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SEPTEMBER

2012

REVIEWS Philip Nel

A look into the lives of children’s literature visionaries p. 2112

Also In This Issue

Christopher Hitchens faces mortality p. 2058

CHILDREN’S & TEEN

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building

by Christy Hale A simply brilliant introduction to architecture from Christy Hale p. 2120

NONFICTION

Letters

by Kurt Vonnegut The passionate, thoughtful letters of Kurt Vonnegut p. 2091

FICTION

Back to Blood

by Tom Wolfe The acclaimed author returns with a colorful novel p. 2034


The Death of Pablo Neruda B Y G RE G O RY MC NA M EE

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

Th e d a t e i s S e p t e m b e r 1 1 —not 2001, but 28 years earlier, 1973. In Chile, a military coup led by an ambitious general named Augusto Pinochet, and guided by notorious war criminal Henry Kissinger, has overthrown the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. He is a socialist, a red, a color, to invoke the great Joe Strummer, “that’ll earn you a spray of lead.” So it did with Allende, cousin of Isabel Allende, the writer who might not have come to America had the president been allowed to serve his term. And so it did, if more metaphorically, with the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who, then 69 years old, was suffering from prostate cancer. He died, the story has it, of a broken heart—for Neruda, as even those who know him only from his part in the 1994 film Il Postino understand, was also a socialist, bereft at the loss of the worker’s paradise he had strived to sing into being for so long. “I have taken a road,” he writes in his lovely Memoirs, “because I believe that road leads us all to lasting brotherhood. I am fighting for that ubiquitous, widespread, inexhaustible, goodness.” Neruda had won the Nobel Prize in literature only two years earlier, and he was far and away the best known Chilean outside of the country. He had closed his memoirs with a condemnation of the coup, writing of “Chile’s soldiers, who had betrayed Chile once more,” and he was certain to speak out against fascism if he left the country. By the account of Manuel Araya, who worked as Neruda’s driver at the time, government agents thus abducted Neruda, took him to a clinic in Santiago and administered a lethal injection that brought on a coronary, silencing Neruda forever. Araya’s conspiracy theory has found willing ears, and though it took 40 years, Chilean courts have recently been taking a closer look at the circumstances of Neruda’s death. Though forensic specialists worry that any chemicals introduced into Neruda’s body would have worn off by now, the investigation is gathering momentum—for which stay tuned. Meanwhile, Neruda lives on. His poems, gathered in books such as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair and Residence on Earth, remain among the most widely read in any language around the world. He recently figured in a novel by the Chilean writer Roberto Ampuero, whose The Neruda Case (Riverhead Books) is a bit of a pastiche, a bit of a mess, and a bit of a bore. Matilda Urrutia’s My Life with Pablo Neruda (Stanford University Press) offers a better rounded portrait, though even she, the poet’s widow, pokes a few holes in his proletariansaintly legend. Was Pablo Neruda murdered? We may soon know the answer. For the moment, his revenge is that we read him still while dancing on Pinochet’s grave, and we will read him for time to come.

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Maude Adjarian • Mark Athitakis • Michael Autrey • Joseph Barbato • Amy Boaz • Alexis Burling • Lee E. Cart • Derek Charles Catsam • Marnie Colton • Dave DeChristopher • Gregory F. DeLaurier • David Delman • Kathleen Devereaux • Bobbi Dumas • Daniel Dyer • Gro Flatebo • Peter Franck • Bob Garber • Sean Gibson • Judith Gire • Christine Goodman • Peter Heck • Jeff Hoffman • BJ Hollars • Robert M. Knight • Christina M. Kratzner • Paul Lamey • Louise Leetch • Peter Lewis • Elsbeth Lindner • Joe Maniscalco • Don McLeese • Gregory McNamee • Carole Moore •Clayton Moore • Chris Morris • Liza Nelson • Mike Newirth • John Noffsinger • Sarah Norris • Mike Oppenheim • Joshua T. Pederson • Jim Piechota • Christofer D. Pierson • Signe Pike • William E. Pike • Gary Presley • David Rapp • Kristen Bonardi Rapp • Karen Rigby • Lloyd Sachs • Bob Sanchez • Sandra Sanchez • Michael Sandlin • William P. Shumaker • Rosanne Simeone • Clea Simon • Elaine Sioufi • Wendy Smith • Margot E. Spangenberg • Susan Spano • Andria Spencer • Sarah Suksiri • Deborah D. Taylor • Matthew Tiffany • Claire Trazenfeld • Steve Weinberg • Rodney Welch • Carol White • Chris White • Homa Zaryouni


you can now purchase books online at kirkusreviews.com

contents fiction INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS.................................................. p. 2003 REVIEWS....................................................................................... p. 2003 RAP SHEET’S 10 HOT CRIME NOVELS FOR COLDER DAYS..................................................................... p. 2012

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

MYSTERY......................................................................................p. 2034 SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY................................................. p. 2040

nonfiction INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS..................................................p. 2043 REVIEWS.......................................................................................p. 2043 CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS FACES MORTALITY......................p. 2058

children’s & teen INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS................................................. p. 2095 REVIEWS...................................................................................... p. 2095 Q&A WITH PHILIP NEL............................................................... p. 2112 INTERACTIVE E-BOOKS............................................................. p. 2157 BEST RECENT CHILDREN’S & TEEN APPS..............................p. 2161 CONTINUING SERIES.................................................................p. 2163

indie INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS...................................................p. 2165 REVIEWS........................................................................................p. 2165 BARBRA ANNINO: “HOW I DID IT”..........................................p. 2172

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Tom Wolfe is back in fine form. See the starred review of his new novel on p. 2034.

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on the web w w w. k i r k u s r e v i e w s . c o m / b l o g s As the calendar officially clicks over to fall, here’s what’s exclusively online at kirkusreviews.com… It is a moniker charged with high emotion, outrage and injustice for the three young men who came to be known as “the West Memphis Three.” In 1993, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. were arrested for the murders of three 8-year-old boys, Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. While his two co-defendants were sentenced to life in prison, then 18-year-old Echols was sentenced to death. He spent the next 17 years on death row, most of it in Arkansas’ Varner Supermax Unit, where he suffered incredible mistreatment at the hands of the justice system. Over time, supporters like Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Peter Jackson leapt to Echols’ defense. Following a complex plea deal, Echols was released in August 2011 and tells his story in his memoir, Life After Death. We talked to Echols, who was in New Zealand attending the world premiere of Jackson’s new film West of Memphis. You might not immediately know the name Stephen Tobolowsky when you hear it, but if you’ve turned on the TV or gone to the movies in the last 25 years, you probably know the face. Yeah, he’s that guy. Higher-profile gigs on HBO’s Californication, the hit film Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party (2005) and his latest book The Dangerous Animals Club might threaten Tobolowsky’s sublime anonymity, but he hopes not. In a starred review, we called his book of essays, “a copiously examined life rendered with humor and heart.” Online this month at Kirkus, Tobolowsky explains why his perennial role as a supporting Hollywood player beats being the star of the show any day of the week—and a lot more.

Canadian comic-book writer and graphic novelist J. Torres won the Shuster Award for Outstanding Writer for his work on Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Love as a Foreign Language and Teen Titans Go. This month online, he discusses his new graphic novel series, Bigfoot Boy, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks. The first book, Into the Woods, introduces Rufus, a boy who discovers a totem that can transform him into a Sasquatch, earning a starred review in Kirkus. Go online this month to read our interview with Torres. Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Kate White has run five major magazines and is the bestselling author of two thrillers and the Bailey Weggins mystery series. White is also the author of popular career books for women, including Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do. White shares her publishing story on “How I Did It” exclusively online at Kirkus. Her latest, I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, is out this month. For the latest on new releases every day, please go online to Kirkusreviews.com. It’s where our editors and our contributing blog partners bring you the best in science fiction, mysteries and thrillers, literary fiction and nonfiction, teen books and children’s books, Indie publishing, and more.

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fiction THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Abbott, Scott; Swinton, Amy Maude Howard Books/Simon & Schuster (224 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4516-6039-5

THE RIME OF THE MODERN MARINER by Nick Hayes.......... p. 2015 FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver.............................. p. 2021 ILLUMINATIONS by Mary Sharratt.......................................... p. 2029 THE ISLAND OF SECOND SIGHT by Albert Vigoleis Thelen............................................................. p. 2032 THE TESTAMENT OF MARY by Colm Tóibín............................. p. 2033 BACK TO BLOOD by Tom Wolfe.................................................. p. 2034 THE HYDROGEN SONATA by Iain M Banks............................ p. 2040

FLIGHT BEHAVIOR

Kingsolver, Barbara Harper/ HarperCollins (448 pp.) $28.99 Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-06-212426-5

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A modern Christmas story (with shades of A Christmas Carol) in which a beleaguered single father fights for cus-

tody of his sick son. Patrick Guthrie, drama teacher at an NYC high school, has had a few heartbreaking years: First, his wife suddenly dies from an undiagnosed enlarged heart, and then their son, Braden, is diagnosed with the same condition. Braden is very ill, but it seems he may be a candidate for a lifesaving operation. Finally, Patrick has hope. But as Braden is waiting for operation day, Patrick is laid off and the bills he was valiantly fending off (heat, phone, rent) have all come due. Then, Child Protective Services comes knocking, questioning his ability to care for the soon-to-be-discharged Braden. Patrick knows exactly who sent the watchdogs: Ted Cake, a wealthy industrialist and his former father-in-law. Ted blames Patrick for his daughter’s death and now wants custody of the grandson he’s never met. Patrick gets a job at a pizza parlor, but there is no way he can earn enough to pay all his bills and bank the requisite savings to appease the court. He dons a St. Nick costume, makeup and wig and hits the streets as the Ghost of Christmas Present, from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Patrick begs (although it could be argued he’s really busking) as he recites passages from Dickens and his beloved Shakespeare. He sets up shop close to Ted Cake’s office, and Cake (who longed to be an actor in his youth) grows to appreciate Patrick’s performances. A number of unfortunate turns make it unlikely that Patrick will retain custody of his son unless Ted Cake can see his way toward forgiveness and family unity. Sentimental and earnest; nevertheless, the tale has charm enough to make you eager for the holidays.

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“Contemporary, hilarious, gritty.” from stonemouth

HOW A LADY WEDS A ROGUE

Ashe, Katharine Avon/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-06-203189-1

Convinced she’s destined for spinsterhood anyway, Regency heroine Diantha Lucas sets off on a journey certain to ruin her, and along the way, she finds her own true hero in a man on a course to destroy his own life, yet determined not to take her with him. Diantha Lucas needs a hero, and she knows Wyn Yale is just what she’s looking for. He’s come to her rescue before, years ago when she was an ugly, tormented teen. So when she runs across him on a public coach, she’s certain it’s destiny and that he’s meant to guide her on a journey she shouldn’t be taking at all, but especially not alone. Realizing that Diantha will continue on with or without him, Wyn joins her on the quest while sending secret messages to her family in an attempt to save her from herself. But as time passes and his messages go unanswered, Wyn finds himself more and more enamored of his companion. It’s an unwelcome passion, given that he’s on a path of vengeance that will likely find him hanged at the end of it. Unaware of her newfound beauty or the potency of her spirited, optimistic personality, Diantha misinterprets Wyn’s interest as simple male flirtation, chastising herself for her growing attachment to him, yet pursuing a deepening physical relationship. As circumstances become increasingly complicated, Wyn shelters Diantha in his Welsh childhood haven, and each character faces individual internal demons while overcoming physical danger and external threats together. Wyn knows he has nothing to offer Diantha. So why, for the first time in his life, does he feel like he’s finally met a woman who might actually be able to redeem him? The latest installment of Ashe’s Falcon Club series, this book is an emotionally touching and sexually taut romance that brings together two lonely hearts with no hope and finds them saving each other. The characters are textured, deep and believable. The writing is strong and lyrical, easily supporting agile, polished dialogue and a complex, well-paced plot. Fans of the series will recognize some cameo appearances. With its jaded hero, effervescent heroine, an intriguing, engaging plot, and healthy doses of both humor and emotion, this is a delightful Regency jaunt.

STONEMOUTH

Banks, Iain Pegasus Crime (368 pp.) $25.00 | Nov. 15, 2012 978-1-60598-382-0 This novel considers the question of how to return home after a long absence, particularly when your ex-fiancee is the eldest daughter of a local crime boss.

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Should we pity Stewart Gilmour, the creative, successful, suicidally stupid narrator of Banks’ novel? We first meet Stewart on a suspension bridge, a favorite for suicides, above the Firth of Stoun, just outside his hometown. Stewart is waiting for Powell Imrie, a former classmate and now chief heavy for the Murstons, a local crime family well-stocked with thick-necked sons ready to separate Stewart’s head from his neck. He is back for the funeral of Joe Murston, the family patriarch with whom he was friendly. Permission granted conditionally, with the funeral on Monday, Stewart falls in and down with his old crowd, and waits, with little dignity intact and a splinter of hope, to clap eyes on Ellie Murston, his ex and the love of his life. The novel flashes back on a childhood one hesitates to call idyllic, and Stewart’s reminisces are interrupted by thugs who, apparently, did not get or could not read the memo permitting him to visit unmolested. Bodie ‘Ferg’ Ferguson, the sort of friend one has if one does not need enemies, a bat-wingman, provides foulmouthed commentary and consumes quantities of the locally available anesthetics. Adept as an anesthesiologist, Banks adjusts the tension with short bursts of hilarity. Joe Murston is interred, the attendees repair to the Mearnside Hotel, the scene of Stewart’s ignominy, and while a conspiracy may have cost him his future back then, present dangers might prove just as lethal. Including science fiction he has published as Iain M. Banks, this is Banks’ (Surface Detail, 2011, etc.) 25th novel to appear in the States. Contemporary, hilarious, gritty—yes, this is genre fiction, and no, the genre doesn’t get much better than this.

ANCIENT LIGHT

Banville, John Knopf (304 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 4, 2012 978-0-307-95705-4

A novel that traps the reader inside the mind of the narrator, a reflective but not very perceptive actor, as his selfabsorption turns from the human condition, the passage of time and the creative memory to, obsessively, his teenage sexual initiation with the mother of his best friend. One’s appreciation of the latest from the award-winning Banville (The Sea, 2005, etc.) largely depends on patience with the protagonist, for the entire novel takes place inside his mind, a mind prone to distortions of memory and little insight into anyone, least of all himself. For Alexander Cleave, a semiretired stage actor improbably cast as the lead in a film (a bio flick portentously titled The Invention of the Past), “the past seems a puzzle from which the most vital pieces are missing.” A halfcentury earlier, when he was 15, he had a summer-long affair with his friend’s mother, Mrs. Gray. He seems to have little idea how it started, why it persisted and whether the two of them were even particularly attracted to each other. She had just marked her 35th birthday and had lost a baby, though the narrative mentions these only in passing. It would undoubtedly be a very different novel if Mrs. Gray were the protagonist, a |


narrative which Alexander might not even recognize as his own life. “I do not know what anyone thinks; I hardly know what I think myself,” he admits. He and his wife (who barely figures in the novel) seem like little more than strangers to each other, their relationship irrevocably damaged by the suicide of their mentally disturbed daughter a decade earlier. His debut film experience weaves together various strands from his life and memory, yet he remains (as do we all?) “a Crusoe shipwrecked and stranded in the limitless wastes of a boundless and indifferent ocean.” Banville writes beautiful sentences, while recognizing the limits and deceptions of language, in a meditation on themes that he has better explored elsewhere. (Author tour to Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.)

TOBY’S ROOM

Barker, Pat Doubleday (320 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-385-52436-0 Booker Prize winner Barker revisits some students at the Slade art school in the years before and after their experiences in Life Class (2008). Part One, set in 1912, explains one reason why Elinor Brooke is the Slade’s edgiest student; on a visit to her wealthy parents’ country home, she has an incestuous one-night stand with her brother, Toby. Elinor flings herself into a dissection class at London Hospital, hoping to elevate her life-drawing skills to the exacting standards of Slade professor Henry Tonks. She also becomes close friends with arrogant, ambitious Kit Neville and meets new Slade student Paul Tarrant just before Part Two sweeps us ahead to 1917, in the thick of World War I. Toby is missing, believed killed; Paul and Kit have both been wounded, Kit with facial injuries that take him to Queen’s Hospital, where Tonks makes portraits of the disfigured men to assist the medical staff. “How can any human being endure this?” Elinor wonders as she looks at this work. It’s a rare moment of compassion for Elinor, who has hardened noticeably in the five-year interval and is obsessed with finding out what happened to Toby. A note among his belongings sent home from the front suggests that Kit knows something, and Elinor enlists her erstwhile lover Paul—whom she’s barely visited since he was wounded—to confront Kit in the hospital. Kit refuses to tell them anything, but the sordid truth about Toby’s fate does eventually come out. War’s horrors are a familiar subject for Barker, and she has always been a trenchant, uncompromising writer, but this sour work is far below the best pages of Life Class, let alone the majestic pessimism of her masterpiece, the Regeneration trilogy (Regeneration, 1992, etc.). Here, she seems to be exploring with diminishing returns themes that once displayed her gifts more fully. A rare disappointment from one of England’s finest writers.

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MONSIEUR

Becker, Emma Translated by Jakubowski, Maxim Arcade (256 pp.) $24.95 paperback | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-61145-761-2 The subtitle “An Erotic Novel,” makes it clear what to expect from Becker’s first novel, translated from its original French: Fifty Shades of Grey sex weighted (or balanced depending on one’s taste) with literary pretentions. In this metafiction, Ellie, who shares the author’s last name, writes a novel about her 10-month affair with the married Parisian surgeon she refers to as Monsieur. Ellie took her first lover, a 30-year-old, when she was 15. Now 20, a literature student living at home, Ellie pursues 46-year-old Monsieur before actually meeting him because her uncle has mentioned in passing his medical colleague’s interest in erotic literature. After Monsieur responds to her email sharing her similar interest, they carry on a sexually explicit if highly intellectual conversation through emails, texts and phone calls. Ellie is soon meeting him for Tuesday morning trysts in a hotel room. As a sign of trust, they do not use protection against STDs, despite their lack of exclusivity, or hygiene. Few will be surprised to learn that he dominates her in various ways, and she enjoys the submission, at least at first. He lets her visit him at the hospital, where their desire must be contained, barely, in front of others. Initially, she is not crazy about the anal sex—and there is a lot of anal sex—but she grows to love it. The descriptions of what goes where, particularly his hands and her “arse,” the ecstatic nature of pain and desire, domination and submission, are evocative but get repetitive after awhile. Soon, his limited time to spare becomes a problem as her physical obsession grows. Her purely sexual interest becomes more emotional than she wants to admit. Refusing to break off completely, he seems to play with her dependence, but perhaps he is as secretly obsessed as Ellie. It is hard to say because Ellie admits she learns almost nothing about him. Neither does the reader, who will find Ellie herself increasingly sad. Ultimately, Ellie’s novel is erotic, prurient and kind of boring.

ONLY SUPERHUMAN

Bennett, Christopher L. Tor (352 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-7653-3229-5

First independent effort from a veteran comic-book and Star Trek novelist (Star Trek: DTI: Forgotten History, 2012, etc.). By 2107, following a war, Earth banned genetic and cybernetic experimentation on humans. Not so in the Asteroid Belt, where flourishing space habitats continue to develop highly modified humans. Emry Blair is a Troubleshooter, one of a band

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of such enhanced humans who consider themselves the embodiments of the superheroes pioneered by the classic comics of the 20th century. And they act accordingly, being given to foolhardy exploits and vainglorious banter as they perform their selfappointed task of defending the solar system against the other, rival societies of modified humans, many of whom have uncompromising and violently destructive ideologies. But then Gregor Tai of Ceres takes over the Corps, with the idea of not just reacting to threats, but preempting them by judicious assassinations and military strikes. The Troubleshooters grumble but go along. But then Tai orders Emry to infiltrate the Vanguardians, a rival superhero organization led by Eliot Thorne, who’s been sulking in the Outer Belt for 30 years and now has plans to unite all the mods, even the unruly and violent ones. Since Emry’s related to some of the Vanguardians, she’s ideally suited to the role. But Thorne and his daughter, Psyche, are more formidable and persuasive than Emry bargained for, and she soon finds her loyalties wavering. The main plot’s padded out with “origin” stories detailing Emry’s personal evolution from scapegrace to defender of humanity and bouts of enthusiastic sex. You will have gathered that this is, indeed, an adult-ish comic book minus the illustrations. Proceed accordingly. Should satisfy the demographic but not too many others.

THE ELEMENTALS

Block, Francesca Lia St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $24.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-250-00549-6 978-1-250-01842-7 e-book Silver rings, a profusion of flowers, hazy graveyards and perhaps the fae embroider this hypnotic tale. Block (Pink Smog, 2012, etc.) returns with her distinctively smoldering style. Primarily aimed at young adults, this book may appeal to an adult audience as well, with its shimmering imagery and nimble characterization. On a school-sponsored visit to UC Berkeley, Ariel Silverman’s best friend, Jeni, strangely disappeared. Just as Ariel herself is set to go off to Berkeley, her parents reveal that Ariel’s mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Still reeling and numb with grief, Ariel heads to college, determined to pursue the mystery of Jeni’s disappearance. Life quickly becomes a routine of classes, running and passing out flyers with Jeni’s face. To escape frat boys, obnoxious football players and her lascivious roommate, Ariel begins to wander the streets at night. On Halloween, an ominous giant of a homeless man hands her a flyer, an invitation to a party at the House of Eidolon. Given that dorm life is hell, Ariel goes to the party, and there, her life takes a sudden, irrevocable turn. The gorgeously Gothic house is home to three enigmatic graduate students who seduce Ariel into their glamorous lives. Perry, faunlike with his curly hair and sly attentiveness, is a classics major. Bewitching Tania has focused her psychology studies on magic, divination and superstition. Yet Ariel’s eyes lock with those of John, who is studying the continuance of 2006

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the soul. Worried still about Jeni, Ariel soon finds herself physically compelled to return again and again to her enchanting new friends. Why does she feel ill without them? Who is the giant who seems to be lurking about? What does the tattoo on John’s wrist say? Why is Tania so welcoming? And how does Jeni fit into the puzzle? Well-paced and lushly written.

BETWEEN TWO FIRES

Buehlman, Christopher Ace/Berkley (432 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-937007-86-7

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road meets Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in this frightful medieval epic about an orphan girl with visionary powers in plague-devastated France. The year is 1348. The conflict between France and England is nothing compared to the all-out war building between good angels and fallen ones for control of heaven (though a scene in which soldiers are massacred by a rainbow of arrows is pretty horrific). Among mortals, only the girl, Delphine, knows of the cataclysm to come. Angels speak to her, issuing warnings—and a command to run. A pack of thieves is about to carry her off and rape her when she is saved by a disgraced knight, Thomas, with whom she teams on a march across the parched landscape. Survivors desperate for food have made donkey a delicacy and don’t mind eating human flesh. The few healthy people left lock themselves in, not wanting to risk contact with strangers, no matter how dire the strangers’ needs. To venture out at night is suicidal: Horrific forces swirl about, ravaging living forms. Lethal black clouds, tentacled water creatures and assorted monsters are comfortable in the daylight hours as well. The knight and a third fellow journeyer, a priest, have difficulty believing Delphine’s visions are real, but with oblivion lurking in every shadow, they don’t have any choice but to trust her. The question becomes, can she trust herself? Buehlman, who drew upon his love of Fitzgerald and Hemingway in his acclaimed Southern horror novel, Those Across the River (2011), slips effortlessly into a different kind of literary sensibility, one that doesn’t scrimp on earthy humor and lyrical writing in the face of unspeakable horrors. The power of suggestion is the author’s strong suit, along with first-rate storytelling talent. An author to watch, Buehlman is now two for two in delivering eerie, offbeat novels with admirable literary skill.

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“This warmhearted tale offers comfort to anyone coping with the loss of a loved one.” from have you seen marie?

THE GIVING QUILT

Chiaverini, Jennifer Dutton (368 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-525-95360-9

Quiltsgiving is a new tradition at Elm Creek Manor, and this November, the women will devote themselves to making quilts for Project Linus, which gathers homemade blankets for needy children. In giving to others, they may heal themselves. The latest in Chiaverini’s (Sonoma Rose, 2012, etc.) prolific Elm Creek Quilts series finds women gathering at Elm Creek Manor. Focusing on five of the participants, Chiaverini relates each woman’s sufferings in mind-numbing detail. A member of the renowned Cherokee Rose Quilters, Pauline has forsaken her own guild’s retreat to come to the Manor. Although she loves her guild, she cannot understand why one of the other members is so hostile toward her. Hostilities have escalated so far that she is contemplating leaving her beloved guild. Linnea, a librarian, has spent the last months battling Close the Book, an organization intent upon closing her library, and the tempers get hotter every day. Michaela, the youngest quilter at the retreat, arrives on crutches, her ankle ruined and her dreams of professional cheerleading dashed. But was her fall at tryouts an accident or something more sinister? Recently widowed, Jocelyn has stepped into her late husband’s role of coaching their school’s Imagination Quest. Working with the children was fantastic, but possible cheating at the competition troubles her. Karen, one of the most talented quilters, worries that her beloved shop may not survive in the face of Internet stores. The women bond in conversation, telling their stories, detailing their slights and questioning their own reactions. These ironically self-centered women gain much more from Quiltsgiving than they give. Project Linus becomes little more than the backdrop for yet another story about women offering each other support to return home and face their troubles. Rather than harmonizing disparate scraps, this quilt leaves the highly wrought patches unstitched.

HAVE YOU SEEN MARIE?

Cisneros, Sandra Illus. by Hernández, Ester Knopf (112 pp.) $21.00 | Oct. 8, 2012 978-0-307-59794-6

Best-selling Cisneros (Caramelo, 2002, etc.) chronicles a search for a runaway cat that turns into a way to work through grief and discover community. When Rosalind arrives in San Antonio after a three-day drive from Washington state, her cat, Marie, promptly takes off. “Marie had cried the whole way,” says the narrator. “I felt like crying and taking off too. My mother had died a few months before.” You |

can hardly call this fiction, since Cisneros tells us in the afterword that she wrote it in the wake of her mother’s death, that “the real Marie eluded capture for over a week,” and that the illustrations by San Francisco-based artist Hernández are portraits of Cisneros’ actual neighbors in San Antonio. Indeed, the tang of real life gives some needed grit to a rather anodyne account. As the narrator and Rosalind canvass the neighborhood in search of Marie, they encounter well-meaning folks who want to help but are preoccupied with their own lives. “We can do a river search on horseback,” says one neighbor. “But my kid is coming over this weekend. Can you wait till next week?” A “jogger mom” pushing a runner’s baby carriage doesn’t even wait to hear their plea, and other people are sympathetic but wrapped up in their own pain: One lost her mother and brother within a year; another has a sister battling cancer. These glimpses of selfishness and sorrow make up for some overly whimsical moments when the seekers question squirrels, dogs and cats and imagine their responses. The deliberately informal, rough-edged illustrations give a nice sense of Cisneros’ multicultural, bohemian neighborhood, and only die-hard cynics would begrudge the author her sweet but predictable culminating scene in which the narrator finds solace in a sense of unity with the natural world. Neither groundbreaking nor especially penetrating, this warmhearted tale offers comfort to anyone coping with the loss of a loved one. (47 color illustrations. Author tour to Alburquerque, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Seattle and Washington, D.C.)

