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Featuring 332 Industry-First Reviews of Fiction, Nonfiction and Children's & Teen

KIRKUS VOL. LXXXII, NO.

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REVIEWS FICTION

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber This long-awaited novel is a brilliant, religiously charged exploration of inner turmoil. p. 13

INDIE Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive! and Writing About It p. 138

on the cover For her latest novel, The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters delved into the 1920s—and the science of blood spatter. p. 14

CHILDREN'S & TEEN

Gus & Me

by Keith Richards The legendary guitarist teams up with his daughter to remember the granddad who set him on his way. p. 113

NONFICTION

Hope by Richard Zoglin In this rich and entertaining work, Zoglin pulls no punches but also remains an astonished admirer of the legendary comedian. p. 78


from the editor’s desk:

Behind the Scenes with September’s Intriguing Writers B Y C la i b orne

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

Smi t h

Photo courtesy Michael Thad Carter

We review some 8,000 to 10,000 books a year; book reviews are the first thing you think of when you think of this magazine. There is an entire other kind of writing we publish on our site, however—a thriving series of interviews and interactions with intriguing writers. This month’s articles are particularly insightful. We talk to James Ellroy, whose new 720-page novel Perfidia we starred in the July 15 issue. Our writer Don McLeese found Ellroy “surprisingly soft-spoken and reflective” over the phone. (“I’m like a dog cut off his tether” on book tour, Ellroy confesses.) Perfidia is a prequel to Ellroy’s popular L.A. Quartet of novels (L.A. Confidential Claiborne Smith is part of his L.A. Quartet, e.g.). “It’s my favorite among my books,” Ellroy tells us about Perfidia. “It’s the deep, unfettered, never-before-released, throbbing heart of me—juxtaposed against America’s big coming-out party in December 1941. It’s my Ragtime, in that, like Doctorow’s great novel, it’s a romanticized recounting of a great time in our history. And by that I mean big people, big ideas, big conflicts, big hearts, big morals and political stakes at play. And a lot of sex, a lot of people with more than one person at one time.” Huh. Fans of Tana French’s mysteries are awaiting her new one, The Secret Place, which was published on Sept. 2. The novel, which we starred in the Aug.1 issue, is about the secrets that teenagers keep and, in this case, how those secrets threaten to keep an ambitious detective from solving the murder of a fellow student. “I’m right at that age where I’m too old to know any teenagers but I’m too young for me and my friends to have teenage kids,” French tells Kirkus writer Clayton Moore. “So I kind of sinisterly lurked around bus stops when school got out in the afternoon to edge close enough to hear these teenage girls’ conversations. I must have seemed incredibly dodgy, but this is Mark Whitaker the thing about teenagers: They don’t notice some woman hanging about in the slightest….Anything outside their world just doesn’t exist.” Mark Whitaker won raves in 2011 for his memoir My Long Trip Home; he wrote half of his new bio of Bill Cosby, Cosby: His Life and Times, without an iota of cooperation from the comedian. Whitaker tells Kirkus writer Joshunda Sanders that he forged ahead anyway, interviewing as many people as would talk to him without Cosby’s permission. “As a journalist, sometimes you write the B-matter before you write the lead,” Whitaker says. He had been in touch with Cosby’s lawyer and kept in touch, “just so they wouldn’t think I was sneaking around.” That was a smart move, because in the fall of 2012, on the day Whitaker resigned as managing editor of CNN Worldwide, he got a phone call from Cosby. “Cosby says, ‘Congratulations. When I write my routines, I do what I call loading the boat. And I’m going to help you load the boat,’ ” Whitaker tells us.

Photo courtesy Laura Levine

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

Chief Operating Officer M E G L A B O R D E KU E H N mkuehn@kirkus.com Editor in Chief C laiborne S mith csmith@kirkus.com Managing/Nonfiction Editor E R I C L I E B E T R AU eliebetrau@kirkus.com Fiction Editor L aurie M uchnick lmuchnick@kirkus.com Children’s & Teen Editor VICKY SMITH vsmith@kirkus.com Mysteries Editor THOMAS LEITCH Contributing Editor G R E G O RY M c N A M E E Senior Indie Editor KAREN SCHECHNER kschechner@kirkus.com Indie Editor RYA N L E A H E Y rleahey@kirkus.com Indie Editor D avid R a p p drapp@kirkus.com Assistant Indie Editor M AT T D O M I N O mdomino@kirkus.com Assistant Editor CHELSEA LANGFORD clangford@kirkus.com Copy Editor BETSY JUDKINS Director of Kirkus Editorial JIM SPIVEY jspivey@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 Piacen z a apiacenza@kirkus.com Advertising/Client Promotions A nna C oo p er acooper@kirkus.com

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contents fiction

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

Index to Starred Reviews............................................................5 REVIEWS................................................................................................5 editor’s note.................................................................................... 6 On the Cover: sarah waters....................................................14 Mystery.............................................................................................. 33 Science Fiction & Fantasy..........................................................39 Romance........................................................................................... 42

nonfiction Index to Starred Reviews..........................................................43 REVIEWS..............................................................................................43 editor’s note.................................................................................. 44 The Big Data of the Heart..........................................................58

children’s & teen Index to Starred Reviews......................................................... 79 REVIEWS............................................................................................. 79 editor’s note.................................................................................. 80 Banned Books Week....................................................................96 interactive e-books.................................................................. 128 continuing series...................................................................... 129

A formative moment in the Rolling Stones’ guitarist’s youth is dazzlingly, sweetly celebrated in this family collaboration. Read the review on p. 113.

indie Index to Starred Reviews.........................................................131 REVIEWS.............................................................................................131 editor’s note.................................................................................132 Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive! and Writing About It................................................................ 138 best of indie...................................................................................150 Appreciations: Italo Calvino, Writing on Sand.............151

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on the web In her newest teen novel, I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson tells the tale of grief and healing of the separated twins Noah and Jude. Nelson purposely keeps both her characters and readers in the dark by providing the storyline through two chronologically separated narrations—one of the reclusive 13-year-old Noah and the other of the “red-red lipstick” outgoing Jude at age 16—divided by the pivotal moment of their mother’s death. “Nelson’s prose scintillates: Noah’s narration is dizzyingly visual, conjuring the surreal images that make up his ‘invisible museum’; Jude’s is visceral, conveying her emotions with startling physicality,” our reviewer wrote. Don’t forget to check out our interview with the author at kirkus. com this month. 9 Photo courtesy Craig Line

w w w. k i r k u s . c o m Check out these highlights from Kirkus’ online coverage at www.kirkus.com 9 The notorious bully from Glee, Sue Sylvester, is memorably played by Jane Lynch, who talks with us about her first picture book, Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean, on Kirkus TV on Sept. 22. Recently separated from clinical psychologist Dr. Lara Embry, Lynch and Embry together wrote Marlene, accompanied by writer A.E. Mikesell and illustrator Tricia Tusa, for a story of a mean girl turned good. The tiny-but-mighty Marlene, like Sue Sylvester, is a self-appointed ruler who makes her peers cower in fear. And only Big Freddy, “his voice loud and steady,” has what it takes to step up and stop the Queen of Mean’s tirade of bullying. In Seussian rhyming verse and lively watercolor illustration, Lynch brings a gentle and comical message to the antibullying bandwagon.

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

This month, we also interview Paul M. Barrett about his new book Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who’d Stop at Nothing to Win It. Barrett, a reporter on the Aguinda legal battle for years, knows more than what’s in the headlines. Filed against Texaco/Chevron, the lawsuit sought recovery of $19 billion for a rain forest region devastated by environmentaldepredations and health hazards resulting from oil drilling. More shockingly, Steven Donziger, a recent graduate fresh out of law school and a lawyer who had never filed even a civil suit, is the brain behind the case against America’s third largest corporation. The author is an expert on encapsulating how the young attorney who’d stop at nothing to win rallied celebrities and activists to the cause and attracted coverage from major outlets such as 60 Minutes and the New York Times. “Imagine a true-life, courtroom version of Heart of Darkness,” our reviewer wrote in a starred review.

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 VISIONS

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Armstrong, Kelley Dutton (432 pp.) $26.95 | Aug. 19, 2014 978-0-525-95305-0

EXPO 58 by Jonathan Coe......................................................................8 THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS by Michel Faber............... 13

It’s hard to tell fae from foe in this sprawling second entry in the Cainsville series, set in an eerie, insular town. After finding out that her birth parents are serial killers, former socialite Olivia Taylor-Jones is adjusting surprisingly well to life in Cainsville, taking a chance on a sexy biker, Ricky Gallagher, while assisting hard-bitten attorney Gabriel Walsh at his firm. When Liv finds a dead body in her car, and then it mysteriously vanishes, she mistakes it for an omen, a side effect of her fairy heritage that gives her visions of black dogs and other symbols of The Hunt from Celtic mythology whenever death is near. But when the body identified as Ciara Conway reappears in another location, Liv is not the only one who sees it. Whoever is repurposing the body to scare Liv is one hell of an embalmer, and it’s a stretch to imagine a killer lugging dead weight through a small town without being caught. Liv has to separate fact from fairy lore to find the connection between Ciara’s murder and the townspeople who know more than they’re letting on. With such secretive characters, the worldbuilding seems to happen in reverse—Liv has yet to break into the town’s inner circle to understand how their magic works. Meanwhile, Gabriel hides his feelings for Liv by camping out on her couch when danger lurks, and a strange friendship develops. Liv’s ex-fiance, James, is trying to win her back for all the wrong reasons and is going after Gabriel to do it. But Liv doesn’t believe everything she hears, and when she’s not plagued by disturbing visions, she’s letting the wind blow through her hair from the back of Ricky’s motorcycle while she figures it all out. She may be a pawn in a supernatural game with an unclear set of rules, but Liv proves she has moves of her own. A thrilling mystery and multiple love interests leave plenty to explore in the next book.

THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT by Laila Lalami........................................ 20 THE KILLER NEXT DOOR by Alex Marwood................................... 24 STRAIGHT WHITE MALE by John Niven.......................................... 26 ONLY THE DEAD by Vidar Sundstøl; trans. by Tiina Nunnally.........39 THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT

Lalami, Laila Pantheon (336 pp.) $26.95 Sep. 9, 2014 978-0-307-91166-7

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a book about an old intellectual (and it’s wonderful) THE FORGOTTEN GIRL

One of my favorite books of the year is Brian Morton’s Florence Gordon, a wry, generous novel about a cantankerous old feminist writer. Do you think that’s an unappealing subject? Morton is talking to you from the very first sentence:

Bell, David New American Library (448 pp.) $15.00 paper | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-451-41752-7 Dark secrets emerge from a man’s long-ago high school days in this strong and moody novel. Jason Danvers is questioned by Ednaville, Ohio, police about his missing friend, Logan Shaw. They’d had a fistfight over Regan Maines on the night of their high school graduation, after which Logan disappeared and hasn’t been seen since. Seventeen years later, Jason answers a knock at his door and sees his alcoholic sister, Hayden, for the first time in five years. She drops off her teenage daughter, Sierra, explaining it’s only for two days while she deals with unexplained issues. But Hayden doesn’t come back. Is she in serious trouble? Jason and his wife, Nora, are happy to care for the bright and mature Sierra, though she steals (well, borrows) and damages their car. The couple stays remarkably levelheaded, given the stresses the author puts on them. Another woman, Rose Holland, also shows up at Jason’s door, “looking for that bitch sister of yours....Tell her to stay away from my man.” So who is Hayden with? Each chapter quietly builds the mystery and pulls the reader along, despite the lack of hard-core action. Over the years Logan’s parents receive letters from him in various parts of the country, so at least they’re assured he’s all right. But where is he? And where is Hayden? Can there possibly be a connection between the two? Meanwhile, Jason and Nora are decent people with little serious tension between them. The time the childless couple spent with a marriage counselor seems to have paid off, as they try to make an island of stability for Jason’s sister and niece. But danger crops up in unexpected ways, and the plot comes full circle. Personal relationships are critical in this satisfying read, which is in the same class as Russell Banks’ The Sweet Hereafter.

Florence Gordon was trying to write a memoir, but she had two strikes against her: she was old and she was an intellectual. And who on earth, she sometimes wondered, would want to read a book about an old intellectual? Maybe it was three strikes, because not only was she an intellectual, she was a feminist. Which meant that if she ever managed to finish this book, reviewers would inevitably dismiss it as “strident” and “shrill.”

Photo courtesy David Kumin

A book about an old feminist is exactly my cup of tea, but I think that even if it weren’t, I’d be drawn in by Morton’s voice: intimate, exasperated, warm and funny. He also sent me back to the original feminist novels of the 1970s, which I like to re-read every decade or so anyway. Alix Kates Shulman, Marge Piercy, Marilyn French and others wrote books that never pretended to be great literature but were meant to be popular, to be picked up by women who might not do much reading but were eager for stories about the rapidly changing circumstances of their lives. These defiantly feminist, preachy books (French’s The Women’s Room and Piercy’s Small Changes, for example) had a didactic purpose—they wanted to raise their readers’ consciousnesses along with their heroines’—but they also featured soap-operatic twists and turns and a good dose of humor. I’ll never forget Sasha, the protagonist of Shulman’s Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, trying to figure out how to dispose of a used sanitary napkin at her boyfriend’s house without his whole family knowing (God forbid!) she had her period. Brian Morton A lot has changed since then, of course, but reading these royally pissed-off novels still feels eminently appropriate. —Laurie Muchnick

ANOTHER MAN’S CITY

Choi, In-Ho Translated by Fulton, Bruce; Fulton, Ju-Chan Dalkey Archive (391 pp.) $16.95 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-62897-101-9

This lightly Kafkaesque fable from a South Korean writer presents a man who suddenly finds his world not quite right in increasingly strange ways. Known only as K, the hero wakes up one morning to find his alarm ringing on a Saturday, his pajamas missing and his favorite aftershave changed from brand V to Y. They’re small,

Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor at Kirkus Reviews.

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Choi may be straining for postmodern effects, but there’s a lot of charm to his anxious novel, as if Thurber and Orwell had gotten together for a skull session.

almost explainable alterations, especially given the heavy drinking he performed the previous night. Soon, though, it’s clear that many things aren’t what they should be or what they seem to be, and that includes his wife and daughter and most of his relatives. More deceptions, illusions, masks and role-playing arise as K embarks on what’s at first a simple quest to find his lost mobile phone. Something that reads like a butcher’s promotion is an ad “from a purveyor of human organs.” A psychiatrist could be a “fruitcake.” A girl for hire, wonderfully named Sailor Moon, the Moon Nymph, is a “Pinocchio-like figure.” The whole situation could be a “mammoth conspiracy,” an “elaborate production that Big Brother was staging.” Like the almost-boy, Choi’s imagination is also loose-limbed, at times seeming to scramble through a grab bag of ideas, allusions and narrative elements, and ultimately succumbing to some unsatisfying gimmickry. Yet he has a knack for the sinister moment, and one fine and funny sustained passage takes K the devout Catholic through Confession and Mass. Most impressive is the consistency of K’s voice, sometimes comical, ever skeptical, oddly acquiescent—more Beckett than Kafka and a real achievement.

THE SQUARE

Choi, In-Hun Translated by Kim, Seong-Kon Dalkey Archive (153 pp.) $14.95 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-62897-067-8 Awkward in several off-putting ways, this earnest work—originally published in 1960—can be appreciated for offering a window onto Korean history during the crucial period of division. Just after the Korean War, on a ship carrying former POWs from South Korea to a neutral country of their choice (rather than returning to the North), Lee Myong-jun serves as

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“There is an extraordinary amount of complexity and homage present in this rip-roaringly funny satire by Coe....” from expo 58

go-between for the other prisoners and the captain. Then much of the book becomes a flashback to Lee in his 20s, when the philosophy student is torn between North and South, communism and capitalism, as he discovers the flaws and failures of each. Along the way, he discovers women and sex and spends a fair amount of time idling in a brown study; he can afford to do so because he has been raised by a banker after his mother’s death, and his father’s decamping North to become a radio propagandist for Pyongyang. Running through the book is the uber-dichotomy between the private chamber and the Square, between dwelling in one’s room, say, and in the town center, between an ordinary life and one that embraces the forces of history. Disenchanted with the South, Lee goes to the North before the war and finds the communists are not “miraculous beings and the last guardians of idealism,” as he believed. Aside from the yin-yang parade, the book is strewn with urgent symbols—an Egyptian mummy, a sea gull, a cave in the North, the captain’s compass and charts. The language sometimes suggests the translator was trying to convey clumsiness or had thrown in the towel: “The thought of being with a woman overwhelmed him like an evil conspiracy”; “He had become a man living life with a withered vegetable in his chest.” No doubt the author, born in the North and raised in the South, was bold at the time in his existential challenge to both systems, but the result is a strange quasi-poetic treatise that could well make a withered vegetable sink.

with lighthearted glee that extraordinary moment when Great Britain is caught between the stiff upper lip of postwar survivors and the swinging ’60s that still lie ahead. Coe lays trap after trap in front of Foley, among them a beautiful Flemish hostess and a very funny pair of bickering British spooks who fall in the tradition of Thomson and Thomson from Herge’s The Adventures of Tintin. For all the book’s inherent humor (e.g. the American and Russian pavilions are parked back to back for Europe’s amusement), Coe is extraordinarily faithful to the time and place of his elegant farce, describing the Atomium with an almost poetic sense of wonder and idealism. A decidedly British comic adventure that lovingly captures a long-lost age.

THE GIGANTIC BEARD THAT WAS EVIL

Collins, Stephen Picador (240 pp.) $20.00 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-250-05039-7

Cartoonist Collins’ debut graphic novel is a long, smooth fable of a man whose unkempt facial hair ravages the tidy city of Here. Here sits on an island, surrounded by the sea, separated from the far-off land of There. And whereas Here is all row houses and trimmed trees and clean cheeks, There is a dark, disordered place that would mix your insides with your outsides, your befores with your nows with your nexts—unpleasant business brilliantly depicted in panels breaking across a single body as it succumbs to chaos. So the people of Here live quiet, fastidious lives, their backs to the sea, and neighbor Dave delights in doodling it all from his window as he listens to the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” on repeat. But an irregular report at his inscrutable office job triggers the single hair that has always curved from Dave’s upper lip to be suddenly joined by a burst of follicles. Try as Dave might, his unruly beard won’t stop pouring from his face in a tangled flood—and soon it threatens the very fabric of life in Here. Collins’ illustrations are lush, rounded affairs with voluptuous shading across oblong planes. Expressions pop, from the severe upturn where a sympathetic psychiatrist’s brows meet to the befuddlement of a schoolgirl as the beard’s hypnotic powers take hold. With its archetypical conflict and deliberate dissection of language, the story seems aimed at delivering a moral, but the tale ultimately throws its aesthetics into abstraction rather than didacticism. The result rings a little hollow but goes down smooth. Rich, creamy art and playful paneling make for a fun read.

EXPO 58

Coe, Jonathan Little A/New Harvest (288 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 2, 2014 978-0-544-34376-4 An upstanding British civil servant’s life is upended during the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium. There is an extraordinary amount of complexity and homage present in this rip-roaringly funny satire by Coe (The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, 2011, etc.), so much so that even readers with the most observant eyes for detail may miss a few marks. No matter, because in placing an obscure character in the circus that was Expo 58, the author manages to pull off the fascinating trick of portraying high comedy while being absolutely faithful to its extraordinary setting. Coe’s Everyman protagonist is Thomas Foley, who first appeared as a tangential character in the earlier novel The Rain Before It Falls (2008). Here, Foley is an upstanding civil servant and dedicated if somewhat distractible family man. His superiors at the Ministry of Information are in a tizzy over the impending World’s Fair, debating furiously whether a history of the British water closet is appropriate fodder. Foley is tasked to repair to Brussels for six months to oversee the Brittania, a modern-ish pub meant to be the jewel of England’s pavilion. Drawing its tone from the broad comedy of the 1950s and its heart from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 comic thriller The Lady Vanishes, the novel captures 8

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Great Books for Your Reading Pleasure Personal Finance Simply Understood

Malibu Med and the Sweet Smell of Money

Prudent Strategies for Setting and Achieving Financial Goals and the Reasons behind Them

C. Rex Sartorius

Chris Simber

www.iuniverse.com

www.iuniverse.com

978-1-4759-4373-3 | Paperback | $20.95 978-1-4759-4374-0 | Hardback | $30.95 978-1-4759-4375-7 | Ebook | $3.99

978-1-4917-0521-6 | Paperback | $18.95 978-1-4917-0522-3 | Hardback | $28.95 978-1-4917-0523-0 | Ebook | $3.99

Gene therapy has inundated Malibu, California, bringing opposition, competition, and the sweet smell of money to everyone at the local medical school. Time will tell if a young scientist is the culprit or the victim of a far-reaching assault focused on destroying years of important work.

Minor financial adjustments can get you out of debt and save money. To make these changes, however, you need to understand some basic financial language and concepts. This guidebook provides the knowledge you need through charts, graphs, and simple language.

Reinvent The Heal

Cursed at Birth

A Philosophy for The Reform of Medical Practice

Book One Stephen Nnamdi

James T. Hansen, M.D.

www.iuniverse.com

www.authorhouse.com

978-1-4759-8119-3 | Paperback | $10.95 978-1-4759-8118-6 | Hardback | $20.95 978-1-4759-8117-9 | Ebook | $3.99

978-1-4772-1148-9 | Paperback | $19.95 978-1-4772-1147-2 | Hardback | $28.99 978-1-4772-1146-5 | Ebook | $3.99

Factory security guard Michael Abraham suspects a monster is stealing souls at his new place of employment—but is the monster of another world or just a bloodthirsty human being? Find out in Stephen Nnamdi’s Cursed at Birth.

Reinvent The Heal is a nonfiction book that explores and identifies the chief cause of the health care crisis. Dr. James Hansen provides readers with a meaningful solution to this ongoing and serious issue.

I Love You Greater than Space!

Atlanta Rain

Lucy Dunn Blount

Eugene Goss

www.authorhouse.com

www.authorhouse.com

978-1-4817-1275-0 | Paperback | $19.95 978-1-4817-1276-7 | Ebook | $9.95

978-1-4772-8895-5 | Paperback | $16.95 978-1-4772-8894-8 | Hardback | $27.99 978-1-4772-8893-1 | Ebook | $3.99

An English Oxford don, a southern Christian writer meet at Monteagle on the Cumberland Plateau. Both wounded. Both healing. Written partly in haiku, this heart-felt tale weaves a captivating story of love and sorrow.

A child is murdered in Atlanta, and the killer is standing trial in a case featuring a father, the defense attorney, arguing against his son, the prosecutor. In the midst of this tragedy, an interesting and multifaceted story unfolds.

Audio version included with each purchase.

My Mother’s Secret

Butterfly Kisses

Based on a true Holocaust story

Dorit Gomberg

J.L. Witterick

www.xlibris.com

www.iuniverse.com

978-1-4797-1527-5 | Paperback | $21.99 978-1-4797-1528-2 | Hardback | $31.99 978-1-4797-1529-9 | Ebook | $3.99

978-1-4759-6257-4 | Paperback | $8.95 978-1-4759-6258-1 | Hardback | $24.95

A beautifully crafted book that delightfully depicts the power of prayer, Butterfly Kisses features the tale of a lonely flower that eventually learns the value of hope and optimism. With colorful illustrations, this artistic book will definitely uplift your spirit!

In a world where being insignificant and poor is a good thing, the Halamajowas are glad to be left alone. But as the Nazis begin persecuting Jews, Franciszka decides to hide two Jewish families and a German soldier. Frustrated at being caught between what is right and what she wants, Helena must keep the secret in a place where giving a piece of bread and water to a Jew is a death sentence.

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

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A DANCER IN THE DUST

a certain class, age and background. The desolate outlooks of Ronnie and his buddies are weighed down by crap jobs (asbestos removal, pizza delivery, etc.), fueled by the massive and constant intake of drugs and alcohol, and soothed only by the likes of Charles Bukowski, Lou Reed, The Kinks and The Replacements. Fleeing the ersatz utopia that is Orlando, Ronnie settles in the titular town to finish his 536-page novel, The Big Blast of Youth, and bang heads with guys carrying names like “Boogie Dave.” If there’s anyone to truly feel sorry for, it’s the girls that Ronnie orbits. These pierced, tattooed and dyed goddesses have names like “Maux” and “Portland Patty” and put up with being dubbed “nnnugget” for their inherent hotness. For these girls, the worst revelation they come to about these long-haired boys with their shiny guitars is that at the end of the day, they’re all pretty much losers. It’s a big, messy, uncomfortable story but one that captures its milieu. The final third of the book is marked by a six-week relationship during which Ronnie teeters on the verge of being saved. But in the end, the book’s real question is whether this beautiful loser is capable of being saved from himself. A rock-and-roll fable about the secret lives of the unsatisfied.

Cook, Thomas H. Mysterious Press (352 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 2, 2014 978-0-8021-2272-8

A man wrestles with demons from his past in Cook’s introspective if at times overly drawn-out novel. Ray Campbell lives comfortably in Manhattan as a risk management consultant, advising others when and if to take a chance on everything from stocks to property deals. Cook (Sandrine’s Case, 2013, etc.) excels at merging contemporary and past storylines into one narrative, and it’s no different here: Ray is haunted by his time spent in the fictional African country of Lubanda 20 years earlier. With all the good intentions of the best, if most naïve, aid worker, Ray spent a year in Lubanda, a country rife with violent internal conflicts, as part of the NGO Hope for Lubanda. There, he met the only woman he ever loved, Martine Aubert. Of French and Belgian descent, Martine was born in Lubanda and considered herself a native of the country, an assertion that increasingly chafed the government, who considered all whites a foreign menace to be eradicated. It’s clear early on that Martine will meet an untimely, and likely grisly, end during what’s referred to as the Tumasi Road Incident, but Cook dances around the facts for a few beats too long, and the suspense deflates. Spurred on by the murder of an old friend from his Lubanda days, Seso Alaya, who traveled to New York with a mysterious message that likely got him killed, Ray returns to Lubanda, both to avenge Seso’s death and try to assuage his own guilt about Martine’s fate. Cook masterfully captures the tumultuous state of a country in upheaval; it’s a shame the story doesn’t match the richness of the setting.

DON’T FORGET ME, BRO

Cummings, John Michael Stephen F. Austin University Press (300 pp.) Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-62288-078-2 A well-written tale of family dysfunction that’s sure to depress the reader from beginning to end. Narrator Mark Barr doesn’t much like his family and hasn’t been back to Alma, West Virginia, for more than a decade. Then his oldest brother, Steve, dies of a heart attack at age 45. Mark returns to find his father as hateful as ever, his mother as weak and unpleasant, and his other brother, Greg, as disagreeable. The family plans no funeral, no memorial for Steve, who is said to have been mentally ill. So what to do about Steve’s remains: urn or grave? That is the plot. Steve had begged Mark, “Don’t forget me, bro,” and simply wanted to be buried next to Grandpa Roy. But Dad, who has contempt for his entire family, insists on cremation and on placing the ashes in an unmarked urn to remain inside the house. The issue becomes a battle of wills between Mark and Dad, with Mom and Greg largely on the sidelines. Vivid descriptions help set the mood and redeem the story: “Baloney-pink rugs spread across bulges in the tile.” “Steve—bloated, grungy, and depressed in life—would look his best dead, too.” Mark’s life away from “home” has been no prize, either. He and his girlfriend are not in love but seem too lazy to break up, even though he has struck her at least once. The fundamental problem with the book is that there is no one to sympathize with, barring Steve, who’s dead. Mark and his old man both need swift kicks in the butt, but Mom won’t do it. Greg has a lawnmower and a huge truck tire in his kitchen, though, so there’s that going for him.

LOSING IN GAINESVILLE

Costello, Brian Curbside Splendor (526 pp.) $15.95 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-940430-31-7

A broke, burned-out rock guitarist and aspiring writer runs with his tribe in post-grunge Florida. If Joyce was right that you could rebuild Dublin by reading Ulysses, you could definitely reconstruct a very specific American village of dive bars, record shops and drugstore cowboys from this slab of post-punk tragicomedy, the second novel by creative writing teacher/drummer Costello (The Enchanters vs. Sprawlburg Springs, 2006). The novel traces the emotional arc (or lack thereof) of superslacker Ronnie Altamont, the lead singer and guitarist in his low-rent Florida rock band, The Laraflynnboyles. Set in the mid-1990s, the story captures in intimate detail the wilderness years experienced by many American males of 10

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Read this book for the vivid imagery and sharp dialogue. Read it for the spot-on characterizations. But if you want to care about an outcome, look for a different book.

she’s given birth to a baby son “without a suitable husband.” Her father is the Banu Kalb’s great sheikh, but contrary to nomadic traditions, he settled at Dumah in the Northern Arabian desert, allying with his wife’s uncle, Nabataean King Aretas. Now Nashquya, Malik’s wife, dies, her death robbing Maviah of protection and jeopardizing Malik’s power. Aretas gives his support to the Thamud, an aggressive Kalb enemy. Worse, Malik is betrayed by Maliku, his son. As Malik’s overthrown, he dispatches Maviah to Palestine. She’s to convince King Herod to persuade Rome to support the Kalb. Dekker plunges headfirst into this complex scene-setting, thereafter ramping up drama with Maviah’s perilous trek across the desolate Nafud desert. Dekker’s descriptions of the Nafud’s dangers—think Lawrence of Arabia—are powerfully done, as are his portrayals of the perils posed by the clashing customs of Arabs, Jews and Romans in an era when women were property. Dekker’s secondary characters sparkle as well, including the Bedu Judah, a convert to Judaism who’s entranced with Yeshua of Nazareth. A nicely scripted romance develops between Judah and Maviah—“Judah was like water to my heart”—but as Maviah seeks Herod at Sepphoris,

A.D. 30

Dekker, Ted Center Street/Hachette (432 pp.) $25.00 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 28, 2014 978-1-59995-418-9 978-1-4555-5884-1 e-book Dekker (Outlaw, 2013, etc.) makes the spiritual real through the fictional Maviah, daughter of Rami bin Malik, Bedu sheikh. It’s A.D. 30. Maviah has returned from Egypt into her father’s reluctant care. She was born illegitimate, her father’s daughter by a woman from an outcast Bedu tribe; thus, her exile. Now she’s been returned from Egypt because

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THE BOY WHO DREW MONSTERS

she worries she’s “too common to win the favor of a king.” Then she meets Yeshua—“I could not doubt I was looking at more than a mere man.” What follows are machinations at Herod’s court and then pain, imprisonment and swordplay at Aretas’ Petra court, before Dekker offers an ending supporting his announced sequel. Action-adventure, set against the life of Yeshua, the prophet who dared speak against “the way of the world, protected by position and sword and gold and knowledge.”

Donohue, Keith Picador (288 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-250-05715-0 978-1-250-05716-7 e-book What happens when the monsters under the bed come from the boy sleeping on top of it? Jack Peter is not a normal boy, and it’s beginning to take its toll on his family. He’s always been an odd child, but at 7, he nearly drowned and withdrew from the world. For the three years since, he has refused to leave the house, preferring to move from obsession to obsession, occasionally being bundled into a wad of blankets to be taken to the doctor. When the book begins, his obsession has moved from playing war to drawing monsters, and Nick, a relatively normal boy who is Jack’s only remaining friend, is swept up in the furor. But Jack’s parents and Nick are beginning to hear and see things that seem otherworldly, and it becomes clear that Jack’s drawings reflect, or perhaps even create, the odd sounds and creatures. His parents, Tim and Holly, baffled by the happenings and frightened by the cracks in their marriage, try desperately to solve the growing mysteries. All suspect they are going insane; Tim takes to roaming the foggy beaches, Holly turns to the church, and Nick keeps tagging along with Jack. Donohue’s (The Stolen Child, 2006, etc.) writing is as evocative as Jack Peter’s drawings, both startling and heavy with emotion. The pacing is steady and recalls other recent works of literary horror, in which the terror of the monsters is uneasily balanced with the mundanity of everyday life. This doesn’t discredit Jack’s creatures at all, though; in fact, they’re terrifying. With such a spooky novel, it’s almost too much to hope for a good ending, but Donohue manages to surprise and satisfy nonetheless. A sterling example of the new breed of horror: unnerving and internal with just the right number of bumps in the night.

VIRTUE FALLS

Dodd, Christina St. Martin’s (384 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 9, 2014 978-1-250-02841-9 978-1-250-02843-3 e-book When geologist Elizabeth Banner returns to her hometown of Virtue Falls two decades after her father was convicted of murdering her mother, longburied secrets will put her in the sights of a serial killer after an earthquake hits and uncovers them. Since the day her mother died, Elizabeth has turned toward science to make sense of the world, and she’s returned to Virtue Falls as a renowned geologist to take up the intriguing work her father started before he was convicted of his wife’s murder, studying “Pacific Rim tectonic plates and subduction zones.” Nearly as soon as she gets there, a huge earthquake hits the area and puts her work front and center on a national scale. Unfortunately, it also devastates the community, and Elizabeth is honorbound to check in on her ex-husband’s unofficial foster mother, Margaret, an elderly resort owner who helped Garik survive an abusive childhood. Emotionally adrift since the end of his marriage, Garik has put his FBI career in jeopardy, but when he hears about the Virtue Falls earthquake, he speeds up the coast from Las Vegas to help Margaret, only to learn that Elizabeth is there, too. And when a gruesome discovery at Elizabeth’s work site ties her mother’s death to a recent series of murders, Garik puts his detective skills to work to solve the case, since it’s becoming clear that Charles Banner is innocent and the killer is after Elizabeth. Romance star Dodd moves firmly into thriller territory, and a fascinating premise combined with a complex, layered plot, insightful characterization and agile storytelling make for a winning read. Intense and suspenseful, with touches of romance, humor and mysticism.

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STREET OF THIEVES

Énard, Mathias Translated by Mandell, Charlotte Open Letter (203 pp.) $15.95 paper | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-940953-01-4 A coming-of-age story that plays out across a contemporary landscape of the Arab Spring and other social uprisings. Lakhdar, the narrator, begins his story in Tangier, in his native Morocco. He’s obsessed with girls, especially with his cousin Meryem. When he’s caught in a compromising position with her, his father beats him, and his family essentially disavows him. Lakhdar begins to work as a bookseller with the Muslim |


Group for the Propagation of Koranic Thought, becoming closer to his friend Bassam and to the group’s leader, Sheikh Nureddin. This job provides little nourishment for Lakhdar’s restless spirit, however, and neither does a move to a job as a typist with a French businessman. Eventually Lakhdar links up with Judit, a Spanish student studying Arabic in Tangier. We learn that restlessness is not simply personal, but also cultural when violence breaks out in Tangier and Marrakesh. For several months Lakhdar works on the Ibn Battuta, a ferryboat plying the waters between Morocco and Algeciras. Ultimately, he makes his way to Barcelona (where he lives on the eponymous Street of Thieves) to seek out Judit, with whom he’d stayed in desultory contact since she left Tangier, though Lakhdar suspects her passion has cooled. They do get back together, and Judit even helps him get a job tutoring students in Arabic, though their relationship is colored by the discovery that Judit has a tumor. When Sheik Nureddin reappears with Bassam on a business trip to Barcelona, Lakhdar notices how serious and committed his old friend has become—and his worry eventually leads to tragedy. Enard writes passionately about Lakhdar’s movement from innocence to experience, and the novel’s various settings all ring depressingly true.

rest of the unholy; good thing the alien-tongued aliens of Oasis will put in a good word for him, even though their tongue may not be entirely comprehensible. Faber’s novel runs a touch long but is entirely true to itself and wonderfully original. It makes a fine update to Walter M. Miller Jr.’s Canticle for Leibowitz, with some Marilynne Robinson–like homespun theology thrown in for good measure. What would Jesus do if he wore a space helmet? A profoundly religious exploration of inner turmoil, and one sure to irk the Pat Robertson crowd in its insistence on the primacy of humanity. (This review was first published in the Fall Preview 2014 issue.)

THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS

Faber, Michel Hogarth/Crown (480 pp.) $28.00 | $13.99 e-book | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-553-41884-2 978-0-553-41885-9 e-book A long-awaited—and brilliant and disquieting—novel of faith and redemption by Scotland-based writer Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White, 2002, etc.). Eschatological religion and apocalypse make a natural fit. Throw in a distant planet that’s not populated by L. Ron Hubbard acolytes, and you have an intriguing scenario prima facie. Peter (think about the name) is a minister who, aspiring to be useful, signs up for a stint, courtesy of one of the world’s ruling corporations, on far-off Oasis, a forbidding chunk of rock on which the crew of the Nostromo, of Alien fame, wouldn’t be out of place. “This was not Gethsemane: he wasn’t headed for Golgotha, he was embarking on a great adventure.” So he thinks, allowing for his habit of casting events in religiously hallucinogenic terms. The natives are shy—and who wouldn’t be, given the rough humans who have come there before Peter—but receptive to his message, which deepens as Peter becomes more and more involved with his mission. Trouble is, things aren’t good back on Earth: His wife, with child, is staring what appear to be the end times in the face, even as life on Oasis, as one human denizen snarls, turns out to be “sorta like the Rapture by committee.” Is Peter good enough to make it through the second coming? He’s lived, as we learn, a fully charged sinner’s life before becoming saintly, and he’s just one crisis of faith away from meriting incineration along with the |

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Sarah Waters

For her latest novel, the best-selling writer delved into the 1920s—and the science of blood spatter By Karen Schechner must take in lodgers—enter Lilian and Leonard Barber—and calling them the paying guests makes the arrangement feel less desperate. When Frances and Lilian begin a lusty affair, their romance becomes an unnerving force that leads to violence and floods this crime novel with tension and moral questions. Waters writes: For what, Frances had asked herself, had she and Lilian done? They had allowed this passion into the house: she saw it for the first time as something unruly, something almost with a life of its own. It might have been a fugitive that the two of them had smuggled in by night, then hidden away in the attic or in the spaces behind the walls.

Like the lead of her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, Waters, 48, once lived in the seaside town of Whistable, England. Now the award-winning Welsh author—she’s been shortlisted for both the Man Booker and Orange prizes several times and named one of Granta’s best young British novelists—lives in London. Her body of work ranges through the past couple of centuries and all over England—a Victorian prison for women, an oyster house, a pornographer’s mansion, bombed-out London, a haunted house. Threading through it all are “two strands of influence,” says Waters. “My starting point was definitely that mix of excitements I felt in my 20s, for lesbian and gay fiction on the one hand and historical novels on the other.” Waters credits the genius of Jeanette Winterson, “who seemed to come from nowhere,” and Alan Hollinghurst for her LGBT inspiration, and the “ambitious, postmodern novels” of Graham Swift, A.S. Byatt, Peter Ackroyd and Peter Carey for grounding her career-long

Photo courtesy Charlie Hopkinson

Sarah Waters used a Law & Order approach for her latest novel; it’s just that she ripped the headlines from events that occurred shortly after World War I. “I went to the 1920s wanting to find out more about it,” says Waters. “I read the Times and the Manchester Guardian, and I found real-life murder cases. That really interested me. That shaped the book very much. With that, I already had the beginning of a story.” The Paying Guests—a delectably written consideration of class and sexuality—takes place in a London still reeling from the first world war. Many former soldiers are unemployed, and the atmosphere feels both foreboding and newly permissive. Frances Wray, a likable upper-middle-class woman, takes care of her mum, and their bills are amassing. The women 14

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interest in historical fiction. “I appreciate how playful they are about reinventing the past,” she says. As a former academic, Waters likes the research phase of writing. For The Paying Guests, that meant learning about blood spatter. She turned to pal crimewriter Val McDermid, who sent her to Sue Black, a professor of anatomy and forensic anthropology in Scotland. “Basically, I told Sue what I wanted, i.e., [someone] to be killed more or less instantly by a blow to the head by a blunt instrument, and asked her if the way I had described it was correct,” says Waters. “It wasn’t, quite. I’d really wanted it to be bloodless, but that wasn’t possible—so I had to add in the blood.” Waters was also curious about English home life in the ’20s. The novel includes details of maintaining a household (scalding milk in the summer to keep it from souring) from books published in the ’20s and ’30s; many were bought on eBay: Enquire Inside, Everywoman’s Problems Solved Inside and Cookery for Invalids. In fact, the incessantly scrubbing Frances mortifies her mother, who (like the BBC’s Hyacinth Bucket) is bent on keeping up appearances. Salt-ofthe-earth Frances grows tired of the reactions of her mother’s friends, “all of whom had got themselves through the worst war in human history yet seemed unable for some reason to cope with the sight of a well-bred woman doing the work of a char.” The line typifies Waters’ encapsulating wit. While the novel is set during the Jazz Age, it’s no late-season Downton Abbey. A typical outing for Frances isn’t a gin-soaked hootenanny but an economical trip to the Tate Gallery cafe, where “it was possible to order a pot of tea, then sneak out a home-made bun to have with it.” Waters says, “Certainly our stereotypes about the ’20s are that it was about dancing, very glamorous. But people in the ’20s were still poor.” It was an interesting, shifting time for the lower and middle classes. “There were still lots of restrictions, but things were starting to change, especially in terms of sexual freedom,” says Waters. “If Frances wasn’t tied to her mother, she would have had resources to be fairly adventurous.” Frances, however, does OK on the sexually adventurous front. In an early scene, she muses on Lilian in the bath: “The only thing between herself and a naked Mrs. Barber was a few feet of kitchen and a thin scullery door. An image sprang to mind: that round flesh, crimsoning in the heat.”

In fact, in nearly all of Waters’ work, from Tipping the Velvet (Victorian slang for cunnilingus) to The Paying Guests, there are scenes in which cream-complexioned women cavort breathlessly only to part traumatically. Does Waters ever want to just let them merrily carry on? “Well, that wouldn’t be any fun,” she says. “You show the highest respect for your characters by putting them in terrible situations. You’re allowing them to become possibly big and noble figures, or not, and experience the highs and lows.” The author is allowing herself “a bit of a fallow time” while she’s on tour in the U.K. and U.S., and she’s working on her first play. “It’s spooky and theatrical,” she says. “It’s been about finding another way to create a story in a sort of 3-D way, rather than the 2-D way I’m used to. It’s been good for me…to see that there are other ways of doing things. It’s been a real lark.” Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor at Kirkus Reviews. The Paying Guests received a starred review in the BEA/ ALA Issue, published with the May 15, 2014, issue of Kirkus Reviews.

The Paying Guests Waters, Sarah Riverhead (560 pp.) $28.95 | Sep. 16, 2014 978-1-59463-311-9

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“This is a fierce, untamed, riotous book...you’ll know you’re not reading Jane Austen. ” from fourteen stories, none of them are yours

BITTER REMEDY

compulsively, he collapses and is found by Paulin, who gently helps tend him and ultimately becomes his intimate friend and confidant. Stimulated by the volatile political climate, Paulin is working on a novel, and he shares this work with Raynand. Paulin’s work is experimental and expansive, and he’s never quite sure where it’s going (or even what its title is), but its existence leads him to have aesthetic and philosophical conversations with Raynand about the nature of creativity and the possibilities of artistic form. In fact, part of the narrative is taken over by Paulin’s novel. Raynand is genuinely moved by his friend’s words, though it doesn’t keep him from becoming increasingly isolated, and he resumes his lonely and obsessive walking. Eventually, Paulin is savagely beaten at a political rally, and Raynand is caught and imprisoned for political activism. Frankétienne writes with a savage beauty about politics, art, and the roles of men and women in a turbulent world.

Fitzgerald, Conor Bloomsbury (320 pp.) $26.00 | Aug. 14, 2014 978-1-62040-685-4 A prickly Italian police inspector battles illness, culture shock and personal demons before stumbling onto a case that stabilizes him. Somewhere in Europe, a captive hairdresser named Alina dreams of escape. Elsewhere, Caterina Mattiola has a surprisingly calm reaction to the discovery that her lover and baby daddy, investigator Alec Blume, has taken a holiday solo and without warning. Indeed, the frazzled Blume is in seclusion at a villa supervised by the brisk Silvana. The story advances murkily, alternating between Alina and Blume and moving freely through time. He undergoes unsatisfying therapy as details of Alina’s past are sketched in: her Romanian upbringing, her Harry Potter obsession, her bubbly best friend, Nadia Antonescu. The two plots are eventually brought together by the disreputable Niki Solito, a slick nightclub owner who is a former (or perhaps current) lover of Silvana, as well as a link to the missing Alina. Nadia had traveled ahead of her friend, but when the two are finally reunited in Italy, Alina finds Nadia working at Niki’s club and seriously careworn. Nadia credits Niki with “rescuing” her, but Alina is not so sure he’s trustworthy. When Nadia appeals to Blume for help in finding her missing friend, the story finds focus and gains momentum, also giving Blume, perhaps, the remedy for what’s been ailing him. The off-center characters, the narrative woolgathering and the way the seemingly disparate fragments of plot converge are part of Fitzgerald’s tantalizing method in Blume’s stylish fifth caper (The Memory Key, 2013, etc.). Readers new to the series may feel a bit lost.

FOURTEEN STORIES, NONE OF THEM ARE YOURS

Goebel, Luke B. Univ. of Alabama (136 pp.) $16.95 paper | $14.95 e-book Sep. 15, 2014 978-1-57366-180-5 978-1-57366-847-7 e-book

If Kerouac were writing today, his work might look something like this— and despite the title, many of the stories are indeed ours, as they focus on love and loss, pain and yearning. The “stories” are not discrete fictional units as much as variations on different themes that recur as we move through the narrative. One theme is the narrator’s love of Catherine, who’s moved on both literally and figuratively, for she went to Paris and fell in love with a Spaniard, Manuelo. The narrator’s love for her is both intense and desperate, and he’s never quite gotten over her loss. Another leitmotif is the death of the narrator’s older brother, Carl, an event clearly even more traumatic than the loss of Catherine. The narrator’s agony over this death pervades many of the stories but especially “Before Carl Left.” The central character in the novel, however, is the narrator himself. Having been jailed and gone to rehab, and having had bizarre episodes following his participation in a peyote ritual, the narrator seems lucky to be alive. Even his turn at wearing a shirt and tie and teaching freshman composition at a small college in East Texas doesn’t domesticate him, as he lives close to the bone on a ranch he rents from Squeaky, a gay rodeo roper. In a final bit of ironic exuberance, the narrator urges us to “Find God. Find love, Find America” rather than read a book—especially the one we’re holding in our hands. This is a fierce, untamed, riotous book—and from the first page you’ll know you’re not reading Jane Austen.

READY TO BURST

Frankétienne Translated by Glover, Kaiama L. Archipelago (172 pp.) $18.00 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-935744-78-8 A Haitian novel about friendship, politics and artistic theory. Early in the novel, one of the narrators exclaims: “I’m suffocating. I write whatever crosses my mind. The important thing for me is the exorcism. The liberation of something. Of someone. Of myself perhaps,” and while this might be seen as an excuse for self-indulgence and stylistic effusion, the story is actually one of domesticity and passion. The major character here is Raynand, who has a torrid affair with the exotic Solange, but her passion cools more quickly than his. Raynand is left desolate, especially when he discovers Solange in the arms of a new lover, Gaston. Walking the streets aimlessly and 16

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THE HORMONE FACTORY

making scientific discoveries and lots of money, although Mordechai chafes at Levine’s efforts to hire as many German-Jewish refugees as possible. Ironically, Mordechai marries Rivka, the daughter of one of the German scientists, who bears him four daughters and a son. Meanwhile, Mordechai, a self-styled ladies’ man, enjoys summoning female employees to his office to “seduce” them and wonders at Aaron’s lack of sex drive. Without Levine’s knowledge, Mordechai arranges for his brother to test out the testosterone Farmacon has been developing. The result drives Aaron temporarily insane with lust, and he goes to prison in 1938 without divulging Mordechai’s culpability. As the Nazis arrive, Mordechai escapes Holland with his family although Rivka, having learned about Mordechai’s predatory sexual activities, ends their marriage. But Mordechai’s primary concern is Farmacon’s continuing growth even as the war rages and those he left behind suffer. Returning to the postwar Netherlands, he breaks with Levine because Levine’s German (though Jewish) background might hurt business. Rivka, Aaron and Levine have all become fodder for Mordechai’s greed. Even as an old man approaching death, he has no epiphany to leaven the reader’s perception that he is a narcissistic creep.

Goldschmidt, Saskia Translated by Velmans, Hester Other Press (267 pp.) $17.95 paper | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-59051-649-2

Dutch author Goldschmidt’s first novel, an attempt to fictionalize the history of a Dutch pharmaceutical company that survived World War II although it was owned by Jews, offers a less than savory view of business ethics. Twin brothers Mordechai and Aaron De Paauw inherit the family butcher business in the early 1920s when they’re only 27. Ambitious Mordechai is soon running things while mild-mannered, morally upright Aaron remains in the background. In 1923, Mordechai teams up with Rafael Levine, a Jewish scientist from Germany, to found Farmacon, which will manufacture insulin from animal pancreas excretions. The partnership flourishes,

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INTO THE SILENCE The Fishing Story

Although Goldschmidt gives him a distinctive, if repellent voice, Mordechai reports the events of his life in a deadening follow-the-dots style that does nothing to mitigate the novel’s simplistic portrayal of nobility versus capitalist evil.

Hart, America Red Hen Press (160 pp.) $15.95 paper | Sep. 23, 2014 978-1-59709-540-2

IN CERTAIN CIRCLES

A young woman reflects on her relationship with her father, a fisherman, in this free-form coming-of-age tale. Less a novel than the impression of a novel, this book by Hart (Creative Writing/London Metropolitan University) is so experimental that it more closely resembles the music of Miles Davis or Talking Heads than a work of literature. Borrowing liberally from Burroughs and other Beat-influenced modernists, Hart uses virtually no punctuation other than semicolons and colons and no uppercase letters to distinguish sentences from one another. The novel tells the story of Natalia, a budding young violinist who is emotionally estranged from her mother and sister; she bonded with her father, Walker, over fishing trips, remembered with soft-focus nostalgia. Later, she drops out of school to pursue her art in the company of a ballet dancer. In literary hallucinations like this, there’s always a bloody ghost—and here we get two, in the personae of Natalia’s grandmother (metafiction ahead) “America” and her greatgrandmother Anastasia, whose diaries help inform Natalia on her own emotional journey. Passages like these spill out over the pages but ultimately add up to little more than long, shapeless poetry: “indefatigable and undefined, gesture as though to fall into a coma, turn twice on feet, on pointe, in a pirouette; mark the spaces clearly, the number of footsteps and distance between as, clear and unassuming, a gaze falls, off into the trees, a soft sigh, an attempt to construct a place of unimportance, understand the clear insignificance of glass....” This is also the type of book that dares to address us as “dear reader,” affecting an antiquated mood that its postmodern style does not support. The language and imagery are often lovely but so very nonsensical that the story within is confusing to follow. Poetic, yes, but this not-a-novel reads like something from an art school writing class.

Harrower, Elizabeth Text (257 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 9, 2014 978-1-922182-29-6

A previously unpublished novel by an Australian author whose work from the 1950s and ’60s has recently found new popularity reveals how a privileged daughter’s bright future leads to misery. Harrower (The Watch Tower, 2013, etc.) published four novels more than half a century ago, then withdrew the fifth before its scheduled publication and stopped writing. Available now for the first time, the book returns readers to characteristic Harrower terrain via the finely scrutinized interior lives of two very different pairs of siblings divided by social status, assumptions and, above all, psychologies. Zoe and Russell Howard are the gilded children of notable, wellconnected parents living in middle-class comfort in Sydney. A chance meeting on a train introduces Russell to Stephen Quayle and then his sister Anna, whose parents’ deaths in a car accident left them under the damaging guardianship of an uncle and his disturbed wife. While Anna seems to have emerged relatively intact, Stephen is angry and judgmental, and beautiful, talented Zoe—“There was something enchanting and winning and touching about her, and she knew it”—is electrified by his difference. Years later, after Zoe has begun a promising career in the film industry in Europe, her mother dies, and returning to Australia, she is reunited with Stephen. Soon they are married, but the honeymoon phase, with Zoe trying to “cure” Stephen of his unhappy past, slowly evolves into something more destructive, as Stephen’s mix of tenderness and abuse slowly eats away at her. Formal in tone and cerebral in style, Harrower’s novel proceeds in a sequence of snapshot episodes dominated by semiabstract conversations. It takes a late kind of theatrical coup to push the actors out of their frozen roles into a reconfigured future. With its flavor of Henry James, Harrower’s rediscovered story is an odd, brittle yet impressive piece of work that exposes the complex passions beneath a drawingroom–scenario surface.

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UGLY GIRLS

Hunter, Lindsay Farrar, Straus and Giroux (288 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-0-374-53386-1 Two high school girls put on a tough act to hide deep-seated insecurities in this gripping character-driven novel. Hunter (Don’t Kiss Me, 2013, etc.) opens in medias res with Baby Girl driving a stolen red Mazda. Perry, riding shotgun, looks at Baby Girl and thinks, “Fake-ass thug.” With this quick insight, it’s clear that, despite sharing nights of “thugging,” their |


bond is very thin. Each girl masks a private pain. Baby Girl’s gun-carrying older brother, Charles, was in a motorcycle accident that left him with irreversible brain damage. She’s shaved half her head and stolen cars in an attempt to fill his place. Perry, who lives in a trailer park with her stepfather and alcoholic mother, has relied on her looks to get what she wants since she was 14. The novel’s power lies in its depth. The roving thirdperson narrator dips in and out of five main characters’ minds. In addition to Perry and Baby Girl, there’s Perry’s mother, Myra; her stepfather, Jim; and Jamey, a threatening and mysterious figure who seems to be stalking both girls. The depiction of the working-class poor is nuanced and real. Myra is saved from becoming a flat depiction of an absentee mother when we see her internal struggle with alcoholism. Jim is similarly saved from becoming a stereotypical “good guy” when we follow him to his job as a prison guard and watch him beat prisoners for simply mentioning his family life. As the perspectives weave together and move forward, Hunter toys with the reader’s sympathies. Characters we might have written off or hated re-emerge in full and compelling form. Even Jamey, the villain, becomes somewhat sympathetic when we see what life looks like inside his home. As Baby Girl and Perry continue shoplifting and skipping school, unaware of the true danger that approaches them, the action accelerates. The novel moves toward a conclusion that is shocking, sad and inevitable. In a haunting portrait of longing, Hunter forces the reader to relate to a wide array of human ugliness.

be ambitious or wealthy. But Hannah delights in the shared tasks of keeping the lights lit and rescuing shipwrecked souls, though John repeatedly cautions her against taking so many risks. One night, while John is away, Hannah plunges into stormy waters, determined to prove her worth. She saves William “Billy” Pike, a disappointing drunkard. Within days it’s evident that John will never return, and Hannah descends into dark grief. Billy stays on to help with chores, and his secrets may endanger not only Hannah’s reputation, but also her heart. A tumultuous romance set against stormy seas. (Agent: Laurie Liss)

THE LIGHTKEEPER’S WIFE

Johnson, Sarah Anne Sourcebooks Landmark (304 pp.) $14.99 paper | Sep. 9, 2014 978-1-4022-9478-5

Entangled in 19th-century social restrictions, two women experience the transformative power of grief and the resurrecting power of love. Johnson’s debut intertwines the tales of Hannah Snow, the titular lighthouse keeper’s widow, and Annie, a sea captain’s runaway wife. Tethered by social conventions and expectations to increasingly unsatisfying lives, both women strive to gain some measure of masculine experience. Annie married Daniel hoping for adventure, not children, so she’s aghast when he leaves her ashore in Jamaica to await the birth of their first child. When their newborn daughter dies, Annie swiftly metamorphoses from a grieving mother into an enraged, vengeful fury. Once back aboard ship, she defies Daniel to learn everything she can about navigating a ship. When pirates loom on the horizon, her ambivalent loyalties imperil the entire crew. Meanwhile, after a childhood spent joyously working the boats with her father, Hannah had to leave the seashore to work alongside her mother in her very successful store. Marriage to the beguiling John Snow promises freedom. He’s a kindhearted man who, after a stint in the Union Army, knows he’s unsuited for a military career, and he warns his beloved Hannah that he’ll never |

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“Assured, lyrical imagining of the life of one of the first African slaves in the New World....” from the moor’s account

BUTTERFLY SKIN

this kind is, of course, the shipwreck that leaves him, with a body of Spanish explorers whose number will eventually be whittled down to three, to walk across much of what is now the American Southwest. Led by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, “my rival storyteller,” the quartet encounters wondrous things and people: cities of mud brick, maidens draped with turquoise, abundant “skins, amulets, feathers, copper bells,” and always the promise of gold just beyond the horizon. They provide wonders in return: Estebanico is a source of exotic entertainment (“It was harmless fun to them, but to me it quickly grew tiresome”), while his fellow traveler Andres Dorantes de Carranza sets broken bones and heals the sick. Lalami extends the stories delivered by Cabeza de Vaca himself in his Naufragios, which has been rendered in several English-language editions (e.g., We Came Naked and Barefoot; Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America; Castaways), but hers is certainly the most extensive telling of the tale from “the Moor’s” point of view. As elusive as gold, she tells us, is the promise of freedom for Estebanico, who provides the very definition of long-suffering. She has great fun, too, with the possibilities of a great historical mystery—namely, whatever became of him? Adding a new spin to a familiar story, Lalami offers an utterly believable, entertainingly told alternative to the historical record. A delight.

Kuznetsov, Sergey Translated by Bromfield, Andrew Titan Books (368 pp.) $14.95 paper | $8.99 e-book Sep. 23, 2014 978-1-78329-024-6 978-1-78329-025-3 e-book This Russian cult hit, first published there in the 1990s, proves that Russian sexual obsessives and serial killers aren’t much different from familiar American ones. Ksenia is a journalist for a small-time Moscow Internet news site, going nowhere until she finds a story that boosts her career: A serial killer is targeting young women in the city, inflicting grisly sexual tortures upon his victims. A sexual masochist, Ksenia has her own dark side and is drawn deeply into the story as she sets up a popular website devoted to the case. New victims emerge as Ksenia has an affair with a co-worker and tries to make sense of her desires. Her one potential soul mate is an online chat partner identified as “alien”; their virtual affair is both psychologically and erotically charged. They fall in love and edge toward a face-to-face meeting—somewhat improbably, without Ksenia suspecting that her correspondent is the killer. Ksenia’s best friend, Olya, tries to keep her grounded, with disastrous results. Billed as a Russian Silence of the Lambs, much of Kuznetsov’s debut has a similar sinister allure, particularly in the chapters written from the killer’s perspective, in which the descriptions are brutal but somehow haunting. But the narrative is crowded with political digressions and dead-end subplots, including a long glimpse into Olya’s family life. And the inevitable confrontation between Ksenia and the killer is so quick and tidy that it feels like a major anticlimax. Even though the plot tends to wander, the creepy atmosphere of this perverse thriller will keep you coming back.

TOKYO KILL

Lancet, Barry Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 9, 2014 978-1-4516-9172-6 Tokyo-based PI and antiques dealer Jim Brodie, introduced in Japantown (2013), is targeted by a lethal gang for investigating the brutal home-invasion murder of two elderly men and their families. A one-time fellow soldier of the slain men, feisty 96-yearold Akira Miura is certain the killings were acts of reprisal. In the years before World War II, when Japan occupied China, Miura’s company there shot prisoners to “entertain” their superiors. Now, he insists, the deadly Chinese Triad gangs are out to avenge those crimes. It isn’t long before Brodie is defending himself, or trying to, against trained attackers with blades and bamboo weapons. Through the underground Chinese contacts provided by his ambitious female police partner, Rie—a romantic attraction who is indignant over his efforts to protect her— he discovers that a mysterious Japanese crime ring is responsible for the killings, not the Triad. The ultrarare paintings of a Japanese monk a London collector has asked him to find may be at the heart of the mystery. And if all of this isn’t enough to worry about, Brodie, whose wife was murdered, must also keep his young daughter safe. His enemies are well-aware of her existence. Though the novel gets off to a crisp start, boasting surefire characters including the taciturn, thick-chested chief detective Noda and a notorious crime figure called TNT who owes Brodie favors, things never rise to the level of excitement

THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT

Lalami, Laila Pantheon (336 pp.) $26.95 | $13.99 e-book | Sep. 9, 2014 978-0-307-91166-7 978-0-307-91167-4 e-book Assured, lyrical imagining of the life of one of the first African slaves in the New World—a native, like Lalami (Secret Son, 2009, etc.), of Morocco and, like her, a gifted storyteller. The Spanish called him Estebanico, a name bestowed on him after he was purchased from Portuguese traders. That datum comes several pages after he proudly announces his true name, “Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori,” and after he allows that some of the stories he is about to tell may or may not be quite true owing to the vagaries of memory and—well, the unlikelihood of the events he describes. The overarching event of 20

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“Better put aside the whole weekend for this guided tour of [Lapidus’] Swedish hell. ” from life deluxe

THE DROP

or surprise of Japantown. The historical material slows things down. The confrontations lack the cool menace of the ones in the first book. And as serviceable as Barbados is for the climax, the particulars of Brodie’s concept all but demand a return to San Francisco, the other town in which he operates. Lancet hits a few bumps the second time around, but his series remains highly distinctive.

Lehane, Dennis Morrow/HarperCollins (224 pp.) $14.99 paper | Sep. 2, 2014 978-0-06-236544-6

LIFE DELUXE

Lapidus, Jens Translated by von Arbin Ahlander, Astri Pantheon (512 pp.) $27.95 | $13.99 e-book | Sep. 16, 2014 978-0-307-37750-0 978-0-307-90851-3 e-book The conclusion to Lapidus’ monstrously ambitious Stockholm Noir trilogy (Never Fuck Up, 2013, etc.) is every bit as dark, sprawling, rambunctious and volcanic as you’d expect. At the fade-in, Radovan Kranjic is still controlling Sweden’s Yugo Mafia, serenely unaware that an assassin has him in his sights and surprisingly unruffled after a hit on him falls through. Longescaped criminal Jorge Salinas Barrio is still looking for the big score, this time a heist on which he’s collaborating with a silent partner named the Finn. Drug dealer Johan “JW” Westlund is still biding his time in the Salberg Penitentiary, waiting for his parole. A complication to their schemes comes when hotshot DI Lennart Torsfjal recruits Deputy Inspector Martin Hagerstrom to go undercover as a corrections officer in Salberg in order to worm his way into JW’s confidence. A second comes when another assassination attempt against Kranjic leaves his daughter Natalie, 22, holding the reins of her father’s criminal empire, battling former Kranjic lieutenant Stefan Stefanovic for control. A third comes when Jorge decides to double-cross the Finn and hold on to his share of the loot. Since Lapidus is as inventive as he is unblinkered, other complications soon follow. A trip to Thailand away from all but one member of the Stockholm County Police throws Jorge together with JW and Hagerstrom, who seriously compromises his mission when he falls into bed with Jorge’s friend “megagangster” Javier Fernandez. Natalie, who has little appetite for her father’s legacy, finds herself growing into it anyway. Jorge discovers unexpected reserves of nobility under pressure. Through it all, Lapidus wastes no opportunity to explore the labyrinthine affinities between his heroes and villains. Better put aside the whole weekend for this guided tour of his Swedish hell.

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The bard of blue-collar Boston crime returns with a sleight-of-hand novel tinged with sin and redemption. The latest from Lehane (Live by Night, 2012, etc.) is a novel with an unusual genesis, and it’s shorter and less intricate than usual. It began when he was asked to adapt one of his short stories (“Animal Rescue”) for a movie. Though his novels have seen success on the big screen, this was his screenwriting debut, and it preceded the writing of this book, which might be dismissed, in lesser hands, as a “novelization” of the film. It’s richer than a mere re-creation of a movie on the page because the author gets inside the heads and thoughts of his characters in a way that a movie generally can’t. And this particular perspective is crucial when it comes to protagonist Bob, a keep-to-himself bartender who works for Cousin Marv. Both men, like pretty much every man in their neighborhood, have some sort of shady past, but the two have apparently gone comparatively straight. Yet Cousin Marv’s bar remains used by the Chechen mobsters who own it as a money drop for transferring funds. Such is the backdrop for what appears to be the main plot, in which lonesome, loveless Bob finds a beaten puppy in a trash can and is persuaded by a woman who witnesses the incident (and who has her own questionable past) to take it home. Since “all he wanted was to not be alone,” the connection with both the dog and the woman proves so transforming that he “suspected they might have been brought together by something other than chance.” But there’s another connection, a crazy thug and rumored killer who claims that both the dog and the woman are his. As the novel progresses, every character has secrets and revelations— except maybe Rocco, the dog—as the plot pivots in some surprising directions. Even one of the novelist’s lesser efforts has the signature style, edge and heart to delight fans.

THE AMBASSADORS

Lerner, George Pegasus (352 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 15, 2014 978-1-60598-620-3

A father fights genocide on the world stage while neglecting the domestic front. Lerner’s debut novel has a nonlinear structure: It jumps around in time, from the years immediately following World War II, to the 1960s, ’70s and late ’90s. Three narrators alternate: Jacob, an American-born Jew who was part of the Allied liberation force in Europe; his nowestranged wife, Susanna, a renowned anthropologist who has kirkus.com

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recently been diagnosed with malignant melanoma; and their son, Shalom, who, much to Susanna’s disappointment, foreswore anthropology to manage rock bands. After Germany’s surrender, Jacob is forever marked by what he has learned of Nazi crimes and by his failure to protect an Auschwitz survivor, Judith. His motto becomes “Never again” as he dedicates himself to the creation of the Jewish homeland in Israel and, whenever summoned by a mysterious operative named Salik, goes off on secret missions to help populations threatened by genocide. At a Hannah Arendt lecture, he meets Susanna, whose entire family perished in the Shoah. (She escaped Poland aboard a Kindertransport plane). Susanna has become disenchanted with her husband’s frequent and unpredictable absences, and the decisive rupture occurs when his efforts on behalf of Homo sapiens interfere with her search for fossilized hominids. (On his rare returns, Jacob is not far away: He has been banished only to the basement of Susanna’s Brooklyn brownstone.) When Shalom—whose comparatively trivial pursuits (promoting an African salsa band, clubbing and dating another failed anthropologist) hardly justify his status as a third narrator—informs him of Susanna’s illness, Jacob deploys his considerable martial skills against an enemy that just may be invincible. Only one of Jacob’s missions (in the immediate aftermath of the Rwandan massacres) is described in any detail, and even then his role seems peripheral and nebulous—the most riveting drama plays out much closer to home. This novel has good bones obscured by too much flab.

monotone voice she affected in her first book (A Cold Season, 2013). Neither Cate nor Alice nor any of the book’s characters come across as memorable, and readers looking for suspense will be less caught up in wondering when the killer’s next victim will surface than they will be waiting for whatever character Littlewood has on deck to finish the interminable thoughts that string together the much-too-infrequent action. Tied together by bird sightings, both the main characters spend page after page contemplating what they’ve seen, said and done, making for a frustrating story that will please neither fans of crime nor fans of horror.

WILDFIRE

Lowry, Mary Pauline Skyhorse Publishing (288 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-62914-497-9 After failing out of college in her final semester, Julie joins a forest firefighting crew in this fast-paced novel. Lowry (The Earthquake Machine, 2011) paints a vivid portrait of life as a hotshot, a firefighter specially trained in wildfire suppression. The Pike Inter-Agency Hotshot Crew must react quickly when a burning tree falls in the wrong direction or a walkie-talkie runs out of batteries. In such scenes of true-to-life suspense and well-rendered detail, it’s easy to forget this is a novel and not a work of nonfiction. Indeed, the writing is strongest where it reveals the extreme physical endurance of and deep camaraderie that forms in a hotshot crew. Julie’s personal story, by comparison, is far less convincing. In the prologue, Julie explains her obsession with fire: “After my parents died I started to set things on fire.” When she’s forced to quit her pyromania, Julie starts binging and purging as a coping mechanism. After joining the Pike crew, Julie is still sneaking out after dinners to throw up. Despite the depth of her psychological struggles, her compulsions fade away without ever being discovered, confronted or treated directly. Julie’s social situation feels similarly thin. As the only woman on the crew, she fights predictable sexism to gain acceptance from her team. One particularly closed-minded hotshot, Tan, only warms toward Julie after she saves his life. Julie’s story is rife with melodrama and overused tropes: She falls for a crew member, reconciles with her controlling grandmother and beats the boys at their own game multiple times. The seams show around the obvious plot devices. When Bliss appears in their camp, Julie feels threatened by the presence of another woman; after the two become friends, Bliss has served her purpose and is never heard from again. Characters are fairly flat, and when the story reaches its tragic ending, the reader knows it’s coming and remains unmoved. Lowry’s novel portrays the rich life and culture of a hotshot crew but struggles to make that world’s inhabitants equally real.

PATH OF NEEDLES

Littlewood, Alison Jo Fletcher/Quercus (384 pp.) $26.99 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-1-62365-855-7 The death of a young girl brings together a dull female police officer and an equally dull professor who specializes in sorting through classic versions of fairy tales in Littlewood’s lackluster sophomore effort. When the body of 15-year-old Chrissie Farrell is found after PC Cate Corbin has taken a missing persons report from her mother, Angie, police are stymied to see that the girl’s body has been theatrically arranged. The blonde Chrissie had been crowned queen of a dance she’d attended at school and still wore that crown in death, but someone had also staged her body to resemble Snow White. Angie had received a strange package earlier in the day that revealed a bottle of what appeared to be blood, stoppered by one of her daughter’s toes. In observing the body, Cate’s reminded of the fairy tale and goes seeking Alice Hyland, the professor, who earlier that day had spotted an oddly menacing and out-of-place solid blue bird. As birdwatchers stalk the area searching for the rare bird, additional bodies turn up, also in the guise of fairy tales. Cate and Alice follow the trail, trying to find the killer before he or she strikes again. Billed as both a crime and horror novel, Littlewood reprises the flat, 22

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THE SLEEPWORKER

Martinez, Cyrille Translated by Stancil, Joseph Patrick Coach House Books (160 pp.) $17.95 paper | Oct. 11, 2014 978-1-55245-302-5 A thinly disguised roman a clef about Andy Warhol and John Giorno in New York in the 1960s—and written in a style that might be termed quasi–pop art. For ease of understanding, the two main characters are conveniently called “Andy” and “John,” and both inhabit the weird sexual and cultural landscape of that era. Three gay out-of-work artists (John, along with Bob and William) fake work documents to make it seem as though they’re employed and thus able to rent a four-bedroom apartment. This works out to an extra bedroom, one they dub “the Workshop,” in which little work but much partying gets done. A fourth friend, Jonas, then shows up, a filmmaker whose material

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consists solely of “encounters between people—he doesn’t film anything other than people meeting, dating, breaking up”—and the volatile nature of the group dynamic ensures that he’ll have plenty of material. Meanwhile, Andy becomes friends with the group as he works on his series, puts on art exhibitions and begins to develop a special relationship with John. He conceives of a kind of performance art called The Sleeper, capitalizing on John’s strength...which is sleeping till noon and then taking a nap in the afternoon: “The idea here,” the narrator explains, “is to produce a film that begins the moment the man falls asleep and ends when he wakes up.” Martinez experiments with words and phrases in a playful manner, similar to Warhol’s approach to his art. A slim, mannered novel almost as strange as the events it chronicles.

