’s soccer ball.” The watercolor-and-pencil illustrations are roughly hewn, but they include such careful details as Englishlanguage signs along the shoreline when the ball reaches North America. Muted colors work well with the sparse, poetic text to create an appropriate gentleness. The placement of words and pictures—and the clever device of pale banners for text over darker backgrounds—ensure easy use as a read-aloud to a group of young children. An eminently child-friendly treatment of the devastation that follows disaster. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

the serene chap is potting a little plant, happy in his tranquility. That bliss is upended when Pru, “feeling tricksy,” pierces the quiet with a caterwauling chorus of cats. Petey retaliates by inviting in a dog, but the inevitable anarchy is far more to Pru’s liking than Petey’s: “It’s a BROUHAHA!” They erupt into fisticuffs and find themselves falling to certain doom. Fortunately, they are saved at the last minute and make up with each other… until Pru feels another bout of mischief coming on. At every opportunity, Paquette works in a word or phrase that might be unfamiliar to her readership; these are helpfully set in bold type. Highlighted words include everything from “higgledy-piggledy” and “peeved” to “mayhem” and the fabulous “defenestration.” Rather than come off as jarring, these words blend seamlessly with the plot, aided in no small part by Ang’s pitch-perfect digital art. Even the endpapers do double duty as a glossary of the aforementioned terms. Here’s hoping that there are more kerfuffles and shenanigans in the future for this undeniably delightful duo. (Picture book. 4-8)

HOME!

Onyefulu, Ifeoma Photos by Onyefulu, Ifeoma Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-84780-266-8 Series: Look at This! Onyefulu celebrates light, color and the people of Mali in this and three other themed suites of bright photos of common items or activities. The book offers one or two full-page views of each of a dozen subjects, from a row of outdoor “Chairs,” a “Pestle and Mortar” and a ceramic “Water Pot” to a “Sleeping Mat.” Clothes (978-1-84780-264-4) offers images of Western-style “Trousers” and a traditional printed “Bogolan Dress.” Most of the photos in Food (978-1-84780-265-1) pair fresh with cooked or otherwise prepared views of grains, fruits and fish—all of which, aside from a regional snack called “Farini” made of fried millet, are eaten, if not relished (see: “Okra”), by children on either side of the Atlantic. The groups of children in Play (978-1-84780267-5) are all engaged in games from the universal likes of “Hide and Seek” and “Cat’s Cradle” to “Waly,” played on a board with pebbles, and a girls’ copycat game called “A ay.” The photographer adds explanatory notes, either in her warm introductory remarks or accompanying the large one- or two-word captions on each spread. The pictures, aglow with light and life, are snapshots of daily life that is both similar and different to our own. (Informational picture book. 3- 7)

MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER

Peet, Mal; Graham, Elspeth Illus. by Lynch, P.J. Candlewick (48 pp.) $15.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-6232-5

An old man, wise to the life of the African desert, finds a treasure. Issa is the most sought-after guide in the desert, as he sees, hears and smells so keenly. A mysterious ribbon, torn loose in a desert storm, leads him to an amazing discovery—a baby girl he raises as his own. When Issa loses his sight, the young girl, a gift from God he names Mariama, learns to use words to describe colors and shapes. The mountains are a “deep, dark blue, like the scarves of the camel traders who came from the north.” Then, one day, travelers come from the distant east. Their impatience and disdain for Issa almost results in disaster, but Issa and Mariama save them, and a family is reunited after many years of searching. Peet and Graham have crafted an elegant story filled with gorgeous descriptions of the desert world and its storms. Their characters have strength gained from their Islamic faith, abiding love and respect for their harsh land. Lynch’s mixed-media paintings, some framed in borders, capture the grandeur of the people and their landscape using a color palette saturated in golds, coppers and blues. The story, perhaps set during the time of the kingdom of Timbuktu, resonates and would be a beautiful read-aloud. A sumptuous, memorable tale of family ties. (author’s note) (Novella. 7-12)

PETEY AND PRU AND THE HULLABALOO

Paquette, Ammi-Joan Illus. by Ang, Joy Clarion (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-544-03888-2

Quiet Petey and his devil spawn of a best friend indulge in a little chaos propelled by gleefully sesquipedalian writing. Pru, a ginger-haired kid in a gray knit cap, carefully collects kitties on her way to her best friend Petey’s greenhouse. Inside, |

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ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA

discouraged citizens. This year, laid up with a broken leg and possessing a weighty dossier of Sam’s crimes, which threaten to remove Sam from his struggling single dad’s care, Mr. Wells needs someone crafty and nimble-fingered to do the deed for him—i.e., Sam, who can’t afford to refuse. What ensues adds up to a fast-paced adventure, narrated by Sam in the first person, that’s filled with humor, excitement, some shady characters, secrets, Sam’s growing maturity and some deep emotional pain. There’s a real cinematic feel here—Pitchford also writes for the screen and stage—and there’s a certain amount of implausibility, predictability and coincidence, yet these contrivances don’t mar this well-written tale. Sam’s a great, well-realized kid, and readers will root for him every step of the way. A surprising, poignant twist at the end explains Mr. Wells’ true motives for involving Sam and brings about a satisfying, uplifting finale. Crime does pay off—to the benefit of others—in this enjoyable novel. (Fiction. 9-12)

Peterfreund, Diana Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (464 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-06-200616-5 978-0-06-220879-8 e-book Peterfreund follows up her postapocalyptic version of Persuasion (For Darkness Shows the Stars, 2012) with a gender-flipped Scarlet Pimpernel. On a Pacific island in a high-tech future, 16-year-old Persis Blake seems the epitome of a lady: beautiful, charming, stylish…shallow and stupid. The Wild Poppy, her alter ego, is clever, courageous and noble, crossing the sea to rescue aristos imprisoned by the tyrannical revolution. Dashing young medic Justen Helo claims to have turned against the revolution that betrayed his family’s legacy—but can Persis trust him with her secret? Beneath the science-fiction veneer, the plot follows its source almost beat for beat, sacrificing some swashbuckling and suspense for lush scene-setting, secondary character development and a large dose of teen angst. The interplay between appearance and reality runs throughout: If the Poppy is a master of deception, every other player also wears masks, and everyone fails to look beneath the surface. Most, interestingly, are female, and while the different paths available for women to pursue heroism (and villainy) are subtly examined, the portrayal of their friendships shines. The narrative also raises thoughtful questions about class and gender bias, but it ultimately shrugs off the ramifications; feudalism is fine if the lords are nice enough, and though everybody rails against sexism, no one actively bothers to challenge it. While this title stands alone, cameos from the previous tale will please fans. A good bet for readers looking for strong female protagonists, characters of color or just an enjoyable romantic adventure with a science-fiction spin—especially if they haven’t read the original. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

BLUE MOON

Ponti, James Aladdin (336 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4424-4131-6 Series: Dead City, 2 Molly and her intrepid team of Omegas continue their fight against the undead of New York City. The four friends from Dead City (2012) solve a riddle that leads them to the attic of the Flatiron Building, where they join the elite Baker’s Dozen. In order to avoid detection, they can only use paper and a manual typewriter. Smart preteens that they are, they search for patterns and are able to track the zombies through Manhattan subway stations. The zombie in charge of the Union Square station has used aliases such as Grant, Burnside and McClellan, they learn. More sleuthing takes place during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and culminates in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Milton Blackwell, one of the original undead—the one responsible for the 1896 subway explosion— gets a voice in occasional chapters as he tells his story. Ponti’s often humorous narrative focuses on deduction and detective work, but there is enough gore, smell and martial arts fighting to suit action-oriented fans. Museums, the Roosevelt Island tramway and Grand Central Station all play important roles. What stands out is the fascinating twist that the author introduces as zombie fighting morphs into political intrigue. The undead are determined to gain control—but not through fists and kicks. New Yorkers beware! Adventure, sleuthing and a NYC travelogue in one quick read. (Horror/fantasy. 8-12)

NICKEL BAY NICK

Pitchford, Dean Putnam (272 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 17, 2013 978-0-399-25465-9

A kid discovers the identity of his depressed town’s anonymous benefactor and ends up learning some secrets about himself. Eleven-year-old Sam Brattle, embittered at having the lousiest Christmas ever—and with a heart transplant and extensive history of larceny behind him—is blackmailed by his mysterious neighbor into taking on the role of Nickel Bay’s homegrown secret Santa, the titular Nickel Bay Nick. Wealthy Mr. Wells has stealthily been distributing $100 bills around town at Christmastime for years, boosting the spirits and fortunes of its economically 114

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“The informative and engaging text is complemented by Henderson’s detailed, realistic watercolors, which reveal the great diversity among the many species of scorpions.” from scorpions!

FABRICK

art-class student Sam (short for Samir), who happens to be a Palestinian Muslim. When invited to contribute to the school art show, Ella and Sam create striking works that land both, in different ways, at the center of heated controversy. Though the narrative’s graphic plotting at times proves heavy-handed, Prendergast offers great insight into teen psychology—especially that of the outcast—and boldly probes sensitive topics like religious prejudice, sex, censorship and eating disorders. A provocatively modern test of understanding difference. (Verse fiction. 14 & up)

Post, Andrew Medallion Press (544 pp.) $9.99 paper | Nov. 1, 2013 978-1-60542-501-6 Characters with distinctly oddball psychic powers or attributes save this other-planet odyssey from sinking under its own weight. Violent times have come to Geyser— a city perched high atop a towering geyser nozzle on the giant planet Gliese. When Clyde, a robotic, tuxedo-clad young man with hazy memories and the ability to “sponge” guilt from anyone’s troubled conscience, sets out to track down his beloved master’s killers, he finds the city wrecked and virtually empty. He gets help from several allies including Nevele, a sliced-up woman who literally keeps herself together with telekinetically controlled stitches, and a cultured hive mind, collectively named Rohm, made up of over 1,000 tiny “frisk mice.” With them, Clyde travels through noirish ruins, deep into a mine and up the geyser’s massive spout while surviving vicious attacks from oversized insects and a maniacal serial killer/hired assassin. Ultimately, he runs into dazzling revelations about both his true identity and the source of the strange powers dubbed “fabrick” that he and others display. It’s a very long journey. As Post also shoves in several elaborately developed side plots that are left to be resolved, presumably, in sequels, it’s also a wearisome one. Still, dogged readers will be rewarded with exotic locales aplenty, sometimesgrisly battles and a particularly colorful multispecies cast. An unwieldy setup volume, bearable for its baroque tweaks and twists. (Science fiction. 12-15)

SCORPIONS! Strange and Wonderful

Pringle, Laurence Illus. by Henderson, Meryl Boyds Mills (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-59078-473-0

Veteran science writer Pringle delivers another stinging success with this fascinating look at the similarities and differences among the many varied species of these much feared but mostly misunderstood arachnids. Do you think scorpions will sting you and inject you with deadly venom? Not quite. Scorpions typically sting to subdue prey and protect themselves. Of 2,000 species, only about three dozen can kill a person. Only one species with a sting deadly to humans lives in the United States. The deadliest species are found in warm, tropical climates. Scorpions were on Earth before dinosaurs, and their appearance has changed little over hundreds of millions of years, though their size has. Habitats, size, coloring, mating, hunting, movement, molting, physiology and reproduction are among the many topics covered. Pringle convincingly shows readers that scorpions are fascinating creatures. The informative and engaging text is complemented by Henderson’s detailed, realistic watercolors, which reveal the great diversity among the many species of scorpions. Budding arachnologists will find this an enlightening introduction. (bibliography, pronunciation guide, resources for more information) (Nonfiction. 6-10)

AUDACIOUS

Prendergast, Gabrielle Orca (336 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4598-0530-9 Prendergast, who hails from Vancouver, B.C., pulls out all the stops in this action-packed coming-of-age tale fraught with familial and societal dysfunction. When her family moves east from a tiny bungalow near the beach to a large house on the plains, 16-year-old misfit Raphaelle decides this new beginning calls for a little self-reinvention. Changing her name to Ella, Raphaelle narrates the various stages of her transformation, saying, “I have screwed around long enough. / I come to you a reformed girl,” and vowing not to make waves in her new environment. But when kids at her new high school start to isolate her— “What’s Ella short for? Elephant?”—and domestic pressures close in, Ella finds herself returning to her more radical, artistic side for release. She also finds herself seeking the comfort and affection of fellow |

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BAD FOR YOU Exposing the War on Fun!

Pyle, Kevin C.; Cunningham, Scott Illus. by Pyle, Kevin C. Henry Holt (160 pp.) $12.99 paper | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-8050-9289-9

As title and subtitle indicate, a survey of wet-blanketry through the ages. In broad chapters covering campaigns against comics, games, technology, play and thought, comics creators Pyle and Cunningham move from their area of expertise to less focused discussions of the ways the Man has |

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“Each spread features captivating narrative that explains this ‘watery jewel’ on a child’s level on one side and on the other provides more scientific information in a smaller font.” from the secret pool

sought to drain, mostly, adolescence of all enjoyment. They adopt a gleefully pulpy narrative mode conveyed in sequential panels, full-page cartoons and occasional eye-straining stretches of cramped text. There is a lot going on, both visually and in terms of content, and readers may find themselves disoriented by the pinball-machine approach the authors take. From a brief and engaging sketch of the beginnings of America’s comic-book industry, they move to Fredric Wertham and The Seduction of the Innocent—a natural progression. But in short order, they proceed from comics to a detour on the scientific method, then to folklore, the Comstock laws and Harry Potter before moving back to fairy tales and then on to fantasy play— and that’s all in the opening chapter that’s nominally on comics. The prose is frequently rough-hewn and unapologetically shrill: “Speaking of SAVE—that’s exactly what the controversy did for the vampire-trapping game [“Night Trap”] (sales had SUCKED until then).” Quotations from an admirable wealth of sources are liberally included, but they are rarely sourced in the text, leaving readers to wonder who really said what. A glossary at the beginning defines such terms as “abstinence” and “statistics,” but both it and the text leave such terms as “disbarred” and “profiling” unexplained. Less exhaustive than exhausting, this catalog of killjoys, undeniably cool in concept, falters—a lot—in execution. (resources, references) (Graphic nonfiction. 12 & up)

during winter only to thaw out in the spring and that “fairy shrimp eggs can last up to fifteen years before hatching!” Share with budding naturalists or use as an excellent guide for a woodland walk when the first rains of spring awaken this diverse and fascinating ecosystem. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

HEY, CHARLESTON! The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band Rockwell, Anne Illus. by Bootman, Colin Carolrhoda (32 pp.) $16.95 | $12.95 e-book | Nov. 1, 2013 978-0-7613-5565-6 978-0-7613-8843-2 e-book

A concerned pastor and a rich musical tradition come together to play an important role in the growth of jazz. In the late 1800s, Rev. Jenkins, born a slave in South Carolina and later orphaned, came across a group of abandoned children. He established an orphanage in Charleston for these children and others like them, all African-Americans. Jenkins led them in singing to drown out the noise from a prison next door. As money was scarce, he came up with the idea of teaching the children to play marching-band music using forgotten Civil War brass instruments. Many of the children, born into the Gullah or Geechee traditions of the islands off South Carolina, enjoyed playing “rag” music. They incorporated this rhythm into their performances and danced while playing. Success followed, with trips to New York, where enthusiastic crowds urged the band to play “Charleston.” They performed at Theodore Roosevelt’s inauguration and for King George V of England, sailing home in dangerous waters after World War I erupted. Some of the young men grew up to play with Ellington and Basie. Rockwell relates her tale in a fast-paced narrative that will hopefully encourage readers to turn into listeners. Bootman’s emotive, full-bleed artwork provides a lively accompaniment. A notable look at a little-known piece of jazz history. (author’s note, selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

THE SECRET POOL

Ridley, Kimberly Illus. by Raye, Rebekah Tilbury House (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-88448-339-7

This surprisingly engaging look at a habitat not often covered in science curricula and popular nonfiction series strikes a harmonious balance of conversational language, factual text and informative illustrations. On the full-bleed spread preceding the first page, Raye paints a watery woodland scene, in a multitude of greens and browns, with a population of creatures that depend upon the vernal pool for survival. Children will be amazed at how vital this place is for owls, rabbits, ducks, raccoons, robins, turtles, toads, tadpoles, snakes, dragonflies, deer, skunks, squirrels, frogs and salamanders. The vernal pool speaks from the beginning, “A shimmer. A twinkling. Do you have any inkling of what I am?…you might mistake me for a puddle—which I most certainly am not!” Each spread features captivating narrative that explains this “watery jewel” on a child’s level on one side and on the other provides more scientific information in a smaller font. Topics covered include the definition of a vernal pool and highlights about the various animals that begin or spend their entire lives in this relatively small biome. The book proceeds from the earliest days of spring through an entire year, dictating the order in which creatures are introduced. Readers will be amazed to learn that wood frogs can freeze into “frogsicles” 116

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AESOP’S FABLES

Rosen, Michael Illus. by Hacikyan, Talleen Tradewind Books (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-896580-81-4 Prolific Brit Rosen and Canadian artist Hacikyan deliver 13 of the legendary fabulist’s moral vignettes. Familiar fables such as “Mouse and Lion” and “Town Mouse and Country Mouse” accompany lesser-known parables. Rosen’s plainspoken telling engages children with injected humor. In |

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THE OTHER SIDE OF FREE

“Frog and Bull,” Frog is impressed with Bull’s huge size. “It’s bigger than a hundred frogs. I’m only as big as its eyeball. Oooh, how I would like to be as big as Bull.” Frog gulps air to puff himself up, addressing an unseen child chorus: “Hey children, how am I doing? Am I as big as Bull?” Not even close, they respond, and Frog continues to gulp with predictably disastrous results. Rosen conveys the morals pithily. In “Lion, Fox and Wolf,” Fox (to put it mildly) outsmarts Wolf, who’s been disparaging him to Lion behind his back. “If you plot and scheme against other people, you’ll probably end up with them plotting against you.” Hacikyan’s accomplished dry-brushed acrylics, luminous against black fields, incorporate handprinted leaves and textile block patterns, bespeaking her acumen as a printmaker. The leafy endpapers are stunning. Incorporating a vain crow, opportunistic wolves and foxes, talking trees and more, this collection both instructs and charms. (scholar’s note) (Fables. 5-10)

Russell, Krista Peachtree (256 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-56145-710-6