UNFORGIVEN

Daniels, B.J. Harlequin (384 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Nov. 20, 2012 978-0-373-77673-3 An unsolved murder tests bonds of love and family in Daniels’ first HQN single title. Beartooth, Mont., high school sweethearts Destry Grant and Rylan West were torn apart when Destry’s brother was accused of killing Rylan’s sister. Years later, when new evidence turns up, Carson Grant comes back to face the music, though he has always vehemently denied being involved with his ex-girlfriend’s death. Destry and Rylan must come to terms with their feelings for each other and the ugly murder against the backdrop of family secrets, public sentiment and the unsolved mystery that becomes more and more tangled once the lovers and the sheriff begin to investigate. More and more suspects come out of the woodwork, forcing Rylan to reconsider how certain he is that his ex-girlfriend’s brother is the culprit, or, if he is, whether or not Rylan is truly willing to give up the love of his life over the tragedy. As the investigation stirs up old wounds and uncovers new conflicts, Destry and Rylan find themselves on dangerous ground, both emotionally and physically. Despite the potential of some strong romantic and suspense elements, this effort falls

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flat. Daniels spends so much time setting up possible suspects, telling the reader that conflict, romantic/sexual awareness and even danger exists, then zooming to the next not-quite-authentic plot element, that the story and the characters never quite come to life. (Also, one scene in the middle of the book was so poorly rendered it gave away the killer—at least for this reader.) An interesting premise, told through a fitful plot, disjointed character transitions and a general lack of chemistry.

THE PANTHER

DeMille, Nelson Grand Central Publishing (640 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-446-58084-7 Prolific thriller author DeMille (Night Fall, 2004, etc.) sends his NYPD detective John Corey into Yemen in pursuit of Bulus ibn al-Darwish, an Al-Qaida operative known as al-Numair, the Panther. The Panther, a first-generation Yemeni immigrant from Perth Amboy gone bad, was in on the USS Cole attack while the ship refueled in Aden’s harbor. Now, the Panther lurks in Yemen’s unstable tribal lands. Corey and FBI agent wife Kate Mayfield serve in New York City on the Anti-Terrorist Task Force. The FBI wants the couple in Yemen to hunt the Panther. Corey and Mayfield are reluctant, especially because Corey was there earlier investigating the Cole bombing, and he knows that Yemen is a near-anarchic hotbed of terror and tribal wars exacerbated by the brutal Yemeni Political Security Organization and corrupt National Security Bureau. He also suspects they’re bait, primarily because Corey killed the Lion, a Libyan terrorist, and earned a slot on AlQaida’s kill list. And Corey is suspicious of any CIA involvement. Kate once killed a rogue CIA agent and “inadvertently messed up a CIA plan to turn most of the Mideast into a nuclear wasteland.” Corey thinks a mission called Operation Clean Sweep could disguise CIA revenge as friendly casualties. While it takes DeMille 600-plus pages to unreel the complex, double-dealing, fog-of-war tale, his narrative moves rapidly and sparkles with interesting historical tidbits about Yemen, Noah’s Ark and Arsh Bilqis, the throne of Sheba. DeMille’s CIA agents are old-school William Buckley-types; the patrician Buckminster Harris and the crazy patrician scion Chet Morgan. Paul Brenner, embassy DSS chief and two-tour Vietnam veteran, is a competent third wheel, and PSO Col. Hakim proves a useful foil. Quintessential DeMille: action-adventure flavored with double-dealing and covert conspiracy.

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KING’S MAN

Donald, Angus St. Martin’s (368 pp.) $26.99 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-250-01468-9 The rip-roaring tale of a young follower of Robin Hood and their mission to rescue King Richard from captivity in A.D. 1192. Alan Dale is a painfully old man of about 60 who writes of his past exploits as a brave and idealistic 20-year-old lad. The youth greatly admires the Earl of Locksley, an amoral rascal who goes by the name Robin Hood and has a habit of robbing rich travelers as they journey through Sherwood Forest. (If he also gives to the poor, Dale makes little note of it.) Robin Hood’s great enemy is Murdac, the high sheriff of Nottingham, and judging from their actions, neither is bound for sainthood. Mr. Hood takes men’s lives as well as their riches and harbors a cheerful though private contempt for all matters religious. Murdac is portrayed as a murderous weasel. Meanwhile, King Richard has been kidnapped and held for ransom on his way back from the third Crusade, and it’s going to take a lot of silver to purchase his release. Will Richard make it home before his brother John usurps the throne? Inspired by but not slavish to historical events of the Dark Ages, this book is full of twists and turns. Donald clearly has done considerable homework as he outfits his characters with hauberks, chausses and misericords (stilettos) and even acquaints the reader with Nottingham Castle’s stinking privy. In a historical note at the end, Donald acknowledges where he has taken liberties with history for the sake of a good story. He writes spectacular fight scenes full of blood and gore where even the good guys are murderers, and a couple of the characters indulge in imaginative blasphemy that could curdle Christian blood. A fast-moving, thoroughly enjoyable yarn. (Agents: Ian Drury and Gaia Banks)

ASTRAY

Donoghue, Emma Little, Brown (288 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-316-20629-7 Fourteen tales of people cut loose from their roots—voluntarily or not. It’s characteristic of the restless Donoghue to follow up a terrifying contemporary thriller and international best-seller (Room, 2010, etc.) with a collection of historical fiction. Past and present have held equal sway over her imagination in previous work, and three story collections have showcased her abundant gifts as aptly as her seven novels. This book demonstrates once again that there’s little she can’t do well; indeed, the afterword is as moving as the stories. Donoghue offers her own biography—Irish-born, |


Cambridge-educated, longtime resident in Canada—to explain her fascination with other wanderers trying to invent new lives for themselves. She can empathize with a Victorian Londoner forced into prostitution (“Onward”) as well as with a buccaneering cheat who fraudulently obtains her husband’s fortune and skips out of 18th-century New York (“The Widow’s Cruse”). The gruff friendship-with-benefits of two gold prospectors in the Yukon (“Snowblind”) is portrayed as tenderly as the marriage of two refugees from the Irish potato famine, thwarted of their reunion in Canada (“Counting the Days”). The collection’s most wrenching tale, “The Gift,” achieves the remarkable feat of bringing alive both the agony of a woman driven by poverty to give up her baby and the quiet dignity of the girl’s adoptive father—in an exchange of letters, no less. Donoghue views her characters with determined generosity, even when their behavior is reprehensible: The first-person narratives of a vengeful Puritan settler in Cape Cod (“The Lost Seed”) and a thoughtless white girl on a Louisiana plantation (“Vanitas”) trace complicated motives and a desperation for love of which the protagonists may not even be aware. The short story can be a precious, self-enclosed form, but in Donoghue’s bold hands, it crosses continents and centuries to claim kinship with many kinds of people. Another exciting change of pace from the protean Donoghue.

The setup is wonderfully engrossing; the denouement doesn’t deliver quite enough. But this is stylish work by an author of real promise. (B/w art throughout. Agent: Amy Williams)

BLACK HEART ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL

Forrester, T.J. Simon & Schuster (208 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-4391-7561-3 Three damaged travelers connect with each other on a pilgrimage to trek over 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail. A pilgrimage is usually a good thing. Dig the whimsical adventures of Bill Bryson’s trek in A Walk in the Woods or the heartwarming Emilio Estevez film, The Way, about the Camino de Santiago? This is

THE STOCKHOLM OCTAVO

Engelmann, Karen Ecco/HarperCollins (432 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-06-199534-7

Elegant and multifaceted, Engelmann’s debut explores love and connection in late-18th-century Sweden and delivers an unusual, richly-imagined read. Stockholm, “Venice of the North,” in an era of enlightenment and revolution is the setting for a refreshing historical novel grounded in a young man’s search for a wife but which takes excursions into politics, geometry (Divine and other), numerology, the language of fans and, above all, cartomancy—fortunetelling using cards. Emil Larsson, who “came from nothing” and now works for the customs office, is under pressure to marry. Offered advice by the keeper of a select gaming room, Mrs. Sparrow, he is introduced to the Octavo, a set of eight cards from a mysterious deck representing eight characters he will meet who will help him find the fiancee and advancement he seeks. As they appear, these characters each have their own story to tell, like Fredrik Lind, the gregarious calligrapher, and the Nordéns, refugees from France who fashion exquisite fans. But Emil’s Octavo overlaps with Mrs. Sparrow’s own, and his ambitions become enmeshed in a larger scenario involving a plot against King Gustav himself. Another of Emil’s characters, an apothecary fleeing a violent fiancee, who is taken on and groomed by a powerful but cruel widow, holds the key. |

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“A dark, coiled-up ramble through the woods, as quick and cutting as a razor blade.” from black heart on the appalachian trail

not either of those stories. This is vicious backwoods noir in the tradition of Daniel Woodrell and Cormac McCarthy, and experienced hiker Forrester (Miracles, Inc., 2010) is damned good at his job. We open in the desolation of a village in rural Wyoming, where ex-con Taz Chavis is so messed up he finds himself feeling up a local barfly’s wooden leg. “That’s what the gutter does to a guy, eats him to the bone,” Forrester writes. Leaving town with still-raw memories of his cokehead girlfriend, Chavis swears to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail or die trying. Along the way, we meet Richard Nelson, a Native American who claims to be a shaman among his people. “White man, if you want to get laid on the trail, you best come up with some New-Age shit mixed with nature,” Richard advises. These guys seem all shades of normal compared with good citizen Simone Decker, who has a real thing for sharing high cliffs with other hikers (read: potential victims). “She’s here because she’s convinced herself that no one can thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and be the same person as when they started,” Forrester writes. “She hopes change will arrive like an erupting volcano, melting her genes so completely that when they cool she’ll become someone else entirely.” With bodies broken in trees and firstperson plummets to death, the whole thing is, as our man Hobbes said, nasty, brutish and short. But for fans of snakebite prose, this is your book. A dark, coiled-up ramble through the woods, as quick and cutting as a razor blade. (Agent: Leigh Feldman)

RUN THE RISK

Foster, Lori Harlequin (384 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-373-77695-5 An undercover cop courts his plainJane neighbor to track her brother, a suspected criminal and witness to his best friend’s murder, but finds the tables turned when he falls for her, then must protect her after his investigation sets her against him and puts all of them in mortal danger. Detective Logan Riske will do anything to solve the murder of his best friend, a local politician who stood up to the resident crime lord. Discovering the whereabouts of the frumpy sister of the man rumored to have witnessed the crime, Logan moves in next door and puts the full force of his good looks and magnetic personality toward gaining her trust; to his surprise, they embark on an explosive sexual relationship. Pepper’s lonely, difficult past blunts her ability to trust people, but something about her new neighbor makes her want to try. She knows getting close to anyone is dangerous, especially now, with so much at stake. But Logan’s a construction worker and a damn fine specimen, at that. What harm could there possibly be in a little sexual release? When the truth comes out and her brother Rowdy is arrested, Pepper vanishes in an attempt to take matters into her own hands in order to save him. Logan realizes he’s misjudged Pepper’s determination and Rowdy’s honor and, moreover, that his 2010

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miscalculation and Pepper’s subsequent actions have put them all in peril—especially the amazing, enigmatic woman he’s come to love. Now he’ll have to find her, save her, and convince her that despite their rocky, dishonest start, his feelings are genuine, and once they’ve dealt with the threat hanging over them, he’s ready to spend the rest of his life proving it to her. Perennial red-hot romantic-suspense favorite Foster hits the mark with this complicated page turner that, in less deft hands, could have been easily mishandled, but generally reads like a sexy, believable roller coaster of action and romance.

THE CURSING MOMMY’S BOOK OF DAYS

Frazier, Ian Farrar, Straus and Giroux (256 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-374-13318-4 Nonfiction writer Frazier (Travels in Siberia, 2010, etc.) delivers his first novel, an uneven comedy of domestic disasters. Inspired by his “Shouts & Murmurs” character from the New Yorker, the Cursing Mommy, in page-length doses, is hilarious. She skitters from one impossibly ruinous situation to the next, ending the day with a boozy balm under the covers. Her daily blog offers advice and meditation techniques for other harried ladies, though the Cursing Mommy, an odd pastiche of foulmouthed comic and Martha Stewart, ends most posts either furious or defeated by the treasures life flings her way. The question is whether Frazier can move his Mommy from the compact page to the full-length narrative. Alas, Cursing Mommy’s shtick grows old, and there is little plot to prop her up. Husband Larry is foundering at work, but Cursing Mommy might be able to smooth the problem with her questionable charm, as the Boss is besotted by her violent outbursts. Sons Kyle (who swoons and rashes up at school) and Trevor (heavily medicated to prevent either sociopathy or pranking) bring little joy to Cursing Mommy, as most of her weekends are spent “volunteering” for school building repairs or bringing Trevor to his therapist. She takes seriously the self-help advice of modern-day sage M. Foler Tuohy, a composer of opaque bons mots. But when the red-faced guru runs off with her best friend, she curses the day she got her book group to switch from anti-Bush biographies to Tuohy’s goofy inspirationals. There is some closure to the year’s travails, though one suspects the Cursing Mommy is simply cursed, unable to escape the Promethean-like tragedies of domestic life. There have been many great satires of the domestic world (Fay Weldon comes to mind), but Frazier’s Cursing Mommy seems trapped within her own joke.

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PEOPLE OF THE BLACK SUN

Gear, Kathleen O’Neal; Gear, W. Michael Tor (384 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-7653-2695-9

The conclusion of the four-novel People of the Longhouse saga, part of the Gears’ long-running series of novels featuring ancient Native American peoples. The Gears (The Broken Land, 2012, etc.), both archaeologists, once again show the depth of their research in their adventure series, suffusing the narrative with details of the prehistory Iroquois people in an area that now encompasses parts of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Ontario. In this installment, they finish their story of Dekanawida the Peacemaker, which began with 2010’s People of the Longhouse. Dekanawida—formerly known as the warrior Odion, also known as the Sky Messenger—is a prophet who has helped

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to unite four of five nations in a peaceful alliance. Dekanawida has had a powerful vision that the end of the world will result if peace is not achieved among all of the nations. But one leader, the brutal Atotarho, continues to wage war throughout the lands. The Gears’ tale is vast and sweeping, with a large cast of characters and the very fate of the world at stake. Readers interested in Native American legends will find much to enjoy here, as the Gears show their great knowledge of and affection for their subject matter. The novel works well as an epic adventure, and its fight scenes are particularly effective, though the overall pace of the plot may be a bit slow for some readers. As with many series, it may also be difficult to follow without having read its predecessors. That said, the novel will please the Gears’ fans, and may broadly appeal to readers who enjoy other complex fantasy tales. A well-crafted chapter in the Gears’ ongoing series.

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FI C T I O N

10 Hot Crime Novels for Colder Days B Y J.

K I N G ST ON

PI ERC E

September always seems to throw open a floodgate of fresh fiction in the United States and Britain with publishers trying to circulate as many books as they can before people start making holiday gift lists. This year is no different. Between now and the end of 2012, crime-fiction lovers will find it difficult to carve out time enough to enjoy forthcoming works by Deon Meyer (Seven Days), Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnette Friis (Invisible Murder), Dennis Lehane (Live by Night), Laurie R. King (Garment of Shadows), Arnaldur Indridason (Outrage), Frances Fyfield (Gold Digger), Michael Connelly (The Black Box), Russell D. McLean (Father Confessor), Johnny Shaw (Big Maria), Leighton Gage (Perfect Hatred) and…well, perhaps I’d better stop there, before my readers become so overwhelmed with expectation, they retreat beneath their beds in anxious sweats. Below are 10 soon-to-be-published mysteries and thrillers—from both sides of the Atlantic—that I particularly look forward to exploring over these next four cooler months. TRUST YOUR EYES

by Linwood Barclay (September, U.S.) With paranoid conspiracy theories abundant in America’s current presidential contest, it’s an ideal time for the release of this top-drawer yarn about a house-bound, paranoid and 2012

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schizophrenic conspiracy believer named Thomas Kilbride, who’s obsessed with a program that (à la Google Street View) offers computer users panoramic outlooks from all over the world. Thomas is convinced his armchair surveillance can help the CIA. His elder brother, caricaturist Ray, into whose care Thomas has fallen since their father’s death, knows that’s a crock. However, when Thomas shows him what looks like the image of a woman being slain in a New York City apartment, Ray’s skepticism falters. The siblings soon stumble into an honest-tobadness political conspiracy that threatens to add them to a growing contingent of casualties. This updating of Rear Window can only enhance Toronto author Barclay’s rep for concocting propulsive yet thoughtful thrillers. THE COCKTAIL WAITRESS

by James M. Cain (September, U.S.) It’s easy to fall for a previously unpublished work by Cain, whose oeuvre includes The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) and Double Indemnity (1943). Fortunately, The Cocktail Waitress—which the author sought to complete before perishing in 1977—serves up ample delights (and a few familiar themes). It tells of Joan Medford, a captivating young mother whose abusive hubby has died under odd circumstances, and who then takes a job waiting tables in a dodgy cocktail lounge. There she meets a loaded elderly gent with a bum ticker, Earl K. White III, as well as the grabby, calculating Tom Barclay. She weds White out of pragmatism rather than passion; but tensions in the continuing relationships between these three players guarantee trouble. We witness the unfolding drama through Joan’s eyes, while wondering what she’s withholding.

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SALVATION OF A SAINT

by Keigo Higashino (October, U.S.)

From the Japanese author of The Devotion of Suspect X comes another intricately plotted murder mystery featuring physics professor Manabu Yukawa, aka Detective Galileo. The victim this time is Yoshitaka Mashiba, who—upset by the fact that his wife, Ayane, has failed to become pregnant—tells her he wants a divorce. When, a few days later, Yoshitaka’s mistress finds him dead, Ayane becomes the prime suspect. Except that she was far away from the scene at the time of the crime, and the Tokyo police detective leading this case has fallen under Ayane’s spell and can’t accept her guilt. Dr. Yukawa must eventually be summoned to make sense of this “impossible murder.” A most satisfying read, despite some paper-thin characters. (Translated by Alexander O. Smith.) BLOOD LANCE

by Jeri Westerson (October, U.S.) It hardly seemed inevitable that a disgraced ex-knight in 14th-century England would become a popular series sleuth. However, Crispin Guest has shown great proficiency as a tracker of criminals. In this fifth adventure (after Troubled Bones), he’s winding home one night when he sees a man—an armorer, it turns out—plummet to his death from the lofty heights of London Bridge. A suicide? Crispin has his doubts, which are only exacerbated when he hears that the armorer may have been in possession of the Spear of Longinus, a weapon that allegedly pierced Christ’s side on the cross and is now said to bring its owner


invincibility. With the aid of his friend Geoffrey Chaucer (yes, that Geoffrey Chaucer), Crispin hunts for the spear, trying all the while to avoid becoming embroiled in poisonous rivalries within King Richard’s court.

it alone—no matter the price to be paid. Standing in Another Man’s Grave isn’t due out in the United States until January 2013. YOUNG PHILBY

by Robert Littell (November, U.S.)

DOMINION

by C.J. Sansom (October, U.K.) In another detour— like the melancholy Winter in Madrid— from his Matthew Shardlake Tudor detective series, Sansom presents here a quite remarkable what-if spy adventure set in 1952. It’s been a dozen years since the U.K. surrendered to Nazi Germany, and Britons are chafing under authoritarian regulations and worried by reports of atrocious acts committed in their midst. Winston Churchill’s Resistance movement is expanding, though, and it may have discovered a way to tip the balance of power in its favor. But much depends on the efforts of a civil servant-cumResistance spy, David Fitzgerald, who’s assigned to help a scientist, trapped in a Birmingham mental hospital, flee the country. Fitzgerald soon finds himself hiding out in London during a deadly air-pollution event, while his wife faces terrors of her own and one of the Gestapo’s most notorious manhunters dogs their heels. STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN’S GRAVE

by Ian Rankin (November, U.K.)

Years after we waved him off to retirement, in Exit Music, congenitally rebellious Edinburgh police detective John Rebus returns, hoping to close the book on a succession of seemingly unrelated disappearances that trace back as far as the millennium. Nobody still on the force, though, relishes joining Rebus in another pursuit of hunches, including his ex-partner, Siobhan Clarke, whose career he threatens to disrupt. Furthermore, his antics have sparked unwelcome attention not only from mob boss Big Ger Cafferty, but also from Rankin’s present series sleuth, Internal Affairs investigator Malcolm Fox (The Impossible Dead). In the end, Rebus must go

Harold “Kim” Philby was a respected member of British intelligence during the mid-20th century— until it was discovered he was a double agent supplying confidential information to the Kremlin. Forced to resign from MI6, he later worked as a journalist before winning asylum in the Soviet Union in 1963. Littell, the author of such espionage-fiction classics as The Defection of A.J. Lewinter (1973) and The Company (2002), brings his formidable talents to the task of worming inside Philby’s head to discern why he set himself on such a cunning course. He also re-creates this infamous figure’s introduction to the spy game through the eyes of friends, lovers and handlers. Young Philby is at once a tense thriller and a primer on an era when, at least in the international intelligence realm, nobody could really be trusted. CITY OF SAINTS

by Andrew Hunt (November, U.S.) The winner of the 2011 Tony Hillerman Prize, this first novel was inspired by the real-life, unsolved slaying in 1930 of a deep-pocketed Utah doctor’s wife. It introduces us to Art Oveson, the youngest in a family of Mormon lawmen, who—with his more rough-mannered partner, Roscoe Lund—takes on the murder of Helen Kent Pfalzgraf, a socialite with hightoned connections. It’s an explosive case for Depression-era Salt Lake City, so Oveson’s boss—who’s engaged in a “dirty” race to retain his job—wants the young deputy to keep an eye out for political mischief. As Oveson and Lund chase after Pfalzgraf ’s killers, though, they encounter much worse than that: more homicides, rumors of extramarital dalliances and a depth of corruption that Oveson didn’t know existed in his supposedly righteous burg.

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TARGET LANCER

by Max Allan Collins (November, U.S.) Following up on last year’s Bye Bye, Baby, Collins tosses his series “P.I. to the Stars,” Nate Heller, into the tumult of another historical crime, this time the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Only Collins goes at it sideways, writing not about Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963, but about Chicago—Heller’s home turf—which Democrat Kennedy (code name: Lancer) was preparing to visit earlier that month. Target Lancer brings us a different, fact-based assassination scenario, eerily paralleling the Dealey Plaza nightmare and replete with Secret Service investigators, mob connections, Cuban hit men, right-wing antagonists and an ex-Marine with a visceral hatred of the 35th president. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Jack Ruby and burlesque dancer Sally Rand all figure into this rapid-fire tale. THE CHILD’S CHILD

by Barbara Vine (December, U.S.)

Delving further into her familiar themes of social disconnection and mental disturbance, Vine—a pseudonym used by Ruth Rendell (The St. Zita Society)—throws us into company with Grace and Andrew Easton, siblings who’ve inherited and chosen to share their grandmother’s bookfilled London abode. However, when Andrew suddenly fetches home a new boyfriend, handsome but judgmental author James Derain, this tidy living arrangement suffers serious disruption. The killing of a friend incites Derain’s breakdown, while Grace’s discovery of an unpublished manuscript—telling the story of a gay brother and his pregnant sister in post-World War I London, practically mirror images of the Eastons—leads them (and us) deeper into a well of psychological suspense infested with violence and sex and, of course, duplicity in generous measure. J. Kingston Pierce is both the editor of The Rap Sheet and the senior editor of January Magazine.

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THE GENERAL’S MISTRESS

Graham, Jo Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (400 pp.) $16.00 paperback | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4516-6721-9

Liberty and libertinage, reason and magic—the conflicting passions of the French Revolution swirl throughout the adventures of Elzelina van Aylde-Versfelt. Based upon the real life of Maria Versfelt (alias Ida St. Elme)—courtesan, actress and writer— Graham’s (Stealing Fire, 2010, etc.) latest entwines history, romance and a delicious dollop of fantasy. Hearing voices and seeing ghosts in mirrors, the women of Elza’s family have always stood a bit outside society’s bounds. The mirrors and the death of her only son, Charles, have maddened Elza’s mother. Elza comforts her mother by cross-dressing as Charles, which soon becomes a habit—for it is, indeed, easier and safer to travel as a man. Soon, Charles becomes an alter ego. In addition to teasing gender lines, Elza has herself seen the image of her true love in the tarot card image of the King of Chalices. By 12, she has been coerced into marriage to handsome Jan Ringeling. Seven years and two children later, she finds herself chained to a cold man with political aspirations but little talent. Elza makes a daring escape, cross-dressing and fleeing her enraged husband (who threatens to have her confined as mad, just like her mother). She seeks protection from a commander in the French army, the brilliant military strategist Victor Moreau. Yet his protection comes at an interesting price: Elza must become his mistress. So begins an erotic metamorphosis from Elza, the dutiful wife, to Ida, the seductive courtesan. On Moreau’s arm, Ida enters Parisian society, gaining admiration from men and women alike. Yet, the tarot card reading lingers with her. While she respects Victor, she longs to find the King of Chalices. On her journey towards her red-haired beloved, Ida/Elza becomes an actress, a medium channeling an angel and even Bonaparte’s paramour. Sexy and dashing.

SAD DESK SALAD

Grose, Jessica Morrow/HarperCollins (304 pp.) $14.99 paperback | $9.99 e-book Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-06-218834-2 978-0-06-218835-9 e-book Fat celebrity thighs and coke-sniffing coeds are fair fodder in this rollicking tour into the life of a gossip blogger, from former Slate editor Grose. When Alex graduated from Wesleyan, she was hoping for a job in serious journalism. Change the world kind of stuff. But alas, she ended up at an NYC online music journal. When an offer to write for Chick Habit came along (a real salary and the 2014

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chance to write about real issues), she counted herself lucky. That was before the quotas began—she needs a million hits a month, or else. So goodbye sad stories about foreign ladies, hello Real Housewives. This new numbers game is keeping Alex shackled to her laptop, scanning news feeds all day for potentially sexy stories to blog about. Alex knows things are out of hand when her sweet boyfriend, Peter, begs her to shower. Monday begins with a story about a fallen beauty queen, but then Alex gets wind of a hate blog directed at her: Break the Chick Habit, or BTCH. Alex, Tina and Rel, two other writers at Chick Habit, commiserate over scorpion bowls. Hate bloggers are common, but this one seems to have a lot of intimate information. Tuesday brings Alex a shot at blogger fame when an anonymous link is sent to her email. In the video, Becky West, MIT wunderkind, is shown snorting coke. Hardly unconventional college behavior, but it’s newsworthy because Becky’s mother is Darleen West, Tiger mom famous for her patronizing parenting books. Alex isn’t sure she should publish—does Becky deserve the notoriety? Alex’s boss, Moira, herself born of the flames of U.K. tabloids, pushes forward. The next day, the video goes viral, Alex will soon appear on the Today show, and BTCH is threatening to expose some dark secrets. Before she has a nervous breakdown, Alex has to find the missing Becky, track the creator of BTCH, reconcile with a furious Peter and patch up her fading sense of self. A quick-witted insider’s view of the blogosphere, media pandering, Internet privacy and the difficulty of being a good girl in a bad, bad world.

PEACHES FOR FATHER FRANCIS

Harris, Joanne Viking (464 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-670-02636-4

Eight years after the events in Harris’ best-selling Chocolat (1999, etc.), her heroine is summoned back to the French village she once revitalized with confections. Vianne Rocher is living in Paris on a houseboat with her husband, Roux, and daughters, Anouk and Rosette, when a posthumous letter arrives from Armande, the crusty old lady who had been her ally in upsetting the straightlaced mores of Lansquenet. This tiny hamlet once more needs Vianne’s intervention, Armande writes, without specifying exactly what is amiss. When Vianne arrives, she is surprised to learn the person most in need of rescue is her erstwhile antagonist, the tightly wound, chocolate-hating Monsieur le Curé Francis Reynaud. As parish pastor, Reynaud has been supplanted by a young, smug priest who wants to turn Mass into a PowerPoint presentation and replace the church’s old oaken pews with plastic chairs. The Bishop has not been pleased since rumors started circulating that Reynaud set fire to a school for Muslim girls housed in Vianne’s former candy shop. Reynaud is suspect because he clashed with the Imam of Les Marauds, |


Lansquenet’s Muslim neighborhood, over the installation of a minaret complete with call to prayer. The school’s founder, Inès Bencharki, whose brother, Karim, is the Imam’s son-in-law, has, along with her charismatic sibling, introduced Muslim fundamentalism into previously free-wheeling Les Marauds, requiring her pupils to veil themselves. Vianne is drawn into the fray when she takes in Alyssa, the Imam’s granddaughter, whom Reynaud saved from drowning herself. As they forge a gingerly alliance, Reynaud and Vianne suspect that Inès and Karim are hiding something, and those secrets, when revealed, are shocking. While Harris’ loving attention to the details of cuisine, French and Moroccan, and the daily lives of the eccentric village characters conveys a certain charm, the indolent pace of the novel doesn’t accelerate until the puzzle explodes with incandescent intensity near the end. The patient reader, however, will be amply rewarded. A slow buildup to a breathtaking finish.