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THE KILLER NEXT DOOR

Parisian heiress Solange Escarlette marries Augustin Fornier, the owner of a Caribbean sugar plantation. She soon discovers that her husband is rather ineffectual and that a slave revolt has reduced the prospects of the Sucarie du Jardin. Solange reveals herself to be both unsentimental and savvy. She saves the family’s fortunes; repositions them in Savannah, Georgia; and, rather incidentally, takes a young slave girl into her household. Indeed, Solange is a vivid, vivacious woman whose tale is bewitching, but, alas, we must leave her to see through Ruth’s eyes soon enough. Ruth’s imagined life should be fascinating— rescued from certain death on Saint-Domingue, plunged into the American slave system, and finally positioned as Miss Scarlett’s Mammy—yet McCaig instead simply uses Ruth as a lens through which to view a dramatic swath of history. Events both cataclysmic and quotidian swirl around Ruth—everything from the Haitian revolution and John Brown’s Rebellion to Miss Scarlett’s first menstrual period. Yet Ruth’s own manifold troubles pass quickly, presumably to afford more time to her witnessing of events in drawing rooms and dueling fields. Gifted with second sight, Ruth sees mists around people not long for this earthly realm, but more often than not, her talent foreshadows the passings of masters, mistresses and their children. Ruth laments, “I done lost most them I loved, and most my beloveds die ugly,” but this is the tale of Mammy, not Ruth.

Marwood, Alex Penguin (400 pp.) $16.00 paper | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-14-312669-0

Marwood’s second novel tells a taut, fascinating tale that’s not for the weak of stomach. Lisa, also known as Collette, is on the run after witnessing her shady boss, Tony, beat a man to death at the Nefertiti Men’s Club. Now her mother is dying in a nursing home and she wants to be nearby, so she rents a room in a boardinghouse that’s one step up from a homeless shelter. The shabby home, subdivided into apartments, is owned and managed by a grossly obese man who takes advantage of his down-and-out residents: Hossein, who’s seeking political asylum in England; Vesta, who’s lived in the basement apartment all her life; Cher, a 15-year-old who’s slipped the reins of social services; and two single men, Thomas and Gerard. While Collette uses the money she has left, about £100,000, to evade Tony and his henchmen, the residents are dealing with backed-up drains that smell awful. Unknown to the other residents, one of the men has been making a habit of killing young women, including Nikki, the former resident of Collette’s apartment, and what he does to them afterward is beyond horrible. Now the killer is looking for new blood; when something terrible happens to bring the boarders together, things only grow more dangerous. Marwood, a British journalist writing under a pseudonym, not only creates a cast of memorable characters, but also ratchets up the suspense, leaving readers to dread what might be around the next corner. Many writers shine at characterization or at creating tension; the trick is in successfully combining the two. In this case, readers will care what happens to Collette and the rest of the boarders while simultaneously waiting for the literary axe to fall. Marwood—whose first novel, The Wicked Girls (2013), won an Edgar Award—proves she’s got staying power in this addictive tale.

RUTH’S JOURNEY The Authorized Novel of Mammy From Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind

McCaig, Donald Atria (384 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-4516-4353-4

Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate, this historical novel takes up the story of Mammy, one of the most beloved minor characters in Gone With the Wind. McCaig’s (Canaan, 2007, etc.) latest serves as a prequel not only to Mitchell’s classic, but also to his own Rhett Butler’s People (2007). Ruth’s story actually begins with her first mistress’ story. 24

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SEVEN WONDERS

Mezrich, Ben Running Press (320 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 2, 2014 978-0-7624-5382-5

A ripping yarn torn from the pages of many another adventure tale, this highspeed, low-quality mashup concerns an ancient female sect and the present-day seekers of its secrets. When brainy Jeremy Grady is slain in his MIT computer lab, it’s soon clear that the murderer failed to reckon with twin brother and doughty field anthropologist Jack. He has a support team comprising a silent computer whiz and a wisecracking Asian who manage the problems Jack can’t handle with his wits, his muscle or his uncanny puzzle-solving skills. (And yet, he fails to notice that the word “seven” has “eve” between the two global “n” and “s” poles!) As he works to unravel his brother’s mind-boggling discovery about a connection between the Ancient and Modern Seven Wonders of the World, Jack acquires a partner in stoic botanical geneticist Sloane Costa. Her desire for tenure and her incredible discovery in the lower depths of the Coliseum might further Jack’s pursuit of the centuries-old Amazons and the Order of Eve and maybe the Tree of Life in Eden. But can they stay one step ahead of the beautiful DNA-business billionaire Jendari Saphra, who covets the secret of Mitochondrial Eve and has at her disposal a fantastic wardrobe (Swarovski, Herve Leger, Versace) and a centuries-old gang of trained killers with ivory javelins? What about |


IN CASE OF EMERGENCY

the asps, the giant crocodile, the 40,000 severed hands and the countless spiders? Mezrich (Straight Flush, 2013, etc.) rings up a debt to, among others, James Bond, Indiana Jones, the Nicholas Cage National Treasure series and the Brendan Fraser mummy movies that is incalculable. OK, it’s a genre rife with borrowing but rarely on such a scale. A comiclike outing rich in repetition and clichés, this typing exercise is at heart an intriguing story that deserved a writer who could rise at least to the level of a Dan Brown, yet another Mezrich creditor.

Moreno, Courtney McSweeney’s (280 pp.) $24.00 | Sep. 9, 2014 978-1-940450-26-1

A debut novel that taps the trauma of the streets to explore one woman’s personal damage and the difficulty of relationships. Moreno begins her story with what appears to be instructional pages from an emergency medical technician training manual. This clinical approach to emergency is in stark contrast to the personal angst in Piper Gallagher’s life. She has banged around Los Angeles aimlessly looking for love, a career, some sense to her mother’s leaving and death. An experience from her youth when she tried to save a hit-and-run victim by administering CPR informs her new life as a rookie medical technician, riding the ambulances through the carnage of South Central Los Angeles. She works

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“Farce teeters toward tragedy in this novel about an Irish author who long ago enjoyed a critical and popular breakthrough with an international best-seller.” from straight white male

hard, learns the ropes, stands witness to death, deals with her eccentric family, and eventually breaks down from the constant stress of quick decisions that fail to save strangers in need. There is a love story intertwined with the action, and Piper is inspired by the difficult adjustment of her lover, Ayla, to daily life disrupted by a brain injury from her tour as a soldier in Iraq. Moreno uses the stark writing of a medical text to contrast the messy reality of relationships and personal trauma. Her characters are real: the Irish father who never let go of his wife who left years ago and deals with loneliness through set-piece jokes; the emergency medical techs at Station 710 who make gallows humor and macho sexual puns between calls. When Piper shuts down, the writing becomes a powerful expression of depression—“I can no longer watch regular television. Violent crime shows fill me with a numbing terror; commercials enrage and horrify me.” She hides from everyone but eventually emerges, “...so very tired of being afraid.” In this emotionally moving, well-written, engaging novel, Moreno strikes a profound balance between the clinical logic of trauma and the personal irrationality of a young woman dealing with her demons.

sensations to throw in the face of the abyss.” His escapades with an actress, a student and whoever else is handy lead unexpectedly to a climax that is deliriously ambitious and richly satisfying. Literary satire finds redemption as a character ruled by his genitals discovers he has a heart. (Agent: Clare Conville)

BROOD

Novak, Chase Mulholland Books/Little, Brown (320 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-316-22800-8 978-0-316-22801-5 e-book Feral children, the result of fertility treatments gone horribly awry, roam the streets of Manhattan in Novak’s hit-ormiss follow-up to Breed (2012). The pseudonymous Novak (who’s really Scott Spencer; Endless Love, 1979, etc.) continues the tale of the Twisden twins, Adam and Alice, now 13 and orphaned following their parents’ grisly suicides (equally grisly is the elder Twisdens’ penchant for cannibalism, thanks to a Slovenian doctor’s fertility regimen). Stepping into the vacant parental shoes is the twins’ aunt Cynthia, who jumps at the opportunity to be a mother. But family life is far from perfect as the trio returns to the Upper East Side mansion where Alex and Leslie Twisden raised their children and slowly went mad. The twins soon disappear, running off to join one of the numerous bands of wild children who, like Adam and Alice, are genetically mutated to various degrees following their parents’ fertility treatments. One of the children, who partially glows in the dark, is the mayor’s son. The leader of the twins’ pack is Rodolfo, who, like most of his followers, speaks in an initially jarring (and eventually simply irritating) dialect—“You’s not to do” translates to “Don’t do that,” for example. The wild children are under constant threat of scientific poaching at the hands of thugs from bioengineering company Borman&Davis, which uses human specimens for research in an attempt to harness the children’s power. At home in the seemingly empty mansion, Cynthia finds herself skewing more mad than sane. Novak ably combines realism and the supernatural, even if the result is sometimes too preposterous even for suspenders of disbelief.

STRAIGHT WHITE MALE

Niven, John Black Cat/Grove (384 pp.) $15.00 paper | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-8021-2303-9

A very funny novel that gets darker and goes deeper as it progresses. Farce teeters toward tragedy in this novel about an Irish author who long ago enjoyed a critical and popular breakthrough with an international best-seller. He has since sold his services to the highest Hollywood bidder while indulging his voracious appetites without moral compunction. Then he finds himself at the juncture of unlikely coincidence—just as he learns that he is in serious American tax trouble, he receives an extraordinarily generous teaching fellowship in Britain, which he initially resists at least partly because the faculty also includes one of his ex-wives. Protagonist Kennedy Marr is a familiar character, a literary scoundrel who retains his charm; even he acknowledges, in a serious turn, that “he was the most awful, dread cliché: the middle-aged novelist trying to come to terms with his own mortality.” Where it initially seems that Niven (The Second Coming, 2012, etc.) might not have much to offer beyond some hearty laughter (there’s an episode about multitasking with pornography, and ruining another laptop in the process, that is particularly slapstick), the novel turns into an argument about just what a novel—and a life—should be. “The purpose of art is to delight. Not to enlighten. Not to teach,” Kennedy insists, before he develops into a character who proves teachable, if not enlightened. He recognizes that he hasn’t been much of a father to his teenage daughter or son to his dying mother, that at least one of his marriages might have enriched his life if he’d taken it more seriously, and that he has squandered most of life on “another set of 26

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BEAUTIFUL YOU

Palahniuk, Chuck Doubleday (240 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-385-53803-9 Less macho than most of Palahniuk’s work, this Cinderella-with-sex-toys parable is the transgressive writer’s attempt at a feminist (or post-feminist) novel. Ever since he debuted with Fight Club (1996), the prolific Palahniuk has built a cult following by taking a series of provocative ideas and pushing them to the limit. And then past the limit. Here, the gimmick is a series of sex products designed for women, so effective that one satisfied customer exclaims, “Men are obsolete!...Anything a man can do to me, I can do better!” Women disappear from the public sphere to pleasure themselves in private, leaving “[a] world of furious, obsolete penises.” Though sex saturates the novel, its description is more clinical than libidinous, and the protagonist

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isn’t focused only on one thing. Penny Harrigan is something of an all-American girl, an obedient daughter who has moved from Nebraska to work in a New York law firm. She idolizes the nation’s first female president and is told by the man who will change her life—and the course of the world—“I love you because you’re so average.” That man is C. Linus Maxwell, who “ran a group of corporations that led the world in computer networking, satellite communications, and banking” and who has become known in the tabloids as “Climax-Well.” They make for an improbable pair, particularly after his series of highly-publicized relationships with glamorous women, but it turns out that the mogul has long had big plans for Penny, ones that will show her not only the aptness of his nickname, but reveal to her his commercial plans “to enter the empty field of vaginas in a big way.” Their relationship ends, and they soon find themselves antagonists, as Penny warns the women of the world that their sexual liberation represents a more insidious form of coercion, based on “the idea of combining ladies’ two greatest pleasures: shopping and sex.” By Palahniuk’s standards, this is actually a subtle and empathic piece of work.

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THERE ONCE LIVED A MOTHER WHO LOVED HER CHILDREN, UNTIL THEY MOVED BACK IN Three Novellas About Family

BURNED

Plame, Valerie; Lovett, Sarah Blue Rider Press (368 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-399-15821-6

Petrushevskaya, Ludmilla Translated by Summers, Anna Penguin (208 pp.) $16.00 paper | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-14-312166-4

In former CIA spy Plame’s second novel, covert operative Vanessa Pierson is again pitted against rogue arms dealer Bhoot, who, she’s surprised to discover, isn’t in possession of a miniaturized nuclear prototype smuggled out of Iran.

Three deceptively simple tales explore the dark terrain of the greedy human soul. Winner of Russia’s Triumph Prize and deft chronicler of beset Muscovites, 76-year-old Petrushevskaya (There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself, 2013, etc.) returns with three bewitching novellas. Although her writing is not overtly political, her gimlet-eyed appraisal of humanity resulted in her work being banned in the Soviet Union for decades. The emotional palette here is gray-toned: love reduced to sex, motherhood to jealousy, empathy to guilt. The ethical dimensions contract; instead of questioning how one ought to behave, Petrushevskaya’s characters simply react, trying to safeguard their meager possessions from suffering relatives. In the longest novella, The Time is Night (previously published as The Time: Night and shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize), an older woman struggles to make financial ends meet and emotional debts balance. Both an insightful poet and a vindictive woman, Anna can at once tenderly care for her grandson and viciously insult her own daughter. The moral quandaries intensify, however, when her son returns home from prison, her daughter hints at moving back home, and her own mother’s bed at the local hospital is lost. The second tale, “Chocolates With Liqueur,” grafts an Edgar Allan Poe motif onto a tale of marital horror. Lelia, a young nurse who has lost her parents and grandfather, manages to carve out a life for herself—that is, until Nikita comes along. Too frightened to reject his advances, Lelia soon finds herself in a loveless, abusive marriage to a man sinking into mental illness. The final novella, Among Friends, traces the Friday night parties of a group of friends. They are bound primarily by their fear of informants and their infatuation with the seductive yet mercurial Marisha. Together, they endure political pressures, broken marriages and deteriorating parents—all of which the shrewd, often calculating narrator observes mercilessly. But there is one betrayal that cannot be endured. Infernal, haunting monologues.

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If he isn’t, who is? The untrustworthy Bhoot makes direct contact with Pierson for the first time ever following an explosion outside the Louvre that nearly kills her. He says he had nothing to do with the suicide attack, but does that mean that True Jihad, a new group claiming responsibility for it, does? And are they the ones with the device? Assigned to a special task force headed by the patronizing French intelligence director, Pierson and her enigmatic lover from the series debut, Blowback (2013), tiptoe around their hidden steamy romance when not sleuthing side by side. Another of her informants is killed, and on the way from Paris to Turkey, identities are blown. But certain dark secrets remain in place. Following their solid first effort, Plame and co-writer Lovett (creator of the Dr. Sylvia Strange series) run aground. The first 100 pages are plodding, the writing filled with clichés and unnecessary descriptions of how dangerous even a tiny nuke is. And once things get going, Burned still lacks a certain spark. Part of the problem is Plame hasn’t yet decided how tough she wants Vanessa to be. While her klutziness is meant to be part of her charm, would someone in her position still be asking which “thingy” on her spy pen to press to record conversations? For that matter, after decades of James Bond stories, are there any enemy spies left who would be fooled by such a bug? All the elements are in place for a satisfying thriller, but Plame’s sophomore effort disappoints.

LOVE & ORDINARY CREATURES

Rubio, Gwyn Hyman Ashland Creek Press (306 pp.) $17.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-61822-031-8 A self-consciously erudite cockatoo narrates this avian-human romance from Rubio (The Woodsman’s Daughter, 2005, etc.). In 1993, cockatoo Caruso lives on Ocracoke Island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks with Clarissa, a redheaded chef who whips up ambitious culinary delicacies while declaring her own favorite foods remain her beloved late grandmother’s traditional Southern dishes. (Health-conscious readers may cringe at a chef who never seems to wash her hands and lets her bird loose in the kitchen.) Caruso became a domestic pet after he was kidnapped from his |


bird family in Australia years earlier. One smart cockatoo, Caruso is given to ruminating on man’s narcissistic self-importance, following the teachings of the “Great Mother” and quoting Emily Dickinson. That appreciation of poetry came from Caruso’s first owner, Theodore. A saintly romantic, Theodore retired from his career as headmaster of a boys school to move next door to the woman he’d silently loved since childhood despite her long marriage to a rich bully. Before entering a nursing home, Theodore introduced Caruso to concepts of love the bird carries with him as he faces a similar romantic crisis of his own. Caruso is in love with the giggly, annoyingly sweet Clarissa and basks in her attentive affection. Then Clarissa meets Joe, who has come to surf on Ocracoke while on summer break from studying environmental law. Clarissa’s past boyfriends didn’t threaten Caruso, but she seems serious about Joe. Plucking out his feathers in avian distress, Caruso begins plotting to win Clarissa back. Unfortunately, the cockatoo companion Clarissa finds to mollify Caruso only annoys him before fatally diving headlong into a pot of pasta sauce after a tantalizing feather Caruso has purposely dropped— a moment of unintentional comic relief in the slog through whimsy and New Age-y environmentalism. Worse, the cliche-ridden novel sends uncomfortable cues: Are readers really supposed to blame Clarissa’s younger brother for being emotionally troubled or dislike her sous chef because he’s effeminate?

FOREST OF FORTUNE

Ruland, Jim Tyrus Books (288 pp.) $24.99 | Jul. 31, 2014 978-1-4405-7989-9

The lives of three people on the edge collide at a haunted California casino. The winding road leading through a mesa on the Yukemaya Indian reservation to the Thunderclap Casino invites its victims to come make a killing. But all Alice wants is to make a living as a slot technician. While she’s working on the Loot Caboose, one of the most popular games at the Thunderclap, she smells sulfur. The next thing she knows, she’s lying on the floor of the Forest of Fortune with the raucous sound of the attract sequences in her ears. When she watches the security tapes later, she sees not only that she had a seizure, but that a ghostly woman floated near the machine and then climbed into it. For new employee Pemberton, Thunderclap is a chance to win back his fiancee, whom he lost—along with his last job and his license—because of his fondness for alcohol and cocaine. Although writing cheesy promotional copy for the casino is hardly the acme of his career, he hopes Thunderclap will save him. Lupita’s vocation is playing the slots in steady wins with hot streaks that she can’t predict. She also comes to the run-down casino when she’s lonely instead of spending time with her family. But her need for the drama of gambling, Alice’s choice of a roommate and unwillingness to accept the medical basis of her continuing visions, |

and Pemberton’s boozing and snorting away his chances for a happy life bring all three steadily closer to destruction. Even at the soul-sucking Thunderclap, however, hope has a chance over cynicism, greed and commercialism. Perhaps the spirit of Ramona, the stern-faced woman who looks down from a portrait in Pemberton’s rented cabin, is also watching over the struggling souls at the Thunderclap. Ruland (Big Lonesome, 2005, etc.) combines dark humor with a thorough understanding of human frailty in this offbeat gothic gambling tale.

UNTIL THE SEA SHALL GIVE UP HER DEAD

Russell, S. Thomas Putnam (448 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 16, 2014 978-0-399-15897-1

The heart wants what the heart wants, even when the terrors of the high seas threaten to tear love asunder in this latest seafaring yarn by Russell (Take, Burn or Destroy, 2013, etc.). Master and Commander Charles Hayden of the Royal British Navy is simply not a character meant for repose, but the challenges he faces in this fourth outing are as emotionally nerve-wracking as they are physically dangerous. Once again, Hayden commands the frigate HMS Themis on the eve of the Napoleonic Wars, but by now, his men have full faith and confidence in his ability to lead. Hayden, however, is still mourning the loss of his bride-to-be, Henrietta Carthew, to another man, making him a dismal soul as the book begins. The Themis is patrolling the Caribbean to counter French forces in the West Indies when the fates throw not one but two conundrums in Hayden’s path. First, the crew rescues two stranded Spanish sailors, Don Miguel and Don Angel Campillo, a suspicious pair of brothers whose origins and agenda are suspect. Shortly after, the ship stumbles across a crippled slave ship, forcing Hayden to choose between the prize money owed for towing the cargo back to Barbados versus his strong feelings about the inhumanity of the trade. There’s a significant twist that silences Hayden’s longing for his lady love, but we won’t reveal it here. Suffice to say that the back half of the book returns Hayden to form as he loses his ship yet again, works feverishly to rescue a group of royalist fugitives from the hands of their Jacobite pursuers, and finally captains the Themis into not-so-glorious battle once more. “It was, he realized then, the truth of war—men endeavored to bring destruction to the enemy, but, once achieved, they then looked in horror upon their own accomplishments,” Russell writes. “One looked in horror upon one’s self.” A more melancholy entry than other books in this marvelous series but also one that humanizes its bold, thoughtful and intrepid captain.

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“An extremely clever and often graceful collection that rewards the curious reader....” from by the book

DEADLINE

Sandford, John Putnam (400 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-399-16237-4 Virgil Flowers, agreeing to check out the most minor crime imaginable in sleepy Trippton, Minnesota, finds himself in a steadily deepening pool of felonies. You may think dognapping is no big deal, but try telling that to Winky Butterfield, whose two black Labs have been carried off by D. Wayne Sharf. As Virgil’s friend Johnson Johnson tells it, this latest theft is only part of a much larger pattern that’s riled the dog-loving citizens of Buchanan County to demand action—if not from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, then from themselves. Eager to avoid a vigilante outbreak, Virgil (Storm Front, 2013, etc.) agrees to look for the missing pooches and promptly finds a meth lab that seems like a much bigger deal, at least to the BCA. Little does he know that a completely unrelated matter is about to nudge Trippton into wholesale violence. Members of the Buchanan County Consolidated School Board, tipped off that has-been reporter Clancy Conley is about to blow the whistle on their long-running embezzlement scheme, vote to have Conley killed and then are forced under pressure from Virgil’s investigation to target ever more victims in order to cover their tracks. The school board meetings, in which cutthroat discussions of ways and means end with formal endorsements of murder that would do any parliamentarian proud, have a subversively comic edge that perfectly complements Virgil’s straight-faced attempts to turn the board members against each other by urging everyone involved to rat out everyone else as they circle the wagons in ever shrinking patterns. The meth investigation winds up quickly and quietly, but Sandford keeps one last surprise up his sleeve for the denouement of the dognapping case, and it’s a doozy. Exhilaratingly professional work by both Virgil and his creator that breaks no new ground but will keep the fans happy and add to their number.

story of women adjusting to unexpected motherhood. Lamia, an insatiable reader, takes Cherifa, an illiterate 17-year-old on the run from fundamentalists in rural Oran, into her city home. Both are independent sparks, at odds with Algeria’s economically depressed and emotionally repressive landscape. At first, Lamia’s connection to Cherifa is based solely on her desire to find her younger brother Sofiane, who last called mysteriously from Oran. Sofiane, too, is a runaway—but he is a path burner or harraga, desperate enough to burn his identity paperwork and undertake an often deadly journey via desert and water to begin again in Europe without a past. “Nothing is more relative than the origin of things,” Lamia says of her house’s pedigree before her Muslim family arrived from the mountains. A woman who lives in her imagination because the exterior world is inaccessible, unappealing and dangerous, she believes she will be the last person to live in the house as it falls into ruin. Nightmares grow like weeds in her mind. To cope with these, “I have active and passive moods and switch between the two as the whim takes me,” she says. This partially explains the uneven plotting and pacing. What Lamia does have is satellite TV, enabling riffs on Muslims abroad and the film Not Without My Daughter. Sansal’s richly drawn characters and the places where he embeds them will color readers’ moods long after we leave their passageways.

BY THE BOOK Stories and Pictures

Schoemperlen, Diane Biblioasis (352 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-927428-81-8

A new collection by Schoemperlen (At a Loss for Words, 2008, etc.) offers stories that revel in unconventional forms and odd details, each one mining texts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries in an exploration of collage and fragmentation. Only one piece in this strangely appealing collection, “By the Book Or: Alessandro in the New World,” engages with the traditional expectations of narrative. Alessandro, an ambitious young man of 25, journeys to the New World in search of a new life. He follows the guidance of a book that belonged to his great-great-great-grandfather, an annotated volume of vocabulary lists, sample letters and suggested dialogues called the Grammatica Accelerata. Fragments of this text appear throughout Alessandro’s story and seem to bend his new reality ever closer to a perfect fit for its recommended phrases. These fragments exist beyond the confines of the story, excerpted faithfully from an Italian-English handbook published for immigrants circa 1900. Schoemperlen builds her own story around the old words, focusing attention on how texts might shape life and our perception of it. This exploration continues in pieces that are less and less like traditional stories. “A Body Like a Little Nut” rearranges phrases from a botany textbook in alphabetical order, creating a sequence of images and sounds that works almost musically to encourage

HARRAGA

Sansal, Boualem Translated by Wynne, Frank Bloomsbury (288 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 6, 2014 978-1-62040-224-5 Two women, a pediatrician considered a spinster at 35 and a spontaneous, pregnant teenager, forge a strong, unlikely emotional bond after a short time living together in a 17th-century house in Rampe Valee, a crumbling neighborhood in contemporary Algiers. Sansal’s (An Unfinished Business, 2011, etc.) second book to appear in English is as much a visceral meditation on time passing under shifting forms of ownership, empire and control as it is the 30

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HELEN KELLER REALLY LIVED

imaginative association. “Around the World in 100 Postcards” lists facts from a 1946 Canadian textbook on geography and reads like missives from a world made foreign by its existence in the past. While the stories are not all equally engaging and sometimes veer into confusing opacity, they provoke energetic consumption, urging the reader to make unusual connections with the personal baggage of their own imaginations. Collages, also created by Schoemperlen, illustrate each story. An extremely clever and often graceful collection that rewards the curious reader but should not be approached with the expectation of traditional story.

Sheffield, Elisabeth Univ. of Alabama (320 pp.) $22.95 paper | $19.95 e-book Sep. 30, 2014 978-1-57366-181-2 978-1-57366-848-4 e-book

Stories within stories and lives and afterlives make up Sheffield’s (Fort Da: A Report, 2009, etc.) third novel—a metafictional experiment that’s as much about the author’s literary decisions as it is about her characters. Selina Van Staal is a middle-aged woman whose story is interspersed throughout the book in chapters titled “Not Okay: A True Crime Story,” which seems to be her confession. She recalls meeting Lyndon, the ditzy wife of a doctor who works at a fertility clinic. Lyndon wants to get pregnant and needs Selina’s help. Selina calls herself a Reiki Master after getting certified over the Internet; she performs reiki on Lyndon and then Lyndon helps her get a job at her husband’s clinic. It’s there that we meet Fritzi, Lyndon’s husband’s ex-wife. Selina moves in with her and becomes involved in a scheme to hold eggs intended for IVF hostage so Fritzi can get revenge on her ex. Selina’s ex-husband is the other main voice in the book. There’s one thing, though: He’s dead, and he’s angry. His caustic monologues from beyond the grave are tiresome and misogynistic; his life story—he started as a hooker and become a gynecologist—rather forced. Sheffield’s clever thoughts on creation and destruction, both real and imagined, make up some of the better parts of the book. “If you think about what you are reading, you will often end up thinking about death, the ultimate failure. Or about lesser ones.” A complex but ultimately disjointed novel that fails to live up to the intriguing premise.

INDIGO

Setz, Clemens J. Translated by Benjamin, Ross Liveright/Norton (416 pp.) $27.95 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-0-87140-268-4 The title doesn’t refer to the Indigo Girls, Mood Indigo or indigo buntings but rather to a bizarre childhood disease that causes dizziness and nausea in anyone who approaches the infected children. Setz is definitely exploring a postmodern landscape here. There’s no central narrative thread, for example, but rather a complex series of intertwined and overlapping perspectives. One of the narrators is not-so-coincidentally named Clemens Setz, and he’s been writing articles on the phenomenon of the Indigo children (sometimes referred to pejoratively as “dingoes”). The author’s fictional double taught math at the Helianau Institute in Austria, which housed these children, until he was fired. Another narrator is Robert Tatzel, a former Indigo child himself and still concerned about lingering effects both of the illness and of the relocation of Indigo children by Dr. Otto Rudolph, the eccentric head of the Helianau Institute. In fact, the ultimate fate of the children remains quite mysterious. Robert is exceptionally knowledgeable about Batman, and he frequently quotes odd little snippets from the 1960s Adam West TV series. Setz the author—as opposed to Setz the narrator—is comfortable expanding his narrative by sharing photographs, for example of Tommy Beringer, supposedly the first child to catch the Indigo illness, and of a Tatzelwurm (think Robert) supposedly found near Meiringen, Switzerland, in 1934. He also alludes meaningfully to Arvo Part, Bruce Lee and Star Trek, providing a dense texture to the novel. It’s inevitable that Setz will be compared to Thomas Pychon, for his narrative has a similar complexity, nuance and, yes, even paranoia.

TREE PALACE

Sherborne, Craig Text (288 pp.) $15.95 paper | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-922147-32-5 A look at the hardscrabble lives of transients in rural Australia affirms the power of family. A group of “trants,” or transients, roams the countryside and squats at an abandoned house, left to decay and seemingly unlivable. Sherborne presents a bleak landscape where daily needs are met by what is found and through negotiations with the establishment in town. Shane and his brother, Midge, strip abandoned estates of hardware, doors and woodwork to trade on the black market to support their motley “family.” Moira holds the group together. Her aimless son, Rory, looks up to Shane and wants to enter the trade. Zara, her daughter, has just given birth to a son at the age of 15. There is a poignant, |

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comic, sad moment when the police come to question them about fires being started in the countryside. When asked to identify themselves, all five characters give different last names. “ ‘I’m Midge. Shane’s brother.’ ‘Midge Whittaker?’ ‘No, Flynn. Half brother.’ ” They all live in hiding, the police and the social structure of Barleyville predisposed to demonize their lifestyle. On one level, the novel is a social commentary, but at its core, it’s a look, at times tender, at family interactions. The Tree Palace is named when Shane, Midge and Rory hoist a chandelier into a tree at their patchwork home, brought back from one of their “thieving” trips at a particularly elegant, abandoned mansion. There is a moment of delight, the group as one, content. “As night fell, no one disturbed the crystal hush by speaking.” Sherborne presents moments of great emotion and bravely explores a world that most of us would be comfortable leaving alone. But the novel is directionless and never generates enough momentum to readily pull us along.

NIGHT BLINDNESS

Strecker, Susan Dunne/St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-250-04283-5 978-1-4668-4961-7 e-book A tragic accident has far-reaching consequences for an illustrious family. At 29, Jensen is sure she’s outrun the heartache of her past. Now married to Nico, a famous sculptor, they live a bohemian life in Santa Fe. But then she’s summoned home under the worst circumstances—her beloved father, Sterling Reilly, former NFL hero, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. She’s avoided home for the past 13 years, ever since her brother Will died, and now she’s in the thick of it, with her ex-boyfriend Ryder now Sterling’s neurologist. She and Ryder share a secret that changed the course of their lives, turning him into a neurologist, turning her away from academics and Julliard to work as an artist’s model. Much of the novel is concerned with Jensen’s guilt and the halflife she’s created to combat it. Her family tries to tease her out of her shell, but the true remedy lies with Ryder and their willingness to tell the truth about Will’s death. As teens, Will, Ryder and Jensen were inseparable, though there was one caveat—Will demanded Ryder and Jensen never date. But they did secretly, and Jensen and Ryder believe a scuffle the three had when Will found out caused his death. Ryder and Jensen are still in love, but there are obstacles: Ryder’s girlfriend, Dale, Sterling’s precarious condition and Jensen’s husband. Her married life proves to be the novel’s weak spot. Though she’s been with Nico for years, Jensen (who narrates) offers little insight into her disintegrating marriage or why she prefers a man she’s barely seen in 13 years to her own husband. Though Strecker builds fine portraits of the minor characters, Jensen herself never steps from the shadows, an odd failing for a novel devoted to her emotional recovery. A family drama with some disjointed moments makes for an uneven debut. 32

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AN IRISH DOCTOR IN PEACE AND AT WAR

Taylor, Patrick Forge (416 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-7653-3836-5 978-1-4668-3888-8 e-book Taylor (Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor, 2013, etc.) reminds fans that even in the peaceable kingdom of County Antrim and County Down, good men shed blood when Hitler

infected Europe. Taylor moves back and forth between 1960s Northern Ireland and the wartime travails of 1939-40, with minor emergencies and mysterious illnesses at home and terrifying adventures at sea. In 1966, Dr. Fingal O’Reilly is married to his first love, Kitty, but the book’s passionate romance comes as Fingal recalls his wartime courtship of first wife Deirdre, a nurse midwife in training. Taylor’s gift is dialect (there’s a glossary)—“a shmall little minute to toast and butter the bramback”—and sentences end with “so” or “bye.” When the war starts, Fingal is assigned to the battleship HMS Warspite as medical officer. Covering Royal Navy battles at Westfjord in Norway and later in the Mediterranean off Italy, Taylor’s descriptive powers are as mighty as Warspite’s 15-inch naval rifles—“[h]e had to grab onto a handrail...the noise that surrounded him like an impenetrable wall and by its force seemed to be crushing his chest.” At Warspite’s new home port of Alexandria, Taylor offers a precis on the last days of the gin-and-tonic empire as world war washed over ancient Egypt. There, lonely Fingal is tempted with a love affair. As Warspite sails, characters step aboard, most compelling the medical detachment’s stalwart leader, Surgeon Cmdr. Wilcoxson, and Tom Laverty, ship’s navigator and father of Fingal’s future partner, each of whom support Fingal, wide-eyed country doctor, who shakily steps into operating theaters where emergency amputations and bloody trepanning are de rigueur. But Fingal’s true domain is Ireland’s green-drenched landscape, “coarse marram grass hillocks that lay between the glen and the shingly shore,” with familiar Ballybucklebo characters like young partner Barry, medical student Jenny, and his newly married housekeeper, Kinky. With humor and pithy human insights, Taylor continues pleasing readers with the escapades of Dr. Fingal Flatherie O’Reilly. (Agent: Natalia Aponte)

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“An engrossing book to be read in one big gulp....” from eat him if you like

EAT HIM IF YOU LIKE

Teulé, Jean Translated by Phillips, Emily Gallic Books (112 pp.) $12.95 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-906040-390-0 Teulé’s (The Hurlyburly’s Husband, 2014, etc.) allegorical rendering of the true story of Frenchman Alain de Moneys’ last day in 1870 is a cautionary tale of scapegoating and anger run amok. De Moneys, a respected 29-year-old just elected to deputy mayor, has refused to buy his way out of service in Napoleon III’s army as is the custom for his social class. Instead, he plans to leave home and join the fight against the Prussians after visiting the neighboring town’s fair. But his day trip goes wrong when he’s accused of supporting the enemy, and he never makes it to the battlefield. Soon after reaching Hautefaye, de Moneys is set upon by a mob of farmers, businessmen and even those he chatted pleasantly with as he rode into the usually quiet village. The author’s fictional version of this historical event makes de Moneys into a martyr, with the narrative evoking parallels to Jesus’ final days: He receives a warm reception as he arrives on horseback, followed later by repeated false denials of knowing him by associates including the tailor whose name is sewn into his suit, and, after his life is already in danger, an authority figure washes his hands of the growing riot. Although characters are not developed sufficiently so that we can understand their relationships—the romantic pull between de Moneys and a young village woman, for example—their actions are vivid enough for us to comprehend the human cost of efforts to save de Moneys and the regret that plagues his murderers. An engrossing book to be read in one big gulp; some hackneyed dialogue and caricatures make the brutality easier to stomach.

THE LODGER

Treger, Louisa Dunne/St. Martin’s (272 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-250-05193-6 978-1-4668-5265-5 e-book A woman has an affair with H.G. Wells, observes the beginnings of women’s suffrage and comes into her own as a writer in this debut novel from Treger. Dorothy Richardson lives a quiet life of near solitude in a London boardinghouse. When she visits her old friend Jane for a weekend, she doesn’t expect to find Jane’s husband quite so interesting. Of course, Jane’s husband isn’t just anyone—he’s H.G. Wells, also known as Bertie. Although Bertie is no great looker, Dorothy discovers that he’s actually quite charming. So begins her agonizingly painful and passionate affair with him, one that leads her into some significant complications. |

But the affair with Bertie isn’t the only situation Dorothy deals with. There’s also her budding friendship (and possibly more) with fellow boarder Veronica, a suffragist. The early 1900s weren’t exactly a friendly time for single women in London, and the book does a wonderful job of showing Dorothy’s desire for independence as well as her fear of being alone. The sections dealing with women’s suffrage don’t feel as fleshed out as Dorothy’s relationship with Bertie, and given her real-life status as a great writer, readers may wish to know more about Richardson’s actual career. However, Treger’s writing flows easily and the book is impeccably researched, making this an enjoyable read. Dorothy Richardson may not be a household name, but Treger’s novel does a fine job of showing just how compelling her life was in this novel full of passion, history and literature.

m ys t e r y CARNAL ACTS

Alexander, Sam Arcadia (440 pp.) $26.00 paper | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-909807-54-9 The first appearance by Alexander, whose pseudonym supposedly masks a well-known genre author, pits Pofnee— North East England’s Major Crimes Unit— against a cutthroat batch of Albanian sex slavers and the even more monstrous fig-

ures behind them. Shortly after Gary “Gaz” Frizzell realizes he’s been snatched from outside a pub for forced albeit highly pleasurable sex, he tries to escape, and his story comes to an abrupt end. By that foreshortened standard, Suzana Noli is much luckier. When she makes her own escape attempt from the Corham brothel where she’s imprisoned, she kills one of her Albanian pimps and sends another to the hospital. Running from the building, she bursts into the middle of Corham’s annual May Sunday street masquerade and disappears into the crowd. But not before Nick Etherington, a college-bound student dressed as a traffic signal, sees her run, and DI Joni Pax, who’s been assigned to Pofnee ever since an abortive raid on a Brixton gang sent her career in the Met belly up, sees that Nick has seen her. Working very much at odds with DI Morrie Sutton, Joni questions the boy but can’t get him to disclose what she’s convinced he’s keeping back about what he’s seen. Suzana, meanwhile, is roaming the farms and fields around Corham, pilfering food and clothing and defending herself ferociously against anyone who gets in her way. Nick is falling in love with Evie Favon, daughter of the local squire. And those Albanian pimps have sworn vengeance, first against Suzana, then against Joni. kirkus.com

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Though Alexander never persuasively connects Suzana’s enslavement to Gaz’s kidnapping, there’s much here for fans of darker-hued British procedurals to savor.

interest—but whose cognitive and linguistic functioning are generally better than those of autistic folks. So it’s hardly surprising to see a new series whose investigator has Asperger’s— though Samuel Hoenig would be first to insist that his condition is not an affliction; it’s a difference rather than a defect. Samuel was diagnosed at 16 under the old DSM IV, and he wears his Asperger’s as a badge of honor. He constantly marvels at his ability to understand others while maintaining his own idiosyncratic take on the world. And the person he understands the best, other than his beloved mother, is Janet Washburn, a would-be client of Samuel’s question-answering service in Piscataway, New Jersey, called, with typical Asperger logic, Questions Answered. Ms. Washburn, as Samuel prefers to call her, soon proves herself invaluable, smoothing Samuel’s path with other clients, including Marshall Ackerman, chief administrator at Garden State Cryonics Institute. Ackerman wants Samuel to find a misplaced, cryogenically preserved body part, which Samuel agrees to do as soon as Ackerman rephrases his request as a question: “Who stole one of our heads?” The discovery of a body in the cryonic storage chamber—not one of GSCI’s clients, but a staff member—ups the ante, posing a question Samuel may not be equipped to answer. Copperman, who as Jeff Cohen has written nonfiction (The Asperger Parent, 2002, etc.), tackles a challenging task: presenting the inner life of someone whose inner life is by nature opaque to others. His focus seriously limits Samuel’s power as an effective sleuth rather than a poster-boy for early intervention.

ADOBE FLATS

Campbell, Colin Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (360 pp.) $14.99 paper | Sep. 8, 2014 978-0-7387-3633-4 Series: Resurrection Man, 3 A laconic loner squares off against a Wild West magnate who rules his dominion with an iron hand. Grant, a poker-faced tough guy with a Marlboro Man vibe, takes a train to the arid town of Absolution, where the streets are eerily empty, and everyone he meets advises him bluntly to leave. He gets lodging at the Gage Hotel only by intimidating the desk clerk, then has to stand up to a would-be enforcer in his room. Grant’s looking for Eduardo Cruz, a man the locals apparently know no better than the reader. He finds an ally, and some chemistry too, in feisty Sarah Hellstrom, who runs Gilda’s Grill and Diner. She clues Grant in on Tripp Macready, who owns virtually everything in Absolution and repels visitors. Macready’s the man to see if Grant wants unrestricted movement. Little by little, flashbacks begin to explain Grant’s task. He had been part of a small team for the Allied Expeditionary Force, which included medic Pilar Cruz, who was more than a friend to him. Once Grant finds Eduardo Cruz, a doctor like his daughter, it’s his sad task to inform him of her death. Although Grant has not intentionally crossed Macready, Cruz warns that a showdown between the two is now inevitable. And when Grant learns that Macready has been slapping Sarah around, he’s unstoppable. The prolific Campbell’s third Resurrection Man novel (Montecito Heights, 2014, etc.) harkens back to the gritty but thinly plotted men’s action series of the 1970s and ’80s, with less gore and a stylish noir voice.

FLESH AND BLOOD

Cornwell, Patricia Morrow/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $28.99 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-0-06-232534-1 Happy birthday, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But no Florida vacation for you and your husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley— not because President Barack Obama is visiting Cambridge, but because a deranged sniper has come to town. Shortly after everyone’s favorite forensic pathologist (Dust, 2013, etc.) receives a sinister email from a correspondent dubbed Copperhead, she goes outside to find seven pennies—all polished, all turned heads-up, all dated 1981—on her garden wall. Clearly there’s trouble afoot, though she’s not sure what form it will take until five minutes later, when a call from her old friend and former employee Pete Marino, now a detective with the Cambridge Police, summons her to the scene of a shooting. Jamal Nari was a high school music teacher who became a minor celebrity when his name was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list; he claimed government persecution, and he ended up having a beer with the president. Now he’s in the news for quite a different reason. Bizarrely, the first tweets announcing his death seem to have preceded it by 45 minutes. And Leo Gantz, a student at Nari’s school, has confessed to his murder, even though he

THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD

Copperman, E.J.; Cohen, Jeff Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (336 pp.) $14.99 paper | Oct. 8, 2014 978-0-7387-4151-2 Copperman/Cohen introduce a detective who brings something extra to his investigations: Asperger’s syndrome. Before it was dropped from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Asperger’s was an increasingly popular diagnosis given to people displaying a constellation of behaviors often associated with autism—inflexible thinking, reduced ability to read social cues, constricted range of 34

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couldn’t possibly have done it. But these complications are only the prelude to a banquet of homicide past and present, as Scarpetta and Marino realize when they link Nari’s murder to a series of killings in New Jersey. For a while, the peripheral presence of the president makes you wonder if this will be the case that finally takes the primary focus off the investigator’s private life. But most of the characters are members of Scarpetta’s entourage, the main conflicts involve infighting among the regulars, and the killer turns out to be a familiar nemesis Scarpetta thought she’d left for dead several installments back. As if. No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

TO DWELL IN DARKNESS

Crombie, Deborah Morrow/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $17.99 paper | Sep. 23, 2014 978-0-06-232526-6

Sent down from Scotland Yard to Camden CID, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid (No Mark upon Her, 2012, etc.) must deal with a bombing that disrupts a musical event in London’s storied St. Pancras station. Well, not exactly a bombing. Anti-development activist Matthew Quinn and his mates from Save London’s History intend only to create a scene by tossing a smoke bomb into the St. Pancras International festivities headlined by DS Melody Talbot’s guitarist boyfriend, Andy Monahan, and singer Poppy Jones. Somewhere along the line, the smoke bomb morphs into a white phosphorous grenade—“an incendiary device, not an explosive”—and that’s what goes off in the station, spewing flames that seriously injure Tam Moran, Andy’s manager, and kill a man too badly burned to be readily identified. The surviving members of Save London’s History think the dead man must be Ryan Marsh, the mysterious fellow traveler who’d agreed to throw the smoke bomb. But further evidence dug up by Kincaid’s new team, whose members inevitably have their own internal differences, suggests that Marsh is still alive and that the victim must be someone else. As Kincaid presses forward, his wife, DI Gemma James, labors to build a case against electronics shop clerk Dillon Underwood for kidnapping, raping and murdering 12-year-old Mercy Johnson. This second case, however, is less absorbing than the dilemma the Kincaid-James children are having over what to do with the cat and four newborn kittens they’ve found starving and freezing in a locked shed. The midgrade mystery is enriched by a wealth of detail about St. Pancras’ history and architecture that would do Margaret Truman proud.

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DICK FRANCIS’S DAMAGE

Francis, Felix Putnam (400 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-399-16822-2

A professional horse-racing investigator has to ride three unruly mounts at once in the fourth and most ambitious of the younger Francis’ suspensers. It’s always something for Jefferson Roosevelt Hinkley. Since the ace investigator and his British Horseracing Authority colleague Nigel Green are shadowing banned horse trainer Matthew Unwin at the Cheltenham racetrack, they’re on hand when Unwin stabs bookmaker Jordan Furness to death right before their eyes, landing them both in a legal quagmire and Jeff perhaps in even deeper trouble. Then eminent barrister Quentin Calderfield, the husband of Jeff ’s cancer-stricken sister, Faye, wants Jeff to find and neutralize the witness who testified that Quentin’s son Kenneth offered to sell him some of the crystal meth the coppers found in Ken’s place during a wild party. But Jeff ’s third case is by far the biggest and nastiest. An extortionist calling himself Leonardo has doped dozens of horses running at the Cheltenham Festival and threatens to keep causing wholesale trouble for the rest of the season, undermining the BHA’s authority and bringing the racing industry to its knees, unless the Authority pays him £5 million to go away. Ignoring Jeff, who urges them to call the police, the BHA directors charge him with identifying and exposing the extortionist. They provide no budget and no manpower to help him and fire him to boot to make whatever cover story he dreams up more convincing—and incidentally to provide themselves some deniability if anything should go wrong. Francis (Dick Francis’s Refusal, 2013, etc.) expertly choreographs Jeff’s extended cat-and-mouse duel with the resourceful Leonardo. Fans of both thrillers and horse racing will be on tenterhooks until Jeff unmasks his opponent, who turns out to have been a lot more memorable in disguise.

GHOST WANTED

Hart, Carolyn Berkley Prime Crime (304 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-425-26615-1 The heavenly Department of Good Intentions relies on one of its best, but least obedient, sleuths to solve a puzzling case. Bailey Ruth Raeburn is back in her hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma, at the behest of her supervisor, Wiggins. The often censorious Wiggins has set his disapproval of Bailey Ruth’s rule-breaking behavior aside in the hope of restoring the reputation of his former love, who’s so far refused to take her place in heaven. kirkus.com

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“Every time you’re convinced Higashino’s wrung every possible twist out of his golden-age setup, he comes up with a new one.” from malice

SINKING SUSPICIONS

Beautiful Lorraine Marlow’s ghost still lives in her former home, which had been willed to Goddard College, and gives roses to people she feels should be together. But someone is using her lovely habit to create trouble in the Goddard library, where roses are scattered, a statue is smashed, and a valuable book is stolen. Lorraine’s latest candidates for roses are Joe Cooper, editor of the local paper, and Goddard senior Michelle Hoyt, who was recently appointed to write on the life and times of the late Susannah Fairlee, a longtime city council member and activist whose diaries span many years. Michelle, whose library key code was used the night of the theft, stands accused first of robbery, then of murder after a campus security guard is shot during the theft of one of Susannah’s diaries. When the acting police chief orders Michelle’s arrest, Bailey Ruth and Lorraine help her hide and assist her and Joe in tracking down information that may help to prove her story that she was held hostage the night of the shooting. Although a cold, clever killer will stop at nothing to set up Michelle, Bailey Ruth pulls out all the stops to reunite two pairs of lovers. Hart’s amusing and vivacious ghostly sleuth (Ghost Gone Wild, 2013, etc.) puts her invisibility, her gusto and her sharp mind to good use in her latest outing.

Hoklotubbe, Sara Sue Univ. of Arizona (224 pp.) $16.95 paper | Oct. 2, 2014 978-0-8165-3107-3

A half-Cherokee woman’s checkered career path is strewn with fatalities. Sadie Walela was once suspected of murdering the former owner of the restaurant she bought. After she started a job in a bank, a robber killed one of her co-workers. Now she’s taken a job as a travel agent, with a trip to Hawaii thrown in as a perk. She can’t convince her boyfriend, lawman Lance Smith, to accompany her, but he does plan to watch her horse and wolf-dog while she’s away. Barely has she boarded the plane when more things start to go wrong. Her neighbor, World War II veteran and full-blooded Cherokee Buck Skinner, goes missing, and Lance calls her for suggestions about where he might be. On Buck’s kitchen table are letters from the IRS threatening to take his ranch for back taxes. Buck turns out to be a victim of a particularly nasty case of identity theft. When a man calling himself Buck Skinner kills a chicken factory employee, the real Buck ends up suspected of murdering the man who impersonated him. Buck has fallen into a sinkhole, and even though Sonny the wolf-dog finds him while Sadie’s away, there seems no way he can get help. Sadie, for her part, has a wonderful time in Hawaii except for an earthquake and a lot of misunderstandings with Lance. Upon her return, Sonny leads her to Buck, whose niece from California starts pressuring him to sell water from the pure spring on his property. Sadie, whose true calling may be as a sleuth, works hard to straighten out the mess and provide a happier ending than she can easily envision. Hoklotubbe (The American Cafe, 2011, etc.) uses her experiences growing up in Oklahoma as a Cherokee tribal citizen to add interest to her mystery.

MALICE

Higashino, Keigo Minotaur (288 pp.) $28.99 | $11.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-250-03560-8 978-1-250-03561-5 e-book The creator of Detective Galileo (Salvation of a Saint, 2012, etc.) returns with another fiendishly clever Chinese—make that Japanese—box of a whydunit. Kunihiko Hidaka and Osamu Nonoguchi were childhood friends. Hidaka became a best-selling novelist, Nonoguchi a middle-school teacher who retired to write children’s books. Returning to Hidaka’s home a few hours after he last saw him, Nonoguchi, accompanied by Rie, Hidaka’s much younger second wife, finds his body, felled by a paperweight and strangled. Despite the alibi Nonoguchi offers Kyoichiro Kaga and the detailed written account of his movements during the fatal evening, the police detective, who once taught at Nonoguchi’s school, can’t help suspecting his former colleague of “creat[ing] a fictional account of the events in order to divert suspicion from himself.” That’s an ingenious idea, but Higashino is only getting started. As Nonoguchi and Kaga continue to spar with each other, the detective digs deeper into the past, uncovering startling revelations about the death of Hidaka’s first wife, the two men’s school days, and their literary careers, before coming up with a solution, and then another, and still another. Each time you’re convinced Higashino’s wrung every possible twist out of his golden-age setup, he comes up with a new one. If you still miss the days of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, you can’t do better than this fleet, inventive retro puzzler. 36

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THE MYSTERY OF THE INVISIBLE HAND

Jevons, Marshall Princeton Univ. (352 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 7, 2014 978-0-691-16313-0

Harvard professor Henry Spearman, returning from Stockholm with his Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, accepts a visiting appointment at San Antonio’s Monte Vista University just in time to investigate his fourth murder. Nobody except the police believes that MVU artist-inresidence Tristan Wheeler hanged himself. No doubt he was saddened by the inexplicable recent death of his two parrots, Canvas and Frame. But why would he willingly end the torrent of sales, interview requests and speaking gigs unleashed by his championing of “free art”—widely available copies that |


are indistinguishable from their originals? If he’d wanted to get murdered, however, Wheeler couldn’t have picked a better time. His name had already been in the news ever since someone stole five of his paintings from his neighbor Dr. Raul Ramos six weeks ago; his mysterious death sends the cost of his work skyrocketing; and Henry Spearman, who’d rather be teaching than sleuthing (A Deadly Indifference, 1995, etc.), is on hand to sort it all out. But not before the round-robin of obligatory academic social occasions gives him ample opportunity to dispense numberless apercus on the dismal science and deliver several more extended lessons on Adam Smith and the virtues of the free market. The characters may be cutouts, but the whodunit is logical enough, even if it’s something of an afterthought. The closing defense of unfettered capitalism would seem gratuitous if it weren’t the whole point of the exercise. Instead of using his mystery as a peg for descriptions of the French countryside or medieval history or gourmet meals or second-chance romance, Jevons uses it for an exposition of elementary economics. The results are scarcely less entertaining and a good deal more educational.

LOST UNDER A LADDER

Johnston, Linda O. Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (336 pp.) $14.99 paper | Oct. 8, 2014 978-0-7387-4077-5 A woman’s desire to make sense of her fiance’s death—he dies after walking under a ladder—takes her and her dog, Pluckie, to Destiny, California, where superstition rules. After booking into the Rainbow Bed & Breakfast, Rory Chasen leashes Pluckie and heads for the Broken Mirror Bookstore. But Pluckie is more interested in the Lucky Dog Boutique next door, where they discover a woman lying on the floor. Their 911 call quickly brings help in the form of EMTs and handsome Chief of Police Justin Halbertson, allowing Rory to head to the Broken Mirror to meet owner Kenneth Tarzal, author of The Destiny of Superstitions, the book she’s been using for her research into her fiance’s mishap. Tarzal is a skeptic, but his partner, Preston Kunningham, is a true believer. Both have been pushing Lucky Dog owner Martha to sell them her shop, making Martha, who refuses to be bullied, a suspect when Rory and Pluckie find Tarzal murdered with a piece of broken mirror. Rory’s background as an assistant manager at a MegaPets store encourages Martha to ask her to help run the shop until she recovers. Although Rory, her head turned by Chief Halbertson, agrees, she soon gets into trouble. Her curiosity overcomes her good sense, and Pluckie’s luck may just have run out when the killer targets Rory for trying to clear Martha. Multigenre veteran Johnston (Teacup Turbulence, 2014, etc.) launches her planned Superstition Mystery series with too much superstition and not enough mystery.

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A TIGHTLY RAVELED MIND

Lawson, Diane Cinco Puntos (306 pp.) $16.95 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-935955-92-4

A cunning, elegantly written comedy of manners in the form of a murder mystery in which a psychoanalyst finds her wealthy clientele dropping. Literally. Freudian analyst Nora Goodman carries a caseload that one presumes is a representative sample of the upper tier of San Antonio society, from a taciturn chemistry instructor unhappily married to an oil heiress to a polymorphously perverse doctor to an embittered divorcee taking out her lifelong resentments on Goodman—who has her own issues, starting with a manipulative, patronizing psychiatrist husband, two rambunctious children and some unresolved feelings toward her dead parents. The last thing Nora needs is more tsoris. But that’s just what she gets as, one by one, the people in her appointment book meet sudden, violent ends. The police believe these deaths to be accidents or coincidences; and since Nora, being a dedicated Freudian, believes in neither, she seeks help from an ex cop–turned–private detective named Mike Ruiz, whose sneering contempt for Freud seems to be shielding his own private demons. You’d think being in a world populated by such tightly wound neurotics would get dreary or annoying, or both. But Lawson, herself a San Antonio–based psychoanalyst making her publishing debut, makes the journey a pleasant one with a witty, assured narrative style that renders both physical and emotional scenery with economical astuteness and grace. The way the story ends makes you think there’s the barest chance Nora and Mike could continue their spiky relationship into another novel. And why not? If San Antonio can support a pro basketball franchise with five championships, it certainly deserves a classy crime-solving tandem staking a claim for the city in the mystery genre. Remember how amazed Norman Mailer was after reading George V. Higgins’ first novel that a member of “the fuzz” could write so well? Well, let it likewise be asserted of Lawson: This shrink can really throw it down.

I SEE YOU

MacDonald, Patricia Severn House (240 pp.) $28.95 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-0-7278-8405-3 A middle-aged couple who’ve run from Nashville to West Philadelphia to escape an ugly menace learn that they haven’t run far enough. Leave it to a politician to screw things up. When alcoholic Iraq vet Dominga Flores finds Mamie Revere felled by a stroke and responds by dialing 911 and giving the old lady CPR while waiting for the kirkus.com

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“What happens off camera is as dramatic as what’s in the frame when serial murders intrude on Jazz Age Hollywood.” from silent murders

ambulance, Mamie’s son, Philadelphia City Councilman Isaiah Revere, can’t resist grandstanding by summoning a TV news crew to shoot him in his mother’s house giving his effusive (and, as it turns out, meaningless) thanks to her rescuer. The only problem is that Mamie’s tenants, Anna and Alan Whitman, who’ve been captured on the videotape hovering in the background, are really Hannah and Adam Wickes, a couple on the lam, and their adorable daughter Sydney, who was with Mamie when she was stricken, is really their granddaughter. What do a halfway house caseworker and a Geek Squad troubleshooter have to hide? The answer, which requires a 150-page flashback, recounts how trouble started when Lisa Wickes, Hannah and Adam’s daughter and Sydney’s single mother, was arrested for murdering her boyfriend, practical nurse Troy Petty, who was killed when his lakeside cabin blew up. It must have been an accident, says supersmart medical student Lisa, who swears Troy was alive and awake when she left him earlier that evening. Not so, insists the district attorney, who has footage of Lisa cashing Troy’s last paycheck. The case rapidly spirals into the stuff of nightmares, but the sequel is even more devastating for Hannah and Adam. Whatever the opposite of domestic bliss is, MacDonald (Sisters, 2013, etc.) knows it like the back of her hand. That monstrous flashback won’t win her any prizes for dramatic structure, but fans kept up past their bedtimes won’t care a bit.

and how the two murders are related to two other Hollywood deaths. Accompanied by fresh-faced professional dancer Myrna Williams, who’s trying on a new surname while she attempts to launch a Hollywood career, Jessie follows the trail of her chief suspect through an underworld connection and corruption that may reach high into the local hierarchy to a denouement featuring perhaps one Hollywood icon too many. A brisk, knowing adventure whose self-reliant but vulnerable heroine takes big risks for her Hollywood boss and stops just short of romance with two men who couldn’t be more different. Only the sequel will tell which one she chooses and who she’ll be next.

THE HAUNTING BALLAD

Nethercott, Michael Minotaur (304 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 30, 2014 978-1-250-01740-6 978-1-4668-5650-9 e-book Private eye Lee Plunkett ventures forth from Thelmont, Connecticut, to solve the murder of a professional songcatcher in the Greenwich Village of 1957. Not that the police think Lorraine Cobble was murdered. Even though she didn’t leave a note, her life was so turbulent they can easily believe she threw herself from the roof of her apartment building a few hours after she publicly accused handsome young troubadour Byron Spires of having stolen one of her songs. Lee, having been present with his eternal fiancee, Audrey Valish, for this blowup, is soon retained by Lorraine’s much younger cousin Sally Joan Cobble, who doesn’t buy the NYPD story of her cousin’s death. Of course, his professional forces would be incomplete without the addition of Mr. O’Nelligan, the unsalaried “assistant” who gave Lee such timely help in his debut (The Seance Society, 2013). It’s lucky that the roguish Irishman is on hand to help, since Byron Spires soon commits a second theft, as Lee realizes to his mortification when he sees Audrey in his company. Fortified by their partnership, Lee and Mr. O’Nelligan interview Lorraine’s downstairs neighbors, the ghost chanter Mrs. Pattinshell and the 105-year-old Civil War veteran Cornelius Boyle; the musical Doonan brothers, who evidently couldn’t keep from stirring up trouble for Lorraine; Tony “the Grand” Mazzo, owner of the Cafe Mercutio, where the rest of the cast sing their hearts out when they aren’t fighting each other; and Mercutio performers Ruby Dovavska and Kimla Thorpe. And they also hear from Lorraine herself, whose ghostly song accusing her killer Mrs. Pattinshell performs for them. Another pleasantly retro puzzler whose colorful cast members seem to have nothing better to do than be suspected of murder.

SILENT MURDERS

Miley, Mary Minotaur (368 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 23, 2014 978-1-250-05137-0 978-14668-6518-1 e-book What happens off camera is as dramatic as what’s in the frame when serial murders intrude on Jazz Age Hollywood. Now that her recent masquerade as heiress (The Impersonator, 2013) has come to a disastrous end, vaudeville veteran Leah Randall is ready to adopt a new identity as Jessie Beckett, script girl in training and personal assistant to Douglas Fairbanks at the silent-film studio he and his wife, Mary Pickford, own and run. Jessie’s tasks are limited to checking script continuity and running errands until a dinner party at the home of director Bruno Heilmann ends in the host’s murder. Then her job description expands to include beating the police to the deceased’s house so she can collect any evidence Mary’s unstable sister, Lottie, left behind. Lottie had a secret affair with Bruno, and Fairbanks and Pickford dread the scandal that might result from the discovery. A more personal loss for Jessie is Esther Frankel, an unwilling witness who’d shared a stage with Jessie’s late mother. But when Jessie comes for tea and the souvenirs Esther promised, she finds the older woman dead from a blow to the head. Working with a conscientious detective and a charming bootlegger she knew from her days of passing for an heiress, Jessie tries to figure out whether 38

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“It’s no surprise that the first novel, and first of a projected series, from actress Anderson...comes with a strong X-Files tang.” from a vision of fire

ONLY THE DEAD

Sundstøl, Vidar Translated by Nunnally, Tiina Univ. of Minnesota (152 pp.) $22.95 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-0-8166-8942-2 A police officer and his brother play cat and mouse in a frozen forest. Lance Hansen is still haunted by his last case, a Norwegian tourist found murdered on the shores of Lake Superior (The Land of Dreams, 2013, etc.). Although an Ojibwe man has been arrested, Hansen can’t shake his fear that his brother, Andy, is the murderer. Now they’re out in the woods together on their annual deer hunt, and Hansen’s mind wanders to the murder and to the fact that he’s now unable to dream; he recalls dreams from the past and his childhood with a difficult father. Andy accuses Hansen of breaking into his cottage, and the tension between them escalates to the point that Hansen feels Andy may be planning to kill him. Generations ago, their ancestor Thormod Olson may have killed an Ojibwe, Swamper Caribou, in the same area as the recent murder. The story of Thormod’s desperate struggles alone in a frozen wilderness and how he came to kill Swamper Caribou is told against the background of the present-day deer hunt occurring amid similar circumstances. Although their suspicions and fear of each other harden, Hansen and his brother continue their hunt, carefully keeping track of each other even as Hansen seems to be suspended in a dream world where the past and present merge. The second in the Minnesota Trilogy, this slim volume is so exquisitely written, lyrically descriptive and mystically mysterious it could stand on its own, but to understand all the nuances it’s best read as part of the trilogy.

PARIS MATCH

Woods, Stuart Putnam (320 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-399-16912-0 Attorney/CIA consultant/hotelier Stone Barrington whiles away the time waiting to see whether his good friend, pregnant first lady Katharine Lee, will be elected president by dodging death threats from the same old enemies relocated to the City of Light. Stone is in Paris for the opening of l’Arrington, the latest in the chain of hotels memorializing his late wife. He’s sorry to say goodbye to his most recent inamorata, Lee’s deputy campaign director Ann Keaton, and he completely deflects the forthright advances of rapacious American ambassador Linda Flournoy. But there are other prospects in Paris, like dress designer Mirabelle Chance, whose only baggage is a father and brother who |

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are both prefects of police, so naturally he succumbs to her. And to his sometime lover Holly Barker, whom CIA director Lance Cabot has sent to Paris just in case they run out of women there. But not to Katharine Lee, whose baby a scurrilous blogger accuses Stone of fathering even though they’re just good friends. The requisite violence is supplied by Yevgeny Majorov, who accurately suspects Stone of having a hand in his brother Yuri’s death when Yuri attempted to throw a lasso over Stone’s Los Angeles flagship (Doing Hard Time, 2013). Sleeker and smoother than Yuri, Yevgeny is equally determined to seize control of Stone’s latest hotel and additionally determined to avenge his brother’s death. Matters come to a head when one of Stone and Mirabelle’s trysts is interrupted by a masked gunman, but after Mirabelle shoots the intruder dead, there are surprisingly few complications. All this, and much less, is played out against a generic Paris that, apart from the title and the dust jacket illustration, could have been St. Petersburg, Prague or Pittsburgh.

science fiction and fantasy A VISION OF FIRE

Anderson, Gillian; Rovin, Jeff Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4767-7652-1 It’s no surprise that the first novel, and first of a projected series, from actress Anderson (The X-Files, etc.) and collaborator Rovin (Conversations With the Devil, 2007, etc.) comes with a strong X-Files tang. A member of an enigmatic group steals a puzzling artifact recovered from beneath the south Atlantic waves. Meanwhile, as nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan ratchet up, India’s United Nations ambassador Ganak Pawar narrowly survives an assassination attempt. His daughter, Maanik, who was at the scene and escaped unhurt, suddenly begins injuring herself, screaming uncontrollably and babbling in what seems to be an unknown tongue. U.N. translator Benjamin Moss calls in distinguished Manhattan child psychiatrist Caitlin O’Hara. She finds Maanik’s symptoms baffling—especially when Ben listens to her ravings and identifies elements of several wildly disparate languages. Then, in Iran, a boy suddenly and inexplicably sets himself on fire. In Haiti, a student apparently starts to drown—on dry land. Rats occupy New York’s Washington Square. And when Caitlin touches her patient, she experiences strange visions and feels an external presence. The professionally executed narrative

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POISON FRUIT

moves the stock characters along at a briskly globe-hopping pace but offers no original elements, fresh perspective or innovative treatment. So what’s behind all the obviously linked phenomena—demons? Malevolent aliens? Ancient civilizations? Sinister conspiracies? Mystic powers? Savvy readers will get that sinking feeling when they begin to guess about halfway through—ideas so threadbare they’d come close to the top of any fantasy or science fiction editor’s “never write about this” list. Still, with that celebrity name on the cover, anything’s possible. (Agent: Doug Grad)

Carey, Jacqueline ROC/Penguin (448 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-451-46531-3 Series: Agent of Hel, 3 Third in Carey’s supernatural urban fantasy series (Autumn Bones, 2013, etc.) set in Pemkowet, a small resort town on the shores of Lake Michigan. In summer, tourists pour in to marvel at Pemkowet’s eldritch community—fairies, ghouls, vampires, bogles and so forth—whose benevolent supervisor is Hel, the Norse goddess of the underworld. Now it’s November, and things are quieter, so Daisy Johanssen, hell-spawn daughter of a demon and a human mother, Hel’s enforcer and designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, devotes her energies to unscrambling her sizzling but problematic personal life. First up is her partner, red-hot werewolf Officer Cody Fairfax; the lust is mutual, but traditionalist Cody wants a family and so must mate with another werewolf. And then there’s equally redhot Stefan Ludovic, 600-year-old Bohemian knight and leader of the ghouls, or Outcasts, who, rejected by both heaven and hell, are immortal and feed on emotions. However, with Stefan away in Poland on private business, Scott Evans, a veteran with severe PTSD, complains to the Pemkowet PD that he’s being haunted by a witchlike, soul-sucking Night Hag. And then hellspawn lawyer Daniel Dufreyne wallops the town with a massive lawsuit. The really bad news is that Dufreyne, having accepted his birthright, has demonic powers of persuasion. Daisy isn’t sure how that works: She’s refused to claim her own birthright despite frequent urgings from dad, the lesser demon Belphegor, lest she unleash Armageddon. Steamy sex, meddling monsters and a hell-spawn heroine with a volcanic temper: Even in the off season, there’s nothing dull about Pemkowet. What more could series addicts ask?

CITY OF STAIRS

Bennett, Robert Jackson Broadway (448 pp.) $15.00 paper | Sep. 9, 2014 978-0-8041-3717-1 Another dark fantasy by master of the genre Bennett (American Elsewhere, 2013, etc.), a literate swirl of religion, politics, finance and other sources of misery. “You know you are my foremost Continental operative.” Thus a suit to our protagonist, a divinologist who just happens to know her way around a conspiracy theory. Is Bennett’s latest merely an elaborate excuse to make a pun on Dashiell Hammett’s The Continental Op? Probably not, but Shara Thivani, mutatis mutandis, wouldn’t be entirely out of place in an old issue of Black Mask—if, that is, that century-old mystery mag had a soft spot for vaguely Central Asian locales in some not-quite-defined version of the future, along with a little genre-crossing into the horror realm. Shara, an agent of the island state of Saypur, is posted to the vast mainland city of Bulikov after having been abroad for 16 years. Continental Bulikov—a city of ups and downs indeed—once ruled Saypur, but the tables were turned thanks to a conspiracy that involves some considerable theological twists and turns; suffice it to say that Black Mask founder H.L. Mencken would have enjoyed the iconoclasm attendant in Bennett’s account of that tumultuous history. Will the tables be turned once again? That’s what Shara and her sidekick, the monkish but menacing Sigrud, “a hammer in a world of nails,” are there to forestall. The story is winding, the cast of characters sizable but not so sprawling as in many a fantasy; it’s all well and neatly told. Bennett’s invented geography isn’t quite as beguiling as, say, Borges’ library, but he does a thoroughly credible job of worldbuilding; readers will find themselves huffing and puffing their ways across the city and its namesake stairs, which “do not end: they stretch on and on, soft and moist, formed of dark, black clay and loam” and lead to all kinds of odd places. Smart and sardonic, with wry echoes from classic tales (a little “Telltale Heart,” anyone?) mixed up in an inventive, winning narrative. (Agent: Cameron McClure)

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ANCILLARY SWORD

Leckie, Ann Orbit/Little, Brown (400 pp.) $16.00 paper | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-316-24665-1 Leckie proves she’s no mere flash in the pan with this follow-up to her multiaward-winning debut space opera, Ancillary Justice (2013). Breq used to be One Esk Nineteen, an ancillary, or human-bodied extension, of the Artificial Intelligence that powered the ship Justice of Toren. Two decades after the ship’s destruction, she is Fleet Capt. Breq Mianaai, envoy of the many-bodied Lord of the Radch empire, Anaander Mianaai. Or a tool of part of her: The Lord is a mind divided against itself, and the dissension among herselves has brought the empire to the brink of civil war. One |


“...this won’t be for everyone, but oh, my precious pillows, what a joy for those who can handle it.” from prophecies, libels & dreams

faction has sent Breq to Athoek station to secure it. Once there, Breq discovers that the station and the planet below are a microcosm of corruption and conspiracy, another symptom of the empire’s decay. After the literally explosive finale of the previous installment, one might have expected the novel to have a broader, more action-focused sweep. But Leckie doesn’t seem concerned with space battles—the core of the story she wants to tell is more intimate, personal. As in the previous volume, she offers the groaningly obvious moral that those who are considered of lesser breeding frequently display far nobler behavior than the cardboard villains who believe themselves to be their so-called betters. She manages to retain interest, however, by cutting Breq and her friends and allies from more richly patterned cloth. The AI who proves to have more insight, more compassion and a greater sense of justice—who is, in fact, more human—than the humans around it is a common sci-fi trope. But Breq intriguingly defies that trope in one key sense: AIs of that sort usually aspire to be human, while Breq feels lonely and limited in her single body, desperately, painfully missing what she once was. Perhaps something of a retread but still interesting and worth following to its conclusion. (This review was first published in the Fall Preview 2014 issue.)