Russell illuminates a little-known piece of American history in this wellresearched novel for middle-grade readers. When Aunt Winnie—not a blood relation but the only family Jem has ever known—sends him away from Charles Town with a strange conjure-woman named Phaedra, the 13-year-old is confused and resentful. It’s 1739; Florida is held by England’s sworn enemy Spain. The Spanish governor at St. Augustine offers freedom, support and baptism into the Catholic faith to any escaped slave who vows to fight the English, but Phaedra insists Jem is too young to join the militia or take a vow. Instead, he spends his days running errands for Phaedra in the forests and marshlands around Fort Mose, an earthwork fort built and staffed by the ex-slave militia, wishing for more manly duties. Recent escapees bring news of a violent slave rebellion along the Stono River; the English blame the Spanish and declare war. The unfamiliar but engrossing topic and fast-paced action will keep readers interested. Phaedra and other members of the colony are well-drawn, but Jem’s characterization wobbles; his resentment, coming as it does after his rescue from near-certain death at the hands of his master, seems ill-placed. Still, a welcome and well-written work of history. (Historical fiction. 9-14)

HOT AIR

Roy, Sandrine Dumas Illus. by Houssais, Emmanuelle Translated by Ardizzone, Sarah Phoenix/Trafalgar (32 pp.) $11.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-907912-22-1 With the planet heating up, the animals confer and decide that cow farts and burps are the cause; after considerable time and effort, they fit the cows with “cowtalytic converters”—perhaps too late. Whimsical collage illustrations add just the right note to this allegory. Protesting animals carry banners and signs in unrecognizable languages that might just represent actual animal sounds. Investigating dolphins take to the air in curious flying machines. Colorful surgeonfish equipped with stethoscopes and hypodermic needles offer to operate. See-through cows have mechanical insides. And the suited negotiators, seated in comfortable chairs, have the self-satisfied look of bigwigs everywhere, in spite of their animal heads. Roy tells her story engagingly, playing with sound and language. Americans may not be familiar with the phrase “went doolally” but will enjoy the pileup of animal noises “shouting and babbling. / Cackling, clattering and chattering. / Giggling, gurgling and gobbling,” and on for three more lines. The flamingo suggests, “The cows could eat GM foods / low in gases (Gas Moderate) / to reduce air pollution.” The translation of this French import is delightful. A tongue-in-cheek look at global warming whose satire will probably go over the heads of young readers, but its idea, pictorial execution and mordant humor will certainly amuse teens and adults. (Picture book. 10 & up)

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TAG ALONG

Ryan, Tom Orca (208 pp.) $12.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4598-0297-1 It’s prom night, and four teens’ plans for the evening are about to get hijacked. Andrea is a high achiever who gets grounded when her mom finds an alcoholic beverage in her closet. So unfair. Candace is just staying with her dad and stepmom for the weekend, but it’s prom back in her city world, which is so not her thing. Now tagging is, and she’s got plans to make her mark. Roemi’s date is going to help him be one of the first gay couples at prom, and while he knows there’ll be a hassle, he doesn’t care. It’s just exciting to actually meet John after all their online messages. And then there’s Paul, who is the popular jock being led around by the nose by cool girl Lannie. Their plans have been carefully calibrated to make the maximum impact, but when Paul has one of his panic attacks, he’s grateful that his mom covers for him. Well, not grateful that she claims he has diarrhea but glad to be off the hook. They all manage to meet, get connected and ultimately have a prom night that is far more memorable than their original plans. Ryan never goes over |

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“An effective story, unique in its treatment of the immigrant or refugee experience as it addresses a younger audience than might be typical for this topic.” from the voyage

the top as he unfurls the story, alternating the voices of the four teens, but exciting events occur, and the gradual jelling of the group is completely believable. A regular kid’s prom, minus the limo but with enough drama to satisfy. (Fiction. 11-16)

what could he be on the hot seat for? When Mrs. A starts talking about the rash of graffiti that has recently tarnished the school, Mickey frantically rushes to protest his innocence. Mrs. A talks him down; she knows he didn’t do it, but maybe he can figure out who did. Mickey dubs this miscreant the Mischievous Marker and finds a major clue in the latest graffiti message: “Our Principle’s no ‘pal’ of nobodies!” Top-notch speller Mickey notices the problems right away. At lunch that day, when Mickey sees his lifelong archnemesis, Bucho, giving Mickey’s twin brother, Ricky, a hard time, he imagines how sweet it would be if he could prove that the troublemaker Bucho was the Magic Marker Mischief Maker. And if not him, then who? Mickey will need to question more persons of interest and nail down the timeline to crack the case. The brief, fast-moving mystery appears first in English, then Spanish, in Villarroel’s translation. Saldaña’s prose is peppy, and his mystery, while quickly solved, hammers home a solid grammar lesson as a bonus. Though he’s no teacher’s pet, Mickey’s smarts make him a welcome protagonist. (Mystery. 9-12)

MY NAME IS COOL 18 Stories from a CubanIrish-American Storyteller

Sacre, Antonio Familius (161 pp.) $10.95 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-938301-56-8

Through short stories and personal vignettes, Sacre introduces readers to his family, several traditional folk tales and his own success as a professional storyteller. The standout stories of the collection feature strong characters from the author’s family, particularly the extended family on his Cuban side. They are over-the-top, as funny as they are touching. These stories convey the importance of bilingualism and biculturalism and should appeal to young readers. However, the tone of the whole collection feels disjointed, and the intended audience is unclear. Would readers who are compelled by the silly origin story of the author’s nickname on his first day of school be as engaged by the politics of dual-language education or by the poignant account of the evolution of the author’s relationship with his father as an adult? In some stories, the magic of spoken language is lost somewhere in the transition to the written word. For example, in “Lake View High School,” the vernacular that the author employs when describing how he presented the plot of Antigone to a group of urban high school students may soar when told aloud but is cringe-worthy to read from text. Though the work falls apart as a cohesive collection, individual stories and the themes of bicultural identity and the bonds of family shine through. (Nonfiction. 8-13)

THE VOYAGE

Salinas, Veronica Illus. by Engman, Camilla Translated by Eirheim, Jeanne Groundwood (40 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-55498-386-5 A little duck acts as a stand-in for the immigrant experience in this title about change, loss and redemption. Despite a glaring design flaw in the too-small type chosen for the text, this story about a duck’s journey from one place to another applies a deft touch to a complex topic for young readers. The direct address of the text (“Maybe one day you have to leave”) juxtaposed with pictures of the duck packing belongings and being “blown so far that you forget who you are and where you come from” is quite effective in aligning readers with the bird. These scenes lead up to encounters with various animals who speak to the duck, baffling it, as it can’t understand what they say. Feelings of alienation and sadness overcome the duck, with digitally colored art bolstering the text’s description. Things look up when another duck, presumably native to the new land but an outsider in another way, befriends the protagonist by offering validation and comfort. This turning point ultimately affirms the need for a strong sense of self to precede the development of stability in a new place and community. An effective story, unique in its treatment of the immigrant or refugee experience as it addresses a younger audience than might be typical for this topic. (Picture book. 3- 7)

THE MYSTERY OF THE MISCHIEVOUS MARKER/EL MISTERIO DEL MALVADO MARCADOR

Saldaña Jr., René Translated by Villarroel, Carolina Piñata Books/Arté Público (64 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 31, 2013 978-1-55885-776-6 Series: Mickey Rangel Mysteries, 3

The principal enlists Mickey’s help to find a graffiti artist who is trashing the school in Saldaña’s third bilingual mystery. Fifth-grade detective Mickey Rangel feels like a stuck pig at a barbecue when Mrs. Abrego calls him down to her office; 118

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TEN ORANGE PUMPKINS A Counting Book

created with charcoal, pastel, watercolor and cut-paper collage to show these and other adventures, including a memorable trip to the vet. Though Schachner doesn’t explicitly identify Tink’s family, fans will likely recognize the two adorable girls who are his “sisters” as well as their parents, and they may even have some suspicions about the big-eared Siamese kitten that eventually joins the household. Their cozy home life contrasts effectively with the mild adventure Tink manages to tuck into his old age. Fellow cat fanciers will appreciate Schachner’s low-key tale and share her unabashed love for her furry friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Savage, Stephen Illus. by Savage, Stephen Dial (48 pp.) $16.99 | Aug. 29, 2013 978-0-8037-3938-3

In this strong graphic treatment of a traditional theme, 10 Halloween pumpkins are spirited away or destroyed one by one by various seasonally appropriate, sometimes-scary entities: a scarecrow, a mummy, a bolt of lightning, a hungry ghost, alligators in a pond, pirates (“Arrr!”), an owl, a witch and a spider. In a visual style reminiscent of 1950s horror tales, Savage creates a highly dramatic and sensational sequence using strong color contrasts, including, of course, Halloween orange and black. Homely scenes of country life—fields, clothes on a line, a spooky mansion, a stormy churchyard—and more exotic ones—a witch’s kitchen, pirate skeletons on a stormy ocean—are all rendered in a strong, airbrushed graphic style. While the overall mood is scary and grotesque, there are light touches in several features, including the cat that appears on every spread, the alligators that morph from rock look-alikes to snapping monsters that consume the pumpkin, the mummy who mummifies a pumpkin and the doughboy ghost who makes a pumpkin into pie. The simple rhymes of the countdown have a sweetly repetitive nursery-rhyme quality, and they will help to reassure children who may be a little apprehensive about Halloween, as well as aiding counting and subtraction skills. Although the landscapes Savage creates are highly stylized, they have a softness and gentle humor that will capture the imaginations of young children and add to their anticipation. (Picture book. 3-5)

BEDTIME MONSTERS

Schneider, Josh Illus. by Schneider, Josh Clarion (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-544-00270-8

Since a monster lurks somewhere in the room of nearly every lively child at bedtime, another book about the experience is inevitable. When Arnold tries to delay his bedtime, his mother offers him the universal parental commonplace about dealing with fears, in this case, the monster that bites off toes: “I’m sure he’s just as scared of you as you are of him.” Of course, as soon as the light is out, the terrible toe biter appears, followed by the horrible tooth gnasher, the winged fargle and the grozny buzzler. Each takes refuge from the next under Arnold’s covers. But it’s Arnold, known for his destruction of New York (seen in the opening pages as an imaginative, playful rampage with block towers) and his biting off of animal heads (his bedtime cookie snack), the monsters fear most. Arnold’s revelation of his identity sends the monsters back into the camouflage of his nighttime room, their outlines visible against the slightly open door of the closet, the radiator knob, the mobile above Arnold’s bed and the toy under the bed. Schneider’s cartoon style and plain, sturdy boy (with no pupils, like Little Orphan Annie) allow the only slightly scary monsters to stand out a bit—each quite different from the next. Sure to be someone’s first choice of bedtime tale for a few nights. (Picture book. 3-6)

BITS & PIECES

Schachner, Judy Illus. by Schachner, Judy Dial (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-8037-3788-4 Another charming slice-of-(real)-life story from veteran author/illustrator Schachner that will particularly please fans of The Grannyman (1999). Readers learn immediately that Tink, the feline main character who’s loved to “bits and pieces” by his human family, is the kitten that was raised by Simon, the elderly Siamese cat in the earlier book. The narrator speculates that perhaps this unorthodox upbringing is the source of Tink’s quirky habits. But really, his behavior seems completely catlike. Combining mixed-media illustrations and a conversational tone with a healthy dollop of humor, Schachner describes how Tink digs in the plants, sits on the newspaper, jumps into the middle of board games, stalks the bathtub and generally makes a beloved pest of himself. Breezy, colorful full-page paintings and multiple smaller vignettes are |

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BORN FROM THE HEART

Serrano, Berta Illus. by Serrano, Alfonso Sterling (40 pp.) $14.95 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4549-1144-9

A well-intentioned, heartfelt effort to celebrate adoption ends up delivering problematic messages about fatherhood, birth families, and even the birds and the bees. Cartoonish cover art shows a woman, Rose, with her heart protruding from her chest on a stemlike appendage. It’s not a |

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“The volume’s title bespeaks the tricky blend of rationality and emotion inherent in often baffling situations like aging, loss, and loneliness, and Sidman employs deftly sophisticated verse to engage them head on.” from what the heart knows

THE MYSTERY OF MEERKAT HILL

grotesque image so much as it seems a feeble attempt to literalize the oft-stated line in adoptive families that children are, as the title says, “born from the heart.” This approach ends up making Rose appear pregnant, sort of…while her husband’s body remains unchanged. Is the child not born from his heart, too? Why not? Later, the doctor who has prescribed a “magic recipe” to Rose can “see something gleaming” in the prospective adoptive mother’s heart, akin to a sonogram image. This attempt, among others, to equate the adoption process with having a biological child seems to undermine the celebration of adoption by trying to make it “just like” having a biological child, suggesting that there’s something shameful about adoption itself. Then when the mother holds her new baby for the first time, the art depicts her lying on her back on the ground, her knees up and spread apart, in a quasi-birthing position. Other, much stronger titles about this important theme abound. In sum, while this title has its heart in the right place, it misses a lot of beats in its efforts. (Picture book. 3-5)

Smith, Alexander McCall Illus. by McIntosh, Iain Anchor (112 pp.) $12.99 | $6.99 paper | $13.99 PLB Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-345-80458-7 978-0-345-80446-4 paper 978-0-345-80616-1 PLB Series: Precious Ramotswe Mystery, 2 Young Precious Ramotswe hones her detective skills with some new friends. Pontsho and Teb are new in school, and Precious hopes to be their friend. By asking just a few careful questions, Precious finds out a lot. She learns that the children are poor and that their father had been killed by lightning. Precious is sensitive and empathetic, and soon the three—and the siblings’ pet meerkat, Kosi—are fast friends. Kosi is endlessly fascinating and very talented, Precious learns. It takes her keen observational skills and the natural talents of the meerkat to save Pontsho and Teb’s family from disaster. Fast-paced action is interspersed with family stories, making this an especially winning story for very young readers. Occasional direct address to readers harkens back to an earlier storytelling style. Stunning black-and-white illustrations, reminiscent of woodcuts and etchings, grace most spreads, adding an old-fashioned feel to the story. The map of Africa (with Botswana highlighted) on the first page provides welcome information. Precious is sensitive and grounded, open and understanding—perfect qualities for the detective she is destined to be. The mystery is easily solved, but it still requires that readers pay attention to the clues left along the way. Subtly dealing with social issues of poverty, Precious’ second outing as a youngster charms. (Mystery. 8-12)

WHAT THE HEART KNOWS Chants, Charms, and Blessings

Sidman, Joyce Illus. by Zagarenski, Pamela Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (80 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-544-10616-1 Profound, lushly illustrated poems explore some of life’s more trying moments. In their third collaboration, Sidman and Zagarenski (Red Sings from the Treetops: A Year in Colors, 2009, etc.) combine their Newbery Honor– and Caldecott Honor– worthy talents to tackle life’s more ineffable conditions. Lyrically arranging the collection’s 29 poems into groupings such as “Chants & Charms” and “Laments & Remembrances,” Sidman takes a serious look at a number of moments likely to concern young teens. The volume’s title bespeaks the tricky blend of rationality and emotion inherent in often baffling situations like aging, loss, and loneliness, and Sidman employs deftly sophisticated verse to engage them head on. Especially provocative is her direct address of a subject like happiness— “Happiness, you’re like a breeze / sucked in by eager lungs. / You fill and feed us, / and yet somehow, in the exhale, / you are shared”—coupled with Zagarenski’s richly layered, slightly surreal depiction of a figure trying to catch this transitory state. In many spreads, the abstract suggestiveness of Zagarenski’s fanciful mixed-media paintings and digital renderings contrasts wonderfully with Sidman’s bold metaphors, as in “Blessing from the Stars”: “We are the stars. / We sing with our light /… / alone, / together.” A winning combination of word and image sure to challenge young readers both to contemplate big subjects and to act. (Poetry. 12 & up)

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STORM WATCHER

Snyder, Maria V. Leap Books (187 pp.) $12.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-61603-033-9

This deftly plotted story will engage readers of both genders with its fresh storyline. When 12-year-old Luke Riley’s mother is killed in a lightning-related accident, Luke’s fear of severe weather is heightened and his grief is exacerbated by guilt, as he believes it was his panicked phone call to his mother that caused her to be out in the storm. Luke’s father and older twin brothers, lost in their own grief, ignore him (in his father’s case) or tease him mercilessly (in his brothers’). To make matters worse, Luke doesn’t want the gift of a bloodhound puppy his father offers him for his 13th birthday; he wants a papillon puppy. Luke’s father, a respected search-andrescue professional, will not hear of it. Luke gets a job working at |

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a neighboring kennel ostensibly to earn a bloodhound puppy, but he picks a papillon puppy instead, keeping it secret. Then Luke’s new friend at the kennel, Megan, and Megan’s father go missing in a storm, and Luke must confront both his fear of severe weather and his deception. Intertwining family relationships, weather science and search-and-rescue dog training, this comingof-age story relays themes of friendship, grief, challenge, fear and responsibility without didacticism or melodrama. A welcome addition to the middle-grade library. (Adventure. 9-13)

bogged down in back story, and it will take readers a while to reacquaint themselves with the rules and language of this fantasy dystopia. The story begins to pick up speed when Lark follows Basil’s trail to the city of Lethe. There, she meets an interesting new cast of characters living in a magical underground city that is both a refuge for Renewables and the heart of a resistance movement to overthrow Prometheus, the leader of the surface world. References to Greek mythology further complicate an already Byzantine dystopian world, challenging readers to find a connection between Lethe and the broader plotline involving the architects from the first novel. What’s really interesting here is Lark’s struggle to come to grips with the enormity of her power. Is she a monster? A weapon? A savior? In the midst of this identity crisis, Lark also wrestles with her feelings for Oren, the half-human, half-shadow monster that has found his way into her heart. This is a book for fans only. New readers need not apply. (Dystopian adventure. 14 & up)