WHAT THE CAT SAW

Hart, Carolyn Berkley Prime Crime (304 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-425-25274-1

THE RIME OF THE MODERN MARINER

Hayes, Nick Viking (336 pp.) $32.00 | Oct. 29, 2012 978-0-670-02580-0

A visually arresting and verbally cadenced transformation of the Coleridge classic into a timely (and timeless) eco-apocalyptic fable. Where most graphic narratives tend to be heavier with text, this book debut by an award-winning British cartoonist relies far more on the power of its dreamlike visuals, where subtleties of color and motion suggest psychedelic woodcuts. The words on each page are never more than couplets, sometimes phrases, while there are stretches of pages of indelible images with no words at all. The poetry evokes the spirit of the original, written in a tone of millennial prophecy in 1797, now imbued with greater urgency in a sea of sludge and oil spill, in phrasing that

A fill-in job lands a young woman right in the middle of a murder case. Nela Farley’s life is in ruins since the death of her fiance and the loss of her job as an investigative reporter. So it’s easy for her to take her sister Chloe’s place while she goes on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Chloe, who works for the Haklo Foundation in Craddock, Okla., has everything arranged for her sister, including a garage apartment behind the mansion of Haklo trustee Blythe Webster. The apartment was used by Marian Grant, who ran Haklo until she was killed in a fall over the apartment railing. When Nela looks into the eyes of Marion’s cat Jugs, she reads his thoughts, which indicate Miss Grant’s death may not have been an accident. She’s barely settled in the guest room before an intruder enters the apartment, though her call to the police chases him off. Nela cleans up, buys a doorstop and makes the shocking discovery of a diamond necklace in Marian’s purse. Nela’s work at the foundation is easy, but things are not right there. Numerous incidents of vandalism have occurred, and staff members are at each other’s throats. When more trouble dogs Haklo, the police suspect Nela and Chloe. Only Steve Flynn, who runs the local newspaper, believes in Nela’s innocence and promises to help her discover the killer before she becomes the next victim. Veteran Hart (Death Comes Silently, 2012, etc.) launches a new series with a combination of red herrings, romance and what some readers will consider the bonus of a psychic cat.

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“A visually arresting and verbally cadenced transformation of the Coleridge classic.” from the rime of the modern mariner

somehow intersperses 18th-century diction with references to email, Blackberry and Tupperware without jarring the reader. It begins with a man who is a bit of a detached dandy and who has just executed his divorce, tossing aside his marriage (his wife is barely mentioned) like he does a plastic foam cup. He encounters a mariner who proceeds to tell him a tale, one that involves a seafaring adventure, the fateful killing of an albatross, a descent through an ocean of pollution into hell and a rescue that allows the mariner to survive and sound his warning. After hearing the mariner’s soliloquy, the divorcé brushes it off, returning “To a world detached of consequence / Where he would not live for long.” The reader will likely find the story far more moving, as the nightmarish imagery trumps the occasional tendency toward thematic overkill. More than a classic-comics adaptation, this is an original work of art.

Buggy Festival, Jackie and the group tackle some very heavy situations, including local reactions to the Cuban missile crisis that result in a mistaken arrest and a run-in with the KKK. In fact, the characters experience/discuss/confront almost every social, political, religious, gender-sensitive and environmental issue that’s relevant in the South during the early ’60s, and each topic is couched in so many Southern colloquialisms and treated with such superficiality that it’s hard to take any of it too seriously—which is just as well. Fun to read.

PUSHCART PRIZE XXXVII Best of the Small Presses (2013 Edition)

Henderson, Bill with Pushcart Prize editors--Eds. Pushcart (640 pp.) $35.00 | $18.95 paper | Nov. 15, 2012 978-1-888889-66-6 978-1-888889-65-9 paperback

MISS DREAMSVILLE AND THE COLLIER COUNTY WOMEN’S SOCIETY

Hearth, Amy Hill Atria (272 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-4516-7523-8

Hearth (Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, 1994, etc.) goes hog wild with lighthearted humor as she tackles some heavyweight issues in

her debut novel. It’s 1962, and Bostonians Jackie Hart and family have moved to Naples, Fla., a community that’s more country than a bowl of grits. She’s itching to make new friends and become involved in community activities, but of course, that’s easier said than done. Small Southern towns don’t exactly welcome transplanted Northerners with open arms. But Jackie’s an obstinate redhead who starts a reading club that attracts a stereotypical mixture of lovable misfits. The salon, as Jackie calls them, meets each week at the town library to discuss books and everything else under the hot Florida sun, and they quickly form a tight bond. There’s the librarian, the only member of the group who doesn’t carpool with them to the meetings; the gay man who’s the town’s lone Sears employee; a woman who secretly pens magazine articles about romance and sex; a young black maid with aspirations of a better life; an octogenarian who’s also a convicted murderer; and the narrator, a postal clerk who’s known around town as the Turtle Lady because she rescues snapping turtles before they can become roadkill. But Jackie’s the central force and the one who provides impetus for the group’s adventures. In addition to her job as a part-time copy editor at the local paper, she’s the anonymous voice of Miss Dreamsville, a sultry radio personality who lulls listeners to sleep in the late hours of the night. Everyone in town is consumed with finding out Miss Dreamsville’s true identity, but before a climatic showdown at the annual Swamp

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An old literary warhorse plods along, with no sign of going lame—but without much energy, either. Readers who have followed Pushcart from day one—or year 36, for that matter—will know the formula: From a mountain of submissions curated by a small army of guest editors, Henderson mounds up a smaller mountain of “important works” by way of a sampling of the annual zeitgeist. As ever, the anthology numbers about 600 pages; as ever, it’s fronted by a nicely illtempered complaint about the decline of publishing (a decline four decades running, that) and the end of the literary world as we know it; as ever, its organization shows no apparent reason, its poetry seldom a rhyme. And, as ever, there’s a mix of contributors: Some are well into their careers, some at the end, others at the very beginning. Most are allied to the academy and its mutual and reciprocal logrolling rituals. There are plenty of good things here, including stories by Wendell Berry and Joyce Carol Oates, stalwarts ever, and a deliciously enigmatic poem by Jane Hirshfeld. But there are no real surprises. The tropes and props are remarkably constant from year to year: alcoholism, failed love, old movies, dreams. (Always dreams.) And there’s no shortage of carefully crafted phrases, sanded to a fine gloss but never quite memorable (“Call me a Trendmonger, but I’ve sprung for a tree house”; “When midwestern bugs hit your windshield, they chink like marbles”). A trend in this year’s batch: As with the larger society, guns and their associated violence seem to be ever more evident (“At her hip she carries handcuffs, a telescoping baton, a .40 caliber Glock”) in these pages. Essential for writers real and potential studying the market and otherwise reading the tea leaves. For others, not so much.

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ACCELERATED

Hruska, Bronwen Pegasus (336 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 15, 2012 978-1-60598-379-0 A debut novel from Hruska, publisher of Soho Press. The author begins with Sean Benning. Sean’s wife, Ellie, has walked out. He’s raising their only child, 8-year-old Toby. Toby is a student at the famous Bradley School, where everyone who is anyone has matriculated. Once a legacy school for the rich, it has grown into a legacy school for the rich with a few token minorities (Ellie’s parents, wealthy alumni, pay Toby’s exorbitant tuition). Sean is an artist, not quite starving, with a rent-controlled two-bedroom on NYC’s West Side. He has a day job at Buzz, a tabloid devoted to celebrity anatomy. Gino, paparazzo extraordinaire, is on speed dial. At a visit to Bradley, we witness humorless school psychologist Bev Shineman pursing Sean with missionary zeal, preaching the gospel of ADHD. During the same visit, Sean meets and falls hard for Toby’s new teacher, Jessica “Jess” Harper. He and Jess discover Calvin, a student from Toby’s class, in the stairwell. The convulsing child, apparently the victim of a peanut allergy, is the accelerant that ignites young love. Insecure about his singleparenting skills, Sean succumbs to the relentless Bev, visits an expensive psychiatrist, the diagnosis a fait accompli. What form will the inevitable complications take? Will trouble come from Bev or from the smooth-talking Walt Renard, a graduate of Bradley who remains involved in the school; or from Rick, Sean’s loudmouth boss? What will be Sean’s exit strategy from his marriage? Will his show at the prestigious Burdot gallery allow him to escape the numbing Buzz? Will Jess return to her fiance? Tune in and see. Though Hruska has a soft touch with characterization, this book does not have sufficient velocity to escape from predictability. (Agent: Stéphanie Abou)

AT DAWN

Hughes, Jobie Soft Skull Press (352 pp.) $15.95 paperback | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-59376-449-4 A writer manqué works a dull job, hooks up with a girl and finally gets his novel written—to no acclaim whatsoever. Stratton Brown loses his Wall Street job in the recent economic downturn and impulsively decides to move to Chicago. His timing is a bit off, however, for it’s November and he finds Chicago a bitter place to make a living. At first, Stratton stays with a former acquaintance who’s making, as they say, a good dollar, but he quickly wears out his welcome by stealing his host’s booze and

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a few double sawbucks. Stratton eventually finds an excruciatingly tedious job helping to edit telephone books, and this gives him just enough dough to rent a run-down apartment, whose walls convulse with every passing of the El, a feature particularly annoying in the middle of the night. This unprepossessing room is rented out by the mysterious Gene, a man who appreciates cigars and fine wine. Around Christmastime, Gene and Stratton hit a local bar, where Gene bets that Stratton won’t talk to a fairly attractive—and obviously lonely—young woman. Gene reluctantly takes the bet but finds himself unexpectedly attracted to the woman, Carolyn, who with Gene’s help, escapes from an abusive boyfriend and moves in with Stratton. Although their sexual connection is heated, Stratton is reluctant to share his troubled past with Carolyn, a reticence that ultimately dooms their relationship. Hughes gives us generous flashbacks into Stratton’s growing up in Ohio, where his parents ran a bar and his father was an unadulterated jerk. While Stratton finds ample material for writing a novel, the reader is kept curiously in the dark about its substance. A coming-of-age story for boozy 20-somethings. (Author events in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York)

A WORKING THEORY OF LOVE

Hutchins, Scott Penguin Press (304 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-59420-505-7

Artificial intelligence meets the questing of the human heart in an ambitious, accomplished debut. Hutchins’ impressive if overlong first novel hinges on an ironic setup that delivers multiple layers of cherishable content. His hero, Neill Bassett Jr., is working on a computer program derived from the diaries of a “Samuel Pepys of the South,” helping to create the world’s first intelligent machine. These diaries were written by Neill’s father, so the many conversations between Neill and the computer offer rich opportunities for comedy and rueful reflection, as well as comparisons between Neill’s life to date—divorced, lonely, 30-something bachelor—and his father’s achievements as parent, homeowner and doctor, although while the computer program is able to figure out Neill is its “son,” what it doesn’t know is that Dr. Bassett Sr. committed suicide. Constant debate about and adjustments to the program lend a minor element of pace—the Turing prize is at stake—meanwhile, Neill muses on his father, relationships with various females and a cult called Pure Encounters. Suspicious that he’s really a beta-male, Neill journeys skeptically toward connection as Hutchins plays simultaneously with ideas and language, sex and psychology, capturing the angst and insularity of modern urban life. Clever and extensive navel-gazing is modulated by tenderness, humor and charm. A writer to watch.

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ZOO TIME

Jacobson, Howard Bloomsbury (384 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-60819-938-9 Bad-boy funnyman Jacobson waxes pensive and topical—but no less mirthful—in his latest assault on the foibles of modern life. These days, grumbles Guy Ableman, “one has to apologize for having read a book, let alone for having written one.” That’s bad for old Guy, who’s a reader and a writer, the author of smart literary fictions of very modest success who suddenly realizes that his bookish world is crumbling around him. It doesn’t help that his agent commits suicide rather than negotiate yet another e-book deal or that his wife, voluptuous and wonderful, has decided that she’s going to write something of her own, or that his wife’s mother is sending decidedly un-mother-in-law-like vibes his way: Guy is in a bad existential state, and the world of publishing is going down the tubes with him. The obvious solution? Why, to craft an irresistible best-seller, a dumb and juicy confection that twists all the right knobs. It’s a lovely setup, one that affords Jacobson, never shy about skewering modern mores, plenty of opportunities to lampoon modern trends in the litbiz. He gets in digs at just about everything, in fact; for instance, we learn, courtesy of Guy, that novels about single fatherhood sell well in Canada “because Canadian women were so bored with their husbands that the majority of them ran off sooner or later with an American or an Inuit.” So fast and furious are the jibes that one wonders if Jacobson will have anything left to lampoon, but of course, the world has a way of providing targets for the careful satirist, and he’s an ascended master. His latest is more fun than Lucky Jim, and if some of its tropes are more ephemeral, Jacobson is willing to take some big risks in the service of art, as when Guy muses of one of his confections, “I had to cheat a bit to get the Holocaust in, but a dream sequence will always make a chump of chronology.” Guy’s not a lucky guy, to be sure, but if there’s justice, Jacobson will enjoy best-sellerdom in his place with this latest romp.

ON THE SEVENTH DAY

Jakes, T.D. Atria (336 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4391-7050-2

Someone is stalking the little girls of New Orleans and leaving their poor bodies to be found on the seventh day. Prolific writer, speaker and senior pastor of The Potter’s House of Dallas, Inc., Jakes (Let it Go, 2012, etc.) has based his latest book upon Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day, a film that he executive 2018

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produced. David and Kari seem to have it all. He is a respected college professor, and they live in a secure gated community with their 4-year-old daughter, Mikayla. But when their daughter disappears, their secrets begin to crack the veneer of perfection. It’s difficult to muster up any sympathy for this cast of characters, smug in their close ties to their church, yet quick to turn on each other: snarling, vicious and crude. Kari is the first to have her past rise up, and David swiftly drops his love for her, withholding forgiveness and wielding judgment like a weapon. Although he has secrets, too, David and his best friend, Les the doctor, immediately assume a woman with a secret in her past must have been a whore and a drug addict. Les even forbids his wife, Tia, from associating with Kari, and so her alleged best friend abandons Kari, leaving her all alone to worry about her endangered child. The cops and low-life pimps are straight out of central casting, and even Mikayla seems more like a prop than a beloved child. David and Kari are certainly tested. Their broken marriage may be salvageable, but they must set aside their troubles in time to find their daughter. Unfortunately, their journey is fraught with predictable plot turns, tired dialogue and negligible character development. This preachy parable is only for die-hard Jakes fans.

THE UGLY DUCHESS

James, Eloisa Avon/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Aug. 28, 2012 978-0-06-202173-1 Though they love each other, a young heiress feels betrayed by her husband soon after the wedding and throws him out, sending them each on journeys of discovery that will impact their future in astonishing and potentially insurmountable ways. When the duke of Ashbrook convinces his son and heir, James, to cover up a crime by marrying the duke’s ward, the less-thanbeautiful Theodora Saxby, they are all surprised by how well the match goes over. Until Theo learns the truth—that James doesn’t love her, but married her only for her dowry and to shelter the nobleman from censure. Except that isn’t the truth. James actually does love her, but under the circumstances, she’s not willing to listen and throws him out of his house and their marriage. Heartbroken and guilt-ridden, James takes to the high seas on a boat his father owns—and disappears. Seven years later, just as the House of Lords is prepared to declare James dead and Theo a widow, James shows up in dramatic fashion, and the two must reconnect as their older, worldlier selves and sift through years of distrust, misinformation and the sharp, sniping commentary on their persons and their history. Regency favorite James’ charming romantic take on an “Ugly Duckling” storyline offers intense emotional stakes and characters who have headed down unexpected paths which may ultimately stand as obstacles to their shared happiness. Spanning seven years, the story sees James and Theo move from close childhood friends who discover a special connection through |


“A rural Washington state sheriff ’s detective believes a murder has been committed in her jurisdiction in Jenkins’ captivating third novel.” from an unattended death

marriage to two separately formidable, triumphant characters. But after such starkly disparate paths and some hard-earned emotional equilibrium, can the two manage to find their way back to each other and the wholeness they knew together? James deftly navigates emotionally complex characters and situations with a chronologically long yet fascinating storyline, maintaining interest and clarity in their separate adventures, while managing to intensify the romantic tension through their estrangement. A unique, winning romance that explores universal themes through an uncommon plot and eccentric characters, leading to a hard-won yet satisfying happily-ever-after.

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AN UNATTENDED DEATH

Jenkins, Victoria Permanent Press (264 pp.) $28.00 | Oct. 15, 2012 978-1-57962-284-8

A rural Washington state sheriff ’s detective believes a murder has been committed in her jurisdiction in Jenkins’ captivating third novel (Cruise Control, 2002, etc.). A body is discovered floating in the slough on the property of a wealthy family’s vacation home, and Irene Chavez receives the case by default. Everyone else in the department is on another assignment, so it pretty much falls to her to investigate. Chavez and her son have moved back to her childhood home from Los Angeles, where following the death of her husband, she found it more and more difficult to raise her son, Victor, in a safe environment. The current case she’s dealing with turns out to be one

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that involves an unattended death that she’s pretty certain is murder. Twenty-nine-year-old psychiatrist Anne Paris, the golden girl in a prominent family of physicians, was last seen going out in her brother’s boat before a violent storm. Now, her body is found, and the probable cause of death is a blow to the back of the skull—and it’s not likely that it was made by the boat’s boom. Irene must investigate and interview the usual list of subjects: Anne’s broken father, her half siblings and their families, Anne’s boyfriend and best friend, the rich neighbor, a colleague and her landlord from Boston, the location of the mental institutaion where she worked. It seems that many had motive and opportunity, but there’s little evidence to connect any of the suspects to a crime. Jenkins’ deft use of plot and character skillfully advances the story, and her all-too-human protagonist, Chavez, is credible and identifiable as she strives to solve the case and reconcile her duties as a law enforcement officer and a single parent. A product of working-class parents, she’s not your typical glamorous heroine, but someone who’s low key, trying to balance work and home life, all too aware of her limitations and slightly uncomfortable around those who’ve grown up outside her social sphere. And she works hard for the solution, which is logical and realistic. Hopefully, a sequel won’t be far behind.

AZTEC REVENGE

Jennings, Gary; Podrug, Junius Forge (320 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-7653-1704-9 The latest installment in the late author’s Aztec adventure franchise. After Jennings, who published the first Aztec novel in 1980, passed away in 1999, his series was continued by other authors. Podrug (Feathered Serpent 2012, 2010, etc.) is the co-author of the last four installments, with author Robert Gleason. Here, Podrug details the adventures of Juan the Lépero, who at the novel’s outset, is about to be hanged for horse thievery in 16th-century Mexico City. An extended flashback, making up the bulk of the book, follows Juan on a series of adventures as he progresses from a street beggar to a skilled horseman and thief. Blamed for an accidental death, he becomes a fugitive, falls in with a gang of “bandidos” and later poses as a wealthy Spaniard visiting Mexico City—who attends a costume party dressed as a beggar. Still later, he works to save a friend from being tortured to death by Inquisitors. Though Podrug aims for a rousing adventure tale, much of it misses the mark. The story drifts aimlessly, bouncing artlessly between first- and third-person points of view. Though Podrug apparently put effort into research, his digressive history lessons tend to drag things down. Character development is sketchy at best, with female characters mostly portrayed as sex objects (with one woman likened to “a wild horse that needs to be broken”). Juan’s exclamatory narration, 2020

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featuring shouts of “Ayyo!” every few pages, will also wear on some readers, as will some of his uglier sentiments (“The mere thought of throttling the bitch roused my blood and gave my spirits a lift”). An unfocused and uninspired adventure tale. (Agent: Eugene Winick)

SLEEP NO MORE

Johansen, Iris St. Martin’s (416 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-312-65124-4

Two protagonists from Johansen’s earlier thrillers go rogue (Close Your Eyes, 2012, etc.). Sigmund Freud would have had a field day studying Eve Duncan, a perennial leading lady in Johansen’s literary world. The long-suffering forensic sculptor not only comes from a dysfunctional family, she talks to the ghost of her dead daughter and has nightmares about people she doesn’t know. But you can be sure that she’ll be meeting the subjects of her dreams soon in the prolific author’s latest offering, which centers around a murder attempt and the disappearance of Beth Avery from a California mental facility. Beth, it seems, is Sandra Duncan’s oldest daughter, which makes her Eve’s half sister, a complication that’s par for the course in Johansen’s complicated world. Beth’s dad is the son of the politically prominent Avery family, and Sandra was forced to give up her parental rights at Beth’s birth. Beth was hidden in boarding schools until she suffered a mysterious head injury and was institutionalized, and Sandra’s tried to keep tabs on her through a private investigator. After she learns of Beth’s disappearance, Sandra turns to Eve and Atlanta PD detective Joe Quinn for help. They drop everything and head to Santa Barbara, where Eve convinces Dr. Kendra Michaels, a music therapist who possesses heightened senses, to assist them. The two women gain entry into the hospital and enlist the help of Kendra’s friend, a computer hacker so brilliant that the Pentagon used him in some unknown capacity to foil the Chinese. Gaining access to private files, Eve, Joe and a helpful intern who’s been planted in the hospital by his uncle, the PI, discover all sorts of sinister details about Beth’s treatment, the employees at the hospital, the Avery family’s dark past and Drogan, the man who’s been hired to kill Beth. And as Eve gets to know her naïve sister and does her best to protect her, she becomes Drogan’s primary target. Johansen throws in enough crooked characters to house an entire prison in a plot that starts out with promise but ends up being a snoozer.

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LIFE GOES ON

Keilson, Hans Translated by Searls, Damion Farrar, Straus and Giroux (272 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-374-19195-5 The first English language publication of this German author’s 1933 autobiographical first novel; Keilson (1909-2011) charts the slow decline of a shopkeeper in the Weimar Republic. Life has been an uphill struggle for Herr Seldersen, as he is called. He started out as a traveling salesman before setting up his clothing store. Then came the Great War. He survived unharmed, but the decorated veteran next had to deal with the nightmare of hyperinflation. In 1928, when the novel opens, the economy has steadied somewhat, but there are still challenges. His landlord and competitor has his eye on his store and pressures Seldersen to move into less-attractive premises. A good-hearted, unambitious man, he cherishes his small town in Prussia, eastern Germany, but peace and quiet are elusive for this German counterpart of Willy Loman. He is caught in a vise between his demanding suppliers and his impoverished customers, buying on credit. It’s death by a thousand cuts. There’s no disguising the situation from his wife or his 16-year-old son, Albrecht. The details about bills of exchange can get boring, but there is real pathos in his son’s attempt to console his father (“old, lost, hopeless”). Albrecht’s coming-ofage, and that of his best friend, Fritz, is the secondary storyline. Fritz is a free spirit, a high-school dropout with soaring ambitions who will be crushed by the lack of opportunity. The more restrained Albrecht, meanwhile, is strongly influenced by a young judge, who believes in the life of the mind. A Zola-esque naturalism is the strong suit of a novel that is more than just a period piece.

FLIGHT BEHAVIOR

Kingsolver, Barbara Harper/HarperCollins (448 pp.) $28.99 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-06-212426-5 A young woman discovers her rural Tennessee community has been invaded by monarch butterflies in this effective tear-jerker cum environmental jeremiad from Kingsolver (The Lacuna, 2009, etc.). At 17, English honor student Dellarobia thought she would escape a future of grim rural poverty by attending college. Instead, she got pregnant and married. Now 27, feeling stifled by the responsibility of two young children she loves and a husband she tolerates, Dellarobia is heading to her first adulterous tryst when she happens upon a forested valley taken over by a host of brilliant orange butterflies that appear at first like a silent fire. She skips the tryst, but her life changes |

in unexpected ways. Soon after, Dellarobia leads her sweet if dim husband, Cub, to the butterflies, and they become public knowledge. The butterflies have landed in Tennessee because their usual winter habitat in Mexico has been flooded out. The local church congregation, including Dellarobia’s mother-inlaw, Hester, embraces the butterflies’ arrival as a sign of grace. Influenced by her beloved preacher, usually antagonistic Hester (a refreshingly complex character) becomes a surprising ally in convincing Dellarobia’s father-in-law not to cut down the forest for much-needed cash, although she is not above charging tourists, who arrive in increasing numbers to view the spectacle. Soon, a handsome black scientist with a Caribbean accent has set up in her barn to study the beautiful phenomena, which he says may spell environmental doom. Dellarobia is attracted to the sophisticated, educated world Dr. Byron and his grad school assistants represent. When she takes a job working with the scientists, the schisms in her already troubled marriage deepen. Yet, she is fiercely defensive against signs of condescension toward her family and neighbors; she really goes after a guy whose list of ways to lower the carbon footprint—“bring your own Tupperware to a restaurant,” “fly less”—have no relevance to people trying to survive economically day-by-day. One of Kingsolver’s better efforts at preaching her politics and pulling heartstrings at the same time. (Author tour to Asheville, Boston, Nashville, New York, Portland (Ore.), San Francisco, Tucson and Washington, D.C.)

GOLDEN DAWN

Kostigen, Thomas M. Forge (352 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-7653-2933-2 Reporter Michael Shea’s tracking his uncle, a former IRA bomb maker, and he’s not surprised to find him in Iran with a Cechnyan rebel negotiating to build a trigger for a zealot’s nuclear weapon. Kostigen’s (The Green Book, 2007) debut fiction is headline-driven, with a touch of mysticism added. Shea’s tracked his nefarious uncle to Lake Urmia near the Turkish border where the bomb maker’s meeting with Mahmoud Talib, Iran’s rogue president. Talib is convinced he is the Mahdi, an Islamic redeemer meant to save the world, but Talib needs an ancient Zoroastrian text to prove it. And a bomb to persuade the world. The nonstop action begins immediately when Shea is ambushed while spying on the clandestine meeting. Shea escapes and inadvertently takes refuge in an apartment where beautiful widow Neda Ghazali is imprisoned. Neda’s assassinated archaeologist husband discovered the Zoroastrian text, the Zand-i Vohuman Yasht. Because Neda is a member of the Golden Dawn, a Zoroastrian sect charged with finding and protecting the true Mahdi, she’s also in danger of being killed. Shea and Neda escape to the ancient village of Shiz, trailed by Zhubin, ruthless agent of SAVAMA, the Iranian Gestapo, but Zhubin’s formidable skills are routinely matched by Shea’s

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“An imaginative glimpse into the queen of England’s psyche.” from mrs. queen takes the train

krav maga training. There are dead bodies left behind, friend and foe, as Kostigen moves the action from Iran to Turkey to Chechnya to Italy to Belfast, but there’s time for Shea and Neda to end up in bed, where sex is transformed into the spiritual. The complicated back story links Talib to Mesbah Yavari, pederast leader of a fundamentalist seminary, imams and ayatollahs in Iran’s Haghani Circle and the Assembly of Experts, all while also referencing Sufi mysticism and John Paul II and the Third Secret of Fatima. Kostigen’s plain-Jane, reporter-style prose hits the pages slam-bang, with sometimes as few as three paragraphs to a chapter right up to a doubletwist conclusion. Think The Da Vinci Code with religious fanatics eager to light off an atomic weapon.