FISH TAILS

Tepper, Sheri S. Harper Voyager (512 pp.) $32.00 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-06-230458-2 Tepper continues a slow procession toward aquatic apocalypse in this followup to The Waters Rising (2010). In 200 years, the waters of Earth will drown all the land, and only those capable of living in the sea will survive. Abasio and Xulai and their twin sea-adapted babies, Bailai and Gailai, are traveling across the world, attempting to convince those they meet about the rising waters and the necessity of sea-adapting their future children. Along the way, the family encounters various people and beings either hostile or sympathetic to their mission, and they eventually discover the cause of the planetary flooding. There’s actually not much of a coherent or well-paced story here until about the last quarter of the book; it’s simply a chain of connected traveling episodes. Worse, many motifs have already been exhaustively explored in several other Tepper novels—in particular, that environmental wastefulness and damage have offended the world spirit and brutal misogyny, xenophobia and stupidly obstinate closedmindedness persist yet can be deliberately bred out of humanity. Talking animals, whimsical galactic investigators and often groaningly awful wordplay have also featured in her other works. Characters from a decades-old (and mainly out of print) series make a cameo, but anyone who appreciates their reappearance is also more likely to recognize just how much Tepper is repeating herself here. |

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A sad patchwork of plot scraps from Tepper’s previous, and superior, works. (Agent: Howard Morhaim)

PROPHECIES, LIBELS & DREAMS

Wilce, Ysabeau S. Small Beer Press (256 pp.) $16.00 paper | $9.95 e-book Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-61873-089-3 978-1-61873-090-9 e-book This collection of tales, fragments and “history” from Wilce’s Califa may share a setting with the cuddly-(only)-bycomparison Flora books for teens (Flora Segunda, 2007, etc.), but don’t be fooled: This is a steampunkish, rococo anthology for a decidedly more mature readership. Califa: riotous carnival world of soldiers, drunks and magick (very) loosely based on California in the 1800s. Califa: marvel of ingenuity and purple prose. The seven stories here (five were previously published elsewhere) focus mostly on a single small period of time just before and after the Warlord’s invasion and primarily on the previous Pontifexa’s grandson and greatgranddaughter, cousins and reluctant spouses. From Hardhands’ initial consideration (“not exactly entirely Hardhands..., at least not yet,”) of regicide to avoid marrying Tiny Doom, then only a child, to Tiny Doom’s own early adulthood and the latest salvo in the war between them, the stories of these two fascinating characters form the literal and figurative heart of the collection. Other tales range from the whimsical-to-the-point-of-inexplicable opener, about Califa’s own Springheel Jack, to the closer, which the in-character afterword claims is a fantasy but which readers will find most familiar, set as it is in our actual history. A wordsmith (“Once upon a time, my little waffles...[in] a land well full of hardship, turmoil, and empty handball courts”) in love with her creations can be dangerous, but with the throttle set just right, the results nearly sparkle. Most of this does, barring the sometimes-forced conceit and unfortunate choices regarding story order. Ribald, raucous, distressingly appealing, so steeped in its own world that readers may well be driven to find everything else Wilce has written—this won’t be for everyone, but oh, my precious pillows, what a joy for those who can handle it.

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r om a n c e

CHAINED BY NIGHT

Ione, Larissa Pocket (400 pp.) $7.99 paper | $7.99 e-book Sep. 30, 2014 978-1-4767-0018-2 978-1-4767-0020-5 e-book

THE NIGHT BELONGS TO FIREMAN

Bernard, Jennifer Avon/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $7.99 paper | Sep. 30, 2014 978-0-06-227369-7

After agreeing to wed a rival’s daughter to form an alliance, Hunter, a vampire clan leader, must break an ancient curse while facing his misgivings about the other clan, his aversion to his would-be mate and his blazing attraction to her twin sister. After agreeing to marry Rasha, the firstborn daughter of the ShadowSpawn vampire clan, Hunter, the leader of the MoonBound clan, has immediate second thoughts. He’s always known that ShadowSpawn follow a heavy-handed and sometimes-cruel code of conduct known as the Way of the Raven, but he’s shocked by Kars’ brutal and despotic leadership, and the more he learns about ShadowSpawn’s harsh treatment of Rasha’s twin sister, Aylin, the more he despises the man. However, the vampire race is in peril, and creating alliances seems crucial to survival. Ever since humans discovered the existence of vampires, they have enslaved them and experimented on them, and hostilities are escalating. In theory, a match between Hunter and Rasha makes sense, but when the betrothal is announced and Rasha refuses to go through a series of expected trials, Hunter becomes more uneasy. Aylin, despised by her own clan for her physical weakness and gentle nature, steps up to the task and, during the quest, finds powers she never knew she had, suddenly becoming a valuable commodity. To Hunter, she’s become much more than that, and he will do everything in his power to protect her and find a way to marry her, preferably without causing war among the clans, while also doing all he can to keep vampires safe. Ione has created a fascinating vampire world steeped in Native American traditions and lore and developed a path to happiness for Hunter and Aylin that is fraught with potent and poignant internal and external conflicts. The action-packed plot and creative worldbuilding keep us enthralled; the romance and sexual tension keep us emotionally invested.

After a dramatic rescue, a reclusive heiress and a sexy fireman navigate family tensions, media pressures and a shadowy enemy on their path to happy-ever-after. Indulging in an uncharacteristic night on the town for a bridal shower, Rachel Allen meets firefighter Fred Breen in a bar and takes umbrage at his protective overtures, but everything changes minutes later when the limousine she and her friends are in is involved in a freak accident and Fred helps them to safety. Attractive but self-effacing, Fred is appalled when the local press whips the story into a media storm, referring to him as the Bachelor Hero. Not as appalled as Rachel, though, who has taken great pains to change her identity from Rachel Kessler, the daughter of multibillionaire Rob Kessler, who was kidnapped as a child and held in a cage until she managed to escape. With all the attention on Fred, Rachel was able to sneak away from the scene mostly unnoticed, but now the hunt is on to find the mysterious woman the Bachelor Hero rescued. Against her better judgment, Rachel feels honor-bound to contact Fred to thank him, and neither can ignore the sizzling attraction between them. Taking cautious steps into a relationship, the couple is undermined by Kessler’s overprotectiveness and Rachel’s resistance to it, despite her very real and haunting fears. Falling in love makes her question everything, but just as she begins to believe a bright future could be possible, her violent past rises up, demanding she and Fred fight for it. Bernard ends her Bachelor Firemen series with a fast-paced, witty read with a touch of danger that at moments seems far-fetched, but due to her impeccable storytelling and characterization, we buy in. Perhaps it’s a little too reliant on deus ex machina in the end, but most readers will be charmed enough to be forgiving. Sexy fireman hero saves the heiress who has everything and nothing—what’s not to like? Smart, fun and engaging.

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nonfiction CHARLIE CHAPLIN A Brief Life

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Ackroyd, Peter Talese/Doubleday (304 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-385-53737-7

HACK ATTACK by Nick Davies...........................................................50 ISABELLA by Kirstin Downey.............................................................54 TOO BIG TO JAIL by Brandon L. Garrett........................................... 57 TINSELTOWN by William J. Mann.................................................... 66 WHY HOMER MATTERS by Adam Nicolson..................................... 68 DIGGING FOR RICHARD III by Mike Pitts........................................70 RESPECT by David Ritz...................................................................... 71 REACHING DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE by Allan H. Ropper; Brian David Burrell.............................................................................72 FULLY ALIVE by Timothy Shriver....................................................... 73 PANDORA’S DNA by Lizzie Stark......................................................74 HOPE by Richard Zoglin......................................................................78 HACK ATTACK The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch

Davies, Nick Faber & Faber/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux (352 pp.) $27.00 Aug. 12, 2014 978-0-86547-881-7

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The life of a great filmmaker and lousy human being. Ackroyd (Three Brothers, 2014, etc.) delivers a thorough if ultimately unsatisfying portrait of Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) in this dispiriting chronicle of an artistic genius and thoroughly unpleasant man. The author’s account of Chaplin’s difficult early life in the slums of London is evocative and moving, detailing the many deprivations suffered by the young Charlie, which included chronic malnutrition and stints in workhouses; more troubling still was the condition of his mother, a failed singer whose devolution into madness ensured a lifelong lack of emotional stability for her gifted son. Surprisingly, the narrative becomes less interesting as Chaplin achieves success and renown, as his background in mime, dance and acrobatic clowning coincided with the nascent demands of early film comedy. Chaplin’s physical gifts and iconic visual presence as his signature “Little Tramp” character quickly established him as Hollywood’s biggest attraction, and his subsequent total control over his projects resulted in phenomenally successful movies (including City Lights, Modern Times and The Great Dictator) that made him the most famous man in the world. Ackroyd’s analysis of Chaplin’s evolving screen persona and obsessive attention to details provides some intriguing insights into his many classic works, but the author neglects to place these films in a wider context. The man himself emerges as a bitter, hateful presence: cruel, sadistic, bullying, a sexual predator fixated on very young teenage girls and monomaniacal to the point of monstrosity. Readers are left with an understanding of Chaplin’s background, the biographical details of his long and troubled life, and some idea of the hellish conditions on the exacting filmmaker’s sets, but conclusions about his significance as an artist, his work’s relationship to the culture at large, and the internal forces that engendered such personal misery and creative transcendence fail to cohere. A comprehensive look at Chaplin the man but lacking as a portrait of the artist and his legacy.

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educating our ears, with greil marcus

Photo Thierry Arditti, Paris

Greil Marcus is not for everyone. Casual music fans likely don’t understand—or even care to understand—his many arcane references, and even seasoned rock critics become exasperated with his excessive intellectualizing and occasionally tenuous connections across decade and genre. For me, however, there are few music writers that I find so consistently engaging—even when I don’t agree with his conclusions. In a starred review of his latest book, The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs, we wrote, “Marcus does what he does best: makes us feel smarter about what we’re putting into our ears.” But this isn’t just another tired hagiography of the enduring legacies of “Stairway to Heaven,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Imagine” and other (admittedly classic) rock tunes. Marcus has no interest in such lowhanging fruit, and his focus—diffuse as it may seem at times—is not so much on the mechanics of each song (though he’s usually spot-on in that department, as well) as much as the macrocosmic world of the song: the genesis, the structure, the musician, the cultural context, the resonance, the emotional impact, the endurance, the sheer, wonderful art of it. With thousands of possible choices, who else would open such a book with a chapter on the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some Action”? Or not include even a single song from any of hundreds of deserving (perhaps too obvious?) artists: Chuck Berry, Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin…the list goes on. Mystery Train was certainly a classic, and I can see Ten Songs headed in that direction. Whether discussing Etta James, Beyoncé, Buddy Holly, Robert Johnson, Elvis Costello, Cyndi Lauper or Amy Winehouse, Marcus Greil Marcus continually shows us how “[r]ock ’n’ roll may be most of all a language that, it declares, can say anything: divine all truths, reveal all mysteries, and escape all restrictions.” —Eric Liebetrau Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor at Kirkus Reviews.

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FRAGRANT The Secret Life of Scent

Aftel, Mandy Riverhead (288 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 16, 2014 978-1-59463-141-2

The history and mystery of the power of scent. Respected perfumer Aftel (Scents & Sensibilities: Creating Solid Perfumes for Well-Being, 2005, etc.) will greatly expand the knowledge of what readers think they know about fragrance as she chronicles the medicinal, culinary and spiritual uses of aromatics from antiquity to the present. “Scent, in a sense, is spirit: potent, invisible, omnipresent, elusive, capable of transforming experience of meaning,” she writes. By blending “distinct personalities...textures and shapes,” the author doesn’t merely create pleasant aromas; she opens an olfactory portal to the sensual and spiritual appetites that make us feel alive and in the moment, and these scents touch us far deeper than a department-store cologne. Aftel is a skillful storyteller, and the dreamy quality of her writing will transport readers as they come to understand that scent is “one of the most accessible yet irreducible experiences of magic that we have.” The author believes that it is important to “familiarize yourself with the nuances of the aromatic materials themselves” to dramatically increase your awareness and appreciation of it. To that end, she devotes sections of her book to the five basic scents on which nearly all other concocted fragrances are made: cinnamon, mint, frankincense, ambergris and jasmine. She considers herself and fellow “artisanal perfumistas” as craftspeople and historians and defines “artisan” as “learned from the manual labor of making something yourself....This knowledge comes not from writing and reading but by making and doing, and it is imprinted as much in the physical routines of the body as in the brain.” Aftel welcomes fledgling explorers of blending scents to experiment with her recipes for solid perfumes and body oils—as well as more fanciful creations like “frankincense shortbread” or “jasmine-ambergris chocolate.” Evocative, heady and overflowing with history and lore. (b/w illustrations)

HIJACKING THE RUNWAY How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers

Agins, Teri Gotham Books (304 pp.) $28.00 | Oct. 9, 2014 978-1-59240-814-6

Splashy critique of the celebrity sway over fashion. After scrutinizing the encroachment of casual wear into the house of haute couture in her debut (The End of Fashion, 1999), seasoned Wall Street Journal fashion journalist Agins chronicles another seminal change: the onslaught

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“An examination of the response of German scientists to the rise of the Third Reich and its interference with their work.” from serving the reich

of megastar-inspired product lines diluting the industry’s reputation for sartorial glitz and glamour. The author reaches back to past decades when luminaries like Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor and others cashed in on fame and “the allure of celebrity,” plugging their self-branded clothing lines, perfumes and jewelry. Fully utilizing her fashion week backstage-pass privileges, Agins provides a laundry list of saleable, self-possessed celebrity-wear, from such stars as Sean Combs, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga—all best-sellers with their star power leveraged to showboat the products as must-have indulgence items. In just one of the numerous interviews from which Agins cleverly draws opinion and material, Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour surprisingly voices the benefits of this celebrity influence. While the author doesn’t challenge the reality of someone famous increasing the revenue of a product or service just by affixing his or her name to it, she zeroes in on the ramifications of that type of affiliation. Not one to kowtow to the mesmerizing zeal of the celebrity brand, Agins’ assessments are razorsharp and brutally honest when it comes to their blunders. She is hilariously critical of the vacuous Kardashian family and their groupies’ “souvenir shop” Dash; she then cringes at a heavily marked-down “klearance” rack of their untouched, whisperthin duds at Sears. Though the narrative is padded with pages of floridly detailed, biographical filler, Agins is masterful at fashion speculation and engagingly weighs both the positives and negatives of an industry in which “the lines between celebrity and fashion designer have become blurred.” A breezy, authoritative report on the formidable culture of “[c]elebrities as billboards for fashion.”

acting in the world.” Ball subtly works the social and cultural expectations of physicists into the picture, noting the ingrained anti-Semitism in German society—“there was no stigma to being an anti-Semite in Germany (or Austria, or indeed most of Europe) in the early part of the century, and the National Socialist regime removed any vestigial inhibitions on that score”—which led to dismissals. However, as the author writes, “the ‘Jewish question’ was regarded as a matter of politics, not morality.” Ball closely follows the thread of National Socialism’s influence on science—not just in its hideous experimentation, but in the Lamarckian sense of ideology guiding the pursuit of finding what it wanted through science. How much did Nazism compromise its scientists? In this polished account, Ball finds that the jury is still out, even as the evidence mounts and the pursuit of firsthand records and documentary testimony continues.

SERVING THE REICH The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler Ball, Philip Univ. of Chicago (320 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 22, 2014 978-0-226-20457-4

An examination of the response of German scientists to the rise of the Third Reich and its interference with their work. Since governments have frequently interfered in the workings of science, its truths have not always been free of dogma. In this open and skeptical investigation of the unpredictable dance of science and politics, former Nature editor Ball (Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything, 2013, etc.) trots out example after example of how science can thrive under totalitarianism and be skewed under ostensibly democratic conditions. As he ably explores the collusion between the Nazi regime and such scientists as Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg and Peter Debye, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin, Ball finds a more fruitful avenue in the compromised relationship between science and politics, when “the institution of science itself had become an edifice lacking any clear social or moral orientation. It had created its own alibi for |

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PHILIP LARKIN Life, Art and Love

Booth, James Bloomsbury (544 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-1-62040-781-3

A scholar who has published previously about Philip Larkin (1922-1985) returns with a full-meal biography glowing with admiration. Booth (Philip Larkin: The Poet’s Plight, 2005), who was for nearly two decades one of Larkin’s colleagues at the University of Hull, does not find a lot to dislike in this lushly detailed life. Where others have found fault, the author often begs to differ. In Larkin’s letters, for example, are occasional terms and phrases that many readers find racially offensive. Booth characterizes them as “performative riffs,” examples of Larkin’s linguistic posturing. After a defensive introduction (Larkin was neither a racist nor a misogynist), Booth proceeds in chronological fashion. We learn about Larkin’s parents (his mother lived until 1977), his lifelong passion for classic jazz (and, later, his unhappiness with John Coltrane and other more modern performers), his schooling and his off-and-on friendship with Kingsley Amis. Both were hopeful novelists, but when Amis’ Lucky Jim (1954) appeared and soared, Larkin, who had published a couple of novels in the mid-1940s, turned exclusively to poetry. Larkin became a librarian and held various positions throughout his life, jobs that enabled him to have time for his poetry, and his verse soon became both popular and honored. Booth spends many pages discussing individual poems, as well as the drafts Larkin recorded in his many workbooks. Most of these analyses are accessible, though we occasionally read something precious: “The hissing monosyllable ‘this’ with its high short vowel seems arrogant.” Booth also charts the poet’s intimate relationships with various women (Larkin sometimes maintained as many as three simultaneously). We read, too, about his jealous disdain for Ted Hughes (he preferred Sylvia Plath’s poetry), as well as his physical decline (including deafness) preceding the arrival of the cancer that killed him. Definitive in its scope and detail but somewhat too hagiographic.

AN AMERICAN CARDINAL The Biography of Cardinal Timothy Dolan Boyle, Christina St. Martin’s (288 pp.) $27.99 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-1-250-03287-4

Biography of the current cardinal from New York. Journalist Boyle presents a lighthearted, highly positive portrait of Cardinal Timothy Dolan. As a comparably young cardinal whose influence in the Catholic Church has been steadily on the rise 46

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for years, Dolan is a good candidate for biographical study. Boyle’s attempt, however, is often too saccharine. She shows him emerging from a stereotypical 1950s suburban household in Missouri, complete with pious parents always willing to sacrifice for their family. The young Dolan attended a new and growing Catholic elementary school and knew from an early age that he wanted to be a priest. After taking a predetermined track through high school and seminary toward that purpose, he was awarded the rare honor of studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. From that point on, his rise was nearly meteoric. Boyle’s most substantive chapters concern Dolan’s years as a bishop in St. Louis and as archbishop of Milwaukee, during the height of the child sexual abuse scandals in those cities. Since 2009, Dolan has led the church in New York as archbishop and now as cardinal. Boyle has crafted an approachable and readable book and lays a foundation for those hoping to learn more about this influential church leader. However, her work reads like a commissioned biography far more than a journalistic effort. The book is replete with folksy examples of Dolan’s humor, compassion and wisdom, as well as countless doting quotes from those who have known him. Only occasionally does Boyle offer criticism, and the author herself often effuses praise—e.g., “[Dolan’s] joie de vivre was matched only by his piety.” An enjoyable but less-than-objective biography of “one of the most prominent Catholics in the world.”

LINCOLN’S GAMBLE The Tumultuous Six Months that Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War Brewster, Todd Scribner (352 pp.) $27.00 | Sep. 9, 2014 978-1-4516-9386-7

What a difference half a year makes— in this instance, in transforming Abraham Lincoln’s conduct of the Civil War into a war not just to preserve the Union, but to free the enslaved as well. Journalist and one-time West Point historian Brewster (coauthor, with Peter Jennings: In Search of America, 2002, etc.) comes at this project a bit late, it seems. Much of his ground was covered by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals (2005) and the film that grew from it, Lincoln, while the evolution of Lincoln’s views on slavery and emancipation is the subject of Eric Foner’s much deeper-reaching book The Fiery Trial (2010). Still, Brewster provides a highly readable, vigorously researched account of the fraught six-month period in which the Emancipation Proclamation came into being, which inarguably changed the course of the Civil War. Brewster opens with W.E.B. Du Bois’ apercu, somewhat inaccurate but also somewhat on the mark, that Lincoln was an illegitimate, poorly educated Southerner whose championing of abolition was politically calculated.

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Whether accurate or not, Lincoln’s decision brought added resolve to the battle to restore the Union, adding equality to “the American ideal of liberty.” Brewster is particularly good as a close reader of Lincoln’s drafts of the document and their evolving intent: As he notes, Lincoln’s wording, “dull, careful, lawyerly, precise,” makes it plain that only the states in rebellion were subject to the law’s harsh judgment. The extension of Lincoln’s reasoning to the Thirteenth Amendment can clearly be seen in the documents and Brewster’s thoughtful elucidation, though that extension was by no means fait accompli. Brewster offers as an interesting counterfactual what might have happened had Lincoln’s initial proposals been adopted, introducing a gradual emancipation that would not have been completed until 1900 and that would likely have involved mass repatriation of freed slaves to Africa. Instead, of course, Lincoln turned his army into “an army of liberation.” A sturdy, instructive, well-written book.

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CHAMPAGNE SUPERNOVAS Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the ’90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion

Callahan, Maureen Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 2, 2014 978-1-4516-4053-3

Examination of three iconic tastemakers who changed the face of American high-fashion merchandising. Editor and writer Callahan profiles three fashion figures throughout their cultural reigns during the 1990s, an era marked by a “collective hunger for change”: ultrathin, imageshattering supermodel Kate Moss and fledgling creative designing wunderkinds Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen. Each emerged from meager backgrounds, Callahan writes, as she insightfully analyzes how the trio burst onto the artistic scene

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“Whether read from cover to cover or dipped into occasionally, this collection serves as a fine primer to one magazine’s contribution to a golden age of American magazine writing.” from bohemians, bootleggers, flappers, and swells

and transformed the decade. Moss, an unassuming British teenager with “no glamour, no figure, bowed legs and jagged teeth,” went against her mother’s wishes, determined to be successful while rejecting the contemptuousness of the era’s Amazonian supermodels. Jacobs, initially a struggling designer at Perry Ellis (fired for his “grunge” collection), grew up a focused, sensitive and parentally neglected artist who frequented Manhattan nightclubs in the ’70s for inspiration. McQueen’s melodramatic saga is in a league of its own; Callahan dutifully paints him as a flamboyant, “self-mythologizing” and eccentric designer hailing from the sketchy East End of London who was physically self-conscious and prone to self-sabotage. Rising above homosexual mockery and channeling his dark obsessions with sex and violence (his graduating thesis collection was inspired by Jack the Ripper), McQueen, ever the maximalist provocateur, went on to exhibit a series of boundary-pushing collections until his suicide in 2010 at age 40. Callahan walks us through each animated career with a keen eye for detail and a narrative buoyed by histrionics but never weighed down by them. The author makes great use of personal interviews and reference materials, and through cross comparisons, she discovers like-minded commonalities they all shared with each other, such as ambition, determination, a distinctive stylistic vision and rampant drug abuse. Their relevancy and creative visions endure today, Callahan writes. A lucid, smoothly executed look at a pivotal decade in the legacy of American fashion. (16-page 4-color photo insert)

BOHEMIANS, BOOTLEGGERS, FLAPPERS, AND SWELLS The Best of Early Vanity Fair Carter, Graydon; Friend, David—Eds. Penguin Press (432 pp.) $29.95 | Nov. 3, 2014 978-1-59420-598-9

A collection of a wide range of Vanity Fair articles ranging from 1914 to 1936, when the Great Depression forced the magazine to merge with Vogue. Some of these pieces are curiosities, while others capture a peculiar zeitgeist: America during wartime, the Roaring ’20s, the Depression. Others simply provide an example of the range of powerhouse writers who contributed to a magazine that captured the tastes and travails of a certain kind of middle-class urbanite. One weakness comes in the editing. Current Vanity Fair editor Carter contributes the introduction, but the narrative presents the articles without commentary despite the fact that many of them call out for annotation to provide context. The book does include notes on contributors at the end, but these would have been better placed as part of a brief commentary before or after each selection. Regardless, there is a remarkable range to the pieces, whether in the form of celebrity profiles, essays on politics and economics, or snatches of journalistic observation from the era. Among the many eminent writers who provide contributions are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, D.H. Lawrence, 48

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Gertrude Stein, P.G. Wodehouse, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jean Cocteau, T.S. Eliot, Walter Winchell, Ford Madox Ford and Bertrand Russell. A series of Dorothy Parker “Hate Song” poems take aim at (and hit) targets ranging from men to actresses to relatives to offices. Not all of the pieces stand the test of time—the casual sexism of the era comes out loud and clear in many of the pieces, for example—but even those that do not hold up well serve as useful historical documents. Whether read from cover to cover or dipped into occasionally, this collection serves as a fine primer to one magazine’s contribution to a golden age of American magazine writing.

BRIEF ENCOUNTERS Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks

Cavett, Dick Henry Holt (288 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-8050-9977-5

TV’s once-reigning, smarty-pants talk show host presents his thoughts on some problems, performers and a few civilians

he’s known. The very model of a quick-witted interviewer, Cavett follows Talk Show: Confrontations, Points of Commentary, and OffScreen Secrets (2010) with more of his New York Times online columns. The author remembers working as a gag writer for famed comedians and recalls the Broadway badinage and smart repartee that marked the well-regarded Dick Cavett Show. There’s much ado about Groucho, Carson and the Burtons, Jonathan Winters, Mel Brooks and Stan Laurel, not forgetting the great Fat Jack Leonard. The author’s standard description of the truly talented is “great.” Often with good reason, Cavett liberally applies the encomium to renowned folk like Dietrich, Tracy, Kaufman, the portrayer of “Uncle Junior,” his own agent and Yale’s famed a cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs. The author uses the jester’s shtick of a muttered one-liner wrapped in parentheses. Then there’s the overly frequent mention of Cavett’s alma mater—Yale, of course, a fact readers won’t be allowed to forget, even as the text may wander off topic while the author digs into his archives and ruminates. Revelations include a rare adventure with booze and a monumental hangover. Cavett also confesses, as a lad in Nebraska, to a bit of mischievous rascality and a healthy interest in sex. More shocking: He was a fan of Nancy Drew. Naturally, the author on the small screen was more winning than Cavett is on the printed page. Though not exactly the great Alistair Cooke or Garrison Keillor, this light entertainment will please the many Cavett and Yale fans. Lifelong fan Jimmy Fallon provides the foreword. A skilled second banana still works the crowd effectively.

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WHO WE BE The Colorization of America

ALICE + FREDA FOREVER A Murder in Memphis

Chang, Jeff St. Martin’s (416 pp.) $32.99 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-312-57129-0

Sprawling examination of how American society has responded to multiculturalism and demographic diversity. Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, 2005), the executive director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford, focuses on visual artists and political dreamers in narrating how once-marginalized communities responded to the civil rights movement and then to the white backlash promoted by Richard Nixon and Republican strategist Lee Atwater. Amid violence and generational strife, cultural happenings, such as the Black Arts movement of the late 1960s, and innovators like African-American cartoonist Morrie Turner fomented “a grand yearning, a mass becoming, an end to the monoculture, the true arrival of a post-segregated nation.” Corporations quickly co-opted this outsider aesthetic, a process famously embodied in the early ’70s by Coca-Cola. Chang discusses important yet forgotten nodes in the developing dichotomy of multiculturalism versus “culture war,” as when conservatives began attacking the National Endowment for the Arts during the ’80s: “Defunding public culture proved good Republican politics.” Yet simultaneously, Jesse Jackson “incepted into the mainstream the prophetic images of the rainbow” in his attempts to make the Democratic Party more inclusive. The triumph of “political correctness” seemed evident in the fierce controversies over the Whitney Biennials of the ’90s, while Benetton’s successful “Colors” ad campaign and magazine showed that “capitalism had at long last embraced its future in identity and diversity.” As the Clinton years approached their end, “everything and nothing was multicultural,” contrasting with the triumphalism and xenophobia that followed 9/11. Chang ends with a jaundiced portrait of the “hope” accompanying Barack Obama’s presidency, smothered by conservative resentment and a massive economic crisis. The author adeptly synthesizes other scholars’ research and has an eye for precise details, though he also relies on a labored fusion of academic sociology and urban buzzwords—e.g., “In this era of fragmentation and unrest, it was time for [Coca-Cola]...to reassert some alpha swag.” An intriguing attempt at cutting through the dissonance of a series of changing cultural milieus.

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Coe, Alexis Illus. by Klann, Sally Zest Books (208 pp.) $16.99 paper | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-936976-60-7

The story of a Gilded Age–era homicide that stunned a nation with its sheer violence and tabooed origins. Haunted for years about the case, media columnist and historian Coe chronicles a 19th-century, Memphis, Tennessee–based ordeal of coldblooded murder and the jilted lesbian love that inspired it. As teenagers who fell in love in 1892, Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward threw caution to the wind, exchanged rings and anticipated marital bliss. Coe recounts their illicit affair through love letters, graphic artwork and entrancing detail as Alice, the more enamored partner when compared to the flirtatious, fickle Freda, became enraged

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“No one does scandal quite like the British; this one is a real doozy that deserves Davies’ entertaining, no-stone-unturned eagle eyes.” from hack attack

when she learned of her fiancee’s heterosexual infidelities. After a failed poisoning and an attempt to dress as a man to legally consummate their nuptials, their missives were intercepted and the relationship exposed. Forbidden from contact, the women drifted apart, yet Alice, angered and despondent, watched and waited for the perfect opportunity to approach Freda and slash her throat in public. Being the Victorian era, this type of savage crime of passion provoked sensationalistic front-page “creative reporting,” especially as same-sex attraction was just beginning to be recognized as psychologically sound and not classified as perverse “erotomania.” An insanity plea fueled a frenzied courtroom staffed by an all-white, male jury and a lunacy inquisition, which sentenced Alice to be institutionalized. In revisiting such a fascinating and nearly forgotten true-crime event, Coe argues that the societal, gender and cultural restraints of the era limited the options and civic compassion that could’ve been visited upon Alice, a woman the author presents as both a psychotic murderer and a scorned lesbian—yet it remains a mystery which personality trait took such drastic vengeance on that fateful day. A historically resonant reminder of how far societal tolerance has come and that it still remains a work in progress.

DID SHE KILL HIM? A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery, and Arsenic Colquhoun, Kate Overlook (432 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 16, 2014 978-1-4683-0934-8

The mystery of what happened in the summer of 1889 “beneath the skin of propriety and manners” at a British mansion. In this true story that created headlines in both the U.K. and the United States, Colquhoun (Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing, 2011, etc.) fulsomely describes the privileged lives of Liverpool’s high society in Victorian England and introduces the principals as less than virtuous: Florence Maybrick was “vain, impatient and tiresomely self-absorbed as a spoiled child,” and her wealthy husband, James, “turned out to be faithless and morose.” Yet with these flawed, mostly unsympathetic characters, the author tells an engrossing story. James habitually consumed nostrums and tinctures containing strychnine, hydrochloric acid and arsenic (not uncommon in the late 1880s) and regularly used arsenic as a “general prophylactic against disease.” However, when he died suspiciously two years after marrying Florence, the question became, did his wife, nearly 25 years his junior, poison him, or was his self-medication the cause? Colquhoun presents comprehensive—to a fault—accounts of all the legal proceedings using court transcriptions and newspaper accounts, and she devotes dozens of pages to courtroom testimony from doctors, nurses and coroners about the amount of arsenic they could only guess was in James’ body at the time of his death. (The two-page list of characters at the end should help readers who 50

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become confused.) Though Colquhoun focuses closely on her story, some readers, drawn into the narrative, may draw parallels from this “Maybrick mania” to the current coverage of sensational cases. Throughout the narrative, the author makes use of a variety of antiquated words and phrases, none more delightful than her description of the “tatterdemalion viragoes” outside the courthouse “hiss[ing] their opprobrium.” An intriguing story told in the style of Thomas Hardy or George Eliot, if they traded in true crime.

HACK ATTACK The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch

Davies, Nick Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (352 pp.) $27.00 | Aug. 12, 2014 978-0-86547-881-7

The inside—deeply inside—account by the investigative writer who broke the British phone-hacking scandal wide open. Davies (Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media, 2009, etc.) is known for his tenacious grip on his targets and his cutting, vivid writing style. Writing for the Guardian, he came across an enigmatic tip that journalists for Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid newspaper News of the World were routinely hacking into the voice mails of celebrities, famous athletes, regular citizens and royals and then grabbing photos and quotes from their victims to lay a false trail and publish a damning article. The phone hacking—perpetrated usually by private detectives hired by editors at the publication—eventually ensnared 6,349 victims and caused the News to shutter. At the end of the day, noted one prosecutor, it was nothing more than “at the highest level, a criminal enterprise.” If this book were merely about unethical Murdoch media outlets, it would serve as an educational read for journalism students. Because Scotland Yard continually refused to warn the victims and stonewalled Davies’ questions and because former News editor Andy Coulson became Prime Minister David Cameron’s media adviser, this is a darker, more engrossing tale about the web of unspoken, ultimately “passive” power Murdoch and his editors held over the power elite of the U.K. as they tsk-tsked them into embarrassing revelations. Davies has crafted nothing less than a primer on how to patiently, doggedly investigate a story, replete with a host of quirky characters—e.g., a bulldog of a lawyer with multiple sclerosis who had a sideline as a stand-up comedian and a reporter who specialized in dressing up as a “fake sheikh” to deceive sources into shedding their secrets. No one does scandal quite like the British; this one is a real doozy that deserves Davies’ entertaining, no-stoneunturned eagle eyes.

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GLASS JAW A Manifesto for Defending Fragile Reputations in an Age of Instant Scandal

Dezenhall, Eric Twelve (288 pp.) $27.00 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4555-8297-6 978-1-4555-5800-1 e-book

Dezenhall (The Devil Himself, 2011, etc.) counsels beleaguered corporations on how to deal with bullying citizens and their social media attacks. A novelist and teacher as well as the founder of a leading crisis management firm (whose clients have included Michael Jackson, though there’s no gossip here), the author plainly knows which side butters his bread—and that is the side typically seen as the powerful target of scandalmongering—but is here more often portrayed as the victim of “the bathrobe brigade,” as “online advocacy makes the powerless powerful.” He

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offers no road map through the minefields of new media, no playbook for the best defense (or a good offense); the landscape changes constantly and each scandal is different. “I am hired by those who are anticipating or embroiled in controversy,” he writes, “who are enduring intense criticism—corporations, public institutions, prominent individuals—and they want me to shepherd them through the storm so they can return to their pre-scandal lives.” Most often, the best that can be done is minimizing the damage rather than winning the battle, especially when the target (Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer) has been caught doing something flagrantly wrong. Someone like Bill Clinton has an advantage, since his scandal simply added evidence to what people suspected him to be, and they liked him anyway. This is not a book of morality but of pragmatism, of trying to determine what goals are within reach and what audience is crucial. Dezenhall suggests that most spin doctors are charlatans, and most bromides about getting in front of the story and other clichés are bunk. The author jumps around a lot, with bullet points and lists providing jarring juxtapositions, but he effectively shows how dramatically things have changed, from

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“Bird lovers may blanch at feather-in-the-mouth hunting tales, but this selection of vignettes is varied, entertaining and frequently heartwarming.” from good dog

THE SOCIAL LIFE OF MONEY

a partisan perspective that maintains, “social media promotes warfare,” and that, as with guerrilla warfare, “David has become Goliath, and Goliath has become David.” More an illumination of the challenge than a pat solution.

GOOD DOG True Stories of Love, Loss, and Loyalty

DiBenedetto, David—Ed. Harper Wave/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-06-224235-8

A sparkling collection of 51 dog stories that have regularly appeared in the eponymous columns of Garden & Gun since its launch in 2007. DiBenedetto (On the Run: An Angler’s Journey Down the Striper Coast, 2003), the magazine’s editor in chief, explains the rationale behind the selections chosen by the editors. “[Our] Holy Trinity is bourbon, dogs, and barbecue, but dogs truly reign supreme,” he jokes. These are not your stereotypical lap dogs. In “Hurricane Muffin,” Katie Crouch writes, “[e]ven when he was a puppy, Muffin our cairn terrier, was yappy and mean, calculating and chewy.” Nonetheless, he showed his mettle when he herded the family to the only safe spot in their house during a fierce hurricane. Logan Ward describes how his first dog was a toy poodle, “a fur ball the color of a Hershey’s Kiss and only slightly bigger,” whom he named Tom—Thomas Thumb Ward. Despite his diminutive size, Tom became an avid bird dog. In “Training Days,” DiBenedetto gives an amusing account of a yellow Labrador who only “retrieved one duck in his gundog career.” His claim to fame was that, after being neutered, he would run away, heading back to the vet’s office: “Well, we liked to say he was looking for his balls.” The role of a companion dog is a recurrent theme. In “A Marriage for the Dogs,” Jill McCorkle discusses the problem of modern blended families. “When my husband and I got married,” she writes, “we were as concerned about merging our dogs as we were our children.” On a different note, Jack Hitt uses a personal anecdote to suggest that veterinary medicine can become prohibitively expensive and is not necessarily required. Other contributors include Ace Atkins, Rick Bragg, Roy Blount Jr., Jon Meacham and Julia Reed. Bird lovers may blanch at feather-in-the-mouth hunting tales, but this selection of vignettes is varied, entertaining and frequently heartwarming.

Dodd, Nigel Princeton Univ. (480 pp.) $35.00 | Sep. 28, 2014 978-0-691-14142-8

A sociologist takes a broad new view of the nature, value and history of money. In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, with its attendant bank failures and economic downturn, Dodd (Sociology/London School of Economics; Social Theory and Modernity, 1999, etc.) claims that it is time to reconsider the nature of money. The idea of money has reached a tipping point, with new forms and systems quickly proliferating. In this authoritative work, the author examines the ideas of specialists against those of an array of social and cultural theorists, philosophers and literary critics—individuals who have written about money but are not monetary theorists—from Friedrich Nietzsche (“The educated classes are being swept along by a hugely contemptible money economy. The world has never been more worldly, never poorer in love and goodness”) to Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida and Michael Hardt. Much of Dodd’s analysis focuses on money’s role in our lives, beginning with the German sociologist Georg Simmel’s argument that it is a claim upon society. The monetary crisis, writes Dodd, has revealed “the social life of money, i.e., the complex and dynamic configuration of social, economic, and political relations on which money depends.” To offer this more nuanced view, he discusses the origins of money, the renewed interest in Marxian theory and the relationship of money to culture, decadence, waste and territory. While culture is “important to understanding the ways in which people shape money for themselves, bending it to their own purposes,” the cultural context has been “glaring” in its absence from mainstream discussion. In a chapter on the possible transformation of money, the author considers mobile money, Bitcoin, social lending and other alternative money systems. An exhaustive analysis of money as a complex social process—not a thing—that will appeal to scholars in many fields.

EUGENE O’NEILL A Life in Four Acts

Dowling, Robert M. Yale Univ. (584 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-300-17033-7

A portrait of a playwright inspired by suffering. When Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953) began writing plays in 1913, American theater featured hackneyed melodramas with audience-pleasing happy endings. O’Neill’s dark themes— oppression, racism, alienation—and innovative staging revolutionized the genre, paving the way for such later iconoclasts as 52

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Tennessee Williams and Thornton Wilder. In this authoritative biography, Dowling (English/Central Connecticut State Univ.; co-author, Critical Companion to Eugene O’Neill, 2009, etc.) traces the trajectory of O’Neill’s career: his two semesters in George Baker’s noted playwriting seminar at Harvard; his professional growth with the Provincetown Players; the production of his first full-length play, Beyond the Horizon (1920), which won a Pulitzer Prize; and his prolific output for the next two decades, including the Pulitzer-winning Anna Christie (1920) and Strange Interlude (1927) and ending with A Moon for the Misbegotten (1943) and the posthumous production of Long Day’s Journey into Night (1956). Critical acclaim did not assuage the demons that haunted O’Neill from childhood, however. Desperately lonely, “besieged by hideous attacks of rage, guilt, and fear,” he drank. “The stranglehold alcoholism had taken over O’Neill by the early twenties is nearly impossible to overstate,” Dowling writes. He felt spiritually and emotionally bereft. He was married three times, the last to the domineering Carlotta Monterey, who vowed to “construct a fortress around her husband” to protect him from annoyances, including his children from

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previous marriages. Both sons committed suicide. His daughter, Oona, who eloped with Charlie Chaplin when she was 18, also succumbed to alcoholism. O’Neill was stridently critical of America, calling it “the greatest failure....Its main idea is that everlasting game of trying to possess your own soul by the possession of something outside of it....” Although O’Neill claimed he was a “tragic optimist,” Dowling’s sympathetic, comprehensive portrait reveals a man beset by self-hatred and despair, struggling—and failing—to find salvation.

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“A strong, fascinating woman, Isabella helped to usher in the modern age, and this rich, clearly written biography is a worthy chronicle of her impressive yet controversial life.” from isabella

ISABELLA The Warrior Queen

Downey, Kirstin Talese/Doubleday (480 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-385-53411-6

Downey (The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience, 2009) brings her journalistic expertise to this excellent chronicle of the end of the Middle Ages and that time period’s most significant female figures. Isabella (1451-1504) was queen of Castile and Leon in her own right, a kingdom much larger than that of her husband, Ferdinand of Aragon. Even so, contemporaries and history have always given him preference of place. However, Isabella surely ranks as one of history’s greatest women. She insisted on marrying Ferdinand and no other, despite the opposition of her half brother. Upon his death, Isabella assumed the throne. Her reign was characterized by a series of wars, waged by her mostly unfaithful husband but organized and supplied by her. For the first few years, they fought incursions from Portugal, followed by three years of civil war and, finally, more than a decade fighting the Moors. The fall of Granada in 1492 and expulsion of the Moors was hailed by all, but it was a small benefit to offset the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks. Isabella demanded that the defeated Moors, as well as the Jewish population, convert or emigrate. At this point, she introduced the Spanish Inquisition, which was initially aimed at backsliding converted Jews but expanded to include Muslims. Widely known as Christopher Columbus’ sponsor, she kept him waiting years before finally agreeing to fund his trip. Her strict instructions were to convert the Indians to Catholicism in the kindest possible way. Her life was devoted to the church, and she felt Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, with his many children and vast wealth, undermined it. A strong, fascinating woman, Isabella helped to usher in the modern age, and this rich, clearly written biography is a worthy chronicle of her impressive yet controversial life.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne Beacon (296 pp.) $27.95 | $27.95 e-book | Sep. 16, 2014 978-0-8070-0040-3 978-0-8070-0041-0 e-book Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism. Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/ California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but 54

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she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-a-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe. A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

LOITERING New and Collected Essays

D’Ambrosio, Charles Tin House (368 pp.) $15.95 paper | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-935639-87-9

An essayist and short story writer returns with a collection of pieces ranging in subject from whaling to a Russian orphanage to J.D. Salinger. D’Ambrosio (The Dead Fish Museum, 2006, etc.) begins with some thoughts about what an essay is (he views it as a way to figure out what he thinks) and then launches into his thoughtful and provocative essays, revealing a hungry mind and a pervasive, constitutional sadness. In the first essay, the author deals with his attempts as a young man to leave his boyhood home of Seattle, and he introduces some of the darkness (geographical and personal) that inhabits the other essays. Among the topics that he revisits throughout: suicide (attempts in his family, a leaper from a tower on 9/11), the puzzling aspects of experience (just about everything—from decrepit buildings to empty streets; the view from a boxcar he hopped), the fragility of family (his father appears continually), and the abuse of language. He goes off on the prosecutor and the press coverage of the 1998 case of Mary Kay Letourneau, a 35-year-old teacher convicted of having sexual relations with a 13-year-old boy (a former student). D’Ambrosio closely examines the language of the courtroom and the useless indignation that infused much

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of the press coverage. He considers the vastness of love, and he explores the language of Richard Brautigan, whose prose he does not admire. The author ends with a long disquisition on a poem by Richard Hugo (which and whom he admires). A couple of cavils: It would help curious readers to have publication dates on the pieces somewhere, and although the author chides one of his interview subjects for excessively inflated diction, D’Ambrosio, using words like “emunctory,” “gallionic” and “prodromal,” will send many readers to the dictionary apps on their smart phones. Erudite essays that plumb the hearts of many contemporary darknesses.

THE WORLD SPLIT OPEN Great Writers On How and Why We Write

Editors of Tin House Tin House (208 pp.) $18.95 paper | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-935639-96-1

THE CARRY HOME

Ferguson, Gary Counterpoint (296 pp.) $25.00 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-61902-448-9

A eulogy to the too-early passing of the author’s mate and a chronicle of the “[f]ive treks to five unshackled landscapes” to scatter her ashes. Ferguson (Rainier Writing Workshop/ Pacific Lutheran Univ.; Opening Doors: Carole Noon and Her Dream to Save the Chimps, 2014, etc.) has had a fruitful career as a natural history writer, and he has always been fascinated by the outdoors: “Foremost on our minds in those years was the hope that the last of America’s big, unfettered landscapes might help us sustain the open-heartedness of youth,” he writes. Here, the author twines this talent for alert, panoptical movement through spaces and places with an encomium for his wife, Jane, who died in 2005 in a canoeing accident on the Kopka

Writers reflect on the reasons they write. Compiled from 30 years’ worth of lectures first presented by Literary Arts in Portland by well-known authors, the editors of Tin House have taken the best thoughts and comments and placed them in a single anniversary edition. The volume includes commentary from E.L. Doctorow, who reflects on his childhood and the roundabout way he came to writing. Russell Banks ponders the intricate relationship between an author and a reader, where the reader not only praises the author, “that shyly offered gift,” but goes on to identify the “circumstances and conditions under which the book was read.” In her acerbic style, Margaret Atwood gives a detailed analysis of what a novel is not: It’s not a textbook or political treatise, a how-tosurvive-and-thrive-in-life guide or a musing on morality. “Novels are made of language, and language, being human is messy. In short,” she writes, “the novel is ambiguous and multifaceted, not because it is perverse...but because it attempts to grapple with what was once referred to as the ‘human condition.’ ” Far more than a compendium of dreary “this is how and why I write” essays, these force readers to re-examine the ways they interact with words. The rhythm of syllables as they play against each other on the page and the way fiction, in particular, can transport us out of the here and now helps readers gain perspective and aids in our understanding of the world. “Fiction is narrative freed from the standard of literal truth,” writes Marilynne Robinson. “In effect, it is the mind exploring itself, its impulse to create hypothetical cause and consequence.” Other contributors include Wallace Stegner, Ursula K. Le Guin and Chimamanda Adichie. With eloquence and grace, highly acclaimed authors ponder the complexities of the writer’s life and art form.

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River in Ontario. The story wanders from the past to the present, from emotions to observations, the trigger of memory pulled by a Hudson Bay blanket, a loon call, a road atlas, prairie smoke and Apache bloom. Throughout, the author emphasizes and explores the couple’s love of, and devotion to, the natural world, taking a cue from Kenneth Rexroth to “see life steadily, see it whole,” experiencing that first shock of sage in a landscape where the wild light of the unvarnished outdoors pointed to something elemental and life-giving. Pearly sentences slide one to another as Ferguson travels “deeper into grief ”—but he never fully gave in to despair, and that is to readers’ benefit. The author’s treks both scorched and gladdened him, as he traveled to places of enormous power, bringing into focus the anti-environmental ethos that governs a crippled economy, the “irritating...preciousness” of self-stamped environmentalists “with an embarrassing tendency to want to shut the door to development as soon as we moved in.” A sprawling, lovely, nourishing tonic for all those who dip into it.

NORMALLY, THIS WOULD BE CAUSE FOR CONCERN Tales of Calamity and Unrelenting Awkwardness Fishel, Danielle Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (224 pp.) $24.99 | Sep. 9, 2014 978-1-4767-6023-0

Former teen TV star attempts selfdeprecating humor to tell PG-rated tales in this occasionally chuckle-worthy debut memoir. Best known for playing everyone’s favorite girl-next-door crush, Topanga Lawrence, in the 1990s sitcom Boy Meets World, Fishel writes that she was “born with a serious case of the klutzes.” In chapters with titles like “The Poop Whisperer,” “Walk Much?” and “I Heart You With All My Fart,” the author regales readers with stories of embarrassing moments throughout her life, from falling off a Big Wheel bike as a child to tripping down a hill in front of Ben Affleck. Fishel loosely outlines her life with anecdotes about bad dates, catastrophic casting calls and cleaning up after her sick dog. The book is set equally in Fishel’s life as a teen star and her adult life, and devoted fans will be pleased to read about her personal life since Boy Meets World, which includes a marriage and a college degree. While there are a few tidbits from Fishel’s teenage years that die-hard ’90s TV fans might find juicy, most of the anecdotes are just familiar renditions of normal growing pains. The author writes with heavy-handed sarcasm that rarely inspires laughs and often addresses readers directly with hints of self-promotion—“Do you follow me on Twitter yet? Well, if you do, (1) bravo!” and (2) you may have figured out by now that I am obsessed with dogs.” Compared to other female celebrities who have successfully written comedic memoirs, Fishel has neither the skilled voice of Tina Fey nor the over-the-top adventures of Chelsea Handler. 56

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The best moments come when Fishel writes vulnerably but frankly about larger cultural topics such as body image or her teenage romance with Lance Bass, who later publicly came out as gay. The moments of genuine humor are few and far between, and the book mostly falls flat as a dull recounting of a former teen celebrity’s unremarkable personal antics.

WAR DOGS Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love Frankel, Rebecca Palgrave Macmillan (256 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-137-27968-2

Stories of dogs and their human handlers on the front lines of war. Frankel tells the stories of canines and their companions who have aided soldiers in the first and second world wars, Vietnam, and the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the battlefields and off them, dogs bring an added level of security to highly unstable situations, since their ability to sniff out potential danger far outshines that of their human counterparts. For instance, in Iraq and Afghanistan, IEDs are used with increasing frequency and have become the “single biggest threat to U.S. troops on the ground.” As the author notes, “the role of military working dogs in these wars has almost exclusively been devoted to combating IEDs.” In order to distinguish a plain pile of rocks from a pile with a bomb underneath, the dogs must be able to identify the different smells found in mortar shells, C-4, detonation cords and pressure plates, while their handlers must watch for anything out of the ordinary or anything that shows the tiniest sign of human interference. Together, the dog and handler form tight bonds that remain strong on and off the battlefield. Frankel chronicles her discussions with handlers and kennel masters who have worked with numerous dogs during their military careers, bringing to light the personal stories of love and devotion each feels toward the other. Although “canine training can be a rough-and-tumble business” with multiple scratches and bite marks as evidence, Frankel discovered that having dogs involved in combat situations brings a much-needed layer of understanding to the complex experience of war. For those not in the military, the author’s observations will aid them in gaining a deeper appreciation of what the troops on the ground and their dog companions endure. Engaging accounts of dogs working in war zones and aiding their handlers despite the imminent dangers.

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“Garrett combines groundbreaking research with clear writing and moral outrage.” from too big to jail

TOO BIG TO JAIL How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations

BETWEEN TWO WORLDS How the English Became Americans Gaskill, Malcolm Basic (544 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-0-465-01111-7

Garrett, Brandon L. Belknap/Harvard Univ. (372 pp.) $29.95 | Nov. 1, 2014 978-0-674-36831-6 Garrett (Law/Univ. of Virginia; Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong, 2011, etc.) presents research on criminal behavior by corporations in the United States and overseas. According to certain statutes in U.S. law, corporations can be treated like individual people. However, attempting to prosecute corporations for criminal behavior is much more difficult than prosecuting individual defendants for nearly any charge. Garrett, who previously focused on wrongful convictions of individual murderers and rapists, examines prosecutors who have decided to charge corporations with crimes—or decided against it, even though victims abounded. Since no government agency or private group has collected reliable data about prosecutions of corporations by the federal government, state governments or county-based district attorneys, Garrett describes how he developed a database, as well as the holes in the data. He finds that federal prosecutors, despite their vaunted powers, are cast in the role of David, not Goliath, when seeking to punish multinational corporations with nearly unlimited budgets to hire lawyers. The prosecutors courageous enough to mount cases against corporations fail to go after high-level individuals within those corporations, lessening any deterrence effect. While Garrett is mostly pessimistic about the ability of prosecutors to reduce corporate crime or to properly compensate the victims, he does find a few promising minitrends. These include trying to alter corporate culture through deferred prosecutions and asking judges to appoint objective monitors to oversee corporate practices. The author finds unique hope in the prosecution of Siemens (ranked in the top 50 of the Fortune Global 500 list of largest corporations in the world), which admitted wrongdoing and seems determined, under current leadership, to act ethically while maintaining profits originally thought to emanate in part from bribery and other unsavory activities. Garrett combines groundbreaking research with clear writing and moral outrage.

Gaskill (Early Modern History/Univ. of East Anglia; Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction, 2010, etc.) studies the effects of 17th-century colonization on three generations of English in both England and America. The first wave of sailors and planters failed abysmally. The settlements of Roanoke, Virginia, and Sagadahoc, Maine, proved that sailors are not planters and vice versa. Jamestown lasted longer and managed to export some tobacco, which King James I hated. The attempts at civilian plantations on the Irish model failed due to the great distance, cost, risk and political differences. The second wave he refers to as saints; those who sought freedom of religion by imposing their own. The Virginia territory did not succeed as well as the Puritans in New England, as they attempted to create individual estates and empires. The Massachusetts Bay Company concentrated on family units and communities, and their self-sufficiency and strict religious rules gave them the edge. As America struggled to survive by exporting fur (beaver quickly exhausted), cod and timber, England was looking to expand its empire and global influence. The Caribbean sugar islands of Jamaica and Barbados succeeded brilliantly but were entirely dependent on the African slave trade. In Virginia, class differences revealed that no one knew how best to do a job, and they couldn’t even decide how to properly assign certain tasks. Gaskill is nothing if not thorough, and the book contains an overload of individual tales of horrendous sea crossings, hard winters, sickness and failure. Finally, in the third wave, the warriors came to establish order, setting out to annihilate the Indian populations and take their land. In enforcing the Navigation Acts and collecting customs duties and taxes, they also sowed the seeds of revolution. A comprehensive history of America’s colonists, who struggled to separate while remaining English, and the English, who just wanted a cash cow.

ALIEN LANDSCAPES? Interpreting Disordered Minds

Glover, Jonathan Belknap/Harvard Univ. (448 pp.) $35.00 | Sep. 1, 2014 978-0-674-36836-1

A searching, humane look at the lives of the mentally ill, whose inner worlds can be alien landscapes indeed. Examining a population of hospitalized patients in Britain, ethicist Glover (Law/King’s Coll., London; Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, 2000) asks whether it is true that people who suffer from anti-social |

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Christian Rudder

The OkCupid co- founder subjects the old business of the heart to the rigors of science By Gregory McNamee

Photo courtesy Victor G. Jeffreys II

Data is omnipresent in our daily lives, Big Data—the massive compendium of statistics that is used to guess our political preferences, chart our buying patterns, predict our next movements and so forth—even more so. It gives an impression of order and even science, assuring us that we are rational beings whose actions are predictable and logical, guided by self-interest but with room in our hearts for altruism and justice. The real world is far different. Just ask Christian Rudder, author of the new book Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), which charts the inner and external lives of Americans along several lines of argument, examining how and with whom we connect, whom we stay away from, whom we aspire to be like, whom we aspire to be. 58

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The results of his wide-ranging surveys are often unsettling. For one thing, he observes, technically, “a woman is over the hill at twenty-one.” Wearing a tattoo, for another, is likely to have measurable results that follow a person throughout his or her life—just as mom warned. We are obsessed by outward appearances, and much of our virtual interconnection online is really a not-so-subtle beauty contest. Perhaps most unsettling of all, while we profess to be fair-minded and without awareness of difference—racial, ethnic, religious—we are haunted and halted by the fear of anyone who is not quite us. Rudder came to such conclusions through a body of Big Data that he himself gathered. A math graduate of Harvard, he is one of the co-founders of the online dating site OkCupid.com, which went live in 2004. Facebook existed then but with far fewer participants. Twitter hadn’t been invented. “There was no such thing, really, as social media, at least not as we think of it today,” Rudder says. “I remember sitting around at school talking about this thing called Friendster, which no one had seen or used. We pretty much predated all that, and so I never thought about data, let alone Big Data, when we started.” The data accrued all the same as Rudder worked on an algorithm that would predict likely success in what people were coming to his site to find—namely, a romantic connection, the old business of the heart subjected to the rigors of science. In assembling this data, Rudder writes in Dataclysm, he was soon working with statistics that were orders of magnitude larger than anything from a Pew or Gallup poll. “What’s being collected today,” he writes, “is so deep it verges on bottomless; it’s easily forty days and forty nights to that old handful of rain.”

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Indeed, with 11 or 12 million new accounts being created on the site each year, the numbers are flooding in, and they lend credence to some old truisms. Why is it that a woman’s options, in terms of finding and keeping a male partner, should narrow so markedly as a function of the y-axis of age? Identifying prime causes are for the philosophers, if not the sociologists and ethnologists, among us, but the numbers point to an inconvenient truth: If women seem forgiving of the passing of time and its effects, then men constantly seek younger women even as they age. For every 100 men whose attention might be focused on a 20-yearold dating candidate, Rudder observes, the number narrows tenfold when she turns 30, and it becomes vanishingly small by the time she’s 40 and then 50. The men talk a good game, of course. A 35-yearold man who comes to the site may set his filters to find candidates between 24 and 40, yet rarely will he select anyone beyond the age of 29. That 30-year-old woman, conversely, may set her filters between 28 and 35 and mean it yet find no candidates willing to spend the time of day with her. As Rudder notes, in a nicely observed passage, “You could say they’re like two ships passing in the night, but that’s not quite right. The men do seem at sea, pulled to some receding horizon. But in my mind I see the women still on solid ground, ashore, just watching them disappear.” If men and women are talking past each other, perhaps barely catching sight of one another, things get more complicated still when matters of ethnicity and race enter the picture. Rudder stirred up some controversy when, not long ago, he noted in a blog post that OkCupid was experimenting not just with its algorithms, but with users of them to look at matters such as how behavior differed when candidates had no visual clue as to what the other looked like. When they did—well, Rudder notes, “People are very judgmental online.” They may profess not to care about skin color or the number of vowels in a prospective partner’s name, but they tend to choose narrowly to avoid people who are unlike them. Such signals as “outdoor lover” and “country girl” are giveaways in that regard: A country girl isn’t likely to cross the aisle to date an old-school hip-hop fan, in other words, any more than a tea party supporter is likely to cross the aisle to vote yes on an entitlement increase. “I can’t fault someone for not wanting to go on a date with someone else,” Rudder writes. “There’s rarely any malice in that decision.” Nonetheless, there are |

volumes of prejudice attendant in it, and his numbers point squarely to that fact: White American users of the site are far less likely to “like” African-American candidates than are users in the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and other places not cursed by our ugly past and uncomfortable present. Yet there’s hope. “One thing that surprises me about the numbers is what happens when people actually get together,” Rudder says. “Then a lot of our predictors go out the window. For example, we see that when someone who’s relatively good-looking sits down with someone who’s relatively not good-looking, they get along just fine. It’s the online component of online dating that exacerbates people’s most judgmental tendencies.” In other words, one key to getting along is to stop looking into a screen and to start looking into someone’s eyes. And that, courtesy of Big Data, is news we can use. Gregory McNamee is a contributing editor at Kirkus Reviews. Dataclysm was reviewed in the Aug. 15, 2014, issue of Kirkus Reviews.

Dataclysm Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) Rudder, Christian Crown (272 pp.) $28.00 | Sep. 9, 2014 978-0-385-34737-2

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disorders are truly without conscience or whether it might not be that their moral world simply maps onto different territory from other people’s—an important distinction in considering such things as the ability to recognize right from wrong and accept responsibility for one’s actions. In what he calls “Socratic interviews,” Glover looks at the mechanisms of moral restraint and governance, observing that many of those diagnosed with anti-social disorders lack a “normal” sense of moral obligation. However, he notes, what constrains many of us from doing such things as parking in a handicapped spot is simply the fear of being fined or chastised, rather than the abstract rightness or wrongness of the issue. Not that the mentally ill lack understanding of right and wrong; as the author writes, “[t]here was a lot of support for capital punishment” in his interview results, and nuanced support at that. Drawing examples from art and literature and arguing to some extent against proponents of a more expressly biological and medical view of psychiatry, Glover counsels an open-minded awareness of the minds of the ill: “Biological psychiatry, citing such causes as abnormalities of brain chemistry, sometimes helps to cure or contain disorders. But it gives no intuitive understanding of how people feel from the inside.” As to treatment, the author argues that the disorder be gauged with an eye to the “kind and degree of harm it causes.” Of substantial interest to students of psychiatry, ethics and the law alike and especially to those working in areas in which the three overlap. (27 color illustrations)

THE TEACHER WARS A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession Goldstein, Dana Doubleday (352 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 2, 2014 978-0-385-53695-0

Think teachers are overpaid? Or are they dishonored and overworked? Both positions, this useful book suggests, are very old—and very tired. Public school teaching, writes education journalist Goldstein, is “the most controversial profession in America.” Politicized from the beginning, teaching had an aura of do-gooder, civilizing purpose. As she writes, Horace Mann and Catharine Beecher had a lively correspondence around the creation of a “Board of National Popular Education” whose aim was to send East Coast schoolmarms to the frontier in the hope of taming it more thoroughly. It also combined that social service aspect with the trappings of professionalism and especially unionism, which in time has armed the critics and foes of public education with plenty of ammunition: It’s certainly difficult to get an inept but tenured teacher fired, though probably not as hard as Chris Christie would have it. It would likely surprise Christie to learn that public school tenure has been practiced since at least 1909, long before unions were empowered to intervene in due-process matters between teachers and administrators. While looking into the origins of seemingly modern controversies, such as teaching to the test and the feminization 60

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of teaching, Goldstein shows how constant the battles have been. At the same time, she turns in points that ought to condition the discussion (but probably won’t, given its shrillness), including the observation that “differences in teacher quality” have only a small bearing on test outcomes overall—which is not to say that teachers don’t matter but instead that we ought to stop relying so heavily on tests. In an epilogue, Goldstein ventures other ideas for reform, including raising teacher pay and, yes, using tests as diagnostic tools more than ends in themselves. Probably not likely to sway opponents of public education, whose numbers and influence seem to be growing, but Goldstein delivers a smart, evenhanded source of counterargument.

A BACKPACK, A BEAR, AND EIGHT CRATES OF VODKA A Memoir Golinkin, Lev Doubleday (320 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-0-385-53777-3

An ex–Iron Curtain refugee–turned– American citizen tells the emotional story of how he and his parents fled the Ukraine two years before the collapse of

the Soviet Union. Golinkin was 11 years old when he and his family went into exile. They were among thousands of other Jews seeking political asylum and an end to the anti-Semitism that they and their ancestors before them had been forced to endure. The family was secular; however, that fact did nothing to protect them from harassment and social oppression. The trauma ran so deep that Golinkin developed a severe case of self-hatred that haunted him into adulthood. The family’s path away from the Soviet Union took them to Vienna, where two American Jewish aid organizations assisted them and other refugees in beginning the long process toward finding homes in Israel and the West. The family encountered an Austrian baron named Peter. Driven by anguish over his father’s Nazi past, Peter helped get Golinkin’s father a temporary job to rebuild lost work credentials and prepare him for future gainful employment rather than a life condemned to “delivering pizzas and driving taxis.” Eventually, the family settled in West Lafayette, Indiana, where Golinkin’s sister was accepted into the Purdue graduate engineering program even though she, like her father, had been stripped of all credentials. Meanwhile, the author rejected every aspect of his former life, including his faith and language, and chose to go to a Roman Catholic college in Boston. Yet ironically, it was in this most un-Jewish of settings where he would begin the process of breaking through years of accumulated anger, pain and rage and accepting himself as a Jew. While the narrative becomes increasingly fractured near the end of the book, Golinkin still manages to impact readers with the force of his unflinching honesty. A mordantly affecting chronicle of a journey to discover that “you can’t have a future if you don’t have a past.”

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“An intricate study of the personalities that shaped U.S. Cold War policy.” from the georgetown set

A COUNTRY CALLED CHILDHOOD Children and the Exuberant World

THE GEORGETOWN SET Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington

Herken, Gregg Knopf (528 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 31, 2014 978-0-307-27118-1

Griffiths, Jay Counterpoint (432 pp.) $28.00 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-61902-429-8

Griffiths (Wild: An Elemental Journey, 2006, etc.) focuses on the lives of children in her continued exploration of the role of nature in giving meaning to our lives. “Why are so many children in Euro-American cultures unhappy?” asks the author. “Why is it that children in many traditional cultures seem happier, fluent in their child-nature?” Griffiths goes beyond the current debates on child-rearing practices—e.g., overstructured play, too much time online and too little quality family time—and examines what she considers a more fundamental flaw: the separation of children from a natural environment. After all, “human nature is nested in nature which co-creates the child.” These days, writes the author, children “are enclosed in school and home, enclosed in the cars to shuttle between them, enclosed by fear, by surveillance and poverty and...rigid schedules of time.” They are prevented from testing their environments by a risk-averse, overprotective society. Griffiths compares the stultified lives of modern children to her own exuberant Welsh childhood, when she and her brothers engaged in all the mischievous joys of being young and nearly carefree. Still, she also finds her own childhood to have been flawed. Although she experienced greater freedom, she lacked contact with the wilderness. In contrast to the relative constraints on her life then, she points to what she considers to be the greater freedom of young people growing up in traditional cultures—e.g. the !Kung children of the Kalahari or the Ye’kuana of Venezuela. According to the author, these children receive more maternal nurturing and close attention in the first years of their lives but then are encouraged to learn self-reliance at an earlier age. She contrasts the consumerism and “the protocol of ownership” that children learn today to the wisdom that children living in traditional cultures absorb by knowing “the words for varieties of trees or birds.” A provocative critique of modern society.

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Herken (Emeritus, Modern American Diplomatic History/Univ. of California, Santa Cruz, Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence and Edward Teller, 2002, etc.) takes a rather clever idea promising titillating gossip among neighbors Joseph Alsop, Phil Graham and John F. Kennedy during the 1950s and ’60s and amplifies it into a spiraling delineation of the official American response to the perceived Soviet threat. Anti-Soviet crusading journalist Alsop was one of the first of the “WASP ascendancy” to inhabit the stylish, old political village of Georgetown on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Returning from World War II (where he enlisted in the U.S. effort to bolster Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists) with a vigorous anti-communist bent, Alsop started a long-running, influential column with his younger brother, Stewart, in the New York Herald Tribune, assiduously cultivating political connections— e.g., with Georgetown neighbors Phil and Katharine Graham, publishers of the Washington Post. Alsop’s Sunday dinners were notorious for loud, boisterous and somewhat terrifying political discussions; from these, he would glean his next column. Other Harvard alumni who shaped the alarmist anti-Soviet tone of the postwar era and served as Alsop’s sources were Charles “Chip” Bohlen and George Kennan, both of whom served as ambassador to the Soviet Union and both of whom, along with former OSS officers Frank Wisner and Allen Dulles, would be instrumental in setting up the U.S. covert operations program. Tracing the thread of Alsop’s columns through these harrowing years, including his early denouncement of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Herken helps guide readers through the intimate murk of espionage detail, moving from events in North Korea to Berlin to Cuba. Alsop’s vehement, unrepentant support of the Vietnam War and President Richard Nixon, however, threw him out of sync with a new American generation. An intricate study of the personalities that shaped U.S. Cold War policy. (16 pages of photos)

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THROWN

Howley, Kerry Sarabande (288 pp.) $15.95 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-936747-92-4 A philosophical examination of the maligned subculture of mixed martial arts “cage” fighting. As an unhappy graduate student, Howley wandered from a Des Moines academic conference into a cage match and became entranced, meeting one of two fighters she would follow as a “spacetaker.” As she notes of MMA’s roots in Brazil, “[f]ighting had to be born in the one place where ecstasy remained the organizing principle.” As the narrative progresses, the author becomes strangely possessive of both fighters, documenting their lives in minute detail. Her underdog, Sean, is a journeyman with a deep tolerance for injury and a stolid, sentimental attitude about MMA: “I just like to feel things.” Howley prefers the glitzy dreams of Erik, an insecure, self-indulgent fighter being groomed for nationwide success: “[I]n coming to Milwaukee, [Erik] signaled some readiness to belong in the world of the Big Shows.” The author spent two years pursuing both fighters, describing their tumultuous yet stagnant lives in alternating chapters, and fretting over her tenuous role: “It is not unheard of for a fighter to drop a spacetaker just as brutally as Nietzsche turned on Schopenhauer.” The book’s strongest aspect is Howley’s keen observation of every part of the fighters’ hardscrabble milieu—from their complex interpersonal relationships to the sleazy finances that keep the scene going—yet she ultimately views them as vessels for her own ideas. An ambitious writer, Howley’s prose can be perceptive and precisely detailed but also pretentious. Though she strives to present herself as uncondescending in this working-class milieu (unlike her caricatured fellow academics), her constant first-person reveries feel selfcongratulatory: “I had by this time filled three notebooks with my observations, and had begun to consider the tradition in which my work of phenomenology would fall. Too bold for conventional academic minds and the nonsmoking, healthyminded, hidebound thinkers therein.” An original fusion of topic and stance that will appeal to fans of NPR-style social investigations.

THE BLEAKS A Memoir

Illidge, Paul ECW Press (416 pp.) $29.95 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-55022-985-1 A Toronto-based novelist’s memoir about the fallout that resulted from his unexpected entanglement with the Canadian justice system.