DINO-BABY

Sperring, Mike Illus. by Lloyd, Sam Bloomsbury (32 pp.) $14.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-61963-151-9 In rhyming verse, dinosaur parents review with an older sibling the rules of life with a new baby in the house. In this preachy, didactic offering, a small dinosaur is reminded to be quiet upon awakening in the morning so as not to wake the new baby and not to play rough or snatch away toys. This occupies the first half of the book. The most entertaining and positive pages follow, in which the parents encourage the little dinosaur to teach the baby new things, like how to stomp and roar. They quickly return, however, to their tiresome admonitions, warning the child to be quiet at bedtime. The illustrations are bold, expressive and, in some instances, endearing, but overall, they work to emphasize the negative tone of the text. For instance, the only page spread that is not part of the verse features a big, angry-looking dinosaur mama glaring at a chastened child while the baby screams in the bassinette. The word “shhhhhh!” is scrawled in large letters across the right-hand page. Parents looking for an engaging story to share with a new big brother or sister will do well to skip this one and choose something with a little spunk—like Jacqueline Woodson and Sophie Blackall’s Pecan Pie Baby (2010) or Marla Frazee’s The Boss Baby (2010)—instead. (Picture book. 3-5)

MY SORT OF FAIRY TALE ENDING

Staniszewski, Anna Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (224 pp.) $6.99 paper | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-4022-7933-1 Series: My Very UnFairy Tale Life, 3 Plenty of laughs follow Jenny the Adventurer as she concludes her trilogy of comic quests in Fairy Land by fighting the Queen Fairy, who has stolen nearly all the magic in the world and intends to steal the rest. Jenny only wants to rescue her parents, who have been missing for several years. She’s certain that the Queen Fairy has captured them, but when the queen captures Jenny too, the plot becomes complex. It turns out that the Queen Fairy is more than a bit insane. She’s turned her palace and her minions into a Disney fantasy. Deprived of magic, her subjects are powerless, save for the leprechauns, who are weakened. Worse, the Queen wants to steal the magic of the Committee, the group of identical elderly ladies who control all the magical realms and who employ Jenny as an adventurer. When Jenny actually finds her parents, she must concoct a plan to rescue them, but with no power and her friends disappearing, she faces difficulties. When she’s turned into a mouse—twice—she feels even more frustrated. Staniszewski’s ear for humor remains keen. Willynilly, Jenny spouts occasion-appropriate clichés even though it embarrasses her. She meets fantastical creatures, including a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater. Of course Jenny will prevail, but how? It’s all great fun for middle school fantasy fans. (Comic fantasy. 9-14)

SHADOWLARK

Spooner, Meagan Carolrhoda Lab (336 pp.) $17.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7613-8866-1 978-1-4677-1664-2 e-book Series: Skylark, 2 It’s par for the course in Book 2 of the Skylark trilogy. Picking up right where the first left off, Lark Ainsley is on the run, desperately searching for her brother Basil. Much of the opening gets |

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WHO I’M NOT

The pages are sturdy, and the endpapers offer entertaining sketches of Iris and her enormous feline friend. As a book with a strong and gentle animal hero and fetching illustrations, this can stand proudly on a shelf with such classics as Crictor, The Story of Ferdinand and, of course, Andy and the Lion. (Picture book. 3-7)

Staunton, Ted Orca (208 pp.) $12.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4598-0434-0 A teen con artist confronts the haunted past of a torn Canadian family. Staunton’s street-wise, smooth-talking 15-year-old protagonist first enters the scene as Frank, the so-called son of a credit-card thief named Harley. When a simple heist goes bad and leaves Harley dead on the pavement, Frank, already a well-taught liar, has to figure out his next move. At the local Youth Services office, he stumbles across the profile of Danny Dellomondo, a missing Canadian teen, and adopts his identity. Lies, betrayal, murder and even romance hit him head on when he arrives in the small town of Port Hope, Ontario, and Danny finds himself caught in the middle of a mystery more layered than he ever could have imagined. Enter Gillian, whom he meets in alternative school after pounding one of the local bullies in the hall, and sparks fly. Staunton’s latest page-turner moves fast. Readers aren’t sure whether or not they can trust the main character, and that makes the journey all the more exhilarating as Danny conjures up more lies, stories and thievery to cover up his tracks. The provocative, well-drawn characters run the gamut, from Danny’s kindly caregiver, Shan, to his violent, drug-addicted brother. Staunton stealthily inserts clues as to the whereabouts of the real Danny, but his keen plotting skills will keep readers guessing until the very end. Breathless, fast-paced fun. (Thriller. 14 & up)

HIDE-AND-SEEK SCIENCE Animal Camouflage Stevenson, Emma Illus. by Stevenson, Emma Holiday House (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-8234-2293-7

Stevenson, in her authorial debut, presents readers with seven gorgeous habitats and the 293 animals hiding within them, inviting children to count each animal and try to find them all. Amazingly lifelike details rendered in gouache bring the flora and fauna of each habitat to life; colors and sizes, if not proximity, imitate the real world. Beginning in the swamp, Stevenson takes readers to the desert, a rain forest, the savanna, a deciduous forest, an Arctic scene (labeled “Hide-and-Seek in the Snow”) and a coral reef. Full-bleed double-page spreads stretch across the gutter, the only text the header and a question: “Can you find 40 animals?” A turn of the page reveals the same scene, condensed, the margins presenting information about the habitat and each animal pictured. Numbers on the scene make it easy to match the animals with their descriptions. However, it’s also easy to spot the animals—none are truly using their abilities to camouflage themselves in the scenery, taking much of the fun, as well as the apparent point, from the book. While a brief introduction describes what camouflage is and why it is important, readers will see no evidence of it within the scenes. For a solid explanation of camouflage, stick with Carolyn Otto and Megan Lloyd’s What Color is Camouflage? (1996), and for a story that incorporates it, try Narelle Oliver’s Twilight Hunt: A Seek-and-Find Book (2007). (Informational picture book. 6-10)

HOW TO HIDE A LION

Stephens, Helen Illus. by Stephens, Helen Henry Holt (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-8050-9834-1

A little girl named Iris proves herself smarter than the grown-ups around her as she secretly cares for a lion she knows to be kind—a lion who eventually saves the town from burglary. All the lion wants as he strolls into town is to purchase a hat, but he soon finds himself fleeing from terrified, broomand–rolling-pin–armed townspeople (one of whom brandishes a loaf of bread). Iris recognizes his gentleness, but it isn’t easy to hide him. And parents “can be funny about having a lion in the house.” A series of hilarious pictures, reminiscent of the energetic watercolor art of Ludwig Bemelmans and H.A. Rey, vividly demonstrates that the lion is too big, too fluffy and too heavy for easy camouflage. A magnificent double-page spread of Iris with an open book, leaning against the napping lion, recalls the pet Zeep picture in Dr. Seuss’ One Fish Two Fish: Both are pictures of deep contentment. After the lion saves the town, his one request to the grateful citizens takes the story full circle. 122

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RED KNIT CAP GIRL TO THE RESCUE

Stoop, Naoko Illus. by Stoop, Naoko Little, Brown (40 pp.) $17.00 | Nov. 15, 2013 978-0-316-22885-5

Red Knit Cap Girl (2012) returns with ingenuity and pluck to save a lost animal in another atmospheric offering from Stoop. In the forest, Red Knit Cap Girl plays with her animal friends, creating handmade items of interest. A kite, boat and telescope made from recycled paper are their entertainment, |

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“Tatulli’s entry into the comics/fiction–hybrid market is one of the best.” from desmond pucket makes monster magic

PHANTOM EYES

until the hooded heroine spots a polar bear, stranded on an iceberg at sea. She saves the lost bear and embarks on a journey to reunite the cub with his family. Each challenge along the way is met with a quiet determination, and the rescue mission soon becomes an adventure as the folded-paper sailboat weathers a storm, glides with orcas and follows the Moon’s light to safe harbor. Done in acrylic, pencil and ink on plywood, the artwork has a dreamy, ethereal quality. While the drawing style is simple, Stoop graphically enhances the images in a sophisticated way that elevates the work. Often, the wood pattern radiates out to highlight the composition, adding depth and texture. With this technique, the artist gently illuminates the rhythms of the sea, the currents of the wind and the wonder of the aurora borealis. Readers will want to glide with this resourceful red-capped girl, across the sea and sky, to also speak with the moon. Quietly perceptive and deeply appreciative of nature, its beauty and delicacy, and the individual’s power to protect it. (Picture book. 3-6)

Tracey, Scott Flux (408 pp.) $9.99 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-3659-4 Series: Witch Eyes, 3 Although he was stripped of his magic in Demon Eyes (2012), Braden is still enmeshed in the power players’ various plots—and he’s sick of being a puppet. The small town of Belle Dam is overflowing with magical heavy hitters such as feuding warlocks Jason Thorpe and Catherine Lansing, demons Lucian and Matthias, and the newly returned town founder (who stole Braden’s powers), Grace Lansing. Colorful supporting characters don’t allow Braden to slip into self-pity over his victimhood, instead pushing him to fight for his life. What they don’t know is that Braden is also fighting a prophecy predicting that he will become a terrible force of destruction and evil. Even without powers, Braden doesn’t lack agency; to evade those who would control him, he digs further into the history of the town and its ruling families. His own family’s history informs his evolving relationship with his father. Multiple desires—revenge against Catherine and Lucian, safety for Trey, the town’s liberation from the feud and Riley’s healing (she’s a casualty of his previous battle with Lucian)—converge in a desperate, dangerous plan that leads Braden down a dark path. Tracey nimbly weaves plot threads and character agendas to create intrigue, double crosses and demonic pacts in a race to a conclusion that will change Belle Dam forever. A clever and thoroughly satisfying end to a strong trilogy. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

DESMOND PUCKET MAKES MONSTER MAGIC

Tatulli, Mark Illus. by Tatulli, Mark Andrews McMeel (240 pp.) $13.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4494-3548-6 Desmond’s monster magic pranks are excellent—but they might get him expelled. Sixth-grader Desmond Pucket loves to pull special-effects pranks: fake blood in the PTO’s coffee cake, a goblin in the teacher’s-lounge toilet, wiggling worms in the cafeteria mashed potatoes. However, Mr. Needles, head of the Cloverfield Memorial Junior High disciplinary office, has had enough. If Desmond doesn’t participate successfully in one extracurricular activity, then Desmond is out. Getting expelled means missing the field trip to Crab Shell Amusement Pier and the chance to finally ride the awesome Mountain Full of Monsters thrill ride. Desmond finds just cleaning up his act won’t cut it because someone’s trying to frame him; can he find out who without losing his ticket to the amusement park? Tatulli’s entry into the comics/fiction–hybrid market is one of the best. Desmond’s discovery of the importance of being himself adds just the right amount of realism and depth to his tale…of course, “himself ” is a prankster and troublemaker, so grown-ups might not appreciate this particular epiphany. Neither will they love the special-effects-prank instructions in the backmatter. The target audience will snap this up and beg for more. Colored illustrations and comics plus the whacked, gross humor and glow-in-the-dark cover make this a must. Sequel promised. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 9-12)

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BONNWIT KABRIT

Turnbull, Elizabeth Illus. by Vaganos, Erin Light Messages (36 pp.) $17.95 | $12.95 paper | $7.99 e-book Oct. 3, 2013 978-1-61153-073-5 978-1-61153-064-3 paper 978-1-61153-065-0 e-book The title of this bedtime book (which borrows both theme and rhythms from Goodnight Moon) means “Goodnight Goat,” and the story is set in different parts of a peaceful, happy Haiti, unlike the country many know only from scenes of disaster on television. Haitian Creole words are used within the rhyming text as a woman—a mother or grandmother—and a little boy walk around house and yard to say good night: “Bonnwit zandolit on the bannan tree”; “Bonnwit bourik at the creek.” Even without the glossary, readers will be able to guess that zandolit means lizard and bourik means donkey from the illustrations. Deeply tinted watercolors have a bit of the look of animated cartoons and show the varied landscapes of the Caribbean country, from |

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“Richly layered imagery draws deeply from the fairy-tale canon as well as Valente’s imagination, while the omniscient narrator adds entertaining social commentary and droll philosophical asides.” from the girl who soared over fairyland and cut the moon in two

the mountains to the sea. As in the great green room, all is calm, but there’s a little more life around, as the granmoun (an elderly person according to the glossary) sleeps on his mat in the lakou (yard), and the waves come to “meet the shore.” With so very few books about Haiti for young children available, this appealingly modest effort is well worth acquiring. Bonnwit. (Picture book. 3-6)

other members of the LGBTQ community are rarely mentioned. When Albert, a fellow student, is badly beaten, Tommy reaches out, sensing Albert is gay and the victim of a hate crime, an action that eventually leads Tommy to found a Gay/Straight Alliance Club. Velásquez paints the issues with a broad brush, portraying the students from the school’s Christian Club as intolerant and giving all characters who display homophobic behavior religious reasoning—an easy polarization that does not line up with reality. Strangely, Tommy’s first-person narration is interspersed with chapters in the voice of therapist Ms. Martínez, an adult, whose story revolves around her suspicion that her younger brother, who committed suicide, was gay. With sometimes-clunky dialogue and minimal characterization, this book is admirable primarily for addressing the plight of gay and lesbian teens in Latino communities. A decent choice for reluctant and struggling readers, as well as those interested in the struggles of gay and lesbian teens. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE GIRL WHO SOARED OVER FAIRYLAND AND CUT THE MOON IN TWO

Valente, Catherynne M. Illus. by Juan, Ana Feiwel & Friends (256 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-250-02350-6 Series: Fairyland, 3

In this luscious sequel to The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (2012), the heroine who twice saved Fairyland returns to save it again and discover her heart’s desire. Home in Omaha, September wears her memories of Fairyland “like a shawl of fabulous gems” and awaits her 14th birthday, certain the winds will return her to Fairyland but a bit fearful Fairyland may not want her because she’s been “trying so hard to be a grown-person.” Then the Blue Wind arrives and winks “her out of the world like a firefly.” This time, September just wants to be in Fairyland, but she once again assumes the role of heroine by agreeing to carry a box to the Whelk of the Moon and confront the giant Yeti who’s causing pieces of the Moon to crash onto Fairyland. Reunited with friends Ell the Wyverary and Saturday the Marid, September finally follows her heart as her lunar adventuring ends. Richly layered imagery draws deeply from the fairy-tale canon as well as Valente’s imagination, while the omniscient narrator adds entertaining social commentary and droll philosophical asides. Like September, readers may leave their hearts in Fairyland. (Fantasy. 10-14)

GROWING UP, INSIDE AND OUT

Vermond, Kira Illus. by Chin, Carl Owlkids Books (104 pp.) $18.95 | $11.95 paper | $11.95 e-book Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-926973-89-0 978-1-77147-004-9 paper 978-1-77147-036-0 e-book With refreshing directness and good humor, this handbook to puberty covers social and emotional as well as physical changes. Reminding her readers that puberty is a gradual process, Vermond talks to them honestly about what to expect during these growing-up years. She encourages them to recognize and accept people’s differences, including their own. Bodily changes, self-esteem issues, emotional ups and downs, feelings and the mixed messages society sends are all addressed—even before she turns to crushes, gender identity and sexual orientation, and the process of moving from crush to relationship to love and sex. She doesn’t avoid difficult topics: bullying, depression, violence, pornography. The sex talk is explicit, but no diagrams are involved. Illustrations are limited to cartoon-style chapter openings; the last one shows a partially undressed couple looking at a condom package. There are sidebars, quotations from experts and questions for readers to ask themselves. Plenty of subheadings break up the text and encourage exploration of specific topics. The lively design is attractive but not overpowering. The text addresses both boys and girls, though a few pages speak directly to one sex or the other. The backmatter suggests a wide range of Web resources for further information and includes an extensive bibliography. This engaging presentation of solid and important information deserves a wide audience. (Nonfiction. 9-15)

TOMMY STANDS TALL

Velásquez, Gloria Piñata Books/Arté Público (108 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 31, 2013 978-1-55885-778-0 Series: Roosevelt High School An issue-driven novel chronicling the experiences of a high school senior and his friends as they deal with issues connected to sexual orientation. Tomás “Tommy” Montoya is a senior at Roosevelt High, previously suicidal and bullied at school because he is gay. The ostracism of gays and lesbians—particularly in Hispanic communities—is a strong theme in the book, though 124

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AN ELEPHANT IN MY BACKYARD

their Happy Bunny Club, which she helped them set up that morning. Vulliamy keeps the energy high in her cartoon illustrations, which brim with color and combine labeled vignettes (almost like rebuses) with sometimes-overbusy spot illustrations. The artwork is nicely accented with collaged items, one slight misstep being the sign that Martha pens, with too-perfect spelling and penmanship, for the new club. Still, Martha’s excitement is infectious, and younger siblings should feel it as well as newly minted students. (Picture book. 4- 7)

Viswanath, Shobha Illus. by Jawa, Sadhvi Karadi Tales (28 pp.) $11.95 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-81-8190-240-5 Did an elephant really follow Maya home from the temple in her Indian village? When she first meets the baby elephant, the animal sneezes, and the little girl says: “Bless you, Acchu.” The homonym appears several times in the text, adding a little “Who’s on First”–type spin to the general confusion of the grown-ups in the house: “Maya, I thought you were an elephant!” exclaims Appa. “No, that’s Acchu!” she replies. “Bless you,” says he. There is no glossary, but Paati and Thatha (grandma and grandpa) and Amma and Appa (mom and dad) are very easy to decipher. None of the adults ever realize that the elephant is in the yard; they just glimpse little parts of it. Maybe it’s a hose? Maybe it’s the end of Maya’s braid? But they still seem to be in the dark until they notice the big mess of banana skins and coconut shells little Acchu has left on the ground. After all, Amma had told Maya exactly what elephants liked to eat. The light, humorous story is illustrated with attractive, amusing watercolors that portray a mischievous girl at play with her animal friend. There’s nothing overt here about rural Indian life—just a simple way to open readers’ imaginations to another part of the world. Many kids will wonder why they too can’t bring an elephant home to play. (Picture book. 3-6)

MUCKERS

Wallace, Sandra Neil Knopf (288 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | $19.99 PLB Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-375-86754-5 978-0-307-98238-4 e-book 978-0-375-96754-2 PLB An unlikely championship is within the grasp of a ragtag group of students just as the mine that supports their town

prepares to close. Felix “Red” O’Sullivan is the best hope to lead his team to a statewide football championship. Unlike other teams in 1950 in Arizona, whites and Latinos play together on the Hartley Muckers. Nevertheless, both groups are aware of the dividing lines: separate Masses, different swimming times at the pool and limits on relationships across the racial divide. Red is also plagued by family difficulties: His father is an alcoholic, and his mother was hospitalized, broken with grief for her older son, who was killed in World War II. For Red, this season will be his last chance to return glory to “Bobby’s school.” It will be a struggle for a school with barely enough players, and whose field is littered with slag and rocks, to defeat bigger and better-equipped teams even as the town continues its inevitable demise. Based on a true story, this is a richly textured portrayal of a small town coping with the economic, political and racial realities of post– World War II America. The storytelling is enhanced by fictional excerpts from local papers that provide additional insight, including the “Social News & Arrests” column as well as want ads in addition to substantive articles. Distinctive characters and finely drawn specifics of locale and landscape set this football story apart. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