MRS. QUEEN TAKES THE TRAIN

Kuhn, William Harper/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-06-220828-6

An imaginative glimpse into the queen of England’s psyche as she rebels against her routine. Historian and biographer Kuhn’s first novel ought to find an avid readership among the filmgoers who flocked to The King’s Speech and The Queen. In fact, among the most delectable moments are when courtiers and queen reflect, with rue and occasional appreciation, upon the accuracy of such films. Sometime in the recent past, as British sentiment is swinging back from the anti-monarchism sparked by the Diana debacle, government economies are beginning to rankle the queen and feed into her increasing sense of malaise. It was bad enough when her yacht, Britannia, was decommissioned on the grounds that a constitutional monarch did not need a yacht. Now, they want to take away the private train that transports her to her Scottish retreat, Balmoral Castle. While walking alone in the Buckingham Palace gardens, the queen impulsively decides to visit Britannia where it’s moored, as a tourist attraction, near Edinburgh. At this point, storylines involving peripheral characters already introduced, at rather excessive length, by Kuhn, coalesce. Rebecca, a troubled young woman who works in the royal stables, and Rajiv, a young man of Indian heritage with poetic aspirations who’s employed by the royal cheese purveyor, help the queen aboard a public train to Edinburgh, where incognita in Rebecca’s hoodie, she chats up unsuspecting fellow passengers. Meanwhile, Luke, an equerry who is still reeling from his service in Iraq, and William, the queen’s butler, team up to locate the queen before MI5 and the tabloids do. A lady-in-waiting, Anne, and the queen’s loyal chief dresser, Shirley, are also on Her Majesty Elizabeth II’s trail. Kuhn does a convincing job of inhabiting the heads of his characters, crowned or not. Until an overworked denouement restores her remoteness, Kuhn’s queen is generous with surprising ruminations on her love for dogs, horses (but not deer!), Dubonnet and gin, and her subjects. 2022

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An affectionate, sympathetic but also unstinting look at the woman inside the sovereign.

BRINK OF CHAOS

LaHaye Tim; Parshall, Craig Zondervan (368 pp.) $15.99 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-310-31881-1 If you use Jesus as a character in a novel, do you have to pay him royalties? It’s not spoiling the story—it’s all right there in the latter pages of the New Testament—to reveal that in LaHaye and Parshall’s (Thunder of Heaven, 2011, etc.) latest exercise in fundamentalist fiction, the brink of chaos of the title inaugurates a time when every good person on the planet can be found “worshipping and singing to the One who had ransomed them. Their Champion. Their Lord.” There’s no need to ask who the capitalized Person in question is. If you’re one of LaHaye’s legion of followers, then you won’t need to ask who supersecret agent Joshua Jordan, he of the double Old Testament moniker, is either. Jordan’s brief in this latest is to thwart the ambitions of the very, very bad secularists in power (“Let me tell you, those folks in power, including our president, really are bogeymen”) and the even worse secularist who is rising to attain world rule: “His global regulations against climate change,” the authors tell us, “have industries around the world being monitored by his environmental police.” Of course, in the fun worldview of the apocalyptic set, there’s no such thing as climate change, and anyone who hampers the desire of a corporation to do whatever it wants to is an agent of the Antichrist. When Jordan isn’t chasing after this impeccably groomed baddie, he’s jetting off to the Middle East to prep the world for the end of days. That’s work that can make a person tired, and Jordan’s wearisome banter is a mark. As with formula fiction since before the dawn of time, no one in these pages ever speaks like anyone in real life does. But why would they need to, when they’re floating rapturously up into the clouds? A dictionary-definition specimen of preaching to the choir, and one that begs yet another question: Is it unkosher to be so ham-fisted?

THE JEWELS OF PARADISE

Leon, Donna Atlantic Monthly (256 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-8021-2064-9

A veteran mystery maven weaves present-day Venice into a 300-year-old puzzle in this engaging stand-alone. Caterina Pellegrini has much in common with author Leon (Beastly Things, |


2012, etc.). Like Leon, Caterina is a scholar as well as a fan of Baroque opera. Unlike her creator, Caterina is a native-born Venetian who returns to her beloved city for an unusual temp job. Eager to get back to La Serenissima, she has accepted a commission from two venal cousins and their suave lawyer to examine the contents of two locked trunks. The trunks are believed to contain the papers of a long-dead composer. And while the cousins are hoping for rumored riches, “Jewels of Paradise,” Caterina suspects that she will find the answers to a bigger mystery: whether the composer was involved in the 1694 disappearance of a German count. Along the way, she discovers the hidden story of the composer’s tragic life and, perhaps, puts her own back on track. As in Leon’s immensely popular Guido Brunetti series, mysteries featuring a Venetian police detective, the appeal of this book is as much in the setting as in the plot. When Caterina stops for a snack at the “ridiculously small bar that used to serve tiny pizzas topped with a single anchovy,” we stop with her, and enjoy a Venetian “spritz” as well. And while this new amateur sleuth lacks Brunetti’s warm family, she has her share of witty friends, such as the drunken Romanian who wonders how Fra Angelico’s angels managed to don their robes over their wings. (“Velcro,” she tells him.) While the plot can get a bit academic at times—mixing Catholic Church politics with music and legal terms—Leon knows when to draw back and enjoy a glass of wine. While lacking some of the warmth of the Brunetti series, Leon’s stand-alone still packs the charms of Venice into a smart whodunit.

dissatisfied, adulterous wife. They have a creepy kid already, but he’s been living away from home for years. “At some point during Jerry’s worst years, Lennart had wished his son dead,” Lindqvist writes, meaningfully. When the mayhem begins and the blood starts spurting, things do indeed move in fatal directions. But there’s more than mere mass murder in these pages; in between spasms of the supernatural, Lindqvist charts the parallel transformation of a lonely teenage girl whom Theres, now a singing sensation, has taken it upon herself to protect. Teenage angst, psychopathy, Eurovision and wild wolves: What more could you want? The story is complicated, and it doesn’t always add up. When it does, though, it’s enough to make you put your fingers over your eyes. Good, spooky fun.

THE BEACH AT GALLE ROAD

Luloff, Joanna Algonquin (288 pp.) $13.95 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-56512-921-4

LITTLE STAR

Lindqvist, John Ajvide Dunne/St. Martin’s (544 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-312-62051-6 Another atmospheric neogothic yarn, drenched in Scandinavian anxiety and lots of gore, by horror-meister Lindqvist (Handling the Undead, 2010, etc.). Not overtly creepy at first, at least not in the spine-tingling way of Lindqvist’s debut, the great Let Me In (2007), this latest outing takes its time building up a head of steam—or, better, a head of extremely bad vibes. Lennart Cederström, folksinger, musicologist and amateur mycologist, is wandering about in a boreal forest looking for chanterelles, that being the sort of thing one does in a socialist paradise. He finds, instead, a small, shallow grave and inside it, “a baby girl, just a few days or weeks old.” Lennart rescues the baby, noting that her crying was like nothing his attentive ears had ever taken in—and pitched at a perfect E, “an E that rang like a bell and made the leaves quiver and the birds fly up from the trees.” You’ll be forgiven for wanting to tell Lennart, right now, to run away, since a baby so vocally equipped is likely to have other eldritch powers; but he does not run, and instead, he hides the baby away in the depths of his welloiled and well-scrubbed apartment, where he lives with his |

In her debut, Luloff weaves a montage of stories into a cohesive whole as she explores the roles of tradition and family and the destructive power of war through the lives of each character. With simplicity, the author, a former Peace Corps volunteer, gives voices to those who’ve been touched, however remotely, by a conflict that lasted for decades and destroyed the fabric of a country. Mohan, Janaki and their two daughters live a comfortable family-oriented life in Baddegama, a village in southern Sri Lanka, and pay scant attention to the struggle occurring between Tamil insurgents and the Sinhalese government. The skirmishes are taking place in the northern section of their country, so it’s had little impact on their lives. But not so for Lakshmi, Janaki’s older sister: Her husband, Sunil, a Tamil sympathizer, disappeared from the streets of Colombo in 1987, and now Lakshmi is returning to her family, a person incontrovertibly different from the girl Janaki once knew. Peace Corps volunteer Sam, a boarder in Janaki’s home, falls in love with a student from the north and insists on staying in the country even though his visiting parents pressure him to leave. And other volunteers, whether for altruistic reasons, adventure or escape, journey to Sri Lanka to find purpose or refuge along the beautiful beaches or in mountain retreats. Like Lucy, who manages an International Aid rest home, some discover that fulfilling a desire for adventure can lead to witnessing unimaginable horrors. Perhaps the most affecting tale is the story of Nilanthi, a brilliant young teaching candidate and the object of volunteer Sam’s love. When the violence causes her program to shut down, she returns home to her parents, three brothers and best friend, Sunitha. What follows is a study of societal barriers, family dynamics and individual strength. Each story is subtly presented and, for the most part, disturbingly believable.

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“Bawdy, occasionally lewd and often funny.” from jennifer johnson is sick of being married

NOUGHTIES

Masters, Ben Hogarth/Crown (304 pp.) $23.00 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-307-95566-1 A young Oxford graduate spends his last night of university drinking and reflecting and drinking and drinking and drinking. Like a literary version of Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping,” the hero of this debut novel by Oxford-grad Masters gets knocked down— a lot. Eliot Lamb is a 21-year-old English student who is about to get expelled from the idyllic coziness of university. Despite being a textbook example of the British university system, Eliot swears he and his mates are different. “We don’t stand on these benches drunkenly railing the Latin creed at bloated dons and upper-class undergraduates. Nah. We are more likely to chant yob tunes and smack empty pint glasses upside down on our gelled heads,” Masters writes. For this Last Night, Elliot has gathered his tribe in the King’s Arms: There’s Jack, the best mate; Scott, the sensitive rugby player; and the girls, Ella, Abi and Megan, with whom Eliot’s crew shares lurid histories. Masters spikes the drunken ramble from pub to bar to club with flashbacks to Eliot’s university history, not least his heartbroken obsession with former girlfriend Lucy, who receives many the maudlin text message during the narrative. The novel is well-written and propulsive, but there’s a lack of experience that makes the book’s drama seem painfully naïve. “After all that’s happened, I can’t tell if finishing uni is a relief or a tragedy...all the drama; all the heartbreak and confusion. I think we share too much history to lose one another though; we’ve held our thorny secret for so long. But trying to keep it buried has done us no good.” Unfortunately, Elliot’s big “secret” is a wornout trope found in every freshman creative writing class. The rest of the story, while readable and entertaining, amounts to Elliot’s regular punctuation of “Guzzle, guzzle, chug.” A green debut that yearns for the caustic wistfulness of Bret Easton Ellis or Nick Hornby, but just misses.

JENNIFER JOHNSON IS SICK OF BEING MARRIED McElhatton, Heather Morrow/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $14.99 paperback | $9.99 e-book Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-06-206439-4 978-0-06-206440-0 e-book

Bawdy, occasionally lewd and often funny, this follow-up to Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single (2009) returns us to the screwball adventures of a likable screw-up. Jennifer has landed her man, handsome Brad Keller, heir to a Midwestern department store. The novel opens as the happy 2024

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couple leaves for their honeymoon on St. Johns, where everything goes wrong. Flight delays, luggage lost and food poisoning, all in the first 24 hours, set the tone for the rest of their marriage. When they arrive home in Minnesota, Ma and Pa Keller have a surprise for the young couple—they bought them the McMansion right next door—and Mother Keller has thoughtfully decorated the whole thing in pastels and ceramic figurines. She also hired them a maid, Bi’ch, an elderly Hmong woman who lives in the guesthouse with her entire extended family. Jennifer is livid, Brad could care less, but in the end, how could she turn down a $3 million lakefront home? Then, Brad breaks the news: He and his sister, Sarah, are to compete to inherit Keller’s when their father retires. Brad and Jennifer must become the perfect church-attending, Republican-voting, golfplaying, pastel-wearing (Jennifer only) couple. With the help of her best friend, Christopher, Jennifer (a once aspiring writer, sweatshirt-wearing Everywoman) is transformed into someone who could’ve starred on Dynasty. Alas, everything always goes wrong (for a variety of reasons, not least of which is sabotage at the hands of the evil Mother Keller). Dinner guests are poisoned, bodily fluids run rampant and her $10,000 refrigerator won’t stop belittling her in Japanese. And to top it off, she and Brad don’t seem to love each other anymore, if they ever did. Next up: Operation Break the Prenup. Some of McElhatton’s conventions—the gay best friend, the endless shopping and makeover scenes—are happily redeemed by her wicked sense of slapstick comedy. A cross between chick-lit fare and Bridesmaids. (Local author events in Minneapolis)

LOLA’S SECRET

McInerney, Monica Ballantine (352 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-345-53403-3 Life can be both good and bad, and you’re guaranteed heaps of both in McInerney’s follow-up to The Alphabet Sisters (2004). Just ask great-grandmother Lola, the crusty doyen of the Quinlan family. The octogenarian has encouraged the entire family to take separate vacations during the Christmas holiday while she stays at the family-owned Australian Valley View Motel and holds down the fort. Of course, her family believes that Lola’s just looking forward to some much-needed rest since the motel doesn’t have any bookings while they’re gone. But wily old Lola, who’s become somewhat of an expert using the Internet, has other plans. She’s actually booked free rooms for a handful of people who have some very messy personal problems. Not that Lola’s aware that these people have problems, and not that their problems are really very central to the overall plot, since each problem is resolved before any of the potential guests show up at the motel. So, if Lola doesn’t have to deal with all the guests and their problems—after they happily resolve their issues, they |


cancel their reservations—what does she have to worry about? For one, Lola’s son wants to sell the motel and pursue different interests, and that kind of throws Lola’s future into disarray. Plus, Lola’s 12-year-old great-granddaughter is acting like a brat because her father is dating again five years after the death of her mother, and Lola’s surviving adult granddaughters, Bett and Carrie, are also acting pretty bratty and arguing like, well, like sisters. Then there’s the pushy volunteer at the local charity store where Lola spends a great deal of her time. She insists that they decorate the display window for the annual Christmas competition using her design. Lola, of course, applies the wisdom of her advanced years to straightening out every situation, while briefly reconnecting to her past and resolving her own future. If McInerney fans search hard enough, they’ll find a faint heartwarming message somewhere in the midst of this ho-hum plot. (Agent: Grainne Fox)

THE WITCH OF BABYLON

McIntosh, D.J. Forge (416 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-7653-3366-7

More erudite than Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, McIntosh’s complex thriller incorporates notes about Babylonian and Mesopotamian cultures plus a bibliography.

ONE WRONG MOVE

McKenna, Shannon Kensington (400 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Sep. 25, 2012 9780758273475 Two damaged souls find each other and some surprising psychic gifts as they fight a string of enemies who want them dead—or worse. Alex Aaro has spent most of his life distancing himself from his Ukrainian Mafia roots but risks his freedom and new identity to fly back to NYC to say goodbye to his dying aunt, the only person on earth he loves. During his visit, his friend Bruno calls on him to help Nina, a woman who’s

As McIntosh’s debut adventure novel opens, New York City art dealer John Madison is depressed, in a “black hole.” John believes he caused the car accident that killed his older brother, Samuel, a renowned Mesopotamian expert. John’s drawn out of his funk by an invitation to a party at the mansion of childhood friend Hal Vanderlin. It helps that Hal owes him commission fees. At the party, John meets a startlingly beautiful blonde, Eris, but discovers Hal feeding his heroin habit. John gives up on the girl and on collecting his fees. Later, he’s urgently called back to the mansion. Hal is dead, and Eris is somehow involved. John next meets Tomas Zakar, Iraqi archaeologist and Samuel’s colleague. Zakar tells him Samuel rescued a stone tablet covered with cuneiform writing, an antiquity that may be the Book of Nahum, an original of a seminal Hebrew text written as the fabled ancient city of Nineveh was sacked. In 2003 Baghdad, Samuel saved the tablet from post-invasion looting by sending it out of Iraq. John soon learns Hal stole the tablet from storage while John was hospitalized post-accident. Hal resented John, and post-mortem, Hal has presented John with a puzzle leading to the tablet’s location. More characters enter the mix, including Laurel, Hal’s estranged wife, and Jacob Ward, a biblical scholar. Adding a modern alchemy cult means the story grows more complicated, which in turn, slows the pace in spite of bombs, Tasers and beatings. Witchcraft is also involved, Hal’s late mother being a practicing witch in possession of a grimoire, a book of spells and incantations. McIntosh adds the Whore of Babylon, Hermetic thought, symbolic Phrygian headgear, Dürer art, the Midas legend, treasures of assorted Assyrian kings and a kidnapping, with a side trip to Turkey, before it’s all sorted out back in NYC. |

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been attacked and injected with an unknown drug. The only clues to the drug or its antidote are in a recording on Nina’s cellphone in what seems to be Russian. At first antagonistic toward one another, Nina and Aaro must overcome their hostility to work together to thwart enemies new and old, especially once they realize that the drug is a ticking time bomb that leaves Nina dead in days if they don’t find the answers they need. The drug is a psychic enhancer, and both Aaro and Nina become aware of psychic abilities they never understood they possessed. As their psychic powers strengthen, the journey grows more perilous and harrowing, and Nina and Aaro must lower their masks and place absolute trust in each other, something neither of them has ever done. Doing so cracks them open and creates a soul-deep bond of love, but will it be enough to save them, mind, body and spirit? This is McKenna’s newest erotic romantic suspense with paranormal aspects—psychic powers and a shady underworld attached to the enhancing drug—and the book offers captivating characters, explosive action and sizzling sexual tension. The world she’s set up is believable and intriguing, and despite some complex character and plot development, the story flows smoothly and with page-turning excitement and intensity. The book will appeal especially to romantic suspense fans, but anyone who likes good romance, great action and sexually intense situations will enjoy it. Avoid it if you dislike profanity—Aaro and many of the villainous secondary characters use bad language like table salt—or are offended by graphic descriptions of sex. McKenna fans will be happy to see secondary characters from other books in the McCloud series. With its action-packed plot hinged on an intriguing paranormal frame and a touching, red-hot romance, this is a great read for its intended audience. (Agent: Karen Solem)

THE SECRET KEEPER

Morton, Kate Atria (480 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-4391-5280-5

A daughter refuses to let her mother take a grim secret to the grave. In 1961, Laurel, a teenager sulking in a treehouse, sees her mother kill a man with a knife intended for her infant brother’s birthday cake. During the ensuing investigation, the police question Laurel, who leaves out a crucial detail. Just before her mother stabbed him, the man had said, “Hello, Dorothy. It’s been a long time.” Dorothy is cleared—the man is presumed to be a wanted pervert whom she killed in self-defense, and the Nicholson family life goes on as before, with Dorothy, husband Stephen and their five children enjoying life in their bucolic farmhouse. An early flashback reveals that Dorothy may have had a shady past, which induced her to flee London in 1941, at the urging of her friend Vivien, who was subsequently killed in the Blitz. In 2011, Dorothy is close to death. Laurel, now a famous actress in her 60s, embarks on a quest to learn the truth about the homicide. First, she learns that her mother’s 2026

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victim, Henry Jenkins, had once been a prominent writer who fell from grace. Flashbacks from Dorothy’s POV and Laurel’s research reveal that during the war, Dorothy, whose family was killed by German bombs, attempts to befriend her fellow warwork volunteer, the somewhat aloof Vivien, an heiress who was also orphaned when a car crash claimed her parents and siblings in Australia. But Vivien is married to the controlling, jealousyprone Jenkins, an author who’s also involved in intelligence work for the government. When Vivien inexplicably insults her, Dorothy assumes that slander from Vivien also caused Lady Gwendolyn, Dorothy’s late employer, to deny her a hoped-for inheritance. Together with her fiance, the talented and sensitive photographer Jimmy, Dorothy plots revenge in the form of blackmail, threatening to give Jenkins evidence of Vivien’s infidelity. Despite some improbable developments, the suspense mounts throughout, culminating in a shocking twist. Morton’s finesse with family secrets increases with each novel.

JOHN SATURNALL’S FEAST Norfolk, Lawrence Grove (416 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-8021-2051-9

A historical coming-of-age tale of a person and a time period (17th-century England), this is the story of a cook and his eponymous cookbook and an allegory of service and human purpose. Norfolk’s fourth novel arrives years after the well-reviewed In the Shape of a Boar (2001). John Saturnall is the son of a witch. Or is he? He lives with his mother, who roams with her collecting bag. The center of her life is the hearth, the pot where she brews her potions—the book of recipes her bible. John’s mother catechizes him with this book of earthy delights. Then the Reformation asserts itself in Buckland village in the lank-haired form of Timothy Marpot, and a plague arrives shortly thereafter. Sin, with its immense explanatory power, sin that demands correction and expiation, leads to the search for sinners: John and his mother are victimized. Their lives appear heretical. Exiled from home, John is sent to the Manor at the opposite end of the vale. There, he grows into his calling as a cook in the clattering kitchens of Master Scovell; into his consciousness of class and the wages of factional warfare; and into his awareness of the importance of his mother’s holy book. What might it mean if the feast belonged to all and not merely to the cook who prepares or the guest who partakes? Norfolk assembles his Dickensian confection of character and incident that includes love and war to dramatize this pungent question. If his characters occasionally verge on caricature, if the foreshadows fall as hard as the executioner’s axe, neither weakness subtracts from the plot’s satisfactions, arriving steadily as a banquet’s courses. Offers much to savor, notably the details of cooking and the central question: how preparing food is different than merely cooking it. (Agent: Carol Blake) |


AMERICAN GHOST

Owens, Janis Scribner (288 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4516-7463-7

Owens brings a dark period of history to light in a book about Southern allegiances, racial tensions and shameful acts. When anthropology student Sam Lense shows up to research the Indian population in tiny Hendrix, Fla., he has far deeper reasons for wanting to be there. In 1938, his Jewish great-grandfather, a storekeeper, was shot and killed by a black man who stole a pack of cigarettes. Henry Kite was pursued by the local sheriff, whom he also gunned down, and an outraged group of locals meted out their own form of justice on Kite’s family. By the time Kite was captured, tortured, mutilated and hanged, five other members of his family had also been lynched, including his mother and pregnant sister. As Sam works out of his tiny trailer and tries to investigate without arousing the ire of the community, he falls in love with Jolie, the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher and a member of the Hoyt clan, a rough-and-tumble hillbilly family that take care of their own. After Sam and Jolie become engaged, he accompanies some of the Hoyt men to the family’s fishing camp and gets shot in the back. Discovering that Sam hasn’t been totally honest with her about his reasons for coming to Hendrix, Jolie feels betrayed and leaves Florida to attend design school in Savannah. And Sam, feeling hurt and abandoned by Jolie’s absence, finally gets on with his life. Fast-forward several years, and enter Hollis Frazier and his brother, who claim to have a personal interest in the lynching. As they stir up the ashes, Jolie and Sam are once again drawn to their ancestors’ past and to each other as they try to lay to rest the events that have haunted the community since 1938 and to discover the circumstances surrounding the night when Sam was shot. A skillfully written, well-researched book. (Agents: Marly Rusoff & Mihai Radulescu)

THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY

O’Brien, Timothy L. Ballantine (368 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-345-49677-5

Huffington Post national editor O’Brien (TrumpNation, 2005) ventures into fiction in this historical thriller, featuring an 1865 detective digging into the murder of Abraham Lincoln. Metropolitan Police Inspector Temple McFadden sees a messenger get his throat slit at the B&O Railroad station in Washington, D.C. Temple takes a package containing a journal and a diary from the man’s corpse. It turns out that these are no ordinary finds: One is the diary of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife |

of the recently slain president, while the other was written by Lincoln’s murderer, John Wilkes Booth, and includes mysterious coded messages. McFadden immediately finds himself targeted by dangerous men who are after the package, and he enlists the help of several friends in an investigation that reveals an undiscovered plot behind Lincoln’s assassination. O’Brien’s fiction debut joins other recent Lincoln-related historical novels, such as Stephen L. Carter’s alternate-history tale The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln and William Martin’s The Lincoln Letter, a somewhat similar mystery that revolves around a lost Lincoln diary. O’Brien has delivered a serviceable thriller, even if he often leans a bit too heavily on brutal violence to shake things up. He has clearly put in a fair amount of research here, and he revels in the historical details he scatters liberally throughout the narrative; indeed, he occasionally drifts into history-lecture territory. That said, O’Brien does make clever use of real-life historical figures throughout, including such notables as Mrs. Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, private detective Allan Pinkerton, photographer Alexander Gardner and journalist Noah Brooks, among many others. A fair historical mystery that will most interest dedicated fans of Lincolniana. (Agent: Andrew Blauner)

THE LIGHT OF AMSTERDAM

Park, David Bloomsbury (384 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-60819-702-6

Three insecure souls spend a weekend in Amsterdam grappling with family problems; the eighth novel from this Northern Irish writer (The Truth Commissioner, 2008, etc.). All three are natives of Belfast. Some brief encounters aside, they move on separate tracks. Alan is a middle-aged teacher at an art college. A visit to Amsterdam in his youth proved liberating. Now, he is returning for a Dylan concert, his 16-year-old son, Jack, in tow (Alan is recently divorced). Karen is a cleaning lady. This is her first time outside Ulster. She’s part of a hen party celebrating her daughter Shannon’s forthcoming wedding. Marion has come with her husband, Richard. They’re the middle-aged owners of a successful nursery business and Christmas-tree farm. The trip is Richard’s birthday treat for her, along with a gym membership. Is he telling her to get in shape? Deeply insecure and suspecting he’s about to cheat on her, Marion sends a hooker to their hotel room to give him a more exciting outlet. Never mind that her plan defies marital psychology and common sense. As for Karen, she’s been insecure since being dumped by her boyfriend when she was three months pregnant, some 20 years before. Only in Amsterdam does she find out by chance that her daughter has invited that nefarious ex to give her away; the news revives all her bitterness and self-pity. There’s no equivalent drama for Alan. Memories keep dragging the

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THE GIRL ON THE CLIFF

principals back into their pasts, and Amsterdam has no transformative effect on them. Dreary people in a vibrant city.