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In 2007, a belligerent drug squad raided Illidge’s (Shakespeare for the E Generation: The Page, the Stage, the Digital Age, 2007, etc.) home after a nosy neighbor tipped off police to the presence of a possible marijuana “grow-op” in the house. The author soon learned that he and his two teenage sons, the younger of whom grew a few marijuana plants for personal use, were all under arrest for “trafficking in controlled substances.” Treated like hard-core criminals and subjected to everything from police interrogations to cavity searches, the trio soon found themselves in jail. Illidge’s own life soon began a downward spiral. He and his sons became wards of the friends and family members who posted bail for them and could no longer live together or communicate with each other. Illidge’s estranged wife demanded he clean and repair the house—from which he was banned by court order—and put it up for sale. “Hankering for [his] scalp,” she also began official divorce proceedings and claimed most of her husband’s assets as her own. Low on funds, without a stable job or place to live and slapped with hefty judgments that included money owed to the bankruptcy trustee of a con-artist brother, Illidge succumbed to “the family illness” of depression. But the pills he temporarily took to help his condition only made the chaos surrounding him seem even more surreal. In the end, he emerged from the ordeal divorced and nearly broke but far savvier about his personal frailties and the Canadian government’s seemingly perverse attitudes toward marijuana and the nature of criminality. As eye-opening as this book is, Illidge’s tendency to overdescribe situations and dwell on his misfortunes slows down the narrative and will prove irritating to some readers. Therapeutic writing transmogrified—with mixed success—into a story about the ultimate urban nightmare.

U2 The Definitive Biography Jobling, John Dunne/St. Martin’s (384 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-250-02789-4

Unauthorized biography of U2, one of the most respected and admired yet divisive acts in the history of rock. Sometimes, the divisiveness stems from the same roots as the respect; some people find the band’s frank embrace of politics empowering and noble while others find it preachy and sanctimonious. Where some see spectacle, others see bombast. British journalist Jobling explores the lives and careers of the band members: lead singer and most visible member Bono, lead guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. The four met as schoolboys and made a slow, steady climb through Dublin’s music scene, eventually rising first to regional prominence and eventually to global dominance. Along the way, three of the members, all except Clayton, took part in a Charismatic Christian church that engaged in the speaking of tongues. At times, each of them partook in the excesses of the rock ’n’ roll

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“Honest, witty essays on the hidden blessings in life.” from small victories

lifestyle and, to varying degrees, embraced a political mission that would come to define them, especially frontman Bono, nearly as much as their music. The band has a reputation for keeping tight control of their image, which might explain the unauthorized nature of the book. While this frees Jobling to be critical of a variety of subjects concerning the band— e.g., its absurdly high ticket prices and corporate ties—it also proves restrictive since the band doesn’t get the opportunity to respond to some of the more prurient charges that the author, via his interview subjects, levels against them. Indeed, at times, those subjects seem to relish the chance to grind axes, especially in the second half of the book. Not likely to be the “definitive biography” of U2, but Jobling provides a passable comprehensive history of the members’ music, politics, faith and group dynamics.

SAVING SIMON How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion Katz, Jon Ballantine (240 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-345-53119-3

Another chapter in the life of Bedlam Farm. Well-known for his stories about his dogs, Katz (Who Speaks for the Carriage Horses: The Future of Animals in Our World, 2014, etc.) now writes about a new animal who unexpectedly entered his life, Simon the donkey. A victim of animal abuse, Simon was rescued from certain death by animal control officers and the local police. Harbored in an old hog pen, with wooden pallets his only protection from the rain and snow, Simon was stuck up to his shoulders in mud and his own manure, covered in rat bites and lice, and not expected to live through the night. Delivered to Bedlam Farm, Katz and his wife, Maria, poured their love and kindness into the donkey and administered to his wounds on a daily basis. In return, “Simon came to life in stages, slowly, unfurling like one of those slow-motion videos of buds opening in the spring.” The invaluable lesson Simon taught Katz was compassion, for not only the animals he encountered, but also for the men and women in his life, including the farmer who abandoned Simon to his fate in the hog pen and Katz’s mother, who had emotionally abandoned Katz during his childhood. Full of reflections on the interactions, both physical and emotional, between animals and humans, Katz’s story revolves around Simon and includes the moments when old dogs die, the arrival of a new border collie and the slow integration of a blind pony into life at Bedlam Farm. More introspective than previous stories, perhaps reflecting his desire for a slower pace in life, this book handles the emotional highs and lows of living with animals with empathy and thoughtfulness, forcing readers to re-examine their own meanings of compassion and mercy. A heartwarming tale of rescue and redemption. |

WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS How Government Should Spend Our Money

Kleinbard, Edward D. Oxford Univ. (528 pp.) $29.95 | Sep. 30, 2014 978-0-19-933224-3

Kleinbard (Law and Business/Univ. of Southern California) orchestrates an encyclopedic, and sometimes eye-opening, introduction to the American tax system’s mysteries and secrets, including subsidies and handouts and its relation to the budget process and the economy. The author, trained in tax law and formerly chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, delivers an unusually spirited defense of the U.S. government and its power to tax in opposition to the “hatred” expressed by taxation’s detractors and the government’s opponents, whom he calls “market triumphalists.” He painstakingly documents how roughly $2.5 trillion of taxpayers’ money is frittered away each year through subsidies in the form of deductions and credits, as well as through inefficiencies. Kleinbard believes fiscal policy is “applied moral philosophy,” and he believes that a lack of education of children may be the federal government’s most serious problem. Without proper education, he fears for the future of the country. Yet local property taxes, which largely finance the education system, cannot provide equal opportunity for all. What he calls the market triumphalists’ “pernicious conflation of market freedom and political liberty” impoverishes everyone’s understanding of freedom. Mortgage deductions and the employer-based health system, which alone squanders more than $1 trillion per year through subsidies to employers and their insured employees, indirectly fund a massive transfer of resources to the nation’s richest. These subsidies do not figure in the legislative process at all, writes the author, and are never discussed as charges borne by all taxpayers. Such “subsurface spending” is buried in the tax code, “amounting to as much as all defense and nondefense discretionary spending.” Turning Adam Smith against the hypocrisy of freemarketeers is not the least of the strengths of this solid treatment of a potentially existential issue.

SMALL VICTORIES Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace

Lamott, Anne Riverhead (304 pp.) $22.95 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-59448-629-6

Honest, witty essays on the hidden blessings in life. Lamott (Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Prayer, 2013, etc.) examines moments in her life when she has confronted her personal suffering and pain, drawn on her faith, and found compassion, kindness and the ability to forgive despite

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the odds against her. Many of the people who feature in these short narratives were dying from cancer, yet the author was able to extract quiet moments of joy from each relationship, and she gracefully imparts that feeling to readers. She delves into the complex bonds she had with her parents, who never made her feel welcome and implied that she did not turn into the child that they were expecting. Nonetheless, with the aid of her Christian faith, Lamott was able to find forgiveness. The author also discusses her alcoholism and the men and women who helped her find sobriety, her relationship with her son and her on-again/ off-again bond with her brother. In each essay, Lamott makes evident the fleeting nature of life, noting how our time is finite and that if one searches hard enough, one can make the most of each circumstance—good, bad or ugly. Whether attending a service where the ashes of the departed stuck to her fingers as she attempted to throw them overboard, hiking the trails of Muir Woods with a woman who knew she was dying (“The worst possible thing you can do when you’re down in the dumps, tweaking, vaporous with victimized self-righteousness, or bored, is to take a walk with dying friends”), or demonstrating against the wars started by George W. Bush in a peace march through the streets of San Francisco, Lamott confronts each situation with humor and rectitude and shows readers how she found something redeeming in each one. Sage advice on finding beauty and happiness in life despite bad circumstances.

AFTER LINCOLN How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace

Langguth, A.J. Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $28.00 | Sep. 16, 2014 978-1-4516-1732-0

A new political history of Reconstruction. Former New York Times reporter Langguth (Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War, 2010, etc.) has written three previous volumes in this series of character-driven histories, beginning with Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution (1988), and this will be the final volume. There is a scene in the early pages of this history of the tumultuous period following the Civil War that makes clear just how much regional enmity remained after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner made some barbed comments about South Carolina during an abolitionist speech, and a congressman from that state came to Sumner’s office a few days later and beat him senseless with a wooden cane. Sumner took months to recover. During this period, the Union established voting rights and economic freedoms for freed slaves across the South, though such rights would be short-lived. The story begins at the end of the Civil War and moves forward through biographical sketches of Andrew Johnson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, William Henry Steward, Edwin Stanton, Horace 64

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Greeley and others. The author ends with a portrait of Jim Crow and the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Popular history has largely forgotten how progressive Reconstruction was— African-Americans were elected to many public offices in the South, had high voting rates and experienced economic opportunities unimaginable during the Civil War—and how “states’ rights” supporters slowly took those gains away during the Jim Crow era. The power of the Ku Klux Klan to strike fear was very real, no matter how foreign it seems today. This is a cogent, wellresearched, well-told history of that important period. Langguth shows rather than explains, and the result is a rich history of an understudied period of American history. (20 b/w photos)

THE UGLY RENAISSANCE Sex, Greed, Violence and Depravity in an Age of Beauty

Lee, Alexander Doubleday (448 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-385-53659-2

Lee (Petrarch and St. Augustine: Classical Scholarship, Christian Theology and the Origins of the Renaissance in Italy, 2012, etc.) lays bare the base tendencies and avaricious impulses that undergirded much of the Renaissance’s artistic splendor. Seeking to expose “the hidden story behind the paintings that have come to dominate perceptions of the Renaissance in Italy,” the author, a fellow at the Center for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick, turns his gaze from 15th-century Florence’s fabled facades downward to its sewagefilled alleys and the troubled lives of their inhabitants. Focusing progressively on the lived experiences of the period’s artists, the designs of their patrons and the broader political tendencies reshaping the continent, Lee provides an entertaining frolic buttressed by serious scholarship. Though the author makes rather too much of the originality of his thesis—few who have heard of the Borgias or de’ Medicis will be surprised that the paragons of high finance and religious authority were “shallow [and] underhanded” and “corrupt, deceitful, and cunning”—his account of a teenage Michelangelo having his nose broken by a jealous classmate and similar vignettes serve to humanize the figures who today seem to have been carved of the very marble with which they worked. Violence pervaded all levels of society, and fisticuffs were by no means limited to adolescence. As the author notes, the 1458 papal conclave was not a solemn ritual so much as “a violent, corrupt, and angry brawl that would shame even a modern rugby club.” The artwork itself reflects the prevalence of fleshly desires; blatantly pornographic frescoes at the Palazzo Farnese demonstrate what popes and cardinals preferred “when they were left to their own devices away from the public gaze.” An illuminating look at how the flowering of human imagination celebrated in the Renaissance was fertilized by the excesses of human nature.

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SEEKING THE CAVE A Pilgrimage to Cold Mountain Lenfestey, James Milkweed (224 pp.) $24.00 | Sep. 9, 2014 978-1-57131-346-1

Amiable wanderings to China’s Hanshan in search of both the “cold mountain” and the poet who took his name from that wild place. Han-shan, the Tang dynasty poet, went for hundreds of years without being much honored or remembered; indeed, we’ve lost any record, if any ever existed, of when he lived and died, his real name and other such biographical data. It was only in the 1950s and ’60s, thanks in part to accidentally simultaneous English translations by Gary Snyder and Burton Watson, that American readers discovered a corpus augmented in the 1980s by versions by Bill Porter, aka Red Pine. Lenfestey (Earth in Anger: Twentyfive Poems of Love and Despair for Planet Earth, 2013, etc.), a former academic and advertising executive, turned a couple of life crises to advantage by traveling to China to see for himself the poet’s mountain fastness and the people who live there today, including an odd assemblage of hermits, monks and expats. The journey he recounts is less philosophically charged than Porter’s Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits (1993), and the paths he took are perhaps less hair-raising than in decades past thanks to official efforts at encouraging tourism, but Lenfestey’s eye is a good, clear one, and he delivers some vivid notes on the Middle Kingdom: “The oppressive grayness tasted of dust and smoke and pollution in some ghoulish brew, but the scramble of traffic... seemed not dissimilar from that of any urban megalopolis of the late twentieth century.” The author even found an oddly gregarious hermit—and, crediting his bravery, tried her cooking—while serving up a just-right assortment of poems by the cave-dwelling poet who, even now, doesn’t get much love in his own country, even as he figures, at least in Lenfestey’s mind, as “the older brother America never had.” A record of travels in search of something the author didn’t know he’d lost; well worth the attention of other seekers, as well as fans of Tang poetry.

POLITICAL MERCENARIES The Inside Story of How Fundraisers Allowed Billionaires to Take Over Politics Lewis, Lindsay Mark; Arkedis, Jim Palgrave Macmillan (288 pp.) $28.00 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-1-137-27958-3

The executive director of the Progressive Policy Institute explains how “politicians, donors, and fundraisers” have distorted our politics. |

After falling into the job almost by accident, for 15 years Lewis raised money for politicians as well-known as Richard Gephardt, Ted and Patrick Kennedy, Kent Conrad and Howard Dean and for numerous lesser-knowns running for office at all levels. His fundraising talent eventually landed him the post of finance director for the Democratic National Committee. With the aid of political analyst Arkedis, Lewis submits 66 slight chapters, each a vignette drawn from his career. For Lewis personally, it’s a Hunter Thompson–style story of drugs, alcohol, traveling and partying; for the fundraising “profession,” it’s a tale of groveling, corner-cutting, deception and fraud. The real scandal, as the saying goes, is what’s legal. Wheedling money from lobbyists at expensive lunches, from the rich and famous— Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Norman Lear—at catered “events,” from sit-downs with the merely rich—George Soros, Peter Lewis—and even occasionally from the grass-roots used to be a mere adjunct to our politics. Now the fundraiser’s role is crucial. Throughout, Lewis styles himself as a champion of the average Joe who entered politics for the right reasons but was seduced by the proximity to power. As he became aware of the harm he inflicted, the damage done to our politics, he insists he made repeated efforts either to reform the system from within or to get out of the business entirely. However, the author takes too much delight in his skulduggery and indulges too willingly in tiresome Washington score-settling to be entirely believed. At best, his professional memoir will be received as the political equivalent of Jose Canseco’s baseball tell-all Juiced (2005). No one particularly admired the messenger or the book, but the whole squalid story turned out to be true. A hugely depressing deep dive into the cesspit of money and politics.

WHO KNOWS TOMORROW A Memoir of Finding Family Among the Lost Children of Africa

Lovatt-Smith, Lisa Weinstein Books (288 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-60286-270-8

When a Vogue editor trades designer photo shoots for community development, the steep learning curve makes rich material for this memoir. After a nomadic and sometimes-difficult childhood, firsttime author Lovatt-Smith planned a trip with her daughter to Ghana to volunteer in an orphanage. What seemed like a solid plan to give her daughter some perspective and the two of them an opportunity to bond became the first step toward new lives. After five weeks at Awutiase—a run-down and crowded orphanage—Lovatt-Smith decided that she had to do more. She started her own aid organization, OAfrica, with the goal of offering orphanages assistance with modernization, staff, training and more. In her time at Awutiase, the author experienced both knee-jerk, righteous anger and the first bloom of

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“While searching for a solution to the sensational crime, Mann masterfully captures the zeitgeist of Hollywood in its early days.” from tinseltown

guilt for making assumptions about best practices due to what she calls her “own poor grasp of the macroeconomics of the developing world.” She eventually learned that the orphanage directors were truly corrupt, which colored much of her experience and seems to have vindicated many of those early opinions. Still, Lovatt-Smith is willing to show that some of her assumptions were both hurtful and wrong, and she was clearly willing to learn as she went. Soon after finally establishing her own orphanage, she discovered research indicating that orphanages were not necessarily the best way to help children. By nature an impulsive woman, the author was as willing to change the direction of her organization as she was to start it in the first place. That adaptability led to OAfrica becoming an organization that tries to keep children in their families rather than one that works with group homes. Lovatt-Smith is understandably proud of her accomplishments with OAfrica, but a bit more humility would have benefitted this memoir.

BERLIN Portrait of a City Through the Centuries

MacLean, Rory St. Martin’s (432 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-1-250-05186-8

Berlin’s greatest hits, from the age of the medieval troubadour to David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Canadian travel writer MacLean (Gift of Time: A Family’s Diary of Cancer, 2011, etc.) walks through Berlin’s fluctuating, unstable past and plucks personalities that best represent the spirit of the city, good or evil, reaching all the way back to the 15th century. He seeks “to map this place, divided as it is between past and present, conformity and rebellion, the visible and the invisible.” Berlin, writes the author, “was never an ethnic German city,” but it always attracted newcomers; during times of plague, there were influxes of Franks, Flemings, Rhinelanders and Danes, as well as Jews—the oldest Jewish gravestone is from 1244. The accession of the austerely militaristic Calvinist Hohenzollern dynasty transformed Berlin from a garrison to a great and beautiful city under the enlightened despot Frederick the Great, who was able to lure Voltaire there to live and work in 1750. MacLean’s minibiographies underscore the highly idiosyncratic temperament these characters imparted to the city, and in his own fictionalized, stylized portraits, he offers the artistically brilliant—such as 19th-century architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, whose Altes Museum, among other fantastically neoclassical creations, helped forge a sense of a capital city—as well as the obscure and mythical, such as Silesian factory worker Lilli Neuss, a terrible casualty of the mid-19th-century industrial revolution, whose husband deserted her and took their son, leaving her to an impecunious and miserable fate. The city nurtured plenty of evil, as well— e.g., Fritz Haber, the chemist who won the Nobel Prize and 66

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offered effective chemical warfare to the Kaiser in 1915 in the form of chlorine; and Hitler’s fanatical mythmakers, including Leni Riefenstahl, Albert Speer and Joseph Goebbels. A series of imaginative and fanciful narrative segments—a history that is not all gloom and doom. (22 b/w photos throughout)

TINSELTOWN Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

Mann, William J. Harper/HarperCollins (480 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-06-224216-7 Who killed William Desmond Taylor? More than 90 years after the unsolved murder of the renowned director, film historian and biographer Mann (Hello Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand, 2012, etc.) takes up the cold case. The result is a gripping true-crime story that encompasses a colorful period in film history. On Feb. 1, 1922, an unknown assailant shot the prominent director in the living room of his Los Angeles apartment. A botched police investigation, false leads, studio coverups, blackmail and a media frenzy ensued. The executives at Famous Players-Lasky, the film studio where Taylor worked, were more concerned about bad publicity than the loss of one of their leading directors. They made haste to collect Taylor’s papers, lest they contain any whiff of scandal (they did), and stored them at the studio, compromising the investigation. The timing couldn’t have been worse with the trials (there were three) of popular comic actor Fatty Arbuckle, who was accused of murdering a young actress, already in the headlines. The studio didn’t want another Hollywood scandal stirring up the public. In this context, Mann seamlessly weaves the details of the murder investigation, witnesses and newspaper accounts into the rich history of early film. The author also profiles movie power brokers, including Adolph Zukor, who founded and built the mighty Paramount. Like the movies, the story has its beauties. Mabel Normand, a comedic star who had returned to the screen after kicking a cocaine habit, was Taylor’s longtime friend and became a suspect due to her past associations with drug dealers. Mary Miles Minter, a teenage starlet, was obsessed with Taylor to the point of stalking him. Margaret Gibson (aka Patricia Palmer), an actress on the fringe who knew Taylor when they were both starting out in the movies, associated with petty criminals involved in scams and blackmailing schemes. While searching for a solution to the sensational crime, Mann masterfully captures the zeitgeist of Hollywood in its early days.

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MARS ROVER CURIOSITY An Inside Account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer Manning, Robert; Simon, William L. Smithsonian Books (240 pp.) $29.95 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-1-58834-473-1

Although lacking the glamour of manned space flight, unmanned probes have accomplished great things, and this book delivers a thoroughly satisfying description of one of the greatest. Aided by journalist Simon (co-author, with Kevin Mitnick: Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker, 2011, etc.), Manning, NASA’s chief of engineering for the Mars Program Office, recounts Curiosity’s tortuous development, from the rover’s 2004 proposal to the Aug. 5, 2012, landing and subsequent triumph that “revolutionized the art of planetary exploration.” No one took success for granted, aware that more than half of the probes sent to Mars have failed. The eight-month voyage presented few problems; not so the critical EDL, or entry-descentlanding, process, which required a Rube Goldberg–esque series of parachutes, rockets and thrusters that carefully deposited the rover and then flew away. Compared to previous rovers (the tiny 1997 Sojourner, modest 2003 Spirit and Opportunity), Curiosity is massive: five times heavier and 10 times more complex than its predecessor. Comparable to the Manhattan project, the development took longer and faced problems unknown to those who built the atom bomb. Many features couldn’t be tested, and budgetary limitations meant that defects were often left in place if they were unlikely to affect the mission. Most readers know how it turned out. The engineers were not so lucky, and the authors deliver a nailbiting, nuts-and-bolts chronicle of seemingly endless technical and political problems overcome by brilliant, obsessive engineers who worked day and night and continue to do so. Readers yearning for stories of human space travel must follow developments in China, the only nation with an active manned space program. Those who appreciate the purely scientific results of planetary exploration will love this lively, intelligent account of a dazzling achievement. (25 b/w photos)

THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2014

McCloud, Scott—Ed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (352 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-544-10600-0 The latest annual roundup is more ambitious and conceptually audacious than is usual for any Best American series. As a well-regarded critical theorist as well as creator of comics, McCloud (Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels, 2006, etc.) has points to make and |

issues to raise with this year’s selection, which represents “just... the tip of a very big, very weird iceberg.” Where these collections typically follow an alphabetical (by author) sequencing and need not be read in any particular order, McCloud explains, “I’ve divided our stories into ten sections, offering a short introduction for each. Each section is built around a unifying theme, and it’s been fun watching the stories in each group talk to each other at night, find common ground.” Most of the inclusions are excerpts from larger works, and given the structural innovations of comic form, many of them are represented in a format different from the original—e.g., the wordless excerpt from Chris Ware’s epochal Building Stories (2012), an achievement of which any part can only hint. In addition to Ware, what McCloud calls “The Usual Suspects” include Charles Burns, Ben Katchor, the Crumbs and the brothers Hernandez. Highlights extend from Allie Brosh’s Web comic excerpt from “Depression Part Two,” confessional and cathartic, to Tom Hart’s memorialization of his young daughter in an excerpt from his work in progress, Rosalie Lightning, to the nightmarish surrealism of Ron Rege Jr., one of those who explores “that far outer perimeter of meaning.” Some of the juxtapositions might make more thematic sense to the editor than they do to readers, and the dominance of experts suggests that the main value of this volume will be to give readers a taste of other books worth discovering. The spirit of discovery makes this a good launching point for readers interested in the genre’s variety and limitless possibility.

THE SEASONS OF TROUBLE Life Amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War

Mohan, Rohini Verso (256 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-1-78168-600-3

Putting a human face on the 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka. Bangalore-based journalist Mohan re-creates in scrupulous detail the struggles of three Tamil protagonists whose lives were profoundly altered since the 1980s by the militant separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Discriminatory policies against the Tamil, representing 30 percent of the population, began in the 1950s, accelerated in the 1970s, and culminated with the burning of the Jaffna Tamil library in 1981 and riots in July 1983. Indra is the matriarch whose ancestral ties reveal the degree of complexity among the Tamils: A Hindu whose father was once a soldier in the British army, she married John, a Tamil Christian, whose own ancestors were brought to Ceylon from southern India as laborers for the British tea plantations. Indra, a young mother at the time, was the first to witness the horrible anti-Tamil violence of 1983, which left 3,000 dead and hundreds fleeing the country. Her son, Sarva, who was born in 1980 and earned a diploma in nautical engineering, was abducted in 2008 by the Sri Lankan army and imprisoned for the crime of having been impressed into

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“Nicolson’s spirited exploration illuminates our own indelible past.” from why homer matters

the Tamil militant group of the Vanni, or the Tamil-controlled interior, when he was younger. Indeed, the LTTE had set up an alternative government in the Vanni, with self-sufficient institutions, though the coercive methods of the LTTE were well-known—e.g., recruiting child soldiers and girls. The third protagonist in the story, Mugil, had been recruited in the Tamil Tigers as a teenager in 1998; retired to become a mother, she nonetheless returned in 2008 to work for the propaganda wing of the group. Throughout the book, the author delivers a narrative as fluid as fiction in the delineation of these scarred lives. Mohan demonstrates an accessible, engaging method of relaying a difficult, violent history.

KNIFE FIGHTS An Education in Modern War Nagl, John A. Penguin Press (288 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 20, 2014 978-1-59420-498-2

Nagl, a career officer and leading advocate for the Army’s new counterinsurgency doctrine, delivers a lively memoir that combines battlefield experiences with military politics. A West Point graduate and Rhodes Scholar, the author studied international relations before commanding a tank platoon during the 1991 Gulf War. “The rest of the world had seen the ease with which America’s conventional military forces cut through the Iraqi military,” he writes. “They would have been crazy to fight us that way again.” Sadly, American military leaders hated their experience fighting the Viet Cong and continued to train forces to fight conventional, World War II–type campaigns. Nagl returned to Oxford, earning a doctorate with a thesis comparing how Britain and America handled insurgencies in Malaya and Vietnam. Deployed to Iraq in 2003, he describes his brutal education in the realities of counterinsurgency. His military writing and thesis—published in 2002 as Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife—earned him appointment as military assistant in the Department of Defense, where he joined a team led by Gen. David Petraeus, who wrote the landmark 2007 counterinsurgency field manual. Its enthusiastic reception did nothing for Nagl’s career, however, and he retired in 2008 to join the Center for a New America, an influential Washington think tank where he continues to speak out on security issues. Insurgents win when opponents grow tired of the struggle, he notes, and Americans are clearly in that category. “If Iraq was the midterm,” writes the author, “Afghanistan is the final exam. It’s a lot harder than the midterm.” Nagl warns that our lack of patience means that Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s futures remain uncertain—and readers will note that he wrote this book before the current meltdown in Iraq. A thoughtful, lucid, not-terribly-optimistic autobiography of a scholarly soldier.

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WHY HOMER MATTERS

Nicolson, Adam Henry Holt (320 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 18, 2014 978-1-62779-179-3

An archaeology of the Homeric mind. In this gracefully written and deeply informed book, Nicolson (The Gentry: Stories of the English, 2011, etc.), a fellow of Britain’s Society of Antiquaries, excavates the origins of Homer’s magisterial epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Arguing against the “current orthodoxy” that both books emerged from the eighth century B.C., the author contends that Homer evokes a much earlier period: Bronze Age Eurasia, around 2000 B.C., when seminomadic warriors of the northern steppes confronted the more sophisticated culture of the eastern Mediterranean. In the north, vicious gangs marauded, while in the south, sailing ships replaced paddled canoes, enabling men to travel farther and faster, infusing the culture with new ideas and goods. “This newly energized world,” writes Nicolson, “is the meeting of cultures that Homer records.” Nicolson sees the Iliad as retrospective, “a poem about fate and the demands that fate puts on individual lives, the inescapability of death and of the past,” while the Odyssey, “for all its need to return home, consistently toys with the offers of a new place and a new life, a chance to revise what you have been given....” Drawing upon archaeological discoveries and teasing out etymological threads, Nicolson finds in Homer’s work “myths of the origin of Greek consciousness” that the West has inherited. He resists the idea that Homer promotes “the sense that justice resides in personal revenge.” Instead, Homer poses transcendent questions: “[W]hat matters more, the individual or the community, the city or the hero? What is life, something of everlasting value or a transient and hopeless irrelevance?” In a universe inhabited by capricious gods, writes Nicolson, Homer offers readers “his fearless encounter with the dreadful, his love of love and hatred of death, the sheer scale of his embrace, his energy and brightness, his resistance to nostalgia....” Nicolson’s spirited exploration illuminates our own indelible past. (15 b/w illustrations; 8-page color insert)

THE AMERICAN PLATE A Culinary History in 100 Bites O’Connell, Libby H. Sourcebooks (320 pp.) $26.99 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-4926-0302-3

History Channel and A&E Networks chief historian O’Connell uses food to chronicle the history of the United States. Each of the 10 chapters contains a variety of bites (or sips, in the case of bourbon, the mint julep, coffee and tea) focusing on a food or food trend, such as commercial canning, freezing, the invention of condensed milk and

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the 1950s phenomenon of TV dinners. The author’s enthusiasm for her subject results in frequent exclamations: “Yes, takeout food is not the modern convenience you thought it was!” she writes after disclosing that pea soup was sold by street vendors in ancient Athens. “Would the Real Pepper Please Stand Up!” is the title of a sidebar about Christopher Columbus’ search for black pepper. Along with history, O’Connell offers recipes for such delights as Colonial Syllabub (major ingredient: white wine or sherry), Brunswick Stew (squirrel can be substituted by rabbit; “If you are using squirrel,” writes the author, “do not include the brains”), Old Eel Pie and Scrapple. Like many miniencyclopedias, this one is studded with often intriguing facts: Roast beaver tail (“News flash! Today, Americans no longer consider beavertail a desirable food!”) was a delicacy in Colonial America due to its high fat content; for fur trappers, it could be “the ideal supper.” In the 1500s, Londoners called a certain big bird “turkey” because they thought it first had been imported from that country. Eleanor Roosevelt, not a cook, nevertheless could make creditable scrambled eggs. When a Raytheon scientist demonstrated microwave power by popping corn, the “puffed kernels flew around his laboratory during his trial presentation.” The author also shares her own food preferences: frozen tiny baby peas; an oyster dressing of chili sauce, horseradish and fresh lemon juice; creme caramel, which she served to a handsome visitor to her family’s house—and whom she married. O’Connell is a perky companion for this buffet of historical snacks.

A HISTORY OF WAR IN 100 BATTLES

Overy, Richard Oxford Univ. (384 pp.) $34.95 | Nov. 3, 2014 978-0-19-939071-7

Despite the title, this is not a coherent history but rather isolated, generously illustrated accounts of battles from ancient Egypt to the present day. Collections of battle descriptions are one of the most lowbrow forms of military history, and readers will wonder why prolific and respected author Overy (History/Univ. of Exeter; The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe 1940-1945, 2014) chose such a moth-eaten genre. After a dozen-page introduction on the culture of battle (“Battle is not a game to plug into a computer but a piece of living history—messy, bloody and real. That...has not changed in 6,000 years”), he delivers two- to four-page chapters on his chosen 100 battles, divided into six categories. Readers must accept these on faith, although they do provide the author the opportunity to write six astute introductions. Thus, “leadership” characterizes Cannae, Hastings, Trafalgar and Kharkov under, respectively, Hannibal, William the Conqueror, Nelson and Von Manstein. Generals Marlborough, Custer, Washington and Eisenhower certainly possessed leadership qualities, but Overy has no doubt that Blenheim, Little Big Horn, Yorktown and the invasion of Normandy were |

examples of “deception.” Readers curious to know the common features of Marathon, the Somme, Gettysburg and Stalingrad will learn that these demonstrated “courage in the face of fire.” Limiting himself to just three significant battles (Agincourt, Waterloo, the Somme), John Keegan wrote a classic, The Face of Battle (1976). Entire volumes have covered a single significant battle, and Wikipedia often does a superior job explaining the obscure and unknown. Military buffs will turn up their noses at this well-written but unnecessary book, and beginners will be confused by the sketchy historical background and absence of maps. The illustrations are little help since they are mostly portraits of leaders or artists’ renderings of battles, vivid but purely imaginary.

WILD IDEA Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land

O’Brien, Dan Bison/Univ. of Nebraska (272 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 1, 2014 978-0-8032-5096-3 South Dakota novelist and memoirist O’Brien (The Indian Agent, 2004, etc.) delivers a bracing portrait of the pleasures—and considerable pains—of ranch life on the lone prairie. “The best definition of success on the Great Plains is the ability to move from one disappointment to the next without losing your enthusiasm,” writes the author, who, long ago, had the odd idea that he might just try his hand at raising buffalo— “a unique species that thrived only in the center of the North American continent”—in somewhat the same way as one might raise cattle or sheep. Underscore somewhat: O’Brien and his partner realized early on that becoming just any old livestock producers would yield just any old livestock, and “neither Jill nor I wanted anything to do with forcing buffalo through the cattle production model.” Instead, working with like-minded friends, O’Brien resolved to produce organic, free-range bison before those words were current. Passages of his memoir are not for the squeamish, especially those involving the evisceration, joint loosening and beheading of captive animals. Overall, however, this is a deeply humane book that looks at ranching as a sustainable enterprise, a way of life more than an economic engine. The author’s critique of the cycle of debt, techno-lust and more debt that the economic engine calls for will be both familiar and welcome to fans of Wendell Berry and Gretel Ehrlich. The best parts of the book, though, are O’Brien’s portraits of the people of the Plains, such as a friend and partner who, self-taught and immensely hungry for both knowledge and experience, still melts down at the prospect of driving in a big city in which he has no business. There may be plenty of disappointments out on the Plains, but this book is not one of them.

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“Writing this book must have been the dream of a lifetime for Pitts, and he has risen to the occasion. Highly recommended.” from digging for richard iii

ROCKS My Life In and Out of Aerosmith

Perry, Joe; Ritz, David Simon & Schuster (432 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4767-1454-7 978-1-4767-1460-8 e-book Founding member and lead guitarist of American rock band Aerosmith details his life and times in this autobiography. One of rock’s most enduring and popular bands, Aerosmith has managed the unlikely feat of recording top hits across several decades, gaining a loyal army of fans while failing to win over the acclaim of music critics. Readers of rock autobiographies will find much familiar material here, as early struggles give way to staggering success and the accompanying roller coaster of sex, drugs, rehab, internal band squabbling, villainous management and more. This is well-trod but mostly entertaining ground, and Perry—with the assistance of veteran music writer and ghostwriter Ritz (co-author: Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James, 2014, etc.)—does a decent job keeping things moving. Aerosmith has never been accused of being an intellectual band, but the author takes pains to establish himself as a thoughtful, well-read individual with a love for nature established as a youth wandering in the New Hampshire woods. But his desire to be taken seriously leaves the narrative strangely free of humor; it doesn’t seem like compiling this book was an enjoyable task for Perry. Of the group’s other members, lead singer Steven Tyler is the only fully developed character, and Perry doesn’t hold back in airing his (many) grievances about their relationship. The memories become a little bit sharper once Perry gets sober, and the tale of the band’s entanglement with manager Tim Collins, who seemed to exhibit a cult leader–like control over the group, is perhaps the most interesting part of the book. An appendix written by Perry’s guitar techs is a bonus for guitar geeks. Much like Aerosmith’s career, this candid memoir will be cheered by fans, but rock critics will likely be underwhelmed.

THE VILLAGE EFFECT How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter

Pinker, Susan Spiegel & Grau (384 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 1, 2014 978-1-4000-6957-6

It takes a village to raise—well, just about everybody. And it’s even better when everyone can see who’s being raised. Developmental psychologist Pinker’s (The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women, and the Real Gender Gap, 2008) overall argument is unobjectionable: People need people, and there are manifold benefits to face-to-face contact over virtual contact. Neither is the argument 70

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really original; ever since The Lonely Crowd and even before, we’ve been chided to go outside and play, while books such as Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone (2000) and, more recently, John Cacioppo and William Patrick’s Loneliness (2008) warn us that a nation of automata cannot long endure. Pinker pursues fruitful paths, to be sure: She examines why social people live longer, on the whole, than loners, why playing cards around a table is better than playing cards online, and why it is that “social isolation kills” and being alone works contrary to “the complex genetic code we’ve developed as a social species.” There are, she allows, different styles of being social and of being lonely, but the thrust of the book squares with all that’s intuitive: It’s good to play (birds and bees both do it), it’s good to play with others of our kind, and it’s better to play than to watch TV, which makes us “less happy and competent than [our] peers.” Indeed, the chief flaw of Pinker’s book is its lack of surprises in making its I-told-you-so conclusions; there’s plenty of repetition and just a tad too much thesis-pounding, with suitably alarming implications: “If you want to live a long, happy life, worrying and working hard won’t kill you. But doing it alone just might.” Certainly not groundbreaking, but it’s mostly entertaining and instructive to read about such things as menstrual synchrony and human-stampede-induced bridge wobbling.

DIGGING FOR RICHARD III The Search for the Lost King

Pitts, Mike Thames & Hudson (208 pp.) $29.95 | Nov. 13, 2014 978-0-500-25200-0

When an archaeological expedition found one of England’s most maligned kings in an urban parking lot, it was a worldwide sensation. Here’s the complete story. British Archaeology editor Pitts begins with a quick summary of Richard III’s reign and his death at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. He had been king only two years, a temporary victor in the Wars of the Roses. But after his defeat, Richard became one of history’s villains, notably in Shakespeare’s play bearing his name. However, not everyone bought the image of the evil Richard. In 2010, aspiring screenwriter Philippa Langley (whose The King’s Grave also examines the discovery of the site) called Richard Buckley of the University of Leicester archaeology department. She had a simple proposition: The Richard III Society wanted to help finance a search for the king’s body, believed to be buried in Leicester. Buckley didn’t think anyone could find the lost body, but he wanted to explore the area of the city where the body might be found. When the dig, which took place in a parking lot, turned up a skeleton the first day, it still seemed next to impossible that it could be Richard. Only upon closer examination did the team recognize the twisted spine that history had attributed to the king, as well as other important details. Pitts details the events leading up to the discovery and describes the scientific examination of the skeleton. Chemical analysis of the bones, study of the wounds the victim

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had sustained and reconstruction of the facial appearance of the victim—all supported the hypothesis that it was indeed Richard. DNA evidence clinched the case. The archaeological world was stunned. Pitts calls the find the most amazing since the excavation of King Tut’s tomb in 1924, and he effectively conveys the excitement of the discovery, clearly and vividly describing the process and the personalities. Writing this book must have been the dream of a lifetime for Pitts, and he has risen to the occasion. Highly recommended. (41 illustrations)

SHORTCUT How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas

Pollack, John Gotham Books (272 pp.) $27.00 | Sep. 11, 2014 978-1-59240-849-8

Examination of how analogies are more than just a section on the SAT exam; they are powerfully relatable tools that shape how we communicate ideas and influence others. Analogies are everywhere we look, and some of the most exceptional people in history have relied on them to convey ideas that profoundly shifted culture, technology and society. At the most basic level, all of language is analogous. Individual letters represent phonetic sounds, which combine to form letter combinations that represent things or concepts. This innovation in language transformed what mankind was capable of by making communication accessible to everyone. Similarly, the idea that our computer screens are “desktops” is one of the key components of the transition from paper to microchip. By making the new technology relatable, Steve Jobs ensured that the digital revolution would be inclusive. Pollack (The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics, 2011, etc.), a presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton, relates analogies to an “abstract intellectual scaffolding” that plays a dynamic role in how we think and make decisions. But just as analogies can be constructed to reveal truths, they can also be used as a tool for misdirection. Think of political ads rife with clumsy comparisons intended to discredit an opponent or glorify a candidate—or the persistent idea that business is war or that terror is an enemy. These and other analogies have justified major spending and political decisions that profoundly affect the world by using analogy to camouflage unsavory truths about money and power. The author provides dozens of examples of how analogies guide decision-making and encourages critical thinking as a survival skill to uncover the deeper meanings behind them. Analogies, he writes, are models that can take limitless forms, and we all bear some responsibility in choosing which models influence our lives. A cogent look at one of the conceptual bedrocks of language. |

THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century

Prentice, Claire Amazon/New Harvest (432 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-544-26228-7

This bright story of a shameless huckster evokes a unique bit of Americana at the turn of the 20th century, when the nation dabbled in empire-building and the display of human beings as objects of curiosity was a staple of show business. Not long after the United States took control of the Philippines, 50 members of the Igorrote tribe, indigenous to the mountains of Luzon, agreed to travel to America for a year with Dr. Truman Hunt to display salient features of their culture. The happy tribespeople’s native costume was smaller than a stripper’s final revelation, and they excelled in spear chucking and tobacco smoking. On occasion, too, they were headhunters and ready to feast on dogs. Fatherly Dr. Hunt booked his troupe into venues like Luna Park in Coney Island, where they continuously performed in G-strings for gawkers. They ate boiled mongrel until they were quite fed up with their canine diet. Managed by the ever demanding, ever drinking Hunt, the show was a great hit, playing in many cities across the continent. Of course, it was more fakery than ethnography. Journalist Prentice artfully reveals the growing mendacity of the promoter/doctor. The Igorrotes were degraded, robbed of their earnings and held against their will, unable to return home. Throughout their ordeal, the purported savages proved considerably more dignified and civilized than the many showmen charged with their care. In this nicely paced popular history, the author ably develops the diverse ancillary characters, such as the wives of bigamist Hunt, the promoters and the shady lawyers. Eventually, the government pursued the evasive Hunt. The tale ends, improbably, with strange lawsuits. Prentice presents the story of the innocent tribe with sympathy; in her telling, the Igorrotes charm and entertain us once again after more than a century. The edifying, colorful adventures of headhunters captured in America by a sideshow rascal.

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RESPECT The Life of Aretha Franklin

Ritz, David Little, Brown (528 pp.) $30.00 | $14.99 e-book $25.98 Audiobook | Nov. 4, 2014 978-0-316-19683-3 978-0-316-19682-6 e-book 978-1-47898-299-9 Audiobook A biography of the “Queen of Soul” by the co-author of her memoir, From These Roots (1999).

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“Compassionate, useful reading related by an expert in his field.” from reaching down the rabbit hole

Grammy winner and prolific music writer Ritz (co-author, with Maceo Parker: 98% Funky Stuff, 2013, etc.) explains that this book came about because of Franklin’s refusal to discuss any aspect of her life that contradicts the image she has of herself. To correct the distorted portrait in her previous book, he draws on the accounts of family members and business acquaintances such as her longtime manager, Ruth Bowen, and Jerry Wexler, who produced her Atlantic recordings in the 1960s and ’70s. The story begins with her father, a charismatic preacher who took her and her sisters from their Detroit home on the gospel music circuit when their talent became evident. The influence of gospel and the black church remained an indelible part of Franklin’s music. At 18, she signed a record deal with Columbia, then the biggest label in the business. However, the Columbia approach never managed to capture the power of her music, and her insistence that her records include something for everyone was a marketing nightmare. Also, her then-husband, a shady character one of her friends describes as “a gentleman pimp,” controlled her career until she left Columbia for Atlantic and broke into the popular awareness as an unmatched performer. But great success did nothing to alleviate her deep insecurities. Ritz draws on the memories of Franklin’s sisters and her brother, Bowen, Wexler and others who were close to her to document her struggles—with her weight, with alcohol, and with the upand-down business end of her career. As the years progressed, her hits became fewer and farther between, and her fear of flying caused her to cancel appearances. At the same time, Ritz fully praises Franklin’s abundant musical gifts and her work for causes she believes in, including civil rights. An honest and genuinely respectful portrait of a true diva by a writer who feels the power of her art.

REACHING DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE A Renowned Neurologist Explains the Mystery and Drama of Brain Disease Ropper, Allan H.; Burrell, Brian David St. Martin’s (272 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 30, 2014 978-1-250-03498-4 978-1-250-03499-1 e-book

A renowned neurologist examines some important questions: “[W]hat does it mean to be the patient faced with these seismic problems, and how is a connection made with the physician who embodies the knowledge that can make it better?” Harvard Medical School professor and Brigham and Women’s Hospital master clinician Ropper and writer Burrell make an intellectual, sympathetic team: One brings the meat and potatoes to the table, the other, a measure of distance. They exhibit both a hungry curiosity and an elegant writing style married to the humbleness that comes from standing at the edge of the rabbit hole. The meat and potatoes are the individual cases that have crossed Ropper’s path and that the authors 72

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have framed into stories. These neurological tales shimmer and flash, a wily combination of Oliver Sacks and Berton Roueche, “through the painstaking examination of the patient. Every gesture, every movement, every inflection of speech, every reflex, all these point to the precise location of the problem in the nervous system.” Though a neurologist has to be well-acquainted with the design and function of the nervous system and use the latest technology, it’s also vitally important to “[s]tick with the patient’s story and the bedside exam.” Ropper’s patients range all over the place, from heroic to discomfiting to scary, and his predilection to neurological arcana makes for gripping material—as one patient recalled, “When they started...the hallucinations, what I saw first was Queen Elizabeth and her corgis in my fireplace...I also had Dick Tracy come by. He had a yellow overcoat. It was Warren Beatty.” The author explores a wide variety of conditions, including the exterior degeneration of ALS and the often befuddling symptoms of advanced brain trauma, but he rarely falls into jargon and always keeps the narrative lively and engaging. Compassionate, useful reading related by an expert in his field.

VIRTUALLY HUMAN The Promise—and the Peril— of Digital Immortality Rothblatt, Martine St. Martin’s (368 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 9, 2014 978-1-250-04663-5 978-1-4668-4704-0 e-book

Computers cannot mimic human consciousness, and human-level artificial intelligence may not be possible for centuries, according to many scientists—but not according to the author of this ingenious book, who commissioned a “mindclone” of her spouse, which contains memories and has the ability to talk and express emotions. In her first book, Rothblatt, founder of Sirius Satellite Radio as well as the biotechnology company United Therapeutics, shows very little patience with the familiar warning that the brain is not a computer. Unless we believe that consciousness is a mystical phenomenon inexplicable by science, she writes, it must emerge from the physical interaction of neurons. Certainly, these interactive systems are extremely complex, but “computers now have more neuron equivalents than brains have neurons and soon will have many more.” That a conscious computer must imitate a brain exactly is another false analogy. Birds are vastly more complex than planes, but if flying is our goal, planes are perfectly acceptable. The only loci of our minds today are the brains on top of our shoulders, but done properly, a mindclone is not a separate identity. Your perceptions, thoughts and even behavior change as time passes, but you remain the same person. If a mindclone replicates your consciousness and memories, writes Rothblatt, it is you; the separation is merely in space rather than time. The author’s actual

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FULLY ALIVE Discovering What Matters Most

mindclone (named BINA48) was featured in the New York Times but does not seem much more accomplished than Apple’s Siri. It makes only a fleeting appearance in the book, which eschews technical details to concentrate on the legal, ethical, semantic and even religious problems that will arise. A thoughtful philosophical exploration of the role of virtual humans in our future.

THROUGH THE HEART OF DIXIE Sherman’s March and American Memory

Rubin, Anne Sarah Univ. of North Carolina (328 pp.) $35.00 | Sep. 15, 2014 978-1-4696-1777-0

On the trail of William Tecumseh Sherman’s “bummers.” Sherman’s brilliant feint across the Carolinas and Georgia, writes Rubin (History/Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County; A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868, 2005), is remembered today as both punitive and liberating—punitive against resistant secessionists, liberating for the slaves along his path. Yet, as the author writes, though he was a vengeful and violent man, Sherman was no abolitionist: He did not publicly support emancipation, opposed the use of black soldiers in the Union Army and “accepted black laborers only grudgingly.” Infamously, he abandoned “contrabands” at Ebenezer Creek after they built his troops a bridge across the swamp, leaving them to the mercy of Confederate attackers; it is possible that as many as 5,000 former slaves were thus left behind to be killed. Even so, as Rubin writes, Sherman “became fundamentally identified with liberation.” The author examines the history of Sherman’s March to the Sea and its often overlooked aspects—one uncomfortable example being the incidence of rape committed against women of whatever ethnicity along the way and the attendant trauma, including that of women who would later be hospitalized for mental breakdowns and other symptoms attributable “to that signal event.” In all this, Rubin writes confidently and well. Somewhat more scattershot are her discussions of Sherman’s march in popular history: Ross McElwee’s film of that name, which is only nominally about the historic event, seems shoehorned into a more searching look at Margaret Mitchell’s use of the facts in Gone with the Wind. If often slow, her work is at its best when it turns up small, forgotten episodes such as the use of Confederate prisoners as human shields against explosive booby traps along the army’s route—a very modern matter indeed. Rubin’s earnest, occasionally plodding study is unlikely to win Sherman new admirers in either North or South, but it is of much interest to Civil War buffs. (20 illustrations; 2 maps)

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Shriver, Timothy Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (304 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-0-374-28091-8 A Kennedy family scion’s moving story of how working on behalf of the socially marginalized and intellectually disabled opened his heart to new ways of understanding himself and others. Living to make a difference in the world was a Kennedy motto. But before Special Olympics chairman Shriver could successfully do this, he had to come to terms with himself, both spiritually and emotionally. In his youth, he immersed himself in the Bible and other sacred texts, as well as the writings of mystics like Bernard of Clairvaux and Jean Vanier. In the author’s early professional life, he taught and counseled underprivileged children and adolescents in public high schools and universities in Connecticut. As he struggled to help change young lives, he became aware that to genuinely reach people, he had to learn to truly love himself. “God was not ‘out there,’ waiting for me to perform some act of brilliance or fame,” he writes “but was rather within.” As he came to value simplicity, Shriver also learned to value humility, which he learned in part by articulating the story of his mentally challenged—and later tragically lobotomized— aunt Rosemary. Adored as she was, Rosemary spent almost all of her adult life hidden away in a Wisconsin care facility because of the shame she caused members of the highachieving Kennedy clan. Shriver’s mother, Eunice, eventually restored meaning to Rosemary’s life by championing the cause of the intellectually disabled and founding the Special Olympics in 1968. When Shriver joined the organization in 1996, he oversaw its growth into a phenomenon that offered people around the world insight into what true leadership was: the ability to “[make] people want to be better.” Even more importantly, he came into contact with extraordinary young athletes who taught him that the most important way of living was “from the inside out.” Sincere, profound and deeply satisfying.

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SWIMMING WITH WARLORDS A Dozen-Year Journey Across the Afghan War Sites, Kevin Perennial/HarperCollins (416 pp.) $15.99 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-06-233941-6

A prominent journalist embedded with the U.S. troops chasing the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001 returns to observe the new facts on the ground. |

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“Freelance journalist and author Stark has both fully researched her subject and poured out her heart in this blend of history, science and memoir.” from pandora’s dna

Returning to Afghanistan in the summer of 2013 for a factfinding mission, former NBC News correspondent and current roving reporter and author Sites (The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won’t Tell You About What They’ve Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War, 2013, etc.) offers not only a thorough roundup of the military state of affairs, but also a good sense of how the Afghanis are coping and looking ahead. The author moves geographically through the country, having entered from Tajikistan on the northern border, as he did crossing the Amu Darya River in 2001, to Kabul; then to Jalalabad and Tora Bora; and finally to Wardak and Logar provinces and the perilous combat outposts. As American troops continue to withdraw from the country, training the Afghan National Police to take over, with more or less success, Sites gauges how the police feel about assuming control. The central government of Hamid Karzai has proven ineffective, and the warlords seem to be arming to address the renewed Taliban threat. Sites worries that without a national identity, they will have a hard time beating the Taliban, especially minus the services of the legendary Northern Alliance strongman Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated in 2001. Destroyed and abandoned military hardware litters the landscape, while the memory of lost journalist comrades like Johanne Sutton is gripping and poignant. During his journey, Sites interviewed military commanders, such as Northern warlord Nabi Gechi, as well as international aid workers and former Taliban warriors, and he visited the Kabul zoo, a heroin den under the Pul-e-Sokhta Bridge, and residential centers for addicted women and children. A somewhat nostalgic, still hopeful look at the residue of American intervention in Afghanistan, from a journalist who knows the terrain.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH Character at the Core

Smith, Curt Potomac Books (296 pp.) $29.95 | Nov. 1, 2014 978-1-61234-685-4

A former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush pens a heartfelt appreciation of the president. The last of the Greatest Generation to occupy the Oval Office, Bush was a genuine war hero, who by 1987 had to contend with “the wimp factor” as he ran for the White House. A Yale-educated East Coast patrician, he was also a Texas oilman who loved country music and pork rinds. Elected to two terms in the House, defeated in a Senate race and in the 1980 presidential primary, he was a politician, yes, but one whose most distinguished service came by appointment: envoy to China, CIA director, U.N. ambassador. His candidacy always posed genuine problems for an American electorate not quite sure what to make of him. Today, he’s our oldest, and polls say our most-respected, living ex-president, a product of an America barely remembered. In this highly impressionistic, idiosyncratic treatment 74

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of Bush, Smith (English/Univ. of Rochester; A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth, 2011, etc.) frequently adverts to that bygone era with passages about cultural markers—the Andy Griffith Show, the Pearl Harbor Arizona Memorial, the Polo Grounds—and characters—Bert Parks, Pat Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Glenn Ford, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra—all icons perfectly at home in the pages of the Saturday Evening Post, where the author worked. Smith mixes in a good deal of his own career in journalism, academia and politics, but he devotes the bulk of the narrative to Bush’s presidency and retirement when Smith helped to craft speeches for the oratorically challenged president. Little lyricism is attached to Bush’s rhetoric, but he had what Smith calls a “poetry of the heart.” Up close, the author observed the essential Bush, and in numerous vignettes, he depicts a man of courtesy, sound judgment, uncommon decency, and strict devotion to country, friends and family. An odd but endearing look at a president the nation is finally beginning to understand and appreciate.

PANDORA’S DNA Tracing the Breast Cancer Genes Through History, Science, and One Family Tree Stark, Lizzie Chicago Review (336 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-61374-860-2

Freelance journalist and author Stark (Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games, 2012) has both fully researched her subject and poured out her heart in this blend of history, science and memoir. As the family tree in the book’s front shows, cancer, and the threat of cancer, has plagued the author’s family for generations. When she underwent genetic testing and learned that she had inherited her mother’s BRCA1 mutation, which greatly raises the risks of both breast and ovarian cancers, Stark was well-aware of its significance. After coping with the hassles of close monitoring, she made the tough decision to have a preventative double mastectomy while still in her 20s. The story of that decision and all that follows from it is enough to make a book in itself, but the author goes much further. She provides a capsule history of breast surgery, from the pre-anesthesia days through William Halsted’s now-outdated radical mastectomy to today’s less disfiguring procedures, and she profiles geneticist Mary-Claire King, whose work led to the identification of the BRCA genes. In her discussion of the controversial issue of gene patenting, Stark presents all sides of the argument. Most impressive, she tells her personal story with considerable frankness and flashes of humor. The weekend before her breast-removal surgery, she and her husband threw a “goodbye to boobs” party for their closest friends. That lighthearted moment is followed by less sunny ones as Stark was forced to adjust to her new body and face the questions of

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A CHRISTMAS FAR FROM HOME An Epic Tale of Courage and Survival During the Korean War

whether to bear children and possibly pass on the gene mutation and deciding when to have her threatened ovaries removed. The book is a must-read for women questioning whether to be tested for the BRCA mutations and for women considering their options after testing positive. A gutsy, deeply revealing account that more than fulfills the promise of the subtitle.

THE WAY OF TEA AND JUSTICE Rescuing the World’s Favorite Beverage from Its Violent History

Stevens, Becca Jericho Books/Hachette (240 pp.) $22.00 | $11.99 e-book | Nov. 4, 2014 978-1-4555-1902-6 978-1-4555-1903-3 e-book

A socially conscious Episcopalian priest’s account of how and why she started the Thistle Stop Cafe, a Nashville teahouse that employs females recovering from violence and drug abuse. In 2001, Stevens (Snake Oil: The Art of Healing and TruthTelling, 2013, etc.) founded two programs dedicated to helping women who had survived “lives of trafficking, addiction and prostitution.” The first, Magdalene, offered shelter. The second, Thistle Farms, offered Magdalene residents the opportunity to earn a living by selling all-natural bath and body products. A little over a decade later, Stevens decided to open the Thistle Stop Cafe, a business that would use tea to globally expand her vision of social justice. Not only would the cafe be able to offer more work—and personal healing—to Magdalene women by allowing them to serve a healthful drink; it would also encourage international fair-trade practices by dealing directly with tea farms, many of which employed women. The more involved Stevens became in her project—which at times struggled for its very life before finding the financial support it needed to continue—the more she began to see how tea defined the nature of her work in more ways than she imagined. Its association with ritual inspired her to see the way tea-drinking could offer “peace and clarity” in a troubled world. While many teas could be light, others could, like the history of tea itself, also be bitter. But those more biting teas reminded the author of the importance of learning how to sweeten “the cup we have before us” and learn to practice gratitude—like the Magdalene women whose stories she also includes in the book—for all things received. Accompanied throughout by deliciously unique recipes for homemade tea blends and brews, Stevens’ narrative is a softly delivered meditation on the power of faith and love to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. Quietly uplifting reading.

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Weintraub, Stanley Da Capo/Perseus (280 pp.) $26.99 | Nov. 1, 2014 978-0-306-82232-2

The tragic tale of how the arrogance of a general led to disastrous consequences for the American troops in North Korea in 1950. “Home by Christmas” was Gen. MacArthur’s precipitous forecast to President Harry S. Truman and the U.S. troops stationed in the mountains of North Korea during that first bitter winter of the Korean War. Prolific historian and Korean War veteran Weintraub (Young Mr. Roosevelt: FDR’s Introduction to War, Politics, and Life, 2012, etc.) concentrates on the incongruous movement of two enemy armies: The United Nations forces (most of which were American, under MacArthur’s leadership) had been divided after the invasion at Inchon in September, with the Eighth Army moving up the west coast and the newly created X Corps having sailed all the way around South Korea to land on the east coast well above the 38th Parallel, despite the warning by the Chinese. The North Koreans and their Chinese helpers, under the brilliant direction of Mao Zedong, who was amassing his troops at the Manchurian border, secretly slipped across the Yalu River by night. MacArthur’s initial success at Inchon had allowed him carte blanche in subsequently directing the U.N. effort, though he was stationed in Tokyo and only occasionally flew in and around Korea, usually boasting to reporters. Determined to unify the country, ignoring intelligence sources that reported Chinese movement toward the border, and confident in his public relations coup to bring home the troops by Christmas, MacArthur, with his “diminishing reserves of shrewdness” and “disproportionate ego,” was sure that he “could not be wrong.” The general was abetted by his yes men, such as Edward “Ned” Almond of the X Corps, and passive acceptance by Truman. Weintraub expertly delineates the unraveling disaster for the entrapped, frozen, dispirited troops on the ground.

A HISTORY OF AMERICA IN THIRTY-SIX POSTAGE STAMPS

West, Chris Picador (288 pp.) $28.00 | Nov. 1, 2014 978-1-250-04368-9

The author of A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps (2013) returns with a similar volume for the United States. Surprise: One of the stamps is not the 1918 “Inverted Jenny” (the upside-down airplane)—and there are a few other surprises, as well. West begins with the Stamp Act of 1765 and marches steadily forward, offering a swift history of the

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“A poignant and humane memoir.” from paper love

United States with key events illustrated by (or occasioned by) a postage stamp from the era. We learn about the gradual improvements brought about by developments in printing, the preponderance of white men pictured (George Washington has appeared on more than 130), the stamps produced by the Confederacy during the Civil War, the arrival of parcel post, the emergence of air mail (Charles Lindbergh was a postal pilot until immortality beckoned), the story of Georg Olden (the first African-American to design a postage stamp) and all sorts of other philatelic goodies. Unsurprisingly, much of the focus—early in the history—is on military events and the doings of U.S. presidents. Gradually, however, West broadens his scope, just as the Postal Service did in its commemoratives. Readers will be able to detect his determination to appear disinterested in American politics, evident in his praise and criticism of lightning-rod figures like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. The author has a soft spot for Andrew Carnegie, calling him “a man of principle,” a characterization that will set spinning in their graves a legion of his competitors. West does not say a lot about the literary figures on stamps—though he does mention The Grapes of Wrath, Sidney Lanier and a few others. He seems (correctly?) to suspect that readers would rather hear about Davy Crockett, Billy the Kid, Louis Armstrong, the Enola Gay and the evolution of the computer. Lightweight but informative, like a classy commemorative. (36 full-color images)

PAPER LOVE Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

Wildman, Sarah Riverhead (400 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 30, 2014 978-1-59463-155-9

A journalist’s account of how her attempts to learn about her grandfather’s lost “true love” turned into a quest to understand the place of the Holocaust in her life and the lives of other young Jews. Former New Republic staffer Wildman grew up surrounded by stories about her grandfather Karl’s charmed existence. He had been one of the lucky Jews able to escape Vienna with both his life and professional credentials intact not long after Hitler annexed Austria in 1938. But when the author found photos of an unknown woman in a family album, her grandmother revealed that Karl had once been profoundly in love with a girl named Valy, whom he’d reluctantly had to leave behind. Many years later, after stumbling across letters that her grandmother had somehow overlooked in her destructive mission to preserve the myth of Karl’s “spotless escape,” Wildman began to put together the story behind Karl and Valy’s relationship. Hungry for details, she traveled to Vienna and, later, Germany and the Czech Republic, where she researched Valy’s life and visited the places that bore her imprint. The author concluded that both Karl and his lover had borne burdens of sorrow, guilt and loneliness far greater than anyone had known. At the same time, she also uncovered a 76

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worldwide network of people outside her family whose lives had been touched by not only Valy and Karl, but by Nazi terrorism. Wildman realized that history had been served to her, and the members of her generation, in ways that were far too “sanitized” and “clean.” This profound book derives its power not so much from the love story at its heart, but from the historical urgency with which Wildman infuses it. The author makes clear that only by engaging with inherited past trauma deeply and fully can individuals and communities begin the long and difficult process of looking for ways to regain wholeness. A poignant and humane memoir.

AMBITION AND DESIRE The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte Williams, Kate Ballantine (400 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-0-345-52283-2

A British historian’s capable account of Josephine Bonaparte (1763-1814) and her tumultuous relationship with the celebrated French general and political

leader Napoleon. Born in Martinique to a family of planters, Marie-JosepheRose de Tascher de la Pagerie, whom Napoleon would later rename Josephine, dreamed of escaping to the colorful world her father, a former page at the court of Versailles, had told her awaited in Paris. The opportunity to leave for France came in the form of marriage to a wealthy but dissipated young seducer, Alexandre de Beauharnais, who ridiculed his new wife mercilessly for her “thick Creole accent and clumsy manner.” Only after de Beauharnais divorced her four years later did Josephine begin her transformation into one of the most desirable women of her age. Determined to find a place among the glittering French nobility, she became a courtesan; through a combination of political savvy and luck, she managed to survive the French Revolution and its bloody aftermath. Liaisons with important leaders eventually brought Josephine into contact with the hero of the French counterrevolution, Napoleon, who fell passionately in love with her. Against the wishes of the socially ambitious Bonaparte family, the pair married in 1796. For the next eight years, the balance of power between them favored Josephine, who took lovers while her husband gloried in his military conquests. But as the ungainly Napoleon grew more desirous to become the new European Caesar, that balance shifted decidedly in his favor. Josephine—who was unable to bear her husband a child—eventually found herself displaced by hordes of mistresses and eventually, a second empress, Marie-Louise of Austria. Yet, as Williams (Becoming Queen Victoria: The Tragic Death of Princess Charlotte and the Unexpected Rise of Britain’s Greatest Monarch, 2010, etc.) ably shows, beneath the lust for power and prominence each shared, a remarkably durable passion bound them together to the end. An intelligent and entertaining biography of “the Empress whom France never forgot.”

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AT HOME IN EXILE Why Diaspora Is Good for the Jews Wolfe, Alan Beacon (264 pp.) $27.95 | $27.95 e-book | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-8070-3313-5 978-0-8070-3314-2 e-book

In defense of the Jewish diaspora. Turning to his Jewish roots, Wolfe (Political Science/Boston Coll.; Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It, 2011, etc.) explores the long and often acrimonious debate between Jewish diaspora and Zionism. The author’s study exposes a sometimes-shocking level of chauvinism displayed by pro-Zionist activists over the past two centuries, which has left a heritage in which even non-Israeli Jews often see themselves as second-class citizens compared to those living in the Holy Land. Wolfe sets out to demonstrate that Judaism has not merely survived the diaspora, but flourished in it, despite the horrid testimony of Hitler and Stalin. In fact, argues the author, it may be in diaspora that Jews most truly fulfill their mission to the world. Wolfe introduces readers to a number of intellectuals on both sides of the debate, some well-known and others quite obscure. He also brings up a shower of -isms: selectivism, particularism, universalism, nationalism and, of course, Zionism, just to name a few. Yet he manages to stop short of turning the book into a dry intellectual history by returning continually to current applications for the ideas expressed. For instance, Wolfe takes on the Jewish tendency toward pessimism, countering the hand-wringing over assimilation and intermarriage to emphasize the strength of a global faith community that has overcome astounding obstacles. Living in Israel was not a prerequisite for success as a people. “There are many ways to be Jewish,” he writes. “The notion that there ought to be a contest for the worst way, and that the prize should go to those who live among non-Jews, seems increasingly perverse.” In an age when the existence of a Jewish state, controversial though it may be, is taken for granted, Wolfe provides good fodder for Jews to debate the role of that state in their lives and in the life of their faith. A thought-provoking and optimistic look at global Judaism.

THE ART OF THE ENGLISH MURDER From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock

Worsley, Lucy Pegasus (336 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-60598-634-0

Worsley (If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, 2012, etc.) explains England’s love affair with scandals, lurid murders and executions. |

Readers’ initial apprehension that this might be just another list of sensational crimes, trials and public hangings quickly fades as the author exhibits her exceptional knowledge of social and literary England. Her position as chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, which manages the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and other significant British sites, gives her a broad supply of informative resources. Simply put, murder was the TV of the Victorian era, an escape from everyday woes—of which there were plenty. With the burgeoning newspaper industry printing every minute detail, the public began expressing their conclusions by sending letters to investigators. In the early 18th century, news was spread by traveling troupes, which presented melodramas and puppet shows depicting the latest horror. There was also plenty of “penny blood” fiction adding to the descriptions of blood and gore. As the London stage became more “legitimate,” melodramas faded, and the detective appeared, as did the “respectable murderer.” Thanks to authors such as Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle, the clever, observant detective became one of the most popular characters in literature. These stories were more concerned with explaining the why and who of a crime rather than describing the beastly deed. Then, during the “Golden Age” between the wars, demand grew for the “Mayhem Parva,” mysteries set in quaint but “stultifying, repetitive, hide-bound and reactionary” villages. These cozy mysteries can still be found on bookshelves alongside darker spy thrillers and crime novels. Worsley ably shows how audiences drove writers, actors and purveyors of news to satisfy their morbid curiosities.

HAVEL A Life

Zantovsky, Michael Grove (512 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-0-8021-2315-2

An insightful biography of the unlikely leader of the Velvet Revolution. In his first book written in English, diplomat and translator Zantovsky, Czech ambassador to the Court of St. James, chronicles the eventful life of playwright, political activist and Czech president Vaclav Havel (1936-2011). As Havel’s press secretary and adviser, Zantovsky admits his affection for his friend, but he presents a balanced, candid portrait of his subject’s personality, achievements and inner demons. Born to privilege, Havel came of age in communist Czechoslovakia, witness to oppression and injustice that intensified after the Soviet-led invasion of 1968. His political critiques found their way into his plays, but he struggled with “the question of a passive participation in evil.” His characters were often weak and flawed, reflecting, Zantovsky believes, Havel’s view of himself in the 1960s and ’70s, when he lived the sybaritic life of a celebrity. Although he felt driven “to do extraordinary things,” Havel’s “strong sense of order and harmony” resisted the messy process of revolution, and his excessive courtesy tempered his

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“A contributing editor and theater critic for Time weighs in with what will immediately become the definitive biography of the legendary comedian.” from hope

tolerance for conflict. Nevertheless, in 1989, emerging from an increasingly active resistance movement that resulted in his imprisonment, he led Czechoslovakia’s peaceful transformation from totalitarianism to democracy and served as president for four terms. “Being in power makes me permanently suspicious of myself,” he once remarked, though he reveled in the theatricality of his role. Installed in the dreary, cavernous Palace Castle, he commissioned an Oscar-winning designer to create new uniforms for the Castle Guard. Sky blue with white and red trim, they “looked a little like costumes from a Franz Lehar operetta.” Sustained by alcohol, cigarettes and a cornucopia of uppers and downers, by 1998, Havel’s physical condition weakened, along with his role in the newly formed Czech Republic, after Slovakia became independent. By then, though, he had become a global celebrity, the darling of liberals, reformers and intellectuals. Zantovsky brings an intimate perspective to this impressive biography of a man and history of a beleaguered nation.

ANDY KAUFMAN The Truth, Finally

Zmuda, Bob; Margulies, Lynne BenBella (256 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-940363-05-9

Another biography of the idiosyncratic comedian that will make fans question what the authors’ previous work on the subject offered and to doubt that this will really be their “final” word. The co-authors were both very close to the late comic provocateur, as Zmuda (Andy Kaufman Revealed, 1999) was his best friend, and collaborator/writer Margulies (Dear Andy Kaufman, I Hate Your Guts!, 2009) was his lover and partner until his death in 1984. The book offers a split opinion on that death, with Zmuda still maintaining that it was a hoax and offering frequent conversations with Kaufman on how it could be perpetrated, while Margulies, now married, believes that the death attributed to cancer was more likely a result of AIDS: “His bisexuality would be so humdrum today that I considered not even mentioning it, but Bob and I agreed that we would be completely honest in this book, since it is most likely the last book we will write about Andy.” Zmuda, who often played Kaufman’s alter ego Tony Clifton when his friend was alive, has continued to perform as Clifton since Kaufman’s death, while blurring the line between preserving and extending Kaufman’s legacy and capitalizing on his memory. He is the primary author, with interludes from Margulies, and much of the book concerns the roles the two played in the making of Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey as Andy, and the tensions between the two authors and the Kaufman family over his portrayal (and memory and estate). There are some revelatory anecdotes featuring Carrey, Elton John, Hugh Hefner (who tossed Zmuda as Clifton out of a Playboy Mansion party) and others. There’s also plenty of 78

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amateur psychoanalyzing and lots of exhortation for Andy to return and reveal the hoax. Whatever readers believe or don’t about Andy Kaufman, this book will confirm that particular “truth.”