MARTHA BUNNY LOVES SCHOOL

Vulliamy, Clara Illus. by Vulliamy, Clara Whitman (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-8075-4976-6

With an enthusiasm that virtually oozes off the pages and infects readers, Martha tells readers all about herself and her preparations for her first day of school. While many going-to-school books are about jitters or routines or school supplies, this one is in a class by itself, focusing on Martha’s close relationship with the younger brothers she’ll be leaving at home and on all her favorite things. Martha’s exuberance for her possessions can be likened to Lilly with her purple plastic purse or Olivia and all her outfits. The morning of Martha’s first day of school is a busy one as she tries to balance her brothers’ need for guidance (and reassurance) with packing her backpack, a hysterical pursuit that has Martha stuffing in everything but the kitchen sink before her mother helps her pare it down. The book ends on just the right note: A schoolloving Martha returns home to join her beloved brothers in |

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“Gott’s brightly colored cartoon illustrations.... teem with action and testosterone.” from dino -wrestling

POPE FRANCIS First Pope from the Americas

stories.” Perhaps due to this technique, the flavor of the stories varies little. All of the voices are remarkably similar and lack the gritty authenticity that the voices of the teens themselves could have provided. The paralyzing anxiety they experienced is unfortunately dampened by the brief, matter-of-fact style of the narrative. “The mean girls knew how to find me. It was beyond scary.” A common, positive theme is that the teens found effective ways to manage their anxiety. The stories provide descriptions of coping tools but not in enough detail to substitute for needed professional help. An afterword offers comfort and advice, as well as a lengthy list of useful resources. Seeming more like a volume therapists might assign their patients to read than one teenagers would pick up on their own, this effort may still provide some assistance to those struggling with anxiety. (Nonfiction. 11-18)

Watson, Stephanie Lerner (48 pp.) $19.95 e-book | $26.60 PLB Nov. 1, 2013 Series: Gateway Biographies 978-1-4677-2186-8 e-book 978-1-4677-2176-9 PLB

A serviceable biography introduces readers to the first pope from the Americas. Beginning with the long wait in Saint Peter’s Square for the white smoke signaling the election of the new pope, the text moves to an exploration of the childhood of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the boy who would become Pope Francis. Facts that bring his story to life (he loved soccer and dancing the tango and has a master’s degree in chemistry) alternate with background details that help readers understand the events that shaped him, including those surrounding his native Argentina’s “dirty war.” Throughout, Watson presents a balanced view of the young Jesuit priest: While the humble man is celebrated for his work with the poor and sick, there are also those who feel he did not do enough to fight the oppressors or aid others. Watson’s portraits of Pope Benedict XVI and the scandals that swirled around him are not as nuanced. And some of her facts about the Catholic Church are incomplete or erroneous; she states the Sistine Chapel is the home to the pope (he lives in the Vatican Palace, not in a church) and that the cardinals are in charge of electing the new pope (they also advise the current pope). For good or for bad, Pope Francis’ life and papacy cannot be separated from the tarnish on today’s Catholic Church, and readers may end up with more questions than answers, though their respect for Pope Francis should grow. (Biography. 9-14)

DINO-WRESTLING

Wheeler, Lisa Illus. by Gott, Barry Carolrhoda (32 pp.) $16.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-0212-6 867-1-46771616-1 e-book Wheeler, that rhyming dino-sports enthusiast, is back, this time with a survey of wrestling styles. Leaving no mat unexplored, this encompasses everything from folkstyle wrestling to Greco-Roman and sumo and everything in between. Combining spot-on rhythms and rhymes with a narrative style that is akin to a sports announcer, the verses fly by as the dinosaurs gather to watch and participate in the DinoWrestling Jamboree. Each style of wrestling gets its own match, with the text often telling a bit about the style, its rules and/ or its equipment. During the lucha libre event, the verse even includes a few Spanish vocabulary words, though, as with other wrestling terms, they are not defined in context: “The crowd goes loco—shouts and boos. / Ouch! That hit will leave a bruise.” Every detail is in Gott’s brightly colored cartoon illustrations— from the different uniforms the participants wear down to the little guy who holds the sign up with the dinosaurs’ species (handy, since Wheeler often shortens them) and wrestling style. They teem with action and testosterone. The text ends on a disturbing note, however—the WWD pro tag-team event turns into a riot, with the participants and fans brawling enough to bring down the tents. Young wrestlers will find all the action and moves they are seeking within these pages, and the dinosaurs and rhymes are an added, entertaining bonus. (Picture book. 5-9)

FREAKING OUT Real-Life Stories About Anxiety

Wells, Polly Illus. by Mitchell, Peter Annick Press (136 pp.) $22.95 | $12.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-55451-545-5 978-1-55451-544-8 paper Thirteen young adults relate their struggles with anxiety. The tales, each occupying a chapter, feature varied causes for the anxiety: Obsessive-compulsive disorder, bullying, grief, drug abuse, a phobia, a learning disorder, chronic illness and developing awareness of homosexuality are all given attention. An opening caveat informs readers that the stories “derive from interviews with young people” and “some elements drawn from different sources have been combined to present hybrid 126

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THE SECRETS OF THE POLAR REGIONS Life on Icebergs and Glaciers at the Poles and Around the World

Kennedy gave to Theodore White, not from JFK’s childhood reading. Winter does not mention the space program but does devote a page to the Cuban missile crisis. He concludes that JFK was flawed, but “his words and his spirit live on.” The only sourcing is one website recommended for further reading. The brevity of the form and the youth of the audience is no excuse for hagiography instead of history. Ford’s full-color paintings reproduce period photographs, some making a very good-looking family appear singularly unattractive. Overwrought and flawed history accompanied by unappealing illustrations. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Wilson, Barbara; León, Vicki London Town Press (48 pp.) $9.95 paper | Nov. 1, 2013 978-0-9799759-0-5 Series: Jean-Michel Cousteau Presents

Bright, sharp nature photos and a special focus on ice-based ecosystems set this survey apart from the usual run of assignment titles on glaciers and the polar regions. Returning continually to the dangerous effects of global warming, the authors describe changes in climate conditions at both poles and explain how those changes affect glaciers and icebergs. Wilson and León go on to introduce threatened or officially endangered life forms that live in those habitats. These range from algae and the glacier flea (“Each night it freezes, hard as a popsicle, to the surface ice until warmer daytime temperatures free it”) to polar bears and penguins. With side glances at Mount Kilimanjaro and the Swiss Alps, the photos capture Arctic foxes in both winter and summer coats, penguins and puffins at their most photogenic, glaciers rolling grandly down to sea and luminous views of sunlit icebergs and a glacial ice cave. Bulleted facts at the end reinforce the message; leads to eco-activist organizations provide readers motivated by it with means to get involved. An updated and more melodramatically titled version of a 1994 title, it sounds warnings that have grown all the more immediate. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

THE BEARS GO TO SCHOOL

Winters, Kay Illus. by Kirkland, Katherine Whitman (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-8075-0592-2 Series: Pete & Gabby

Winters’ Pete and Gabby are back, this time largely avoiding detection while they roam through an elementary school. The empty campground is again the spark for their adventure. As they explore, they come across a large red building and buses unloading kids. “Kids go here!” says Pete. “This place must be fun!” In the same odd semi-anthropomorphism that plagued their first title, the two bears act human—paws over their hearts for the waving flag, hiding to avoid getting caught in the music room, painting paw prints all over the art-room walls, climbing the rock wall in the gym—but at the same time, they scare the lunch ladies (but not the kids) who eventually spy them and require the ranger to come out and arrange to take them back to the park (after petting their heads) in the back of a police cruiser, no tranquilizers required. They also feel sorry for the caged animals in the science room, setting them all free. Kirkland’s watercolors show Gabby with a mouse on her nose and another running down her back, while Pete lies on his back on the floor, a bunny on his belly and a parakeet on his nose. Very unbearlike. No doubt the bears are adorable, and those just starting school may appreciate a new perspective on the going-toschool theme, but, especially in areas where there are real bears roaming the countryside, the mixed message is troubling. (Picture book. 4- 7)

JFK

Winter, Jonah Illus. by Ford, A.G. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-06-176807-1 An homage to the 35th president of the United States, marking the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Winter frames his narrative with personal statements, opening with an anecdote that he was a baby watching on his father’s shoulders in Dallas on November 22 and concluding with a gushy testimonial. In between, he covers the litany of Kennedy’s sickly childhood, World War II heroism, presidential campaign and three years in office, playing into the Kennedy mythology without restraint. The story of the older brother killed in combat and the second son assuming the political mantle is more legend than fact, and Kennedy’s support of the civil rights movement was more conservative than implied. The crux of the West Virginia primary was whether or not a Catholic could carry a Protestant state, not economics. In addition, the Camelot aura arose from an interview Jacqueline |

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“The preschool set will recognize the full spectrum of antics that result from pent-up anger and the occasions that provoke such stormy emotions.” from how do dinosaurs say i’m mad?

FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND? The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation

will recognize the full spectrum of antics that result from pentup anger and the occasions that provoke such stormy emotions. The text follows the familiar series format, posing questions to readers: “When he’s told to sit still, does he kick at a chair? / Does he act as if Mother and Father aren’t there?” This invitation to participate will have readers offering their own opinions on appropriate behavior. On full-bleed, double-page spreads, Teague delivers oversized creatures whose sizes and silly expressions make their actions appear all the more outrageous. Although no new concepts are introduced, not only will this title be a favorite at storytime, it may also serve as a discussion starter about feelings and how best to express and cope with them. (Picture book. 2-5)

Wittenstein, Vicki Oransky Twenty-First Century/Lerner (96 pp.) $26.95 e-book | $35.93 PLB | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-1661-1 e-book 978-1-4677-0659-9 PLB Readers may think twice about going to their next doctor appointment after reading this creepy, unsettling account of human medical experimentation. In a dramatic, engrossing narrative, Wittenstein describes many cringe-inducing examples of the ways doctors have exploited the marginalized, powerless and voiceless of society as human guinea pigs over the centuries. African-Americans, indigenous peoples, concentration-camp inmates, orphans, prisoners, the poor, the mentally ill and disabled have been subjected to injections of lethal diseases, ingestion of radioactive materials, exposure to poisons, surgical procedures and other horrors. Some experiments did lead to important discoveries and breakthroughs, but readers are challenged to consider the costs of violating individual rights for the cause of advancing medical knowledge. Drawing on a variety of sources, including contemporary newspaper articles, medical journals and, in at least one case, a personal interview, the author lays out this troubling history. She also documents the evolution of medical ethics and the establishment of procedures for things like clinical trials for new drug treatments. Sidebars offer additional information, filling in the cracks on related issues such as eugenics and thalidomide babies. Photographs, some not particularly well reproduced, illustrate the account. A harrowing, often gruesome, exploration of some of the darkest moments in medical history. (source notes, bibliography, suggestions for further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

PALACE OF SPIES

Zettel, Sarah Harcourt (368 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-544-07411-8 Series: Palace of Spies, 1 A rollicking spy caper in corsets. In 1716 London, gimlet-eyed Peggy is 16 and orphaned, living off the charity of her beloved cousin’s family. When her grim, unsentimental uncle arranges a marriage of convenience to a brute, Peggy’s adventure begins. In desperation, she accepts the help of Mr. Tinderflint, a mysterious stranger who claims to have known her mother and offers her an outlandish escape. When she finds herself in the court of King George I, having assumed the identity of a maid of honor (now secretly and suspiciously deceased) in the Princess of Wales’ entourage, her own skepticism about the plausibility of the scheme is part of the fun. Ostensibly there to spy for her employer, she quickly learns that all is not as it seems, and she’s left to suss out the motivations of both her friends and enemies while staying one step ahead of them all. In less adept hands, this would be formulaic folderol, but Zettel arms her narrator with a rapier wit; Peggy is observant and winningly funny as she recounts the intrigues, flirtations and dangers she encounters at court. The tale is studded with rich period descriptions of the foods, fashions and foibles of royal protocols. This witty romp will delight fans of historical fiction as well as mystery lovers. (Mystery/historical fiction. 12 & up)

HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY I’M MAD?

Yolen, Jane Illus. by Teague, Mark Blue Sky/Scholastic (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-545-14315-8

Yolen and Teague continue their bestselling series with a comic look at what dinosaurs might and then should do when

they are angry. Whether a Barapasaurus sticks his sizable tongue out or a Scaphognathus pouts or a Sauropelta throws things, tantrums and bad behavior come to an end through counting to 10 or having a timeout or breathing calmly. Messes are then cleaned up, apologies are given, and hugs are exchanged. The preschool set 128

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interactive e-books

mother and daughter live happily ever after. The illustrations are cleanly drawn but rather staid, depicting Nigerian figures in brightly patterned dress and village settings. They are brightened up both by a chorus that sings a song to the Iroko Spirit in one scene but can be heard in the background throughout and by a particularly lively, accented narrator. Options include autoplay, suppressed text (though that also hides the occasional popup window containing cultural side notes), and access to both the menu and a thumbnail page index available from any screen. Three tile games are tacked on at the end. There are no in-app purchases, though sending feedback requires registration. A bland digital alternative to Phillis Gershator and Holly C. Kim’s Iroko-Man (1994) that, in its own mild but firm way, makes points about respecting nature and keeping promises. (iPad folktale. 6-8)

PUNKY DUNK AND THE GOLDFISH

Riley Animation Studios FamLoop $2.99 | Jun. 13, 2013 1.2.2; Jun. 27, 2013 Series: Agent Magic Investigates Another tepid iPad adaptation of the 1912 children’s storybook. There are perks to publishing a book that has no known author; namely, it’s royalty-free. That may or may not be the reason that this story has once again been imagined for iPad, but the bottom line is that this newest version doesn’t make much more of a splash than the 2011 iteration from Moo Goo Media did. The one exception in this edition is a cute little mouse, Agent Magic, who guides readers through the story and others in his series. Every once in a while, Agent Magic asks for recordable reader feedback and then parrots it back in a marginally disguised voice. There are other interactive “games”—numbering goldfish or drawing food, for example—but there aren’t many active hotspots beyond poking the cat’s nose or splashing water in his face. (Neither is newsworthy.) Readers can make a personalized Secret Agent ID card by tapping to take a photo, and there’s an adults-only family area where screenshots and drawings can be uploaded to Facebook or sent via email. Parents can create an online account with the developer, which allows for avatar selection and a personal photo of the grownup, but the point of it all isn’t readily apparent. Combining the pleasantly narrated, yet uninspiring original rhyming text with slick, standard-looking graphics doesn’t add much to this old yarn. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

PLANES STORYBOOK DELUXE

Disney Publishing Worldwide Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications $6.99 | Jul. 11, 2013 1.1; Jul. 24, 2013

A thoroughly enjoyable, hands-on aviation app twined with a story of the little plane that could, from Disney. Dusty is a lowly crop-duster, but he has big plans: entering the Wings Around the Globe Race and showing the world just what a crop-duster can do. When he starts showing his stuff, other planes—especially Skipper, the old warplane, who has a surprise story of his own—come to his aid when needed. This is often, since there are thugs and betrayers out there wishing Dusty nothing but a crash landing. The story has its moments— lots of camaraderie and the glories of resolve—but two non-narrative elements really give this app its varoom. The first is the artwork, which emphasizes the fairy-tale quality of the story while coaxing a distinctly exotic feel from such locales as China, India, Mexico and an aircraft carrier. Even cooler, readers pilot the planes by tilting the iPad this way and that to fly through circles and collect fuel, with the ability to choose different levels of difficulty and different planes to fly. Plus, there are 6 languages to select from, so readers can brush up on their French as they try to get Dusty through an ice storm or a Swiss tunnel. Fine amusement, elegant illustrations and a decentenough story—and readers can play on as independent pilots to their hearts’ content. (iPad movie tie-in app. 6-10)

OLURONBI

Adegbembo, Adebayo; Genii Games Genii Games $0.99 | Jul. 10, 2013 1.0; Jul. 10, 2013 A rhythmic Swahili song, a gender switch and a grafted-on happy ending sweeten this version of a West African tale about a childless woman who makes a rash promise to a tree spirit. Being “young, married and barren,” Oluronbi travels to the Iroko tree to ask for a child. Being proud and also either greedy or pigheaded (this is never made clear), instead of begging, she rudely demands a beautiful daughter—and instead of the traditional offering of goods, she promises said daughter to the tree after five years. Of course she reneges on that promise, but when the tree’s spirit (female here, male in other versions) seizes the child, so great is her remorse that the spirit gives it back and |

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SHOUT SCIENCE!