THE RHYTHM OF MEMORY

Richman, Alyson Berkley (416 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-425-25877-4

Richman explores the story of two couples whose lives touch in unexpected ways. When Octavio met Salome, she was a beautiful schoolgirl with thick dark tresses and the most beautiful face he had ever seen. Every day Octavio, a college student and struggling poet, schemed to come up with ploys to meet the young girl, finally settling on using the poems of one of Chile’s masters to capture her heart. Years later, Octavio is a famous, though reluctant, actor, whose political participation has put him, his children and, worst of all, his beautiful Salome, in danger. Meanwhile, across the ocean, another drama is playing out in the form of a young and extremely poor Finnish family that is barely surviving during the dark days of World War II. The family, three young boys, a beautiful mother and a husband recently returned wounded from the fighting, struggles to provide sustenance for its members. Soon, the woman finds she is pregnant and gives birth to a tiny, perfect blonde daughter who captures her heart. But her husband, bitter that he is no longer the man he once was, makes a heartbreaking decision that alters all of their lives and leads his baby daughter through an unanticipated journey to Sweden. Richman develops strong characters but heaps so much misery and unhappiness upon the ones she devises that readers may often feel besieged with their situations and despair. Her strongest passages take place in Finland and in the early days of the lives of two of her characters—Samuel and Kaija—but the author tends to repeat herself a great deal, hauling readers through the same scenes told from the same character’s point of view. The author’s strengths include her beautiful, evocative language and sense of place. Chile, Finland and Sweden all come alive through Richman’s adept prose. Wonderful in places, but sometimes more of a downer than many readers may bargain for; Richman’s latest could have withstood some judicious pruning without losing its rhythm. (Agent: Sally Wofford-Girand)

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Riley, Lucinda Atria (416 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-4516-5582-7 A mysterious child and a packet of letters unite two pairs of star-crossed lovers separated by nearly a century. After a heartbreaking miscarriage, Grania Ryan abandons New York—and her career as a sculptor—to return to her rural Irish roots in a wind-swept coastal village. There, she befriends a motherless red-haired child, despite her own mother’s cryptic warnings, and becomes involved with the rich, reclusive Lisle family. Only after she has given her heart to the girl, Aurora, does Grania’s mother hand over a packet of letters that explains the long-standing family feud. These letters also woo the reader with the tale of an earlier Irishwoman, Mary Swan, and the child Anna, a seeming foundling, whom she adopts. With its World War I setting, and the more striking contrasts between Irish and English, servant and aristocracy, the older, inset story is the more compelling of the two and plays out in a more unpredictable fashion. However, the modern-day tale has its romantic twists, as well. And if some of these are predictable— with inappropriate romantic partners falling by the wayside when necessary—they still serve to make the heroine’s road a little rocky. Colorful writing, especially when describing the luxurious Edwardian lifestyle of Cadogan House and the dramatic cliffs over Dunworley Bay, keep the pages turning, and a final twist both leaves the reader with a twinge and sets up a possible sequel. Using a similar device (this time it’s letters instead of a diary), Riley (The Orchid House, 2012) does a workmanlike job with this sophomore multigenerational saga, and fans of the genre will likely be willing to overlook the occasional creaking plot device. The weave of historical romance and mystery may be occasionally threadbare, but the overall thrust and likable characters should keep willing readers in their seats. (Agent: Jonathan Lloyd)

THE ACCOMPLICE

Robbins, Charles Dunne/St. Martin’s (352 pp.) $24.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-250-01051-3 Having possibly cost his previous candidate an election, Henry Hatten thinks he’s lucky to land a job as press secretary for presidential contender Tom Peele, a moderate Republican senator from Nebraska with Kennedy-esque looks and charm. But what Hatten has landed in is a world of trouble. Great on issues, Peele is a disaster waiting to happen with his chronically compromised ethics and womanizing ways. That |


“Perfectly timed for the 2012 election.” from the accomplice

disaster takes the form of Elizabeth, an ill-fated Iowa State professor with whom both Peele and Henry have an affair. Henry, who thinks getting stuck in Iowa in the weeks leading up to its electoral caucus is a fate worse than death, revises his outlook when a politically motivated killing victimizes Elizabeth, and he becomes a prime suspect. Robbins, a former reporter who was Sen. Arlen Specter’s communications director (he co-authored Specter’s 2012 memoir, Life Among the Cannibals), deftly combines a lively insider’s look at campaign politics with a satirically spiked murder story. He reveals how easy it is for even a principled candidate like Peele to compromise his values—not to mention the values he promoted playing teen idol Ranger Rick on the TV series Parkland—for political support. And we see how many opportunities he has to compromise his marriage. Robbins stocks his impressive first novel with great characters, including cutthroat campaign chair Gil Cass, aka “The Angel of Light...one of Satan’s disguises,” threatening union leader Ed Zabriskie and linebacker-sized security chief Mike Sterba. The narrative flows freely and easily, the dialogue crackles, and the comedy comfortably coexists with the drama. Perfectly timed for the 2012 election, this book sets itself apart from most political thrillers with equal parts insight and imagination.

THE SALT GOD’S DAUGHTER

Ruby, Ilie Soft Skull Press (352 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-61902-002-3

When a blue moon rises, mistakes can be undone, lost children can find their homes, and sea lions can shed their skins. The selkie myth lies at the heart of Ruby’s (The Language of Trees, 2010) second novel. Born with a webbed foot, young Naida yearns for her mysterious father. But to understand his role in her life, she must first understand the stories of the women who came before her. The story swirls back to begin with her mother’s tale. Ruthie and her sister, Dolly, grow up on the road with their mother, Diana, sleeping in their car, cursing in Yiddish, eluding mud slides and even picking strawberries as day workers. Ritually consulting her Farmer’s Almanac, like Bottom in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Diana moves her small family on. Is Diana simply restless, or is she fleeing something or someone? Eventually, Diana finagles her way into a real job at the beachside Twin Palms hotel. Her daughters embrace not only school, but also the wildness of the sea and town life. After Diana’s death, the girls strangely find themselves under the guardianship of three kind nuns. On the cusp of womanhood, however, Ruthie is attacked, and as she grieves, she weeps seven tears into the sea. Just as the moon cycles, so do women’s lives, and Ruthie returns to Twin Palms, which has become the Wild Acres retirement home, where she cares for others. Under a blue moon, Ruthie meets Graham, a Scottish fisherman whose soul calls to hers. Graham’s |

love for Ruthie is intense, yet his presence ebbs and flows like the tide. What gifts has he bestowed on his daughter, Naida? This is a bewitching tale of lives entangled in lushly layered fables of the moon and sea. (Events in Boston, New York City and Southern California)

THE ART FORGER

Shapiro, B.A. Algonquin (368 pp.) $23.95 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-61620-132-6

A cleverly plotted art-world thriller/ romance with a murky moral core. That nobody knows anything seems to be Shapiro’s (The Safe Room, 2002, etc., as Barbara Shapiro) assessment of art authentication, given the number of misdetected paintings strewn through her engrossing if unlikely story. In Boston, painter Claire Roth has spent three years dealing with the guilt and scandal of her involvement with Isaac Cullion, whose breakthrough work, 4D, she painted for him when he was blocked. After the picture became a success, Cullion refused to acknowledge Claire’s involvement, and her objections plus the attendant rumors led to his suicide and her vilification. Since then, she has survived financially by painting reproductions, so when influential gallery owner Aiden Markel arrives with a bizarre proposal—her own show if she will forge a copy of a Degas, one of the pictures stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—she says yes. As she works, Claire and Aiden become lovers, but she doesn’t tell him about her discovery that the stolen Degas is itself a copy. This knowledge is Claire’s lifeline when the finished forgery is discovered, Aiden and then Claire are both arrested, and only she can save them. Despite a shaky premise, this is convincingly researched, engaging storytelling. Intelligent entertainment. (Agent: Anne Collette)

ILLUMINATIONS A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen

Sharratt, Mary Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (288 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-547-56784-6

A fictionalized biography of medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. Its publication will coincide with her appointment as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict. Eight-year-old Hildegard, a knight’s daughter, accompanies teenage Jutta, a countess’ daughter, as both are imprisoned in an anchorage, a tiny enclosure adjoining a Benedictine monastery chapel in the German hamlet of Disibodenberg. The girls are

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consecrated as “oblates,” an extreme form of cloistered nun. Their parents have ulterior motives for consigning each child to this sacred interment: Hildegard’s visions embarrass her family, and Jutta, a victim of incest, is unmarriageable. For the next 30 years, Hildegard, with the help of a monk named Volmar, manages to gain an education in music, languages and medicinal arts while Jutta starves herself and mortifies her flesh until she dies. Since the anchorage must now be unbricked for Jutta’s funeral, Hildegarde convinces the Abbot of Disibodenburg to allow her and two other oblates to remain free. Soon, Richardis is brought by her noble mother to serve Hildegard. Richardis is mute, but Hildegard correctly divines that her embrace of religious life is voluntary. When she speaks, it is to defend Hildegard’s visions and writings, which Richardis has helped to illustrate on parchment. This miracle affords Hildegard some credibility at Disibodenburg. Then, word comes that Pope Eugenius wants to scrutinize her first manuscript, Scivias. With the help of Volmar and her beloved brother, Rorich, who serves the Archbishop of Mainz, she is cleared of heresy and is even dubbed “God’s Sybil” by the Pope. Now, Hildegard is free to fulfill her destiny, which she first fully realized at the age of 42, as a writer, healer, composer and abbess. But further hurdles await. Sharratt brings the elusive Hildegard to vivid life, underscoring her ability to evade or transcend Church censure while espousing a proto-feminist agenda. The ideal companion to the elevation of Hildegard by the pontiff who rebuked American nuns for their outspokenness, an irony the saint herself might have relished.

MR. PENUMBRA’S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE

Sloan, Robin Farrar, Straus and Giroux (304 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-374-21491-3

All the best secrets are hidden in plain sight. The trick is to notice the secret in front of you. Sloan’s debut novel takes the reader on a dazzling and flat-out fun adventure, winding through the interstices between the literary and the digital realms. Art school graduate and former NewBagel web designer Clay needs a job. One day, he stumbles into Mr. Penumbra’s store and, seemingly on the basis of his love for The Dragon-Song Chronicles, lands himself a job as the night clerk. Narrow and tall, the bookstore is an odd place, with its severely limited selection of books to sell. Yet, just behind the commercial section, the shelves reach high toward the shadowy ceiling, crammed with a staggeringly large collection of books: a lending library for a small, peculiar group of people. Clay is forbidden to open the books yet required to describe the borrowers in great detail. Late-night boredom catalyzes curiosity, and soon Clay discovers that the books are part of a vast code, a code the book borrowers have been trying to crack for centuries. Could computers solve the paper puzzle? To assist him on his heroic quest, Clay collects a motley band of assistants. Among the crew is Kat, a Google employee and digital wizard, 2030

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commanding code as well as a legion of distant computers. Neel, former sixth-grade Dungeon Master, is the financial warrior with his empire balanced on digital boob simulation. Book borrowers, cryptographers and digital pirates all lend a hand, but the graysuited Corvina opposes them with all the power of a secret society. From the shadows of Penumbra’s bookshelves to the brightly lit constellation of cyberspace to the depths of a subterranean library, Sloan deftly wields the magicks (definitely with a “k”) of the electronic and the literary in this intricate mystery.

TRY THE MORGUE

Staal, Eva Maria Liveright/Norton (224 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 15, 2012 978-0-87140-334-6 Staal debuts with an autobiographical novel, the author Staal following a fictional Eva Maria Staal, a young woman “lured away” from her job with a company manufacturing night-vision goggles by Jimmy Liu, a Canadian-Chinese arms dealer. Operating from Holland, Staal becomes Jimmy’s assistant. Soon, she’s indispensable, accompanying him to Pakistan, China and Chechnya, each a snake pit of deception, corruption and malignant violence, where deals are brokered and broken among Jimmy, rebels and terrorists, criminal mobs and governments. Money rolls in until Jimmy meets Victor, a boy toy who demands luxury sports cars and London apartments. Circumstances grow more complicated when Staal and Jimmy are ambushed in Pakistan while negotiating a deal. Seriously wounded, Jimmy disappears for a time, and when rescued by Staal, he’s far less ambitious and driven. The novel weaves a second narrative into the gunrunning adventures, that of Staal’s romance with Martin, an architect, a character less explored than Jimmy. Initially, Martin leaves Staal when he learns the nature of her new work, but the romance is later rekindled. The denouement reeks with bitter irony. A morality tale of the first order: lean and intense; dead honest and unforgiving.

WILD GIRLS

Stewart Atwell, Mary Scribner (288 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-4516-8327-1 In the dying Appalachian town of Swan River, Kate Riordan attends the rather elite Academy for Girls. She’s a local girl, torn between her hometown roots and her desire to escape. Atwell’s debut novel examines the violence simmering among adolescent girls and their friendships. Kate’s mother and older sister seem stuck with dead-end jobs and underwhelming boyfriends. |


Swan River is cursed not only with simmering rage rooted in economic failure, but also with its shrouded history of wild girls. Every so often, teenage girls suddenly begin to glow, set things on fire with just their fingertips, massacre townspeople and sometimes even fly. The danger seems to derive from the poorest section of town, Bloodwort Road, where the witchlike Mrs. Lemons tells frightening fortunes; her daughter Crystal seems particularly unstable; and her son Mason seeks his own escape by dating Academy girls. Yet, the Academy isn’t as far removed from Bloodwort Road as Kate hopes. Her best friend, the popular Willow, is adept at collecting girls—her minions, as Kate mockingly calls them— yet she convinces Kate to set her up with Mason. Kate’s other best friend, Caroline, has already begun researching the history of the wild girls. Dr. Bell, the Academy’s headmaster and teacher of “Myths and Mysteries,” stokes her interest in the local legend by linking it to the disturbing Greek maenads. When Crystal turns wild one night, burning down most of Bloodwort Road and Willow provokes Mason into a jealous confrontation, Kate begins to realize that Mason and Swan River may mean more to her than Willow and the Academy. But the wilding isn’t over yet. Unfortunately,

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the suspense drags rather than builds, and events move along sluggishly toward a predictable confrontation. These girls are less wild than troubled.

RED RAIN

Stine, R.L. Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (384 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-4516-3612-3 YA fearmonger Stine tries his hand at adult horror, with decidedly jejune results. When travel blogger Lea Sutter (ignoring urgent forecasts) visits a Carolina coastal island just before a hurricane, that is only the first of the foolhardy decisions that Stine’s plot demands. (What if horror characters went on strike and refused to throw caution to the wind?) After the hurricane levels the island, Lea witnesses carnage, lovingly described.

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While walking in an ominous post-hurricane red rain, she’s approached by two angelic-looking twin boys, Daniel and Samuel, who utter anachronisms in brogue. Instead of calling Child Protective Services, Lea takes the 12-year-old twins home to Sag Harbor over the objections of husband Mark, a child psychologist and the author of a controversial parenting book. The Sutter offspring, Ira, who is also 12, and teenager Elena, resent the interlopers, as does Mark’s sister, Roz, particularly when Daniel, the obvious sociopath of the duo, keeps comparing her young son to a monkey. The book occasionally switches point of view to the twins, so right away readers know they are scamming the well-meaning Long Islanders, but to what end? At the same time, they seem to have a plan for world domination, starting with ruling their new middle school. In fact, the child characters take up so much space that, but for the sex and profanity in the adult sections, this could easily be another Fear Street or Goosebumps chapter book. Aside from wondering when the police (who also share narrative duties) and the Sutters are going to catch on to who is responsible for some bizarre and garishly depicted mayhem, readers will be puzzling over exactly which horror stereotype fits the twins. Are they zombies from the past, as a bit of foreshadowing hinted? Are they demons or just your garden variety bad seeds? Bottom line, they cannot wreak havoc without the witless collusion of the adult characters, who are definitely not on strike. More icky than scary.

AN IRISH COUNTRY WEDDING

Taylor, Patrick Forge (432 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-7653-3217-2

What Herriot did for Yorkshire, Taylor does for Northern Ireland’s County Antrim and County Down; minus the animals, of course, but with all the good sentiments. Taylor’s seventh in the Irish Country Doctor series (An Irish Country Doctor, 2007, etc.) provides a dose of easy medicine to readers familiar with the 1960s milieu and characters in the fictional wee town of Ballybucklebo, where Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly practices medicine. The critical illness of Kinky Kincaid, O’Reilly’s housekeeper, sets the drama in motion, what with a strangulated bowel requiring immediate hospitalization. O’Reilly’s in Belfast buying an engagement ring for fiancee and first love, Kitty O’Hallorhan, and so Dr. Barry Laverty, his assistant, diagnoses Kinky’s problem and beckons an ambulance. Now, the busy doctors of Ballybucklebo need a receptionist and housekeeper. Working-class lass Helen Hewitt’s available, having been laid off. Ah, but care must be taken so Kinky doesn’t worry she’s being shuffled out the door. Meantime, Bertie Bishop, cranky and self-absorbed townland Councillor, accuses O’Reilly’s cat of killing Bishop’s racing pigeons. Dr. Laverty soon discovers the true culprit, but 2032

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he’s distracted by his incipient romance with a lovely schoolteacher and ardent member of the Campaign for Social Justice. The author notes this is the first in the series where he’s confronted the “Troubles.” He does so in a limited way, with equal measures of empathy and realism. Kinky’s afterword and recipes end the book, along with a glossary of Irish dialect. Gentle, colorful, feel-good stories of a peaceable life long gone. Think Mayberry with Dr. O’Reilly as Sheriff Taylor. (Agent: Natalia Aponte)

THE ISLAND OF SECOND SIGHT

Thelen, Albert Vigoleis Translated by White, Donald O. Overlook (816 pp.) $29.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-4683-0116-8 A vast novel—if novel it is—of the tangled lives of anti-Nazi Germans on the Spanish island of Majorca in the years leading up to World War II. Some of those Germans were communists, others Jews; all were destined to be denounced, and many killed, when Franco’s soldiers finished their fascist revolution with the help of the Third Reich. That’s a grim matter of history, but Thelen (1903–1989) is anything but grim for much of this book, which was published in Germany in 1953 and has enjoyed a somewhat uneasy stance as a classic ever since— somewhat uneasy, that is, because it deals with matters that many Germans of the time would have just as soon forgotten. Even on dark matters, though, Thelen squeezes in unlikely jokes “A Spaniard who is ready to shoot today instead of tomorrow—how very odd!” he exclaims. Or rather, his alter ego, named Vigoleis and married, as was Thelen, to a woman named Beatrice, exclaims. To call this a roman à clef is to risk making too much of the connection between the author’s life and that of his protagonist, though one wonders whether this book is fictional in the same sense that Kenneth Rexroth’s An Autobiographical Novel is fiction— that is to say, not much at all. Whatever the case, Vigoleis is a sharp-eyed observer of his fellow Germans, both those on the island and those left far back home in the untender hands of Herr Hitler. Vigoleis may wish for detachment—he describes early on his “congenital aversion to contact with the external world”—but he becomes the unlikely center of a wheel whose spokes are both Spanish and German, and he is expected to perform miracles on behalf of all concerned. Of one clergy-hating Majorcan who asks him to invent a gallows that could humanely kill a priest “in a single stroke,” he notes, “I referred him to my fellow countrymen in the Third Reich, who were now the experts in mass executions.” Fortunately, Vigoleis—like Thelen in real life—manages to get away before he himself is the subject of an execution, leaving behind his beloved island, not quite a paradise but not quite a slaughterhouse, foreboding imagery notwithstanding. |


“A novella that builds to a provocative climax.” from the testament of mary

Worthy of a place alongside On the Marble Cliffs, Berlin Alexanderplatz, The Death of Virgil and other modernist German masterworks; a superb, sometimes troubling work of postwar fiction, deserving the widest possible audience.

THE TESTAMENT OF MARY

Tóibín, Colm Scribner (96 pp.) $23.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-4516-8838-2

A novella that builds to a provocative climax, one that is as spiritually profound as its prose is plainspoken. At the outset, the latest from the esteemed Irish author (Brooklyn, 2009, etc.) seems like a “high concept” breather from his longer, more complex fiction. As the title suggests, the narrator is Mary, mother of Jesus, reflecting on her life and her son as she nears death. She is a religious woman but not willing to cooperate with those who want to establish a new religion on the death of her son, the self-proclaimed “Son of God,” whose execution promises “a new life for the world.” No, to her, it was the death of a son for whom nothing could provide recompense. “It was simply the end of something,” she says, and the claims of divinity leading up to it came from a son she barely knew: “his voice all false, and his tone all stilted, and I could not bear to hear him.” The miracle of Mary’s testament is that what might initially seem like blasphemy ultimately becomes transcendent, redemptive, even as she continues to resist “efforts to make simple sense of things which are not simple.” The testament encompasses the resurrection of Lazarus and the miracle of the wedding feast at Cana, both related in such a way that she neither denies what happened nor takes faith from them, and culminates in a crucifixion related in excruciating detail, from the perspective of a mother witnessing the execution of her earthly son. “I gasped when I saw the cross,” she remembers and subsequently reflects, “He was the boy I had given birth to and he was more defenceless now than he had been then.” What follows the crucifixion gives a whole new dimension to the testament, for Mary and the reader alike. A work suffused with mystery and wonder.

The seven pieces here tell seven different stories, though each has the same title. “The News from Spain” is also a touchstone phrase in each, its meaning transformed by the characters’ experiences. In the first tale, a woman whose longtime marriage has been rocked by a single infidelity sits on the beach with her friend, a man marrying for companionship and hoping his bride-to-be doesn’t want sex; they listen to “the news from Spain” roaring in a seashell, a recollection of simpler times. The phrase encapsulates a daughter’s discovery of her profound love for her dying mother; the excitement a teacher brings into a student’s life; betrayal, tragedy and the eternal sameness amid varieties of love. Four pieces are pure fiction, but Wickersham is particularly interesting when she rings changes on history. A very long tale insightfully examines the real-life marriage of choreographer George Balanchine and ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq, stricken by polio and forced to accept her husband’s unfaithfulness; but it is just as nuanced and shrewd about Le Clercq’s relationship with her gay caregiver. The collection’s best story imagines modern odysseys for the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and Elvira from Don Giovanni, interpolating

THE NEWS FROM SPAIN Seven Variations on a Love Story

Wickersham, Joan Knopf (224 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 11, 2012 978-0-307-95888-4

Elegantly structured, emotionally compelling fiction from novelist/mem oirist Wickersham (The Suicide Index, 2008, etc.). |

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the memoirs of their creator, librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte; what could have been a gimmick is instead a beautiful meditation on art, love and friendship. The final piece is slightly bumpier as it interweaves memories of a platonic adultery that may or may not be fictional with the story of a New York doctor beloved by both a president’s widow and a female journalist (unnamed, as were Balanchine and Le Clercq, but clearly Eleanor Roosevelt, Martha Gellhorn, and David Gurewitsch). Yet, here too Wickersham dissects the human heart with precision and restraint that make her work all the more moving. Short stories don’t get much better than this, and for once, the overarching framework strengthens rather than dissipates their effectiveness.

CARE OF WOODEN FLOORS

Wiles, Will Amazon/New Harvest (304 pp.) $24.00 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-547-95356-4

British author Wiles’ first foray into literary fiction. The narrator is a British writer of informational pamphlets who flies to an Eastern European city to care for the apartment and pet cats of an old college friend, Oskar, while Oskar flies to LA to settle his divorce. Oskar is a talented composer with an obsessive compulsive personality who leaves little notes all over the apartment for his friend. Some are merely helpful instructions, like where to find cleaning materials, and some are perceived as intrusive attempts at control. The title is a reference to a book Oskar leaves along with instructions to immediately clean up any spills on his precious wooden floor. Naturally, the first thing that happens is the narrator spills wine on the floor and is unable to completely eradicate the evidence. Among his various flat-sitting duties are the feeding of and cleaning-up after two cats. A note telling the narrator not to “play around with the piano” takes on more significance when he does play around with the piano and leaves the lid up while he goes out to attend a concert, gets drunk with a friend of Oskar’s, and then returns and finds one of the cats crushed under the fallen piano lid. This tragedy is part of a series of chaotic circumstances that drive the narrator into his own subconscious world of anxieties and self-doubt. The novel thereafter becomes increasingly frightening and suspenseful, and the ending is one a reader could not possibly have imagined. If you are a fan of Kafka, you should enjoy this novel, which is reminiscent of The Metamorphosis. (Agents: Antony Topping & Jim Rutman)

BACK TO BLOOD

Wolfe, Tom Little, Brown (720 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-316-03631-3 Wolfe (A Man in Full, 1998, etc.) returns to fine form with this zingy, milea-minute novel of life in the weird confines of Miami. As if the 45 years from Electric KoolAid Acid Test to here hadn’t passed, Wolfe is back to some old tricks, including an ever-shifting, sometimes untrustworthy point of view, dizzying pans from one actor to another and rat-a-tat prose. Some of his post-yuppie characters might have been extras from Bonfire of the Vanities, while the hero of the piece has the endless self-regard of Gordo Cooper in The Right Stuff—but no matter where they figure on the social ladder or tax bracketing scheme, they’re mystified by one another. The tale opens with Mac the Knife, a 40-something fleshpot behind the wheel of a hybrid car who, scarcely a dozen pages in, falls afoul of a tough Cubana: “Far from shrinking under Mac’s attack, the beautiful rude bitch came two steps closer…and said, in English without raising her voice, ‘Why you speet when you talk?’ ” Cuban and Anglo, Russian and Jew, rich and poor: All of Miami is a meeting place that very often turns into a battleground, over the carnage of which ranges Wolfe’s nominal hero, a waterborne cop named Nestor Camacho, who has his work cut out for him. That’s especially true when he tries to blend in with the beach bimbettes here and the retired New Yorkers there, and though he tries (for, as Wolfe astutely observes, “Walking nonchalantly in a crouch—it couldn’t be done”), he always cuts a fine and heroic figure. Wolfe’s book goes on long, but never too long, and though he often strays into ethnic-clash territory staked out by John Sayles, he makes Miami his own as a kind of laboratory of future possibilities, some dystopian and some not, all ripe for lampooning. Full of stereotyping and waspishness, sure, but a welcome pleasure from an old master and the best from his pen in a long while.

m ys t e r y A SMALL HILL TO DIE ON

Duncan, Elizabeth J. Minotaur (288 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-250-00824-4

A mercantile rivalry turns murderous for Canadian expat Penny Brannigan. Penny and her partner Victoria, who own a popular spa, are a bit nervous when a chain of nail and tan salons 2034

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extends its reach to Llanelen, the Welsh town where they’ve long been settled. Mai Grimstead, an English-born ethnic Vietnamese married to an Englishman, is the chain owner who has recently leased, with the option to buy, Ty Brith Hall, a large estate outside town. Mai’s Birmingham-raised daughter Ashlee, 19, and her younger brother Tyler are not happy with moving so far from a proper city. Penny and a friend are out on a sketching trip when Penny’s dog finds Ashlee’s viciously beaten body. Although Mai claims that Ashlee had no boyfriends, she was pregnant. Her murder poses a difficult problem for Penny’s boyfriend, DI Gareth Davies. Penny, eager to help him, asks Victoria to pose as a housecleaner and go undercover at Ty Brith to see what she can find out. In the meantime, someone has been stealing small dogs. Penny is furious when her friend’s little terrier goes missing and adds dognapping to her investigative list. She does not realize that she is putting herself in mortal danger when what seems like a simple case of murder takes some unexpected turns. Although its mystery isn’t the best among Duncan’s Welsh cozies (A Killer’s Christmas in Wales, 2011, etc.), this latest entry provides flashes of local color and the usual likable characters.

MURDER BY VEGETABLE The Baby Quilt Graham, Barbara Five Star (288 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 19, 2012 978-1-4328-2621-5

A small-town Tennessee sheriff has his hands full with murder, arson and his mother’s ramp festival. Park County sheriff Tony Abernathy and his wife, Theo, are coping with newborn twin daughters, Theo’s quilt store and now the Ramp Festival, which will attract a large crowd, including all the local troublemakers. Despite the overwhelming smell of ramps, the festival seems to be a huge success. The participants are enjoying watching working recreations of ancient weapons like the trebuchet, until a potato hits and apparently kills much-hated local game warden Harrison Ragsdale. A quick look from a doctor, however, establishes that the cause of death is not the potato. Ragsdale had a wooden stake in his neck and evidence of a severe allergic reaction. Because Ragsdale was widely considered guilty of killing several people’s pets, there is a plethora of suspects. In addition, an arsonist has burned down the home of a local couple, and a body found in the garage turns out to be that of one of the Farquhar brothers, who are responsible for much of the area’s criminal activity. Theo, who picks up loads of gossip at her store, is always eager to help Tony solve his cases. This one promises to be more difficult than most. Like Tony’s earlier cases (Murder By Music, 2011, etc.), this one is more interesting for its eclectic characters than its meandering plot. Quilt fans will welcome the included pattern for a mystery quilt. |

MAKE BELIEVE

Ifkovic, Ed Poisoned Pen (250 pp.) $24.95 | paper $14.95 | Lg. Prt. $22.95 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-1-4642-0080-9 978-1-4642-0082-3 paperback 978-1-4642-0081-6 Lg. Prt. Back from a long-ago prequel in her hometown (Escape Artist, 2011, etc.), formidable author Edna Ferber returns to the 1950s and to her most unlikely avocation: amateur sleuthing. When her old friend Max Jeffries, a peerless music arranger whose labors have enriched every screen version of Show Boat, writes a letter in defense of the Hollywood Ten that gets him attacked and blacklisted, his credit removed from the 1951 Technicolor version MGM is about to release, Ferber packs up the galleys of Giant and rushes to his side in support. Five days later, Max, shot to death in his bungalow, is beyond the staunchest support. Or is he? Vowing, “No one murders my friends and gets away with it,” Ferber makes the rounds of Max’s few friends— especially his other two musketeers, aging actor Sol Remnick and Egyptian Theater manager Larry Calhoun, who’ve gone in with Max on several little investments—and his biggest enemies, Ethan and Tony Pannis, whose mobster brother Lenny’s fatal fall from a balcony they blame on Max’s wife, Alice, who’d been married to Lenny until he hit the ground. But all these suspects, whom dyspeptic narrator Ferber sketches in lightning strokes, are upstaged by the blistering double portrait of Ava Gardner, the star of the new Show Boat, and her bantamweight lover and sparring partner, Frank Sinatra. Though Ferber has no use for the classless crooner, desperate to revive his flagging career by getting cast in From Here to Eternity, she brings radiant, insecure siren Gardner to triumphant new life, just as she did with Harry Houdini last time out. As for the mystery, it’s a little embarrassing watching the Pulitzer Prize–winning Ferber running around town checking alibis. Come for the whodunit, stay for the stargazing.