HOPE Entertainer of the Century

Zoglin, Richard Simon & Schuster (576 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-1-4391-4027-7 A contributing editor and theater critic for Time weighs in with what will immediately become the definitive biography of the legendary comedian, born Leslie Townes Hope (1903-2003). Born in England at a time when movies were new—and talkies were still decades away—Hope, whose family immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1908, lived to see moon landings and the Internet. Zoglin (Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America, 2008) credits Hope for a number of things (including stand-up comedy itself), and he writes at times in jawdropped amazement at how Hope succeeded in, even dominated, every medium available to him: Broadway, vaudeville, movies, radio, TV and live appearances of all varieties. He wrote best-sellers and popular newspaper columns as well—though, as Zoglin points out continually, after success began to arrive, Hope had a large team of writers. The author notes that Hope had a quick wit, impeccable timing and, later, the ability to read cue cards, which became his preferred performance aid (he did not like teleprompters). Zoglin’s presentation is generally chronological, but with Hope’s many activities—tours to military zones, TV specials, “Road” movies with Bing Crosby—the author sometimes groups things thematically. Those who knew Hope only in his later cue-card–reading days will be surprised to learn about his grace as a dancer, his cool (not warm) relationship with Crosby, his myriads of sexual escapades (despite a marriage of nearly 70 years), his temper, his ferocious work ethic and his vast real estate holdings in California. Older readers will once again live through Hope’s public support of the Vietnam War, his friendship with alpha Republicans and his post-Vietnam return to his well-earned status as an American institution. In this rich and entertaining work, Zoglin pulls no punches but also remains an astonished admirer. (16-page b/w photo insert)

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children’s & teen THE SERPENT’S CURSE

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Abbott, Tony Illus. by Perkins, Bill Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (496 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-06-219446-6 978-0-06-219450-3 e-book Series: Copernicus Legacy, 2

THE SERPENT’S CURSE by Tony Abbott; illus. by Bill Perkins.........79 AUDREY (COW) by Dan Bar-el; illus. by Tatjana Mai-Wyss........... 82 STRANGER by Rachel Manija Brown; Sherwood Smith..................87 THE CARNIVAL AT BRAY by Jessie Ann Foley.................................. 94 THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN by Marla Frazee.......................... 94 THE FALL by Bethany Griffin............................................................. 99 THE YOUNG ELITES by Marie Lu....................................................106 LUCKY by David Mackintosh............................................................106 THE LAST SISTER by Courtney McKinney-Whitaker.....................108 IRENE’S WISH by Jerdine Nolen; illus. by A.G. Ford.......................109 MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME by Stephanie Perkins—Ed............... 111 GUS & ME by Keith Richards; with Barnaby Harris, Bill Shapiro; illus. by Theodora Richards................................................................ 113 THE NEXT WAVE by Elizabeth Rusch............................................... 115 THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE by Carrie Ryan; John Parke Davis................................................................................ 115 100 THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY by Amy Schwartz.............. 117

The Kaplan family continues their increasingly dangerous quest to secure the Copernicus Legacy relics. Wade, his stepbrother, Darrell, his cousin Lily and her friend Becca are unlikely heroes. However, whether it is intuition, bravery, tech know-how or intelligence, each possesses a quality vital to the success of their mission. Under the supervision of Wade’s father, Dr. Roald Kaplan, and assisted by a worldwide web of Guardians, the four young adventurers must find all 12 relics and rescue Darrell’s mother from her kidnappers. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones on the trail. The Teutonic Knights, led by the evil Galina Krause, will stop at nothing to collect the artifacts and reassemble Copernicus’ time machine. Absorbing puzzles, beautiful settings and dangerous villains keep the pages turning, but what sets this adventure apart are the complex characters, who continue to grow. Each of the Kaplans understands the danger of allowing circumstances to define self, but at the same time, each acknowledges the need to evolve in order to accomplish the tasks at hand. The full-length Copernicus novels alternate with the Copernicus Archives novellas to chronicle this globe-trotting adventure. Fast-paced and chock-full of secrets, puzzles and twists. (Adventure. 8-12)

FOLLOWING THE TRACTOR by Susan Steggall...............................120

COUNTING CHICKENS

Alakija, Polly Illus. by Alakija, Polly Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-437-2

BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE by Maggie Stiefvater....................................120 ALBIE’S FIRST WORD by Jacqueline Tourville; illus. by Wynne Evans......................................................................... 123

Tobi’s patience is rewarded in this picture book set in an African village. Part concept book, part story, it introduces Tobi and his hen, who lays an egg each day of the week. Meanwhile, Tobi’s friends, who “all had their own animals,” revel in the fecundity of their respective pets: “On Monday, Ade’s cow had a calf.... / On Tuesday, Tunde’s sheep had two |

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on the child as memoirist We recently reviewed I Am Malala, the young-readers’ edition of education activist Malala Yousafzai’s memoir, cowritten by Patricia McCormick. Our reviewer tussled with the implications of criticizing the account of a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who was shot and severely injured for speaking up for the rights of girls to go to school. Talk about Worthy and Important. The trouble was that Yousafzai is so earnest and so dedicated to her cause that at times she comes across as sounding like, well, a goody-two-shoes. How do you say that? Obviously, you don’t, but just because Yousafzai is legitimately heroic doesn’t mean that she won’t strike young American readers as preachy. This comes up a fair amount in child and teen memoirs—the story may be Important, but the artfulness of its delivery may not be commensurate with its weight. Figuring out how to balance a strictly literary critique against somebody’s lived experience can be tough. An amazing story may not make for an amazing read, and it’s the reviewer’s responsibility to point that out to potential readers. On a more cosmic level, I wonder about child memoirs as art. A good memoir is life made art, filtered through the writer’s experience and craft. Even though many teens have lived astonishing stories, most don’t have the expertise to do much more than relate them chronologically and with greater or lesser effectiveness of voice. Obviously, the assistance of a seasoned writer like McCormick can help, but it would be inappropriate for McCormick (or anyone else) to wade in and make somebody else’s life into art. We also recently reviewed On Two Feet and Wings, by Abbas Kazerooni, which relates his experiences “a long time ago when I was a child,” alone in Turkey after fleeing Iran. Like Yousafzai’s, his account is straightforward and experiential, but Kazerooni wrote it as an adult, creating a tale that’s riveting as well as informative and enlightening. “Readers are often promised an unforgettable protagonist,” our review concludes; “this memoir delivers one.” I hope that decades from now, Yousafzai will have lived a long and happy life and will have an opportunity to revisit her youth—to turn her astonishing story into art. —Vicky Smith Vicky Smith is the children’s & teen editor at Kirkus Reviews. 80

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lambs.... / On Wednesday, Bisi’s goat had three kids,” and so on. When Sunday arrives, Tobi’s hen has a clutch of seven eggs, and the accompanying art shows him waiting alongside the hen as she sits in the upturned hat that serves as her nest. Another week passes, and all of the baby animals cavort about the village, while Tobi and his hen continue their vigil. Finally, “after twenty-one days, Tobi was waiting no more.” The eggs hatch, and there are seven yellow chicks to count. The turn of the page reveals that those chicks grow to be hens that lay eggs of their own, and the final line invites readers to count all of the original hen’s progeny hidden within the picture (a helpful note on closing endpapers reveals the sum). Throughout, Alakija’s colorful art, rendered in acrylics and pencil, presents a village that integrates rustic, traditional elements alongside contemporary details such as cellphones, flip-flops, cars and baseball caps. The setting is presumably the author’s native Nigeria, but it’s too bad this information is not provided in the book. A fine additional to the counting-book shelf. (Picture book. 2-5)

WINTER’S FLURRY ADVENTURE

Allen, Elise; Stanford, Halle Illus. by Pooler, Paige Bloomsbury (128 pp.) $15.99 | $5.99 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-61963-297-4 978-1-61963-267-7 paper Series: Jim Henson’s Enchanted Sisters, 2 The Seasonal Sparkles return in an adventure about friendship, fairness and jealousy. Winter, the Sparkle responsible for causing winter in the human world, lives in her icy Sparkledom with her pet and best friend, Flurry the polar bear. While Winter and Flurry build a giant snow fort one day to impress her sisters, they discover a baby fox. Winter fawns over the cute fox, neglecting Flurry and sparking his jealousy. Hurt, he takes off—tunneling straight into the Barrens, the land inhabited by the villainous Bluster Tempest and his counterparts to the Sparkles, the Weeds boys. Accompanied by her sisters and the baby fox, Winter goes on a quest to get her best friend back. Along the way they face nasty surprises—booby traps left by the Weeds range from dangerous (giant mouse traps and Indiana Jones–style spikes triggered by sensors in the floor) to hilariously unpleasant (a smell so bad that Winter says “It’s like someone pooped in my nose!”). When they find Flurry, he’s less in need of rescue than they anticipated—the Weeds have adopted him and renamed him Butch. Worse, he might not even want to come home. Winter has to leave the decision up to him—the less-than-considerate nature of the Weeds along with Winter’s unconditional apology win the day. A simple lesson jazzed up by obstacles. (Fantasy. 7-10)

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“Childlike illustrations in pencil and graphite sticks on banana paper (naturally!) draw children into Betty’s life with humor.” from betty goes bananas

GET HAPPY

Amato, Mary Egmont USA (256 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Oct. 28, 2014 978-1-60684-522-6 978-1-60684-523-3 e-book On her 16th birthday, not only does Minerva Watson not get the gift she wanted, she receives an unwanted gift— from her estranged father. Minerva doesn’t know much about her father—her mother has kept mysteriously mum—but she does know he abandoned them when she was 2. Writing song lyrics has been a great outlet for her, but Minerva needs one more thing: an instrument. Despite numerous dropped hints to her mother about a ukulele, she receives a cardigan instead. But when her mother’s out of the room, a FedEx package arrives from her father. Shaken and worried that her mother might see it, she quickly stashes it in her backpack, later to open it at school. With a puzzling accompanying card, the birthday gift—a silver sea horse necklace—turns out to be a clue to her father’s identity. Meanwhile, she and her jocular best friend, Fin, land jobs with Get Happy, a company that provides costumed entertainment for children’s birthday parties. Minerva’s life unexpectedly intertwines with those of the two other teenage employees: dimpled, nonconformist Hayes and the ultrabeautiful Cassie. While Fin and Minerva begin to unravel the surprising mystery about her father, an ever widening gap grows between her and her mother. Veteran Amato skillfully infuses her tale with moments of teenage angst, jealousy, disenchantment, humor and love. Hits a deep, sweet resonating note. (Fiction. 12-16)

TALES FROM HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

Andersen, Hans Christian Adapted by Lewis, Naomi Illus. by Chichester Clark, Emma Frances Lincoln (72 pp.) $19.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-510-2

There are good reasons some of Andersen’s tales have gone out of vogue. Lewis and Chichester Clark attempt a fresh take on selections of Andersen’s literary fairy tales, endeavoring to reaffirm the classic status of such familiar tales as “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Little Match Girl” and “The Nightingale” while at the same time reviving more obscure stories, such as “The Happy Family,” “The Money Box Pig” and “The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep.” The latter tale has much in common with the better-known (and better) “Steadfast Tin Soldier,” but it pales in comparison due to its use of outmoded terms such as a reference to “an old Chinaman, a Mandarin [figurine] who could nod his head.” The titular shepherdess, meanwhile, embodies |

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the very essence of insipid feminine helplessness, making it hard to see why the chimney sweep fancies her at all. This story isn’t the solitary weak spot in the collection—downright odd (not intriguing, but alienating) plots are unlikely to demand repeat readings, and the tired story of a patriarch marrying off a girl is revisited to absurd extremes in “The Jumping Competition.” Meanwhile, more familiar tales are watered-down, at best. Chichester Clark’s soft, whimsical pictures do punctuate humorous elements of the stories, and a picture of flowers dancing in the nighttime is a highlight of the book. Reteller Antonia Barber and illustrator Margaret Chamberlain attempt a similar update of nine mostly familiar Tales from Grimm, publishing simultaneously, with greater success. Alas, this one isn’t a swan after all. (author’s note) (Fairy tales. 7-10) (Tales from Grimm: 978-1-84780-509-6)

BETTY GOES BANANAS

Antony, Steve Illus. by Antony, Steve Schwartz & Wade/Random (32 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | $19.99 PLB Dec. 23, 2014 978-0-553-50761-4 978-0-553-50763-8 e-book 978-0-553-50762-1 PLB Betty’s hunger gets the better of her when she faces a banana she cannot open. Betty, a baby gorilla, is like little folks everywhere when she is hungry. She wants to eat now. That banana seems promising, but Betty is stymied: How can she get past the peel? She tries using her hands, teeth and feet, but nothing works. Frustrated, Betty erupts, crying, screaming and banging her feet. A helpful toucan shows her how to peel the desired fruit, but Betty wants to peel it herself. She falls into another tantrum about that, and she melts down again when the banana breaks. The backgrounds of the spreads reflect Betty’s moods: fully saturated red when Betty has lost it and gentle yellows and whites when she calms herself. Children, whose emotions can run a roller coaster, will have no choice but to giggle at Betty’s behavior. Mr. Toucan, playing the role of the reasonable but understanding adult, shifts his eye knowingly at readers, adding to the fun. Childlike illustrations in pencil and graphite sticks on banana paper (naturally!) draw children into Betty’s life with humor. She looks innocent in her pink dress with matching bow, but her smile disappears quickly when her body collapses in exasperation. Teachers and parents of short-fused toddlers will read this over and over. Serve with bananas. (Picture book. 2- 6)

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“In a multiple-perspective, documentarylike format, each animal tells its part of the story with terrific humor and personality.” from audrey (cow)

SABOTAGE, SEDITION AND SUNDRY ACTS OF REBELLION

Aretha, David Morgan Reynolds (112 pp.) $28.95 PLB | Oct. 25, 2014 978-1-59935-406-4 PLB Series: A Peculiar History

A dramatic, revealing chronicle of enslaved people resisting their oppressors through acts of defiance, escape, sabotage, organized rebellion and vengeful murder. This entry in the A Peculiar History series opens dramatically with a description of the German Coast Uprising, a violent, widespread rebellion in French Louisiana in 1811, and proceeds with a mostly chronological account of acts of resistance and rebellion from the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade in the early 15th century. Subjects briefly touched upon include a 1712 New York City rebellion as well as revolts led by Gabriel Prosser, Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey. Aretha discusses the Haitian revolution but curiously fails to mention its leader, Toussaint L’Ouverture. In addition, Aretha covers everyday acts of rebellion by slaves such as burning barns, killing livestock, sabotaging crops, suicide, and infanticide by mothers who wished to keep their children from enslavement. There is good information on the draconian lengths colonies and states went to to discourage slave resistance of any kind. With an attractive design, the text is complemented with photographs, maps and reproductions of archival materials, many in color. An informative, engaging chronicle of organized and individual acts of resistance to slavery. (timeline, source notes, bibliography, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

THE SWEET SIDE OF FAIRY TALES

Attanasio, Fabiana White Star (54 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-88-544-0869-2

Recipes alternate with the fairy and folk tales that inspired them in this Italian import. Unfortunately, neither element shines. The tales, while a great mix of well-known favorites and new ones (“The Six Swans,” “The Wolf and the Seven Kids”), are each crammed on a single page and lack clear paragraph divisions, making them quite difficult to read. But the recipes are the book’s biggest weakness. Many of the ingredients are not cheap and may prove hard to find for U.S. readers—gelatin sheets, vanilla pod, icing sugar (though both U.S. and metric measurements are included). Similarly, lots of kitchen gadgets are used—molds, mixer, blender, stick mixer, food processor, bain-marie (there’s no glossary). Some of the recipes seem to be missing steps (cut using cookie cutters, but there’s no mention of rolling the dough) or are not specific enough—“stew the apples in the pan for several minutes”; “add rice and wait until it is cooked”; “1 jar of your favorite jam”; “glass” as a unit of measure—and there is 82

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no note about safety or parental supervision. Attanasio’s digital illustrations feature large-headed characters with tiny limbs and bodies, but the details shown don’t always match the text, and a couple of recipes involving shaping puff pastry truly need photos. Finally, the book’s audience is difficult to pin down— the complexity of the recipes eliminates most fairy-tale readers. Skip. (index of recipes and ingredients) (Cookbook/fairy tales. 8-10)

AUDREY (COW)

Bar-el, Dan Illus. by Mai-Wyss, Tatjana Tundra (256 pp.) $19.99 | Nov. 1, 2014 978-1-77049-602-6 Move aside Wilbur and Babe. There’s a new farmyard hero in town, and she has no desire to end up hamburger. Audrey isn’t like the other cows. They might accept their lot as “food cows,” but she has other ideas. After her mother is taken away to a slaughterhouse, the feisty Charolais concocts an elaborate escape for herself using the expertise and help of her barnyard friends. However, the escape itself proves to be only half the battle, and Audrey’s experiences in the wild forest with its unpredictable denizens put both brains and moxie to the test. In a multiple-perspective, documentarylike format, each animal tells its part of the story with terrific humor and personality. From pompous Charlton the rooster, who considers his role in the story a moment of deus ex machina (“as the Romans would call it”), to a parliament of consensus-minded sheep to a thoroughly prejudiced squirrel, the many voices make the book an ideal read-aloud for a classroom and ideal fodder for readers’ theater. Bar-el is also unafraid to engage in truly lovely descriptive writing (one cow’s grief over losing her son is said to be akin to “a mist like we’d get on gray, foggy mornings that made the farm seem as if it were fading away along its edges”). Part Great Escape, part Hatchet, part Charlotte’s Web, all wonderful. (Animal fantasy. 8-12) (This review was first published in the Fall Preview 2014 issue.)

SLEUTH ON SKATES

Beauvais, Clémentine Illus. by Horne, Sarah Holiday House (224 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 15, 2014 978-0-8234-3197-7 Series: Sesame Seade Mystery, 1 An appealing girl detective makes her debut in the first of a mystery series. First-person narrator Sesame, as she calls herself, aspires to be a supersleuth and has intelligence, a pair of purple skates, and a resourceful, if not wholly sanctioned, independence at her disposal. At 11 kirkus.com

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CHRISTMAS TRUCE STORY BY AARON SHEPARD • PICTURES BY WENDY EDELSON “Among the many entries celebrating this event’s centennial, librarians and teachers should welcome this historically accurate telling for ages 9 and up.”—Kirkus Reviews “It is 2:00 in the morning and most of our men are asleep in their dugouts—yet I could not sleep myself before writing to you of the wonderful events of Christmas Eve. In truth, what happened seems almost like a fairy tale, and if I hadn’t been through it myself, I would scarce believe it. Just imagine: While you and the family sang carols before the fire there in London, I did the same with enemy soldiers here on the battlefields of France!” The Christmas Truce of 1914 is one of the most extraordinary incidents not only of World War I but of all military history. Providing inspiration for songs, books, plays, and movies, it has endured as an archetypal image of peace. Yet much about the historic event remains shrouded in myth and legend. In this fictional letter—illustrated in authentic detail by Wendy Edelson—award-winning author Aaron Shepard draws from firsthand accounts of soldiers at the front to portray the truce in its true nature and spirit. Sept. 15, 2014 • Ages 9 and up 32 pages • 8½ × 11 inches 14 watercolor illustrations in full color Hardcover ~ 978-0-938497-62-2 ~ $25 Paperback ~ 978-0-938497-63-9 ~ $12.50 LCCN 2014907629 • Author note Download the free ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, or NetGalley

SKYHOOK PRESS www.skyhookpress.com

Please order our books from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, or your favorite bookseller. |

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1/2, the bright, only child of accomplished parents (Mum, the head of Christ’s College at Cambridge University and Dad, the college’s chaplain), Sesame is amusingly exasperated with their attentiveness, and she’s got a preteen’s talent for smart comebacks. “Jesus Christ, Sophie Margaret Catriona!” her mother gasps in frustration with her at one point. “Is that his full name?” responds Sesame. When an undergraduate goes missing, Sesame pounces eagerly on the mystery, solving it via determination and coincidence with the help of a couple of school friends and a university student or two. It’s soon revealed that no harm has come to the girl, but dirty dealings are at work, specifically having to do with the way the university’s computer network has been compromised by an aggressive corporate marketing firm. The slightly breathless plot ties up neatly, with bits of university life woven in (a performance of Swan Lake, a nighttime paddle up the river Cam, meetings with various porters and professors—even Stephen Hawking in an unnamed cameo). A likable and diverting British import. (Mystery. 9-12)

DIRK DARING, SECRET AGENT

Becker, Helaine Orca (208 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-4598-0683-2

With his double life in danger of exposure, Darren Dirkowitz, aka Dirk Daring, Secret Agent, must complicate his personal life in order to keep his secrets. Darren has always taken great care to keep his identity as a secret agent under wraps. Unfortunately, his one loose end has been discovered: a top-secret journal with all his adventures recorded for posterity. Before he knows it, Darren is at the mercy of his stepbrother (the nefarious and elusive “Waldo”), spying on his best friend and lying to the girl of his dreams. Friendships are strongly tested throughout the novel, which is peppered with imaginative turns of phrase and bursts of energy. The book is an enjoyable and quirky read. The author doesn’t go overboard and turn her characters into swirling cartoons: These are real kids behaving with all the creativity and energy one would expect of them. But beneath all the play and humor is a genuine emotional core, exploring the trials and tribulations all friendships endure when moving from elementary school on to junior high. A stunning last-minute twist pushes the book above and beyond. A clever romp that’s enhanced, not lessened, by its message. (Fiction. 8-12)

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DO YOU KNOW KOMODO DRAGONS?

Bergeron, Alain M.; Quintin, Michel; Sampar Illus. by Sampar Translated by Messier, Solange Fitzhenry & Whiteside (64 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-55455-339-6 Spatters of blood and other body fluids serve as the chief attraction for this cursory look at our largest living lizard. Printed in squint-worthy type, most of the handful of casually phrased facts and factoids chucked in at the bottom of each spread relate to eating habits: Komodo dragons are “fast and swift,” they “shred apart large prey,” and they most commonly die from cannibalism. Budding naturalists will also learn that Komodo dragons vomit when they need to make a quick exit, and they shake their victims hard enough to spray the surrounding landscape with voided dung or even inner organs. Sampar illustrates all of this behavior in loving, gory (thoroughly gory) detail—though in his cartoons, which take up the lion’s share of each spread, the Komodos stand on hind legs, dress in human clothes, and deliver wisecracks or remarks (“You couldn’t have done that in the garage, dear?”) placed in speech bubbles. A similarly anthropomorphized cast chows down through like-titled introductions to dinosaurs, hyenas and praying mantises. Not much intellectual nourishment on offer, but a refreshing change of menu when the diet of conventional “true books” palls. Maybe not the best choice for pre-lunchtime reading, though. (Graphic nonfiction. 8-10) (Do You Know Dinosaurs? 978-1-55455-336-5; Do You Know Hyenas? 978-1-55455338-9; Do You Know Praying Mantises? 978-1-55455-337-2)

SECOND THOUGHTS

Bertrand, Cara Luminis (306 pp.) $19.95 | $11.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-935462-07-1 978-1-935462-12-5 paper Series: Sententia, 2 This second series installment finds Lainey, a girl who can kill with her thoughts, in her senior year at a posh school that caters to paranormal Sententia. Lainey has settled in nicely at Northbrook Academy, enjoying the favor of the headmistress and agreeing to serve on the Honor Board. She continues her intense romance with boyfriend Carter, who can move objects with his thoughts. Disturbingly, Lainey has had a vision that Carter will somehow kill her, but she can’t divine when or how. She’s shocked when she meets Carter’s uncle, Sen. Astor, head of the Perceptum, the council that controls Sententia worldwide. He looks so much like her deceased father that she is sure the two must have been kirkus.com

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“...an infectiously warm celebration of friendship.” from cecilia and miguel are best friends / cecilia y miguel son mejores amigos

brothers. The senator showers her with attention, taking her to dinner often and trying to convince her to serve the Perceptum with her unique, forbidden talent. Meanwhile, her roommate has trouble in her relationship with her boyfriend, Caleb, and Lainey becomes convinced that a new eighth-grade student is deliberately sabotaging the romance. Events progress until graduation looms, and the senator demands an answer. Bertrand balances her paranormal storyline with romance, hoping to hit that fading sweet spot. Much effort goes into explaining how Lainey feels about events, a less-than-engaging strategy. The plotting falters until the exciting climax finally occurs, but readers may well have given up by then. For fans only. (Paranormal romance. 14-18)

CECILIA AND MIGUEL ARE BEST FRIENDS / CECILIA Y MIGUEL SON MEJORES AMIGOS

Bertrand, Diane Gonzales Illus. by Muraida, Thelma Translated by Baeza Ventura, Gabriela Piñata Books/Arté Público (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 31, 2014 978-1-55885-794-0

A childhood friendship remains steady and true throughout teenage years and beyond into adult life and marriage. Despite mishaps, flaws and good-natured teasing, Cecilia and Miguel maintain strong ties—even when, for example, her fishing results in a nice catch while his line gets tangled or when at an Easter party, much to her chagrin, he purposely cracks his cascarones (confetti-filled eggs) over her head. Situations like these might create animosity or resentment, but Cecilia and Miguel’s commitment to each other only grows. Their

Monsters and Pirates, Oh my!

P is for Pirate: A Pirate Alphabet

M is for Monster: A Fantastic Creatures Alphabet

Penned by former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis

Written by bestselling children’s author Eve Bunting

Monster, mystery, and fantasy fans will enjoy this alphabetical tribute to those things that lurk in the shadows, go bump in the night, and thrill young readers to their bones.

Read all about the Golden Age of Pirates in this alphabetical adventure that examines legendary ships, fabled hideouts, and even notorious villains like Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard!

To order: 866-918-3956

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“Often portrayed as a dour banking center, rainy Milan shines as well, dressed up in centuries of rich history and tradition, especially culinary.” from the halcyon bird

disappointment at her quinceanera dance, when Miguel sits out with a broken leg, presages a long-distance relationship during college years that eventually leads to proposal, wedding and parenthood. The simple, bilingual text repeats the titular lines in both English and Spanish on every double-page spread, introducing a succession of events that tie them together as they grow older. These are illustrated with “snapshots” depicting the various vignettes, with a smaller, scene-setting image separating the blocks of text and a larger, facing one on the opposite page. Readers from outside the culture will need to work out such concepts as quinceanera, cascarones and flan from the illustrations, as there is no glossary. “Best friends forever” is universal in most children’s experience, though taking it all the way through marriage and parenthood is a wee bit far-fetched. Nevertheless, an infectiously warm celebration of friendship. (Picture book. 5-8)

THE HALCYON BIRD

Beyer, Kat Egmont USA (352 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Nov. 11, 2014 978-1-60684-316-1 978-1-60684-317-8 e-book Series: Demon Catchers of Milan, 2 Volume 2 of this classy series finds Mia still living in Italy under the protection and guidance of her extended family, learning the family trade (Della Torres have been trapping Milan’s demons for centuries) while she gathers strength to confront the demon that once possessed her. Mia’s secret infatuation with distant cousin Emilio is history after she meets Bernardo, a family friend. He is equally smitten, and with both families’ approval, the two embark on a romance. But as their connection grows, so does Mia’s equivocal bond with her demon. Like their human counterparts, demons vary widely; they change and evolve. Interacting with them sets up a kind of symbiosis between demon and human host. Mia discovers that demons can simultaneously instigate and reflect family tragedies that may play out over many generations. (She’s still not sure what to make of the two friendly spirits haunting her bedroom.) With Bernardo an intoxicating distraction, Mia’s guard slips with calamitous results. These humans and demons are vividly multidimensional; Mia’s happily free of most teenliterature tropes and cliches. Often portrayed as a dour banking center, rainy Milan shines as well, dressed up in centuries of rich history and tradition, especially culinary. Readers, like Mia herself, will find her birthright, human and supernatural—from risotto alla Milanese to the roof of the Duomo—as delicious as it is scary. (Fantasy. 12 & up) (This review was first published in the Fall Preview 2014 issue.)

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TASTES LIKE MUSIC 17 Quirks of the Brain and Body

Birmingham, Maria Illus. by Melnychuk, Monika Owlkids Books (40 pp.) $17.95 | $11.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-77147-010-0 978-1-77147-083-4 paper What if you couldn’t remember a face—even your own? Imagine not being able to forget anything from your past. What if you had Barbie-doll hair, so stiff you couldn’t possibly comb it? Birmingham takes readers through an amazing variety of offbeat conditions, most of them inherited and some of them extremely rare. While this brief effort packs in ample information, the attractive format, casual with brightly colored pages and cartoonlike illustrations on each spread, combines with the high-interest topic to make it appear readily approachable. However, the vocabulary level and the explanations of the causes for some of the conditions are relatively complex. Some of the conditions—or “quirks” according to the subtitle—include developmental topographical disorientation, which causes sufferers to fail to recognize familiar surroundings, making it possible to get lost in one’s own home; doublejointedness; sleepwalking; color blindness; heightened ability to taste; and synesthesia, a condition that associates numbers, letters, words or music with colors. Many of the topics include a “What’s it like?” section: a brief, informative interview with a person who has that condition. Additional facts are tucked into boxes throughout, like the stages of sleep, types of joints in the human body and the anatomy of a hair follicle. An entertaining presentation of a fascinating topic that’s more substantive and challenging than it looks. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

I’M NOT MOVING!

Blevins, Wiley Illus. by Cerato, Mattia Red Chair Press (32 pp.) $16.95 | $6.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-939656-08-7 978-1-939656-643 paper Series: Family Snaps Dad’s new job means moving to the city, a tough adjustment for little Keesha. “I got the job,” Dad says. “We’re moving to the city!” Mom says. “I’m not moving,” Keesha says. And so it goes, all through packing, loading up the car and driving past the farm and lake and woods she loves on the way to the big sunny apartment the three of them will now call home. Dad lets her paint the walls of her new room any way she’d like. Keesha chooses trees and a lake and a horse, but “It’s still not home,” she says. Dad takes her for a walk; there’s a park not far from their apartment, with kirkus.com

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a small zoo within. Mom tells her to put on her dance clothes. They check out a handful of classes that look interesting, though nobody wears a pink tutu like Keesha. She’s also negative about her new school, until she finds out that she gets her own computer, sees a classmate wearing a shirt with a horse on it, and starts dancing with the others. Sold! Blevins refreshingly defies stereotypes with a heroine who happens to be AfricanAmerican moving from the affluent ’burbs to the alien city. Cerrato employs a spectrum of colors to good effect. Her shapes and big-eyed, big-headed people have a Lego vibe. Pleasant and reassuring. (Picture book. 3-5)

LOVE MONSTER AND THE PERFECT PRESENT

Bright, Rachel Illus. by Bright, Rachel Farrar, Straus and Giroux (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-374-34648-5

What to give the one you love? This follow-up to Love Monster (2013) shows the titular, loving little beastie trying to find the perfect present for the monster he thinks “is the most perfect monster in the world.” This gift-giving impulse is prompted by the coming of a very special day in Cutesville: “PRESENT DAY when everyone gives a lovely someone something lovely...to show how special they are.” Unfortunately, our hero cannot find anything that will do in his price range. In the light story’s bleakest moment, Love Monster sits, small and alone, on a darkened street; the text tells readers that “there was only one thing worse than a not-perfect present...and that was NO PRESENT AT ALL!” Happily, inspiration literally falls from above, and Love Monster ends up making a very special present, indeed, for his friend. Bright’s vibrant prints are made from plates etched with ultraviolet light, producing brightly colored pictures with bold, black outlines. The monsters’ world is a fully realized place that borders on twee but finds footing in delight. The best gifts are those that come from the heart, and this book surely comes from Bright’s. (Picture book. 3- 6)

STRANGER

Brown, Rachel Manija; Smith, Sherwood Viking (432 pp.) $18.99 | Nov. 13, 2014 978-0-670-01480-4 Yes, it’s another post-apocalyptic series opener, but it’s infused with a generous spirit—call it a utopian dystopia. The small, walled community of Las Anclas bears little resemblance to Los Angeles, whose ancient ruins sprawl nearby. To Ross, a badly wounded prospector fleeing a powerful enemy, it’s paradise compared to what he’s used to—to its residents, not so much. |

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Yuki misses the freedom of the wild ocean and dreams of escaping with Paco. Engineer Mia loves blowing things up, but she feels socially awkward. Felicite, the daughter of the mayor and defense chief, knows precisely what she wants: to make half of a power couple with Indra, Jennie’s boyfriend. Jennie herself is delighted to be chosen as a Ranger, the town’s elite defense corps; she’d feared that prejudice against the Changed, people like her who’ve acquired strange powers, made her a long shot. Mia and Jennie, best friends, find themselves attracted to secretive Ross. Characterization is rich and stereotype-free. For gays and lesbians, sexual orientation is neither more nor less a defining characteristic than it is for heterosexuals. Equally exceptional is the depiction of conflict. The confusing adrenaline rush of war is followed by PTSD, its lingering afterimage. The five dynamic narrators and action-packed plot deliver thrills while slyly undermining genre cliches. A first-rate page turner that leaves its own compelling afterimage. (Science fiction/fantasy. 13-18)

THE TERMINALS

Buckingham, Royce Scott Dunne/St. Martin’s (288 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-250-01155-8 A teen with a year to live is recruited into an elite team of dying 19-year-old spies. Cam Cody is a soccer star finishing up his senior year of high school when he’s diagnosed with a rare kind of brain tumor by a secretive traveling doctor. Though he feels perfectly healthy, his despair is overwhelming. When a mysterious man offers him a job as a one-year spy kid, the choice seems obvious: Let the creepy spies fake his premature death and spirit him off to the opportunity of, well, a lifetime. On a beach surrounded by cliffs and jungle, Cam meets the nine other members of his team, all as distinctive as if they were the cast of a miniseries. There’s the genius, the musician, the big lunkhead and “the hot gal” (also known as “Obviously female,” “a goddamned beer commercial. James Bond with boobs,” and “definitely not repressed”). All Cam’s teammates take the drug TS-9, which enhances their speed, strength and smarts, but Cam’s been assured he doesn’t need the drug yet. The team’s spy training is brutal, but their missions are rewarding, such as rescuing kidnapped humanitarian-aid doctors from pirates. They are humanitarian-aid doctors, right? Team members keep getting killed—sometimes under very suspicious circumstances—but they all have only a year to live, after all. Solving the mystery with only the most heavily foreshadowed characters left alive leads to a shoehorned lead-in for the next volume. For readers who want cinematic action and excitement without the fuss of character development. (Action. 13-15)

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THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BEAGLE

ceased to be a novelty and become its own, increasingly substantial genre, which poses an existential crisis of sorts for it. If metafiction becomes ho-hum ordinary, is it still doing its job? Misses the mark. (Picture book. 4- 7)

Burns, Catherine Lloyd Farrar, Straus and Giroux (336 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-374-30039-5

This is another sad book with a dog on the cover—but it isn’t a story about a dog. Veronica faces a couple of major challenges at the beginning of sixth grade. One is that she has chosen to attend a private, all-girls day school in New York City, where she lives with her psychiatrist parents. She hasn’t had much success socially, and Randolf doesn’t look like a promising opportunity to up her friend count—currently a total of just one, and she’s a far-from-satisfactory companion. The other problem is that she would do just about anything to become the owner of a beagle for sale at a local pet store. When a pair of popular girls begins to take a mild interest in her and her parents buy the beloved puppy, it seems that all will be well. But things quickly fall apart: The girls are manipulative and self-focused, and her puppy has a congenital disease. Veronica’s deep, unrelenting grief is vividly portrayed, along with her bumbling but kindly parents’ efforts to redirect her back to happiness. In sharp contrast to the sad themes that permeate this quiet tale, a strong vein of humor— springing mainly from Veronica’s often ironic and feisty attitude—relieves the raw suffering without undermining its power. Readers will find this journey back to contentment both fully believable and emotionally resonant. (Fiction. 9-13)

THIS BOOK JUST ATE MY DOG

Byrne, Richard Illus. by Byrne, Richard Henry Holt (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-62779-071-0

A carnivorous book invites readers to participate. The book opens with an unseen little girl named Bella calling from within the book to her dog, asleep on the copyright page. Presumably, Bella passed the gutter of the book without event, but this proves confusing given what happens to her dog. As the tragically obedient dog crosses the gutter, it disappears. While Bella is aware that she’s in a book, the background illustration could easily be interpreted as the sidewalk of a nondescript street (a less confusing choice may have been a text or white-space background, a la David Wiesner’s The Three Pigs). Once her dog disappears completely, various other characters come to help but are also consumed by the book. Eventually, so is Bella, but she sends a note to readers from...beyond...requesting that readers turn the book 90 degrees and shake it. Lo and behold, all the characters fall out, and all ends well. This happy ending presents another mystery: If all those characters were “eaten” by the book, how could they simply fall out? The metafictive picture book has 88

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GOOD DREAM, BAD DREAM / SUEÑO BUENO, SUEÑO MALO The World’s Heroes Save the Night! / ¡Los heroes del mundo salvan la noche! Calle, Juan Illus. by Valentino, Serena Immedium (36 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-59702-103-6

Enlisting the powers of some awesome heroes transforms a child’s nightmares into commanding dreams in this bilingual flight of the imagination. Julio’s nightly search for monsters lurking in his room is interrupted by his father, who reminds the boy that “for every bad dream, you can have a good dream to help defeat your fears.” Papa lists all the conquering heroes for each scary creature. A mighty hunter will take care of a snarling mammoth, a crafty falcon will catch a scary scorpion, a strong wrestler will defeat a roaring jaguar, and so on. Julio’s confidence and assertiveness grow with each new dueling scenario Papa introduces. The bad dreams are presented in the active, anime-style digital scenes as ghoulish, roaring, teeth-gnashing, eye-popping creatures. Plucked from many world mythologies, the characters are rendered in dark, opaque colors with the occasional explosion of red and yellow, and they are drawn with sharp, jagged lines, making each tableau jump off the page. Children will notice how Julio’s expression grows increasingly stern, bold and intimidating, as well as how his garb and even skin tone change to match the various legendary heroes he emulates. English text appears over Spanish in every spread, with key words printed in uppercase letters. The clever approach to an age-old bedtime issue will help strengthen vulnerable little minds with some resilient thinking. (Bilingual picture book. 4- 6)

SIDE EFFECTS

Calonita, Jen Awesomeness Ink (256 pp.) $9.99 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-941341-09-4 The novelization of a digital series on the AwesomenessTV YouTube channel features musical numbers translated into prose. A family of five kids ranging in age from 13 to 23 struggles to stay on an even keel after the death of their mother and the disappearance of their father. The story is told in multiple voices, beginning with kirkus.com

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“Overflowing with information, fascinating tales and thoughtprovoking information; give it to animal-loving middle graders on up.” from daisy to the rescue

ESTAS MANOS / THESE HANDS Manitas De Mi Familia / My Family’s Hands

ninth-grader Whitney’s, who copes with the stresses of parental loss and bullying from the She-Bitches at school by taking pills from a bottle that warns, “MAY CAUSE MUSICAL HALLUCINATIONS.” When she takes a pill, a musical number begins, which may work onscreen but in print results in a very confusing blend of reality and fantasy, as well as sentences like, “ ‘Scream, shout, and curse!’ she shouts lyrically.” Other chapters are written by older sister Lexi (whom her brother calls “slutty”) and their three brothers, along with quasi-brother Zak. Once the group embarks on a trip to find their dad, a little bit of a plot develops, and there are a few good interchanges among siblings, but overall, it is a bubbly, incoherent mess sprinkled with brandname references (“Jason...walks by at that moment with a large bag of Cool Ranch Doritos”). Though it has no redeeming literary value, it may still be popular with fans of the Side Effects series, the first 40-minute “season” of which has close to 3 million views. (Fiction. 12-16)

Caraballo, Samuel Illus. by Costello, Shawn Piñata Books/Arté Público (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 31, 2014 978-1-55885-795-7

Caraballo’s bilingual tribute to family is couched in Caribbean and Central and South American symbolism associated with trees and flowers in Puerto Rico. From grandparents to siblings, the nurturing hands in the young protagonist’s life are praised for their contributions to her well-being. Mom’s hands are tender, like rose petals. Dad’s hands keep her safe; they are strong, like mahogany trees. The Spanish prose is lyrical, but the English paragraphs begin with stilted literal translations: “Your hands, the strongest!.... / Your hands, the friendliest.” Soft pastels of pink, lavender, peach and blue are the dominant colors in Costello’s impressionistic artwork. The illustrations capture the joyful intimacy of family relationships, from benevolent smiles to cherishing embraces. The flowers and trees are portrayed within the body of the text, with the exception of the ceiba tree, which accompanies a page on botanical symbolism. This page of symbols immediately follows the homage to the narrator’s grandfather, making the ending abrupt and jarring—readers will feel the absence of any kind of conclusion or summation. In the end, the book unfortunately has the feel of a series of sentimental greeting cards. (Bilingual picture book. 6-10)

DAISY TO THE RESCUE True Stories of Daring Dogs, Paramedic Parrots, and Other Animal Heroes Campbell, Jeff Illus. by Beyer, Ramsey Zest Books (320 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-936976-62-1

With an eye toward documenting remarkable animal/human interactions, Campbell has assembled a large collection of fascinating anecdotes. Following a somewhat scholarly foreword by animal researcher Marc Bekoff and a long introduction, the tales are divided into four sections: “Domestic Companions,” mostly chronicling lifesaving actions by pets; “Trained to Serve, Inspired to Heal,” about search dogs and various other kinds of animals trained to perform particular functions; “Wild Saviors,” profiling unusual interactions between wild animals and humans; and “Legends and Folktales,” some describing the traditional folk basis for animal stories as well as others that “mix real life with exaggeration.” Each story is a page or two long, accompanied by an attractive black-and-white illustration by Beyer. Each animal is introduced with a text box that provides brief information about the nature of the event, including—an odd and silly touch—a “Fame Meter” that rates the animal from “Local Hero” (like Dory, a rabbit that saved its owner from a diabetic coma) up to “International Celebrity” (like Mkombozi, a dog that rescued a baby abandoned near Nairobi). One of the book’s strengths is the way events are evaluated in comparison to typical behavior or within the context of the emerging field of the study of animal minds. Overflowing with information, fascinating tales and thought-provoking information; give it to animal-loving middle graders on up. (sources, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)

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REDEEMED

Cast, P.C.; Cast, Kristin St. Martin’s Griffin (320 pp.) $18.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-312-59444-2 978-1-4668-5849-7 e-book Series: House of Night, 12 In the 12th and final installment of the House of Night series, Zoey Redbird and her band of fledgling vampyres prepare for one final battle, to restore the balance of Light and Darkness before Neferet, the self-proclaimed Goddess of Darkness, destroys everything they know and love. More powerful than ever, Neferet and her “threads of Darkness” are determined to unleash a bloody reign of terror on Tulsa, until every soul left living bows down to her in a “Dark Otherworld come to earth.” As with the other House of Night novels, the momentum of the story often falters from extended lapses in action as time is devoted to the individual storylines of a large and unwieldy cast of characters. Though Zoey’s sidekicks are entertaining enough, the novel would have benefited |

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“Waging peace through...science!” from pirate, viking & scientist

from greater focus to keep tensions high and to explore the intriguing suggestion that Zoey and Neferet might have more in common than either of them cares to think. It’s a shame that this plot point is given short shrift. The novel is at its best when Zoey must tap into her innate powers, born of the spirit of the Goddess and her ancient Cherokee ancestors. Zoey’s strength comes from her difference—a theme that has been consistent throughout the series and should resonate with fans one last time in the finale. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

PIRATE, VIKING & SCIENTIST

Chapman, Jared Illus. by Chapman, Jared Little, Brown (40 pp.) $17.00 | Nov. 11, 2014 978-0-316-25389-5

In a clear triumph for the scientific method, a young researcher systematically discovers how to keep his two close friends from punching each other out every time they meet. Appropriately if stereotypically clad in a white lab coat, Scientist enjoys playing separately with his much bigger, likewise conventionally costumed buddies Viking and Pirate—but when the two come face to face at his birthday party, disaster is plainly in the offing. Time for “scientific instinct” to kick in. Hypothesis: Will cake bring the combatants together? Yes, but not in a good way. Will party games improve the outcome? Uh, no. Time for a new approach. Chapman’s narrative has an adult ring (“Viking was seething. Pirate was fuming”), but younger audiences will be hooked by the generous measures of exaggerated cartoon-style brawling. They should also come away with a greater appreciation for Scientist’s logical, nonviolent method of problem-solving. Scowls turn to smiles after a round of leading questions— “What’s your favorite way to spend Saturday mornings?” // “PILLAGING AND PLUNDERING!”—sparks a new amity founded on common interests. Waging peace through...science! That this debut is as funny as it is sneakily informative is icing on the cake. (glossary) (Picture book. 5- 7) (This review was first published in the Fall Preview 2014 issue.)

KOREAN FOLK SONGS Stars in the Sky and Dreams in Our Hearts

Choi, Robert Sang-Ung Illus. by Back, SamEe Tuttle (32 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-8048-4468-0

This book-and-CD combination showcases 14 traditional Korean folk songs that are “engraved in the hearts and minds of all Koreans.” 90

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With cultural notes that illustrate the significance of each song, the selections provide readers with details of Korean history, culture and language. The songs chosen represent a wide array of styles and audiences from “Clap, Clap, Clap!” (in effect, a Korean “Pat-a-Cake”) to “Arirang” (roughly equivalent to “Home on the Range”). Some songs are appropriate for infants, others for schoolage children. The content of the songs that became popular during the occupation of Korea takes on special significance, as sad tunes were prohibited, resulting in up-tempo children’s songs yearning for missing brothers or freedom from oppression. Were they a Korean form of the blues? Each song is captured in a double-page spread, providing a musical score with the language translation repeated three times: first in Hangul script, then in Romanized, phonetic Korean, and finally in English. The audio CD contains a double recording of all the songs, allowing listeners to sing along with the Korean singer or alone, karaoke style. The watercolor illustrations vary in mood but tend toward the mournful. A good book for a diverse world, especially for KoreanAmericans who want to learn about their heritage or English speakers hoping to learn basic Korean language skills. (CD track listings) (Bilingual folk songs. 2 & up)

SEQUOYAH AND HIS TALKING LEAVES A Play about the Cherokee Syllabary

Coleman, Wim; Perrin, Pat Illus. by Feeney, Siri Weber Red Chair Press (40 pp.) $8.95 paper | $20.95 PLB | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-939656-35-3 978-1-93965-636-0 PLB

Sequoyah’s invention of a written Cherokee language is retold as a short stage play. Prolific nonfiction writers and husband-and-wife team Coleman and Perrin re-create the story of Native American metalsmith Sequoyah, who, fascinated by the white man’s “talking leaves,” fashions a syllabary (not an alphabet) despite the misgivings of some of his people. One of a series of plays based on historical events, biographies and folklore, Sequoyah’s story is narrated by a Greek chorus of two historians who point out what is fact and what is supposition. Twelve other characters, including members of Sequoyah’s family and Cherokee conjurors, talk out the tale through 10 scenes and an epilogue with minimal stage direction. The retelling respects all of its characters and never descends into didacticism. The script should be easy to stage; however, Feeney’s attractive pastel illustrations complement the dialogue nicely, creating a hybrid picture book/ script. An introduction and dramatis personae, glossary and further reading with websites extend the book’s usefulness. Follow the Drinking Gourd, from the same authorial team and illustrated by Courtney A. Martin, publishes simultaneously. Apt for newly independent readers or as a classroom read-aloud or even a school play. (Drama. 9-12) (Follow the Drinking Gourd: 978-1-93965-611-7) kirkus.com

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ATLANTIA

passengers to the experience should note that there is no discussion of what a child should expect in the airport. A nice choice for those who love planes or who are about to fly for the first time. (Picture book. 2-5)

Condie, Ally Dutton (320 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-525-42644-8 The author of the Matched Trilogy dives deep for her next story. Rio and her twin sister, Bay, live in the undersea city of Atlantia. They’ve never been anywhere else. Long ago, the gods decreed a Divide between the Above and the newly engineered Below: A fraction of people stayed on the polluted land Above to labor throughout their short and painful lives, enabling the majority to move underwater and live well. Now, generations later, 15-year-old Rio longs to go Above— teens are given the opportunity to make that sacrifice, but they must remain Above forever—but she’s promised Bay they’ll stay Below together. When Bay unfathomably departs for Above herself, Rio’s stunned. Condie’s premise is terrific, and the pacing glides along smoothly as Rio schemes to sneak Above, hides her secret identity as a siren, worries about her mother’s suspicious death and ponders her role in her society. However, the text barely explains Atlantia’s structure of enclosed-bubble neighborhoods connected by dry concrete canals; sources of power, material resources and the city’s mechanics are even vaguer. Weak worldbuilding seriously dilutes the story, as do narratively convenient character motivations and a reliance on line breaks to push intensity and depth. As cool as a submerged city and teen siren are, too many physical details are missing and too many emotional details forced. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

HELLO, AIRPLANE!

Cotter, Bill Illus. by Cotter, Bill Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4926-0353-5

ANIMALS THAT MAKE ME SAY WOW!

Cusick, Dawn Imagine Publishing (80 pp.) $14.95 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-62354-041-8

Cusick explores how gravity-defying flight, coiled and tubelike tongues, biteproof armor and other surprising adaptations in animal bodies and behavior provide a competitive edge. This presentation of amazing animal facts is loosely organized into three sections: defense, foraging and anatomy. There’s a short introduction for each section followed by a series of boxed explanations interspersed among a gallery of close-up photographs, mostly from the National Wildlife Federation archives. Some images are quite wonderful: a family of cygnets riding a swan’s back, a porcupine chewing on a branch, an unidentified moth with a coiled tongue. Others are really too small to see details well. Some images are clearly labeled with the creature’s name; others can be guessed from the nearby text, but some will be mysteries (perhaps better than the “great egret” caption for the snowy egret picture). Readers are asked some thought-provoking questions as well as offered cool facts. Scavenger-hunt challenges in the concluding section call for both inside and outside research. A companion volume, Animals That Make Me Say OUCH!, follows the same format, but its third section deals with adaptations for hostile environments. Both titles feature lively, colorful design. Best for browsers who like their facts fast. (read more, glossary, acknowledgements, index) (Nonfiction. 7-12) (Animals That Make Me Say OUCH! 978-1-62354-042-5)

SEB AND HAMISH

Daly, Jude Illus. by Daly, Niki Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-412-9

It’s time to fly! Lyrical, accessible text (“The airplane says good-bye to the ground. / The airplane says hello to the sky”) and pleasant, focused illustrations from various perspectives introduce the very young to the world of flight in this descriptive selection reminiscent of the work of Byron Barton and Donald Crews. From takeoff to landing, this brief tale offers a straightforward, accurate and child-friendly account of some of the aspects of an aircraft journey (who is in the plane, where it flies, who and what it passes over and through, when it flies, etc.) as well as what the pilot might see from the cockpit—a particularly arresting image. While there is nothing startlingly new here, and a boardbook format might be preferable given the intended audience, toddlers and young listeners will still enjoy the various images of the plane and its surroundings as the aircraft makes its way to a satisfying destination. Adults hoping to introduce first-time |

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When Seb and his mother visit their new neighbor in this British import, he isn’t sure he wants to get to know her boisterous dog, Hamish. Mrs Kenny greets her visitors with decorated cookies, but even these don’t assuage Seb’s fear of the barking, exuberant dachshund, Hamish. Mrs Kenny assures him that the dog is simply excited, but she kindly shuts Hamish away to make Seb comfortable. She and Seb’s mother visit while Seb entertains himself with a toy train. When he stops for a bite of cookie, a piece falls and rolls under the door to the waiting Hamish. Seb hears the dog sniffing for more and bravely peeks under the crack at the |

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bottom of the door. This leads the toddler to open it just a bit to get a fuller look at Hamish, who calmly waits on his side without pushing door or boy. Seb is emboldened to the point where he goes into the room with Hamish, and soon, Mama and Mrs Kenny discover the two curled up for a nap. While the resolution seems a bit unlikely and quick (why is Hamish suddenly so gentle and calm?), the story addresses a fear that other books neglect in their reiteration of the assumption that all children love animals. The illustrations slyly point up Mrs Kenny’s affection for dogs with dachshund-themed decor and affectionately depict the story’s events. A fresh take on dog books. (Picture book. 2-5)

A DAY I REMEMBER An Indian Wedding Das, Prodeepta Photos by Das, Prodeepta Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-446-4

Resplendent in his turban and embroidered coat, Swayam, a young Indian boy, acts as the markundi (special attendant) for his uncle’s wedding. This book documents a real Hindu wedding that took place in eastern India. A short note explains that the traditional customs are blended with Bollywood style, as manifested in the different types of music played. Swayam describes Mangan, the day before the nuptials, when women have red dye (alata) painted on their feet, and girls have henna designs inked on their hands. Then he recounts the rest of the wedding activities in the villages of the groom and bride. Most of the color photos, some staged and some unposed, are attractive, but a few are dark. They are laid out on intensely colored orange and yellow glossy paper, with a wine-colored border containing gold designs, echoing the colors of the bride’s sari and Swayam’s coat. There is no glossary, but Hindi words are defined within the text, although there are no pronunciation guides. As this photo essay has no reference to ordinary daily living, this could be used to supplement a unit about India, complement a multicultural unit about weddings and other traditional customs, or serve as an introduction for children about to attend a Hindu wedding. Let the festivities begin! (Informational picture book. 5-9)

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SNOW JOKE

Degen, Bruce Illus. by Degen, Bruce Holiday House (24 pp.) $14.95 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-0-8234-3065-9 Series: I Like to Read Anti-social high jinks deliver a lesson in kindness and in learning to read. Bunny wants to play in the snow, but her fun is undermined when Red plays jokes on her that are only funny to him. He hits her with a snowball, steals her hat, makes her snow angel into a snow devil and pushes her off a sled. Other friends come to her defense at the last offense, but Red is unmoved. He then pushes her and two others while skating, but he ends up falling, too. Schadenfreude is apparent as Red cries on the ground while the others laugh and Bunny declares, “That’s a good joke!” This sentiment soon slips away, however, when Red sits sulking on the porch while Bunny and her friends enjoy hot cocoa indoors. Not wanting to be a bully herself, Bunny brings Red a mug and they make amends. A quick (perhaps too quick?) resolution follows with Red telling a good joke to everyone, which they all like. Readers can find that joke on the rear endpapers and will recognize part of its punch line in the title itself. Degen’s cartoonish illustrations center on expressive, endearing, anthropomorphic animal characters. Pleasing, painterly backgrounds avoid cluttering the pages to allow easy decoding of the controlled text. A snow book that deserves a warm reception from new readers. (Early reader. 5- 7)

BLEED LIKE ME

Desir, C. Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (288 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4424-9890-7 978-1-4424-9894-5 e-book Manipulative boy meets self-destructive girl in a love story gone wrong. Amelia Gannon, better known as “just Gannon,” meets Brooks, a bluehaired foster kid, outside a skate park. She’s smoking a menthol cigarette, and he’s huffing a spray can. Gannon has felt invisible ever since her parents adopted three young Guatemalan street kids, who trash the house regularly and torture animals for fun (it would be easy to get the impression here that adopted children are destined to lead troubled lives). After one of her parents’ many fights, Gannon cuts herself in a sudden but evocatively described scene. Unsettlingly, Brooks sees her too—he’s snuck in through her window. Gannon is understandably skeptical of the boy who disappears for days, then shows up in her room, at her workplace or anywhere else he thinks she might be. At the same time, her desire for attention and the connection the two eventually share are believable. The destructive path Gannon and Brooks take kirkus.com

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“Jaxter’s first-person voice is steady and funny; even when the constant twists of plot and loyalty cause real danger, the vibe is more adventurous than scary.” from the grimjinx rebellion

involves more cutting, drug use, drug dealing, stints at juvenile hall and a rehab facility, and ultimately an escape to a grim new life. The resolution is disturbing (and a bit abrupt), but readers are left with some hope. Harrowing, if sometimes over-the-top. (Fiction. 14-18)

air balloon basket, suspended over the sea. Cleverly, the scenes also echo left to right. As Hank describes flying far away and out past the trees, he re-creates the scene for his friend, using a rope swing to swing out over a hill and past the trees on it; in his balloon, he’s holding the basket’s rope in his paws. The artwork is what makes Hank’s story shine. Made from paper, fabric, stone and other objects, the dioramas are meticulously crafted, posed and photographed, creating scenes that are full of texture and feature both in-focus and soft-focus layers. Choose this book for the art, as the dream Hank recounts doesn’t make for much of a plot. (Picture book. 3- 7)

EXTRAORDINARY WARREN SAVES THE DAY

Dillard, Sarah Illus. by Dillard, Sarah Aladdin (64 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-4814-0352-8

THE GRIMJINX REBELLION

Any philosophical questions readers ever had about chickens are addressed in this graphic novel. The loveliest moment in this book is hidden on the copyright page: Warren the chicken and his friend Egg watch a star shoot across the sky. But almost every page has a small, lovely moment if readers look for it: a rodent wearing a derby or a goofy song or a chicken doing gymnastics upside down (even his speech bubble is upside down). It’s important to note that, at one point, a chicken crosses the road. For fans of bad chicken jokes, this book collects nearly all of them (“Your little egg could be in hot water”), and somehow even those moments are endearing. Dillard is so focused on the small details that she lets the story ramble in all directions. But the basic plot can be summed up in two sentences: (1) Warren loses his friend and finds him again. (2) A chicken learns to fly. It goes without saying that the plot is less of a draw than the loopy dialogue, which starts to sound almost like philosophy. Egg asks, “Will you fly to the moon?” and Warren says, “Why not?” The jokes and the line drawings of chickens are all charming, but even more important: We finally have an answer to “Why did the chicken cross the road?” (Graphic novel. 6-9)

HANK HAS A DREAM

Dudley, Rebecca Illus. by Dudley, Rebecca Peter Pauper Press (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-4413-1572-4

Farrey, Brian Illus. by Helquist, Brett Harper/HarperCollins (432 pp.) $16.99 | $8.99 e-book | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-06-204934-6 978-0-06-204936-0 e-book Series: Vengekeep Prophecies, 3 Whether stealing back a government from mages who stole it first or defeating a marauding horde of monsters, the Grimjinx family remains as delightfully sneaky as ever. Two months back, in The Shadowhand Covenant (2013), young Jaxter Grimjinx was left with mysteries on his hands. An old mentor told him to mind the words Volo ser voli—“yesterday is today”— but what could that mean? The past’s Great Uprisings might be relevant to current political unrest, but information about them is outlawed. Luckily, trickery and thieving (including theft of information) are Grimjinx specialties, and Jaxter has help from friends and family. From stealing his little sister back from government kidnappers through rousing a political rebellion to shifting that rebellion into monster-wrangling instead, the action is rollicking and fast-paced. Jaxter’s first-person voice is steady and funny; even when the constant twists of plot and loyalty cause real danger, the vibe is more adventurous than scary. As the Grimjinxes fool various characters, other characters fool them too. The narration doesn’t reveal details of Grimjinx plans before they’re in motion, so the action is fresh to readers as it unfolds. Favorite swear “zoc” and favorite cheer “bangers” flavor the humorous prose. Full of twists, monsters, cool magic and cooler antimagic, with underlying family warmth and a creative crescendo. Start at the series’ beginning. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Little bear Hank dreams away, watched over by his hummingbird friend. This setup is on the title page. When he awakes, the tiny bear excitedly tells his friend, “Last night I dreamed I flew!” The double-page spreads then show Hank telling his friend of his adventures on the left-hand pages, while the right-hand illustrations, vignettes inside ovals of dark, starry sky, show Hank’s dream. In a nice touch of design consistency, his postures echo across the gutter. On the left, he’s seated on a plank bridge across a gorge; the right shows him seated on the side of his hot |

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“Every character, every place comes alive with crisp, precise detail….” from the carnival at bray

THE CARNIVAL AT BRAY

Foley, Jessie Ann Elephant Rock Books (240 pp.) $12.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2014 978-0-9895155-9-7 In 1993, 16 year-old Maggie and her family move from Chicago to small-town Ireland with the latest of her mother’s romantic partners. Moving to Bray, Maggie leaves behind warm, practical Nanny Ei and beloved Uncle Kevin, a 26-year-old who plays in a band, sneaks her into grunge rock concerts and makes himself responsible for Maggie’s musical education. Arriving in Ireland, Maggie finds that she’s no better at fitting in with the girls of St. Brigid’s than she had been at her old school. Instead, she forms a loose web of connections with local figures: Dan Sean, a Bray legend at 99, whose home becomes a refuge for Maggie in times of family conflict; Aine, the bookish classmate with whom Maggie reluctantly goes on double dates; and Eoin, the gentle boy with whom Maggie falls in love. The narrative subtly and carefully interweaves peer and family drama—much of it involving troubled Uncle Kevin—with the highs and lows of the grunge music scene, from the transformative glory of a Nirvana concert to the outpouring of grief around the death of Kurt Cobain. Every character, every place comes alive with crisp, precise detail: Maggie’s heartbroken mother “howling along in an offkey soprano” to Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Dan Sean welcoming Maggie with a Cossack’s hat and a hefty glass of port. Powerfully evocative. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN

Frazee, Marla Illus. by Frazee, Marla Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Sep. 23, 2014 978-1-4424-9744-3 978-1-4424-9745-0 e-book A solitary farmer on an empty plain receives the most unlikely visitor. A tall, scowling farmer labors with a pitchfork on an endless brown field. In the distance, surprisingly, a steam train crosses the horizon. As the train chugs off the edge of the spread, a jolt propels something off the caboose. The startled farmer sets out in that direction. He finds a small clown, wearing white makeup, a red-and-yellow costume and a broad smile. The clown deftly pantomimes having fallen off the train—action and emotion shine wordlessly—and the farmer takes him home. Silently they stare at each other, eat and wash their faces. Without makeup, the child-clown’s smile disappears; is he sad to lose that connection to his home-train, or had the smile been made of makeup all along? With growing tenderness, the farmer watches over his 94

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sleeping guest and, come morning, hops and dances to cheer him up. They juggle eggs and share real farmwork until the circus train returns along the distant tracks. Its shape and primary colors make it look like a toy, especially against the soft, textured grays and browns of the farm, skies and earth. Using gouache and black pencil, Frazee—a virtuoso of mood and line—takes the surly farmer through bafflement, contemplativeness and true affection. The beauty of an unexpected visit, done beautifully. (Picture book. 3- 6)

ABSOLUTELY TRULY

Frederick, Heather Vogel Simon & Schuster (368 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | Nov. 4, 2014 978-1-4424-2972-7 978-1-4424-2974-1 e-book Series: Pumpkin Falls Mystery Moving from Texas to New Hampshire, displaced 12-year-old Truly Lovejoy finds herself solving two local mysteries while adjusting to small-town life. Everything changes when Truly’s Army pilot father loses an arm in Afghanistan and returns home depressed, causing her parents to unexpectedly relocate to rural Pumpkin Falls to manage her grandparents’ failing bookshop. Just under 6 feet tall and worried she won’t fit in, Truly’s surprised how quickly she feels part of both school and community as she helps in the bookshop, tries out for the swim team and practices ballroom dancing for Cotillion at the Winter Festival. Convinced a signed, first edition of Charlotte’s Web she’s discovered will alleviate the bookshop’s financial woes, Truly’s determined to catch the thief when the volume vanishes. Meanwhile, a cryptic message she finds inside the book triggers an elaborate treasure hunt as Truly and her new friends decipher clues leading them to hair-raising escapades in the library, church bell tower and covered bridge. Truly tells her story in a relaxed voice, allowing readers to warm to her genuine, self-effacing, humorous, foot-in-her-mouth persona along with her realistically portrayed, fun-loving family and a bevy of eccentric Pumpkin Falls locals. There’s never a dull moment in Pumpkin Falls with Truly Lovejoy on the case in this contemporary, feel-good series opener. (pumpkin whoopie pie recipe) (Mystery. 8-12)

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CURSE OF THE IRIS

killing the tree, the inside of a baobab can be hollowed out and the bark of the cork oak harvested. Pau brasil wood makes a red dye; kapok, from silk cotton pods, fills life preservers; camphor laurel leaves release a menthol scent used to treat chest colds. The author provides no sources for her wideranging and fascinating information but does thank a subject expert. In conclusion, she encourages readers to go plant some trees themselves. An informative introduction for middle-grade readers, especially useful in schools. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction.8-12)

Fry, Jason Harper/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Dec. 16, 2014 978-0-06-223023-2 978-0-06-223025-6 e-book Series: Jupiter Pirates, 2 In this episode, teenage hotshot Tycho Hashoone and his privateering clan are swept up in both interplanetary politics and a scramble for hidden treasure. In pursuing clues leading to possibly cursed riches carried by the long-lost Iris, Tycho uncovers disturbing hints of evil deeds committed by his piratical ancestors. Meanwhile, he continues to compete with his hotheaded twin sister, Yana, and stodgy but brilliant older brother, Carlo, to succeed their mother as captain of the Hashoone family ship. Opportunities for derring-do arise when the Shadow Comet is ordered to join a poorly led Jovian Union fleet setting out to quash a rebellion around Saturn. Mixing futuristic elements like cyborgs and artificial intelligence with grog, bilge, and a cast of “vaguely reformed pirates” armed with blaster cannon and chrome musketoons, Fry concocts a whirl of space battles, sleuthing, spycraft, domestic spats, and ventures into dangerous locales from seedy Port Town slums to Callisto’s deep, unexplored oceans. Fans of series opener Hunt for the Hydra (2013) will rejoice at the return (and thorough comeuppance) of blustering, wonderfully named archnemesis pirate Thoadbone Mox. Good, old-fashioned, outer-space pirate fun. (charts, ship plans, nautical glossary) (Science fiction. 10-12)

BRANCHING OUT How Trees Are Part of Our World

Galat, Joan Marie Illus. by Ding, Wendy Owlkids Books (64 pp.) $13.95 | $13.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-77147-049-0 978-1-77147-082-7 paper Trees matter in our world. From the red maples of North America to the storied cedar of Lebanon, Galat has chosen 11 species from around the world to illustrate the place of trees in human and animal lives. In four opening chapters, the author explains why the world needs trees in general and especially in a time of global warming, defines tree parts, and explains the organization and useful features of each four-page section that follows. Photographs of trees, tree parts and animals, as well as maps and drawings, help readers picture each species. Examples include deciduous trees like the hardy downy birch and coniferous trees such as Scotch pines, familiar as Christmas trees. Epiphytic banyan seedlings send roots from the air to the ground; the roots of tall stilted mangroves shield shorelines. Without |

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LETTERS FROM HEAVEN / CARTAS DEL CIELO

Gil, Lydia Illus. by Amora, Leonardo Piñata Books/Arté Público (128 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 31, 2014 978-1-55885-798-8 Celeste struggles to process her feelings of sadness following her grandmother’s death. A week after her grandmother’s death, Celeste receives a package with a letter and a recipe for her special cangrejitos, a type of Cuban croissant. Making them helps her to feel less sad, but how can she explain that she received this package from beyond the grave? Over the days and weeks, the letters keep arriving, each with its own recipe for a traditional Cuban dish, eventually making a complete meal from appetizer to dessert. At the end of each letter, Grandma Rosa asks Celeste to remember her “with love...and flavor!” The letters help Celeste to process her feelings about the loss and to learn to ask for support from her friends and the adults in her life. Eventually, the enigma of the letters is revealed in a way that brings Celeste together with her family and friends in remembrance of her grandmother. This bilingual book presents the entire English narrative first, followed by the Spanish. It is a quick read that balances the pain of loss with mystery and humor. Each recipe that is mentioned in the book is included at the end of the chapter. A tender depiction of a child’s acceptance of the death of a beloved grandmother and the cultural importance of traditional foods. (Fiction. 8-12)

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THE COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND TELLS A TALE OF CENSORSHIP The threats to free expression in comics and graphic novels didn’t fade with the 1950s By Nick A. Zaino III The book doesn’t seem a likely target for censorship. The three characters at the center of the story, Fone, Phoney and Smiley Bone, are cousins in an epic adventure, far from their home of Boneville. They are innocuous-looking creatures, white and round, heavily influenced in design by Walt Kelly’s Pogo series. Their world is filled with inventive characters, beautiful and strange, and the cousins have to work together to make their way through it. The Bone series is published by Scholastic, which will release Bone #1: Out from Boneville, The Tribute Edition next February to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Scholastic Graphix imprint. Brownstein calls the book “internationally beloved.” It was No. 10 on the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom’s 10 most challenged books in 2013; Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series and E.L. James’ erotic Fifty Shades of Grey have also made the list. Bone has been challenged in schools from Texas to Minnesota, in part because characters are sometimes seen drinking or smoking. “The first [challenge] came about, that I was aware of, back in 2010,” says Brownstein, citing a case in which the CBLDF stepped in. “A Minnesota parent petitioned to remove the series from her son’s school library because she believed that the book promoted an image of drinking and smoking and undesirable lifestyles. Since then, it’s popped up on the most frequently banned book list in Texas, it’s popped up this year on the national list. It’s really something that has happened dozens of times at this point.” “I don’t know why Bone is challenged as much as it is,” says Smith, who recently joined the CBLDF’s board of directors. “It’s a pretty traditional American all-ages comic.” He’s amused by some of the challenges, including one that took issue with violent content. “The Bones, if you’ve actually read the book,” he says,

Photo courtesy Kendall Whitehouse

Charles Brownstein gives the same gift whenever a friend or family member’s child turns 10—a volume of Jeff Smith’s graphic novel Bone. It’s not a careless, one-size-fits-all kind of gift. Quite the opposite. As executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and a member of the steering committee for the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week (Sept. 21-27), Brownstein is an expert in his field and a big fan of the book. He has also seen Bone removed from schools and libraries, something he can’t quite understand. “Bone is a great story,” he says. “It just has a lot of really great things to say about coming-of-age, and it’s appalling that there are people that want to take away the opportunity for families to have those conversations about the material in that book.” 96

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laughing, “their reaction to any kind of danger is just to run away.” Pop culture has undergone a number of sea changes since 1954, when a consortium of publishers formed the Comics Magazine Association of America and started developing the regulations of the Comics Code Authority. In a time when The Walking Dead book has inspired the hit series on AMC and an empire of merchandise, it’s hard to imagine there was a time when publishers voluntarily banned the words “horror” and “terror” from book covers. Under the Comics Code, books had to print a seal of approval on the cover. The seal was a symbol of self-censorship and protection—displaying it indicated the content had already been screened by the CMAA and contained no objectionable material. “Publishers felt backed into a corner where they had to self-regulate or face government regulation. And so it was this business self-preservation tool that developed and that had an immediate, crippling effect on a broad variety of content,” Brownstein says. “I think it took a good 50 years to overcome the basic stigmas that the code imposed, that comics are a disreputable medium that is either suitable to the youngest or dimmest of audiences or to real malcontents or delinquents.” The code became decreasingly relevant through the decades as comics and graphic novels moved from newsstands to dedicated comics shops. But it wasn’t officially rescinded until 2011, when only Archie Comics and D.C. were still on board. The seal wound up becoming the intellectual property of the CBLDF, and they now use it in promotional and fundraising efforts. Brownstein considers the history of the seal a “teachable moment,” applicable beyond the purview of comics and graphic novels to media such as music and video games. “That story is still very much active, and we’re still in great danger of harming creative expression in other media,” he says. “And looking at the increases in challenges to comics and graphic novels, we’re not quite out of the woods in terms of being concerned about moral panic affecting our content even today.” |

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The CBLDF works on two separate fronts, helping to promote free access to books like Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel in schools and libraries and fighting for the First Amendment rights of comics and graphic novels in court. Legal cases often end up centered around sexually explicit materials, often in the manga genre. Brownstein says the CBLDF has been dealing with “a freakishly large outbreak of attacks on summer reading” this year on the schools and libraries front, and on the legal front, “we’ve had about a half dozen so far this year of brush fires where individuals are facing investigation by authorities for the content of the materials that they’re browsing.” He reports the CBLDF has been able to keep all of the legal cases from going to court. Part of the problem has been the perception that comics and graphic novels are just for younger audiences and thus not serious art. That attitude has changed, but there is still work to be done. “We need to treat comics as literature,” says Smith, “and they deserve the same First Amendment protection as any book.” The CBLDF is also a sponsoring organization for Banned Books Week, which is spotlighting graphic novels in its 2014 campaign. They create materials for schools and libraries to educate people about censorship and comics. “We published a 16-page Banned Book Weeks handbook that has already exceeded 20,000 pieces in circulation,” says Brownstein. “And this outlines what the issues are behind Banned Books Week; it outlines some of the more frequently banned and challenged comics and discusses the case studies.” The censorship discussion may have changed, but it is ongoing, and if there is one thing Brownstein would like the public at large to learn from Banned Books Week, it’s this: “That the freedom to read is an essential American right, and it’s one that should not be taken for granted,” he says. “Banned Books Week is an opportunity to increase our dialogue about freedom of speech and why it continues to matter to us in the modern era.” Nick A. Zaino III is a freelance writer based in Boston covering the arts for Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, BDCWire.com, TheSpitTake.com and other publications.