Missing punctuation is also a problem, as in this exchange: “ ‘Hello’ said the Alien ‘Hello’ said Betty”. On multiple pages, the navigation is broken; despite a “back” arrow, readers cannot do so. Amateurish, but blessedly brief and undeniably heartfelt, Betty’s trip to space is a small step back for app-kind. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)

Dubois, Scott Scott Dubois $0.00 | Jul. 20, 2013 1.0; Jul. 20, 2013

This app focuses on the research of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) and James Hutton (1726-1797)—not exactly titans on par with Galileo and Newton but unquestionably critical Enlightenment figures. The figures’ relative obscurity is actually an asset, as the storytelling focus gives the biographies an element of surprise and something for young readers to relate to: All three are depicted as precocious outsiders who persuaded the establishment of the value of their findings through hard work. For instance, Merian, a pioneer in the study of metamorphosis, is shown trying to communicate her research from girlhood through middle age, ultimately successfully. The cartoon artwork features a bright and pastel-heavy palette, with a simple swipe-up movement to page through the story. Users are encouraged to touch animated circles and word bubbles, though they’re only moderately engaging—a recited passage from Hutton’s research paper or a close-up of a bee’s face scrutinized through van Leeuwenhoek’s microscope. Additional informational pages for each scientist include a more thorough timeline, a fuller description of the era and scientific concepts, and brief bibliographies. It’s a pity the app is so relatively static, though: The lack of animation in the chapter on Hutton’s research into erosion and subterranean heat, for instance, seems like a missed opportunity. Though it doesn’t take full advantage of its medium, a playful introduction to a trio of core scientific theories. (Requires iOS 6.1+) (iPad informational app. 7-11)

PAN: THE FEARLESS BERIBOLT

Hullabalu Hullabalu $3.99 | Jun. 6, 2013 1.01; Jun. 6, 2013

Laser-crisp illustrations and a handful of gussied-up interactions aren’t enough to overcome this app’s significant design flaws, squeaky-voiced, vapid dialogue, and paper-thin storyline. This app has major functionality issues from the beginning. Readers can supposedly switch narration on or off from the home page, but even when it’s set to “off,” the narrator dramatically reads text on the opening screen. Readers will likely find it highly confusing if not maddening to navigate from there, as the accessibility of the text, the dialogue and the directions are inconsistent and confusing in narrator-off mode. The story itself is weak and fragmented. Pandora, aka “Pan,” is the panda daughter of elders who disappeared while trying to explore ancient winds gone awry. Eventually, she learns about her parents and resolves to help find them, but none of the narrative detours before that realization serve that plot at all. The app ends as Pan runs away to find her parents, which of course necessitates waiting for Book 2 (countdown included) to see if she finds them. Though the Beribolts are supposedly an exotic, cloud-dwelling tribe, Pandora and her friends sound like a cross between gangsters and spoiled reality show divas. Though there are a few showy boomerang games, exploding fireworks and dancing night bugs, this story is nothing more than literary cotton candy. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

BETTY IN SPACE

Hardy, Emma Illus. by Hardy, Emma Emma Hardy $0.00 | May 29, 2013 1.0; May 29, 2013

THE LOST SOCK

A child flies solo into space and makes a friend in an unremarkable story marred by sloppy text and a dearth of

Karp, Rodrigo Illus. by Karp, Rodrigo Sign Production $1.99 | Jul. 30, 2013 1.0; Jun. 30, 2013

features. Betty says goodbye to her family before she flies into space on an orange rocket ship. On the surface of the moon, where the helmeted Betty sits and enjoys a mug of tea (which also wears a space helmet), she encounters a green alien named George. After George gets over his own fear of the alien who has invaded his home, he agrees to eat dinner with Betty’s family, ending Betty’s uneventful episode of space travel. It seems churlish to pick on an app that looks like it was made on a shoestring, but the writing, lackluster artwork and sparse features (which consist only of some very minor animation) make it impossible to recommend. 130

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Children will enjoy the novelty of navigating around 3-D rooms to follow this story, but unfortunately, this app still leaves much to be desired. Jill, a bright orange sock, is certainly a devoted friend. When she realizes her sock-mate, Jack, is missing, she sets out to find him before their little boy, Johnny, wakes up. Young children will find it amusing to think of their socks wandering |

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“In its gorgeous app form, the lines among book, TV show and interactive experience are blurred by a design that gives readers control of the flow of the app without getting in the way of the story.” from charlie brown’s all-stars!

MONSTER HOLIDAY

off in the middle of the night to play. As they follow Jill’s hunt, readers navigate through the story using directional arrows reminiscent of early video games. Tapping the arrows reveals that the text is written on the walls of the rooms in Johnny’s house, which “rotate” around the reader; pressing the up or down arrows “moves” readers from room to room. While the writing is quite active, the illustrations are oddly static, lacking motion and details that might develop the story. When Jill “[runs] into the kitchen and searche[s] every corner of the room,” the picture just shows a hohum kitchen stove and cupboards. The text dominates many of the pages, filling more space than the illustrations. This imbalance slows the pacing of what should be an exciting hunt. The canned music is an orchestral mismatch and drowns out the narration; at least it can easily be turned off. Sadly, the originality of this app’s design is not supported by illustrations that extend the story. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Mevec, Edith Ann Illus. by Munoz, Franca Purple Ely $1.99 | Jul. 20, 2013 1.0; Jul. 20, 2013

Peter and Peril, two little monster siblings from the charming storybook app Monster Morning (2013), return for a family

holiday overseas. “A holiday is a special time/ to relax, have fun and play. / To travel somewhere different,/ be it close or far away.” The Monsterssori family has decided to head to the beach, and there are many things they have to do before they get there. This sweet story takes preschoolers through each step of going on a holiday: deciding what to pack, going to the airport, getting to the beach and making friends. Like many children, Peril is feeling “slightly nervous; / it’s her first time on a plane.” Just as she feels better with her monster mom’s reassurance, young readers will gain confidence in reading about the different aspects of travel. The digital cartoon illustrations have a goofy appeal, with their googly-eyed monsters, bright colors and many patterns. The rhyming text is pleasant, though it has occasional trouble with the scansion. The interactive features are limited, with an overreliance on arbitrarily bouncing, twirling figures, but they keep with the pleasant tone of the story. A sweet story that can help little monsters know what to expect when traveling for a holiday. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

THE BOOK OF HOLES

Lange, Poul Illus. by Lange, Poul Chocolate Factory Publishing $4.99 | Jul. 25, 2013 1.0; Jul. 25, 2013 An airy introduction to holes of, mostly, the anatomical sort with touch-activated effects that run the scale from whimsical

to hilariously edgy. Preserving the format of the original Danish print edition (with a black dot in place of the die-cut hole), this digital version alternates white screens of text printed in curved lines— read expressively in a childlike voice—with thematically related Monty Python–style collages. Practically every element in each collage will drift, drop, spin, chime, blink, mutter or otherwise respond to taps. Along with defining useful new words like “anus” and “nostril” (“The boogers come from your nostrils”), the presentation not only covers bodily orifices, but also black holes and the Big Bang, dental cavities, and holes in nature or around the house. Particular highlights include a mouth that pronounces the word for “mouth” in nine languages and a not-exactly-graphic look at reproduction: “It is certain that you entered this world through a hole. But that’s a long story. Ask your dad….” Several of the collages feature items that can be played like musical instruments or, as on a face with scrambled features, require rearranging. An icon on every page leads to a thumbnail index and a key to all the interactive extras. Educational and entertaining—and tailor-made to spark stimulating interchanges between younger children and unwary grown-ups. (iPad informational app. 2-5)

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CHARLIE BROWN’S ALL-STARS!

Schulz, Charles M. Illus. by Schulz, Charles M. Loud Crow Interactive $3.99 | Jun. 19, 2013 1.1; Jun. 24, 2013

An adaptation of a 1966 baseballthemed Peanuts TV special preserves Schulz’s gloomy wisdom in seamlessly designed fashion. Though it’s less well-known source material than A Charlie Brown Christmas, this tale is similar in tone, with realistically spiky exchanges and loads of anxiety for Charlie Brown, manager of a losing baseball team. This being Schulz, Charlie Brown must suffer unending verbal abuse and dashed hopes before a not-quite-happy ending. In its gorgeous app form, the lines among book, TV show and interactive experience are blurred by a design that gives readers control of the flow of the app without getting in the way of the story. Scenes are self-contained and easy to navigate, featuring voice clips from the original program, narration by original Linus actor Christopher Shea and familiar music by Vince Guaraldi, all edited expertly to sync with the pages. Action features, including interactive pitching, hitting, surfing and skateboarding, are worked unobtrusively into the narrative. A stand-alone scene that introduces the swipe-to-navigate mechanism before the story starts |

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“The sum of striking visuals, smartly restrained audio cues, subtle voice acting, unobtrusive narration and navigation, and always-relevant iPad interactive elements is more resonant than overwhelming.” from midnight feast

MIDNIGHT FEAST

is an impressive fusion of comic-strip panels and subtle motion cues. That the app doesn’t resort to replicating TV animation and instead opts for the paper cut-out style that is a signature of the developer is another smart design choice. It all comes together perfectly in this top-notch take on Peanuts—an easy home run. (iPad storybook app. 3-10)

Stace, Lynley Illus. by Stace, Lynley Slap Happy Larry $3.99 | Jul. 30, 2013 1.0; Jul. 30, 2013

An intricate, sophisticated and dreamy story of a teen’s hunger for not only food, but the world she’s built in her imagination. In a near future where drought and poverty are the norm, teenage Roya longs for a rich midnight feast so she might forget her worn surroundings—but when she finally stays up for it, is not what she hoped. As with developer Slap Happy Larry’s previous effort, The Artifacts (2011), this app is packed with telling details, ripe artwork and an underlying melancholy. Moody, dark-hued painted pages detailing Roya’s daily life alternate with “B-pages” in which Roya’s mind fills with daydreams, nightmares or literal interpretations of things she hears or thinks; when she imagines her parents laughing their heads off, it’s shown. Many of Roya’s mental wanderings are less disturbing and more transcendent: She imagines a dance hall of shadowy partners in the body of her father’s guitar or a movie theater filling with popcorn. The sum of striking visuals, smartly restrained audio cues, subtle voice acting, unobtrusive narration and navigation, and always-relevant iPad interactive elements is more resonant than overwhelming. Younger readers may be confused and spooked by some of the story’s content; there’s an option to eliminate the “scary sauce” in the story (cleverly represented by a ketchup bottle). Beautiful, haunting and completely original, Roya’s tale is a 12-course meal of intelligent storytelling. (activities, reading notes) (iPad storybook app. 9-16)

THE MAGICAL TISSUES Scognamiglio, Eva Read Forward LLC $1.99 | Jun. 19, 2013 1; Jun. 19, 2013

An enchanted pack of hankies grants wishes to a sick little girl. Arianna has a nasty cold, so her mother offers her a package of tissues that belonged to her grandmother, who is now deceased. After sneezing, Arianna blows her nose while wishing she felt better, and she is miraculously cured. Suddenly, the room is filled with bright light, and Arianna comes face to face with what is, for all practical purposes, her fairy god-hankie. Arianna has four remaining wishes—one for each tissue left in the package. Drawing exclusively from her fascination with classic children’s stories, the girl wishes to be the Little Mermaid, Peter Pan and Cinderella, though she breezes through the experiences without exploring them very fully. (Seriously, what little girl skips going to the ball because “she’d already had her fun”?) The layout alternates text and illustration screens, and interaction is minimal with two small exceptions. On one page, eight items often found it a sick person’s bedside can be shuffled around the page, either by flinging or dragging them, or by tilting the device. And on another page, Arianna is covered in a pile of books that shoot all over the screen when tapped. There are other tactile features, but they’re altogether unremarkable. This story is shallow, and the interactivity is weak. Perhaps Arianna should use the remaining tissue to wish for a more substantive app. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

This Issue’s Contributors # Alison Anholt-White • Mark Athitakis • Kim Becnel • Elizabeth Bird • Marcie Bovetz • 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 • Laurie Flynn • Omar Gallaga • Laurel Gardner • Barbara A. Genco • Judith Gire • Carol Goldman • Faye Grearson • Jessie C. Grearson • Melinda Greenblatt • Heather L. Hepler • Megan Honig • Julie Hubble • Kathleen T. Isaacs • Laura Jenkins • Betsy Judkins • Deborah Kaplan • K. Lesley Knieriem • Megan Dowd Lambert • Angela Leeper • Peter Lewis • Lori Low • Wendy Lukehart • Meredith Madyda • Lauren Maggio • Joan Malewitz • Hillias J. Martin • Jeanne McDermott • Shelly McNerney • Kathie Meizner • Kathleen Odean • Deb Paulson • John Edward Peters • Susan Pine • Melissa Rabey • Rebecca Rabinowitz • Kristy Raffensberger • Nancy Thalia Reynolds • Lesli Rodgers • Erika Rohrbach • Ronnie Rom • Leslie L. Rounds • Katie Scherrer • Mary Ann Scheuer • Dean Schneider • Hillary Foote Schwartz • Stephanie Seales • Karyn N. Silverman • Robin Smith • Karin Snelson • Edward T. Sullivan • Jennifer Sweeney • Deborah D. Taylor • Jessica Thomas • Monica Wyatt • Melissa Yurechko

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continuing series CAM JANSEN AND THE SPAGHETTI MAX MYSTERY

Adler, David A. Illus. by Allen, Joy Viking (64 pp.) $14.99 | Oct. 3, 2013 978-0-670-01260-2 Series: Cam Jansen (Mystery. 7-10)

THE PLANET OF THE GIANT

AMY MEETS HER STEPSISTER

YOU DON’T KNOW ME LIKE THAT

Also:

Blade, Adam Scholastic (128 pp.) $4.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-545-42770-8 Series: Deep Dive, 4 (Adventure. 7-10)

978-1-4677-1519-5 paper 978-0-7613-8760-2 PLB

THE PLANET OF LIBRIS

978-1-4677-1520-1 paper 978-0-7613-8761-9 PLB

THE PLANET OF LUDOKAA

978-1-4677-1521-8 paper 978-0-7613-8762-6 PLB

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

Austen, Jane Adapter: Sach, Lawrence Illus. by Nagulakonda, Rajesh Campfire (40 pp.) $16.99 paper | Oct. 29, 2013 978-93-80028-74-3 Series: Campfire Graphic Classics (Graphic novel. 12 & up)

Daneshvari, Gitty Little, Brown (240 pp.) $13.00 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-316-22254-9 Series: Monster High, 3 (Fiction. 8-12)

I AM ALICE

Adrien, Gilles; Broders, Alain Adapter: Bruneau, Clotilde Illus. by Élyum Studio Graphic Universe (56 pp.) $7.95 paper | $26.60 PLB Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-1518-8 paper 978-0-7613-8759-6 PLB Series: Little Prince Graphic Novels, 9-12 (Graphic fantasy. 9-14)

THE PLANET OF THE TRAINIACS

WHO’S THAT GHOULFRIEND?

Barkley, Callie Illus. by Riti, Marsha Little Simon (128 pp.) $15.99 | $4.99 paper Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4424-8216-6 978-1-4424-8215-9 paper Series: Critter Club, 5 (Fiction. 5-7)

Delany, Joseph Illus. by Arrasmith, Patrick Greenwillow (448 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-06-171513-4 Series: Last Apprentice, 12 (Horror. 13 & up)

Billingsley, ReShonda Tate KTeen (256 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7582-8953-7 Series: Rumor Central, 2 (Fiction. 14 & up)

WHO STOLE NEW YEAR’S EVE?

Freeman, Martha Holiday House (192 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-8234-2750-5 Series: Chickadee Court mystery, 5 (Mystery. 8-12)

KRAYA THE BLOOD SHARK

SPACE EXPLORATION

Green, Dan Illus. by Basher, Simon Kingfisher (64 pp.) $12.99 | $7.99 paper Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7534-7164-7 978-0-7534-7165-4 paper Series: Basher Basics (Nonfiction. 8-12)

ATTACK OF THE BULLIES

Buckley, Michael Illus. by Beavers, Ethen Amulet/Abrams (304 pp.) $15.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0857-2 Series: NERDS, 5 (Adventure. 8-12)

REVEALED

Cast, P.C.; Cast Kristin St. Martin’s Griffin (320 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-312-59443-5 Series: House of Night, 11 (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

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continuing series DEATH AND THE GIRL HE LOVES

KEEP FRIENDS CLOSE, EMERALDS CLOSER

Jones, Darynda St. Martin’s Griffin (272 pp.) $9.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-312-62522-1 Series: Death and…, 3 (Paranormal romance. 12-18)

SCHOOL PLAY

Nees, Susan Illus. by Nees, Susan Branches/Scholastic (96 pp.) $15.99 | $4.99 paper Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-545-49611-7 978-0-545-43853-7 paper Series: Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe, 3 (Fiction. 6-8)

Kenney, Sean Christy Ottaviano/Holt (32 pp.) $12.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-8050-9692-7 Series: Legos by Sean Kenney (Picture book. 4-9)

DESERT TALES

Marr, Melissa Harper/HarperCollins (272 pp.) $9.99 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-06-228756-4 Series: Wicked Lovely (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

NANCY CLANCY SEES THE FUTURE

O’Connor, Jane Illus. by Glasser, Robin Preiss Harper/HarperCollins (128 pp.) $9.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-06-208297-8 Series: Nancy Clancy, 3 (Fiction. 6-10)

LULU My Glamorous Life

May, Kyla Illus. by May, Kyla Branches/Scholastic (96 pp.) $15.99 | $4.99 paper Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-545-49618-6 978-0-545-44516-0 paper Series: Lotus Lane, 3 (Fiction. 6-8)

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Rennison, Louise HarperTeen (320 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-06-222620-4 Series: Misadventures of Tallulah Casey, 3 (Fiction. 12 & up)

McLean, Hope Scholastic (144 pp.) $5.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-545-60764-3 Series: Jewel Society, 3 (Fiction. 8-12)

COOL CREATIONS IN 35 PIECES

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THE TAMING OF THE TIGHTS

QUARANTINE

Phelan, James KTeen (256 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7582-8070-1 Series: Alone, 3 (Horror. 14 & up)

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ALWAYS DANCE WITH A HAIRY BUFFALO

Winkler, Henry; Oliver, Lin Scholastic (192 pp.) $17.99 | $7.99 paper Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-545-29890-2 978-0-545-29885-8 paper Series: Ghost Buddy, 4 (Fantasy. 10-12)


indie JON HERSEY— INDUSTRIAL SPY

This title earned the Kirkus Star:

Ardo, Leo N. iUniverse (102 pp.) $9.95 paper | $3.99 e-book | Oct. 8, 2012 978-1-4759-5178-3

DYSTOPIA NOW by Harvey Hiestand............................................. 140

Debut novelist Ardo offers a unique, concise novella about a young widower who finds redemption through politically motivated corporate espionage. Jon Hersey, a superstar business consultant, struggles with depression after losing his wife, Alissa, to cancer. Some months after her death, Hersey resumes business travel in his capacity as a business analyst for Biz Planners, LLC. En route to Dallas, he encounters a friendly businessman named Daryl Alexander in the airport. On his return flight, Hersey finds himself bumped up to first class and coincidentally seated near Alexander. During the flight, Alexander reveals that Hersey has been under prolonged surveillance by Zeta Consulting Group, a nonprofit organization in which Alexander is one of several employees. Zeta is interested in hiring Hersey because of his former training as a Navy SEAL and his impressive business savvy. They want him to work as a corporate/ political spy, helping to uncover and thwart schemes by American corporate contractors that undermine the political agenda of the U.S. government. After getting past his initial shock, Hersey decides to give Zeta a shot, partially due to his enthusiasm for thwarting terrorism but also due to discontentedness with his current existence. The story unfolds mostly in a close third-person narrative, though it periodically shifts into other characters’ perspectives, which tends to disrupt the otherwise well-crafted tale. Also included are touching flashbacks of Hersey with his late wife that give color to Hersey’s loss and elucidate his decision to pursue an unconventional, high-risk career path. Although the story requires a substantial suspension of disbelief regarding the nature of spy recruitment in corporate America, as well as the effectiveness of certain investigative tactics, Ardo provides complex, chilling portrayals of corporations abetting terrorism. His ability to create likable characters will have readers rooting for Hersey from the start. A thrilling, adventurous novel that will appeal especially to readers interested in business recon.