UNDERCOVER

James, Bill Creme de la Crime (208 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-78029-028-7 The 29th appearance of Harpur and Iles, Britain’s most irresistible duo since crumpets were first paired with tea. Tom Parry isn’t really Tom Parry, thug, lowlife and drug-lord wannabe. Tom Parry is actually Tom Mallen, happily married father of two, a police sergeant doing undercover work to ferret out bad guys. His infiltration into Leo Percival Young’s gang seems to be going well. Leo trusts him enough to send him along with three

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“A lush plantation is the scene of what could be the perfect murder.” from the cutting season

others to kill Justin Scray, #3 man in the gang hierarchy, who’s been pilfering drugs, clients and funds for his own use. But when Tom, not Scray, winds up dead, the Home Office decides not only that Tom was set up to die, but that his assassin was someone from his precinct. Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur and his boss, Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles, are called in to investigate. As they study witness interviews, a gang member’s taped confession, surveillance footage and autopsy notes, Harpur doggedly keeps at it while trying to ignore the slurs heaped on him by Iles, who will never forgive him for sleeping with his wife. It turns out that Tom’s against-regulations birthday visit to his son, as well as the uncooperativeness of various enforcement agencies, all contributed to his downfall. These revelations cause Harpur to consider the investigation a failure and Iles, typically, to accept kudos for the completion of it. Nobody demonstrates the similarity between criminal reasoning and cop reasoning better than James (Vacuum, 2011, etc.).

GARMENT OF SHADOWS

King, Laurie R. Bantam (288 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-553-80799-8

More international intrigue awaits Sherlock Holmes and his wife, omnicompetent and unflappable Mary Russell, in 1924 Morocco. Since T.E. Lawrence has been occupied elsewhere, the French and Spanish forces who’ve occupied Morocco since World War I have achieved nothing but an expensive standoff. Now along comes a new complication. A pair of rebels, Mohammed bin Abd-elKrim and his military strategist brother (actually his cousin) M’hammed, have declared Mohammed Emir of the Rifi Republic and defied Morocco’s Resident General, Maréchal Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey. If you’re King (The Art of Detection, 2006, etc.), this volatile true-life situation demands the steady hand of Sherlock Holmes, whom Ali Hazr, a spy for His Majesty, wants to accompany Lyautey to a sit-down with the two Rifi leaders to talk peace. Holmes, naturally, thinks Russell, who’s been doing some acting nearby for filmmaker Randolph Fflytte, would be an ideal interpreter for this mission. As the tale begins, however, Russell awakens from what was pretty clearly her abduction with no idea of where or who she is. Even after a generous round of adventures reunites her with Holmes, she’s slow to recognize him or remember anything about their life together. That’s just as well, because most of what follows is more derring-do, leading to a sequence in which Russell and Holmes are chained in the Mequinez dungeon Habs Qara; virtually all the mystification and detection, not to mention all the surprises, are saved for the final chapters, whose torrent of revelations is more dizzying than anything that’s led up to them. 2036

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Both Holmes and Russell are muffled, and the story requires a good deal of potted history. More likely to appeal to lovers of Morocco than lovers of Sherlock Holmes. (Local author promotion in San Francisco. Agent: Linda Allen)

THE CUTTING SEASON

Locke, Attica Harper/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-06-180205-8 A lush plantation is the scene of what could be the perfect murder. As manager of Belle Vie, an antebellum estate 50 miles south of Baton Rouge and an equal distance from New Orleans to the east, Caren Gray burns the candle at both ends. She supervises the staff and produces weddings and parties at the plantation while trying to raise her preteen daughter, Morgan. Also under her supervision is a historical play called The Olden Days of Belle Vie, which keeps the memory of 19th-century Louisiana alive for better or worse. Currently in a rebellious phase, Morgan plays her father, Eric, who’s estranged from Caren and has moved to Chicago for a job, against her mother. Fieldworker Luis’ discovery of a body facedown in a shallow, makeshift grave complicates an already challenging day for Caren. The victim is a young woman, her throat slit. Local police swarm Belle Vie as Caren confronts the problem of missing actor Donovan Isaacs, unwelcome freeloader Bobby Clancy and Morgan’s customary moods. After she finds blood on her daughter’s blouse, Caren goes into defensive mode when Morgan’s explanations are iffy. As Detective Jimmy Bertrand and his team dig deeper, everyone at Belle Vie gets edgier. Locke’s second novel (Black Water Rising, 2009) is written with fluidity and elegance, evoking the uniqueness of her setting and the nuances in the relationships of her characters, complicated by race, class and history. Her whodunit plot often seems like a MacGuffin but could well strike readers as a bonus.

DRY BONES

Mayhew, Margaret Severn House (160 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7278-8180-9 Even the most upper crust of quiet English villages has its buried corpses. The Colonel has settled into village life at Frog End. He works in his garden, listens to Gilbert and Sullivan and solves the occasional mystery. A cry of distress from his dead wife’s friend sends him to the Wiltshire village of King’s Mowbray, where Cornelia Heathcote, whose wealthy husband is overseas on |


business, has been inconvenienced by the discovery of a body buried under the floor of her barn. The Colonel displays both his steel—insisting that she inform the police immediately— and his soft side—staying around to help her deal with the consequences. DCI Rodgers, who’s hovering on the brink of retirement, holds little hope of solving the case when all that remains are dry bones. But the ever-curious Colonel, remaining alert to village gossip, helps to identify the victim as Gunilla Bjork, a Swedish beauty who worked at the local pub and tormented many of the men and women in town. Most of them now disclaim any interest in Gunilla, but given the long list of people who may have wished the lady dead, the Colonel has much to ponder as he quietly goes about his sleuthing. The latest sedate adventure for the Colonel (Three Silent Things, 2008, etc.) is a pleasant albeit unexciting stroll through village life, perhaps best suited for determined anglophiles.

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PARADISE CITY

Mayor, Archer Minotaur (304 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-312-68195-1 Joe Gunther and his crack team of Vermont sleuths crack a case in Massachusetts. One ill-fated night, sweet, elderly Billie Hawthorn inadvertently interrupts a robbery in her Beacon Hill house and pays dearly for it. Violence aside, the Boston police wonder why the thief passed over some highly valuable targets of opportunity—laptops, flat screens, stereo equipment—to purloin the silverware instead. Meanwhile, Lt. Joe Gunther and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation team have been puzzling over a series of similarly offbeat break-ins. Suddenly, all crooked roads seem to be leading

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to Northampton, where a new superfence—mysterious, shrewd and deadly—has become a player. Invited to join a task force, Gunther takes his best cop with him: that astringent observer of the human condition, irascible Willy Kunkle, whose grasp of social skills continues to be marginal, mostly because he wants it that way. Specifically uninvited to join is Mina Carson, Billie’s niece. Bereft, enraged by the gratuitous violence inflicted on her aunt and hungry for revenge, she crashes the party anyway, becoming for Gunther an entirely unexpected complication. Understated, occasionally very funny (see Kunkle) and very intelligent. In his 23rd appearance (Tag Man, 2011, etc.), the Sage of Brattleboro remains as appealing as ever.

CLEANUP

McClintock, Norah Raven Books (136 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4598-0054-0 A young Latina finds herself out of her job and attempting to clear her friend and co-worker in the murder of their employer. Life for Connie Suarez isn’t easy, and it’s about to get even more complicated. When she arrives at her cleaning job, her co-worker Maria is already there, and Mr. Withers, the owner of the house, has been murdered. Knowing that Maria is in the country illegally, Connie tries to cover, but Maria becomes the prime suspect. It quickly becomes clear that Maria has been keeping many secrets, including a personal relationship with Mr. Withers. His son and daughter-in-law are determined to see Maria in jail and any promises made to her in his will overturned. Connie, who had hidden her experience as a legal secretary (she was laid off) in order to get work, begins her own investigation and discovers Maria was not the only one keeping secrets. This title is from Rapid Reads, a line of shorter books targeted to adult learners, reluctant readers and others seeking high-interest reading material. With a fast-paced plot and simple narrative, this story fits the bill. Connie is a likable and smart protagonist who uses her abilities in unusual ways. It also includes a rather nuanced look at the challenges faced by Latinas, whether they are in the country legally or illegally. Weighing in at just over 100 pages, this solid mystery is good for both the series’ target audience and readers who don’t want a long-term commitment.

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MURDER IN GENEVA

Nelson, D-L Five Star (348 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 19, 2012 978-1-4328-2616-1

A young freelance writer who specializes in history must solve both a very old puzzle and a brand new murder. Annie Young arrives in Geneva to find her friend Mireille pregnant by Dr. Urs Stoller, her brilliant but much disliked thesis advisor. No one is terribly upset when Stoller’s body washes up on the lakeshore. His wife, a chemist, is more concerned about problems with the blood thinner she’s working on and the fact that her lover is moving his family from England. Stoller, who was not above stealing work from his graduate students, has even given Mireille false information about some old drawings she’d asked him to appraise. Annie’s in town to work on a catalog for a big sale a local auction house is hosting, but she gladly takes on the task of tracking down the artist who executed Mireille’s drawings, a woman struggling to express herself in the restrictive Calvinist society of 16th-century Geneva. Annie’s fiancé, Roger Perret, a French police chief on an exchange program in Geneva, is at odds with the local police, who arrest Stoller’s wife for his murder. Also in Geneva are Annie’s American parents, who have taken in Stoller’s teenage son, a longtime pal of Annie’s, while their determined daughter works to help find a killer and uncover the fate of the talented young woman whose story so fascinates her. Multicultural Annie’s third (Murder in Argeles, 2011, etc.) presents a pretty puzzle on two levels, past and present.

SACRIFICE FLY

O’Mara, Tim Minotaur (320 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-250-00898-5 This debut by a New York schoolteacher endows a New York schoolteacher with the power to crack a case the police can’t be bothered to solve. You’d never know it was five years since Raymond Donne quit the NYPD. The leg injury that sidelined him reminds him so often of his departure that it might as well have been last week. Although Ray’s job teaching middle school wouldn’t seem to require his making personal calls on his students, he’s so concerned when promising pitcher Frankie Rivas, 14, misses over a week of class that he hikes out to Roberto Clemente Plaza, where Frankie lives with his sister, Milagros, 8, and their grandmother, Matilda Santos. And when he makes a second stop to see Francisco Rivas Sr., who has official custody of his son, and finds that he’s too late to speak to him alive, Detective Royce, finding him on the scene, assumes that Ray’s trying to talk himself back into |


another case. Royce has a point. After all, Ray is the one a neighbor calls after someone breaks into Ms. Santos’ apartment. It’s Ray, not Royce, who drives upstate to question Frankie’s cousin, Anita, and her husband, John Roberts, whose travel agency employed Francisco, and Ray who returns to the city with an important clue the cops would never have found. Ray, whose uncle and namesake is a high-ranking officer, left the force on purpose, and he keeps telling himself he wants no part of it now. But everything he does to find Frankie and his sister and make sure they get home, even after he’s been kidnapped by some serious criminals himself, says differently. Though Ray can be a mite sententious, he’s also appealingly fallible and sensitive in this promising series kickoff. (Agents: Maura Teitelbaum & Erin Niumata)

HOT ROCKS

Rawls, Randy Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (360 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Nov. 8, 2012 978-0-7387-3413-2 A South Florida private eye’s first recorded case involves a client who isn’t a client getting evidence against a cheating husband who isn’t her husband and probably isn’t even cheating. When she wakes up on the floor of a hotel room next to the corpse of Hector Garcia, the philandering spouse she’d been tailing, PI Beth Bowman naturally phones the police. It’s not only her civic responsibility; it’s the logical next step in her report to her client, Hector’s wife Maria. The only problem is that Detectives Dick Bannon and Major Sargent (yup, that’s right) don’t believe a word she says. And no wonder, since Garcia was shot to death with Beth’s own gun; all the evidence that Maria Garcia ever hired her has vanished from her handbag; and the dead man is actually one Benjamin Jacobs. It’s a setup, of course, and one that’s entrapped both Beth and her quarry. Since nothing that follows in this sunlit mystery turns out to be very mysterious, it’s not giving too much away to say that the motive for the Jacobs killing is a stash of jewels hijacked from a crime boss who calls himself Mr. T., and that Beth, backed up by ardent neurologist Dr. David Rasmussen and an unexpected army of homeless helpers, is fully equal to the task of outwitting the bad guys. Designed, like the Spenser novels, mostly to show off how tough and smart-mouthed the detective is. On the plus side, you’ll learn a dandy way to extract information from unwilling informants without leaving any marks— and without spending more than a few dollars to purchase an item commonly available from any stationery store.

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MAD RIVER

Sandford, John Putnam (400 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-399-15770-7 Virgil Flowers and the forces of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension battle trigger-happy Bare County Sheriff Lewis Duke in pursuit of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. Tom McCall and Becky Welsh think that Jimmy Sharp has led them to Dr. John O’Leary’s home to relieve Marsha O’Leary of a diamond necklace she recently showed off around town. No sooner have they broken in, however, than Jimmy shoots the O’Learys’ oldest daughter, Agatha Murphy, without getting the necklace. In their haste to exit, Jimmy shoots Emmett Williams for his brother-in-law’s Dodge Charger, and their murder spree has begun. First they clear the decks by killing Jimmy’s father and Becky’s parents; then they murder a McDonald’s owner and his wife for some traveling money; then, when a bank robbery goes bad, they kill a Bare County deputy. Called in to the first murder scene, Virgil alertly realizes that Jimmy aimed for the one and only O’Leary window he could easily get through and wonders if Agatha’s murder was something other than a panicky reaction—something like a murder-for-hire arranged by Agatha’s estranged husband, smarmy insurance salesman Dick Murphy. As Virgil, who wants to talk the killers in, tilts with Duke, who wants to shoot them down on sight, Sandford explores the unstable dynamics among the three fugitives and raises questions about how any of the easily identified culprits can ever be brought to justice. None of these minor complications, though, are enough to raise Virgil’s sixth (Shock Wave, 2011, etc.) much above the level of a highly competent but routine manhunt.

WITCH HAMMER

Trow, M.J. Creme de la Crime (224 pp.) $28.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-78029-029-4 Christopher Marlowe, scholar, spy and aspiring playwright, adds sleuthing to his resume. Kit Marlowe, who accidentally destroyed his first draft of Dido, Queen of Carthage, is chagrined to learn that Ned Alleyn, a thespian performing as part of Lord Strange’s traveling players, has not only absconded with the only other version of this drama, but is claiming to have written it. Hoping to track down Alleyn, Kit tags along with the troupe, but his plan hits a few roadblocks. First, Joyce Clopton, accompanying the troupe for safety after her father has been ruined and his assets confiscated by Sir Edward Greville, asks him to assassinate Greville. Next, Ned Sledd, the

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troupe’s manager, is found dead with a dagger in his throat. Then, Cawdray, a widower, and Hayward, a well-to-do theater junkie, decide to ride along with the troupe as it heads for Stratford, where Shaxsper, a young glove maker with writing aspirations, becomes an apprentice. Meanwhile, Greville’s men are dogging the troupe. A rampage ensues, and there’s quite a hullabaloo at a field of magical stones where witches cavort during their Lammastide celebration. Undaunted, Kit not only perseveres in his quest to find Alleyn but succeeds in deducing who murdered Stedd. All will be revealed as the troupe heads for its upcoming debut at Oxford. Marlowe (Silent Court, 2012, etc.) makes an agreeable guide to Elizabethan life, and it’s fun reading quips between him and Shaxsper that will later appear in plays.

Lt. Cmdr. Vyr Cossont, a bewildered four-armed musician with, self-confessedly, no military skills, receives orders to locate and question Ngaroe QiRia, possibly the Culture’s oldest living person and the only one who might have some idea why the Book of Truth is so important and what really happened 10 millennia ago. Problem is, even assisted by Berdle, a powerful Mind avatar, and an erratic battle android who’s convinced everything’s merely a simulation, can she survive long enough to complete her mission? Scotland-resident Banks’ Culture yarns, the science-fiction equivalent of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, brim with wit and wisdom, providing incomparable entertainment, with fascinating and highly original characters, challenging ideas and extrapolations, and dazzling action seamlessly embedded in a satirical-comedy matrix. Sheer delight.

TARNISHED KNIGHT

science fiction and fantasy THE HYDROGEN SONATA

Banks, Iain M. Orbit/Little, Brown (496 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-3162-1237-3 Addition to Banks’ wonderful spaceopera series (without the middle initial, he also writes impressive mainstream novels) about the far-future galactic Culture (Surface Detail, 2010, etc.), a liberalanarchic, multispecies civilization guided and sustained, more or less invisibly, by Minds, artificial intelligences that take such physical forms as spaceships and habitats. Vastly more intelligent than humans, millions of times faster and mostly benevolent, Minds are truly godlike entities. (Asked “Is this what gods would actually be like?” Banks replied: “If we’re lucky.”) Now, the Gzilt civilization, an almost perversely peaceful military society whose precepts arise from the Book of Truth, an ancient tome containing technological and intellectual predictions nearly all of which have proved correct, are preparing to Sublime, or vanish, into a set of higher dimensions where existence is thought to be almost infinitely rich and complex. As the Gzilt make their preparations, several rather primitive scavenger species gather nearby (one ship comes into orbit, as Banks puts it, with the “warp-engine equivalent of loud clanks and clouds of black smoke”), ready to grab whatever goodies the Gzilt leave behind. But then, a sudden, devastating attack destroys the Gzilt Regimental High Command. The reason seems to involve a shattering secret about the Book of Truth and the establishment of the Culture 10,000 years ago. One of the few survivors, reserve 2040

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Campbell, Jack Ace/Berkley (400 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-937077-82-2 Series: The Lost Stars

Beginning a sort of spinoff series taking place, chronologically, between Campbell’s last two outings (Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught, 2011, and Beyond The Frontier: Invincible, 2012) wherein the influence of “Black Jack” Geary is palpable, though he makes no actual appearance. The brutal, ruthlessly hypercapitalist rule of the Syndicate is faltering thanks to its inability to defend the people against either Geary or the alien enigmas. The Midway system, with its numerous hypergate passages to other Syndicate systems, is pivotal. Most citizens and even some CEOs are weary of being terrorized by the Gestapo-like political police, or snakes. Exiled CEO Artur Drakon, having long plotted rebellion, now launches an all-out effort to seize control of Midway’s planets and exterminate the snakes. But he doesn’t control what’s left of Midway’s space forces: for that, he needs an alliance with fellow-exile and would-be rebel CEO Gwen Iceni. In a carefully coordinated action, Iceni commandeers some of the warships and attacks those forces who remain loyal to the Syndicate or are dominated by snakes. After initial successes, both Drakon and Iceni declare independence. But their Syndicate heritage isn’t so easily shaken off; neither can afford to trust the other, yet disaster looms if they don’t. Both must maintain this delicate balance while rooting out nests of snakes and traitors and dealing with ambitious underlings. Campbell maintains the military, political and even sexual tension with sure-handed proficiency. In previous volumes, the emphasis leaned toward battles; here, while not neglecting them, Campbell focuses on the human element: two strong, welldeveloped characters locked in mutual dependence, fumbling their way toward a different and hopefully brighter future. What emerges is a fascinating and vividly rendered character study, fully and expertly contextualized. |


“An intriguing and ambitious fantasy tale.” from ironskin

All the more impressive for being a significant departure from previous entries. (Agent: Joshua Bilmes)

DARK CURRENTS

Carey, Jacqueline ROC/Penguin (368 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-451-46478-1 The inaugural volume of a new urban fantasy series, from the author of Naamah’s Blessing (2011, etc.). Pemkowet, a small resort town on the shores of Lake Michigan, provides the usual facilities for its wealthy summer residents, while the many tourists hope to catch a glimpse of one of Pemkowet’s eldritch inhabitants—fairies (the toothy, vicious kind), vampires, naiads and so forth—whose benevolent supervisor is Hel, the Norse goddess. Daisy Johanssen, daughter of a minor demon and raised by a single mother, is Hel’s enforcer and designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, where she works as a part-time file clerk. Most of her duties are routine, like warning off fairies who try to abduct human children, but when a young college kid drowns in suspicious circumstances, Chief Bryant calls Daisy in— he drowned in salt water, and his pals are downright evasive about what really happened. Carey handles the investigation expertly. On the human side, the dead boy’s parents instigated a political movement to banish the eldritch. As for the supernatural, well, Daisy’s partner, Officer Cody Fairfax, is secretly a werewolf, and she’s had a crush on him since high school. Daisy’s voluptuous friend, Lurine Hollister, was a B-movie actress and is, openly, a lamia. The vampires are sleazy and uncooperative. And as for the ghouls: Having been rejected by both Heaven and Hell, they’re immortal, feed on emotions rather than flesh, and Daisy finds their leader, Stefan Ludovic, dangerously attractive. She has personal issues too, being on the outs with BFF Jen Cassopolis, while her father keeps offering to awaken her demonic powers; this, according to received eldritch wisdom, would unleash big, bad trouble for reality itself. Beautifully articulated and intriguingly populated: Altogether, an arresting kickoff.

IRONSKIN

Connolly, Tina Tor (304 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-7653-3059-8 Connolly, in her debut, delivers a supernatural spin on Jane Eyre set in a gothic, alternate version of the Victorian era, in the aftermath of a war with powerful, forest-dwelling beings called the fey. Jane Eliot, a young teacher and former governess, responds to a notice which reads, in part: “Governess |

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needed, country house, delicate situation.” Dorie, the child in question, was born during the Great War between humans and fey that ended years ago and has telekinetic powers as the result of her mother, now dead, being “taken over” by a fey while pregnant. Jane dedicates herself to teaching the peculiar, stubborn child but wonders whether Dorie’s disquieting powers can be curtailed. Jane herself was disfigured by a fey curse during the war, and she wears an iron mask that partially obscures her face; without it, her glowing scar can supernaturally infect others with rage. Meanwhile, the child’s father, the charming but mysterious artist Edward Rochart, creates strange masks for his clients and hides a dark secret. Jane soon comes to realize that the war with the fey may not, in fact, be over after all. Connolly has created a complex and well-drawn world here, and the story is indeed an original and imaginative take on the gothic-fiction tradition. Some readers may find the prose somewhat bland and the occasional neologisms a bit distracting (such as “feyjabber” as a term for an iron spike). That said, Connolly will keep most readers engaged with her impressive worldbuilding, as details stack up about the Great War, the fey and a scarred postwar society. An intriguing and ambitious fantasy tale.

ANGEL’S INK

Drake, Jocelynn Harper Voyager (368 pp.) $14.99 paperback | $9.99 e-book Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-06-211785-4 978-0-06-211786-1 e-book From the author of the Dark Days series (Bound to Me, 2012, etc.), the first of a new urban-fantasy series centered on tattoo artist Gage Powell. In Asylum, a seedy part of Low Town, assorted strugglers and lowlife humans somewhat uneasily coexist with elves, werewolves, vampires, trolls and other supernatural folk. Above them all are the witches and warlocks in their concealed Ivory Towers; first-person narrator Gage, once a warlock, fled after fighting his mentor, Simon Thorn, when he could no longer stomach their cruelty and arrogance. The Ivory Towers council let him go but assigned a watchdog to ensure that Gage uses his magic only in self-defense. Against this extensive, carefully worked out backdrop, Gage tries to keep his head down and practice his art—which usually involves adding a little magical something to the ink’s ingredients—assisted by Trixie, a drop-dead gorgeous elf who conceals her true identity, and Bronx, a hulking, good-natured troll. The plotting, too, is both intricate and well-articulated. Among the problems Gage must deal with: a representative of the local Grim Reaper’s union; some armed-to-the-teeth elves enquiring after Trixie; a witch turned into a cat and exiled from the Towers; Simon, intent on killing Gage to further his political agenda; and a very dangerous and dark elf gangster. Stir in a bout of hot sex and some magical battles—the latter, oddly, often devolve into mere physical violence—and it’s a shame that the

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characters remain flat and clichéd, especially dull Bronx and the hissing villain Simon. Still, these are minor issues in what is mostly a distinctive and absorbing tale. (Agent: Jennifer Schober)

INTO THE WOODS

Harrison, Kim Harper Voyager (528 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-06-197432-8 978-0-06-220790-6 e-book A collection of old and new novellas, novelettes and short stories from urbanfantasy author Harrison (A Perfect Blood, 2012, etc.), mostly taking place inside her Hollows fictional universe. Harrison is known for her urban-fantasy novels, beginning with 2004’s Dead Witch Walking. Largely set in an alternate version of present-day Cincinnati some 40 years after a horrific plague, her Hollows setting features witches, werewolves, demons and vampires, among other supernatural characters. This new collection, which Harrison dedicates “[t]o the readers,” brings together Harrison’s previously published Hollows short fiction going back several years, as well as a new Hollows novella and four stories set outside the Hollows universe. Though a few of the stories feature Harrison’s main protagonist, the tough bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan, several give supporting characters a shot at the limelight. For example, in the previously unpublished “Million Dollar Baby,” she tells the story of an adventure that the elf Trent Kalamack and the pixy Jenks undertook in Seattle during the time frame of the 2011 novel Pale Demon, while the relatively brief story “The Bespelled,” first published as a bonus with the 2008 mass-market edition of The Outlaw Demon Wails, centers on the demon Algaliarept. Other stories feature vampires and dryads in nonHollows settings. Though most of the stories here were written for one-off anthologies, all are solid urban-fantasy tales, and her fans will find much to appreciate. Harrison also helpfully supplies brief introductions for each story, providing context for each, as well as background detail into each story’s creation. A comprehensive and well-constructed collection, sure to be welcomed by Harrison’s fans. (Agent: Richard Curtis)

a Pin, 2012), the common theme being, “a black man destroys the world.” Longer, more substantial and carefully worked-out, Merge begins when Rahl Redman notices something resembling a dead branch in his apartment. The being, an Ido, is one of many refugees from a remote planet with an eerie and complex ecology. He feeds the creature, and slowly, it transforms into something approximating human. Meanwhile, the news is rife with stories of other Ido that drink blood, spew poison gas or explode. They can only survive on Earth by merging with an existing life-form. Earth’s governments, meanwhile, decide that the Ido represent an existential threat and prepare to use any and all means to exterminate them. Rahl decides to merge with his Ido and help their race—an action that will bring him through transcendental bliss and unimaginable agony to, perhaps, salvation. Disciple, by contrast, is the more mystical, less logical, and weaker partner. Hogarth “Trent” Tryman, a nonentity toiling in a dead-end job, receives a bizarre instant message from someone calling himself Bron. What Bron has to say seems unbelievable, but in a matter of days, Hogarth finds he’s now the boss of the corporation. Bron, it emerges, serves a godlike entity called the Stelladren, which if it dies, will wither the souls of all intelligent beings everywhere. But to preserve the Stelladren, most of humanity must die. So what is Mosley offering here? Analogy, parable, allegory? Are only black Americans disaffected or alienated enough to go along, or do his protagonists just happen to be black? For thoughtful readers, the questions posed by the book are well worth pondering. (Agent: Gloria Loomis)

MERGE / DISCIPLE Two Short Novels From Crosstown to Oblivion Mosley, Walter Tor (288 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-7653-3009-3

Two more novellas in one volume, continuing Mosley’s Crosstown to Oblivion series (The Gift of Fire / On the Head of 2042

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nonfiction PROOF OF HEAVEN A Neurosurgeon’s Near Death Experience and Journey into the Afterlife

These titles earned the Kirkus Star: LA ROJA by Jimmy Burns............................................................p. 2048

Alexander III, Eben Simon & Schuster (224 pp.) $23.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4516-9518-2

THE RICHARD BURTON DIARIES by Richard Burton............ p. 2049 LIFE’S RATCHET by Peter M. Hoffmann................................... p. 2064 EMPIRES, NATIONS, AND FAMILIES by Anne F. Hyde...........p. 2066 THE STORY OF AMERICA by Jill Lepore................................... p. 2072 HELL-BENT by Benjamin Lorr.................................................... p. 2073 THE LAST LION by William Manchester and Paul Reid............ p. 2073 I’M YOUR MAN by Sylvie Simmons.............................................p. 2085 THE GREAT CHARLES DICKENS SCANDAL by Michael Slater..........................................................................p. 2086 FAR FROM THE TREE by Andrew Solomon................................ p. 2087 KURT VONNEGUT by Kurt Vonnegut.........................................p. 2091 KURT VONNEGUT: LETTERS

Vonnegut, Kurt Wakefield, Dan­— Ed. Delacorte (496 pp.) $35.00 Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-385-34375-6 978-0-345-53539-9 e-book

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A remarkable account of miraculous recovery from bacterial meningitis and a transformative “Near-Death Experience.” On Nov. 10, 2008, at the age of 54, neurosurgeon Alexander awakened with an excruciating head- and backache and then suffered a grand mal epileptic seizure. Rushed to the hospital, tests showed that his brain was infected with E. coli bacteria that proved to be highly resistant to antibiotics and were destroying his neocortex. He remained in a deep coma for a week, as the expectation of his survival dimmed. Alexander recounts significant events in his life and explains his medical condition and the treatment he received, although at the time, he was not consciously aware of the situation. Interspersed are chapters in which he relates what he believes to be details of a “[b]rilliant, vibrant, ecstatic, stunning” psychic event he experienced during the coma. He describes an extraordinary radiant white-gold light and the most beautiful music he had ever heard, as well as travel to the gates of heaven, accompanied by an angelic figure who led him to the “strangest, most beautiful world” he had ever seen. Although Alexander had previously been a religious skeptic, this intense experience convinced him of the existence of heaven and a loving, personal God; the primacy of consciousness over matter; and the reality of psychic experiences such as telepathic communication. After seven days, he awoke with his faculties intact, although he needed time to fully recover his memory. Alexander uses his medical credentials to substantiate the belief that his reconstructed memories offer conclusive proof of his current religious beliefs; readers who don’t share these beliefs will find his account less convincing.