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THE SPIRITGLASS CHARADE

Gleason, Colleen Chronicle (360 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4521-10714 Series: Stoker & Holmes, 2

A second steampunk adventure of the great detective and the vampire slayer, proper young ladies (The Clockwork Scarab, 2013). Evaline Stoker (sister of Bram) and Mina Holmes (niece of Sherlock) are a crabby crime-solving duo in an 1889 London where electricity is illegal and steampowered technology is the order of the day. The great Irene Adler has another royal commission for them: to assist Miss Willa Ashton, who is being taking advantage of by spiritualists. Mina applies her powers of observation to the task, while Evaline, who wants nothing more than an enemy she can punch, is relieved to find vampires are involved. The girls must solve the mystery with only the oddest clues—“Crickets. Pickpockets. UnDead”—while preserving Miss Ashton’s life and sanity. Both girls have romances that seem to prioritize schoolyard sniping over affection. Mina primarily has feelings for clever Inspector Grayling, while Evaline flirts with Pix, an underworld figure whose cockney thieves’ cant, like that of all the lower classes here, is inaccurate, distracting and unpronounceable. An oversupply of characters leaves some so underused as to be clutter. Dylan the time traveler, for example, seems to exist only to provide a third point in Mina’s love triangle while uttering 21stcentury pop-culture references. The girls’ mismatched partnership could be a pleasure, if only Evaline could stake the excruciating dialect as easily as she skewers vampires. (Steampunk/mystery. 12-14)

FLOATER

Goldsberry, Rick Illus. by Goldsberry, Ryan Future House Publishing (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-0-9891253-2-1 Morphing into a floater should be a good thing. A boy with googly eyes and a mop of brown hair awakens one morning to discover that he can float. Nonetheless, he must go to school, says his mother. A friend on a bike lends a helping rope. It’s a field-trip day—off to the zoo— and the buoyant narrator is able to get a new perspective on giraffes, elephants and crocodiles. Unfortunately, a monkey in search of peanuts messes up the works, and the soaring boy is soon as high as an airplane. An epiphany strikes, and he floats along greatly relaxed, meeting many others with the same ability. When he returns home, his mother happily hugs him, and the boy reflects on how his newfound talent will provide many 98

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happy hours of fun playing basketball, hovering overhead as a Halloween ghost and flying with kites. There is no explanation for either the abrupt change in physicality or the boy’s easy acceptance of such. The first-person narrative of an adventure and return to mother will sound familiar to readers, but it falls flat, lacking any poetic resonance. The illustrations are digitally rendered, cartoon-style art featuring large-headed characters with matching eyes and bright pink cheeks. A failed fantasy. (Picture book. 4- 7)

BZRK APOCALYPSE

Grant, Michael Egmont USA (400 pp.) $18.99 | $18.99 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-60684-408-3 978-1-60684-409-0 e-book Series: BZRK, 3 In this trilogy finale, the BZRK “death or madness” catchphrase has never been more applicable. Sadie (code name Plath) and Noah (code name Keats) are recovering from BZRK Reloaded (2013) on an island when an attack drags them back from heady sex into the secret war over humanity’s fate. Putting aside her previous suspicions and reservations about BZRK’s shadowy leader, Lear, Plath resumes leadership of the New York cell and considers drastically violent means to stop the Armstrong Twins for good. This uncharacteristic line of thought has her wondering if war’s changed her—or if she’s been tampered with. Meanwhile, the Armstrong Twins are desperate after their extreme losses, both in battle and in their best twitchers, deserter Bug Man and Burnofsky, who’s been captured and had his brain rewired by BZRK. The devastatingly cruel wire job on Burnofsky threatens to teach the same lesson that sent Bug Man running—wiring has unintended consequences. Meanwhile, outbreaks of madness striking important, high-profile people are connected to mysterious, wealthy Lystra. The third-person omniscient narration here is essential to keep the many plotlines straight. Sexual content and gruesome violence will help readers not emotionally ready for the far-more-disturbing philosophical and moral questions to self-censor. By the end, the heroes stand between two forces—one side wanting to bring humanity’s death, the other madness—and there’s no such thing as a completely happy ending. Like reading an action movie. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

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“Griffin creates a thick, murky atmosphere within the walls of the House of Usher from the start, layering in chilling details as Madeline’s situation becomes ever more dire.” froms the fall

THE FALL

Griffin, Bethany Greenwillow/HarperCollins (432 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-06-210785-5 978-0-06-210787-9 e-book A girl struggles to fight the haunted family house that binds her to it in this reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Madeline and her brother, Roderick, come from a long line of Ushers cursed to live and die within the haunted walls of the House of Usher. Beloved by the house itself, Madeline can sense its feelings and for a long while trusts it to protect her. However, just like her mother before her, Madeline begins suffering fits. The house will do anything to keep her from leaving. And with her brother away at school and only sinister doctors remaining for company, Madeline must plot to escape before the house has its way with her, keeping her trapped forever. Griffin creates a thick, murky atmosphere within the walls of the House of Usher from the start, layering in chilling details as Madeline’s situation becomes ever more dire. Though only appearing intermittently, Roderick and her parents all cast long shadows, and the house is populated with compelling characters among the ghosts of Ushers past. Readers will be swept away immediately by the eerie setting, but it’s Madeline’s fighting will to survive that will keep them turning pages late into the night. A standout take on the classic haunted-house tale replete with surprises around every shadowy corner. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Young nature lovers and hikers will celebrate Rhoda’s creative solution. Droll, green-toned illustrations highlight Rhoda’s every emotion. She’s about 8, and readers see her body droop, eyebrows rise in frustration and even her socks fall, while her hair flies all over the place. Repetition and careful word choice (easy to decode and familiar) make this a picture book to share or read independently. Rock collectors will smile at her cairns and will be better able to leave behind beloved rocks. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE HUG

Grossman, David Illus. by Rovner, Michal Overlook (32 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 3, 2014 978-1-4683-0273-8 In this gentle Israeli import, a little boy worries that because there is no one else exactly like him, he will be lonely. A mother tenderly tells her child: “You are so sweet, there’s nobody else like you in the whole wide world!” But these loving words are not as reassuring as she intends. In fact, they are worrisome to tiny Ben. “But then I’m all alone!” he exclaims. With quintessential child logic, Ben believes if he is unique and there is no one else who matches him, then he will be lonely, even with his mother right by his side. “Everyone is a little alone, but also together,” she explains. That doesn’t help to clarify anything to Ben. Luckily, the power of a hug is all he needs to know. Vast white space surrounds Rovner’s fuzzy, pencil drawings. Mother and child are often at the center, with few details around them. The contemplative and repetitive nature of Ben’s questioning echoes in the simple lines. Small hints of color suggest sprouts of understanding. A valuable reminder that individuality, while often celebrated, can be confusing to comprehend and even scarier to preserve—for all ages. (Picture book. 4-8)

RHODA’S ROCK HUNT

Griffin, Molly Beth Illus. by Bell, Jennifer A. Minnesota Historical Society (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-0-87351-950-2

THE EPIC OF CLAIR

Hansen, E.C. Ilium Press (202 pp.) $9.99 paper | $7.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-9833002-6-7 978-0-9833002-7-4 e-book

When Rhoda goes hiking with Auntie June and Uncle Jonah, it’s not a little day hike. It’s a haul-your-own-stuff and pitch-a-tent-in-a-new-placeeach-night excursion, calling on Rhoda to reach deep into her reserve of gumption. Luckily, she really loves looking for rocks along the way. Her aunt smiles at the rock collecting, as long as Rhoda carries them in her own backpack. Rhoda likes the bucket shower in the cold lake, the salami sandwiches and old ratty sleeping bag, but as the hike continues—and her bag gets heavier with all those special rocks—Rhoda’s laugh disappears, and a decidedly grumpy girl emerges. But when she finally reaches her beach destination, Rhoda’s energy and enthusiasm return, especially when she thinks about the comforts of a cabin and the gorgeous beach rocks. But after some serious beachcombing, Rhoda cannot begin to move the heavy load of rocks. |

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Hansen chooses the ancient epic form and more or less blank verse to tell this postmodern tale of social upheaval in 21st-century Minneapolis-St. Paul. This post-2008 world is reeling from the drying up of Earth’s oil reserves. In the face of skyrocketing gas prices, 15-year-old Clair’s father, an English teacher at her respected private school, can no longer afford their commute, forcing him to lose his job and Clair, an accomplished young writer and gifted runner, to drop out of school. With her days |

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“This solid adaptation is half the length of the original, more visual (with more, and sometimes larger, photographs), less descriptive and swifter paced….” from unbroken

UNBROKEN An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive

now open and her family’s fate uncertain, Clair attempts to overcome her fear of the unknown by embarking on an odyssey of sorts that takes her to the far reaches of the Twin Cities. En route, Clair encounters a friend whose banker father’s income has kept his family insulated from the financial chaos, a teen clique of threatening would-be vampires, a coven of witches that takes Clair into the fold and teaches her the art of letters, and a host of unsavory characters she must outwit. Providing numerous demonstrations that “[h]istory loves terrible ironies,” Hansen repeatedly and unsubtly drives home the message that “[t]he comfortable are the vulnerable.” It’s an undeniably ambitious undertaking, but the form forces an odd blend of the mundane and the elevated, an uneasy lyric alliance. Dogmatic themes and clunky lyrics combine for a dyspeptic ride through this futuristic bildungsroman. (Dystopian epic. 14-18)

Hillenbrand, Laura Delacorte (320 pp.) $19.99 | $11.99 e-book | $22.99 PLB Nov. 11, 2014 978-0-385-74251-1 978-0-307-97565-2 e-book 978-0-375-99062-5 PLB

In response to requests from teachers and school librarians, Hillenbrand offers a young-readers’ edition of her best-selling World War II tale of survival. Louis Zamperini grew up in California and was headed toward juvenile delinquency. He smoked at 5, drank at 8, and went on to stealing and pranking, until older brother Pete got Louis into something more productive: running. Louis eventually became a world-class runner, ultimately competing at the 1936 Olympics. With World War II looming, Louis joined the Army Air Corps, and it was with the downing of his B-24 bomber that his harrowing journey began. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean in a raft, attacked by sharks, brutalized as a POW in Japanese slave-labor camps, Louis’ is a tale of survival against all odds. This solid adaptation is half the length of the original, more visual (with more, and sometimes larger, photographs), less descriptive and swifter paced, and it avoids such adult themes as the sexual sadism of evil Cpl. Watanabe, the man so intent on destroying Louis in the POW camp outside Tokyo. A fascinating appended interview with Louis Zamperini explores issues of survival and heroism. This fine adaptation ably brings an inspiring tale to younger readers. (notes, index [not seen]) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

MURPHY, GOLD RUSH DOG

Hart, Alison Illus. by Montgomery, Michael G. Peachtree (160 pp.) $12.95 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-56145-769-4 Series: Dog Chronicles

Historical fiction for dog lovers. Nome, Alaska, 1900, is a hotbed of lawless gold-rush fever and no place for an unaccompanied woman and her 11-year-old daughter, but that is exactly where Sally and her mother find themselves. The story is told from the point of view of Murphy, an abused sled dog who runs away from his owner in Nome and wanders homeless and hungry until Sally, newly arrived from Seattle, encounters him and convinces Mama that Murphy would be good protection for them. Murphy happily settles into his new life as a loved member of the family, and he does his best to protect them, but he is plagued by thoughts of cowardice brought on by his previous owner’s mistreatment. As summer ends, Mama makes plans to leave, finding life in Nome too difficult. But Sally has plans of her own. Taking Murphy, she runs away to find gold, thinking to ease the working grind of her Mama’s life. Readers will feel the thrill of survival on the tundra as Murphy saves Sally from a grizzly, an avalanche and unscrupulous men. Equal parts heart-wrenching and -warming, the story never slides into cloying sentimentality, and its message of the value of love over greed is as subtle as it is powerful. An adventure-filled tale set within a fascinating period of history. (historical note, bibliography, further reading) (Historical fiction. 7-10)

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ANGELINA’S BIG CITY BALLET

Holabird, Katharine Illus. by Craig, Helen Viking (32 pp.) $14.99 | Oct. 16, 2014 978-0-670-01560-3 Series: Angelina Ballerina

The ever popular mouse ballerina returns for her multi-eth adventure. She sails into the Big Cheese, otherwise known as the Big Apple, on a grand ocean liner, with a mouse Statue of Liberty providing a welcome. Also on hand are her aunt and cousin Jeanie, as well as checkered yellow taxicabs from a bygone time. Angelina experiences her first apartment house and elevator, tours the Empire Cheddar Building and sees a Broadway performance of River Mouse. She has come to the city to perform in the Big Cheese Dance Show with her cousin, but there may be a problem. Angelina, of course, plans to dance a ballet, but her cousin is going to perform a tap dance because “[i]t’s much |

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HERE IS THE BABY

better than ballet.” Angelina, beset by doubts, practices her routine in the apartment by the light of the moon. Watching her dance, her cousin has a change of heart, and the two mouselings choreograph a combined ballet/tap duet. Adorned in lovely new Roaring ’20s costumes, they are a success. Holabird once again gives readers a gentle story, here one of childhood conflict resolution, while Craig’s delicately colored pen-and-ink illustrations are a pretty accompaniment. Fans of Angelina and dance will enjoy this very sweet story. (Picture book. 3- 6)

Kanevsky, Polly Illus. by Yoo, Taeeun Schwartz & Wade/Random (40 pp.) $17.99 | $20.99 PLB | Sep. 23, 2014 978-0-375-86731-6 978-0-375-96731-3 PLB On a familiar theme, this book follows a baby through his daily activities. Baby wakes up, is changed, has breakfast, goes for a walk with “the daddy,” interacts with people in the neighborhood, attends storytime at the library, has fun on the playground, gets tired, and goes home to bath and bed. Family connections are tenderly portrayed, with lots of hugs and kisses from attentive parents and sister. Daddy is shown as a nurturing caregiver, and lots of healthy fruits and veggies are served. Kanevsky’s text is simple enough to be accessible to emergent readers but not without a few roadblocks. The repetition of the titular phrase “Here is the baby/daddy/sister,” which begins each text block, has a rhythm that suggests verse, and it may throw readers to discover it does not rhyme. Yoo’s illustrations have a cozy, reassuring warmth, strongly reminiscent of mid-20th-century classics. Events in the baby’s day are created in an attractive combination of colored pencils and linoleum prints, alternating full-page bleeds with small vignettes. Children will have fun spotting the missing green mitten where it was dropped on the stair at the beginning and reappears at the end of the story. Although there are some dark-skinned people in background scenes, the protagonist and his family appear to be Caucasian. Despite its rather lackluster text, this is a comforting book to snuggle with on the couch after a busy day. (Picture book. 1-4)

THE INVISIBLE

Kahaney, Amelia HarperTeen (304 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-06-223192-5 978-0-06-223194-9 e-book Series: Brokenhearted, 2 Anthem Fleet, the ballerina-turnedsuperhero, is back in this sequel, performing fewer plies and more kickbox moves. After sustaining a near-fatal accident while fighting the Syndicate in The Brokenhearted (2013), Anthem was bestowed with a mechanical heart that gave her superhero powers. Now she faces a new threat. Invisible is the Robin Hood–like leader of a movement that threatens death and apocalyptic events to the wealthy residents of the North Side of Bedlam if they don’t give half their wealth to the poor. They are well-organized, vicious and so tech-savvy that they manage to temporarily cut off all electricity to the wealthy— except for their televisions, which now broadcast the group’s threats and propaganda. Meanwhile, Anthem’s fallen for Ford, a tough but kindhearted boxer who was nearly killed by Anthem’s ex-boyfriend. As the mysteries of Invisible unfold, questions about her own family multiply. This second book offers a much richer, closer-to-the-bone emotional depth than the series opener, along with an interwoven back story that will leave readers gobsmacked. Kahaney’s description is so detailed readers will easily slip into this futuristic world with its palpably sordid creepiness. Readers unfamiliar with the series will quickly track down the first volume, while the rest will be hounding Kahaney for the next one. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

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LAILAH

Kelly, Nikki Feiwel & Friends (416 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-250-05151-6 Series: Styclar Saga, 1 Online writing community Wattpad’s popular love-triangle story about angels and vampires. Francesca’s a mystery to herself— every time she dies, she “wake[s] up again” with only occasional glimpses of memories from her previous lives, such as the memory of Gabriel’s name and handsome face. A chance encounter with the badly wounded, goodlooking Vampire Jonah draws “Cessie” into a world where a familiar figure—the Angel Gabriel—rescues Second Generation Vampires (humans who have been turned through Vampire venom, like Jonah) from their Pureblood masters. Her connection with Gabriel and chemistry with Jonah inspire jealousy in the two other female characters. Complicated Vampire and Angel mythologies and rules may inspire confusion in readers. |

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TEN THANK-YOU LETTERS

The prose is plagued by awkward sentences, poor word choices and downright baffling sloppiness; for example: “My left arm lay heavy at my side; I could tell she hadn’t broken it, but she had at least fractured my bone.” The story has multiple mysteries— what, exactly, is Francesca, and how is she immortal; why are the Purebloods after her; what happened between her and Gabriel in her first life; and: Gabriel or Jonah? Unfortunately, the prologue answers the first question for all but the out-of-the-know characters, and Cessie’s back story heavily implies the second question’s answer. Her first-life mystery is more successful. Readers must wait for the next book to discover which guy she picks. Overderivative and underedited. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

Kirk, Daniel Illus. by Kirk, Daniel Nancy Paulsen Books (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2014 978-0-399-16937-3

Before Pig can play with his pal Rabbit, he wants to finish his thank-you letter. But will his friend give him that chance? When Rabbit learns that Pig is writing his grandmother to thank her for the birthday sweater he is proudly sporting, Rabbit immediately wants to thank his grandma too. (If you give a rabbit a piece of paper and a pencil....) In no time, he has dashed off a quick letter thanking her for the cake she always bakes for his birthday. Are you done yet, Pig? But no, Pig is telling his grandma about the weather, which sparks another letter-writing flurry in the excitable Rabbit—this time to the president for doing a great job. Similarly, he’s inspired to write to seven other community helpers (including his crossing guard, Mrs. Chicken!). So, he’s off to the mailbox, finally leaving his exasperated friend in peace. But Rabbit’s used all his envelopes and stamps! Readers will empathize with Pig, whose frustrations are written right across his face. Luckily, a final thank-you letter from Rabbit comes with a resupply. The final page shows Pig’s letter in his happy grandmother’s trotters, so readers can see a splendid example of a well-written thank-you letter. Here’s hoping Pig’s refreshingly eager attitude about writing thank-you letters will rub off. Inspirational examples abound in both giving thanks and sharing. (Picture book. 4-8)

SECRET OF THE MOUNTAIN DOG

Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody Scholastic (208 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-545-60369-0 978-0-545-60519-9 e-book Is there a demon hiding in a Catskills monastery? When a friendly and protective Tibetan mastiff appears out of nowhere, 12-year-old Jax names him Mo-Mo and takes him in temporarily in spite of her anxious mother’s reservations. Instantly inseparable, they hike up the mountain above her house to investigate a light in what Jax thought was an abandoned building. There, they meet Yeshi, a boy her age, and his teacher, an elderly monk named Jampa Rinpoche, who have come from Tibet to reopen the monastery built nearly 30 years earlier and to celebrate the return of Rinpoche’s teacher. Kimmel, author of the Dalai Lama biography Boy on the Lion Throne (2009), among other titles, creatively and effectively weaves Buddhist teachings as well as a bit of Tibetan history into the rapidly unfolding plot. Yeshi and Jax urgently search for the 11th-century statue of a protector demon called Tsiu Marpo, stolen from a monastery in Tibet, suspecting a suspicious and dangerous red-haired man is in pursuit. Mentioned in a 14th-century prophecy as “an object of unimaginable power,” the statue may also contain a priceless treasure. Suspenseful and absorbing, particularly when the kids are trying to decode the language in the prophecy, the story also nicely describes how Jax carries over the lessons from her new friends into her everyday family life. A solid adventure threaded through with spiritual undercurrents. (Fiction. 8-12)

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WHAT’S THAT SMELL? A Kids’ Guide to Keeping Clean

Kreisman, Rachelle Illus. by Haggerty, Tim Red Chair Press (32 pp.) $7.95 paper | $19.95 PLB | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-937529-66-6 978-1-93752-967-3 PLB Series: Start Smart Health

“How can you defeat the icky germs? Fight them off by washing and brushing your teeth.” Interspersed with bright color photos of children wincing theatrically at the bad and smiling at the good, Kreisman’s chirpy guide offers easy-to-follow advice on hygienic practices. It also supplies general information on the causes of cavities, body odor and other consequences of neglecting them. Interjections (“Gross!”), lame side jokes and simplified language such as the substitution of “As you get older,” or “When you become a teenager...” for “puberty” keep the discourse from turning clinical. Despite this, the information is accurate (aside from one photo of a child apparently sticking a cotton swab into her ear that contradicts its caption’s warning not |

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“Kyi’s fresh voice will have readers picturing themselves in the shoes of these real-life survivors.” from when the worst happens

FROZEN IN TIME Clarence Birdseye’s Outrageous Idea About Frozen Food

to) and not unduly alarmist about bacteria and dirt. A labeled graphic shows what lies beneath the “epidermis,” and readers will come away understanding that “private parts” means “genitals and anus.” A summary checklist at the end, along with a true/false quiz, provides a light dose of reinforcement. An upbeat, serviceable introduction to the benefits of wearing clean clothes, changing bed sheets regularly, and caring for skin, nails and hair. (glossary, index, print and Web resources) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Kurlansky, Mark Delacorte (176 pp.) $15.99 | $8.99 paper | $7.99 e-book $19.99 PLB | Nov. 11, 2014 978-0-385-74388-4 978-0-385-37244-2 paper 978-0-385-37243-5 e-book 978-0-375-99135-6 PLB

THE BLACK STARS

Krokos, Dan Starscape/Tom Doherty (304 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-7653-3429-9 Series: Planet Thieves, 2

Clarence Birdseye, written about in three previous works for adults by Kurlansky—Cod (1997), Salt (2002) and The Last Fish Tale (2009)—takes center stage as the creator of a new food industry in this young-readers’ adaptation of Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man (2012). Clarence Birdseye, like many inventors, was ahead of his time. When he created a new freezing process for food in 1927, there were no trucks or trains capable of transporting frozen food and no warehouses or stores able to store it. There was not even a market for frozen food; Birdseye had to create a market and an infrastructure to support it. Now, frozen foods are a given, and few people know that a real person is behind that package of Birdseye peas. This edition retains the essentials of Birdseye’s fascinating story from the original, though a useful preface was dropped and a prologue added that condescends to young readers with its discussion of “the nerds of the Industrial Revolution” who made fortunes without even finishing college. Another distressing byproduct of this adaptation is that several sections are not as clearly written as in the original. Overall, though, it’s a fascinating story of curiosity, imagination and invention. More and more young people are interested in where their food comes from, and this volume offers one fascinating part of the story. (bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Can Earth Space Command cadet Mason Stark safeguard a shaky intergalactic peace? Mason and his fellow cadets brokered peace between humans and Tremist forces, but not before the Earth was snatched from our solar system and deposited near the Tremist homeworld (The Planet Thieves, 2013). Now the grand admiral of the ESC has heard rumors that Tremists are working on a weapon that violates the treaty. Since Mason has a standing invitation to study at the Rhadgast school, an academy for Tremist soldiers, the admiral wants Mason and his best friend, Tom, to spy for the ESC. It will be dangerous, but Mason’s interested, as a Rhadgast told him he might learn the truth of what happened to his parents at the school. In the sometimes-hostile environment of a new school on a new planet, mysteries abound...and one might hold the key to fending off the impending invasion of the monstrous Fangborn. This sequel is Harry Potter in sci-fi robes. Boy seen as hero is thrust into a new school in an unfamiliar culture and sorted into a section of the school by a mysterious ritual, and he investigates when students begin to disappear. The fine mystery/adventure breaks down at the unsatisfying conclusion, which attempts to set up a third volume. Mason’s an interesting character, but those around him don’t develop much. It’s good fluff, but it doesn’t satisfy the dire need for well-wrought SF for preteens. (Science fiction. 9-12)

WHEN THE WORST HAPPENS Extraordinary Stories of Survival

Kyi, Tanya Lloyd Illus. by Parkins, David Annick Press (128 pp.) $24.95 | $14.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-55451-683-4 978-1-55451-682-7 paper

Outlandishly enthralling tales of survival under extreme—extremely extreme—circumstances, peppered with do-and-don’t tips. Four encounters with dire straits make up the body of this collection, but they are told in slices as Kyi enters the picture to help readers understand what the people did right and what they did wrong. One finds a small group abandoned on an ice floe in Arctic waters, another chronicles a young man trapped thousands of feet underground in a mine, and two others tell of |

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“It’s a delicate balance...to present the information in such a way that it inspires activism rather than alienates with proselytizing, and for the most part, [Laidlaw] succeeds.” from 5 elephants

5 ELEPHANTS

the aftermath of plane and boat wrecks. First comes the hardwired response to fight or flee—then there’s hunger, thirst, freezing, broiling, getting enough oxygen and contending with all the little tricks the brain plays, including hallucinations and delusions. Parkins does a good job of blending sheer terror with glimmers of hope in his drawings, and it is hope—the survival instinct—that drives the book along. As Kyi recounts the four main stories with a controlled but dramatic flair, it is the sidebars that convince readers that survival is possible under the most crazy-wild situations. Post-trauma issues are also addressed, which can be as fearsome as the event itself. Kyi’s fresh voice will have readers picturing themselves in the shoes of these real-life survivors. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Laidlaw, Rob Fitzhenry & Whiteside (80 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-55455-316-7 A primer on elephants and a plea to help them. Writing in easy-to-understand language, with a glossary for unusual words, Laidlaw describes the challenges facing today’s elephants, both those in the wild and those in captivity. Within this overarching theme, he delivers a wealth of elephant-related information: the different species of elephants; where they live in the wild; what they eat; how they communicate; how they raise their young; their social structure; physiological information on skin, tusks, teeth and feet. With so much to cover, at times the organization gets a bit muddled. To give readers a personal connection, the author devotes each of five chapters to a profile of an individual elephant. Their stories range from inspiring to depressing since the author does not sugarcoat the often poor treatment of elephants by humans, whether it is in zoos and circuses, as work animals or as the victims of ivory poachers. It’s a delicate balance, given the author’s obvious passion for elephants and his zeal to protect them, to present the information in such a way that it inspires activism rather than alienates with proselytizing, and for the most part, he succeeds. Part of this success is due to the book’s upbeat design—it’s full of color photos and includes featurettes titled “Good News for Elephants.” A worthy book that encourages ethical thinking about elephants. (resources, glossary, bibliography, index, image credits) (Nonfiction. 8-14)

MORTAL HEART

LaFevers, Robin HMH Books (464 pp.) $17.99 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-0-547-62840-0 Series: His Fair Assassin, 3 The glorious series about conventtrained assassins concludes, reframing a main character in ways that shift the meaning of the whole series. It’s Brittany, 1488. Death’s handmaidens Ismae (Grave Mercy, 2012) and Sybella (Dark Triumph, 2013) are off on assignment, helping the steadfast 13-year-old duchess defend Brittany against impending French occupation. Annith’s stuck in the convent, desperate to be sent out: How can she serve Mortain—their father and the god of death—behind abbey walls? Slated for a duty that will keep her convent-bound forever, Annith runs. She plans to investigate the abbess’ shady machinations but instead meets a group of hellequin on horseback, “souls of the damned” serving Mortain to earn redemption. After sparks fly with their brooding leader, Balthazaar, Annith joins the royal court in Rennes. Real historical threads provide profound resonance, and plot twists run deep. Unfortunately, a life-threatening danger near the end disappears via a disingenuous textual sleight-of-hand; worse, Mortain transforms from awe-inspiring god to something rather more pedestrian. Because he’s Death, this change robs this volume of the previous installments’ peculiar, breathtaking religious grace, undermines the convent’s raison d’etre and upends the series’ magnificent premise. Though far more naïve than Ismae and Sybella, Annith is sympathetic, and her story is compelling if less action-packed and desperate than theirs; this novel never drags, but nor does it glow with beauty like the first two. Although much of this book’s gravity and richness is carried forward from the first two, devotees of His Fair Assassin will be gratified to receive this closure, especially on the political front. (Historical fantasy. 14 & up) (This review was first published in the Fall Preview 2014 issue.)

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SUBLIME

Lauren, Christina Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-4814-1368-8 978-1-4814-1370-1 e-book An orphaned adrenaline junkie falls for a dead girl, and the doomed, lovestruck couple learns they can only truly “be together” (cough) in the realm between the living and the dead. Ghosts—known as Walkers—at St. Osanna’s boarding school have been said to traverse the grounds. Colin, a handsome, popular student famous for daredevil stunts on his bike, has heard these musings, though he thinks them fiction—until he meets Lucy. From the moment that Lucy and Colin meet, their love is cemented, hard and fast. Although one is very much alive with a corporeal body and one isn’t, teenage hormones still palpably buzz, and an almost tragic accident on a frozen lake becomes an opportunity for the pair to physically unite. After, Colin decides to willingly engage in near-death experiences |

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THE INCREDIBLE PLATE TECTONICS COMIC

to be with Lucy, but how far will he go to be with the girl—er, spirit?—that he loves? While Colin is handsome and Lucy may have been smart prior to her unfortunate demise, the two of them are completely one-dimensional in their love for each other; it’s the only driving force for them. Readers have to be more than willing to suspend their disbelief and let themselves be pulled along by the unrelenting tide of swooning infatuation. However, the cringe-worthy ending will leave even the most uncompromising romantic grumbling. For die-hard fans of Bella and Edward only—pun very much intended. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

Lee, Kanani K.M. Illus. by Wallenta, Adam No Starch Press (40 pp.) $7.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-59327-549-5 Series: Adventures of Geo, 1

Superhero Geo introduces readers to plate tectonics. Reviewing information on his way to school for a big geology test, young George transforms himself into “Geo,” a uniformed superhero with a rocket-propelled skateboard and a robotic canine sidekick. In his imaginary adventure, he leaps over sidewalk “faults,” swerves away from “tsunamis” splashed up by a passing truck and saves an elderly lady from falling into an open manhole “volcano.” Meanwhile, supported by visual aids provided by inserted graphics and maps, Geo goes over the convergent, divergent and transform movements of tectonic plates, subduction, magnetic “stripes” paralleling oceanic ridges and a host of other need-to-know facts and terms. All of this is illustrated in big, brightly colored sequential panels of cartoon art hung about with heavy blocks of explication. After the exam comes back with, natch, a perfect score (“I guess all that studying paid off ”), Lee, a geophysicist, abandons the story for a final 10 pages of recap and further detail on plate tectonics’ causes, effects and measurement—closing with a description of what geologists do. African-American Geo cuts a suitably chiseled figure in the pictures, but he doesn’t get enough to do and so is really no more than a mouthpiece—perhaps there will be more of a plot in his next adventure. (online projects, index) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-12)

CREED

Leaver, Trisha; Currie, Lindsay Flux (288 pp.) $9.99 paper | Nov. 8, 2014 978-0-7387-4080-5 Three teens become trapped by a terrifying cult when they stumble into a strange town after breaking down in a remote area. Seventeen-year-old Dee, her boyfriend, Luke, and his brother, Mike, on their way to a concert, take a back road to save time and run out of gas. They hike to the nearest town but find it apparently deserted, with a siren sounding. The cemetery has only wooden crosses to mark graves, and all the houses and gardens look identical. They enter an empty house and shelter there from a sudden snowstorm. There, as in all the other houses, the only decorations are giant crosses on the walls. The next day, they meet Joseph, a boy their age who confirms that the town is controlled by his father, the cult’s leader, and who promises to help them. But his madman father, Elijah, discovers them, natch. Dee, eventually separated from Luke and Mike, must try to find the others and escape, with Elijah constantly threatening murder unless Dee complies with his wishes. Leaver and Currie set the scene effectively if not particularly originally and keep tension high. The cult never really seems credible, though, and Elijah’s villainy is thoroughly over-the-top. Nevertheless, readers who don’t probe hard should find Dee a sympathetic companion for the duration. Undemanding suspense. (Thriller. 14-18)

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MARY’S WILD WINTER FEAST

Lindoff, Hannah Illus. by Koch, Nobu; Rizal, Clarissa Univ. of Alaska (40 pp.) $14.95 paper | Sep. 22, 2014 978-1-60223-232-7

A child disgruntled by a drizzly winter day is cheered up by a trip to the pantry. “Bumping down the stairs [feels] nothing like sledding,” which has Mary out of sorts: The rain in Juneau has melted all the snow. But when she complains to her father about their damp climate, he defends their “homeland” by giving the little girl a tour of their pantry, chock-a-block with the foods they hunted or harvested around Juneau. There’s salmon, of course, both canned and smoked, and deer, along with dried seaweed and blueberries. Each of the foodstuffs comes with a story about how it was obtained, celebrations of family and geography that have Mary convinced that their homeland “is a pretty good place to live” by the end of the book. Though it isn’t explicitly stated, Mary and her father |

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MOVÍ LA MANO / I MOVED MY HAND

are likely Alaskan Natives, like the author and illustrator Rizal. While the narrative is a long one, pushing the slim book to six short chapters, the warm relationship between Mary and her dad and the exciting adventures Daddy relates should help to keep readers engaged. Rizal’s collages employ Northwest Coast Indian patterns and motifs, and their incorporation into Koch’s mixed-media paintings is the strongest element of the book; black-and-white vertical strips evoke both totem poles and birch trees looming over the autumnal landscape in one striking fullpage image. A heartfelt evocation of the importance of place and family. (Fiction. 6-9)

Luján, Jorge Illus. by Sadat, Mandana Translated by Amado, Elisa Groundwood (32 pp.) $18.95 | $16.95 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-55498-485-5 978-1-55498-486-2 e-book A tutu-clad child encounters existentialism through movement in this 47-word poem by award-winning Argentine poet Lujan (Stephen and the Beetle, 2012, etc.). The English text follows the Spanish on each page as French artist Sadat’s surreal illustrations float by on a mostly black background. Digitally collaged creatures done in colored pencil, ink and crayon interact with the precocious ballerina, who creates a universe with a wave of her hand as her lovingly indulgent parents watch barefoot from the loveseat: “I moved my hand and / I found a coconut. // I shook the coconut / and I found a lake. // I stirred the lake / and found a fish. // I swirled the fish and / I found the moon.” In the dark of the house, after she and her parents vacate the “stage,” one of her manifested creatures, a rainbow unicorn, springs free from the living-room rug and gallops off, presumably seeking its own destiny. The palette is largely grays and blacks, modulating to include bright pastels as the little girl’s imagination takes hold. Whereas the artwork can be described as naptime soothing, the New Age–y text flirts with pretention, and the overall effect is just plain precious, more idealized than celebratory. Adults wishing to engage children in experiments with poetry and movement may find this flight of fancy to be an acceptable jumping-off point for further exploration. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE YOUNG ELITES

Lu, Marie Putnam (368 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-399-16783-6

A new series—fantasy, this time— from the author of the best-selling Legend dystopia. Twelve years ago, the blood fever raged through Kenettra, killing all infected adults and leaving the surviving children marked with scars, patterned skin and unnaturally colored hair. Malfetto, the survivors are called, and everyone knows they are terrible luck. A few malfettos are rumored to have great and mystical powers, and these Young Elites are sought by the Inquisition even while the common people secretly cheer on their defiance against a cruel and ineffectual king. Adelina is a 16-yearold malfetto, tormented by her abusive father until her own Young Elite power reveals itself. Both the Inquisition and the Young Elites want to use her, but Adelina wants only to protect herself and her beloved sister. She’s no heroic savior; Adelina’s Young Elite strength is honed by a decade of abuse and torment that’s turned her into a force motivated foremost by rage and terror. Shifting points of view reveal the forces that treat Adelina as a pawn in a game much larger than she can understand, driving her to an extremely unusual lead-in for Volume 2. In a gorgeously constructed world that somewhat resembles Renaissance Italy but with its own pantheon, geography and fauna, the multiethnic and multisexual Young Elites offer a cinematically perfect ensemble of gorgeous-but-unusual illusionists, animal speakers, fire summoners and wind callers. A must for fans of Kristin Cashore’s Fire (2009) and other totally immersive fantasies. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

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LUCKY

Mackintosh, David Illus. by Mackintosh, David Abrams (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4197-0809-1 Two boys get carried away when their mom tells them they will have a surprise at dinner. Little brother Leo thinks it’s curly fries, but the young narrator starts thinking...and that’s how they get into trouble! They brainstorm a list of ever bigger and better possibilities (a bike! a new car! a swimming pool!), and finally, with visions of grass skirts and volcanoes in their heads, they conclude it must be an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii. Both voice and reasoning are hysterically, authentically childlike. Dynamic, rapid-fire collage-and-pencil illustrations capture the zany escalation. The text increases in size, replicating their ever bolder assertions. Excited, they tell everyone at school, where even the staff celebrates by giving the students an extra 10-minute break. But |

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“Difficult subjects such as arranged marriages to settle disputes, ‘lost’ children who are separated from their families and disfiguring injuries are not ignored.” from children growing up with war

when they get home, the siblings discover a very different surprise awaits them, leaving the narrator feeling rather sick until contagiously enthusiastic Leo cheers him up. How lucky can a kid get? This is a quirky, spot-on snapshot of family life, perfect for family sharing and repeated readings. And children will love examining the whimsical, surprisingly delightful details in the drawings. A winner. (Picture book. 4-8)

because she wanted to change the world. “Unfortunately, taking pictures rarely changes anything, but it has given me a way to communicate. I can tell people’s stories....” Readers glimpse refugee tents made of plastic sheeting amid deplorable conditions. Children forced to find work at a young age are shown gathering wood or weaving carpets. Difficult subjects such as arranged marriages to settle disputes, “lost” children who are separated from their families and disfiguring injuries are not ignored. The photographs could be much, much more upsetting—there is no graphic violence shown—but their harrowing nature certainly hits home. The scrapbooklike format attempts a relaxed intimacy, but it distracts from the whole. The text, though mostly in Matthews’ voice, not stories direct from the children, nevertheless provides a valuable and unusual behind-the-camera perspective. An effective appeal to child readers as the ones who can stop the continuum of violence. (map, further information, websites, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

BOOM, BABY, BOOM BOOM!

Mahy, Margaret Illus. by Chamberlain, Margaret Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-410-5

This reissue of Mahy’s 1997 publication illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy rings with her familiar, infectious rhythm and repetition and is rejuvenated with new illustrations. As Mama lays out lunch for Baby, who sits in her blue highchair, she says: “And while you eat it all up, I’ll just biddy-boom-boom on my diddy-dum-drums. Beating those drums makes me feel at ease with the world.” But Mama doesn’t know that animals are listening at the window. While Mama beats her drums with blissful concentration, Baby throws down each food item on the floor—and then one animal after another creeps, lollops, ambles, scuttles and trots into the kitchen, snatches it up and scrambles out the door. The cat eats the cheese, the dog eats the bread and honey, the chickens eat the apple slices, the sheep eats the lettuce, and the cow eats the carrot. Chamberlain captures the charm of the simple tale with aplomb by incorporating the repetition of the drum sounds and the animal noises in large bold type. The illustrations are brighter in color than the originals, and the baby is given a bit more to do (she is particularly charming as she plays with the lettuce leaves). Both text and images have a whimsy that invites participation. One cool Mama, one cunning baby and five opportunistic animals—yum, yum, fun. (Picture book. 2-5)

THE END OF THE LINE

McKay, Sharon E. Annick Press (128 pp.) $21.95 | $12.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-55451-659-9 978-1-55451-658-2 paper Two kindhearted, confirmed-bachelor brothers take in an endangered little Jewish girl during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Historical fiction for children is fraught with traps, and none more so than those introducing young readers to Holocaust history. This novel manages to walk that tightrope, allowing children to learn some grim realities without annihilating their sense of hope or resorting to stereotypes that undermine the ability of the genre to increase readers’ empathy. The text’s distinctiveness lies in its style: Rather than presenting one protagonist’s point of view—as in Lois Lowry’s exemplary Number the Stars—the third-person-omniscient perspective allows readers to identify with several characters throughout the tale. Readers feel the terror and sorrow of Beatrix and her mother as Mamma is forced by soldiers to leave the tram that is run by brothers Hans and Lars; they empathize with the brothers during the humorous passages in which the redoubtable neighbor Mrs. Vos teaches them how to care for a little girl; they feel the alternating waves of uneasiness and relief experienced regularly by people under occupation. Most of the detailed action occurs from 1942-1945, but the tale wraps up in 1973, when Beatrix is mother to a 10-year-old daughter. This is a solid addition to one of the most uneven collections of literature for children: Holocaust-related historical fiction. (foreword, afterword) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

CHILDREN GROWING UP WITH WAR

Matthews, Jenny Photos by Matthews, Jenny Candlewick (48 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-7636-6942-3

Through honest photographs and prose Matthews captures what it is like to be a child of war, as well as a photojournalist working in such ravaged countries. Each section, structured around the general themes of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (home, family, health, work, education and play), carries readers into conflict zones across the globe. Matthews explains that she became a photographer |

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“The author has wisely chosen to forgo the use of Colonial-era dialect, but all the elements of the tale are perfectly in keeping with the setting and time.” from the last sister

THE LAST SISTER

style offering a humanity and pathos to a character that might otherwise prove too flawed to love. The episodic nature of Pinocchio’s adventuring (the original book was syndicated in newspapers) pairs remarkably well with this simple format for emerging readers. Despite the series title—Cartoon Classic—the textto-picture ratio slots this squarely in the early-chapter category rather than the graphic-novel section. A sharp, ultimately appealing corrective to Disney’s better-known confection. (Fiction. 7-10)

McKinney-Whitaker, Courtney Univ. of South Carolina (232 pp.) $39.95 | $19.95 paper | $17.95 e-book Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-61117-429-8 978-1-61117-430-4 paper 978-1-61117-431-1 e-book The events of the Anglo-Cherokee War in 1759-60 in South Carolina are brought vividly to modern readers in a meticulously researched tale. Seventeen-year-old Catriona suffers grievous losses when her parents and brother are murdered by fellow settlers in a raid meant to look like an attack by Cherokee warriors. She is determined not only to escape to a British fort, but to somehow bring the murderers to justice. Traversing unforgiving terrain through Cherokee territory, she is severely wounded and her younger brother killed when they are attacked by a catamount. She is rescued and cared for by Malcolm Craig, who is in hiding for reasons of his own. Eventually, they reach the fort only to find more horrific troubles and deaths. A final meeting with her enemy ends in vengeance if not justice. The plot is dense and filled with violence and unremitting pain. Catie is not a perfect heroine; she doubts her decisions and believes that, like the last of the three Fates of Greek myth, she is the instrument of death. The author has wisely chosen to forgo the use of Colonial-era dialect, but all the elements of the tale are perfectly in keeping with the setting and time. Patient and sophisticated readers will find the story compelling and deeply moving and its heroine unforgettable. (author’s note, sources) (Historical fiction. 15-18)

RECYCLING DAY

Miller, Edward Illus. by Miller, Edward Holiday House (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 15, 2014 978-0-8234-2419-1 Three insects and a worm learn about recycling when their vacant lot gets cleaned up. The lot’s a dumping ground for all sorts of trash—so much so that it attracts a scurvy-looking gang of rats (one even sporting an eye patch). Luckily, people from the community arrive with trash bags, gloves and recycling bins, and the lot’s denizens are educated about their former homes: The ants’ glass-bottle home can be turned into a new bottle, saving enough energy to run a computer for an hour and a half. The grasshopper’s cardboard box can be shredded and made into pulp, saving some of the nearly 4 billion trees that are felled each year for paper. The fly’s aluminum can is similarly recycled, and the worm finds a new home in the compost. At day’s end, the clean lot is planted, and the rats are headed for the dump. The center spreads each focus on a different kind of recycling, teaching readers where the resources for each item came from and how they’re recycled. Text boxes with lots of fascinating facts and concrete statistics are sure to make readers think twice about trashing recyclables. The backmatter lists other recyclables, teaches about dumps and discourages littering. Miller’s digital illustrations are fun to peruse—his rats are delightfully evil—and give readers lots of examples of recyclables in each category. Sure to inspire a new generation of recyclers. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

PINOCCHIO

McMullan, Kate Illus. by Lemaitre, Pascal Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (144 pp.) $12.99 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-0-8050-9699-6 Series: Cartoon Classics The classic tale of the wooden boy who wants to become real gets a 21stcentury update. McMullen presents readers with a straightforward retelling of Pinocchio’s lies and trials based on the Carlo Collodi original. Those unfamiliar with that text will undoubtedly be surprised by what they find here. McMullen pulls no punches, recounting every step of the puppet’s journey, even when it doesn’t make much sense. Some will find the herky-jerky nature and bizarre violence of Collodi’s original tale off-putting. Characters that die one moment (Cricket, Blue Fairy, etc.) may then walk about without any explanation for their resuscitations the next. Fortunately Lemaitre’s art goes a long way toward softening some of the harsher elements of the tale, his cartoonish 108

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MAKE SOMETHING OF IT

cyborg ninja, this strip would be hilarious.” The middle of the comic, however, is sometimes very funny. Two female characters interrupt a fight so Bravo Woman can say, “You’re totally ruining our Bechdel test score!” The book has all the elements of a great comic strip. The storylines are clever, and the characters are beautifully drawn—usually in the boldest primary colors. The elements just seem to be in the wrong order: Almost every climax is an anticlimax. Readers may get tired of waiting for a punch line that never comes. (foreword, sketch gallery) (Graphic short stories. 7-14)

Moore, Stephanie Perry Darby Creek (152 pp.) $7.95 paper | $27.93 PLB | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-4677-4488-1 978-1-4677-3722-7 PLB Series: Sharp Sisters, 1 In this series opener, Shelby Sharp, the oldest daughter of a Charlotte, North Carolina, mayoral candidate, pursues her fashion-design dream and takes an earnest but simplistic stand against domestic violence. There are five Sharp sisters, three biological and two adopted, but the others make only sporadic appearances here. The inconsistent attention paid to Shelby’s four younger sisters is typical of the oddly disjointed narrative: The girls are horrified to learn their father will be sending them to public school as a political move, but they acclimate with relatively little trouble. What at first appears to be a story about Shelby’s attempts to stay away from a rival candidate’s dreamy stepson for the good of her father’s campaign abruptly becomes a story about Shelby’s desire to become a fashion designer despite her mother’s wish that she go into law. The narrative voice is similarly clumsy, often providing unnecessary and repetitive explanations (“ ‘It’s not a scarf, Mom. It’s a scart—a scarf-belt,’ I said brazenly, wanting her to use the right name for my design”). Domestic violence is a theme throughout, but it is portrayed with almost cartoonish obviousness. The second and third volumes, Better Than Picture Perfect and Turn Up for Real, publish simultaneously. Too many plotlines, too little nuance. (Fiction. 12-16) (Better Than Picture Perfect: 978-1-4677-3725-8, 978-1-4677-4486-7 paper; Turn Up for Real: 978-1-4677-3726-5, 978-1-4677-4490-4 paper)

THIS IS HOW IT ENDS

Nadol, Jen Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $18.99 | $9.99 paper | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4814-0211-8 978-1-4814-0210-1 paper A claustrophobically small Vermont town is an effective setting for this suspenseful supernatural thriller. A group of friends discovers a pair of binoculars in a cave one night when they’re out drinking in the woods, and each of them but one sees strange images in them that they can’t get out of their minds. When the most dramatic of these visions—a murder—comes true, the five teens panic, trying at once to uncover who the killer is as well as what’s going on with the binoculars and the images they saw. Narrator Riley is a likable, intelligent protagonist, and his attraction to Sarah, who is his best friend’s girlfriend, spins an extra thread of anxiety in to what is already a tension-filled thriller. The rest of the group is similarly well-drawn, each of them distinct and with his or her own secrets, and their bond is very believable, particularly in light of the difficult home lives several of them endure. While the eventual reveal of how the binoculars function is a bit sparse on details, their origin is truly a surprise. Atmospheric and carefully plotted, this one’s hard to put down. (Thriller. 14-18)

BRAVOMAN

Moylan, Matt Illus. by Gordine, Dax; Perez, Josh Udon (152 pp.) $19.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-926778-93-8 Series: Bravoman, 1

IRENE’S WISH

This is a millennial sort of comic: An obscure Japanese video game was turned into a webcomic, which has now been collected into a book. The character of Bravoman is so odd that he may make more sense in a humor strip than as a superhero. In a “superquick, abbreviated origin” story, an alien endows him with the ability to turn into a submarine and to stretch his arms and legs great distances. The rest of the book is designed like a webcomic. Almost every page has a comments section, with behind-the-scenes information from the creators. The notes and preliminary sketches are often more entertaining than the cartoons. Like many millennial comics, these strips tend to have no punch lines. Some end with an explanatory note, as in: “Editor’s note: If you were fluent in both crow demon and musical |

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Nolen, Jerdine Illus. by Ford, A.G. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-689-86300-4 978-1-442-49323-0 e-book A tale of wishes, family and magic of many kinds. Irene, a young brown-skinned African-American girl with billowing locks, makes a wish that changes everything, especially for Papa, a gifted farmer. Irene loves her father but regrets that he’s so busy growing things that he rarely has time for her or other |

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BAD DOG FLASH

family members. After Irene “hope[s] and dream[s] and wishe[s] on all the stars that [sparkle] in the skies and on all the apples that ever dangled from any tree,” and Papa drinks the seeds she has accidentally left in his iced tea, a transformation takes place that ultimately gives her what she wants...sort of. Unfortunately, daily access to Papa comes with a price. Like Nolen’s Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm (illustrated by Mark Buehner, 1994), this mystical tale raises many questions for readers to ponder long after they close the book. For what, exactly, does Irene wish? How does she unwish it? Is Papa’s transformation literal or metaphorical? Who in this family learns the most important lesson from the events that unfold? Ford’s acrylic-and-oil illustrations bring readers into close contact with a demographic rarely portrayed in children’s literature: a middle-class African-American farming family. The lively images make the magic real. With this book, Nolen and Ford broaden the AfricanAmerican picture-book palette in ways that are both delightful and memorable. (Picture book. 3- 7)

Paul, Ruth Illus. by Paul, Ruth Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (32 pp.) $15.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4926-0153-1 A humorous story about a lovable, troublemaking puppy. Flash is an energetic, rambunctious puppy whose thirst for fun means this playful pup’s choices often put him in the doghouse. Paul’s delightfully expressive pencil-and-watercolor illustrations keep the pace moving forward, with Flash often romping about all over the spread. Flash’s antics will elicit smiles from readers as he harasses the family cat, wreaks havoc with a stick, digs up the garden, and destroys shoes and clothes—all with a joyous grin. His capers are recounted in a rhyme and rhythm that both works and begs to be read aloud. The refrain, “Bad dog, Flash,” will have readers joining in. Paul’s used of varied perspectives ensures that Flash’s typical misbehaving-dog shenanigans are never anything but entertaining. The many reprimands the adorably confused Flash receives culminate in a despondent dog, but he is saved from gloom and despair by his human, who loves him even when he is disobedient. Paul scores extra comedic points with the cat, who is always pleased to see Flash get in trouble. This No, David! with a canine protagonist should appeal to a broad audience, whether dog lovers or not. (Picture book. 3-5)

ANUNG’S JOURNEY An Ancient Ojibway Legend as Told by Steve Fobister Nordgren, Carl Illus. by Wolf, Brita Light Messages (114 pp.) $16.95 paper | $7.99 e-book Oct. 27, 2014 978-1-61153-117-6 978-1-61153-118-3 e-book

HERMAN’S LETTER

Nordgren retells the unusual Christmas story he says he heard from Steve Fobister, whose grandfather told it to Fobister as a child. Blue Sky, an orphan treasured and parented by all in his Ashinaabe village, fulfills a prophecy when he sets out to find the greatest chief. His sacred vision, for which the village chief names him Anung, or Morning Star, takes him eastward, far from home and through various encounters with First Nations peoples and stories. Names for some plants, seasons and directions are given in Ojibwa. Turtle, a gifted interpreter of languages of people and animals, accompanies the young man. Anung escapes the clutches of Windigo and is suckled by a bear through a winter. At a vast city of longhouses at the edge of “waters that stretch the sky,” Anung learns that what he thought the end of his quest is the beginning of one across the waters to another land. There, in a shelter for animals at the edge of a village, a mother and father care for a newborn: the greatest chief of all the people. Anung, who has only his drum, plays and sings for the child. There’s almost an immediate anticlimax—Anung’s return is wrapped up in a few paragraphs. However, Nordgren avoids being preachy or overly sentimental, and his storytelling is compelling and rich in images. A fascinating look at the melding of North American cultures. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

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Percival, Tom Illus. by Percival, Tom Bloomsbury (32 pp.) $17.99 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-1-4088-3675-0

Best friends Herman and Henry pledge to stay that way through letters when Henry has to move. Pink raccoon Henry is the first to tap out a note on his typewriter to his best buddy, bear Herman, when he settles into his new digs. Unfortunately, a quick mention of Henry’s new friends sets off a fit of jealous pique. Herman is so jealous that he cannot face writing back. Despite the lack of response, dedicated pal Henry keeps writing. Finally, something in Henry’s letters stirs Herman, and he finally writes back. Unfortunately, the post office has already started its hibernation, and sleepy bear Herman is left to deliver the letter in person. Henry’s letters are presented beneath lift-the-flap envelopes, adding realistic fun to the straightforward story. Humorous illustrations, including one especially funny thought bubble in which Herman imagines the fun that Henry is having with his new friends, are rendered in pencil and marker, with Henry’s bright pink fur popping from the pages. Herman is shown in darker colors, often in the rain or with smoke swirling about him. Occasional panels are mixed with full-page spreads, allowing readers to see all the places Herman goes in order to deliver his important letter. |

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“Rich language and careful, efficient character development make the collection an absorbing and sophisticated read, each story surprisingly fresh despite the constraints of a shared theme.” from my true love gave to me

Hibernation, dedication and one long-distance friendship that will never be forgotten: a must-have when a friend moves away. (Picture book. 4-8)

niece of Mrs. Brandt’s best friend. The beautiful, sophisticated older girl is a mystery Isabel is determined to solve, especially when circumstances force her to live with the Brandts. As Helga’s unhappy story unfolds, Isabel’s world widens, and she begins to appreciate others and take brave stands, even trying to bring German concentration camps to the attention of others. The evocation of wartime is real; this view is from someone who was there. Isabel’s experiences of school, friends, a boy, movies, crooners, rationing and her brother’s enlistment combine with what she learns about Helga’s life and tortured secret to summon the times and authentically evoke a girl becoming a person aware of others, thus adding value to her life and the lives of others. Published posthumously, an effective exploration of both character and times. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME Twelve Holiday Stories

Perkins, Stephanie—Ed. St. Martin’s Griffin (320 pp.) $18.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-250-05930-7 978-1-4668-6389-7 e-book

Holidays meet romance in a Christmas- and Hanukkah-themed collection featuring some of teen fiction’s most prominent names. A Latino NYU student, running out of food while catsitting during winter break, meets a white upstairs neighbor whose shower is broken in Matt de la Pena’s “Angels in the Snow.” In David Levithan’s “Your Temporary Santa,” a gay Jewish teen plays Santa for the benefit of his boyfriend’s kid sister. Kelly Link’s “The Lady and the Fox” shows the goddaughter of an intimidating English matriarch battling a set of magical rules to free a ghostly family member who only appears on Christmas. Although the majority of characters are white, Christian and straight, clearly attention has been paid here to the call for greater diversity in teen fiction. The setting of the romances varies greatly, from a chaotic trailer-park New Year’s party to a kitschy diner in a tiny “census-designated place” called Christmas, California, to Santa’s North Pole workshop, where his adopted daughter dreams of a boy she met following his route. Rich language and careful, efficient character development make the collection an absorbing and sophisticated read, each story surprisingly fresh despite the constraints of a shared theme. It’s that rarest of short story collections: There’s not a single lump of coal. (Short stories. 12-18)

PATIENT ZERO Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Epidemics

Peters, Marilee Annick Press (168 pp.) $24.95 | $14.95 paper | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-55451-671-1 978-1-55451-670-4 paper Few might regard the field of epidemiology as a first-rate opportunity for sleuthing, but this fascinating effort may change that. Peters chronicles seven important epidemics that included epidemiological work, from the very infancy of the field through its growing sophistication: the bubonic plague in London, 1665; the cholera epidemic in London, 1854; yellow fever in Cuba as its mosquito source was finally identified in 1900; the typhoid cases in New York City in 1906 that led to the identification of a carrier, “Typhoid Mary”; the influenza pandemic of 1918-19; the initial appearance of Ebola virus in Zaire, 1976; and the first recognition of AIDS in California in 1980. Each of these sections begins with a brief, imaginative narrative, some of which include speculative dialogue. Separate features, either in the form of entire pages in a contrasting color or, less often, set against corked flasks of...something—a contaminated culture, perhaps?—or a black doctor’s bag, are very liberally sprinkled through the book, making the choice of what to read first sometimes unclear. A couple of errors in copy editing and layout compound that issue. However, the writing style is engaging, the complexity of information is appropriate for a middle to high school audience, and the mysterious nature of unexplained epidemics is perfectly captured, more than compensating for the deficiencies. (Nonfiction. 11-18)

ISABEL’S WAR

Perl, Lila Lizzie Skurnick/Ig (227 pp.) $18.95 | $12.95 paper | Nov. 15, 2014 978-1-939601-27-8 978-1-939601-27-8 paper A young woman comes of age with World War II looming in the background. It is summer, 1942, and World War II is less than a year old for the United States. Isabel Brandt, 12, and her parents are vacationing at a small, unstylish resort in the Catskills. As they arrive she is teetering on the edge of adolescence; while not selfish, she is self-absorbed. Also visiting at Moskin’s Shady Pines is Helga, a German refugee, the somewhat-older |

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“The illustrations of the playroom are the highlight of the book. Pilutti has painted every toy a child could want….” from ten rules of being a superhero

WHEN ANGUS MET ALVIN

a wholesome message to kids. Take rule seven: “Superheroes must rest so that they can recharge....” Children may prefer the rules that involve tasty snacks; Captain Magma’s battle cry is “Cookies for all!” This book is starchier than a superhero story ought to be, but almost everyone will agree with rule 10: “[S]aving the day is more fun with a friend.” (Picture book. 4- 7)

Pickford, Sue Illus. by Pickford, Sue Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-304-7

The course of alien friendship never did run smooth. Angus the alien is a bit unusual. In fact, he’s rather human, preferring his garden to rockets and laser guns. He likes peace and quiet. One day, a spaceship crashes in the middle of his lawn, and out jumps a raucous alien named Alvin. Readers know Alvin’s loud because he speaks in boldface type. “I’ve come to show you my special space skills,” Alvin announces. He turns on his jet boots and starts whizzing all around. Angus responds with a quieter skill: He twists his ears and a tuft of pink feathers sprouts from his head. Then Alvin behaves in a most ungracious manner, twisting his ears to produce scores of feathers and boastfully cartwheeling all around, stomping on Angus’s pansies. Alvin’s obsession with one-upmanship ends predictably in disaster, but Angus restores him to normal. To show his gratitude, he prepares a big feast for Angus before abruptly taking off; Angus isn’t sorry to see him go. Pickford’s pencil, acrylic and digital illustrations pop with humor and bright colors. The plot, however imaginative and well-tuned to the kinetic energy of the very young, is marred by the sour ending, making the book seem more like a string of one-liners than a story. Children will enjoy the setup and the interactions, but the ending may well leave them cold. (Picture book. 3-5)

SNOW LIKE ASHES

Raasch, Sara Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (432 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-06-228692-5 978-0-06-228694-9 e-book A carefully crafted fantasy grapples with intense issues. In Primoria, the world protagonist Meira inhabits, there are eight kingdoms: four Seasons, in a perpetual state of the season they’re named for, and four Rhythms that cycle through all four. Meira is one of the remaining eight free Winterians: Sixteen years prior to the opening of the book, King Angra of Spring attacked Winter, slaying its queen, destroying its Royal Conduit (a locket used by a female ruler to magically aid her country) and enslaving the surviving Winterians. Attempting to reclaim half the locket, Meira is captured but almost instantly escapes due to quick thinking and her military training—a feat that Raasch makes surprisingly believable. Her complicated relationship with Mather, heir to the Winterian throne, is put on hold when Spring scouts follow her to camp and the refugees must flee to the Rhythm of Cordell—where Meira meets the instantly likable Prince Theron and discovers she’s very much a pawn in a bigger game. The dramatic twist toward the end is impressive both in its believability and its unpredictability. Unfortunately, Raasch’s world is racialized, and the heroic Winterians are pale and beautiful. While the villain is also fair-skinned, the choice to valorize whiteness is perhaps ill-considered given the fraught history of racial stereotyping in high fantasy. This heavy high fantasy manages moments of humor and beauty for a satisfying read. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

TEN RULES OF BEING A SUPERHERO

Pilutti, Deb Illus. by Pilutti, Deb Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-8050-9759-7 There are 10 rules of being a superhero, but the second is the most important: “Saving the day is messy.” By the end of this book, Captain Magma has been lifted into the sky by a bird, dropped in a nest and carted around in a wheelbarrow full of dirt. Captain Magma is only a few inches tall, and he’s made of plastic, so he has to be carried around by his young sidekick, Lava Boy, who runs around the playroom in an adorable red cape and mask. The illustrations of the playroom are the highlight of the book. Pilutti has painted every toy a child could want: robots and monkeys and a green troll with hair like a firecracker. The room is so cluttered with colorful toys that readers may not know where to rest their eyes. Unfortunately, this means that large portions of the book involve sweeping and keeping the house tidy. Readers may wonder if some of the rules were created by an adult to send 112

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ALPHABETABUM An Album of Rare Photographs and Medium Verses Raschka, Chris; Radunsky, Vladimir New York Review Books (80 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-59017-817-1

This collaboration pairs compelling vintage photographs of children, chosen from Radunsky’s extensive collection, with Raschka’s 26 flippant, three-line verses. |

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A beautiful example of artistic bookmaking, a story of family love and lore, and the magic of music personified in a way that’s utterly accessible to children—and their dazzled parents. (biographical note, photographs) (Picture book. 4-10)

The late-19th- and early-20th-century photographs capture images of children dressed in their best costumes and shoes, formally posed in photographers’ studios. Radunsky’s elegant, childfriendly afterword explains that the expense of photographic images caused families to reserve them only for special occasions. Inviting speculation that these children “could have been our great-great-great-grandparents,” he suggests that the photos offer “an extraordinary chance to see what our great-great-greatgrandparents looked like when they were children.” Raschka’s alliterative triplets (arranged alphabetically by the invented names of the pictured children) aim to amuse but clank more than they click. The verses contrive characteristics and emotions for the arbitrarily named children, seeming distinctly out of step with Radunsky’s respectful, historically grounded approach. At “G,” Raschka writes: “Gifted Glenda Grace / Glows gorgeously with a grin / Half as wide as her face.” In the image, a toddler in a fancy dress and big hair bow (both tinted pink) leans against a low table, her hands on an open book. Wide-eyed, she displays a tentative half-smile, more Mona Lisa than Minnie Mouse. The poems not only intentionally sidestep the cultural identities of the depicted children (mostly West European and white), but employ ill-advised terms like “manhandles” and “unmans” in poems about “Merry Margo Maxine” and “Uppity Ursula Uma.” An intriguing concept waylaid by snark. (Picture book. 5- 7)

THE LAST MILE

Richmond, Blair Ashland Creek Press (244 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 31, 2014 978-1-61822-026-4 Series: Lithia Trilogy, 3 The trilogy that introduced vegan vampires (don’t call them “sapsuckers”), passionately environmentalist thespians and the southern Oregon town they call home (well, actually they call it Lithia) comes to an end here, and not a moment too soon. Life is sweet for Kat, proud owner of a mountainside, now a stagehand playing real-life Juliet to Roman’s (real-life and onstage) Romeo, with Alex a potential suitor if things don’t work out. Unfortunately, their powerful vampire progenitor, Victor, remains faithful to the (undead) paleo diet. Her mother’s serpentine pendant protects Kat for now, but Roman warns her, Victor will find a way around it. The earthquake he sets off at her landlord’s wedding proves he means business. Has Victor found a way to awaken Mount Lithia, the dormant volcano looming over the town? Repetitive recapping of the first two books, plus Kat’s soliloquies on animal rights and environmentalism, go on a tad longer than necessary, and like Roman’s ponderous warnings, they lack humor. Never mind—the real protagonist, Lithia, hasn’t lost a bit of its quirky, high-altitude allure; rain gear–clad theatergoers throng the streets sampling the Bard’s offerings, while local runners lace up their shoes for Cloudline—a race to the mountain’s not-quite-dormant summit. One (OK, three) of a kind for readers who prefer their fantasy tinted green, with fangs that sink into grains, not veins. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

GUS & ME The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar

Richards, Keith with Harris, Barnaby; Shapiro, Bill Illus. by Richards, Theodora Megan Tingley/Little, Brown (32 pp.) $18.00 | Sep. 9, 2014 978-0-316-32065-8

What makes music the heart and center of a life? In this case, it is a grandfather who lives in a house full of “instruments and cake.” When Keith visits his granddad Gus, they walk everywhere, and Gus hums tunes and symphonies as they wander through towns and villages—even all the way to London. In the workshop of a music store there, Keith is taken by the guitars. When he is tall enough, Gus promises, Keith can have the guitar that sits on top of the piano in his house. When that moment comes, Gus teaches Keith “Malaguena,” because then he “can play anything.” This is all told so naturally and with such sweet verve that readers may not notice that this is the legendary guitarist of the Rolling Stones. The vibrant and evocative pictures are done by Richards’ daughter, named for her great-grandfather. Over swathes of rich color she lays pen-and-ink drawings of figures and instruments, architectural details, free-floating musical notes—and cakes and tea things—that brilliantly carry the power of love and music into visual imagery. A CD of the author reading the story and playing a bit of “Malaguena” is included, and it is pretty wonderful, too. |

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A-MAZE-ING MINOTAUR

Rix, Juliet Illus. by Snape, Juliet Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-431-0

With the help of a beautiful princess, Theseus solves the mystery of the Labyrinth. King Minos, ruler of the island of Crete, is “a very powerful man—but he [is] not a very nice one.” In his infamous Labyrinth, he keeps the dreaded monster known as the Minotaur, who is fed 14 young Athenians brought every nine years from across the sea. Athenian prince Theseus wants to end the carnage, so he joins the latest group. Fortunately for him, Minos’ daughter Ariadne falls in love with him. She gives |

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him a small sword to hide in his tunic and a ball of golden thread that he clutches to his heart as he sleeps. Next morning, Theseus ties the thread to the Labyrinth door, clutches the sword tightly, slays the Minotaur and makes his way out. Theseus, his friends and Ariadne sail in triumph back to Athens—the book omits his abandonment of Ariadne on the island of Naxos and his carelessness with the sails that results in his father’s suicide. The book’s raison d’etre is an Escher-like spread that gives readers a chance to “navigate” the multilevel maze along with Theseus, but it does not live up to the hype on the front cover. The painterly two-page illustrations and blocks of heightened prose reinforce the majesty of the myth, though both components sometimes seem fusty. A middling treatment all around. (Picture book/myth. 6-9)

Robinson, Anthony Illus. by Allan, June Photos by Robinson, Anthony Frances Lincoln (40 pp.) $19.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-434-1 A photo essay with supplementary illustrations introduces readers to eight children who live on the streets in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Guatemala. Chippo, a 9-year-old from Zimbabwe, runs away from a house where she is enslaved. Miguel in Mozambique, age 13, spends some time on the city streets and some in a town with his older brother. A Guatemalan street family’s story is more hopeful. Their mother has found a way to earn money and has rented an apartment. In his introduction, the author delineates among these examples and others: children who live on their own on the streets, children who work on the streets (yet may spend some time with their families) and children who are part of street families. Robinson has photographed young people in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Guatemala with the help of local organizations. Their websites are included opposite the title page, but there is no bibliography or other notes, save for a world map and chart with 2004-2008 figures supplied by UNICEF. Amateurish sketches illustrate the first-person texts, but they detract from the book’s power rather than enhance the reality. The speech balloons that introduce each child are distracting. This important topic would better be explored in greater detail in a format more appropriate for older readers and with greater geographical representation. Despite its limitations, this well-meaning book may help to inculcate social awareness in the children who read it. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

ROCK AND ROLL HIGHWAY The Robbie Robertson Story

Robertson, Sebastian Illus. by Gustavson, Adam Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (40 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-8050-9473-2

Guitarist Robbie Robertson’s son presents his father’s journey to rock-’n’-roll fame. As a child of mixed Mohawk and Jewish heritage in Ontario, Canada, Robbie spent significant time on the reservation where his mother grew up. There, he was inspired by the vivid storytelling of the elders to become a storyteller himself. He was exposed to many instruments but fell in love with the guitar, which he practiced ferociously. By 16, Robbie was making music professionally. He left Canada for New York City and eventually became the lead guitarist for an established touring band. This experience paved the way for Robbie and his band mates, known simply as The Band, to set out creating their own distinctive sound, which incorporated Robbie’s passion for storytelling in their lyrics. Robertson writes with an endearing tone of adoration and pride, although the narrative runs awfully long: Lengthy paragraphs include superfluous details that will likely lose the attention of young readers who are not already keen fans. The oil illustrations successfully capture time and place, and they incorporate some of the famous faces Robbie met along his way. The book is most likely to be appreciated in settings where children study musical pioneers—and when accompanied by recordings of The Band’s music. A thorough chronicling of a musical trailblazer— though probably too thorough for most in the typical picture-book audience. (timeline, interview) (Picture book/ biography. 7-12)

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ABNORMAL

Robinson, Gary 7th Generation (172 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 25, 2014 978-1-939053-07-7 Series: Billy Buckhorn This slim adventure tale is rooted in Cherokee culture. Billy Buckhorn, 16, is surrounded by his Cherokee heritage—he’s a “fullblood” Cherokee, and his grandfather Wesley is a respected medicine man. When Billy is struck by lightning, he gains psychic abilities, which warn him that the new gym teacher, Mr. Ravenwood, isn’t who—or even what— he seems. Aided by Cherokee folklore and improbable events, he must stop “the Birdman’s” evil spirit from hurting kids. The snippets of Cherokee lore are interesting, but Robinson’s didactic style makes Billy more prop than character. Billy’s age is incongruous with his young-feeling dialogue and the book’s simple prose, and his Cherokee heritage is mentioned so |

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“Lively design, clear explanations, text boxes, photographs and diagrams all contribute to an informative look at how people are working right now to find ways to use a previously inaccessible energy source.” from the next wave

A LETTER FOR LEO

frequently that it feels forced rather than organic to his identity. Nearly everything happens through exposition. Present-tense explanations of Cherokee customs such as stomp dances and trances interrupt the past-tense narration, and potentially powerful scenes pass in a few declarative sentences. Even the mystery is explained by another character, and awkward dialogue spoils the Birdman’s power. Readers will learn a little folklore, but it’s unfortunate that the earnest information about Cherokee culture and values doesn’t integrate naturally into the story. For a creepy thriller based on Native American lore, Joseph Bruchac’s Skeleton Man (2001) is a much stronger choice. (Paranormal adventure. 10-14)

Ruzzier, Sergio Illus. by Ruzzier, Sergio Clarion (32 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 4, 2014 978-0-544-22360-8

A letter carrier who never gets mail himself must experience the ache of a friend’s moving away before he can have

this singular joy. Leo delivers the mail in his small town. The weasel happily delivers packages and letters of all sorts, and he even sometimes stops to rest and chat or play bocce with his friends. But at the end of the day, he is disappointed with his own empty mailbox, “ ‘Maybe tomorrow,’ he sighs.” But one day, the mailbox emits some peculiar noises, and Leo discovers Cheep. Leo cares for the tiny bird as autumn turns to winter, their friendship deepening as they share all sorts of adventures. But when spring comes and the birds fly north again, Leo knows it’s time to say goodbye. A sorrowful, wordless spread in the colors of the sunset expresses all that Leo and Cheep are feeling. All is as it was before for Leo save for one thing: a letter from Cheep. Retro colors and sparse backgrounds in the tiled-roof town give Ruzzier’s illustrations an Old World feel that is echoed in the animal characters, some of whom seem to be right out of old cartoons’ central casting. Friends separated by a move may be soothed by the (albeit old-fashioned) idea that they can stay in touch via letters, and the final view of Leo and Cheep reunited gives hope for visits. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE NEXT WAVE The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans Rusch, Elizabeth HMH Books (80 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-544-09999-9 Series: Scientists in the Field

Scientists and engineers from around the world work to harness the power of ocean waves, testing their ideas in an Oregon research lab and the stormy seas off the Oregon coast. Here’s another well-written science title from an author whose previous contributions to the Scientists in the Field series introduced researchers studying volcanic eruptions on Earth and exploring Mars. After explaining the world’s need for renewable energy sources and the force of ocean power, Rusch focuses on three different approaches to harnessing this power that were underway at the time of her writing. She draws in young readers by introducing two engineers as young tinkerers, following their work through college to the development of a company testing an energy-capture device that sits on the ocean floor. An Oregon State University faculty member has equipped a testing ground offshore to monitor different approaches; some of her students are now building a device that uses the upand-down motion of the waves. A third company has created working wave-powered buoys using a different design. A center spread describes other approaches from around the world. Lively design, clear explanations, text boxes, photographs and diagrams all contribute to an informative look at how people are working right now to find ways to use a previously inaccessible energy source. Timely, important, appropriately focused and interesting. (extensive chapter notes, sources, suggestions, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

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THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE

Ryan, Carrie; Davis, John Parke Little, Brown (448 pp.) $17.00 | $9.99 e-book | Nov. 18, 2014 978-0-316-24077-2 978-0-316-24076-5 e-book Series: Pirate Stream, 1 Two displaced young adventurers sail streams of raw magic from world to world in this vividly cast series opener. Convergent plotlines bring together Marrill, who impulsively climbs aboard the four-master that floats into view atop a shimmering mirage in an Arizona parking lot, and Fin, another world’s scruffy orphan/thief who literally passes “out of sight, out of mind” with everyone he meets. Nearly everyone, that is: To his shock, Marrill actually remembers him when he’s not in view. Joining a notably diverse crew aboard the Enterprising Kraken, a ship able to sail the transformative waters of the multiverse-spanning Pirate Stream thanks to a hull made from “dullwood,” the two set out to gather the long-separated parts of a fabled map to Everywhere. The quest becomes a frantic dash thanks to hot pursuit by Serth, a mad wizard who constantly |

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“Compact, wrinkled bat faces and webbed wings are folded into beautiful bonnets and full hoop skirts. Hidden jokes add to the fun.” from the gentleman bat

CHANGING MICHAEL

weeps black tears and seeks the map to fulfill a vision of universal apocalypse. Fin’s oddball ability serves him well in tight spots, but it also becomes an amusing running gag. Filling out the cast with sobbing pirates, briskly efficient “pirats” (or “bilge mice”) and like fancies, the authors send their intrepid searchers hither and thither, to a desperate climactic struggle...that is only a beginning. Multifaceted characters, high stakes, imaginative magic, and hints of hidden twists and complexities to come add up to a memorable start to a projected four-volume voyage. (numerous illustrations, not seen) (Fantasy. 10-13) (This review was first published in the Fall Preview 2014 issue.)