DYSTOPIA NOW

Hiestand, Harvey Air Raid Press (482 pp.) $12.49 paper | Nov. 6, 2013 978-0-9893149-8-5

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“Refreshingly, [Barry’s] honesty, a key factor in his business success, extends to his writing.” from reflections of a successful dropout

TANGLED EXPECTATIONS

his parents were pursuing economic stability—and seeking to escape the social castigation caused by his father’s alcoholism. Despite his father’s binges and his mother’s emotional distance, Barry avoided serious trouble in his youth, although his school years were marked by subpar performance. Early fatherhood and marriage forced him to grow up quickly, and he resolved to do better than his parents did. Armed with a keen grasp of human nature, a finely honed set of sales skills and immense determination, Barry made the most of the opportunities that came his way. He began a real estate career in 1960 that, over the next five decades, would make him a multimillionaire. It also provided him with a keen sense of purpose, which helped him get through a handful of personal tragedies and setbacks. Although this book is nominally a memoir, the bulk of its central section focuses on successful and unsuccessful real estate deals brokered over the course of Barry’s career. His enthusiasm, genial humility and intelligent analysis keep the readability high, and he ably explains complex transactions and analyzes the characters of past investment partners. Only near the end of this section does the narrative momentum flag, and Barry, seeming to understand this, switches back to more personal material. Refreshingly, the author’s honesty, a key factor in his business success, extends to his writing; he doesn’t shy away from negative aspects of his personality or his feelings about specific people, which reinforces his credibility. Barry’s upbeat attitude and clear prose make this memoir a pleasant, enjoyable read.

Asselin, Cathy FriesenPress (264 pp.) $34.99 | $21.99 paper | $4.99 e-book Jun. 12, 2013 978-1-4602-1309-4 One woman’s journey through illness and alternative medicine. In 1995, author Asselin began experiencing strange bouts of muscle weakness and was quickly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Finding conventional Western medicine harsh and uncaring, Asselin turned to alternative methods, primarily in the form of bodywork and chiropractic therapy from two healers. They become her guides on a journey of self-discovery and healing that, contrary to similar books, doesn’t end in unequivocal success or monolithic pronouncements about medicine, the body or the nature of reality. Though she believes “MS is a pretty harsh lesson but it was probably the best lesson for me,” Asselin never strays into sappy pronouncements or heavyhanded spirituality. Her breezy, funny writing, with its healthy mix of skepticism and openness, makes for brisk reading. The author experiences ups and downs with all of her treatments, as well as in her relationships with her parents, well-meaning friends and assistants, all of whom have varying responses to her changing body and abilities. A large part of the book explores how her inner demons—self-doubt, guilt and fear, among others—affected her health, with quotes and theories from various writers and thinkers, including Ram Dass, Richard Bach and Don Miguel Ruiz. Though this section meanders and is slightly less personable than others, it remains interesting and thought-provoking, peppered with Asselin’s enthusiastic and wry voice. A harrowing bus accident breaks up this section, and the author’s surprising resiliency would seem to indicate that alternative therapies work, but she never flat-out attributes her well-being to any one modality, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions. Those curious about alternative medicine will find this book refreshing, engaging and inspiring. Both serious and fun; a gripping, moving account.

THE ANGEL CONNECTION Barton, Judith Anne Blue Heron Press (394 pp.) $13.93 paper | $9.99 e-book Jun. 21, 2013 978-0-615-68742-1

In this romantic thriller, mysterious convergences link two lives separated by 100 years. In 1996, after her reputation, marriage, career as a TV journalist, and relationship with her adult son, Chad, are trashed, Morgan Reed starts over in Milltown, Pa., a village in beautiful Bucks County. She feels drawn there, particularly to the 200-year-old former rectory that she buys. In 1895, Evangeline Laury, minister’s wife and mother to a small boy, feels stifled in provincial Milltown. She misses the cultured life she’d led in Philadelphia and her painting, especially when she learns that a local American impressionist, the charismatic Daniel Duvall, is giving lessons. As Morgan, with the help of her handsome but mercurial neighbor Victor, works on a documentary about 1895 Milltown, she uncovers more spooky parallels between her life and Evangeline’s. Both women, desperate for love and connection, are guiltily caught between competing attractions and responsibilities, whether for a husband, lover, child or work, and both women will experience the tragic death of someone close. In her debut novel, Barton writes lush descriptions of beauty and desire, with interesting historical

REFLECTIONS OF A SUCCESSFUL DROPOUT Sort of a How To Story Barry, Val Joey Winters (560 pp.) $19.95 paper | $9.99 e-book Dec. 28, 2012 978-0-9855635-3-0

A real estate mogul’s good-natured memoir and guide to salesmanship. In this book, Barry demonstrates the role that the golden rule played throughout his long, successful career. He draws a rich portrait of his childhood, during which his family moved to Missouri, Washington state and California; 136

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details, many of which seem borrowed from real-life American impressionist painter Daniel Garber and his Bucks County studio at Cuttalossa Farm. (Black-and-white historical photos in the book go uncredited.) Though the narrative works to account for Morgan’s needy self-pity and Evangeline’s blind desire, readers might feel less sympathy than the writer intends, especially since other characters pay the ultimate price for the women’s culpability. In particular, deeply emotional Evangeline’s self-punishing guilt becomes internal melodrama. When Victor very reasonably objects to involving sullen, hard-drinking Chad on the documentary project, it’s a welcome moment of sensibleness: “It is not my problem to save your son.” Emotional, doom-tinged and spooky, with two deeply flawed heroines.

Steeped in teen martyrdom and paranoia about the total surveillance society, the narrative depends too much on plot contrivances, and the violence, profanity and sexual menace are a bit heavy for YA fare. The story wraps up rather patly, but the fictive world is sure to pull readers in. An imaginative, engrossing work of speculative fiction, like an Edward Snowden rewrite of The Hunger Games.

WORK STANDING UP The Life and Art of Paul Fontaine

Chidester, Claudia Fontaine—Ed. Fontaine Archive, LLC. (208 pp.) $65.00 | Jun. 22, 2013 978-0-9888358-1-8

THE BURNING OF CHERRY HILL

An exhibition catalog, published on the occasion of a recent retrospective at Baylor University’s Martin Museum, focuses on the three artistic periods of a forgotten American painter. This book commemorates the centennial of Fontaine’s birth and consists of a preface and biography by the author, the artist’s youngest daughter, a foreword by Baylor University art history professor Kate Robinson Edwards, and essays on Fontaine’s career by art historians Margaret Senz and Mary Brantl and artist Robert Linsley. (Chidester notes that this year is also the 100th anniversary of the famous New York Armory Show that changed the world of modern art.) Fontaine doesn’t fit neatly into any genre, category or regional school of painters; Linsley, in his essay, refers to the painter’s work as “cosmopolitan modernism,” and in an “artist statement” written in 1949, Fontaine called his work “non-objective pictures.” “All art, just as time, is in transition,” he wrote. He tackled surrealism of the Giorgio de Chirico variety and painted WPA murals steeped in realism, regionalism and social commentary. He was born in Massachusetts of French-Canadian parents, and at the age of 8, he drew an upside-down car good enough to get him into the Worcester Art Museum School of Art. Reproductions of some of his early figure studies from the late 1930s convey his natural gift for drawing. He later earned his bachelor of fine arts at Yale University in 2 1/2 years (it normally takes takes five), and in 1941, he and his new wife, Virginia, began a long life together as expats. He followed his artistic vision wherever it took him, including Darmstadt, Germany, from 1953 to 1970, where he served as the art director for the European edition of Stars and Stripes. Chidester’s well-researched yet intimate biography relies on extensive correspondence and diaries and manages to bring her father’s long-overlooked career to life. She and her fellow essayists brilliantly demonstrate the progress and processes of the artist, who left behind an estimated 600 works in public and private hands. Many of his later, lively, abstract paintings are reproduced in eye-popping color. An engaging revival of a talented, expat painter who was overshadowed by his midcentury contemporaries.

Butler, A. K. Flexion House (334 pp.) $16.00 paper | $3.99 e-book Mar. 1, 2013 978-0-9885004-1-9 Kids battle totalitarian sadists in this searing sci-fi novel. In the year 2159, roughly a century after World War III, young teenager Zay Scot and his little sister, Lina, are living an idyllic life of chores and gin rummy on Block Island. Then stormtroopers invade, burn the place, apparently kill their parents, Tavish and Ava, and haul the kids off to the mainland capital of the United North American Alliance. Like any dystopia, UNAA is a mixed bag. There are floating cars, helpful hover-bots that deliver personalized meals, awesome virtual-reality combat games at the skyscraper game center, and implanted scanners by which the government tracks everything citizens do, buy and email—for the citizens’ safety and convenience, of course. But there’s a downside: Dickensian foster homes; strict curfews; constant spying by yet more robots and cameras; the ever-present threat of electroshock-lashings from black-uniformed goons and their psychotic supervisors; and the experimental drugs they secretly sprinkle into those ready-to-eat robo-meals. Zay’s refusal to log in to the all-seeing computer system plunges him into hot water, and with the help of a dissident underground, he and Lina set out to find the truth about their parents and a giant gulag known as Cherry Hill. Butler’s yarn unfolds in punchy but evocative prose that’s full of well-realized characters. Although the political economy of this imperfect future doesn’t make a wholly reasonable amount of sense, the portrayal of its mechanisms of control is chillingly effective. Characters languish in an oppressive sense of helplessness under a state so domineering that citizens can’t share a bite of food without the government’s permission; in the background is an unspoken but ubiquitous brutality that emerges with gruesome realism in the electroshock scenes, which are both convincing and hard to read with their mixture of workaday jocularity and devilish cruelty. |

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MODERN GRIMMOIRE Contemporary Fairy Tales, Fables & Folklore

EGYPTIAN RELIGION AND MYSTERIES

de Motte, Earle Xlibris (148 pp.) $64.19 paper | $3.99 e-book Feb. 21, 2013 978-1-4797-6183-8

Cohen, Michael Harris; et al. Illus. by Pond, Mandy Altimus Indigo Ink Press (248 pp.) $18.00 | $9.99 e-book | May 11, 2013 978-0-9828330-2-5

A collection of insights into the esoteric meanings of ancient Egyptian religious and spiritual practices. This extraordinary book, the product of extensive research by author and Rosicrucian lecturer de Motte (The Grail Quest, 2003), is ideal for readers who want to go beyond ancient Egypt’s pyramids, artifacts and mummies. Here, in highly readable form, the author presents the broad outlines of the ancient Egyptian spiritual belief system—from the founding cosmology of a watery, amorphous pre-creation mass to the rise of Ra, Osiris, Isis, Horus and Seth, and on to the highly developed use of symbols as keys to mystic truths, comprehended only by a chosen few. Why do ancient Egyptian renderings of human figures have bird heads? The book gives the answer: They depict, among other things, the soul in flight, freed from an earthly cage and able to access other realms of reality. The book also explains how the scarab, an insect that stores balls of dung to feed its offspring, is intimately linked to the mighty sun god Ra, who must successfully pass through the underworld each night. One of the book’s main themes is the notion that, in every age, there’s a body of secret knowledge about life, death and the afterlife known only to initiates and never preached or recorded. That knowledge is passed on exclusively by word of mouth over the millennia, lest it fall into the hands of those who would abuse it. In the Egyptian model, the priestly class served this function in so-called “mystery schools” with elaborate pageantry. Although de Motte’s prose is highly readable, some readers may find this a difficult book to absorb. The author presents a very large amount of information here, and readers not well-acquainted with his topic may find it necessary to re-read it to keep from getting lost. Only bona fide Egyptologists can render scholarly judgment on de Motte’s dazzling pages, but neophytes will appreciate the author’s liberal citation of experts, even when he doesn’t agree with them. An impressive work that brings light to a mysterious ancient culture.

An assembly of international writers assumes the mantle of the Brothers Grimm with contemporary folk and fairy tales. Bulgarian author Michael Harris Cohen’s story “The ExCourt Painter, Goya, and the Princess” places readers in the Madrid of Charles IV. Chosen by the king to paint his dead daughter, lonely ex–court painter Angelo discovers that his replacement, Goya, is struggling with his turbulent, final masterworks. While “aging” the dead princess by painting her portrait annually, Angelo falls in love with his creation. The theme of madness buoys other tales in the selections, too. Cheryl Stiles’ deceptively creepy free verse, “Gourmaundeth,” takes its cue from the true story of a modern-day “Menschenfresser,” or man-eater. Joann Oh’s whimsical “Bury Me in Faerie” turns an old woman’s dementia into an end-of-life gift. Many of the stories directly invoke the archetypal characters first recorded by the Grimms in the 19th century. Amanda Block re-examines “Snow White” in her strong, ultimately sentimental “Mirror Child.” Hansel and Gretel are re-examined by gifted poet Erin Virgil (“Four Grimm Tales, Revisited”) and, in much longer form, by John Kiste, in the guises of Henry and Gerta in “Henry’s Tale.” Elodie Olson-Coons, in “Fish,” adds a note of disillusionment—and a unique second-person voice—to “The Fisherman and His Wife.” Some authors retain the cruelty and violence of the original folk tales, as in “The Black Widow,” Clayton Lister’s sinister story of twisted love, and the disturbing encounter between a princess and a smooth-talking frog in Maude Larke’s “Persuasion.” But the cleverest of the lot reinvent the folk tale from an American vantage point. Joyce Winters Henderson’s “Misery and Blue” tells how a fight between giants led to the birth of the “Blues.” Tim Belden’s delightful “Once, I Was Avedon” uses spare verse to transform subjects from the iconic photographer’s oeuvre into a modern pantheon. Illustrations scattered throughout the book add a nice touch to the text, but overall, the quality of the collection is uneven: Some pieces are better crafted than others, while more than a few seem overworked or incomplete. A wily pack of bedside reading for fans of up-and-coming fantasists.

DARE I CALL IT MURDER? A Memoir of Violent Loss

Edwards, Larry M. Wigeon Publishing (312 pp.) $28.95 | $15.95 paper | $6.99 e-book Jul. 9, 2013 978-0-9859728-2-0 A chilling memoir of a family tragedy and its painful aftermath. In 1978, when Edwards (Food and Provisions of the Mountain Man, 2003) was 28,

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“Gale has crafted Annie with equal parts fire and empathy as well as a heart big enough to encompass friends, teachers and stray dogs.” from goddess gilda

both his parents died under mysterious circumstances while sailing in the South Pacific with his brother Gary, his sister Kerry and a young family friend. In the wake of this devastating loss, it became clear to Larry—and the FBI investigators assigned to the case—that the timeline and logistics of his brother’s account of what happened were completely implausible. None of the survivors came forward with the full details, but it became apparent that only Gary could possibly be responsible for the deaths. The FBI’s case against him was built around circumstantial evidence, however, and as the investigation stretched out over years, the Edwards siblings struggled with the betrayal that tore their family apart. Larry began drinking more as he sought refuge from persistent questions from various law enforcement agencies about how and why his parents were killed. The author’s compelling real-life tragedy is the stuff true-crime books are made of; indeed, his parents’ case became the subject of a true-crime story, Ann Rule’s But I Trusted You (2009). Unfortunately, according to Edwards, that account was full of inaccuracies; it not only dredged up unresolved grief, but also created a new, terrible rift between him and another of his sisters. Edwards’ memoir examines every angle of the case in clean, clear prose, and the author’s keen desire to honor his parents’ memory gives his memoir its power. However, at times, the book seems overly concerned with pointing fingers at family members—not necessarily for their roles in the author’s parents’ deaths but for how they’ve behaved in the years since. That said, this book is an act of witness, and the author’s motivation is palpable throughout: “I have a right to know. Our family has a right to know. Society has a right to know.” A powerful testament to a son’s unyielding determination to tell his parents’ story.

with personal demons, weight problems and alcoholism, Sam is a carefully crafted, realistically flawed character. Her mistakes and missteps have a humanizing effect, and though she may be exasperating at times, most readers will find themselves steadfastly in her corner. Secondary characters are similarly complex, with no lack of personal weaknesses, complementing the already tangible sense of humanity. The plot slows, understandably, during Sam’s alcoholic blackouts and moments of depression and accelerates accordingly in her times of clarity. Ferrendelli deftly avoids formulaic resolutions with outcomes that are nuanced and often unexpected. Some readers may feel that Sam’s occasionally lengthy moments of introspection lag compared to the rest of the story, and peculiar imagery—as when Sam remembers holding her daughter and feeling “her young tender bones as soft and as fragile and limber as cooked spaghetti noodles”—detracts from otherwise authentic, thoughtful prose. Minor issues aside, Ferrendelli’s debut will leave many readers hoping for more from this vulnerable, highly sympathetic heroine. A smart, nimble treat of a mystery that provides ample foundation for growth.