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THE WATCHERS A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I

Alford, Stephen Bloomsbury (416 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-60819-009-6

Alford (History/Cambridge Univ.; Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I, 2008, etc.) is an expert on all things Elizabethan, and his intimate knowledge of the queen’s ministers and the period’s political history guarantees the accuracy and thoroughness of this riproaring story. The religious makeup of 16th-century England had bounced from Protestant to Catholic and back again with each succeeding offspring of Henry VIII. Her country’s future relied upon Elizabeth’s strength. The lack of a successor and England’s isolation and defenselessness produced obsessive vigilance on the part of Lord High Treasurer William Cecil (Baron Burghley) and Principal Secretary Francis Walsingham. As the author notes, the more obsessive the vigilance, the greater the danger perceived. That there was a real threat in the 1580s is without doubt. Philip II of Spain, Mary Queen of Scots, exiled Catholics and priests in France all worked unceasingly to usurp, overthrow or murder Elizabeth. Mary, first cousin to the queen, had the strongest claim to the succession. Her Catholic supporters in France plotted unceasingly during her two-decade imprisonment. The threat from Philip took some years to materialize, but England’s interference in the struggle of the Low Countries against Spanish rule pushed him to join the Pope’s Great Enterprise against Elizabeth. The third threat, posed by priests trained at the English seminary in France, was more insidious. Over the course of 40 years, Elizabeth’s hounds identified nearly 500 priests active in England; 116 of those met the gruesome fate of being hanged or drawn and quartered. Tracing the devious machinations of rebels and intelligence agents alike, Alford makes brilliant use of the intercepted letters, illegal publications and incendiary pamphlets found in the Elizabethan archives. A great spy novel—except that it’s all true.

HOOSH Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine

Anthony, Jason C. Univ. of Nebraska (368 pp.) $26.95 paperback | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-8032-2666-1

Anthony’s debut—named after the “meat stew of the ravenous”—traces hardships during Antarctic expeditions and the sometimes disconcerting fare borne of isolation. 2044

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From blubber to penguin meat, and on infamous occasions, sled dogs and horses, supplemented by canned foods as well as pemmican (a concentrated mixture of fat and protein, the “perfect endurance food used by Native Americans for millennia”), polar cuisine has always had a storied history. The author discusses a variety of Antarctic-related topics, including problems and shortages during the journeys of Roald Amundsen, Ernest Shackleton, Douglas Mawson, Robert Scott and Richard E. Byrd; some of history’s lesser-known expeditions and their cooks; changes brought by researchers and staff during the International Geophysical Year (1957–1958); the U.S. Navy galley at McMurdo; and the exploration efforts of later independent parties. He reveals the resourcefulness and hubris needed to curtail scurvy as well as deprivation in the name of discovery and how initial hurdles gave way to improvements, including cargo transport of fresh goods from New Zealand and better nutritional knowledge. Still, he writes, “Antarctic cuisine has always made prisoners out of residents. The higher someone’s culinary expectations were, the darker the prison they found.” Anthony enlivens historical facts with a knack for choice anecdotes; one man’s minted peas created with toothpaste stand out as much as unexpectedly hotel-worthy midwinter celebrations. In later, thought-provoking chapters, the author considers the environmental toll created by food waste and inefficient management. Anthony concludes with his own experience as support staff. A singular, engrossing take on a region that until now has been mostly documented from a scientific angle or romanticized by adventurers. (36 photographs; 2 maps)

THE LONGEST RACE A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance

Ayres, Ed The Experiment (256 pp.) $23.95 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-61519-063-8

A leading environmental activist and ultramarathoner uses the 2001 JFK 50 Mile as a staging ground for his reflections on running, aging, and saving the planet. Running Times founding editor and publisher Ayres (God’s Last Offer: Negotiating for a Sustainable Future, 2000, etc.) was 60 when he decided to run the JFK 50 Mile again, two months after 9/11. He had placed first in the ultramarathon in 1977 and wanted to see if he could still keep up with the younger competitors. His aim was not to set a world record but to determine how much accumulated experience would compensate for the inevitable attrition of age. Ayres admits he is addicted to running, but its importance for him goes beyond the physical—a race of that length is “a ritual of survival.” He had been running competitively since high school and recalled how the first JFK 50 Mile, held just months before Kennedy’s assassination, was a Cold War response to the president’s call for Americans to

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“A well-organized, important tool that will remain useful beyond the present electoral cycle.” from electoral dysfunction

toughen up. While judging his pace and adjusting the rhythm of his breathing, Ayres speculated about the role played by longdistance running in the pursuit of game and the physical evolution of modern man. He drew parallels between sustaining the planet and maintaining health and vigor as we age, themes that still engage him today. He even had a few moments to muse on such mundane matters as the proper footwear for racing—not boots but flexible shoes that allow feet to sense the trail. Ayres won his age category in 2001, continues to compete at age 71 and intends to run the JFK 50 Mile again this November. The author’s broad-ranging interests and accumulated wisdom will appeal to a wide readership, not just runners and environmentalists. (Author events in Los Angeles)

THE BARBAROUS YEARS The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675 Bailyn, Bernard Knopf (656 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 7, 2012 978-0-394-51570-0

Continuing his magisterial, multivolume history of North American colonization, two-time Pulitzer winner Bailyn (To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders, 2003, etc.) recounts the surprisingly brutal early steps. Nowadays, we divide the parties into whites and nonwhites, but no Native American saw it that way. They considered whites subhuman but no less subhuman than members of other tribes with which they fought constantly. Bailyn reminds readers that America’s earliest settlers in 1607 Jamestown were not seeking land or liberty but the bonanza of riches the Spanish had discovered further south. For years, arrivals were dominated by upper-class adventurers who shunned manual labor, dying en masse of starvation, disease and Indian attack. As late as 1610, the first ship to arrive after winter greeted 60 skeletal survivors begging for food. After 1614, tobacco farming ensured the colony’s survival and the Indians’ doom. Schoolchildren learn about Lord Baltimore’s effort to provide a tolerant Catholic haven in Maryland but not about the fierce hatred this provoked from Protestants (always a majority even in Maryland) that produced a bloody quasi-civil war. New Holland remained underpopulated because the prosperous Dutch eschewed immigration; disputes and smuggling drained the ruling trading company’s profits. Its governor provoked local tribes who annihilated distant settlements and threatened Manhattan, whose quarrelsome citizens refused to resist when English forces arrived in 1664. Religious freedom brought the first settlers to Massachusetts where they established a positively Orwellian theocracy, treating nonconformists with marginally less brutality than the Indians. Popular histories often gentrify these early events, but Bailyn’s gripping, detailed, often squirm-inducing account makes it abundantly clear how ungenteel they actually were. (25 illustrations; 12 maps) |

ELECTORAL DYSFUNCTION A Survival Manual for American Voters Bassetti, Victoria New Press (176 pp.) $17.95 paperback | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-59558-812-8 978-1-59558-821-0 e-book

A delightfully provocative history and review of voting in America. Conceived as a companion to the PBS series of the same name, this handbook about elections and voting will undoubtedly appeal to both first-time voters and those who participate regularly. Bassetti, a political professional who has worked with various judicial and legislative bodies, provides a history of the struggle to secure and broaden the franchise and an analysis of who votes and why. She outlines the working of the Electoral College, the multilevel patchwork of election administration and the role of political parties. Federal election law, she explains, is at the top of a pyramid encompassing more than 13,000 electoral districts, each of which can be subject to different legal and procedural regimes. The author’s initial provocation is that the right to vote was not originally enshrined in the Constitution. Excluded as one of the compromises that ensured adoption, the right to vote entered via the amendment process. Elections, she writes, have been driven since the beginning of the republic by disputes between those who want to broaden enfranchisement and increase turnout, and those who want to suppress the vote. She argues that it is through such political conflicts, as well as the emergence of much broader movements for emancipation, women’s suffrage and civil rights, that progress has been made. Bassetti also historically and comparatively discusses election turnouts and the demographic characteristics of those who vote. Vote buying and fraud are presented in a historical context, which emphasizes that restrictive administrative and legal measures have a far greater effect on the vote than individual criminality at the polls. Four appendices provide documentation and access to additional resources. A well-organized, important tool that will remain useful beyond the present electoral cycle.

LOUDER THAN WORDS The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning Bergen, Benjamin Basic (304 pp.) $26.99 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-465-02829-0

How we extract meaning from language. Our ability to use language is unique, suggests Bergen (Cognitive Science/Univ. of California, San Diego). Bird song may rival the tunes we sing in “speed and complexity,” and primates can learn a simple human

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vocabulary, but human speech is open-ended. We effortlessly extract meaning from verbal descriptions of nonexistent things such as “Martian anthropologists or vegetarian zombies” and discuss abstractions such as the meaning of meaning. The author describes research corroborating the “embodied simulation hypothesis,” the idea that understanding spoken or written language depends on our ability to imaginatively reconstruct mental images from the words we hear or see. In order to understand the meaning behind words, we use the same mental tools that allow us to react to our environment, reconstruct memories, plan future actions or imagine situations. Bergen gives the example of professional athletes who use visualization to hone their skills and compares this to the visualization necessary to understand language. Clever laboratory experiments show how recognition speed varies when seeing a picture of an object such as an egg and hearing a description of its use. Brain scans show the activation of different neural pathways when we hear a noun or verbal description. Similarly, Bergen shows that the use of metaphor and idiom to express abstractions also depends on visualization and the language of embodiment, from descriptive language such as “swallowing pride” and “grasping meaning” to idiomatic expressions like “you see what I mean” or “let’s shine some light on the topic.” An intriguing look at the brain mechanisms involved in the complexities of human communication. (65 b/w figures)

ZUMWALT The Life and Times of Admiral Elmo Russell “Bud” Zumwalt, Jr. Berman, Larry Harper/HarperCollins (528 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-06-169130-0

Admiring biography of Elmo Russell Zumwalt (1920–2000), who transformed the U.S. Navy and went on to an equally commendable career after retirement. Berman (History Emeritus/Univ. of California, Davis; Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, 2007, etc.) emphasizes how quickly Zumwalt impressed commanders after graduating from Annapolis in 1942 and taking part in naval engagements against Japan. Rising to admiral during the Vietnam War, he commanded the “brown water” navy that patrolled rivers and coasts and suffered heavy casualties from snipers. He approved spraying Agent Orange to defoliate the heavily forested banks, which dramatically reduced casualties but came back to haunt him when its toxicity became known and his son, who served under him, died of cancer from exposure to the chemical. In 1970, President Nixon appointed him Chief of Naval Operations, and he energized the transition away from World War II technology and hidebound personnel policies. The Navy had been integrated for 20 years, but blacks and Filipinos were deliberately given dead-end assignments. Zumwalt changed that, and he allowed beards and longer hair among enlisted men and began permitting women to serve 2046

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aboard ships. Dealing with major issues, he clashed with leaders such as Adm. Hyman Rickover, who demanded nuclear power in all new ships, and Henry Kissinger over Zumwalt’s opposition to détente. He remained active after retiring in 1974 but—rare among former military men—not in right-wing politics. He led the fight for victims of Agent Orange and served many humanitarian causes. Readers who tolerate Berman’s frequent pauses to quote praise from letters, speeches and articles, as well as tributes during award, change-of-command, retirement and funeral ceremonies, will agree that he makes a good case that Zumwalt was an outstanding naval leader. (16-page b/w insert)

FACING THE TORTURER

Bizot, François Translated by Mandell, Charlotte & Audouard, Antoine Knopf (224 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 26, 2012 978-0-307-27350-5 An honest exploration of what it means to share moments of humanity with a man most people would consider inhuman. French ethnologist Bizot has already written one book (The Gate, 2003) about his three-month stay in a Khmer Rouge prison, where he was interrogated by a man named Comrade Duch, who later went to trial for war crimes. This new work provides background about the circumstances that brought the men together in 1971, their subsequent meetings and Bizot’s decision to write The Gate. The author also writes about Duch’s trial, at which he was a witness. The author’s goal is to make sense of his feelings about Duch, in particular his conclusion that the “butcher of Tuol Sleng” was capable of acts of humanity. Bizot seems to resist this conclusion, perhaps because it makes him confront the evil in all humankind. He also has a difficult time explaining his conclusion, weaving beautiful sentences that tend toward the convoluted. More concrete information on his experiences with Duch would help readers understand Bizot’s discoveries about human nature. As it stands, eloquent language cannot obscure the fact that these unfocused, stream-of-consciousness musings have been written with an eye to aesthetics rather than concision or ease of understanding. Luckily, the book is not comprised entirely of Bizot’s maze of thoughts. Its most compelling section is the postscript, which contains his trial testimony and Duch’s reaction to The Gate. These offer insights into the Cambodian’s personality and help us understand the humanity Bizot sees in him. They also, through the words of both men during the trial, show in a more substantive way the ambivalence with which Bizot struggles. Best for those already familiar with The Gate, but also a good choice for readers who enjoy philosophical arguments about the dichotomy between good and evil. (Author tour to Los Angeles and New York)

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“A trove of fine writing on big issues, albeit at the expense of more playful exemplars of the contemporary essay.” from the best american essays 2012

SUPERMAN IS JEWISH? How Comic Book Superheroes Came to Serve Truth, Justice, and the Jewish-American Way Brod, Harry Free Press (240 pp.) $25.00 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-1-4165-9530-4

How comic books’ awesome superheroes stormed the mainstream without forsaking their distinctive ethnic character. The question mark in the title of this ethnographic study by Brod (Philosophy and Humanities/Univ. of Northern Iowa; co-editor: Brother Keepers: New Perspectives on Jewish Masculinity, 2010, etc.) is, of course, rhetorical. The Hebrew descent of the Man of Steel has long been recognized—and not simply because his creators, Siegel and Shuster, shared it. The prototypical champion, flying in monogramed cape and red briefs worn outside his blue leotard, was, like many of his co-religionists, an immigrant, an alien from another planet. He wore a bespectacled, protective disguise. The superhero genre and the comic book itself, as Brod writes, were developed by Jewish artists and writers barred from other venues for their considerable talents. It’s telling that their protagonists almost always had split personalities. The characters’ back stories indicate survivors’ guilt. Spider-Man may not keep kosher, and The Hulk may have missed his bar mitzvah, but the ethos and sensibilities of these assimilated characters remain clearly Jewish. Earnestly didactic, Brod offers brief accounts of anti-Semitism, science fiction and the crimes of the Nazis. (The first thing Captain America did was give Hitler a frask in punim: a slap in the face). The author also traces the thread of ethnicity through comics’ Golden and Silver Ages, and he salutes old Mad magazine artists and current continental and Israeli graphic novelists. He pays appropriate respect to the seminal work of Will Eisner, Jack Kirby and Art Spiegelman, and to the novel Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Brod’s scholarly but lively narrative does a fine job of tracing “how the people of the book became the people of the comic book.” For fans and students of popular sociology, an eclectic and pithy confirmation that many colorful heroes who speak in balloons are, indeed, Jewish.

THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2012

Brooks, David--Ed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (336 pp.) $14.95 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-547-84009-3

Well-told pieces on a narrow range of subjects define the latest iteration of the Best American Essays franchise. This year’s batch of selections tends toward informative—sometimes |

wonkish—works of reportage and memoir. That should come as no surprise given that proudly egghead-ish New York Times columnist Brooks is doing the selecting. (As ever, series editor Robert Atwan performs the initial cull.) Brooks makes his intentions clear in his introduction, writing that “I want to be improved by the things I read”—much of which includes writing on medicine and health care: Eight of the 25 selections deal with the topic in some matter—nine if you include Jonathan Franzen’s “Farther Away,” featuring some musings on his friend David Foster Wallace’s depression and suicide. Some writers attack the subject in dry expository prose, as in Marcia Angell’s “The Crazy State of Psychiatry,” which condemns the overdiagnosis of mood disorders. More often, though, the topic gets a personal touch, as in Miah Arnold’s “You Owe Me,” an essay on teaching writing to children in a cancer ward, or David J. Lawless’ brutal recollection of his wife’s descent into Alzheimer’s, “My Father/My Husband,” masterfully told almost entirely in dialogue. America’s education system is another pressure point for Brooks, who picks a clutch of pieces on the subject, the best being Garret Keizer’s straight-talking memoir of his time teaching poor elementary school kids, “Getting Schooled.” The downside of Brooks’ improvement agenda means humor is in short supply, notwithstanding Sandra Tsing Loh’s raucous meditation on menopause, “The Bitch Is Back.” Provocation and invention are rare too, though Mark Doty’s beautifully turned “Insatiable” savvily merges the friendship between Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker with the author’s own obsessions and fetishes. Other notable contributors include Francine Prose, Joseph Epstein, Malcolm Gladwell and Alan Lightman. A trove of fine writing on big issues, albeit at the expense of more playful exemplars of the contemporary essay.

SONG OF THE VIKINGS Snorri and the Making of the Norse Myths

Brown, Nancy Marie Palgrave Macmillan (256 pp.) $27.00 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-230-33884-5

Brown (The Abacus and the Cross: The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages, 2010, etc.) reexamines the life and work of Snorri Sturluson, the 13th-century Icelandic chieftain known as the “Homer of the North.” An Icelandic historian, poet, landowner and “law speaker” of Iceland’s high court, Sturluson is the accredited author of two major contributions to the Norse cannon: the Edda and the Heimskringla. His sparkling wit and descriptive elegance distinguish his writing from other accounts and are responsible for making him a favorite of scholars and fantasy writers alike. It was Snorri’s renditions of Odin the wanderer, elves, frost giants and epic battles that inspired literary greats like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin. A lover of feasting, women, booze and, most of

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“Spain’s dominance is remarkable, especially because of the long odds that the country’s history forced its players to overcome, and Burns rises to the challenge of telling this intertwined saga.” from la roja

all, power, Snorri was also a passionate advocate for the preservation of the fading Norse mythology and poetic style of his time. Brown’s straightforward voice helps turn the pages, but the narrative is also belabored by an excess of genealogy. Although medieval Icelandic society was one of admittedly prolific breeders, the author makes little effort to help readers untangle her associations. Perhaps popular biographers like Stacy Schiff have left readers spoiled—readers may wonder how much more adeptly a biographer of her caliber might have brought this story to life. However, the book is absorbing enough that by the end, readers will feel affected by the loss of this powerful and complicated man. Despite the scattered feel, Brown’s undertaking is an important one. It’s the first English-language book published on Snorri in 30 years, and for that reason alone, it will make useful reading for ardent students and dedicated armchair historians.

TASTE, MEMORY Forgotten Foods, Lost Flavors, and Why They Matter

Buchanan, David Chelsea Green (240 pp.) $17.95 | Nov. 5, 2012 978-1-60358-440-1

A meander, with hoe, through organic vegetable patches, lost orchards, seed catalogs and produce markets with a dedicated gardener in search of a small farm. From experiments “trying to live off the grid” in Washington state after college to raising produce on semiurban plots around Portland, Maine, Buchanan has always followed his passion for heritage plants: the ugly heirloom baking apple, undersized pear, thin-skinned tomato and other relics of the old family farm lost or marginalized by bottom-line-obsessed agribusiness, environmental degradation and government regulation. In this combination of memoir and treatise for the back-to-thefarm movement, the author laments the loss of 90 percent of America’s crop diversity over the last century. What that means to the average supermarket shopper is dinner without a world of region-specific savors—the fruit of what the French call the terroir. Seeking inspiration and the perfect place to start a market garden, Buchanan made research forays to thriving organic farms and nurseries in New England, talked with seed collectors, visited a USDA gene bank and hunted for heritage apple trees by highways and in backyards. He ponders the relevance of agricultural diversity in the contemporary world and the role individuals can play in keeping heritage varieties in our markets and on our plates. Buchanan ended up swapping work for equipment and the use of small parcels of tillable land around Portland, where he continues to battle late blight and caterpillars to raise a varied crop of rare apples for his own brand of raw cider. It’s a catch-as-catch-can lifestyle, but it’s deeply satisfying to Buchanan and demonstrates the way forward for a new generation of farmers and locavores. 2048

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A specialized look at the small-farming movement, written with appealing self-knowledge, diligent research and occasional flair.

LA ROJA How Soccer Conquered Spain and How Spanish Soccer Conquered the World

Burns, Jimmy Nation Books/Perseus (386 pp.) $16.99 paperback | Jun. 1, 2012 978-1-56858-717-2

The story of the rise of Spanish soccer against a deeply divided political background. In July 2012, the Spanish national men’s soccer team won the European Football Championship, making them the first team in the world to win three consecutive major tournaments. This victory, which occurred after the publication of this book, simply validates Financial Times senior writer Burns’ (Land that Lost Its Heroes: How Argentina Lost the Falklands War, 2012, etc.) narrative about Spain’s rise from its political maelstrom to become the pre-eminent force in global football. Like the rest of the world, Spain inherited soccer from Great Britain in the late 19th century; within a few decades, the sport supplanted bullfighting as the country’s chief passion, the one thing that could bring an oftendivided people together. In the early and mid 1900s, Spain was divided ideologically between fascists and communists, between Spanish loyalists and Basque and Catalan nationalists, and between myriad competing views of Spanish identity. Most of these divisions were manifested in the country’s soccer culture as well, with teams such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia representing not only competing sporting identities, but political passions as well. But during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, the national team’s passionate style of play managed to bring Spain’s many factions together, if only for 90 minutes at a time. For decades, Spain underachieved on the global stage, until 2008 when they won the European Championship and then the pinnacle moment, 2010, when they claimed the World Cup title. Burns split his time growing up between England and Spain and is thus well positioned to tell this story, and he does so well, with a fine eye for tragedy and irony both political and on the pitch. Spain’s dominance is remarkable, especially because of the long odds that the country’s history forced its players to overcome, and Burns rises to the challenge of telling this intertwined saga.

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THE RICHARD BURTON DIARIES

Burton, Richard Yale Univ. (546 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-300-18010-7

The inspiring, salacious, sad, materialistic, insecure, arrogant, hilarious and dull ruminations of a most gifted actor. Burton was not assiduous about his diary. There are fascinating flurries of activity, generally surrounding his work on film (from The Taming of the Shrew to The Battle of Sutjeska) or on a play (a revival of Camelot in 1980). But there are also months, even years, that go by in silence. Occasionally, Burton had nothing to say—e.g., a sixday stretch in 1975 when each day’s entry offers but a single word: “Booze.” Burton struggled throughout his career with alcohol (the diary records alternating periods of abstinence and drunkenness) and cigarettes. He constantly battled his weight, as well, clearly

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disturbed when he was only a few pounds over what he wished to be. His relationship with his two-term wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor, will no doubt interest many readers, and the diary at times resembles a seismograph marking the rumbles in their relationship. The author often waxes eloquent about her, recording her beauty and her talent (he believed she was a gifted actress). Perhaps most impressive, however, is the catalog of Burton’s reading. He makes “voracious” sound feeble. He consumed mystery novels and thrillers, yes, but also Proust and Gibbon and weighty works of history and philosophy. (He read In Search of Lost Time twice, just to be sure.) When he was preparing for travel, he always assembled a thick stack of books to take with him. Williams (Welsh History/Swansea Univ.; Capitalism, Community and Conflict: The South Wales Coalfield, 1898-1947, 1998, etc.) provides scrupulous editing—there are a myriad of fascinating footnotes, only a few of which are questionable: Do we really need to be told who Mark Twain is?—and the book includes countless juicy comments from Burton about colleagues, directors, authors, family, politics and celebrity. A text that thrums with life and assures the rest is not

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silence.

BRAIN ON FIRE My Month of Madness

Cahalan, Susannah Free Press (288 pp.) $25.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-4516-2137-2

A young journalist’s descent into her own baffling medical mystery. In her debut memoir, New York Post reporter Cahalan recounts her struggle to understand an unremembered month lost to illness. Cobbled together from interviews, medical records, notebooks, journals and video footage, the author conjures the traumatic memories of her harrowing ordeal. What began as numbness in her hands and feet soon grew into something more serious, climaxing in a terrifying seizure witnessed by her boyfriend. “My arms suddenly whipped straight out in front of me, like a mummy,” she writes, “as my eyes rolled back and my body stiffened….Blood and foam began to spurt out of my mouth through clenched teeth.” The mystery thickened as doctors struggled to agree on a diagnosis. While the uncertainty proved maddening for her family members, however, it was also what bonded them together. Cahalan’s estranged parents, in particular, found a common purpose as a result of their daughter’s plight, putting her health before old hardships. After numerous tests revealed nothing, an observed increase of white blood cells in her cerebrospinal fluid eventually clued in medical professionals. Diagnosed with anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis—a rare autoimmune disease with a cure—Cahalan and her family embarked on the long, hard road to recovery. Through the lonesomeness of her illness, a community emerged, the members of which were dedicated to returning the author to her former life as a beloved daughter, sister, lover and friend. A valiant attempt to recount a mostly forgotten experience, though the many questions that remain may prove frustrating to some readers.

LA FOLIE BAUDELAIRE

Calasso, Roberto Translated by McEwen, Alastair Farrar, Straus and Giroux (352 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-374-18334-9 An intellectually challenging and sometimes obscure assessment of the life and influence of French writer Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), whose poetry and critical essays made him a founding

father of modernism. Italian novelist and critic Calasso (Tiepolo Pink, 2009, etc.) demands a lot of his readers, studding his prose with arcane references and using words like “hesychastic” and “scotoma.” 2050

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If he lacks the lucidity of Robert Hughes or Jed Perl, however, it isn’t because he’s just being willfully obtuse. He’s an ambitious artist-critic, pushing the subject as far as he can, bent on penetrating the mind of both Baudelaire and his time. In the process, he delivers plenty of insight. He captures the impact of Baudelaire’s “supreme prose work,” The Painter of Modern Life, an act of “blatant provocation” that held up an unknown illustrator, Constantin Guys, as the artistic model of his day. For Baudelaire, the anonymous Guys could depict whatever he wanted without worrying about patrons or prestige, giving him a total freedom that Manet or Ingres would never have. “In perspective,” writes the author, “this meant ousting painting from its sovereign position and admitting that something no less indispensable...had come from disreputable illustration or—an even greater scandal, this—from photography.” In 18th-century France, the word folie referred to a garden pavilion, “a place of fancies and sensuality.” Baudelaire created a folie of his own, one that stood in opposition to a society on the decline. The word would be his legacy. “Modern—new— décadence: three words that radiate from Baudelaire’s every sentence, every breath,” writes Calasso. “To separate them would be to bleed them white.” Tough but rewarding, written with bold intelligence and panache.