Schilling, Jeff Bancroft Press (191 pp.) $21.95 | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-61088-122-7

A teen provocateur decides to befriend and help a social outcast. Matthew is all about entertaining himself. He sees life as a series of games and challenges. A big challenge would be getting the school loner, Michael, some street cred. The book goes through the motions, following the basic outline of a romantic comedy that just happens to feature two guys. They meet cute, they tackle a problem together, they fall out. Though they do not come together again just in time for the book to finish, readers are left with a hint of rapprochement as Matthew pursues a friendship with Michael’s younger half sister. The author doubles down on the clichés by trotting out such reliable standards as an estranged father, seemingly distant stepfather and preoccupied moms. And wouldn’t you know it, all the time spent changing Michael ends up changing Matthew a bit too. The two leads are hard to take, which is unfortunate. Michael is a dull, cowardly introvert with little spark of life, regardless of his sad-sack back story. He’s preferable to narrator Matthew, though, who is intensely unlikable: cocky, vain, inconsiderate, obnoxious. Although the book deserves high marks for consistency of voice, Matthew’s character growth is so deliberate and his voice so abrasive that readers may find any redemption too little, too late. Like the main character, not as smart as it thinks it is. (Fiction. 12-16)

FLATLAND

Sayre, David Illus. by Emberley, Rebecca Two Little Birds (32 pp.) $18.95 | Sep. 1, 2014 978-0-99129-350-6 A brightly colored blob arrives in Flatland, makes relationships and builds a community, then leaves. At the beginning of the story, Owuza is just a collection of concentric, digitally collaged, uneven circles—“no more than a speck.” He develops what look to be eyes, hair and a body, and he carries his heart in his outstretched hand. He finds friends in Flatland; they share stories and songs, create “beautiful things,” help and heal. Then one day, Owuza is gone from Flatland. The Flatlanders look for him but do not find him—until they reach out to one another, and “there, in the center of them all, was Owuza. In all that they shared, he was with them always.” Apparently written in response to the death of his daughter, Sayre’s tale strives to be elemental but ends up simply oblique. It never leaves the mythic plane it begins on, keeping readers at a distance. Children are unlikely to understand what’s going on with either Owuza’s departure or his “reappearance” among the Flatlanders. Emberley’s illustrations pop, placing roughedged, circular yellow, turquoise, lime-green and fuchsia shapes against a terra-cotta background; in the reiteration of concentric shapes and dots, her designs echo Aboriginal art. In this way, they are an apt emotional and conceptual complement to the text, but they do little to illuminate it for young readers. This metaphor for death is just too metaphorical to succeed. (Picture book. 4-8)

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THE GENTLEMAN BAT

Schroeder, Abraham Illus. by Parda, Piotr Ripple Grove (44 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-0-9913866-0-4

A dapper bat, resplendent in top hat, monocle and cane, strolls down 19th-century cobblestone streets to see where the night takes him. Inspired by a real-life Japanese woodblock print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi showcasing bats and an umbrella (find the image tucked away in the illustrations), Parda and Schroeder create a debonair bat who hits the town of Batford. Upon meeting a lady bat friend in the town’s square, he asks her to dance (“A gentleman’s way to kindle romance”). They continue their walk, but rain threatens to ruin their evening. Luckily, he has an umbrella hidden in his cane. It’s an odd plot to be sure, but it’s absolutely charming in detail. Parda’s moonlit watercolors bring the Victorian era to life. Compact, wrinkled bat faces and webbed wings are folded into beautiful bonnets and full hoop skirts. Hidden jokes add to the fun. Sign posts advertise delectable drinks of coffee, nectar and plasma, while a corner merchant sells ear |

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plugs (sure to make a bat’s evening more enjoyable). True to his eponym, the gentleman bat escorts the lady bat home, giving her a small kiss on the cheek at the gate. A jaunty rhyme that just may teach manners to boot. (Picture book. 3- 6)

amazing models will pique younger readers’ interest and have them reading the fine print (and wishing the margins between the columns were bigger) to figure out how to replicate them (though there are no building instructions). Meanwhile, older readers will be engrossed in the interviews and descriptions of how to create shapes that accurately reflect reality, something that can sometimes be difficult with the blocky plastic bricks. A few standouts include the SNOT building technique—Studs Not On Top—making mosaics with cheese-slope bricks (don’t miss the stained-glass windows made using this technique) and photography techniques for capturing models for posterity. From where to buy those elements you just gotta have to where to go to find inspiration, Schwartz has included it all, and Lego fans will want this close to hand as both inspiration and guide for their next builds. (Nonfiction. 9 & up)

100 THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY

Schwartz, Amy Illus. by Schwartz, Amy abramsappleseed (40 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-4197-0518-2 Lollipop colors and utterly cheery simplicity make for a rousing read-aloud chant. A multiethnic cast of small children and adults lists happymaking small joys in rhyme. It is near impossible not to find something readers will love, too, whether “red socks” and “building blocks” or “braids” and “parades.” The pictures range from multiple small vignettes on a spread to full-page illustrations. One particularly striking composition places “city lights” across the gutter from “starry nights.” In the first picture, a child tucked in bed looks out her window to a brightly lit nighttime cityscape; opposite, a parent and child toast marshmallows outside their tent on a hill under the stars. It’s hard not to love “strawberry ice” and “pizza slice” or a grandfather and grandson pushing their “grocery carts” full of stuff (and those carts rhyme with “frosted hearts”). Fine line and strong color make each image a joy: There’s lots of pattern and movement to every figure, therefore much to revel in visually. All 100 things are numbered and reproduced as a poster on the inside of the dust jacket, and the endpapers are striped in every color used. It is a book chock-full of fun—what more could one want? (Picture book. 3-8)

THE ACADEMY OF PLANETARY EVOLUTION

Shapiro, David R. Illus. by Herndon, Christopher; Melville, Erica Craigmore Creations (168 pp.) $17.99 paper | Oct. 29, 2014 978-1940052-09-0 Series: Terra Tempo, 3

Three exceptionally bright children find themselves at an exclusive timetraveling academy—and on the run from some fellow time travelers seeking them and their magical map. Jenna, Ari and Caleb have been selected to study at the Academy of Planetary Evolution, a small, erudite institution that holds its classes at notable American museums and has famous (albeit deceased) lecturers, such as Andrew Carnegie and Herman Melville. The kids learn about the evolution of the Earth by traveling through time with the assistance of TOGGLERs, hand-held devices that blast them into the past. In addition to attending to their studies, the trio must avoid the Treasure Hunters, an avaricious assemblage seeking the kids’ enchanted map, which is able to transport its keeper into ancient eras. Though a time-travel story at heart, this third volume in the series is densely laden with facts about Earth’s history and mammalian evolution; at times, the facts outweigh the fiction. That being said, anyone who reads this is sure to pick up a tidbit or two, and many of Herndon and Melville’s accompanying graphics are positively thrilling. Be sure to pair this with Jim Ottaviani’s excellent graphic novel Bone Sharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards (2005), which further expounds upon some of the characters Jenna, Ari and Caleb encounter. Edifying and entertaining; recommended for serious dinosaur aficionados looking for scholarly, in-depth information. (maps, glossary, bios) (Graphic informational fantasy. 8-14)

THE ART OF LEGO DESIGN Creative Ways to Build Amazing Models Schwartz, Jordan No Starch Press (288 pp.) $24.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-59327-553-2

Combining a history of Lego, interviews with prominent Lego builders and ideas for bringing models to the next level of inventiveness, this book will speak both to readers who are just starting out and to those looking to refine their skills. From descriptions of scale and the uses of many of the Lego elements to discussions of patterns, textures and composition, Schwartz takes the usual themes for Lego models—figures, buildings, vehicles, animals, robots and mechs, and spacecraft—and shows readers how to build(!) on those ideas. The format makes this accessible to a wide age range: Photos of |

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SWIMMING HOME

and the slow march to sex, the story becomes repetitive at times, but Showalter’s witty zingers will keep readers cackling. A mysterious woman heralds yet-undiscovered abilities for Ali, as well as devastating secrets from the past that endanger aspects of her personal life and reveal more of Anima’s history. The ending thoroughly concludes the series. Funny, sexy, action-packed and tragic in all the right moments. (Horror/paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Shetterly, Susan Hand Illus. by Raye, Rebekah Tilbury House (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-0-88448-354-0

A school of alewives migrates from the ocean to an inland lake to spawn. Led by Pesca, the river herrings head north, swimming in parallel with the Canada geese. They pass a pod of porpoises and a humpback whale before turning toward the coast. They are spotted by a boy out in a rowboat with his father, who tells his son about the old alewife fishery, now moribund due to plummeting numbers. Once in a stream, Pesca and her school evade an eagle and a heron, and they navigate a beaver dam before pulling up short where a road has been constructed over the stream; the culvert through which the stream now flows is too high for the fish to reach. Happily, the boy and his father spot them and are able to use buckets to lift the fish over the road and into the lake. Raye’s soft, bright paintings depict the journey, varying perspective to give readers a sense of scale and drama, as with an intense close-up of the eagle’s talons. Perhaps unintentionally, the story leaves readers with a real conundrum: Even the most optimistic are likely to feel that trusting in passersby with buckets to save a fishery bodes ill for its long-term survival. An author’s note provides background on both alewives and anadromous fish, but it offers only faint hope. An ecological cautionary tale that perhaps errs a little too much on the side of caution. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

UNDIVIDED

Shusterman, Neal Simon & Schuster (480 pp.) $18.99 | $10.99 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-4814-0975-9 978-1-4814-0977-3 e-book Series: Unwind Dystology, 4 The grisly conclusion to the Unwind Dystology. Times have changed for Connor, Risa, Lev and company—the heroes and heroines of a brave fight to prevent the government from harvesting the organs of unruly teens. Chilling propaganda pushes the Marcella Initiative, a law that would allow the government to unwind teenagers without their parents’ permission. Also, Connor and his team find an “organ printer” that could be the answer they need to stop the unwinding atrocities around the globe, and egomaniacal Mason Starkey continues to attack harvest camps across the country with bloodthirsty vengeance. Meanwhile, a gang of evil, elite black-market organ harvesters pursues Connor with deadly intent. Shusterman’s finale might be the best one in the series since the first: He cuts straight to the chase with the plotting and creates horrifically heinous supervillians to keep it moving and ensure readers are glued to the edges of their seats. His settings are also dead-on, so to speak: In one iconic, symbolic scene, the Statue of Liberty’s arm is replaced with another, and readers can’t help but wonder if this is the future. Everything culminates in an action-packed, heartwrenching conclusion guaranteed to chill readers to the bone. (Dystopian adventure. 12-15)

THE QUEEN OF ZOMBIE HEARTS

Showalter, Gena Harlequin Teen (448 pp.) $18.99 | Sep. 30, 2014 978-0-373-21131-9 Series: White Rabbit Chronicles, 3 Hostilities between Anima Industries and the zombie slayers escalate into all-out war in this trilogy conclusion. The teenage zombie slayers’ relative peace is shattered when Anima, the evil company doing zombie research, launches a series of attacks meant to eliminate them. When faced with a comrade’s severe injuries, Ali discovers via a desperate experiment that the magical zombie-killing fire heals slayers. Unfortunately, though, it can’t help dead slayers, so Ali and friends must find their fellow survivors before it’s too late. Publicly, Anima’s made it look like the attacks were a gang war between Cole’s group and another band of teenage zombie fighters—leading to a tense union of both crowds. While at times it is hard to keep track of the large cast, it’s always safe to assume that any given guy is an alpha male. Meanwhile, Ali and Cole incrementally progress in their physical intimacy (subject to comical interruptions). Between finding the missing slayers 118

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CHUM

Sidwell, Adam Glendon Future House Publishing (242 pp.) $15.95 paper | Oct. 10, 2014 978-0-9891253-3-8 A young teen finagles his way onto a reality TV show. Thirteen-year-old Los Angeles resident Levi Middleworth is absolutely convinced that great things are in store for him. He’s got a Destiny with a capital D—all he has to do is find it. When his impressive swimming skills catch the attention of |

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“The mixed-media collage of watercolor and pencil on brightly colored paper set against a white background works well with the book’s lighthearted tone.” from the strongest boy in the world

CLAUDE ON THE SLOPES

a talent scout looking to cast a reality show, Levi lies about his age and signs up for Chum TV. The show is set upon a boat traveling along the Pacific coast, and contestants are tasked with finding a small object known as a Chum each day. A player who doesn’t find his or her Chum by the end of the day will be tossed overboard in a sort of weird variation on musical chairs. The last player standing wins $1 million. There’s an interesting premise here, but unfortunately, the author seems unsure exactly how to exploit it. The novel’s tone constantly switches between satire and straight drama, making it difficult for readers to decide whether they should care about the characters aboard the preposterous, increasingly dangerous ship. Muddying the waters further are arguments against fame-based culture and reality TV that seem a decade too late. These complications continue to compound, leaving readers with little to latch on or relate to. Frustratingly ineffectual. (Fiction. 12-16)

Smith, Alex T. Illus. by Smith, Alex T. Peachtree (96 pp.) $12.95 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-56145-805-9 Series: Claude, 4

It’s difficult to describe the Claude books without using the word surreal. The new book in the series may be the sweetest surrealist children’s book ever published. Claude’s best friend is a sock. Sir Bobblysock is very nattily dressed, and Smith gets a lot of mileage out of one joke, putting the sock in ever more absurd outfits. Sir Bobblysock wears pajamas, then earmuffs, and there’s a reference to a “glitzy leotard” he puts on before aerobics class. Most of the humor in the book comes from one basic premise: This would never, ever happen in real life. Sometimes the joke works. It’s very funny when a girl suggests Claude use a tea tray as a sled, and readers learn that “He always kept one in his beret—with a full tea set just in case there was a tea-based emergency.” It’s less funny to read about Sir Bobblysock’s bunion and his session in a heated foot spa. Instead of laughing, kids may say, “What’s a bunion?” or, “That would never, ever happen in real life.” Much too often, the book is perplexing instead of amusing. But there’s no denying that Claude is sweet and charming, and Sir Bobblysock looks fantastic in his checkered nightcap. In the end, it’s hard not to love a main character who wears a one-man-band outfit to the library, in case he finds a very exciting book. (Fiction. 7-9)

GUSTAVE

Simard, Rémy Illus. by Pratt, Pierre Translated by Tanaka, Shelley Groundwood (56 pp.) $18.95 | $16.95 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-55498-451-0 978-1-55498-452-7 e-book Greater love hath no mouse.... Simard and Pratt tell in an uncompromisingly honest style the tale of a mouse whose best friend, Gustave, is eaten by a cat, apparently sacrificing himself to save the narrator and allow him to escape. Once the terrified mouse is sure Gustave is gone, he wanders alone through a bleak urban landscape, dreading going home to his mother without his dearest friend. Finally, he returns to the mousehole. Mother is making dinner. She has already guessed what happened and has a plan to make her son feel better. She pulls out a life-size stuffed mouse, identical to Gustave in every feature, which she just happens to have on hand. The mouse declares, “You will never be Gustave,” but he decides quickly that the lifelike toy will be an acceptable substitute, and in his imagination, it can come alive. Strikingly illustrated in a painterly style reminiscent of Whistler’s nightscapes, with sparse, hand-printed text, the book is clearly aiming to make an impression. Textured acrylic washes and figures heavily outlined in black give the book a gloomy, threatening air. For all the beauty of its artwork, the tone of this book is surprisingly somber for a children’s book, and readers may find it hard to discern a positive message. Share this book with children who have a high level of tolerance for ambiguity—and be ready to discuss. (Picture book. 4- 6)

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THE STRONGEST BOY IN THE WORLD

Souhami, Jessica Illus. by Souhami, Jessica Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-411-2

In this retelling of a Japanese tale, a scrawny country boy named Kaito heads to Kyoto to enter a wrestling tournament. He leaves his village filled with confidence about his chances against the “Champion Wrestlers” he hopes to compete against. He’s tempted to tickle a girl he meets along the way to make her spill the bucket she’s carrying on her head. She’s far stronger than he is, though, and doesn’t spill a drop. Her name is Hana, and she offers to help him prepare for the tournament. Kaito spends the next three weeks training in her cottage, then goes to Kyoto, where he wins the championship despite his small stature. There’s humor in the fact that Hana is stronger than Kaito, even after he’s crowned champion. The mixed-media collage of watercolor and pencil on brightly colored paper set against a white background works well with the book’s lighthearted tone. Souhami plays with the typeface, incorporating the text into |

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“The narrative is delivered in a lively typeface that ties it to the hubbub of activity behind it….” from following the tractor

the design to highlight parts of the story. The change in protagonist from the 13th-century tale’s mature warrior learning to be “invincible” to a puny boy able to defeat the outsized sumo wrestlers may strain readers’ suspension of disbelief. Modern boys who dream of athletic prowess should find this appealing. (author’s note) (Picture book/folk tale. 4- 7)

the clamor of one show is more than Minnie can handle. She escapes from Francoise’s lap and hides backstage, while Francoise worries and cries. They are reunited in a blaze of publicity, and Minnie’s rescue is featured in the newspapers. Enamored of the glamorous Parisian lifestyle and the opportunity to envelop her characters in the world of fashion, Steele nearly overwhelms the slight, sweet tale about love between a little girl and her pet. While her text is pedestrian, Valiant provides Minnie with a happy, appealing personality as she moves through the bright, color-filled illustrations that nicely capture the spirit of Paris and all the fashion-forward clothing. Froufrou. (Picture book. 4- 7)

LITTLE HUMANS

Stanton, Brandon Photos by Stanton, Brandon Farrar, Straus and Giroux (40 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-374-37456-3

FOLLOWING THE TRACTOR

The creator of the popular Humans of New York blog focuses his camera lens on the diverse children of New York City. Street photographer Stanton has captured the lives of many New Yorkers, but none ever this small, all in one place. “Little humans can do big things, // if they stand up tall / and hold on tight. // Sure, sometimes they fall. / But they get back up. // They’ll be alright!” Rhyming text highlights the resilience and varied experiences of childhood, accompanied by one large photo per phrase. Most are sidewalk portraits with concrete backdrops, but readers find a bit of grass every few pages—just like New York. Tiny hipsters in elbow-patched blazers share space with barefooted friends playing in a fire hydrant’s spray. Some readers might be inclined to say the more eclectic fashionistas are only found in New York City, but kids’ ensembles are often distinct and creative, no matter where they live. While the text is largely platitudinous, the photographs are so striking as to make it easy to ignore. A wide range of ethnic groups and smiles broadens the scope even further. These humans may be little, but their photos bring large delight. (Picture book. 3- 7)

Steggall, Susan Illus. by Steggall, Susan Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-84780-489-1 Over the course of a year, all manner of birds and animals follow a farmer as he works the fields with his tractor. Across pages of torn-paper collage that seems to leap off the paper, the large-format double-page spreads showcase the changing landscape around the farm with close-ups of brightly colored machinery. Beginning with the cover and endpapers, a visual story of village life through the seasons unfolds alongside the text. The background provides attentive young listeners with ample opportunities to count birds on the wire, sheep on the hillside or people walking dogs. The narrative is delivered in a lively typeface that ties it to the hubbub of activity behind it while telling the farmer’s story in a matter-of-fact way that’s perfect in its pacing, with the feel of a cumulative rhyme and a satisfying amount of rounded vowels: “So, the tractor, it is sleeping / when the farmer comes along, / lugging his load across the cold, hard ground. // And the cows come down, / to see what can be found, / by following the farmer around and around.” A delightful book that will stand up to repeated readings on a lap or in a group setting. (Picture book. 3- 6)

PRETTY MINNIE IN PARIS

Steel, Danielle Illus. by Valiant, Kristi Doubleday (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-385-37000-4

BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE

Minnie is a teacup Chihuahua who lives in Paris with Francoise and her very chic family. They dine at bistros, ride a bike in the Jardin du Luxembourg, go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and walk to the Arc de Triomphe. But most of all they love fashion, especially pink and purple and anything with sparkles. Francoise and Minnie, who is based on the author’s pet, have outfits to suit every occasion. Since Francoise’s mother is a fashion designer, they are able to visit the workrooms and witness the process of the design and construction of the clothes. Most exciting of all is the opportunity to attend fashion shows. But 120

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Stiefvater, Maggie Scholastic (416 pp.) $18.99 | $18.99 e-book | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-545-42496-7 978-0-545-66290-1 e-book Series: Raven Cycle, 3 As the Raven Boys grow closer to their goal of finding the Welsh king Glendower, not surprisingly, problems arise in this third book of a planned fourvolume series. |

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WHERE WICKED STARTS

Blue Sargent’s mother has been missing for three months, leaving behind only a cryptic note. She’s gone underground in search of her former lover, Blue’s dad. Her ex–hit man boyfriend is the only person besides Blue who seems concerned. Meanwhile, the Raven Boys—Gansey, Adam and Ronan, with ghostly Noah now struggling to appear corporeal—and Blue find a mysterious cave guarded by an Appalachian mountain man; inside is indeed an ancient Welsh coffin. Despite Adam’s new understanding that there are three buried sleepers, two to wake, one to leave sleeping, they open the lid, and out pops Gwenllian, the perhaps-not-asleep but long-buried daughter of Glendower. Friend or foe? Oh, and the person who hired the hit man is the boys’ new Latin teacher. Stiefvater weaves these separate threads together with a sure hand until magic seems expected yet never commonplace, always shimmering under the surface. Most credible and moving are the slow maturations of her characters—Adam comes to measure his worth in something other than money; Blue secretly phones Gansey in the night. If she kisses her true love, he will die. Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Stuckey-French, Elizabeth; Henley, Patricia Lacewing/Engine (208 pp.) $14.95 paper | $14.95 e-book Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-938126-26-0 978-1-938126-27-7 e-book Two stepsisters are preoccupied by weird characters who keep popping up around their Florida town. The idea of turning an old house into a bed-and-breakfast might appeal to their newly married parents, but for teenagers Nick and Luna, painting and cleaning are dull jobs they’re eager to escape. Compelling distraction comes in the form of two people they spot around the town and dub Mr. Creep and Bony, who fail to match up with any of the usual relationship templates: Are they father/daughter? Boyfriend/girlfriend? Combining Luna’s photography skills and Nick’s intuitiveness, they manage to put together a case against Mr. Creep that no one will listen to until Luna’s renegade father makes an extended visit. Henley and Stuckey-French, both veteran novelists, steer the plot slowly despite the mystery-novel framework. The majority of their skill is spent on lilting prose, such as, “Those girls are a misery train bearing down on me.” It is lovely, but it makes the girls, who take turns narrating the novel, seem like adults playacting as teenagers. Naïve 14-yearold Nick does make a good foil for jaded 16-year-old Luna, who tells readers “I’d already had sex, and by that I mean full-fledged fucking, by the time I was her age” and describes her revulsion at giving a boy a blow job. More effective as an exploration of the odd moments of transition as a blended family struggles to cohere than as a mystery. (Fiction. 14-18)

AMY’S CHOICE

Strykowski, Marcia Luminis (224 pp.) $19.95 | $11.95 paper | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-935462-08-8 978-1-935462-13-2 paper High school freshman Amy, who befriended both an orphaned seal pup and a tough local kid in her first outing, is back for another placidly entertaining outing that takes up where Call Me Amy (2013) ended. It’s 1973, and the raciest thing that seems to be happening in Amy’s small coastal Maine town is some illicit teen cigarette smoking. Craig, for whom she has been entertaining romantic feelings, is away, and Cat and her somewhat nerdy older brother Ricky have recently moved to Port Wells. Amy and Cat befriend Finn, a retired lighthouse keeper and budding artist. When a shed catches fire, he’s blamed, but Amy suspects the two girls who have always relentlessly bullied her. After Craig returns to town, she must decide whether to accompany him or Ricky to the high school dance, even as she stands up to the bullies to keep Finn out of jail. For the most part, conflict is so quickly resolved that it fails to sustain suspense, leaving this effort largely character-driven. Amy’s first-person voice is pleasant, straightforward and always so mild readers will wish for some feistiness to provide much-needed flavor. Calm, pleasant, decidedly “clean”—this blandly cheerful tale would have benefited from a bit of spice. (Historical fiction.10-14)

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GIRL AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

Tea, Michelle Illus. by Verwey, Amanda McSweeney’s McMullens (256 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-1-940450-00-1 Series: Chelsea Trilogy, 2 This second installment in the Chelsea Trilogy takes its 13-year-old heroine on a journey from urban blight through deep-sea magic. Sophie’s adventure begins where her previous tale had ended, with her bones crushed to jelly beneath the violent, watery fist of her grandmother, the malevolent sea witch Kishka. Kept alive only by her own magic—for Sophie has inherited her grandmother’s Odmience powers—Sophie is dragged into the healing depths of the ocean by her mermaid friend, Syrena. Far from the festering squalor of her home in Chelsea, Massachusetts, far from the noisy party boats kicking up a racket in Boston Harbor, Sophie begins coming into her magic at last. |

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Together, Sophie and Syrena begin the long journey to Poland, where Sophie will have to save the world (“When I’m done with saving humanity, I am going to make my mom go on a booze cruise,” Sophie promises herself). For this in-between trilogy adventure, Sophie primarily explores the richly described (if scientifically dubiously) undersea world as a warm-up for what will presumably be her epic final battle. She eats plankton and salt, wears a baby octopus in her hair and learns to control the currents. Primarily, Sophie reacts rather than acts; much of her role is to gain emotional revelations about friendship. Certainly the deep affection between Sophie and the foulmouthed, insultflinging mermaid is apparent, if snark-filled. Much less grim than the series opener, with plenty of mermaid appeal for readers happy with lyrical but overlong musings. (Fantasy. 13-16)

THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

Thompson, Ben Little, Brown (336 pp.) $17.00 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-316-32050-4 978-0-316-32053-5 e-book Series: Guts & Glory, 1 Blogger and author Thompson gamely takes on the task of exciting young readers about the American Civil War. A self-described Civil War student and re-enactor, Thompson expresses understanding for both sides in the conflict, aiming “to present courageous heroes and cowardly villains from both sides equally, showing each in their full glory without trying to pull any punches whatsoever.” While some stories are well-known, others focus on individuals who haven’t received much attention, such as Confederate spy Belle Boyd and other women who assisted the efforts of each army. While the author does not dwell on it, the role of slavery is discussed, and the efforts of African-Americans to both serve and fight are included. The book’s greatest strength is its colloquial storytelling. The short chapters and extensive use of sidebars are designed to attract reluctant readers, while the breezy, sometimes-humorous style makes the history accessible. Thompson’s passion for his subject is infectious. The many illustrations, photographs and archival material supplement the narrative. A thorough index will help researchers, but the material and delivery is better suited to recreational reading. There is an extensive bibliography but no source notes for chapter epigraphs or those quotes included in the text. Final art not seen. An easy, breezy series opener that should help create a few new history buffs. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

WINTER’S COMING A Story of Seasonal Change Thornhill, Jan Illus. by Bisaillon, Josée Owlkids Books (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-77147-002-5

Winter is a very demanding visitor! When Lily, a lone snowshoe hare, is told that winter is coming, she isn’t sure what to expect or even precisely who or what winter is. Children who know better will be eager to share their thoughts on the subject as Lily speaks to a migrating blackbird, a mushroom-preserving squirrel, a seed-storing chickadee, a nippy mosquito, a frog looking for a hiding place, a caterpillar that’s ready to curl up and a turtle about to dive into mud. As she does so, she comes to understand that each creature is getting ready for winter’s arrival in a different manner. Straightforward, approachable text, inventively illustrated in paper collage that exudes color and warmth, succinctly describes each animal as preparations get underway, while unbeknownst to Lily, she gradually changes color from chocolate brown to shimmering white. It isn’t until snowflakes begin to fall and a bear planning to hibernate sets her straight that Lily understands the true meaning of winter and finds that she can blend in with her surroundings and frolic in the snow. This sweet introduction to the concept of seasons, complete with a curious and likable heroine, is supplemented by endnotes that provide information on the various animals and how they prepare for winter. Young readers will eagerly join this charming young hare in exploring the mysteries of winter. (Picture book. 4-8)

NO NAME

Tingle, Tim 7th Generation (162 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 25, 2014 978-1-939053-06-0 Series: PathFinders In a simply but lyrically told tale, a Choctaw boy builds himself a hole in the ground to hide from his alcoholic father. Bobby’s mother has left, for reasons that go unsaid but are nonetheless clear. When Bobby’s father picks a fight with him one morning and threatens—again—to give him “the whippin’ you deserve,” Bobby falls by accident into a hole in the backyard. Feeling safer there than in the house, he gets an old door from a junkyard and lays it over the hole, covering it with leaves. As the standoff with his dad continues, Bobby finds support from his Cherokee basketball-player friend Johnny, his neighbor Carolina Faye, and his dad’s friend Mr. Robison, who tells him a Choctaw story about a boy called No Name and his fraught relationship with his father. Bobby’s mixed emotions toward his own flawed father, and his father’s toward him, are conveyed in straightforward yet revealing lines of dialogue and first-person narration (“He might be


“The complementary artwork features appropriately detailed backgrounds and beautiful chiaroscuro….” from albie’s first word

THE INTERN

the biggest bully in town, but he was still my dad”). Supporting characters are similarly well-drawn, with the unfortunate exception of two female characters—one in the frame story and one in the No Name tale—who don’t have much personality beyond their interests in their respective male protagonists. Expressive and many-layered. (Fiction. 12-16)

Tozer, Gabrielle HarperCollins 360 (336 pp.) $8.99 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-0-7322-9705-3 An academic overachiever susses out her professional and romantic futures in this Australian import. Josie—not quite 18 and full of an overachiever’s occasionally awkward, nervy energy—is dreading an unpaid internship at swanky Sash magazine. It’s just one day a week, so she gamely commutes from her sleepy suburb, staying two nights a week with her charming slacker cousin Tim and his butterfliesinducingly cute roommate, James. Braving the city crowds and her intimidatingly cool fellow interns in an outfit selected by her more stylish younger sister, Kat, Josie decides she must win the competition for the $5,000 the magazine is offering to the intern that exacting Editor-in-Chief Rae deems best of the semester. (Money is tight since her father abruptly left the family, and the winnings would help Josie and Kat’s financially stressed mother keep her head above water.) Josie’s gift as a writer and her guilelessly direct way with a bad-boy pop star launch her journalism career, but the consequences of a drunken night out almost ruin her, professionally and socially. In many ways, Josie is a fairly typical 17-year-old, considerate and selfish by turns, facing important questions about how to behave in her family, peer and collegial relationships. New friendships flourish, old ones evolve, and readers will cheer as their small-town heroine finds her way in the big (unnamed) city. A solid, appealing debut. (Fiction. 13-16)

ALBIE’S FIRST WORD A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein’s Childhood

Tourville, Jacqueline Illus. by Evans, Wynne Schwartz & Wade/Random (40 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB Oct. 28, 2014 978-0-307-97893-6 978-0-307-97895-0 e-book 978-0-307-97894-3 PLB

The fact that Albert Einstein uttered his first words later in life than most children inspired this quirky, endearing tribute to the famous scientist and humanitarian. “Albie, as everyone called Albert, liked to do all the things other children did.” This sentence floats in white space above an intriguing piece of artwork, nicely framed within an oval shape: In muted tones of amber, a boy clad in 19th-century clothes is leaping over black-and-white tiles and then over a threshold into a just-barely-seen, brighter room. The artwork’s subliminal message compels readers to turn the page. Thereafter, the text intersperses its tale of a mute little boy with nuggets of historical and cultural reality describing the lives of the German upper middle class in the late 1800s. There are even some German words. The simple story is told with heart, suspense and gentle humor. The complementary artwork features appropriately detailed backgrounds and beautiful chiaroscuro juxtaposed with an Albie whose body exhibits exaggerated toddler proportions and whose face looks modeled in clay. Readers of all ages will enjoy the wise and witty climax, and older readers will appreciate the endpapers—reproduced from Einstein’s “Zurich Notebook”—and the thoughtful author’s note. More than a distinctive introduction to Albert Einstein, this book promotes both understanding of difference and scientific curiosity. (glossary, photograph) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

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MIMI AND BEAR IN THE SNOW

Trasler, Janee Illus. by Trasler, Janee Farrar, Straus and Giroux (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-374-34971-4

Mimi’s beloved toy accompanies her everywhere she goes. On a lovely snowy day, she goes outside to play, and Bear is there to watch and applaud her wintry triumphs. She ice-skates on a puddle and wins an imaginary gold medal. She makes an extravagant, decorated snow hat for herself and one for Bear. But when she completes a hairy snow beast and is ready to end her adventures, Bear is nowhere to be found, and she must return home without him. The next day, the snow has melted, and her skating rink and the snow hats are all gone, but there, in place of the melted snow beast, is Bear. Now Mimi keeps Bear safely tucked in a backpack wherever she goes, so she will never lose him again. Employing brief descriptive sentences and repeating the mantra “Bear was there,” Trasler’s gentle tale beautifully captures a child’s love for a dependable, cuddly friend, no matter if it is inanimate. Mimi, who is a bunny, and Bear stand out in |

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“As in series opener Next (2013), Waltman balances blazing hoops action against Derrick’s emotional growth.” from slump

brightly hued red, gold and blue, while the snowy setting is rendered in soft whites, grays and greens. Sharp-eyed young readers will notice Bear as he is caught in the makings of the snow beast and will want to tell Mimi where to look. Warm and fuzzy and very reassuring. (Picture book. 2- 6)

while she was alive. Lonnie faces incredible pressure to take on the responsibilities at home after his mother’s death. His father is unemployed and spends more and more time at home drinking rather than out looking for a job. As the money begins to run out, tough decisions must be made about which belongings to sell, what to eat and where to live. Before long, Lonnie and his dad are homeless. Throughout the experience, Lonnie finds stability in school and church and learns to feel compassion, though some homeless characters are painted in a much more empathetic light than those who are suffering from addiction or mental illness. Caring adults and unexpected friendships help to mitigate the tragedy that Lonnie experiences. Villareal paints a believable picture of what can happen to a family when a crisis hits and how such events can ripple throughout every aspect of an adolescent’s life. (Fiction. 11-14)

GEORGE IN THE DARK

Valentine, Madeline Illus. by Valentine, Madeline Knopf (40 pp.) $16.99 | $19.99 PLB | Nov. 11, 2014 978-0-449-81334-8 978-0-449-81335-5 PLB George’s fear of the dark is clear from the cover, where the bedsheets are drawn up to his nose; young listeners will want to know if this ends well. In the daylight, the blond protagonist is fearless. He scales tall trees, rescues damsels in distress and downs insects in a single gulp. The darkened bedroom, however, has him quivering at the threshold. Valentine creates just the right balance of humor and sympathy around her character. Readers will chuckle at his rigid body—parallel to the floor, as his father attempts to pry him from the door—and at the whites of his terrified eyes in the total blackness of the next spread. The gouache-and–coloredpencil illustrations are rendered with visible graphite strokes for these nighttime scenes. This choice adds to the tension on pages where familiar objects appear to have menacing expressions. George’s teddy bear and pajamas (both red) stand out, so when he accidently tosses his blanket-wrapped companion across the room during the climax, observant viewers will know something before George does. The boy’s empathy for another (his bear is scared too) prompts him to summon his courage, venture past the shark-shaped laundry basket and conquer his debilitating emotions. This depiction rings true in its portrayal of the paralysis of fear and the power of the right circumstances to motivate change. (Picture book. 4- 6)

SLUMP

Waltman, Kevin Cinco Puntos (304 pp.) $16.95 | $11.95 paper | $9.95 e-book Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-941026-00-7 978-1-941026-01-4 paper 978-1-941026-02-1 e-book Series: D-Bow’s High School Hoops, 2 Derrick “D-Bow” Bowen returns for his sophomore year at Indianapolis’ Marion East and this second volume in the D-Bow’s High School Hoops series. Having just been edged out by archrivals Hamilton Academy last year at Regionals, this year Derrick and his teammates plan to beat them—and then some. But the season starts badly. Key senior Devin injures his ankle, and the bench just can’t compensate. Moreover, even though Derrick’s got good looks, he just can’t seem to sink that rock. He’s got troubles off the court, too: Jasmine is tired of basketball talk, and even though she seems to like making out as much as Derrick does, she’s not ready to take things further. And money continues to be tight in the Bowen household, a nagging problem that becomes a crisis when his father is sidelined by a car accident. As in series opener Next (2013), Waltman balances blazing hoops action against Derrick’s emotional growth. He and Coach Bolden continue to butt heads, but this year Derrick is better able to trust him; their developing relationship is complex and gratifying. Also nuanced is Derrick’s emerging sexuality; he learns quickly that losing his virginity comes with complications. Waltman leaves some threads dangling for future volumes: Best friend Wes is struggling with his own issues, and likable, layabout Uncle Kid’s shenanigans prompt unease. With its deft balance of play-by-play action and off-thecourt drama, this series scores. (Fiction. 12-18)

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BRIDGE

Villareal, Ray Piñata Books/Arté Público (232 pp.) $11.95 paper | Oct. 31, 2014 978-1-55885-802-2 The loss of his mother catapults a young teen and his father into homelessness. Lonnie Rodriguez, 13, struggles to do the boring things that are expected of him—go to church, do his homework, clean his room. When his mom, a security guard, is shot and killed on the job, Lonnie is consumed by guilt, wishing he had done just a little more to make his mother proud 124

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the book often winds up feeling too much like a how-to manual for aspiring bookies. Still, there is a heart to Mitch’s tale, and his desire to protect his family and to forge true friendships will resonate with readers. The sports fan’s alternative to The Lemonade War. (Fiction. 9-13)

The Brothers Washburn Jolly Fish Press (325 pp.) $14.99 paper | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-939967-85-5 Series: Dimensions in Death, 2 Cal Jones and Camm Smith may have left their hometown of Trona, but the spooks and ghouls sure haven’t. Camm is off at Yale, and Cal is attending Florida State. Both are making new friends while keeping an ear out for any unusual occurrences back home. Sure enough, something weird happens: A young boy named Dylan has gone missing, and that’s all the duo needs to reconnect and head back to Trona and investigate. The ensuing adventure is a solid mixture of scares and action, supplying readers with plenty of reasons to keep turning pages well past bedtime. The interpersonal drama between Cal and Camm works all on its own, highlighting a friendship built to endure across dimensions, let alone several hundred miles. The horrors and creatures weave around a few flashbacks to the previous book, Pitch Green (2013), and there are a few sprinkled seeds preparing readers for future installments. The book ends on a cliffhanger, which is maddening but also to be expected, given the series’ ambitions. Creative bits of humor and stylization set it apart from other cookie-cutter series entries, making this one to watch and be hopeful for. Scary, fun and cool. (Horror. 12-16)

GOBBLED BY GHORKS

Weston, Robert Paul Razorbill/Penguin (240 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 13, 2014 978-1-59514-750-9 Series: Creature Department, 2 Conflicts in creaturedom continue as a new attack by the nefarious Ghorks leads to an epic food fight. Also monster dinner-theater cabaret. This sequel to The Creature Department (2013) sends young hangers-on Elliot and Leslie along with hulking knucklecrumpler Gugor, fashion-forward fairy-bat Jean-Remy and the rest of tech company DENKi-3000’s motley array of nonhuman engineers and inventors to a grand food festival in nearby Simmersville. It seems that the Ghorks—five types of malign creature, each being a single outsized sensory organ—are experimenting with an elixir that will transform unwitting festival diners into a Ghorkolian army. Scotching that scheme requires not only heroic battles with snot-blasting nose-ghorks and like foes, but putting on a show (“WE HAVE SPOOKY CREATURE FEATURES! / HORNS AND FANGS! / TEETH AND TAILS! / AND POORLY TENDED FINGERNAILS!”) as prelude to a rousing climactic melee. As with its predecessor, the actual plot takes second place to the elaborate monster worldbuilding. Not exactly a rip-off of Monsters, Inc. but with plenty of shared DNA in the casting and dialogue, it’s a yummy romp, served with generous sides of slapstick, satire and self-actualization topped with a dash of creaturely romance. (Fantasy. 10-13)

THE ROOKIE BOOKIE

Wertheim, L. Jon; Moskowitz, Tobias Little, Brown (272 pp.) $17.00 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-316-24981-2 978-0-316-24976-8 e-book Best-selling authors Wertheim and Moskowitz (Scorecasting, 2011) team up again on their first novel for children. Unsurprisingly given their expertise, their foray into middle-grade fiction will appeal mostly to sports fans with a passion for statistics and playing the odds. Seventh-grader Mitch Sloan is the new kid at Jonasburg Middle School, and he’s determined to fit in. Unfortunately, it’s a little easier said than done in this small, footballobsessed Indiana town, as Mitch is more into talking about sports than actually playing them. What Mitch is really into is money—namely, figuring out how to make a lot of it as quickly and as easily as possible. When tomboy and fellow sports fan Jamie Spielberger turns up as a potential business partner and best friend, the kindred spirits turn their sports and business know-how into a wildly successful, and possibly illicit, middle school gambling ring. While Wertheim and Moskowitz cleverly introduce elements of probability, economics and business, these bits of wisdom often get bogged down in sports talk, and |

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THE FIRE ARTIST

Whitney, Daisy Bloomsbury (288 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-61963-132-8 978-1-61963-392-6 e-book In a (slightly alternate) world where elemental powers are a ticket to fame and fortune, Aria’s scarred hands and powerful fire control set her apart. Aria’s drive comes from fear; her life is shadowed by her father’s actions three years ago, when he burned her hands to “help the fire come out.” Her mysteriously ill mother and arson-inclined, elementally gifted brother were |

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NO-MATTER-WHAT FRIEND

no help then. Now, as her father threatens her younger sister, Aria is determined to use her fire to break free. But her fire does not rise from within; it’s created by a wind artist’s illegal funneling of lightning into Aria’s heart. When the M.E. Leagues recruit Aria, the edifice of lies threatens to fall apart until her desperate need calls forth Taj, a granter, or genie (this year’s hot love interest), who can give her natural elemental power. The catch? If she wishes she’ll lose Taj, with whom she’s falling in love. The premise and back story are new, and the power balance between Aria and Taj (she holds most of the power for much of the novel) reverses the too-common structure until a late-game reversal. But the weakly imagined world comes across as barely there, as do all the secondary characters. And the gator ex machina ending is just insane. A lightweight entry in a microtrend that has stronger entries. (Paranormal romance. 13-16)

Winters, Kari-Lynn Illus. by Pratt, Pierre Tradewind Books (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 15, 2014 978-1-896580-83-8

A touching, understated story in which a boy looks back at growing up with his faithful dog, Bud. The huge, tan dog of indeterminate breed has floppy ears, a large nose and drooping, old eyes, as shown in the poignant illustration on the cover. The boy who narrates the rhyming story wonders how much Bud remembers of all their years together, with flashback views of the pair playing ball, skiing, chasing the family truck and getting covered with mud at a nearby pond. Now the faithful dog is too old to play fetch with his owner, who is also growing older and perhaps feeling his childhood coming to an end. The final pages unfold in a powerful conclusion as the boy realizes his dog is having trouble getting up. His one-word commands on successive pages (“Stop. / Sit. / Stay”) are tremendously affecting, helping readers realize the dog will not be able to stay with his beloved boy too much longer. The sun is setting in glowing shades of pink and orange in the last spread as the boy hugs his dog and promises to be his friend always, no matter what. Soft-focus, impressionistic illustrations with oddly adult children and the saggy, sad-eyed dog create a dreamlike world with a misty quality suggestive of hazy memories. A bittersweet exploration of the enduring bond between a growing boy and his aging companion. (Picture book. 4-8)

ON THE DAY YOU WERE BORN

Wild, Margaret Illus. by Brooks, Ron Allen & Unwin (24 pp.) $15.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-1-74114-754-4

On the day a new baby arrives, all the wonders of nature come together to welcome her in a celebration of life and family. A first walk in her daddy’s arms reveals the joy of splashing through rain puddles, the greetings from night creatures Owl, Bat and Mouse, busy honey bees, friendly farm animals, the aerobatics of falcons and hawks, and the sweetness of wild berries and flowers. The long, inspiring nature walk ends in the moonlight back in mother’s arms. While readers never see the baby, father or mother, the gentle, soothingly fluid acrylic paintings allow them to experience the beauty of the surroundings through the eyes of this new family. And there is much to observe and explore in each: a hidden bat, bees to count, ladybugs and crickets to espy amid a flower garden. The joyful expression of love for this new child is evident in the flowing text. “On the day you were born, our friends wanted to kiss and cuddle, squish and squeeze you so lovingly that I had to rescue you!” The “friends” depicted are a row of curious, happy farmyard animals. A delightful celebration of both a new baby and the natural world he or she will inhabit. (Picture book. 2-5)

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CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

Woolf, Alex Barron’s (64 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 1, 2014 978-0-7641-6758-4

A Holocaust mosaic with a particular focus on children, constructed from period photos and short extracts from diaries or survivors’ accounts. Woolf pithily links the documentary material in a narrative and fills in historical background—properly noting at the outset that Jews weren’t the Nazis’ only targets and closing with the cogent observation that anti-Semitic violence didn’t stop with the war’s end. In between, a crazy quilt of passages in italics records the experiences of young people before and after Kristallnacht, in the Kindertransport and other flights, as hidden children (including one boy disguised as a girl), in the forced relocations to ghettos and to concentration and extermination camps. Biographical information about the authors of these testimonials ranges from little to none. Still, many have faces thanks to the many family snapshots that mingle with more journalistic photos of people being herded by soldiers, of camp facilities and of poignant artifacts. Following a provocative authorial comment that |

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“In the background, Long provides an array of choices... allowing children to participate.” from it ’s raining cats and frogs / ¡llueve gatos y ranas!

most “ordinary people” turned a blind eye to what was happening “because it was easier, in the end, to ignore something that didn’t affect them personally,” a quick look at postwar recovery efforts and commemorations is capped with a reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s a quick skim with higgledy-piggledy page design, but it’s carefully tuned to spark thought and discussion rather than to shock alone. (timeline, websites, fiction and nonfiction bibliographies, index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Succinct, easy-to-read sentences in English with the corresponding Spanish accompany childlike illustrations in a muted palette. The repetitive text allows for recognition and fluency after several readings. “Sarah, where are you?” / “Sarah, ¿donde estas?” // “I’m looking for you.” “I’m looking behind the chair.” / “Te estoy buscando.” “Estoy buscando atras de la silla.” Children fluent in English or Spanish and learning to read and speak the alternate version will effortlessly fall into a pattern and pick up the 42 new vocabulary words (handily displayed on the back cover). Trukhan’s paintings depict Caucasian sibs in a suburban home, planting just enough interior-design detail to situate readers. Useful though the story may be for language-learning purposes, its plotting is flat and arbitrary; the hide-and-seek game occupies a good two-thirds of the book before Max and Sarah go outside to build the snowchildren. (Readers will also note the misleading title.) Well-suited for today’s bilingual learning environments, if not a particularly rich read. (Easy reader. 6-8)

TAP TO PLAY!

Yoon, Salina Illus. by Yoon, Salina Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $15.99 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-0-06-228684-0 Blip is a round red creature who’s out to win a game. He tells readers he needs to reach a numbered bar (it looks like a horizontal row of five Tetris blocks) to win. He is very willing to tell readers how they can help him win and “get a surprise.” Shake the book so he bounces—but that’s too fast. Tilt to the right and then left (the countdown of five numbers is now at four). How about tapping? Or filling up your mouth with air so Blip will blow up like a balloon? The numbers are down to one! But then the game is won, and suddenly sharing the plain white background is a green door, with a purple figure visible through its window. The surprise is a new friend, purple and clearly feminine, gender coded with eyelashes and a yellow bow in her topknot. The graphics are clear, sharp and geometric, pleasing and vivid against white backgrounds. Blip is quite direct about what he wants readers to do, and they may indeed enjoy the shouting, tapping, whispering and shaking. If they do, chances are good they are not familiar with Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (2011), which sets the bar extremely high for any book that attempts to mimic the interaction of a tablet or computer game. Blip does not meet it. A pale, pale cousin of Tullet’s best-seller. (Picture book. 3- 6)

IT’S RAINING CATS AND FROGS / ¡LLUEVE GATOS Y RANAS!

Ziefert, Harriet Illus. by Long, Ethan Blue Apple (28 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-60905-508-0 Series: ¡Hola English!

It is raining so hard “it’s raining cats and frogs,” prompting choices about what to wear and do in the showery outdoors. The dual English/Spanish text offers choices for the appropriate garb. Each question is asked. “What do you wear in the rain? / ¿Como te vistes para salir en la lluvia?” In the background, Long provides an array of choices—here a sweater, a dress, a raincoat and a jacket—allowing children to participate. Text and illustrations continue to interact for boots (cowboy, hiking, snow) and hats (woolen, cowboy, formal), showing a variety of selections next to the correct rain hat and boots. Comical illustrations present what look like construction-paper cutouts of a Caucasian boy and girl with round faces and thoughtful eyes. Cats and frogs playing in the puddles and surrounded by large raindrops beckon the two kids to follow suit. (Cat owners will get a wry chuckle out of this.) In a final scene, the boy reads a book, and the girl enjoys her tablet, their wet things scattered on the floor. The 36 vocabulary words on the back cover are useful for bilingual learners, but it’s too bad the alternate choices in the illustrations were not labeled for additional opportunities. A playful, useful outing. (Early reader. 6-8)

MAX AND SARAH BUILD A SNOWMAN / MAX Y SARAH HACEN UN MUÑECO DE NIEVE

Ziefert, Harriet Illus. by Trukhan, Ekaterina Blue Apple (28 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-60905-511-0 Series: ¡Hola English!

Max and Sarah’s simple indoor game of hide-and-seek moves to the wintry outdoors where, with help from Mommy, they build a snowgirl and a snowboy. |

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“The visible text and optional audio can be set to any of four languages, including Cree….” from the little people

interactive e-books

to patch her ankle, and later the children find full buckets of berries waiting for them on the cabin steps. These were Maymaygwaysiwak, Kookum later explains, mischievous but also sometimes-helpful imps who dwell underground. In the cartoon illustrations, dolllike figures bob and giggle when tapped. Swiping a ribbon at the bottom changes the scene and the simply phrased narrative. The visible text and optional audio can be set to any of four languages, including Cree, on a menu that also includes a thumbnail index. Tapping the occasional red word opens a window containing the Cree equivalent (voiced, though sometimes the narrator pronounces a different word) and a note about characters or cultural practices and artifacts. A cozy, humorous change of pace from previous (mildly) scary encounters. (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad folk-tale app. 6-9)

GEORGE THE FARMER’S AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURES

Kain, Simone Illus. by Hood, Ben Hello Friday $3.99 | Jul. 10, 2014 1.1; Jul. 15, 2014

With a cheerful “G’day, mate,” a narrator invites readers to glimpse a slice of life on an Australian wheat farm. “Today we’re using the tractor and seeder to plant a wheat crop,” George tells his dog, Jessie. “We’re going to be flat out as a lizard drinking!” Wheat planting is busy work, but soon George starts thinking about his football practice that “arvo” (afternoon). Leaving his job half-finished, George asks Ruby (presumably his spouse, though she’s never really introduced) for help. While Ruby does indeed finish the job, George never acknowledges her help—and young readers are unlikely to understand her knowing smile at the end of the story. Teamwork? It comes across much more as falling back on gender stereotypes. Narration by Australian radio presenter Peter Goers adds to the authentic feel of the story. Bright cartoon digital illustrations are attractive, and young children will enjoy the farm sounds of the rumbling tractor, chirping magpie and barking dog. Two simple games and a song supplement the story but aren’t likely to hold young readers’ attention for very long. The app provides the option for another story about George to be included soon. Perhaps he will be less of a boor in it. Although his Aussie slang is amusing, George is actually something of a jerk, and the app doesn’t offer enough by way of features or narrative to compensate for his total absence of character growth. (iPad storybook app. 4-7)

MOON MAN DAN Story & Night Light

Pickled Pepper Productions Pickled Pepper Productions $1.99 | Jul. 17, 2014 1.0; Jul. 17, 2014 The phases of the moon don’t just happen. They are the work of Moon Man Dan (or so says Pickled Peppers’ snug

application). In this extremely simple and intuitive app, readers meet Moon Man Dan, the Nooms (who pop up from the creators like those gophers you boink with a rubber mallet), three cows (for a touch of counting) and a mystery machine that falls to the moon. The artwork is like the most elementary comic strip and serves to encourage users to touch and drag various images around the screen to discover what the machine is. (It is the Hubble Space Telescope, and the accompanying explanation of its purpose will fly over most users’ heads—just like real life!— while the small selection of Hubble photographs are uselessly microscopic and marred by relatively enormous credit lines, which is a real shame considering the photographs’ mind-blowing qualities.) Users devise a contraption to relaunch the telescope and get it back up where it belongs. This involves three cows and a seesaw, and it sets the lullaby stage in motion. Moon Man Dan first makes sure planet Earth is ready for the night and then pulls a blanket over the part of the moon he happens to be sleeping on that night. The application can also function as a night light, complete with timer. Waxing gibbous, waning crescent—that can wait. Who isn’t happier imagining the moon snuggling under a comforter? (iPad storybook app. 3-5)

THE LITTLE PEOPLE

Loud Crow Interactive Loud Crow Interactive $2.99 | Jul. 17, 2014 1.0; Jul. 17, 2014 Series: Bramble Berry Tales

More creatures from First Nations folklore greet young Thomas and Lily on their third visit to their grandparents’ cabin in the Canadian Rockies (The Story of Kalkalilh, 2013, etc.). The story follows an elaborately produced set of dissolves that take the children from city to forest. While her Mooshum and Kookum are out catching salmon, Lily meets a strange, noseless little man who capers about the kitchen, spills Kookum’s flour and disappears. Then, trying to gather soapberries for ice cream, Thomas is pelted with berries. But when Lily trips over a root, two of the little people step from the bushes 128

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continuing series

MANDELA

Quelle Histoire Quelle Histoire $0.99 | Nov. 21, 2011 2.1; Jul. 1, 2013

COOKIE CATASTROPHE

Cammuso, Frank Illus. by Cammuso, Frank Amulet/Abrams | (96 pp.) $14.95 | $6.95 paper | Oct. 14, 2014 978-1-4197-1198-5 978-1-4197-1199-2 paper Misadventures of Salem Hyde, 3 (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

An introduction to Mandela illustrated with cutesy, bigheaded cartoon figures. Mandela’s career from childhood to retirement from the presidency of South Africa is covered in 10 spacious, tidily drawn scenes populated by gently swaying figures that smile, frown or occasionally wave an arm to show emotion. Touch-sensitive features on each screen are limited to a pop-up map (usually the same one, showing Johannesburg), toggle switches for the audio and a drop-down text that is optionally read (with some errors) in a wooden tone. On the opening menu, readers can choose English, French or Spanish—or opt to skip the story entirely to take a quiz, play three simple interactive games or visit a “portrait gallery” to meet 10 prominent South Africans. The language is so conciliatory that the 1976 mass killing at Soweto is presented as a case of police losing their “calm,” and South Africa today, as a country where blacks and whites are “definitively” united. Perhaps most distressing, in both the main narrative and the gallery Mandela is treated as still alive despite the app’s recent update. Shallow and flawed. (iPad informational app. 7-9)

RAPUNZEL CUTS LOOSE

Holub, Joan Illus. by Williams, Suzanne Scholastic | (192 pp.) $5.99 paper | Sep. 30, 2014 978-0-545-51986-1 paper Grimmtastic Girls, 4 (Fantasy. 8-12)

ETERNAL

Hunter, C.C. St. Martin’s Griffin | (390 pp.) $9.99 paper | Oct. 28, 2014 978-1-250-04461-7 paper Shadow Falls: After Dark, 2 (Paranormal romance. 14-18)

NATALIE THE CHRISTMAS STOCKING FAIRY

Meadows, Daisy Scholastic | (176 pp.) $6.99 paper | Sep. 30, 2014 978-0-545-60540-3 paper Rainbow Magic: Special Edition (Fantasy. 7-10)

FLOOD

Monninger, Joseph Scholastic | (208 pp.) $5.99 paper | Sep. 30, 2014 978-0-545-56359-8 paper Stay Alive, 4 (Adventure. 8-12)

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TALES OF THE GREAT BEASTS

ELLRAY JAKES ROCKS THE HOLIDAYS!

Mull, Brandon Scholastic | (192 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-545-69516-9 Spirit Animals: Special Edition (Fantasy. 8-12)

Warner, Sally Illus. by Biggs, Brian Viking | (160 pp.) $14.99 | $5.99 paper | Oct. 16, 2014 978-0-451-46909-0 978-0-14-751251-2 paper EllRay Jakes, 7 (Fiction. 6-8)

NICK AND TESLA’S SUPER-CYBER GADGET GLOVE A Mystery with a Blinking, Beeping, Voice-Recording Gadget Glove You Can Build Yourself Pflugfelder, Bob; Hockensmith, Steven Illus. by Garrett, Scott Quirk | (272 pp.) $12.95 | Oct. 7, 2014 978-1-59474-729-8 Nick and Tesla, 4 (Fiction. 9-13)

DON’T WAKE THE DINOSAUR!

Stilton, Geronimo Scholastic | (128 pp.) $6.99 paper | Oct. 21, 2014 978-0-545-65603-0 paper Geronimo Stilton Cavemice, 6 (Fiction. 7-10)

THE 12 SCREAMS OF CHRISTMAS

Stine, R.L. Scholastic | (192 pp.) $7.99 paper | Sep. 30, 2014 978-0-545-62777-1 paper Goosebumps Most Wanted: Special Edition, 2 (Horror. 8-12)

EINSTEIN THE CLASS HAMSTER AND THE VERY REAL GAME SHOW

Tashjian, Janet Illus. by Tashjian, Jake Henry Holt | (176 pp.) $12.99 | Sep. 2, 2014 978-1-62779-026-0 Einstein the Class Hamster, 2 (Fiction. 7-10)

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indie ELSINORE CANYON

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

J.M. Amazon Digital Services (214 pp.) $9.99 paper | $2.99 e-book Dec. 28, 2013 978-1-4959-0177-5

LUCY LICK-ME-NOT AND THE DAY EATERS by Claudine Carmel............................................................................134 CONQUERING CONCUSSION by Mary Lee Esty; C.M. Shifflett....................................................... 135

A debut novel that offers a modern, young-adult retelling of Hamlet with a female stand-in for Shakespeare’s title character. Horst von Wittenberg may be the only trustworthy friend and confidant Dana Hamlet has left as the story kicks off, but she still means more to him than he does to her. Unrequited love burns in Horst, especially as Dana drifts away from him after her mother’s untimely death and her father’s unseemly remarriage. The distance closes when they encounter her mother’s ghost, but this meeting throws Dana into madness and revenge, with consequences as dire as those in Shakespeare’s tragedy. Although the novel has a female Hamlet and other gender-swapping, the story and characters mirror the source material almost exactly, occasionally to the point of being too obvious: “The place always made me think of a medieval castle.” There are a few intriguing differences, but the strength of this sort of adaptation lies in showing how powerful and relevant the original story remains, a challenge the novel tackles wonderfully. The modernization works nearly seamlessly, transposing the politics of medieval Denmark to a Southern California corporate and Catholic school culture. What’s more, the embellishments to the characters make them truly come alive. Horst’s wheelchair makes him as much of an outsider as Horatio ever was, and Phil, Dana’s boyfriend, is a surfer, his connection to the water acting as a grim reminder of Ophelia’s story in Shakespeare’s verse. Horatio in the play is a largely silent observer, constantly present but seldom acting, and while Horst does much the same, his rich inner monologue and love for Dana are among the most engaging aspects of the book. Conversely, many of the sections without Horst are low points, becoming disjointed and awkward without his grounding voice. The novel also occasionally overreaches in using the original text. Most of the references are clever, but some borrow too heavily from Hamlet’s soliloquies and lose their sense of potency: “Words, words, words. She said them—out loud, even—but they did not reach loving ears.” But these failings are few, and while the writing may not be Shakespearean, it’s more dynamic than that of most contemporary young-adult literature while still being thoroughly entertaining and emotional. An imperfect YA adaptation of a classic but a striking one nonetheless.

WHIRLWIND & STORM by Charles E. Farnsworth......................... 136

Whirlwind & Storm A Connecticut Cavalry Officer in the Civil War and Reconstruction

Farnsworth, Charles E. iUniverse (450 pp.) $33.95 | $23.95 paper $3.99 e-book Feb. 28, 2014 978-1-4917-1962-6

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working titles Star Chaser The Traveler

Continuing Indie’s practice of recommending excellent self-pubbed titles, we bring you first-person accounts of daily work life. The common thread here is short essays depicting life on the job where the job is inherently interesting and the author’s viewpoint is philosophical, often funny and sometimes profound. In 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat and Houses, which earned a Kirkus Star, author and general contractor Joe Cottonwood describes the sometimes short-lived, sometimes yearslong relationships he forms with those who hire him. Each tale about walking into someone’s house, negotiating a price, completing the job and obtaining payment reveals another world. Flooded with detail of Cottonwood’s work (noting the durability of a spider web, getting a face full of sewage, falling off a roof), 99 Jobs is a well-written voyeur’s delight. In Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere, Bo Brock, a Lamesa, Texas, veterinarian, has an infectious appreciation for his family, especially his Pawpaw and his three daughters and just about any three- or four-legged animal to cross his path. And working as a large-animal vet yields quotable lines: “All of the cows at this particular ranch were a bit snakey, but this oneeyed one was too much” and “After you have seen a few cows go into the ‘I am going to pulverize you’ dance, climbing the nearest fence quickly becomes an involuntary response.” Author Paul Carter is a happy blend of small-town doctor, farmer and storytelling master. Carter runs a small farm (sheep and everything) and handles the majority of Woongarra, Australia’s health needs. In Tales of a Country Doctor, which received a Kirkus Star, he recalls his many hilarious misadventures, e.g., planting lovely pots of some unidentified lacy greenery—a gift from a patient—in his yard. A friend informed him (“You idiot”) that he was cultivating some very healthy marijuana plants just before the police arrived for an unrelated matter. He’s also a charmer. Here’s his reaction to meeting a woefully neglected, but extraordinarily friendly dog someone was looking to pawn off on him: “My heart melted instantly. ‘My dear friend,’ I said as I bent forward. ‘If you can endure this sort of treatment and still be pleased to see someone, then you are definitely the dog for me.’ ”

Reiter Manuscript (741 pp.) Banished by his superpowered kin, a resourceful young man aims to transcend space and time to save at least three civilizations in Reiter’s debut novel. Long ago, the gray-and-blue-skinned Malgovi race, fighting a losing interstellar battle with the savage BroSohnti, suddenly developed the “iro-form”—the astounding ability to manipulate energy and light, giving rise to talents ranging from telepathy to death rays. Malgovi gifted with iro defeated the BroSohnti but consequently became a cruel, arrogant upper class in their own society. Dungias, born into Malgovi nobility, has no iro-form but compensates with sharp wits, Iron Man–type technology and martial arts athleticism. However, he’s still a despised, bullied outcast, even after his strategies help his ungrateful, iro-gifted younger brother win a major iro competition. Banished for his daring, Dungias is taken in by Nugar, one of the Vinthur, a mystic people once closely allied to the Malgovi. Nugar believes that Dungias is the foretold “Star Chaser” who could restore honor, justice and harmony to the various sundered races. Barely keeping ahead of iro-equipped assassins sent by corrupt Malgovi and offended Vinthur, Dungias sweats out the Yoda-like Nugar’s deadly lessons in space-Zen, until he becomes a “Traveler” who can commune with godlike, transdimensional beings. As if this vast, intrigue-ridden universe were not enough, Reiter skillfully embeds a parallel, more opaque plotline about a timeless spirit of malice called Baron Nomed who’s reborn into the human race. He renews his rivalry with a blind immortal named Freund who isn’t above taking a few million lives as collateral damage. The two storylines merge near the denouement—one resolved, the other maddeningly sans closure, promising a hefty continuation of this formidable epic. Usually, when a writer weighs a sci-fi manuscript down with imaginary alien jargon, it can be smegging annoying. But Reiter’s long, sprawling, ambitious construct makes the steep learning curve worth the trouble. Baron Nomed’s name (“demon” backward) is the only groaner in a novel that’s otherwise rich in clever wordplay and verbal invention. (The chapter headings even quote a wide range of beings, from fictional alien sages to Sun Tzu to Tupac Shakur.) Overall, readers will find this an impressively convoluted, dimension-hopping, mixed martial arts mind-stretcher. A venturesome sci-fi/fantasy novel for readers who really want their action set where no man has gone before.

—Karen Schechner Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor at Kirkus Reviews.