GODDESS GILDA

Gale, Sharyn CreateSpace (210 pp.) $9.95 paper | Jul. 11, 2013 978-1-4848-3404-6 Creating family where you can find it underscores this charming middle school novel in which a girl learns compassion despite family turmoil and tragedy. Debut author Gale slips effortlessly into the mind of Annie Logan, a perceptive 12-year-old burdened with a deeply depressed mother, Brenda, and a clueless father who walks out shortly after Annie’s brother, Jake, is born. When Brenda sinks into a near-catatonic state, her mother moves in to care for the children—that is, until Annie’s father returns to claim the house for his new wife. Cast out, Annie, her brother, mother and grandmother relocate to the grandmother’s house in rural Connecticut, where Brenda holes up in the attic bedroom, Jake acts up at school, and Annie tries to fit in. Friends are hard to come by until she meets Phoebe Goodwin, another bookish girl who understands the loss of a parent. Annie finds new family in Phoebe and her father, but another discovery hits harder: dizziness and flashing lights that precede disturbing visions. When Annie foresees her mother’s death, her grandmother explains that she’s inherited her great-great-grandmother Gilda’s gift of foresight. That gift, however, doesn’t prepare Annie for the shock of learning Brenda died from suicide or for her own brush with death when she crashes her bike after fleeing in anger. Hospitalized with broken bones and head trauma, Annie has another vision, this time of a young girl with cancer. Determined to use her gift for good, she dons a wig and visits the girl, seeing her through her chemo treatment in the guise of “Goddess Gilda.” Buoyed by newfound confidence, Annie’s life improves—until her father

THE FRIDAY EDITION A Samantha Church Mystery Ferrendelli, Betta Amazon Digital Services (322 pp.) $2.99 e-book | Jul. 6, 2012

In Ferrendelli’s debut mystery, a reporter desperate to solve her sister’s murder must face demons of her own. Samantha Church didn’t quit her nearly decadelong career reporting for the Denver Post; she was fired due to the basic, yet persistent, mistakes in her articles. She knows she’s a damn good reporter, so her firing came as a shock, but an even bigger surprise was the accusation that she’s an alcoholic. Sure, she likes to have a drink now and then, but does that really matter? Sam won’t admit that her problem has caused her to lose custody of her daughter and also to miss her sister’s important phone call— her last communication before falling to her death from an apartment balcony. Convinced her sister would never commit suicide, Sam searches for her killer, following a trail of corruption involving drug cartels and some of the highest ranking members of a police department outside Denver. But as Sam tries to find justice for others, she realizes she needs rescuing as well. Struggling |

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PROMISES TO KEEP Bluford High Series #19

reappears, demanding custody. Gale has crafted Annie with equal parts fire and empathy as well as a heart big enough to encompass friends, teachers and stray dogs; but whether Annie can find room for her father is another matter. With dialogue that’s clever but wholly natural, the book is populated with warmhearted characters who never cross the line into mawkishness or bathos, and her journey of the heart will be a joy for readers of any age. A sweet, affecting coming-of-age story that shows how believing in yourself goes a long way in the quest to forgive.

Langan, Paul Townsend Press (151 pp.) $5.95 paper | $3.49 e-book | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-59194-303-7 Langan (Survivor, 2013, etc.), the editor of the YA Bluford High series and author of several in the series, offers a cleareyed look at the challenges faced by an innercity high school student and his family. The walls are closing in on 15-year-old Tyray Hobbs. Tough and big for his age, he’s an academic failure who’s been bullying other kids for years. Everyone is scared of him, even the few guys who hang out with him. That all changes in an instant when Darrell Mercer, Tyray’s longtime victim, turns the tables and publicly overpowers him. His humiliation complete and no longer feared, Tyray is now openly taunted and ostracized by all his fellow classmates. With violent crime and drug dealing commonplace in Tyray’s world, he responds to defeat by procuring a gun from someone in his neighborhood and going after Darrell in a dark alley. Darrell escapes the tense situation and helps stop any further violence, including Tyray’s suicide attempt. But when word of the gun and the abortive shootout reaches Tyray’s father, he reacts with fury. Nonetheless, he helps his younger son hide the weapon; it’s too late for the father to help Warren, his older son, who’s already in prison for a gun-related crime. In a stinging assertion, Tyray’s father tells him he’s no good and he’ll end up in prison like his brother. But Tyray isn’t yet ready to change. Further along in his journey, he’s guided by a compassionate teacher; his rueful brother, Warren; and Lark, a genuinely caring girl. Finally, by helping someone else out of a dangerous spot, he gains understanding and hope for redemption. Although the story follows a somewhat predictable YA trajectory, it doesn’t condescend to its audience or minimize the stakes. Action and characters ring true, and the language is conversational rather than unfailingly correct, though the author doesn’t attempt to be overly hip with the latest street slang. The tense, realistic story shows how quickly situations among young people can turn violent—even deadly— despite the best efforts of school officials and parents. A sharp, shockingly believable look at the inner-city life of a student.

DYSTOPIA NOW

Hiestand, Harvey Air Raid Press (482 pp.) $12.49 paper | Nov. 6, 2013 978-0-9893149-8-5 Hiestand’s debut sci-fi novel is a disturbingly plausible vision of a future America in economic and political upheaval—and a satirical gem reminiscent of the work of Philip K. Dick. In a near-future Los Angeles plagued by a worsening recession, Everyman Zeno Jacobs is the newly appointed personnel director at HRW International, a bizarrely bureaucratic corporation that, due to a tax-credit loophole, essentially hires and fires employees for profit. The skyrocketing cost of living makes it increasingly difficult for many people to live, so it comes as no surprise when the Hundred Days Riots begin. Unruly mobs loot grocery stores, burn down banks and raze entire neighborhoods. Jacobs and his love interest, Shasta MacCalistaire, watch the proceedings from the relative safety of the HRW building as Los Angeles plunges into bloody chaos. Even after the Army establishes martial law, no one in the city is safe. Adept readers will find thematic depths in the novel’s more striking imagery; for example, the HRW building’s deadly labyrinth, where a deliveryman got lost and died, effectively symbolizes the unfathomable complexity of corporatocracy, as well as the difficulties that normal people have navigating a normal workday. (The paintings on the labyrinth’s walls offer up additional profundities.) At the same time, the cleverly constructed narrative is briskly paced and utterly readable. Like the best Philip K. Dick tales, the story works on multiple levels simultaneously—as a breathtakingly bleak vision of the future, a cautionary tale replete with social commentary, and, above all, an unlikely and unforgettable love story. A timely, and timeless, satirical novel.

NO GOOD DEED A Father’s Journey

Miller, Frank L. Jockers & Stack Publishing (626 pp.) $25.00 paper | Jun. 11, 2013 978-0-615-76791-8 Miller’s vast memoir about the legal and personal battles that followed his stepdaughter’s expulsion from school for drug use. 140

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“[Pounder’s] frequently irreverent ideas about ‘inconsistent society norms’ are not only incendiary but thought-provoking.” from obscene thoughts

When Miller met and fell in love with his future wife, Caroline, he seemed to know what he was signing up for. He was childless; she had two children in tow. “You notice her, you like her, you love her,” he says. “The kids, unless they are genuine pains in the ass, kind of go along with the deal like bald tires on a custom sports car.” That tone—direct, if a bit rough around the edges—permeates the book. Despite his apparent steeliness, however, his life was thrown into chaos the day his stepdaughter Sarah was expelled from high school for allegedly taking LSD. Though Miller is typically frank about his own minor drug use in the past, as well as the need for Sarah to take responsibility for her actions, he could not, as a father and a school psychologist, stomach such a harsh punishment for a child—particularly one who struggled with ADHD, as Sarah did. Consequently, he and his wife entered into a protracted legal battle against the school that not only threatened their family’s stability, but put in jeopardy his job as a school district employee. The engaging, real-life storyline will be of interest to stepfamilies or readers whose children have addiction issues. However, at over 600 pages, it may be too unwieldy to keep most readers’ attention. Miller leaves no detail or feeling unexamined, making for a repetitive and cumbersome reading experience. A good edit and perhaps a dampening of the sometimes over-the-top tone would go a long way toward tightening his arguments and delivering an emotional punch. A touching but overflowing story about family, addiction and perseverance.

concerns. How “good” does one have to be to enter the kingdom of heaven? Jack’s cloudlet surfing can prove dull at times, as when he takes a brief walk with Charles Darwin—a stimulating idea that may prove too heavy-handed for some. Nevertheless, Jack’s vision of the afterlife is decidedly as worrisome and varied as the character himself. Slow at times, though the heartfelt glimpse of the afterlife and fears of judgment will strike a chord with many readers.

OBSCENE THOUGHTS A Pornographer’s Perspective on Sex, Love, and Dating Pounder, Dave CreateSpace (342 pp.) $19.95 paper | $19.95 e-book Jun. 13, 2013 978-1-4792-0306-2

A director and producer of pornography offers his thoughts on subjects ranging from dating to marriage to

career management. Contrary to the title of Pounder’s brisk, enjoyable dissertation on the ways of love and lust, there are no truly obscene thoughts here; instead, using a variety of devices—from the boardroom-speak of business manuals to an analysis of the films of Julia Roberts—Pounder analyzes the often hypocritical ways Western society views sexual relations between men and women. He notes, for instance, that a man who walks into a bar and asks the nearest attractive woman to have sex with him would be “slapped or publicly harangued as a pervert”—which strikes Pounder as irrational, since “sex, assuming the normal types of protection, is a far more healthy form of interaction than the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, but our society condemns the former and embraces the latter.” The book features a good deal of this type of somewhat naïve candor, as well as several dubious assertions—that well-sexed people are happier or that “the majority” of men in relationships have affairs, for instance—offered as scientific fact (nebulous “findings” from organizations like the Pew Research Center are mentioned but not documented). A somewhat cynical attitude— perhaps learned in the porn trade—is often visible, as when he flatly declares that “in order to have a sexual transaction, the truth must be distorted.” In various hypotheticals, women are compared with inanimate objects—automobiles, cellphones and the like—often enough to bother some readers. But Pounder’s prose is clear and engaging throughout, and his frequently irreverent ideas about “inconsistent society norms” are not only incendiary but thought-provoking. Sometimes he oversteps, as when he claims, “Denying that the majority of men cheat is tantamount to denying that the majority of drivers speed,” but even those excesses make for interesting reading. An iconoclastic, argument-starting take on the battle of the sexes.

NOTES FROM THE AFTERLIFE Packard, Edward CreateSpace (208 pp.) $9.25 paper | Jun. 8, 2013 978-1-4848-1170-2

Packard’s (All it Takes, 2011) novel imagines an atheist’s experience in the afterlife. Living out his waning years in an assisted living facility, 80-year-old Jack Treadwell isn’t surprised by his own death so much as he is by his final destination. As an atheist, he’s amazed to find himself in heaven, or at least a place that seems very much like it. Long-dead acquaintances and historical figures ranging from Abraham Lincoln to Studs Terkel traverse cloudlets, communicate freely and vanish as only spirits can. A figure resembling St. Peter informs Jack that his judgment—which will send Jack to eternal hell or eternal bliss—has been put on hold because God is in a sort of crisis. The creator of all things has become disillusioned with people. His teachings have been distorted by religion, his granting of free will to humans has resulted in centuries of bloodshed, and people like Jack think they can simply apologize for their misdeeds and receive eternal salvation. As Jack reflects on his time on Earth and learns more about the reality of the afterlife, readers are taken on a journey of personal inquiry featuring familiar feelings of guilt for past wrongs. Readers with undeveloped (or indifferent) ideas of the afterlife will likely relate to Jack and his |

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Interviews & Profiles

Tracey Garvis Graves

The best-seller summons the lessons of her successful indie past as her new novel from a major publisher is released By Tom Eubanks of those dream-come-true author stories.” The mother of two and former Wells Fargo recruiter never dreamed she’d be a working writer in the first place. “I wouldn’t have known what to dream about,” she confesses from her home in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa. “I just wanted to see if I could write a book,” she claims. “In the most distilled sense, that was the goal. I just wanted the personal satisfaction of completing a novel, with good characters and a proper story arc and the appropriate word count.” She had “zero expectations” for her two-narrator tale of a pretty tutor and a handsome teen stranded on a deserted island in the Maldives. With no pressure to succeed and no fear of failure, she “enjoyed every minute” of the writing process, even, she laughs, “when I wanted to bang my head against the wall.” Although she’d taken a couple of creative writing classes in college, Garvis Graves graduated with a business degree—which came in handy when it was time to self-publish. An admitted novice, the voracious reader surfed Kindle Boards and hung out on a forum called Absolutewrite.com, which she found helpful since, “when you write your first book, you don’t know what you’re doing. At least I didn’t know what I was doing.” Online, she found “really good technical information” and connected with a critique partner in Colorado who became so instrumental, Garvis Graves dedicated On the Island to her. One day, they hope to meet each other in person. To contemporary authors like Garvis Graves, the idea of a modern writer working in a lonely vacuum might seem as outdated as a dime-store paperback. Aside from her critique partner, Garvis Graves belongs to multiple online writers’ groups, supplemented by a network of “beta readers.”

Photo courtesy Ryan Towe

By now, the canonization of Tracey Garvis Graves has been well-documented among the chat-room classes. Her self-published debut novel from 2012, On the Island, hit No. 7 on Amazon’s top 100 and became a New York Times best-seller. MGM optioned it, and Variety wrote about the deal, leading to a contract with Penguin, which re-released the book through their paperback imprint Plume. This September, her latest novel, Covet, will appear in hardcover through another Penguin imprint, Dutton. With discipline, determination and approximately $1,500, the patron saint of independent authors took the egalitarian, DIY spirit of the Internet and forged her own path to success in her indie debut. But Garvis Graves is more than just what USA Today called “one 142

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Her betas—“not writers, but they have to love reading,” she says—consist of people she knows and trusts in real life. “I’m always surprised when a stranger reaches out to read my next book,” she laughs. “I feel that if I wouldn’t let you watch my actual kids, I’m probably not going to give you my manuscript!” “Before I even show it to anybody,” she explains, “I like to have my beta feedback and then revise and polish. Even if you have an editor or an agent, that’s still one person. It’s nice to get a wide range of feedback.” Because everybody reads a book subjectively, Garvis Graves prefers to cull the opinions of betas to look for “trends.” For example: “If there’s something I know deep down I need to change and kind of don’t want to and a beta says, ‘You know that one section?’ Then I know that I have something that I need to address.” Garvis Graves spent nearly two months researching the most effective ways to release and promote her first book. “When you self-publish, knowledge is key,” she says. “It’s a business that you’re forming.” And, of course, “there is no formula.” She warns: “I feel there’s a lot of bad information being shared. While social media is important, it’s still the book. The book has to be well-edited. It has to stand on its own.” She advises every independent author to make sure their title is on Goodreads, whose reviewers were highly important to the sales of On the Island. “It was such a word-of-mouth book. It really takes someone saying to somebody else, ‘No, it’s not creepy. You should read this. Give it a chance.’ ” A month after tackling the multiplicity of e-book formats, she used CreateSpace for the paperback edition. “It wasn’t terribly hard,” she says, but she thought the details through. She hired a book formatter because she wanted the interior design to be something she was proud of. A few months later, she recorded the audiobook. “I’ve acted in all facets of the publishing process,” she explains. “I did everything that a traditional publisher would have to do, and I genuinely enjoy learning things. A lot of self-publishers don’t want to do that or shy away from it, but I loved every part of it.” Which begs the question: Does knowing so much about the process and having a stellar track record threaten her new editors at Penguin? “On the contrary,” she answers. “They have been wonderful and very forthright about saying, ‘We know

you know a lot about this. You did this by yourself, so we want to know: How can you help us to help you? Tell us what worked, tell us what didn’t.’ ” In Covet, Garvis Graves returns to the multiple firstperson-narratives device that allows each of the players in her Great Recession love triangle to have his or her say. “Maybe love is like a pendulum,” writes Claire, torn between her salesman husband and a sexy, single cop. “It swings back and forth, slowly, steadily, and sometimes you don’t know where it will come to rest.” Perhaps the same might be said of the author’s winding road toward success? “Absolutely,” she exclaims. “There’s a strong undercurrent of luck that runs in the publishing industry. But then, I believe that we make our own luck. Maybe if you write for the right reasons, because it’s something that truly makes you happy, I think the rest will follow.” Tom Eubanks is a freelance writer, editor and consultant with 25 years of experience in magazine and book publishing. He lives in New York City. Covet was reviewed in the May 15 issue of Kirkus Reviews.

Covet Garvis Graves, Tracy Dutton (320 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-525-95407-1

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CAPTAIN MULLET AND THE COMPASS ROSE

Princeton’s ivory-tower idealism to begin his third year of medical school rotations at a clinic in a not-so-great part of Dallas, Beau is overwhelmed by the poor people he serves. After delivering a baby to a 15-year-old girl, struggling to comprehend her life and afraid that he will spend the rest of his career despising the people he serves, Beau says: “I also learned at Princeton that if one disliked someone or something…it was probably owed to ignorance. Conversely, if one achieved understanding, one ceased to dislike. Or ceased to judge or to fear.” Compelled to understand, Beau lies about a government study and moves in with the girl’s family in the projects, intending to stay as long as possible while using his Family Therapy for AfricanAmericans textbook as a guide. From there, Beau’s odyssey only gets weirder as he expands African-American observation to include emulation with the help of a liberal amount of shoe polish and the shortening of his name to “Bo.” Meanwhile, Beau’s pursuit of a pretty girl gets him involved with a cadre of actors and artists who embark on lengthy debates about philosophy and Tocqueville’s complex view of America. Beau uses notes to jog his memory, written on everything from hospital forms to candy bar wrappers, which he shares in the text along with rap lyrics and poetry. It’s a unique, useful format that allows Reeves the room he needs to explore and explain, letting readers hear the follies of the younger Beau while gaining the wisdom of his months-older self. Reeves also uses the format as a way of showing, in unflattering detail, how invasive and Orwellian the double-think of political correctness can be. Everything from the augmented stream-of-consciousness style to Bo’s attempts at an African-American dialect is brilliantly done, though some sections go on longer than necessary. Frequently funny and always uncomfortably honest, this book knows it will offend some readers but sits at the front of the bus anyway. Solid satire built on a deliciously farcical plot; only chumps would miss it.

Ratner, Joel M. BookBaby (304 pp.) $0.99 e-book | Jul. 18, 2011

In Ratner’s debut novel, set in a small town in Florida, Capt. Henry Selmer has a simple life and aims to keep it that way. The Navy veteran spends his days operating a drawbridge in Rock Key, Fla., working on his novel about a traveling salesman and visiting the Star Grill, a struggling diner where he’s one of the many regulars. Henry’s primary aspiration is to one day inherit the role of lighthouse keeper, a post occupied by his only friend and fellow curmudgeon, Carmine, where he can keep a watchful eye on the unstoppable flow of progress. But when Eddie Eye, a young, irreverent “mullet” (named for the legendarily dumb fish, not the legendarily dumb haircut) begins working at the drawbridge, the simple, steady life of Capt. Henry is suddenly upended. The novel quickly embraces the familiar trope of carefree youth confronting stubborn tradition. It’s a formula that’s been proven to work, and this novel is no exception; it’s finely detailed and populated with salty characters and their charming, intertwined stories, including those of Orrin, who owns the Star but pretends to be a lowly cook, and a man everyone calls the senator, who is always politicking over coffee. Ratner treats his characters—including the town itself—with care and consideration, allowing each the space, often by switching perspectives, needed to develop. But, like life in a small town, the momentum can often seem sluggish. The chapters feel less like a progression of plot or conflict than episodes of daily life in which the characters opine and share long-winded wisdom. This forestalling of action creates a feel similar to a bedtime story—simple, unwavering characters inhabiting a small world, with stories that accumulate rather than progress—rather than a novel with a traditional arc, but those who appreciate a leisurely pace will enjoy it. Slow, charming and delightful, this coastal novel makes for a great summer read.

GET A CLUE 10 Steps to an Executive IQ Richardson, Temeko The RLC Group, Inc. (204 pp.) $14.99 paper | $9.99 e-book Apr. 4, 2013 978-0-9883394-1-5

CHUMP

Reeves, Rusty Reeves Publications 978-0-9894140-1-2

Technology consultant Richardson, in her debut, aims to create savvy business leaders by banishing guesswork and blind decision-making. It takes more than talent, technical prowess and hard work to lead a successful business, writes Richardson. Executives must also have a comprehensive knowledge of the people, products and processes that affect profitability so that they can make better decisions. The author, a technology whiz who has worked as a corporate strategist for Fortune 500 companies, cleverly calls this knowledge “Executive IQ”—common-sensical, datadriven insight into a company’s customers, employees, products and sales. She argues that merely having a vague idea of which

In Reeves’ debut satire on race relations in America, white medical student Beau Peebles can’t help but be overly involved in his poor, black patients’ lives. “This book is nothing if not a coming-of-age story,” says Beau, a narrator always aware that he’s writing his “true” story and that you’re reading it. His story is much more than a man’s life; it’s a satirical look at philosophy, the health care industry, socioeconomics and, above all, race relations. Leaving 144

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“Roman has written another winner.” from if you were me and lived in...south korea

customers buy certain products, or how much is spent on marketing, is unacceptable. Shrewd executives, she asserts, probe deeper when making strategic decisions. By using cutting-edge software, they can answer such questions as “How long does it take from the initial inquiry to convert a sale?” or “How many promotions have been awarded internally in the last two to five years?” This may seem like analytical overkill, but Richardson contends that understanding such metrics can keep a business afloat during rocky times. The book urges readers to assess their current Executive IQ by taking a “balanced scorecard” quiz and provides three well-crafted chapters of advice on how to implement a customer relationship management program; executives can use a CRM and Executive IQ together to operate their firms more effectively, the author explains. Overall, this is a book for overachievers, penned in a witty, nimble style. Some assertions here will ruffle feathers; for example, Richardson believes that many executives and entrepreneurs make poor decisions due to ego, fear or ignorance. The author has founded two companies herself, and her words carry the authority of someone who’s fought in the trenches. A new approach will likely generate friction, Richardson notes, but she makes the case that change can pave the way for long-term success. A starting point for smart leaders who want to build smarter companies.

eat your meal with metal chopsticks,” and features illustrations of kids and parents at a table using each object. A pronunciation key at the end of the book, meanwhile, will help acquaint kids with the Korean language. Overall, Roman has written another winner, and elementary school classrooms could easily incorporate this book into lessons about South Korea. A simple, thoughtful children’s overview of important aspects of South Korean culture.

SOLSTICE MAGIC A Calgary Stampede Adventure, #1

Stringam, Jean Dollison Road Books (258 pp.) $9.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Mar. 19, 2013 978-0-9855540-0-2 A charming contemporary fantasy that sees teenager Zo grapple with her stubborn Ukrainian grandmother Baba Dolia. In southern Alberta, Canada, cowboy Vince Lapin knows firsthand that rodeo riding is dangerous work. Audiences, however, want more entertainment. The summer solstice on June 21 finds him watching rodeo clowns audition. When a rider suddenly goes down and is at the bull’s mercy, a young woman runs to him out of nowhere. Quickly pulling the rider to safety, she saves both their lives. Vince suspects she’d be perfect as a rodeo clown. Cut to a central Alberta poultry farm. Yuli and Iryna are trying to tell their teenage daughter, Zo, that life will be different when her grandmother comes from the Ukraine to live with them. But Zo has only one thing on her mind: rabbits. To smooth the transition to life with Baba Dolia, Zo’s parents buy her a bunny named Susie. Zo, for her part, is elated and ready to help her grandmother settle in. Then Baba Dolia arrives— along with her huge, ferocious dog, Perun. Worse, the elderly woman is grouchy, demanding and has little tolerance for a verminous rabbit on the premises. Susie gets caught in the middle of a generational feud that takes a shockingly magical turn. With remarkable sleight of hand, author Stringam connects events on the farm with the rodeo scene that opened the novel. The first hint that things aren’t what they seem comes when Vince uses poetic spoken magic: “Swiftly running winds of eternity flowing into lovely zephyr of summer blossoms.” Susie, when she talks, often says similar things, proverbs she calls “rabbit-lip.” In segments from the critter’s perspective, readers learn that she aspires to be an Easter Bunny, delivering dyed eggs in the Ukrainian pysanky tradition. Frequently, Stringam proves an expert on real rabbits as well as the Calgary Stampede rodeo, as she layers the perfect amount of detail into what is essentially Zo’s wondrous coming-of-age tale, one that new readers and devotees of magical realism shouldn’t miss. Meticulously crafted, fanciful but never too sweet, this magical adventure hums along pleasingly.

IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...SOUTH KOREA A Child’s Introduction to Cultures around the World

Roman, Carole P. CreateSpace (28 pp.) $9.99 paper | $0.99 e-book Jun. 14, 2013 978-1-4810-6234-3

A crash course in South Korean culture that provides kids with an overview of the country’s food, holidays, vocabulary and daily life. This third book in Roman’s (Captain No Beard: Strangers on the High Seas, 2013, etc.) series follows the same premise as her previous books on France and Mexico. The book begins by pointing out South Korea’s geographical location and landforms, then touches on popular names, types of currency and how South Korean children address their parents. Roman also mentions holidays, activities such as taekwondo, and school routines. It’s a very breezy book, with just a fact or two per page, which will be easy for many kids to absorb. The engaging tone keeps the educational aspects from feeling dry or boring. The book series has a simple but effective premise: It teaches kids the basics of another culture in a way that connects it to their own personal lives (“When you call your mommy, you would say Omma. When you address your father, his name would be Appa.”). The book pairs text with colorful images that help kids make these associations; for example, a page about Korean cuisine reads, “They would cook the meat right at the table on a very hot plate….Rice is usually always on the table. You would |

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LOST FLOWERS True Stories of the Moonshine King, Percy Flowers

Ulbrich (Economics/Clemson Univ., Public Finance in Theory and Practice, 2011, etc.) acknowledges a lifelong fascination with holidays, noting that her given name, Holley, derives from a Celtic goddess, Mother Holle, who left gifts for good people and lumps of coal for those less virtuous. The author uses the term “holiday” in its broadest sense; few people consider Income Tax Day (April 15) or the solstices and equinoxes as true holidays, but she includes them among 28 observances to help explain economic theories to lay readers. Along the way, she connects economic behavior with nature, society and psychology. Ulbrich has unearthed obscure facts about the origins and histories of many holidays, so even readers well-versed in economics are likely to learn something new. Chapter headings such as “Valentine’s Day: Heartless Capitalism” and “National Volunteer Day: Working for Nothing” give a sense of the sometimesplayful approach she employs to humanize the “dismal science.” She uses Labor Day to focus on wages, Columbus Day to discuss immigration, Halloween to ponder risk-taking, Mother’s Day to salute working moms and Grandparent’s Day to examine Social Security. Even in “August—The Month with No Holidays,” she manages to find a credible topic: vacations. Along with her doctorate in economics, Ulbrich also holds a master’s degree in theological studies—an interest which becomes clearer as she traces the rise of behavioral and neoinstitutional economic models, which take into account cooperation, altruism and other behaviors. The author introduces arcane terms such as “opportunity cost,” “path-dependent state” and “tax expenditures” so smoothly that they go down like warm apple cider at a fall festival. Readers looking for meatier economic discussions may want to search elsewhere, but as a starter course, this book of bite-size treats satisfies. An excellent, easy-to-read introduction to modern economic thinking.

Sullivan, Perry D. CreateSpace (330 pp.) $14.95 paper | $9.99 e-book May 3, 2013 978-1-4823-4667-1

Based on childhood reminiscences, this debut memoir about a boy’s adventures in backwoods North Carolina as the son of a wealthy bootlegger in the 1960s and ’70s transcends mere tribute. Opening with his father’s rise from rural poverty to near-feudal wealth as a moonshine bootlegger during Prohibition (and his subsequent control of thousands of acres near Clayton, N.C.), Sullivan’s memoir is as much a portrait of the rural, post-Reconstruction South as it’s a portrayal of the infamous bootleg king Percy Flowers or a boy’s awakening to an adult world. Rich in cultural and historical detail—e.g., Flowers was called “the most notorious moonshiner in all of the United States” by the Saturday Evening Post in 1958—Sullivan draws on recollection and research to vividly evoke his biological father and his own family life, including Curry, the author’s cuckolded father; Bea, his practical mother; and Reno, a canny, African-American bootlegger. These portraits are too cursory to rise to the level of great characters, but the details of time and place—the slaughter of hogs, the stoking of a whiskey still, the wood-fired curing using tobacco sticks—are often riveting. Sullivan has a keen eye for poignant irony—noting, for example, that Percy’s legitimate family line died out despite his lifelong devotion to perfecting the bloodlines of his hounds. Regrettably, clumsy structural devices undercut the book’s considerable strengths: The memoir is structured using a series of italicized letters by the author to his own two sons; the letters are intercut among roman chapters, and handwritten pull quotes from these letters are inserted like illustrations to highlight principle lessons he would have them learn (e.g., “With faith, you have a basis for belonging and a foundation for living”). These elements distract from the compelling story of Flowers’ rise and fall, as does frequent repetition of information. Remarkable characters and rich historical details make this an illuminating portrait of a titanic man and a vanishing rural South.

UPSIDE A Guide to Achieving Your Unique Potential in Life Vincent, John Gregory John Gregory Vincent (158 pp.) $14.95 paper | Jul. 10, 2013 978-0-615-77344-5

Vincent’s self-help debut challenges readers to find peace in a focused, “onelife approach to living.” The author had a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy and personal battles with divorce, debt and alcoholism before he became a keynote speaker, productivity

ECONOMICS TAKES A HOLIDAY Celebrations from the Dismal Science

Ulbrich, Holley Hewitt AbbottPress (138 pp.) $28.99 | $11.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Jan. 7, 2013 978-1-4582-0762-3

This Issue’s Contributors #

A series of lighthearted essays exploring how holidays reflect our economic system and society. 146

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Paul Allen • Stefan Barkow • Amy Cavanaugh • Stephanie Cerra • Lisa Costantino • Steve Donoghue • Tom Eubanks • Jameson Fitzpatrick • Eric F. Frazier • Jackie Friedland • Shannon Gallagher • Justin Hickey • Isaac Larson • EJ Levy • Riley MacLeod • Collin Marchiando • Ashley Nelson • Brandon Nolta • Margueya Novick • John T. Rather • Benjamin Samuel • Nomi Schwartz

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“Most of all, [Whitaker’s] guide has the resounding ring of truth.” from i’m sleeping with the pastor!

expert and inspirational author. He’s a firm believer that “almost every influence in our lives encourages us to be anything but unique,” and in this book, he offers a series of questions and life lessons to help the reader find his or her purpose. “One-size-fits-all fits no one,” he asserts. Early on, he suggests that readers build lists of their skills (“combination[s] of experience and knowledge”) and their talents (“the innate abilities that allow you do things well the first time you do them”) and use these lists to help figure out their “unique potential.” In other chapters, he explores the importance of accountability and communication in interpersonal situations, preaches prioritization over “balance,” provides “the critical fundamental basics of nutrition” and introduces the idea of “moving with purpose” to keep one’s body as fit as one’s life. He points out that he isn’t attempting to provide “a guide to Nirvana”; instead, he aims to highlight “common threads in people who seemed to have found happiness, success, and a peace of mind.” The author prefaces most chapters with quotations from the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the biggest influences in his own life, but the philosophical reach of his book is vast, using ideas previously proposed by psychologist Carl Jung, author Stephen R. Covey and the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. Indeed, the author borrows so liberally from other self-help tomes that when he offers the equation “event + reaction = outcome,” he can’t say for certain where he came across it—although he thinks he saw it in Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993). “I write like I think, a bit all over the place at times,” he admits, but his conversational tone and easygoing sense of humor make such moments come off as endearing rather than distracting. A breezy, appealing self-help guide.

crucial to care for one’s body as well as one’s soul. Citing Benjamin Franklin’s adage, “To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals,” she writes about the psychological impact of good health while owning up to her own struggle with her weight. She also takes on topics such as finances, infidelity and grief, offering practical advice intermingled with personal stories and colorful examples. This candid, relatable book dishes out honesty and humor on every page. Whitaker’s highly accessible style and appealing personality make the book read more like an intimate chat with a close friend than a self-help guide replete with criticism. Most of all, her guide has the resounding ring of truth. A bold, personal collection of a pastor’s wife’s experiences and advice.

I’M SLEEPING WITH THE PASTOR!

K i r k us M e di a LL C

Whitaker, Sena EARSEN Publishing Company (354 pp.) $16.99 paper | May 20, 2013 978-0-9789953-0-0

# 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

An inside look at the life of a pastor’s wife, along with advice on how to succeed in such a role. “Marriage is under siege,” warns Whitaker in her debut self-help guide— and people need to be prepared to “live beyond fairy tales.” Whitaker strings together anecdotes, advice and axioms in this guide, specifically geared to pastors’ wives; as a pastor’s wife herself, she recognizes the challenges unique to women in this role. She writes about America’s rising divorce rate, and in a section titled “Waterproof Matches: Enhancing Intimacy,” she details the numerous ways readers can bring passion back into their marriages, as well as steps they can take to prevent conflict. Helpful reminders, such as having a “win-win” approach to arguments, stand alongside apt advice, such as avoiding turning everything into a spiritual discussion. In “Life Vests,” the author urges that readers eat right and exercise and discusses how it’s

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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ASKS: IS PUBLISHING DEAD, OR IS IT JUST YOU? Do you occasionally stop short in the middle of the day and wonder if your entire life has been a waste? Is this because the publishing industry has reached a tipping point and is plunging into unsalvageable failure? Or is it just because you’re tired? Take this handy quiz, counting up points for each answer you choose, and find out. A book is A. A product. (8) B. A relic. (10) C. A reason to believe. (13) D. The result of much hard work. (0) A bad book is A. An arrow through your heart, from which you will never recover. (0) B. Par for the course. (1) C. An opportunity for a Father’s Day repackage. (8) D. Nonexistent, because every book is someone’s favorite. (2) When you visualize the publishing industry, you picture A. A mighty castle fluttering with colorful flags. (5) B. A crumbling stone edifice. (10) C. Amy Tan, for some reason. (2) D. A gaping black hole in your resumé. (0) The biggest event of the fall is A. October 15, the release of When Did You See Her Last?, the latest volume in Lemony Snicket’s new series, All The Wrong Questions. (5) B. Foliage. (2) C. The days beginning to get shorter and all of nature starting to die. (0) D. A party Jonathan Franzen said he might attend. (10) The best cover of a book is A. Something snappily designed. (5) B. Something which prominently mentions that the author is a popular food blogger. (8) C. Something to glance at whilst opening the book to read it. (3) D. Something with a dog on it, because this guy at Amazon once said he liked dogs. (10) When someone at a party asks what you do, you say A. “I’m involved in publishing, the world’s most noble profession.” (3) B. “Must we talk of such things? Tell me, do you enjoy the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop?” (5) C. “I’m in publishing, but I married rich, so it’s not like that.” (8) D. “What’s it to you? Let go of that bottle!” (0) Why so glum? A. You just finished Madame Bovary for the ninth time. (5) B. Someone you know got a bad review in Kirkus. (5) C. You’re ugly. (0) D. This is just the facial expression you use when someone asks a tedious question. (2)

Coming October 15, 2013! 978-0-316-12305-1 • $16.00

Kids today A. Are an exciting market for print and electronic media. (8) B. Will likely be engaged and intrigued by When Did You See Her Last?, the second volume in Lemony Snicket’s new series, All The Wrong Questions, publishing October 15th. (5) C. Are too busy sexting to show proper appreciation for James Michener. (2) D. Appear to be in charge of Marketing. (9) The best thing an author can do to promote a book is A. Die. (0) B. Go on Ellen, then die. (8) C. Create a dynamic, multiplatform network that you don’t have to pay for. (8) D. Write a quiz that will appear on the back page of Kirkus, sneaking in several references to his new book, When Did You See Her Last? (10) A Kindle is A. The most exciting invention since paper. (10) B. A dynamic new frontier. (5) C. Nothing to worry about. (3) D. Something that cannot be mentioned in front of you, or you will throw up. (0) Facebook is to literature what A. Film is to poetry. (5) B. John Wilkes Booth is to Abraham Lincoln. (0) C. Breaking Bad is to Leaves Of Grass. (5) D. That reminds me, I’ve got to put this quiz on Facebook. (0) If Shakespeare were alive today, he would be A. Very old. (5) B. Horrified at the success of Fifty Shades Of Grey while Timon of Athens remains relatively unknown. (2) C. Out. (5) D. A friend of yours. (0) This quiz A. Eats up time that could have been spent reading Proust. (5) B. Is actually an advertisement for the book When Did You See Her Last?, but such is life. (3) C. Is a threat to everything that makes Kirkus holy. (0) D. Passed the time until some book party or other. (8)

0-30 Points: Get a grip on yourself. Stop worrying about publishing and go read a good book. Just because you majored in English doesn’t mean you can mope around like Kafka all the time. 31-60 Points: You seem quite well-adjusted, considering you’re in publishing. Did you really fill out this quiz honestly? 61-90 Points: OK, maybe you’re too well-adjusted. Just because you majored in English doesn’t mean you can wander around obliviously like Keats all the time. 91-130 Points: Oh no! Publishing is dead! What are we going to do? Never mind you; what am I going to do? 131-200 Points: You can’t even add up numbers correctly. No wonder you’re in publishing.


September 15, 2013: Volume LXXXI, No 18