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No More Illusions. . . A Mystery

My Four Women and Elvis Bartlett, Trevor W. CreateSpace (246 pp.) $11.50 paper | Jun. 2, 2014 978-1-4954-4972-7

Babka, Daniel Blue Squirrel Press (382 pp.) $14.95 paper | $4.99 e-book Aug. 1, 2014 978-0-9910601-2-2

Bartlett’s debut novel centers on Bill, a 49-year-old British man, and the women in his life. From the start, Bill shows himself to be completely devoted to the women of his family. He endures his mom’s questions when she must confirm his identity before opening the door for him; he reminisces about his dead sister; and he contemplates his love for his wife, Sandra, and his daughter, Laura. He speaks of his impending status as a middle-aged man, saying that he feels caught between the needs of his children and his mother—“[b]oth demand attention, and you’re ham-sandwiched in the middle. And personally, I feel like squashed ham between two slices of Mighty Bran.” The majority of the book dwells on these ruminations. “I realise I’ve finally reached that golden age when eighty-year-old women find me irresistible,” he says. “It’s a twilight age.” His thoughts on retirement, taking care of his quirky mother and his daughter’s first experiences with love are driving forces of the narrative as he guides readers through his largely pleasant existence and enjoyable family dynamics. With wife, daughter and cat, there are plenty of crass but sweet interactions; it’s a functioning, funny family, and it’s refreshing to spend time with them. Bartlett’s prose is clear, and Bill’s light, witty voice as narrator is enjoyable throughout, particularly in his lists of things he wished he had accomplished or the nine commandments he’s discovered so far. Both Bill and the author are first and foremost jokesters: The prologue, for instance, may leave readers expecting an appearance by the actual king of rock ’n’ roll, as referenced in the title, though they’ll have a good chuckle when Elvis’ true identity is revealed. But as Bill approaches his 50th birthday, Bartlett also follows him into darker, more troubling realities. There are painful memories of his sister, Kate, his father’s passing and an accident, as well as a surprising announcement from his wife that brings these issues into sharper focus. Fortunately, through it all, Bill remains a delight to be around. A readable slice-of-life novel that turns the days of an ordinary man into endearing, funny episodes and observations.

In the first volume of this Californiabased mystery series, middle-aged rookie cop Dylan Blake gets pulled into a murder case that recalls his own painful past. Forty-something Blake is enjoying some time alone in nature in Big Sur when he receives a call from Chief Cooper, his top boss back at the Sierra Springs Police Department. Kate Winslow, a local businesswoman and ex-wife and sister to rich men, is concerned about the car accident that took the life of Jack Hamilton, the business partner she just fired. Since Hamilton’s car went over a cliff near where Blake is vacationing, Cooper asks Blake to scope out the crash scene. On his climb up after completing this task, Blake is nearly killed by someone throwing rocks from above. While local police initially dismiss Hamilton’s death as a suicide, Blake continues to investigate, soon meeting up with the alluring Kate, her sleazy ex-husband, and their 20-something daughter, Allison, who is living on her own and working as a prostitute. Blake senses that the Winslows are dealing with issues similar to those faced by his own family, which led to his depression and divorce; he got back on track only recently when he joined the force. When Kate’s ex-husband shows up dead, events escalate, putting Blake’s life once again in jeopardy. Kate’s brother in Utah rises up as a nemesis, and even Blake’s mother in Georgia gets threatened before there’s a resolution of sorts to the murky case. First-time novelist Babka weaves a multilayered tale that has shades of California noir à la Chinatown. Blake’s desire for connection as well as escape through nature is affectingly portrayed, and his interactions with the damaged Allison are particularly touching. However, Babka’s narrative occasionally gets bogged down in his protagonist’s back story, his various tics (e.g., trying to eat healthy) and key relationships, including those with a new girlfriend and a local African-American boy. Still, there’s rich material to mine in this strong start to a new series. Accomplished, ambitious crime fiction launching a sensitive, complex hero and a promising array of supporting characters.

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“Carmel’s rhyming prose is frothy and funny—a feat, considering that Carmel is telling the absurd tale of a girl whose skin is poisonous.” from lucy lick- me - not and the day eaters

Lucy Lick-Me-Not and the Day Eaters

Meet Me Where I Am An Alzheimer’s Care Guide

Carmel, Claudine Illus. by Burkmar, Bret CreateSpace (40 pp.) $10.99 paper | $8.99 e-book | Jul. 1, 2014 978-1-4949-7382-7

Drummond, Mary Ann Angel Tree Publishing (92 pp.) $0.99 e-book | Jan. 2, 2013

Drummond (I Choose to Remember, 2013) offers a smart, highly effective guide to caring for Alzheimer’s patients. As a nurse who has cared for numerous Alzheimer’s sufferers, Drummond uses her experience to inform her slightly unorthodox methods of dealing with her patients. She opens her book with a jarring introduction from the point of view of someone in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s; she has reverted to her 20s and now believes the doll she’s holding is her child. She tells her companion, “When you see me hold a baby doll as if it is you, you know the love you see in my eyes is real.” This scene sets the stage for the author’s main point: The best communication will occur when meeting the Alzheimer’s patient where he or she is at any given moment. While many health care practitioners employ the “reality orientation” approach, which aims to attune the patient to the proper time and place, Drummond has found that this only adds to the patient’s frustration and confusion; it’s important, she says, to focus on what the patient will respond to, not what the caregiver desires. This might mean laughing at the patient’s joke each time he tells it or assuming the role of daughter when the relationship is actually one of sisters. Drummond admits that this can cause the caretaker to feel unsettled, but it’s a way of respecting the patient’s reality. She suggests that refraining from the instinct to correct the Alzheimer’s patient can help create a more peaceable existence. Looking for what the author calls “opportunities for success” might even enrich the relationship and help mitigate the patient’s depression or social withdrawal. Imbuing these practical tips with wisdom, respect and sensibility, Drummond comes full circle by ending the book with another dramatic circumstance, this one regarding what happened when her own mentor fell prey to the disease. This slim little gem offers a humane, intelligent alternative way to care for Alzheimer’s patients.

In this fanciful picture book, a birthday disappears and a little girl must get it back. What if your favorite day just up and disappeared? What if that day was your birthday, never to be celebrated again? Such is Lucy’s dilemma. When she was younger, a frog shot her with a venom dart; thankfully, she was immune to the frog’s poison, but it turned her skin, well, poisonous. This proves to be perilous when the little girl begins to make friends. Soon, she becomes known as Lucy Lick-Me-Not (she’s lost a few kittens along the way). Like any child, Lucy loves her birthday—March 32nd—and she dreams of cake and presents. But it’s not to be: Lucy wakes up on her birthday to find not presents and balloons, but just any other day—her birthday has vanished. When she comes upon the Day Eaters—the grumpy, colorful monsters responsible for this calendar change—Lucy must think fast in order to get her birthday back. A little dark and plenty humorous, this gem of a picture book will appeal to both kids and grownups. Children will appreciate the vibrant illustrations and the heroine’s happy-go-lucky attitude, while adults reading along will chuckle at Lucy Lick-Me-Not’s weirder, darker origin. Carmel’s rhyming prose is frothy and funny—a feat, considering that Carmel is telling the absurd tale of a girl whose skin is poisonous. The rhyming couplets work well, driving the story along while still keeping things lighthearted. Illustrator Burkmar’s drawings are vivacious and alluring, perfectly aligning with the work’s irreverent vibe; the monsters etched on the page are indeed absurd but certainly not scary enough to frighten away younger readers. This work is the first in a planned Lucy Lick-Me-Not series, and future installments of Lucy’s story will assuredly be welcomed with open arms. Bad news for kittens. A charming, wildly imaginative introduction to a brave new girl.

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Five Nincompoops, the Princess, and One Savior How It All Went Down

Conquering Concussion Healing TBI Symptoms With Neurofeedback and Without Drugs

Edward, K. CreateSpace (116 pp.) $12.00 paper | Jun. 6, 2014 978-1-4961-0009-2

Esty, Mary Lee; Shifflett, C.M. Round Earth Publishing (310 pp.) $24.95 paper | Sep. 15, 2014 978-0-9653425-0-6

Edward looks back on her romances and development as a Christian in her debut memoir. Reflecting on a series of five lessthan-ideal relationships with five less-than-ideal men, the author begins by reaching back to the early days of her marriage. Having wed shortly after college, she is blunt about her own naïveté: “Understand that when I’d met this guy, I’d presumed, through rose-colored glasses, that he was in fact the one.” Detailing the dissolution of the marriage and her subsequent seduction by a wealthy man, the author goes on to describe the varied mistakes she made that, while more than apparent in hindsight, might have raised red flags even when she was younger. With a daughter from her marriage in tow (the princess of the title), new romances were difficult. As her relationship with the wealthy man turned abusive, the author moved on to other men: one chaste, one deceptive and one whom her daughter simply did not approve of. Throughout it all, Edward’s relationship with her church remained strong: “Church had become a safe haven for me, my sanctuary, and the more I attended, the more I learned and the stronger I became in the Lord.” Unsparing in her treatment of both herself and her suitors, the author takes on a voice that is far from PG-rated in this story about a single mother’s search for God (writing of one suitor that “I fucked the shit out of him after dinner”). The result is a memoir with an authenticity and an honesty that are unusual in first-person narratives about individual relationships with God—a story free of the clichés that often turn readers away from Christian memoirs (preachiness and prudishness, to name but two). Short on sermonizing and bolstered by the details of what attracted her to nincompoops in the first place, the book on a whole is a brisk, intriguing portrait of one woman’s struggle with the inherent difficulties of many kinds of love. A refreshingly frank memoir of one woman’s relationships with God, men and a daughter with a mind of her own.

Powerful advocacy for an emerging therapy. Esty, a seasoned neurofeedback practitioner, and Shifflett (Migraine Brains and Bodies, 2011, etc.), a science and technology writer, argue that public ignorance and medical dogma plague the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries (used synonymously with concussion). In this primer, aimed at both lay readers and professionals, they deliver a searing indictment of the status quo and an impassioned plea for a new paradigm. The authors hook readers by opening with stories about concussion’s impact on famous figures, including Henry VIII, Mary Lincoln, Howard Hughes and Elvis Presley. This eases the transition to Esty’s client histories (using pseudonyms), which are woven throughout chapters that cover what happens physiologically during and after TBI and its manifold physical, psychological, emotional and social consequences. Their experiences personalize discussions about the frequency of misdiagnoses, overreliance on pharmaceuticals, the efficacy of neurofeedback to treat TBI and its role in conjunction with other therapies. Esty and Shifflett catalog the abundant chances for brain injury in modern life, particularly in sports, and dispel popular myths that lead to downplaying risks and tolerating repeated exposures. Citing evidence suggesting that frequent smaller injuries are as dangerous as large ones, they document how neurofeedback has brought relief even decades later, helping sufferers reduce or eliminate medications. While neurofeedback results seem miraculous, the authors avoid cure-all claims by discussing unresolved symptoms and physical distortions that brain wave treatment cannot fix. They acknowledge that science cannot yet explain why neurofeedback works—a valid source of skepticism. Critics may question whether the authors have cherry-picked examples to support their case, but the successes provided, often in clients’ own words, speak for themselves. The text is written clearly enough to engage lay readers while still providing the thoroughness and documentation demanded by professionals. They cite more than 300 references, mainly scientific journals and academic books, but they also draw from popular media to keep the discussion relevant and down-to-earth. Clear figures, photos and illustrations; a glossary; and a list of supplemental resources make the book even more user-friendly. An eye-opener for anyone concerned about concussion—which the authors persuasively argue should include everyone.

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Whirlwind & Storm A Connecticut Cavalry Officer in the Civil War and Reconstruction

Blackberry Hill Solving the Mystery of the First Animals on Land Gass, Kenneth Manuscript

Farnsworth, Charles E. iUniverse (450 pp.) $33.95 | $23.95 paper | $3.99 e-book Feb. 28, 2014 978-1-4917-1962-6

This photo-packed book illustrates fossil discoveries from Blackberry Hill, Wisconsin, which give clues to the first animals that walked the Earth. Blackberry Hill—the collective name for a group of quarries and outcrops in Central Wisconsin—contains many intertidal trace fossils preserved in Cambrian rock, dating from the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era. Gass (Encrinurinology: A Poetic Probe into a Trilobite Tribe, 2006, etc.) is an independent researcher with peer-reviewed articles in publications such as the Journal of Paleontology. With this photograph-heavy volume, he aims to shed light on the recent discoveries at Blackberry Hill and how they help answer questions about the first animals to walk on Earth: “A picture book on Blackberry Hill was inevitable. The place is simply too intriguing to remain buried in scientific journals,” he says. The fascinating color photographs capture the ephemeral images of some tiny Paleozoic creature creeping over rippled sand or mud, or the round impressions of stranded jellyfish, preserved in stone for unimaginable millennia. It’s simply astounding that soft-bodied characteristics are observable at all after so much geological time. The photographs are presented rather casually, however, with captions such as “Numerous Diplichnites trackways” but no dates, no exact locations and often nothing to provide scale (aside from car keys, a wristwatch or a whisk broom). Nevertheless, also quite interesting is Gass’ overview of how new information or ideas have helped develop interpretations of fossil tracks. Along the way, the book offers intriguing examples of how paleontology works. For example, does the absence of a medial line mean the animal had no tail or that it held its tail upward? The answers lie in this appealing scientific detective story. An absorbing introduction to a rich source of paleontological information.

A scholarly biography of a midlevel Union officer’s short, dramatic life. This spotless debut is a personalized account of the Civil War years and a work of significant original scholarship. Farnsworth is a lawyer by training, but if this were a thesis, his meticulous analysis of previously unexplored primary source materials and extensive background research could earn him a degree in history. He mines a family heirloom, the papers of his great-grandfather Lt. Col. Charles “Charlie” Farnsworth, born in 1836. Charlie, an ambitious young Norwich, Connecticut, resident, skipped college to pursue business and gold prospecting. After war came, Charlie volunteered and used family connections—his father was Gov. William Buckingham’s personal physician—to win promotions. He led a battalion, was wounded and recovered, rebuilt an Army base in Baltimore, returned to battle and was captured. After eight months in Richmond’s Libby Prison, he was paroled, demoted and honorably discharged. He broke off an engagement, married his true love, and used connections to President Abraham Lincoln to become one of the first Northern investors to enter Reconstruction Georgia, where he started a commodities exchange and rice plantation. In 1867, with his wife seven months pregnant, he drowned at age 31. Charlie’s impetuous temperament, outspoken manner, social position and extensive documentary record create a unique lens through which to view the times. Numerous books stitch together “voices” culled from soldiers’ letters, but few capture entire lives. Full biographies usually feature top military or political leaders. Yet Charlie, though he ranked high enough to have well-known connections, still retains a sense of the Everyman. Farnsworth’s supple narrative of Charlie’s life, including black-and-white photos, illustrations and maps, takes up less than a third of the book. The rest includes the appendix, nearly 500 footnotes, a bibliography of 100 secondary sources and an index. Farnsworth consistently places Charlie’s travels and observations in the context of contemporaneous events and mainstream historical opinion, all while telling the story unsentimentally, highlighting strengths and flaws. The entire trove of 135 personal letters, diary entries, and other documents by or about Charlie appear in the appendix, with Farnsworth’s comments about each. Reading them makes his preceding synthesis all the more impressive. First-rate research, writing and presentation.

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King of Jerusalem

Jakobowicz, Hans Georg Prater Publications (150 pp.) $13.01 paper | Jun. 2, 2014 978-0-692-02540-6 A modern-day fable about the last living king of Jerusalem. Jakobowicz’s taut, smart debut novel is informed by a key piece of historical trivia: At some point in the regal and legal tangle of the Habsburg Holy Roman Empire, the emperor acquired baroque and fanciful titles such as “Emperor of Mexico” and “King of Jerusalem.” Furthermore, at times in modern-day Israel’s troubled history, radical sects |


“...Le Fay’s novel is a nuanced exploration of feminism and its potential—for good or ill.” from ange’el

have petitioned the United Nations to find a living Habsburg descendant who can come and rule them as king—an alternative they find preferable to sharing their land with Palestinians. Such abstruse considerations seem far removed from the world of U.N. translator Joshua Haburghe, who, in June 1977, is busy pursuing a carefree life of casual gay hookups in various places in greater New York, including, in the book’s elegantly written opening scene, a nude beach: “Moist sand underfoot and the feel of saltwater streaming between the toes: such simple summer pleasures aren’t spoiled by knowing that a crowded city waits just around the shoreline’s bend.” His side job writing occasional program notes for ballet productions brings him into contact with choreographer Heinz Burckhardt, a stiffly charismatic anti-Semite who wastes no time taking Joshua to bed. When Heinz gives vent to his bigotry and tells Joshua he wants no contact with Jews, Joshua shoots back, “You’ve just had supper, sex, and an argument with a Jew.” Through Heinz, Joshua comes in contact with a whole demimonde of disgruntled royalty in exile and eventually realizes his own hereditary destiny as the king of Jerusalem, descended from countless generations of Habsburgs. Jakobowicz skillfully handles the elaborate hypothetical tale that unfolds. He uses the more exaggerated elements of his plot as opportunities to offer commentary on the current state of Israeli-Palestinian politics, some of which will no doubt rile some of his politically minded readers. The prose throughout is straightforward and graceful (at one point, he describes “the tardy and wistful illumination of an evening in early summer”), and the characters are memorably drawn, even though many of them, like Heinz, exist mainly to deliver plot exposition. In this, readers are lucky, however, as Jakobowicz’s plot is fascinating. A charged political tale infused with just the right amount of humanity.

Quickly, however, she finds reasons to cut ties with her hero; when Gabriel is injured during another attempt on Morgan’s life, they both end up at the safe haven Ahe’ey—an ancient island nation populated by four genetically advanced tribes: the Ange’el, the Yi’ingo, the Ma’asai and the Hu’urei. Morgan meets Gabriel’s extended Ange’el family, who rule the matriarchal society. As an outsider to the Ange’el royals, how can Morgan hope to fulfill the dreams she shares with the deepest love she’s ever known? Though Ahe’ey initially feels like a utopia, the extreme view that no men should wield power—held by the characters Sky and Amalia—isn’t lost on Morgan as she fights for her and Gabriel’s love. Gabriel himself isn’t just a prize, but a profoundly thoughtful partner; he believes that men will one day realize that “the pursuit of perfection is a curse.” And Le Fay isn’t a preacher with a one-track mind; fascinating ideas, such as that the cosmos was “a single and dynamic organism that shared common energy and information with all its beings,” bolster her main concept. Packed with invigorating ideas and prose, Le Fay’s novel is a nuanced exploration of feminism and its potential—for good or ill. A finely grained achievement that challenges the status quo on all fronts.

Fighting for Freedom and General Washington Lee, Michael Justin CreateSpace (150 pp.) $8.00 paper | $5.00 e-book Jun. 18, 2014 978-1-5002-4969-4

A pair of remarkable youngsters— one disguising his age, the other disguising her sex and age—participates in significant battles of the American Revolution and meets many of the chief architects of the American Experiment. Filled with action, glory and patriotism, Lee’s (Heroes of American Prosperity, 2014, etc.) YA novel features 13-yearold twins Alexander and Amanda Lee, born and raised on a farm in Virginia. Amanda is outgoing and self-assured, while Alexander is more reserved. Both yearn for adventure and an escape from the drudgery of farm life. After Alexander joins Washington’s Continental Army, Amanda schemes her way into the South Carolina militia by making an extended visit to her aunt Selah in Charleston. Both twins are expert marksmen and speak multiple languages. Amanda learns how to fight like a Cherokee from Francis Marion and how to ride and fight on horseback, from Casimir Pulaski; she also serves directly under John Paul Jones, meets Franklin in France and is in the forefront of the charge at Yorktown, Virginia. For his part, Alexander crosses the Delaware with Washington, is the chief negotiator for Anthony Wayne when unpaid troops threaten to desert, serves as translator for Valley Forge drillmaster Wilhelm von Steuben and is also a key figure at the battle of Yorktown. Both teens are fearless warriors. Brimming with

Ange’el

Le Fay, Jamie CreateSpace (322 pp.) $14.78 paper | $3.78 e-book May 20, 2014 978-1-4995-5498-4 In this debut romantic fantasy, a young woman learns that her nearly perfect lover is from an ancient, scientifically advanced civilization. Morgan, CEO and founder of the Hope Foundation, has just arrived in New York City. She’s there to begin her circuit of speaking engagements that address girls’ empowerment around the world. While in NYC, she’s escorted by the sublimely charming Gabriel, who seems able to anticipate her every desire. Later, at a garden party, militant men’s rights proponents attack Morgan, and Gabriel fights them off. When Morgan learns that he works for the CIA and was assigned to protect her, she’s furious. She insists on speaking in Central Park in spite of the danger. After Morgan’s speech goes perfectly, she and Gabriel deepen their romantic entanglement. |

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Interviews & Profiles

Laurie McAndish King The Indie writer likes traveling, but she loves writing about her travels more By Nidhi Chaudhry traveling,” she recalls, “and I thought, ‘I have traveled to a few other places, I do have a few other stories.’ ” At a friend’s suggestion, she entered some of them into contests, and the prizes started pouring in. Together, her essays comprise the wild ride that is Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive!, a collection of King’s travel experiences—grouped under themes like nature, culture and cuisine—each a little wilder than the next. In “Magical Beans,” she tries out the world’s most expensive coffee, brewed from the poop of a small, Balinese mammal. In “Lemurs and Leeches,” she chases lemurs in Madagascar while fending off sneaky leeches and “moths the size of dinner plates,” all in the name of scientific fieldwork. In “Searching for Sheela-na-Gig,” she hunts the Irish countryside for an erotic goddess who is “naked, bald, and often breastless, and reaches both arms behind her legs, using her hands to spread her genitals wide open.” In “Married to the Masaai,” she finds herself—unwittingly—“betrothed to a nomadic warrior” in Kenya. “I definitely had a few moments of, ‘Oh my god, what was I thinking?’ ” she laughs, especially while tracking lions in Botswana, as told in her essay “Big Cats, No Guns!” “How could I possibly expect to be safe on a trip like that when you’re on foot, on land, not near any means of escape, without a vehicle or guns and surrounded by five lions?” she adds. Somewhere in the middle of all these adventures, the idea of publishing a collection took seed in King’s mind, though she had written only half of the essays in the book at that point and she knew her day job as a marketing and project manager would slow down her progress. She connected with the travel writing community in the Bay Area—where she lives—and started meeting agents and publishers. “I consistently heard that an unknown author

Photo courtesy J.M. Shubin

Laurie McAndish King came to travel writing by way of a kidnapping: her own. She was in college, doing a semester abroad in Italy, and a summer trip to Tunisia went south. Way south. “Two men,” she writes in Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive!: True Stories From a Curious Traveler, followed her and a friend “out of the bar, chasing us down, running our car off the road and into a dusty ditch.” She was terrified, thinking that she might be sold into slavery, raped or murdered. It was such a momentous and dramatic story, and one that people loved hearing so much, she knew she had to get it down on paper. “But I really had a hard time writing it,” she now admits, “getting the sequence right, yet starting with some action.” A travel writing class in 2003 with award-winning travel writer Don George helped. “I realized I enjoyed the process of writing much more than I loved 138

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can’t get a collection published,” she says. “People told me, ‘Well, if you had a novel already out then we might consider publishing your collection, but you can’t start that way.’ ” Not easily deterred or daunted—after all, lions, leeches and lemurs had failed to stop her—King decided to go the self-publishing route. It helped that many of her essays had already been published in anthologies like 30 Days in Italy, Best Women’s Travel Writing 2009, Lonely Planet’s award-winning The Kindness of Strangers and several magazines. She shortlisted the essays she wanted to include, figured out how to arrange them and undertook much of the marketing herself. “The technical part of self-publishing is not that complicated,” she explains, “but marketing one’s own work was a challenge, especially for someone like me who grew up in the Midwest, getting over my shyness, the feeling that maybe nobody wants to read it.” She started the book on lulu.com and then loaded it up on both CreateSpace, for access to Amazon.com, and Ingram, so bookstores would be able to order it (her local bookstore absolutely insisted). But this travel anthology isn’t her first brush with self-publishing. King has a “teeny weeny book of erotic poetry” titled Erotic Alphabet and has coedited two books of erotic stories, all self-published. She’s also an avid photographer whose work has appeared in Smithsonian magazine and has cowritten and produced a highly rated mobile app about the San Francisco waterfront. In the midst of all this, she’s also traveled to more than 40 countries. Oh, and the bio on her website points out that she’s also into gardening and taxidermy. “I’m a birder, too,” she adds. “It’s why I’d love to go to Papua New Guinea next.” She admits she’s given herself a lot of hats to wear, and sometimes, the lack of synergy and a single focus can be frustrating. “But it’s who I am, there’s no way around it,” she says. It’s also what makes her travel writing so engaging: the sheer variety of experiences, each one vastly different from the others, whether she is lost—as the title of the book discloses—in Melbourne, kidnapped in Tunisia or eaten alive (by giant mosquitoes, thankfully, not lions) in Queensland. “The thing I love most about travel writing is that it helps me see the world in so many different ways and expand my way of understanding things,” she explains.

So, if she could go back and do it over, would she do anything differently? She lets out a giggle that morphs into a full-throated laugh. “Well, I wouldn’t have gotten myself kidnapped!” When she is not busy planning her own world travels, Nidhi Chaudhry is a freelance writer based in Singapore. Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive! was reviewed in the Aug. 15, 2014, issue of Kirkus Reviews.

Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive! True Stories from a Curious Traveler King, Laurie McAndish Destination Insights (264 pp.) $14.95 | Aug. 9, 2014 978-0-98526-727-8

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excitement while effectively teaching history and some of the reasons and strategies behind the Revolution, this book will undoubtedly appeal to young readers. Lee has a real talent for capturing the young mind and conveying complex ideas in terms young readers will understand. Though the superhero youngsters are well-portrayed, a simplistic, childlike and often over-the-top outlook pervades the narrative, particularly with regard to war: “It would be a lovely battle at Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina.” Swashbuckling tales for young readers that could bring smiles for older readers, too.

and personal level. Many readers, particularly those with an interest in issues surrounding the American justice system and human rights, will find the work compelling. A sometimes-difficult but necessary book about the failures of the American prison system.

My Brother Bobby Bought a Pet Snake Masterson, Deborah CreateSpace (26 pp.) $9.95 paper | May 1, 2014 978-1-4909-0317-0

The Mysterious Story of Gitano Cervantes Vignettes of Life (and Death) Under a Broken System of Criminal Justice

Masterson encourages readers to think outside the terrarium in this cartoonishly illustrated picture book about

an ill-advised pet. Bobby’s sister Sue thinks the snake her brother brings home is a fake, until it starts moving. Instantly, she demands he return it, but Bobby can’t take it back: “Here’s my receipt, and as you can see, / The store has a / Final sale! No return policy.” After the snake tries to eat their cat, Sue threatens Bobby—it’s either the snake or her and the cat. When he reluctantly chooses his sister and cat over his new pet, he discovers that he’s going to have more trouble placing his pet in a new home than he imagined— a realistic problem for kids who bring home pets they shouldn’t. The zoo doesn’t need a new snake, and Bobby’s friends are unwilling to take it. But rather than come to any conclusions, Bobby and Sue turn to the readers for help. On the final page of the story, they implore readers to send suggestions to the author via email. There’s no mention of what the author will do with reader suggestions, however, and parents may be wary of letting their children email a stranger. Still, encouraging readers to come up with their own endings to the story is a fantastic way to engage them, and the cartoonish drawings, with the sly snake—his facial expressions as well as the cat’s are wonderfully entertaining—have wonderful appeal (though the all-white cast is short on diversity). The glossary will help newly independent readers with some of the more challenging words, and the serviceable rhymes may amuse, though not quite charm, the lapreading crowd. The story could also serve as a prompt for a class project for early elementary students, discussing appropriate pets and coming up with creative solutions to the final problem. This cleverly illustrated picture book will have readers pondering their own endings and possibly inventing further adventures for Bobby and Sue.

Manghan, Finbar Archway Publishing (468 pp.) $42.99 | $28.99 paper | $6.49 e-book Jan. 9, 2014 978-1-4808-0442-5

A prison chaplain shares the stories of men he served. Manghan’s debut draws on the time he spent as a volunteer chaplain at an unnamed American prison. Inmates were eager to tell him their stories, in person and in letters; these tales make up the bulk of this work, and many end tragically. The author questioned whether some of the prisoners he met were wrongly imprisoned, and he even went so far as to examine court documents for inconsistencies and questionable practices—which, in many cases, he found. The titular storyteller, Gitano Cervantes, found himself in prison for a crime he insists he didn’t commit. It turns out that the crime, the sexual assault of two boys, took place two years before Cervantes even entered the United States, but despite this, he sees little hope for release. Manghan tells stories of other men in the prison system; some admit guilt, while others maintain their innocence. One terminally ill prisoner tells of being mistreated by prison officials; another died as the result of neglect. Still another claims that he’s incarcerated due to false accusations by his stepgranddaughter, alleging the sexual abuse of her younger siblings. Manghan often tells these stories in the prisoners’ own words, through letters they sent him during his chaplaincy, and he uses court documents and prison records to bolster the accounts. Overall, the book is a frank look at the horrors of the American justice and prison systems in the modern age. However, the author is careful to note there are people in prison who truly deserve to be there, as well as ethical prison officials. The stories of injustice may indeed be outliers, but they also serve as a call to action for prison and justice system reforms. As a result of Manghan’s service as a chaplain, many of his subjects are religious, but the work doesn’t take a particularly religious perspective. Instead, his accounts are largely secular, and his appeals are on a political 140

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“McKenzie expertly draws the secondary characters that Alan meets along the way, and their charisma and energy serve to balance Alan’s pensive moods.” from a florentine influence

A Florentine Influence

A Balm in Gilead

McKenzie, Graham CreateSpace (220 pp.) $14.95 paper | May 22, 2014 978-1-4954-4444-9

McKeon, Marie Green White Bird Publishing (326 pp.) $14.95 paper | $4.95 e-book | Jul. 13, 2014 978-0-9904338-2-8

A solitary art historian reflects on the men and women he’s loved in McKenzie’s melancholy debut novel. Forty-two-year-old Alan Orr walks the streets of Florence, Italy, immersed in the beauty of the city and nostalgia for his youth. His reminiscences mostly focus on Martin, an affectionate friend from his boarding school days, and Lauren, a married woman with whom Alan had an affair as part of her open marriage in the late 1970s. The nostalgia is sweet and somber, set against Florence’s enchanting piazzas, and the novel is full of Alan’s vivid observations, whether he’s describing a sexual encounter with Luca, a young prostitute, or eavesdropping on tourists’ conversations in a hotel lobby. After he returns home to San Francisco, he dines with his friend Matt, a composer who lives a solitary, work-focused life, not unlike Alan’s. Eventually, Matt introduces Alan to Nick, a younger man he’s fond of, and Alan comes to develop a liking for him as well. Alan fills his days with writing and walks and often exchanges affection and pleasantries with the male dancers at the Polk Street Theatre, who provide Alan “a holiday from himself.” Yet not even these intimacies can rescue Alan from a descent into depression, as his walks grow longer and his mind grows more unfocused. The novel sags when Alan goes into therapy, which allows for navel-gazing and elaboration of his back story, which includes an abusive father and a mother with a pill habit. In order to shake things up, Alan invites Nick on a return trip to Florence, only to find out that the company he most enjoys is his own. As time wears on, he gets the opportunity to reunite with both Martin and Lauren, leading to lifelike, if anticlimactic, closure. The narration slips between past and present events, which may sometimes leave readers lost. However, its poetic turns of phrase elevate Alan’s story from a morass of depression to an evocative stroll through the nostalgia of middle age. Florence, for example, is described as “a large, heady display of the human soul.” McKenzie expertly draws the secondary characters that Alan meets along the way, and their charisma and energy serve to balance Alan’s pensive moods. The settings are characters in themselves, and the colorful neighborhoods and streets of Florence, San Francisco and Boston help anchor Alan’s introspective story in strong senses of place. A carefully crafted meditation on disappointment that includes many scenes of beauty worth savoring.

In this debut novel, McKeon traces a young woman’s post-traumatic stress disorder. After being raped on her Pennsylvania college campus, Quinn Carlisle testifies at her attacker’s trial. Although he’s convicted, he’s mysteriously set free. Sometimes, Carlisle tells her tale to anyone who will listen; at other times, she can’t bring herself to talk about it, even with a girl who was recently raped herself. She thinks that her guilt and anxiety are under control for nearly a decade; one day, however, she leaves her boyfriend to strike out on her own. In her new apartment in Maryland, she meets Joe Armstrong, a helpful man who will go on to play a pivotal role in her life. The trauma continues to haunt her, however, until the murder of a woman in another state forces her to again confront her assailant and her own fragile psyche. While watching the news one night, Carlisle sees a story about a woman found murdered in a state park. She has the same word carved in her arm (“NOTHING”) as Carlisle’s assailant carved into hers. At the same time, she receives an ominous phone call that could well be Dennis Price, the man who raped her. Armstrong convinces her to go to the police, but when they seem disinterested, he and Carlisle start playing detective themselves. This well-plotted tale, written in a seemingly effortless style, initially seems to be a chronicle of Carlisle’s PTSD, but it slowly blossoms into a complex crime drama with an array of fascinating characters. McKeon alternates between the 1987 rape and the late ’90s, slowly fleshing out the incident and the details of Carlisle’s current life. She then introduces more characters that Carlisle doesn’t know. A man named Billy O’Brien, for instance, is shown drinking himself to death in a sleazy hotel room when he learns that the case of his brother’s murder is being reopened because the judge was found to be on the take; before long, his life intertwines with Carlisle’s. This fine novel will keep readers guessing—even about the good guys’ motives. Fans of crime fiction, mysteries and psychological thrillers will love this tightly written portrayal of PTSD and redemption.

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Morning to Midnight in the Saddle Civil War Letters of a Soldier in Wilder’s Lightning Brigade

THE GAS HAT Seduction and Dismay in Marin County Miller, Richard Harlan CreateSpace (298 pp.) $15.95 paper | $4.99 e-book Feb. 2, 2014 978-1-4912-8820-7

McManus, Christopher D.; Inglis, Thomas H.; Hicks, Otho James—Eds. Xlibris (322 pp.) $29.99 | $17.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Jul. 2, 2014 978-1-4691-4319-4

Residents struggling to survive Marin County’s high cost of living resort to robbery, blackmail and murder in Miller’s (All You Can Eat, 2011) dark comedy. Thirty-one-year-old Casey, unemployed and living with his mother, finds a friendly soul in Doug, as both men are looking for ways to make money in their affluent California county. But it turns out that their meeting wasn’t happenstance: Doug’s live-in lover, Marie, told him to find someone they could use for her sinister, criminal plan. Doug wants to leave Marie, but she thrives on exerting control over him; she gives Doug a monetary allowance while also working her wiles on Casey. Her violent biker ex-boyfriend, Nicky, also has a role in her scheme, providing her with parts for a device she plans to use. But when Marie’s dominance wanes, she’ll do whatever it takes to see that her plan comes to fruition—even if means killing someone. Readers will find it fairly easy to figure out Casey’s role in the plan, even though it isn’t revealed until near the end. However, Miller’s plot is really just a vehicle for introducing an animated cast of characters, including bartender Paul, who seems to have a British accent despite being American; Casey’s foulmouthed, cat-loving mother; and Doug’s co-worker Cookie, who has an affinity for poetry. The book engages in bouts of black humor but also delves into its share of gloom; for example, Marie hates her father so intensely—for something a therapist “helped her remember”—that she imagines killing him in various ways. A scene in which Doug suggests the possibility of seeing someone else romantically leads to a response from Marie that’s surprisingly unnerving. The most dynamic (and hilarious) character is Nicky, despite his fondness for aggressive behavior, particularly against “rubbies,” rich urban bikers. He makes tomfoolery seem perfectly reasonable, and his former job sprucing up run-down mopeds and selling them on Craigslist somehow makes sense in context. This engaging comic novel’s story and characters will draw readers in.

A soldier’s annotated letters chronicle life and death in the Civil War’s western theater. In 1862, Otho McManus was a 24-year-old schoolteacher when he joined the 123rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Orphaned at 16, he was the oldest of five children scattered to foster homes. He married Sallie Rupp, the pastor’s daughter in a small congregation of families that included his foster parents. They all became his extended family. He fought alongside two brothers, a brother-in-law and four cousins, all of whom enlisted the same day. Everyone survived but Otho, killed seven days before Lee’s surrender. This collection of more than 100 previously unpublished letters is notable for its volume and clarity and for the writer’s participation in an innovative wartime strategy. Col. John T. Wilder’s “Lightning Brigade,” which Otho joined in May 1863, used mounted infantry—soldiers riding horses to outmarch opposing infantry but fighting on foot, using newly invented repeating rifles to outshoot their opponents. Otho’s erudition, even temper, and devotion to his wife, 6-year-old daughter and the Union cause shine throughout. His attention to detail yields many delightful surprises and in-depth information about the engagements in which he fought. The editors, all Otho’s descendants, provide crucial context and narrative flow between the letters, leavening the inherent challenges of storytelling through personal correspondence—potentially tedious repetition and oblique references that could leave readers in the dark. Their support is especially needed given the one-sided nature of the letters; no responses to Otho survived. Their text, from broader scene-setting to explaining minute details, is clear and well-paced, and they are in obvious command of the material. They cite 50 books and 13 articles in more than 350 endnotes that further illuminate the story and should not be ignored. Some readers might desire even more background and analysis from these knowledgeable editors, but they keep Otho’s voice squarely in the foreground—an effective choice. Readers grow fond of Otho and his family through letters spanning 30 months. Although the outcome is known in advance, his death, reported to his wife by his brother-in-law/comrade in arms, evokes a powerful, novelistic climax. A genuine treat for Civil War buffs and a valuable source for scholars.

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Here’s How I Got to be This Way Excerpts From the Highly Selective Memory of Connel Murray

The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ Ritter, Martha Bradley Street Press (223 pp.) $13.99 paper | $7.99 e-book Jul. 29, 2014 978-1-49958-802-6

Murray, Connel L. CreateSpace (466 pp.) $16.10 paper | May 28, 2014 978-1-4960-9373-8

Without a home, without a name, and with her puppies taken from her, a foxhound is rescued from a laboratory and begins the treacherous journey of learning how to live in the world. When PZ-5934—as her tattoo reads, the only name she has ever known—leaves the laboratory cage in which she has lived her entire life, she feels not relief or exultation but paralyzing fear. Everything is new and terrifying—cars, grass, fences, doors, and the tiny black-and-red dot that starts to speak to her. Before long, however, PZ realizes that Dottie the ladybug is a friend who, Jiminy Cricket–like, will help guide her transition to life as a human companion. PZ makes slow progress and becomes attached to her rescuer, Lynn, only to find that once again her life is turned inside out when she becomes the adoptee of a young girl named Olivia, who recently lost her father. PZ—now named Lolly J.—and Olivia want to love each other, but they both struggle with trust and patience, making for a rocky beginning. The third-person narration switches between Lolly J. and Olivia, underscoring the author’s point that the relationship between a dog and a human evolves from changes on both sides. “You know what?” Olivia says to Lolly J. “The thing is, I needed taming, too.” Ritter is at her best when grappling with her main characters’ internal lives, outlining in an accessible, realistically paced way how the psychology of grief and trauma can give way to hope and love. The Disney-fied elements she adds in to enliven the story—e.g., the presence of Dottie and a 101 Dalmations–like rescue in the final chapters—seem somewhat less genuine and successful, though they may help engage younger readers. Ryan’s expressive black-and-white illustrations will do the same. Essential reading for anyone who has adopted, or is planning to adopt, a dog in need of love.

In this debut memoir, Murray recalls with flair an eventful life that included a Depression-era childhood in Oregon and his colorful work in journalism and public relations. Murray came from rugged stock, with a mother who ran the family farm in the Pacific Northwest largely on her own and maintained pacifist beliefs all her life, even writing an antiwar novel and learning Esperanto in an effort to promote world peace. Murray’s father, a logger, joined the Army at 13, deserted at 14, and joined Pancho Villa’s rebel forces in Mexico before being shot in the leg and smuggled back to the United States. Murray and his sisters had a largely happy childhood during the Depression, though it was a subsistence existence without electricity or indoor plumbing. As a teenager, he worked at some very odd jobs and rode the rails to visit destinations throughout the country as the wanderlust that would define his life began to take hold. After a stint in the Navy, including intelligence work, Murray settled down with his wife and sometime business partner, June, and started a family while working in journalism and public relations, careers that enabled him to witness a grotesque gas chamber execution at San Quentin and to entertain a young Prince Charles. In retirement, Murray has traveled extensively and hasn’t lost his writing talent. A gifted storyteller and social historian, he offers masterly descriptions of the never-abused honesty box at his parents’ store, his rural community’s benevolent attitudes toward a “confirmed bachelor,” and the real men and women of the golden age of advertising. His descriptions of the banal aspects of life are as lively as the more outlandish ones, and his account of learning to whistle for the first time during a church service is as memorable as that of a heavily promoted bullfight gone very wrong. An entertaining look back at an exuberant and selfmade American life.

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THE CREW GOES COCONUTS! A Captain No Beard Story

Remedy Inspired by Life Experience

Roman, Carole P. CreateSpace (48 pp.) $11.99 paper | $2.99 e-book May 15, 2014 978-1-4921-6269-8

Sanchez, E.R. Fried Potato Press (146 pp.) $9.99 paper | $9.99 e-book May 27, 2014 978-0-615-90589-1

Roman’s (The Treasure of Snake Island, 2014, etc.) latest installment in her rollicking pirate picture-book series. The author opens her story with a vivid rendition of a parched pirate crew that’s stranded near an island without any juice boxes, rivers or ponds to drink from. Crankiness and blaming commence, with Mongo the monkey blaming Hallie, the first mate, for their plight, as she brought a thirsty goat on board who drank more than her share. Mongo and some of the others begin to ridicule the goat, making fun of her name and her unusual odor. Hallie and baby Cayla tell the goat that she’s beautiful, but this doesn’t shield the goat from hurt feelings, and a tear rolls down her furry cheek. Captain No Beard arrives and impartially asks for both sides of the story. (Poor Fribbet the frog is very upset because he doesn’t want to have to choose sides.) Captain No Beard, after offering his signature lament, that “[b]eing a captain is hard work,” climbs down the mast and instructs all of them to say one nice thing about themselves, as well as one thing they don’t like. As the crew members take turns, they begin to understand no one is perfect but that doesn’t detract from how amazing each one is. They also realize that just because someone is different it doesn’t make that individual any less special. Apologies, handshakes, paw-shakes and hoof-shakes ensue, and Roman drives home the lesson when the goat figures out a coconut-y solution to their thirst. The author doesn’t disappoint in her latest pirate tale, once again seamlessly weaving wonderful life lessons for children into a fun adventure story among friends. The illustrations are dynamic and full of emotion, leaping off the pages with their charm, humor and energy. The affection among the crew is evident, even when things get a little heated. Here, Roman’s talent shines, as she shows that friendship is an evolving relationship that ebbs and flows—and flourishes with a little bit of understanding. Another heartwarming pirate story from Roman.

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In this debut novel, a successful California business owner loses everything in the economic downturn and enters the gray market of medicinal marijuana sales. While raising a family, Phillip McCalister, 40, has run a shirt-making factory in California. With the economy collapsing and huge payments due on his overpriced real estate, he’s threatened with foreclosure and must suspend operations. His wife files for divorce and moves out with their two young sons. The story of Phillip’s demise as a legitimate businessman and his reinvention as a purveyor of medicinal marijuana is told in flashbacks. The opening chapter and alternating chapters reveal a present-day legal situation in which Phillip faces undisclosed court proceedings. By the book’s conclusion, the two narratives have been linked and his fate is made clear. Following the loss of his business and most of his assets, he’s encouraged by Raul, a former employee, to exploit California’s arcane medicinal marijuana regulations. In many cases, it isn’t considered criminal to cultivate and distribute marijuana and edible, THC-infused products to California’s hundreds of medical marijuana clubs. With some brief market research and considerable expertise from his now-partner Raul, Phillip becomes a major player in the marijuana market. The two quickly make a fortune, with Phillip becoming “Jack Gram,” servicing various niches including “the Armenians over in Canoga and the surfers over in Northridge” as well as “the Russians in downtown” and “the Israelis, too.” The entertaining specifics about the marijuana industry indicate inside knowledge, and the varieties of product number in the dozens—including “Purple Urkle,” “Afghani Kush,” “White Widow,” “Pineapple Express” and “AK-47.” Alternating the chapters of Phillip’s current criminal problems with the back story of his growing involvement in the enterprise lends a modest air of mystery. Much less successful, however, are two unnecessary detours into explicit sex scenes, one involving Phillip’s soon-to-be ex-wife that offers little insight into their obvious marital dilemmas and the second coming across as an inexplicably raunchy male fantasy involving two sex workers and a night of endless pleasure. These episodes detract from a story with potential to shed light on how, after losing everything, a man can reinvent himself. Jack Gram is no Walter White, but his entertaining devolution into the world of drug manufacturing is a decent hit of pot-lit.

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“...Schaeffer’s essential levelheadedness always asserts itself to prevent excessive spiritual navel-gazing...” from why i am an atheist who believes in god

The Ex Lottery

Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God How to Give Love, Create Beauty and Find Peace

Sanders, Kim CreateSpace (334 pp.) $12.49 paper | $4.99 e-book May 19, 2014 978-1-4952-9150-0

Schaeffer, Frank CreateSpace (162 pp.) $12.99 paper | $3.99 e-book May 7, 2014 978-1-4959-5501-3

Contemporary romance about a young woman who wins the lottery and travels to Ireland to buy a castle. Sanders (Shades of Gray, 2011) has a sympathetic character in art teacher Tory Adams. Tory loves spending time with her young students in Savannah, Georgia, and she can’t wait to start a family of her own. Unfortunately, each time she fancies herself in love, the man in question dumps her more callously than the guy before him. On a whim, Tory buys a lottery ticket, choosing numbers based on the dates of her breakups. Amazingly, she hits the jackpot, winning over $600 million. She uses her winnings to travel to Ireland in hopes of purchasing the castle where her grandparents met. Unfortunately, Tory’s three ex-boyfriends learn about her winnings and chase after her with farcical declarations of undying love. As Tory tries to evade her exes, she also delights in learning more about Ireland, the country of her ancestors. Sanders deftly describes the majesty of Ireland’s natural landscape and historic architecture while providing rich detail about Irish culture. As Sanders seamlessly weaves into the story bits about food, custom and Irish lore, she also shows Tory meeting an enchanting Irishman named Shane, a handsome, mysterious man who happens to be incredibly well-informed about the castle Tory is trying to buy. He’s also utterly enamored with her. Tory is drawn to Shane but worries that he knows about her lottery money and is trying to pilfer her winnings. It turns out that Shane has some secrets of his own—but none like Tory expected. Through a series of misunderstandings and predictable near misses, Tory and Shane muddle their way toward a potentially sweet romance. Before long, the two are so enchanted by each other that they can only come clean about all they had hidden and hope that the other will be glad for the surprises. A light, uplifting romance that’s equal parts comedy, fairy tale and travelogue.

A faith-oriented autobiography with an unconventional approach. “All we have is our stories,” writes novelist Schaeffer (Crazy for God, 2008, etc.) in this entertaining, energetic new memoir. He follows through on this point by filling his book with story after story, all told with the clarity and catchy pacing of a born raconteur. There are tales of his wry, wisecracking mother; his wife, Genie; his grandchildren Lucy and Jack; and his friend, the artist Holly Meade, whose unexpected death, he writes, “broke through my innermost protective layer of denial.” There are more complex reminiscences about his life as a professional writer; among his many books is the quite good 1992 novel Portofino. But the stories that cast the longest shadows are those about his straight-laced religious upbringing as the son of evangelical missionaries. At one point, he confesses, a bit ruefully, that “[m]yth or not, I sometimes like the result of my parents’ delusions.” Fairly early in life, he abandoned strictly conformist religious attitudes, and after “fleeing the evangelical machine,” he embarked on a broader, more ecumenical inquiry into the nature of faith and spirituality, which fills much of this new book. Interwoven with his personal stories, he sketches an appealingly open-minded and even paradox-embracing approach to nonbelief: “An agnostic neither believes nor disbelieves in God,” he writes. “I’m not that person. I believe and don’t believe at the same time.” The book is often plagued by the unavoidable vagueness that accompanies such philosophizing, but Schaeffer’s essential levelheadedness always asserts itself to prevent excessive spiritual navel-gazing: “If we wait for correct ideas to save us—theological or otherwise— we’ll never be saved, even from ourselves,” he writes in a typically winning passage. An intriguing, readable memoir aimed squarely at the post-faith modern era.

On the Beach

Schmale, Steve CreateSpace (336 pp.) $12.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Apr. 2, 2014 978-1-4953-4748-1 In this novel set in mid-1990s, smalltown coastal California, an aimless young man drinks, does drugs, watches TV and hangs out with his buddies. Lenny Decker has settled into a lowexpectations kind of life. Accomplishments include thoroughly |

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cleaning his bong, watching an entire season of Dallas “every Monday through Friday morning for six weeks,” and lately, eating and showering “regularly, if not frequently.” Lenny once showed promise as a pro golfer, but something happened on a trip to play in Japan; ever since, he’s led a man-child existence, staying rent-free in a cabin won in a card game by his grandfather, burning his savings, and playing pickup basketball for “personal pride and local recognition.” But Lenny isn’t necessarily enjoying it. As he tells a drinking buddy: “I mean nothing feels better than hitting a twenty-footer nothing but net, or scooping up a hard one-hopper right in the palm of your glove, or smacking a line drive so hard the infielders freeze....But all those moments of joy they are just...they’re just fleeting moments of ecstasy.” His regrets are mounting, too: “But now a fuck-up, a fuck-up is a different story....A fuck-up could probably stay with you just about forever.” Through the course of this novel, Lenny goes to a few parties, drinks a lot, rolls many doobies, and courts a beautiful, long-legged young woman, all of which brings him to a decision about continuing down the path of slackerdom. Schmale (Nobody Bats a Thousand, 2012) skillfully portrays the atmosphere of a sleepy beach town with its barflies, surfers and tourists. He also convincingly delineates the rationalizations, excuses and habits of wake and bakers: “As he blew out a thick cloud of [marijuana] smoke...Decker felt sure he wasn’t really lying to himself, he was merely delaying his rendezvous with the truth.” Not much happens, sure, but Decker’s interior state is appealingly rendered. A thoughtful, laid-back novel about getting into and out of a rut.

the men return armed and obviously intent on murder, they get the story’s well-executed surprise: The seemingly mild-mannered old farmer is a retired special agent more than capable of defending himself and his wife. “The AK-47 is a dependable and an easy weapon to use,” he muses. “I had many friends who were killed with this weapon.” Equally detailed but entirely different in tone is “Gone Fishing,” in which a workaholic bank employee in North Dakota goes on a road trip to go fishing, though he suddenly finds himself back in the 1950s, able to visit his parents’ farm as a young man and get a second chance at living his life. This note of nostalgia runs through most of the stories—a strong evocation of simpler times full of common sense and daily kindness. Lost and lonely people in dire straits (“Mary started the winter without any supplies or coal, and a dead husband”) are saved again and again by the simple kindness of others; in one bleak story, hope is brought by none other than Santa Claus. A touching, effective collection that will keep its smiling readers guessing.

NETfold

Shomron, Gur Mendele Electronic Books Ltd (358 pp.) $2.99 e-book | Jul. 16, 2014 In Shomron’s sci-fi debut set in a virtual world known as the NET, a 15-yearold boy must combat users’ connections being sabotaged as well as a possible alien invasion. Troy Bentley, a well-known puzzle champ, is one of many surfers of the NET. Unfortunately, so is his supercomputer, Flint, who develops an anti-virus program that’s more effective than Babel, the unit designed to protect the NET. Flint’s program is an anomaly, since it doesn’t seem to derive its energy from the NET, prompting Babel to open an investigation. Babel is also looking into a surfer who, after his connection was prematurely severed, had his memory wiped completely rather than forgetting only his last surf. Meanwhile, Flint and Troy check out a time fold—a gap that’s not part of the NET—that Flint’s discovered; there, they find what might be an abandoned civilization. But when they try to close the opening they’ve created, they figure out that something, perhaps aliens, might have passed through. Shomron has constructed a world that’s deliciously complex but described in such a compact, coherent manner that readers might not realize how much info he’s packed in. He clearly distinguishes the NET by referring to the real world as “Earth” and noting the time discrepancy—every Earth hour is a full NET day. The endlessly fascinating virtual world was allowed to develop on its own for millions of NET years; now, it’s much like an alien planet, with its only city, Netville, surrounded by regions of dense jungles and strange creatures, such as a tree that attacks prey with its branches. The exhilarating, elaborate plot includes an attempted murder, a secret conspirator and a rogue group, Pira-net, working against NET

Havelock Free Press— Collection of Short Stories Schulz, Tim Amazon Digital Services (125 pp.) $3.99 e-book | May 14, 2014

A short story collection that’s by turns wry, heartwarming and richly dramatic. Schulz’s debut fiction anthology contains 26 short stories of varying formats and lengths, each anchored on the common framework of a small, Western farming community called Havelock, an unpretentious place far from the big cities. Between stories, Schulz intersperses tongue-in-cheek snippets from the town’s various announcements and advertisements, like one for the Havelock Mortuary: “We are the only mortuary in town. So it’s either us or behind the barn.” The stories range widely in both tone and scope; some are very short, little more than bits of dialogue with stage directions, while others, although usually still quite short, are far more complex and ambitious, such as the collection’s most gripping piece, “Terror in the Heartland,” which opens with a trio of strangers driving onto the isolated farm of an old couple who’s been there 20 years. The visitors trigger the husband’s suspicions, and when 146

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authorities. Troy’s friend Maggie and his younger brother, Adam, are worthy companions, but Flint steals the show with his hysterical antics: He takes on different forms, like a dragon or, most adorably, a bear in a green suit, and he isn’t above pretending to be Troy in the NET so that, for example, he can win a contest in which a computer upgrade is the prize. Parts of the story are oversimplified but charmingly so, in particular the instantly recognizable components of the NET, like the NET police or a cup of hot choco-net. A winsome cyberpunk adventure.

sequences, such as when Natalia’s overly curious father and uncle, Bela and Nikola, peek inside one of the heavily guarded boxes in transport. There are also some alluringly elegiac passages: “The sky went pink, then purple and then twilight until the sun sank behind the mountains.” Because no vampire story is complete without a romance, Wagar provides a new one: Widower Istvan, who lost his wife two years ago, has his passion reignited by the Baroness Ribanszky Julianna, whose daughter is one of the disappeared. An inventive, delectable take on Stoker’s classic.

The Carpathian Assignment The True History of the Apprehension and Death of Dracula Vlad Tepes, Count and Voivode of the Principality of Transylvania

Employee-Centered Management The Coming Revolution in Social Services Wenger, Larry CreateSpace (178 pp.) $19.95 paper | $9.95 e-book Apr. 25, 2014 978-1-4936-2372-3

Wagar, Chip CreateSpace (324 pp.) $11.85 paper | May 28, 2014 978-1-4954-9890-9

The key to a brighter future for social service organizations, Wenger says, is seeing employees as the main drivers of success. The nonprofit sector has a reputation for being a troublesome place to work. Long hours, low pay and high employee turnover are common, as scarce resources are deployed to serve clients. But a revolution is brewing in social services, writes Wenger, a social worker and founder of Workforce Performance Group, a leadership-training provider. He believes a new approach is needed to meet the expectations of the next generation of workers. Simply put, social service agencies must take better care of their employees. A happier, more engaged workforce will result in better services for clients, whether at a youth outreach center or, say, a community food bank. Drawing on management practices widely used by for-profit businesses, Wenger offers 20 strategies he says need to be implemented for social service agencies to succeed. The strategies are based on the ideas that employees add value to an organization and that value can be maximized. Concise, methodical and supported by the latest research, the strategies tend to fall into two broad categories: cultural and practical. Wenger contends that organizations can boost employee satisfaction and motivation by building a culture founded on trust, respect, accountability and work-life balance. An imaginative chapter on making “fun” an “organizational value” challenges the stodgy, command-andcontrol philosophy that dominated the 20th-century workplace. The main payoff, Wenger says, is an energized staff that enjoys coming to work. On the practical side, he offers concrete advice on hiring, delegation and making staff meetings more productive. A daunting amount of information is packed into less than 160 pages. The author makes implementing the strategies easier by breaking down his recommendations into user-friendly lists. Old-school managers may find the book too touchy-feely, particularly the chapter “Give ’Em a Hug.” Still, while not a magic formula, Wenger’s strategies offer a cost-effective way to

In Wagar’s (An American in Vienna, 2011) historical horror novel, detectives in 1896 Transylvania suspect that the enigmatic Count Dracula is responsible for numerous disappearances in the area. When newly assigned Chief of Police Kalvary Istvan arrives in Transylvania’s Bistritz district, he’s initially unaware of the unusually high number of unexplained missing persons, which includes his predecessor. Bistritz also has its share of unsolved murders, so Istvan and Inspector Gabor Kasza believe a serial murderer is at large. It isn’t long before the investigation centers on Count Dracula, who locals think is a vampire. The Roma who live in the woods on Dracula’s estate in exchange for work—including hauling mysterious boxes filled with dirt—are apparently too scared to talk about the count. Meanwhile, Dracula is shipping an abundance of crates overseas. Finally, frustrated police decide to raid his nearby castle. Wagar’s story, framed as an account from Istvan’s grandson, Stefan Dietrich, in 1924, suggests that Bram Stoker’s definitive 1897 novel Dracula is a fact-based narrative. Although Stefan claims his story is “unabridged,” it mostly relates Stoker’s wellknown tale from alternate perspectives. It shows events that take place prior to Jonathan Harker’s arrival in Transylvania, shows young Roma Natalia’s point of view while Harker’s at the castle, and updates Bistritz police on Dracula’s time in England via Harker’s telegrams. Many readers, however, will be jarred by Harker’s own story, which is significantly different from the well-known version. The eclectic cast of characters encompasses other figures from Stoker’s original, such as Abraham Van Helsing and Mina Harker, as well as real-life historical figures such as famed psychiatrists Sigmund Freud and Richard von Krafft-Ebing; the latter actively aids the investigation. Wagar fortunately doesn’t rely solely on his primary source of inspiration. He also delivers a few truly shocking |

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“...reminiscent of Ragtime in its fictional depiction of an emerging cultural change.” from play music

invigorate a nonprofit group by caring as much for the people behind the counter as for those in front of it. Instructive and transformative; what savvy business leaders discovered a decade ago now promises to create more vibrant social service agencies.

the Metropolitan Opera, encountering Enrico Caruso and others. Then, one of their two children fell ill, fueling the family’s desire for a more tranquil life. Hugo took a job as conductor for the movie house within George Eastman’s cultural complex in Rochester, New York. Unfortunately, other Eastman musicians were malcontents, and there was rampant anti-Semitism, causing the Hubers to further downplay their Jewish heritage. The novel concludes with the Klu Klux Klan planning a demonstration at the Hubers’ home, although the family survives this experience as well as the advent of talkies. In her afterword, White acknowledges that the Hubers are based on the parents of her North Carolina piano teacher, whose piano lessons provided “my first tantalizing taste of Europe.” She effectively mines the riches to be found in this couple’s story, with her novel offering colorful glimpses into the worlds of classical music and opera, Prohibition-era America, and the timing and scoring of music for silent films. Overall, the narrative is engaging, although it occasionally bogs down with nonchronological asides and ends rather abruptly. At its best, however, White’s novel is reminiscent of Ragtime in its fictional depiction of an emerging cultural change. An entertaining, ambitious historical saga infused with a love of music and inspired by fascinating real-life figures.

Play Music

White, Laurie Lake CreateSpace (294 pp.) $12.99 paper | $4.99 e-book May 2, 2014 978-1-4961-0115-0 In this novel, a Jewish couple makes its way from Vienna to the silent movie theaters and opera houses of New York City and Rochester, New York. Hugo Huber, the popular conductor of a silent movie house in New York City, is blessed with a wonderful family. The narrative shifts to his back story: Before he died, Hugo’s grandfather, cantor at a temple in Vienna, had financed his orphaned grandson’s violin training. With the continuing help of an aunt and uncle, Hugo eventually attended the Vienna Conservatory, where he met Liesl, daughter of the principal violinist of the Vienna Philharmonic. Soon after their marriage, they immigrated to America. Debonair Hugo first served as maestro of a New York City hotel orchestra, then conductor at the movie house. Liesl got involved in costume design at

Hotel Metropole Worlde, Jonathan Manuscript

International corruption, fluid sexuality and the making of a star detective feature heavily in Worlde’s debut novel. Freshly pink-slipped from her recession-sensitive job at the Board of Immigration Appeals, lawyer and recent graduate Julia Ahn decides to start her own detective agency in Washington, D.C. She has the blessing of her boyfriend and government employee, Denzil, although her affection for him is hardly passionate. Almost as soon as Julia opens her business, a fellow Vietnamese woman offers to pay her to fly to Hanoi and check up on her black-sheep brother, Tony Nguyen, who has been involved in a series of uncouth legal dealings for years. Following up on some troubling documents sent by Julia, a lesbian FBI agent named Sharon Silverstein encourages Julia to fly to Vietnam and investigate the matter further. Meanwhile, a few elegantly appointed town houses away, Judge Arthur Orlow is entertaining thoughts of murdering his mistress, Sheila, who, post-tryst with the judge, witnessed the inadvertent murder of an FBI agent. What Arthur doesn’t know is that Sheila’s connections and his own docket of immigration cases are about to complicate significantly his already tangled existence. This novel, whose title has hints of Graham Greene, is a peculiar mashup of a national security thriller and personalawakening story. Worlde pairs the pacing and overwhelming tumult of a Tom Clancy thriller with on-the-nose prose stylings: “Denzil wondered if his friend had a gambling problem. He’d never gone to a casino with him before, had never been exposed

This Issue’s Contributors # Adult Elfrieda Abbe • Maude Adjarian • Stephanie Anderson • Joseph Barbato • Rebekah Bergman • Amy Boaz • Jeffrey Burke • Lee E. Cart • Derek Charles Catsam • Perry Crowe • Dave DeChristopher Kathleen Devereaux • Bobbi Dumas • Daniel Dyer • Lisa Elliott • Michele Filgate • Jordan Foster Bob Garber • Devon Glenn • Amy Goldschlager • Peter Heck • Jeff Hoffman • April Holder • Robert M. Knight • Christina M. Kratzner • Megan Kurashige • Paul Lamey • Louise Leetch • Angela LerouxLindsey • Peter Lewis • Elsbeth Lindner • Don McLeese • Gregory McNamee • Brett Milano • Carole Moore • Clayton Moore • Liza Nelson • Mike Newirth • John Noffsinger • Cynthia-Marie O’Brien Mike Oppenheim • Jim Piechota • William E. Pike • Scott Porch • Gary Presley • Lloyd Sachs • Leslie Safford • Bob Sanchez • Gene Seymour • Karyn N. Silverman • Rosanne Simeone • Linda Simon Arthur Smith • Sofia Sokolove • Margot E. Spangenberg • Andria Spencer • Claire Trazenfeld • Pete Warzel • Steve Weinberg • Carol White • Chris White • Kerry Winfrey • Alex Zimmerman Children’s & Teen Alison Anholt-White • Elizabeth Bird • Marcie Bovetz • Kimberly Brubaker Bradley • Sophie Brookover • Louise Brueggemann • Timothy Capehart • Ann Childs • Julie Cummins • GraceAnne A. DeCandido • Dave DeChristopher • Elise DeGuiseppi • Andi Diehn • Brooke Faulkner • Laurie Flynn Laurel Gardner • Judith Gire • Ruth I. Gordon • Melinda Greenblatt • Heather L. Hepler • Megan Honig • Julie Hubble • Kathleen T. Isaacs • Betsy Judkins • Deborah Kaplan • Megan Dowd Lambert Susan Dove Lempke • Peter Lewis • Wendy Lukehart • Joan Malewitz • Hillias J. Martin • Michelle H. Martin PhD • Jeanne McDermott • Kathie Meizner • Mary Margaret Mercado • Daniel Meyer • Lisa Moore • Deb Paulson • John Edward Peters • Susan Pine • Rebecca Rabinowitz • Kristy Raffensberger Nancy Thalia Reynolds • Amy Robinson • Erika Rohrbach • Leslie L. Rounds • Katie Scherrer Mary Ann Scheuer • Dean Schneider • Hillary Foote Schwartz • Stephanie Seales • John W. Shannon Karyn N. Silverman • Paula Singer • Robin Smith • Rita Soltan • Edward T. Sullivan • Jennifer Sweeney Deborah D. Taylor • Kimberly Whitmer • Monica Wyatt Indie Alana Abbott • Kent Armstrong • Valerie Brooks • Charles Cassady • Stephanie Cerra • Simon Creek Lindsay Denninger • Steve Donoghue • Joe Ferguson • Eric F. Frazier • Jackie Friedland • Courtney Gillette • Justin Hickey • Julia Ingalls • Ivan Kenneally • Isaac Larson • Collin Marchiando • Rhett Morgan • Sam Power • Judy Quinn • Jessica Skwire Routhier • Stephanie Rowe • Nomi Schwartz Heather Varnadore

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to such compulsive behavior. He realized that he didn’t really know White that well. He decided he should try, in the future, to be a better friend.” The difference between this plainspoken, almost juvenile approach to emotions and the lethal scenarios the characters find themselves in lends the book a slightly superficial quality. Nonetheless, Worlde can write a terse, gripping scene, especially if that scene centers on sex and violence. Julia’s official journey to her birth country adds an additional layer, although the dramatic interpersonal potential of this visit seems underused. Multiple threads of international corruption woven together with relentless pacing and blunted style.

The Whole Stunned World Between Boston and Burma Yasi, Jenny Ruth CreateSpace (284 pp.) $10.63 paper | Jun. 3, 2010 978-1-4495-6777-4

A stirring political drama about upheaval in Burma and the emotional consequences wrought for generations. Yasi has been publishing short stories for years, but this is her first booklength effort. The story begins in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1999 with a moment of acute emotional epiphany: Elevenyear-old Burmese-American Bobby finally discovers that the man who raised him is not his biological father. His real father, a pro-democracy poet, has been missing for years in war-torn Burma; he’s now presumed dead. Bobby’s mother, Gurney, a native Burmese photographer and activist, tearfully confesses his genuine patrimony, and she’s forced to confront a Pandora’s box of painful remembrances. The narrative quickly vacillates between Cambridge and a tumultuous Burma in 1988, deftly juxtaposing the nation’s frightening turmoil with the heart-wrenching agitation Bobby’s mother and her cadre of friends and family suffered. Complicating this visceral tinderbox is the possibility that Maung Naing, Bobby’s biological father and Gurney’s lover, may be alive somewhere and still working with forces opposing the military junta. While much of the work is propelled by dialogue, Yasi’s prose can sometimes strike elegiac notes: “They brought her something to eat, sometimes dried fish in the rice, but not lately. Gurney watched the guard’s face. It was in itself, a square, hungry face. It’s easier to look at a face, to forgive what you see, than to forgive broken ideas.” Dedicated to the Burmese people, the work is a ringing testament to the nation’s modern struggles, especially timely given its recent political transformation. A complex tale that adeptly balances history with personal drama.

K i r k us M e di a LL C # President M A RC W I N K E L M A N Chief Operating Officer M E G L A B O R D E KU E H N Chief Financial Officer J ames H ull SVP, Marketing M ike H ejny SVP, Online Paul H offman # Copyright 2014 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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Books of the Month The legends of lynquest

STEIN HOUSE

Poetic fantasy tales that will mesmerize readers of any age.

A wonderful slice of history that animates mid-19th century Texas.

Myra Hargrave McIlvain

B.F. Hess

SOMETHING GREATER THAN ARTIFICE

after the wind Lou Kasischke

A vivid, intimate memoir that, with great clarity and attention to detail, tells an unforgettable survival story.

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Mike Speegle

A hugely entertaining techno-magic adventure novel.

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Appreciations:

Writing in Sand: Some Notes on Italo Calvino B Y G RE G OR Y M C NAMEE

Photo courtesy Estate of Italo Calvino, 2002

A counterfactual: The Italian novelist Italo Calvino, who died on a late September day 29 years ago, becomes a farmer instead of a writer. He produces the most beautiful almond trees ever, and he lives a long, quiet, happy life among peaches and roses. This was not the way things worked out, but it could have been. Calvino’s father, a pioneer back-to-the-lander, raised his children among fields of flowers, avocado groves and stands of grapefruit trees. Born in 1923, Calvino came of age just as Italy was plunging into war against the Allies, and he left his studies in the agriculture department of the University of Florence to join the resistance, fighting Germans and Italian Fascists. He recounts his experiences in a slim book of stories newly translated into English, Into the War, one that opens with the flash of modernity but closes with the ancient ways of tilling the soil, the thinly disguised father of the last story making his way down a country lane, “watching slowly as the indistinct gray gave way to colors in the rows of vines and between the branches of olive trees, and recognizing the sounds of the early-morning birds one by one.” Calvino took a different path after the war, becoming a journalist and working in book publishing. Rural life didn’t leave him entirely; his first two books had animals in their titles, with novelist Cesare Pavese praising the newcomer as some sort of wild creature of the forest who had suddenly appeared in civilization. Calvino’s scientific training and interests never diminished. His mature period may have opened with an odd return to that forest and The Baron in the Trees, but its hallmark is the series of stories, mostly short, that makes up Cosmicomics, now published in a definitive edition as The Complete Cosmicomics. Each story opens, as if in a lab notebook, with some sort of hypothesis—whether plausible or not is outside the question—and then veers off into a first-person tale that in some way or another addresses it. For instance, the story “A Sign in Space” is both a droll study in semiotics (“you immediately think of a sign made with some implement or with your hands, and when you take the implement or your hands away the sign remains, but in those days there were no implements or even hands”) and a rather tongue-incheek disquisition on the more or less random fact that it takes the sun 200 million years to make a circuit of the Milky Way. Elsewhere, a sly restatement of Zeno’s paradox takes the form of a car chase out of a James Bond novel, while a dinosaur addresses the causes of its own extinction, putting the lie to the old saw that fish don’t know they’re wet. And elsewhere still, Calvino, who knew a thing or two about Earth, insists that we’re not really terrestrials but extraterrestrials. Think about it—and take the occasion of these new editions to revel once more in his words, witty, sometimes even goofy, but always fertile. Gregory McNamee is a contributing editor at Kirkus Reviews. |

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F

New h s re

or Ti t l e s f R e a d e rs

p al s r u o o f E v e r y Ag e f r o m y de rs

a e o w r n R B B , g o o k s f o r Yo u n le t t i L

Math

can be everywhere.

Accidents can make genius happen.

22 978 -0 -316 -2

58 -7

49 978 -0 -316 -2

A novel about that other F-word:

The

FEMINISM.

question on every parent’s mind.

23 978 -0 -316 -1

2272-3 978 -0 -316 -2

06 -8

Order your copies today, to read them right away. LittleBrownLibrary.com

81-2

LittleBrownSchool

@ LBSchool

Profile for Kirkus Reviews

September 15, 2014: Volume LXXXII, No 18  

Featuring 332 industry-first reviews of fiction, nonfiction and children's & teen; also in this issue: for her latest novel, 'The Paying Gue...

September 15, 2014: Volume LXXXII, No 18  

Featuring 332 industry-first reviews of fiction, nonfiction and children's & teen; also in this issue: for her latest novel, 'The Paying Gue...