MY SISTERS THE SAINTS A Spiritual Memoir

Campbell, Colleen Carroll Image/Doubleday (256 pp.) $22.99 | $11.99 e-book | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-7704-3649-0 978-0-7704-3650-6 e-book

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Campbell (The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy, 2002) relates a provocative life story centered on her experiences as a woman in the Catholic church. Intertwined with the author’s tale is her autobiography as a reader, her experiences with books by and about various saints who have deeply influenced every aspect of her life. Campbell begins with her college years, when she partied hard but knew she wanted more out of life. Starting out as a journalist, she eventually made it to the Beltway as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush. This period in her life was cut short when she left Washington to get married, a decision she describes as having deeply challenged her faith, feminist values and personal pride. The new couple would also face a struggle with infertility, and soon the hope for a child became an all-consuming passion. “Overnight,” she writes, “the imaginary child I had begrudged for cramping my style became the Holy Grail.” This stress was coupled with her father’s swift slide into Alzheimer’s, a struggle Campbell recounts with palpable emotion. While still grieving her father’s death, the author found out she was pregnant with twins; her pregnancy became a harrowing experience from beginning to end. Throughout the book, Campbell describes

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“Citizenship, leadership and service combine in this memoir of a full political life.” from my life in politics

how various women saints helped her understand her situation and move ahead. In deciding on whether or not to move to Washington, Mary Faustina Kowalska’s journal helped her to have total trust in God. When struggling with infertility, Edith Stein’s works convinced Campbell to use her maternal gifts to make the world a better place. A charming and instructive communion with saintly sisters.

NOT TACO BELL MATERIAL

Carolla, Adam Crown Archetype (327 pp.) $25.00 | Jun. 12, 2012 978-0-307-88887-7

Former Man Show co-host and podcast phenomenon’s manly-man memoir about the awfulness of poverty and the crappiness of wealth and fame. Carolla (In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks, 2010, etc.) supplements his income as a famous podcast-show guy by doubling as a writer—or more specifically “ranter,” as in this latest autobiographical harangue. Warming to the author’s sense of humor depends on how you relate to a 47-year-old male who still calls women “chicks” and uses junior high scatological terminology like “ass mud.” Here Carolla takes vengeful aim at all the human beings who’ve pissed him off over the years, which seems to be pretty much everyone he’s come in contact with except his stepgrandfather. He rags on his over-the-top hippie parents for their un-American voluntary poverty and humorless activist causes; he rebelled against them in high school by becoming an obnoxious jock. His early 20s were full of crappy jobs and gonzo hijinks with buddies whose existences appeared to center around getting wasted and peeing on stuff. Carolla admits his love for lighting farts and recreational flatulence in general, gaseous coming-of-age hobbies that, not surprisingly, proved useful in his first gig as a host on Loveline in the mid-’90s. He got his big TV showbiz break when he met established comic Jimmy Kimmel and created the Man Show; next thing he knew, he was making serious dough and living in a house in the Hollywood Hills. The first half of the book showcases Carolla’s unrelenting bitching about all the manual-labor jobs he toiled in; the next chronicles his firsthand discovery that Hollywood success pretty much sucks too—except now he can pay his bills and doesn’t have to share his apartment with someone who isn’t a hot chick. Another full-on blitz of 40-something white-male rage, lightened very little by the occasional potty-humor anecdote.

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MY LIFE IN POLITICS

Chirac, Jacques Translated by Spencer, Catherine Palgrave Macmillan (352 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-230-34088-6 Candid memoir from France’s former two-term president. Best-known in the United States, perhaps, for his opposition to the rush to war against Iraq in 2003, Chirac offers American readers a close-up portrait of a truly old-school French politician. Born in Paris and educated in the tradition of republican leadership and service, the author rose through the ranks of French government, serving as minister of agriculture, minister of the interior, mayor of Paris, prime minister of France and, eventually, president. In addition to the accounts of his political life, many readers will be surprised to learn of Chirac’s love for poetry, his early interest in Sanskrit, his fluency in Russian (he translated Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin), his familiarity with Chinese history and his lifelong enthusiasm for African and pre-Columbian sculpture. As he demonstrates, these interests were formative in his approach to politics and to the “worsening divide between the poor countries that represent more than a third of humanity and the wealthy countries that do not adequately fulfill their responsibilities in terms of development aid.” Chirac describes the shock he experienced as a member of the G7, and he examines the development of France’s social safety net and health system as by-products of settlements of political conflicts—e.g., the May 1968 general protest, during which he helped the negotiations. Chirac also provides ample detail about the military and technological underpinnings of national power and gives unique insight on the European Union. Citizenship, leadership and service combine in this memoir of a full political life. (16-page glossy photo insert)

SLOW DEMOCRACY Rediscovering Community and Bringing Decision Making Back Home

Clark, Susan; Teachout, Woden Chelsea Green (272 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 15, 2012 978-1-60358-413-5

How community deliberative processes can provide an alternative to divisive party politics and technocratic expertise. Community organizer Clark (co-author: All Those in Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community, 2005) and historian Teachout (Graduate Studies/Union Institute and Univ.; Capture the Flag: A Political History of American Patriotism, 2009, etc.) believe that genuine deliberations by citizens have too often been replaced by top-down political decision-making, in much the same way fast food has been substituted for the genuine

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article. The authors present case studies in which citizens have come together to solve problems faced by their communities. They cite the city of Portsmouth, N.H., which has won international awards for the way citizens acted together to solve problems confronting their school system when the experts failed. They chronicle citizen transformation of social services, such as Chicago’s Police Department, and citizen interventions to take control of municipal or county water supplies. The authors highlight the way Pennsylvanians have organized against fracking through town and county institutions. Each of these cases, they note, was precipitated by a particular set of circumstances that needed to be addressed in a timely way. Clark and Teachout complement their case studies with discussions of useful methodologies to bring people together for common purposes and with a brief history of the New England town meeting format. The major problem local communities face, they write, is outside “efficiency experts” armed with charts and graphs and prepackaged solutions. The authors offer the history of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia, as a dramatic example of how “slow politics” works over an extended period of time to build something of lasting value. A valuable tool for improving the way government operates at the local level.

MAKEUP TO BREAKUP My Life In and Out of Kiss

Criss, Peter with Sloman, Larry “Ratso” Scribner (384 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4516-2082-5 Catman Criss recounts his nine lives of decadence, depravity and dissolution in and out of the rock band KISS. At the outset of this sleaze-fueled memoir, we see the author half-zonked on the floor following an earthquake with the barrel of a gun stuck halfway down his throat. And then things started getting ugly. KISS’ larger than life comic-book personas and hookladen anthems may have dazzled teenagers in the ’70s, but behind the garish face paint and superhero costumes loomed a lot of deeply disturbing darkness. Criss’ own life growing up hard on the streets of Brooklyn was no cakewalk. As the drummer describes it here, those times were often both violent and depressing. Struggling hard to shake off the streets, the increasingly desperate-to-make-it musician eventually fell in with a couple of other New York City knuckleheads with the idea of becoming superstars. To say that Criss still maintains huge reservoirs of hatred toward former band mates Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley is a colossal understatement. Simmons and Stanley—who, according to the author, cheated, degraded and maligned him in the most remarkable ways even years after he left the group—are portrayed as two of the most repugnant, self-absorbed characters to ever step onto a concert stage. Sadly, it’s hard to generate too much sympathy for Criss himself, due to his own well-documented deficiencies. By his own account, 2052

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he’s been a belligerent, self-centered misogynist addicted to clichéd rock excess for most of his life. But the larger, and more moving, story is one of redemption and of a deeply flawed individual endeavoring to become a better man. Astonishingly, by the end of this sordid tale, Criss largely succeeds. A sobering look at the ugly side of rockin’ and rollin’ all night.

THE QUEEN OF KATWE A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster Crothers, Tim Scribner (288 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-1-4516-5781-4

Sports journalist Crothers’ (The Man Watching: A Biography of Anson Dorrance, the Unlikely Architect of the Greatest College Sports Dynasty Ever, 2006, etc.) moving account of an impoverished Ugandan girl’s unlikely rise to prominence in the world of competitive chess. Phiona Mutesi discovered chess by accident. Eager to find out where her brother Brian went when he “[snuck] away from his chores,” 9-year-old Phiona followed him to a “dusty veranda” in Katwe, the slum where they lived. There, she encountered a group of children learning about chess through an outreach program designed to bring food, sports and religion to poor children. The program leader, Robert Katende, encouraged the shy Phiona to join and paired her with a 4-year-old girl to pick up the basics of the game. Soon, she was playing, and defeating, the most advanced boys in the group. Deciding that his players, whom he christened the Pioneers, needed a goal beyond simply mastering the game, Katende began entering them in local tournaments against other children from more privileged backgrounds. Though shunned for being dirty “street kids,” they still made a respectable showing. But it wasn’t until 2007, when Phiona unexpectedly became Uganda’s female under-20 chess champion, that Katende realized the extent of her gift. Under his tutelage, she went on to win the 2008 and 2009 junior championships and help a group of other talented Pioneers win an international tournament in 2010. Later that year, she was invited to play in another team event, the Chess Olympiad in Siberia. Although she lost, she gained the respect of older players, who declared that she was a grandmaster in the making. As Crothers points out, however, whether Phiona can live up to her potential will depend on whether she can outmaneuver an even more formidable opponent: the environment of Katwe, which “conspires against her on so many levels.” A poignant reminder of the power of hope. (11 chapter opener photos)

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KLANSVILLE, U.S.A The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-era Ku Klux Klan Cunningham, David Oxford Univ. (352 pp.) $29.95 | Nov. 2, 2012 978-0-19-975202-7

Cunningham (Sociology/Brandeis Univ.; There’s Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence, 2004) digs deeply into the relatively recent history of the white supremacist group. The author notes the importance of “taking the klan seriously,” which “helps to uncover and elevate the experiences of those victimized by its actions and ideas.” He chose North Carolina as the setting for his research, he writes, because its relatively progressive reputation regarding racial issues made it the unlikeliest of Southern states to host a rebirth of the KKK. Cunningham writes well, but lay readers may be impatient with his use of academic theory to explain the phenomenon. The author suggests the Klan’s successful organizing in North Carolina at the height of the civil rights movement was due to whites’ perception that the imposition of civil rights threatened their status; lacking mainstream outlets for segregationist resistance, they turned to the Klan by default. In addition, North Carolina law enforcement agencies were inclined to let Klan organizers speak out and rarely arrested them. As Cunningham ponders the 21st-century fallout from the Klan’s influence decades ago, he attributes Southern states’ rejection of their traditional Democratic links in favor of the Republican Party’s embrace to the continued strength of white supremacist beliefs. He also suggests that the Klan’s unchecked lawlessness played a role in fostering the high incidence of violent crime throughout North Carolina today. An interesting academic study that labors to understand Klan members from inside their heads, while making it clear that the author abhors what the organization stood for. (15 b/w halftones and 10 illustrations)

RACE-BAITER How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation

Deggans, Eric Palgrave Macmillan (288 pp.) $28.00 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-230-34182-1

Tampa Bay Times TV and media critic Deggans’ first book dissects “the powerful ways modern media often works to feed our fears, prejudices, and hate toward each other.” Gone are the days when a TV network could garner a large, diverse audience that might engage in a shared dialogue on race by viewing, say, the 1977 TV series Roots. Instead, race, as well |

as bigotry, has become the purview of niche outlets, from cable TV and talk radio to the endless media sources of the Internet. Such niche outlets, by and large, are dominated by conservative commentators who, in search of anger and outrage that builds ratings, serve and reinforce the racial fears and hatreds of their select audience. This audience tends to be overwhelmingly white, male, older and wary of people of color. And so new and old stereotypes against racial minorities persist. Viewers and listeners, having their views confirmed, neither trust nor listen to opposing viewpoints, and true dialogue on race becomes an impossibility. Deggans traces the history of this rise of “prejudice as a business model,” but he also puts it into the larger context of the failure of media in general to address issues of race. When people of color are portrayed at all on TV entertainment programs, and that is not often enough, they may tend to be placed within specific one-dimensional stereotypes such as “The Angry Black Woman.” TV news, for its part, lacks true diversity—no cable news channel has a person of color as anchor during prime time. Deggans concludes that acting to refute racism whenever it appears in the media is both possible and necessary for understanding across races. Troubling, detailed account of race and racism in today’s media.

WHEREVER I WIND UP My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball Dickey, R.A. with Coffey, Wayne Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (340 pp.) $26.95 | Mar. 29, 2012 978-0-399-15815-5

New York Mets pitcher Dickey delivers a winsome, well-scripted autobiography. From humble beginnings in Nashville to a current multimillion-dollar salary with the Mets, the author writes enthusiastically about a life full of twists and turns. Ably assisted by New York Daily News reporter Coffey (The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, 2005, etc.), Dickey colorfully describes being raised in the 1980s with little money by two distant parents—though his father instilled in him a love of baseball. Buoyed by baseball, Star Wars and Bible study in his teens, Dickey overcame traumatic childhood sexual abuse by a babysitter and his middle school’s corporal punishment for back talk. A sports obsession soon took priority over everything, including concerns about his mother’s alcoholism. After a stellar career at the University of Tennessee, he began an ascent up the sporting ranks as a high draft pick for the Texas Rangers in 1996, even though his $810,000 signing bonus was drastically reduced once a team-ordered physician discovered his elbow was missing a ligament. His conversation with famed knuckle-ball master Tim Wakefield and the evolution of his trademarked game-changing knuckle ball are just a few of the book’s many highlights. Through the various life and

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career uncertainties, he and longtime wife Anne leaned on their Christian faith for support, something that Dickey references often without becoming preachy or heavy-handed. An unassuming yet refreshingly commanding memoir.

COAL TO DIAMONDS A Memoir

Ditto, Beth with Tea, Michelle Spiegel & Grau (176 pp.) $22.00 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-385-52591-6

A memoir from the lead singer of the band Gossip, chronicling her upbringing in rural Arkansas. While it’s true that rock musicians often front-load a lifetime’s worth of excess into the first decade of their success, and write their memoir about it from old age—if they make it that long—Ditto’s memoir, written with the assistance of Tea (Rose of No Man’s Land, 2006, etc.), swings the focus around to the years before her band became successful. The author grew up deep in rural Arkansas, part of a large family that moved in and out of a generous (though also poor) aunt’s house, with cousins and siblings and other relatives seeking refuge from alcohol, abuse or the law. Ditto shifted between experimenting with pushing the limits—such as they were, with little adult oversight—and trying to preserve the small pockets of safety available for her younger relatives. High school found her coming out and connecting with other gay students, only to see them leave—they were older and graduated first— and Ditto’s senior year stretched out ahead of her. Even leaving school and Arkansas behind and rocketing into the music scene came with difficulties that reflected both the realization of her ambitions and the reality that you can’t run from your problems. Ultimately, the book is a rags-to-riches tale that mostly rises above cliché and avoids tired tropes. “What I want is the same thing everyone wants,” she writes, “the same thing you want—to hurl myself into this world and trust that it will catch me.” A frank, forthright memoir that provides a new perspective on a familiar theme.

SIX MONTHS IN 1945 FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman—from World War to Cold War Dobbs, Michael Knopf (416 pp.) $28.95 | Oct. 17, 2012 978-0-307-27165-5

A close look at one of the most consequential six-month periods of the last century. In the six months following the “Big Three” conference in Yalta in February 1945, Franklin Roosevelt died and was succeeded 2054

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by Truman, Germany surrendered, the United Nations convened in San Francisco, Churchill was turned out, and the atomic bomb was tested and then dropped on Japan. Yalta seemed to produce broad agreements on strategies to end the war and cooperate in the occupation of a unified Europe. By the time the newly constituted Big Three met again in Potsdam in August, however, Germany and Europe were becoming irrevocably divided and world war was evolving into cold war, despite the intentions of all three leaders. In this elegantly written narrative, longtime journalist Dobbs (One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War, 2009, etc.) shows how the Allies’ political and economic systems ultimately proved hopelessly incompatible. Words like “elections,” “democracy,” “fascism” and “freedom” meant very different things to the Soviets than they did to the Americans and British, leading each side to accuse the other of reneging on their commitments. Against a background of savage ethnic cleansing, Stalin imposed Soviet-style governments on territory held by the Red Army and pillaged surviving industrial equipment, while the Americans moved to keep German uranium and atomic scientists from falling into Soviet hands. When the Russians refused to supply Pomeranian grain and Silesian coal for western Germany and began interfering with access to Berlin, the alliance had clearly devolved into deadly rivalry. Dobbs delivers engaging portraits of the national leaders and often amusingly detailed accounts of their conferences, while demonstrating that “sometimes history has a mind of its own, riding roughshod over the decisions of the most charismatic personalities and moving in directions contrary to their desires.” A confident and rewarding survey of a hinge point in 20th-century history. (First printing of 60,000)

LETTERS FROM BERLIN A Story of War, Survival, and the Redeeming Power of Love and Friendship Dos, Margarete and Lieff, Kerstin Lyons Press (400 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-7627-7798-3

A daughter turns her German mother’s harrowing memories of living through the liberation of Berlin into a moving insider’s account of the time. Lieff assumed that her mother, Margarete Dos, who was a young teenager in Berlin during World War II and who died in 2005 at age 81, knew about the gas chambers and other horrors executed by Hitler’s regime. Her mother had never wanted to talk about the war and afterward, when Dos and her mother ended up in a Russian gulag for two years. However, finally hearing her mother’s memories over the three years they spent systematically recording them at the end of her life, then finding love letters to a German soldier her daughter had never heard of, threw tantalizing ambiguities over her mother’s life and provoked new questions for Lieff. The author does an admirable job of reconstructing her mother’s extraordinary journey, allowing the frankness of detail to

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reflect the integrity of her mother’s voice. Indeed, the young Dos went from an Edenic childhood in Swinemünde, with doting parents and a younger brother, to Berlin after her father’s death and the remarriage of her mother. Dos claimed her family never joined the Nazi Party and were always held in some suspicion; nonetheless, she and others were swept up in the general euphoria promised by the Nazis in the wake of hyperinflation and unemployment, until it all began to “feel wrong and frightening.” Dos attempted to study medicine and work as a nurse, even as she and her mother navigated bombings, food rationing and the liberation of Berlin by the Russians. Fleeing their savagery, they tried to make it to Sweden but were imprisoned for two brutal years in the Russian gulag. A truly surprising denouement caps a well-told postwar account.

THE WISDOM OF PSYCHOPATHS What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success

Dutton, Kevin Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (304 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-374-29135-8

may push more people toward the psychopathic end of the spectrum and lead to a greater rate of violence. An enjoyable, breezy treatment of a provocative subject. (20 b/w illustrations)

KIDS FOR CASH Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.6 Million Kickback Scheme Ecenbarger, William New Press (304 pp.) $26.95 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-59558-684-1 978-1-59558-797-8 e-book

An investigative journalist uncovers the greed and disregard for liberty at the heart of a judicial scandal that had lasting repercussions for children in Pennsylvania. Between 2003 and 2008, Judge Mark A. Ciavarella sentenced

Psychopaths who commit violent crimes are at one end of a spectrum that also includes solid citizens. That’s the contention of Dutton (Split-Second Persuasion, 2010, etc.), a research psychologist at Cambridge. Psychopathic killers have the “consummate ability” to disguise their true nature, he writes, while “behind the façade—the brutal, brilliant disguise— beats the refrigerated heart of a ruthless, glacial predator.” The capability to act under stress with cool determination is a characteristic they share with “surgeons, soldiers, spies, entrepreneurs [and] lawyers.” Dutton hazards the guess that a small helping of one particular psychopathic quality can confer surprising benefits for society as well as the individual. The quality in question is the ability to detach from one’s emotions in order to make purely rational decisions. Willingness to take calculated risks, coupled with a charming demeanor, can lead to success in the boardroom as well as the bedroom. The author distinguishes between the “hot empathy” of the I-feel-your-pain average personality and the “cold empathy” that sniffs out levers by which to manipulate people’s vulnerabilities. He cites research using psychological profiling tests and fMRI brain scans, which establish a ranking of individuals by profession and personality type, to make his case that there is a “neuropsychological continuum.” Dutton interviewed con men and killers in prison, top surgeons and a childhood friend who works for MI5, among others. He also submitted himself to an experiment that damped down a region of his brain linked to emotional response, leaving him with what he describes as a “subjective moral swagger” that he associates with a psychopathic mindset. Arguing that society today overemphasizes winner-take-all competitiveness, Dutton worries that this |

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thousands of adolescents, many of them first-time offenders, to for-profit treatment centers, often without informing them of their right to counsel. Many in the conservative community not only accepted such mistreatment of juveniles; they wholeheartedly endorsed it. They regarded Ciavarella and his cohorts in the Luzerne County Courthouse as old-fashioned advocates for tough love and zero tolerance. Probation officers, teachers, police and public defenders deferred to a bullying judge who handed down one-size-fits-all sentences while distraught parents watched their children taken away in shackles for minor infractions. Only when a local fraud examiner expressed concern that the judge was taking kickbacks from the treatment centers was a full investigation launched. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Ecenbarger (Walkin’ the Line: A Journey from Past to Present Along the Mason-Dixon, 2000) details the travesty from several different perspectives: the juveniles and their parents, the corrupt judge and his cronies, and the officials who brought the case to trial. He also discusses the plight of victims of juvenile misconduct, including a woman who was robbed and beaten by four teenagers; when a judge ruled to expunge the records of all juveniles who appeared before Ciavarella during this period, some dangerous delinquents received a clean slate. Ecenbarger effectively exposes the gray areas of justice and makes a convincing case for why juveniles, even those who commit violent acts, deserve to receive fair trials. He also highlights the pioneering work of Philadelphia’s Juvenile Law Center, a nonprofit that played a significant role in ensuring that justice finally prevailed: Ciavarella was convicted on 12 counts of racketeering and money laundering, and he was sentenced to 28 years in prison. Though occasionally dry, this sincere exposé of wrongdoing will appeal to readers interested in social justice, court reform and children’s rights.

THE BEST AMERICAN NONREQUIRED READING 2012

Eggers, Dave--Ed. Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (432 pp.) $14.95 paperback | Oct. 12, 2012 978-0-547-59596-2

An eclectic annual that will leave readers marveling over many of the discoveries and puzzling over the inclusion of a few. The most category-defying of The Best American Series once again finds noted author Eggers (A Hologram for the King, 2012, etc.) listed as editor while serving more as teacher/mentor/ringleader for the high school class that is “voluntary and extracurricular and very simple: We read and discuss contemporary writing.” The anthology emerges from those discussions, and if its proudly proclaimed “nonrequired reading” status makes it something other than the year’s essential American writing, it at least gives a hint as to what a bunch of bright, responsive high school readers have found particularly compelling. Very much a product of its time, the anthology encompasses, among other things, graphic narratives, 2056

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manifestos and reports from the various “Occupy” outposts, the eulogy for Apple’s Steve Jobs by his sister, Mona Simpson, the variety of phone responses elicited by a flyer requesting “If anyone wants to talk about anything, call me,” “Best American Lonely Guy” and pieces of long-form journalism about the complex lives and identities of real-life superheroes. There is zombie fiction from Jess Walter, inscrutable fiction from George Saunders and some pieces that leave it to readers to determine whether they are fiction or not. Perhaps the most powerful is “Redeployment” by Phil Klay, a Marine Iraqi vet with a master’s degree in creative writing and a collection of stories due. “We shoot dogs,” it starts. “Not by accident.” It then proceeds to detail what soldiers find when they return from battle—empty houses, broken marriages, lives that seem surreal, dogs that need to be put down. All readers will find their own favorites that justify the collection as a whole. An anthology that reads like a long, engaging annual magazine.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING

Elliott, J.H. Yale Univ. (256 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-300-18638-3

A notable British historian’s memoir about his early attraction to the study of imperial Spain and the changing historical methodology since the 1950s. Impressed by a visit to the Prado in 1950 as a student at Cambridge, Elliott (Modern History Emeritus/Oxford Univ.; Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492– 1830, 2006, etc.) resolved to immerse himself in Spanish history. The 17th century is considered the Golden Age for Spain, as well as the beginning of its decline in imperial power. In the 1950s, in the throes of Franco’s grim dictatorship, few historians in Britain wanted to study there, leaving the field wide open. Elliott welcomed the sense of “difference” he felt from the Catholic Iberian experience, and he soon found in the 1640 Catalan rebellion his first lode of research material and fuel for dissertation. Under Franco, the country was smothering under an “authoritarian straitjacket” not unlike the influence Castile wielded over its regional dominions in the 17th century, and Elliott found a poignant, natural sympathy for the oppressed Spanish. In these wellcomposed essays, the author re-creates his intellectual journey as a historian, his ability to regard Spanish history in a fresh light, free from stereotypes, and his growing reputation as “something of an iconoclast.” Elliott’s essential flexibility led him down welcome and unexpected paths, such as in “transnational history”— the tracing of currents simultaneous in other parts of Europe, especially in England—and in comparative history and biography. The author’s deep, wide erudition in an age of increasing specialization is impressive and accessible for all students of history. A straightforward, lucid introduction to Elliott’s significant body of work.

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“A breathtaking, informative tour of faraway lands.” from among the islands

STALIN’S SECRET AGENTS The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government Evans, M. Stanton; Romerstein, Herbert Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster (340 pp.) $27.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-4391-4768-9

Two veteran Cold War historians allege that pro-Soviet American government officials and private citizens labored during and after World War II to aid communism around the globe. Former Indianapolis News editor commentator Evans (Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies, 2007, etc.) and former Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation head Romerstein (co-author: The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors, 2000, etc.) believe that Stalin manipulated Franklin Roosevelt and, to a lesser extent, Winston Churchill, during World War II, in exchange for the Russians using their military might against Nazi Germany. Stalin and his aides gained hegemony in postwar Europe, write the authors, with the help of traitors within both the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Evans and Romerstein discuss the roles of Alger Hiss and Armand Hammer, and they cite an impressive array of sources in both English and Russian. However, as has been their practice for decades, the authors equate presence at an event—e.g., Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill at Yalta—with the covert wielding of tremendous influence. That Hiss, Hammer and others accused of treason by Evans and Romerstein could have achieved the results for which they are blamed falls into the realm of speculation, no matter the breadth of research. Their speculation is interesting, and some may be true, but their seeming inability to distinguish between factual evidence and assumption weakens the book. When the authors stray from Soviet influence within the United States and shift the focus to the rise of communism in China around the same time, their speculation about the allegedly traitorous activity of named individuals feels even shakier. This treatment of an important topic is tainted by excesses of preconception and ideology.

AMONG THE ISLANDS Adventures in the Pacific

Flannery, Tim Atlantic Monthly (288 pp.) $25.00 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-8021-2040-3

From the tides of the South Pacific to the impossible peaks of jungle islands, one zoologist sets out to find the living riches of the planet. Flannery (Here on Earth, 2011, etc.) is not just an internationally acclaimed zoologist; he’s also an adventurer and storyteller who has discovered creatures no |

other human has seen. His latest record of exploration traces the beginnings of his career during the 1980s and takes him through more than a decade of study in remote islands of the South Pacific. There, he encountered untouched environments and their native inhabitants, and he renders these lost worlds in full color. Often humorous, he provides anecdotes of crocodiles waiting for their prey, mountains of bat feces and islands crawling with giant rats. Flannery’s writing is generous and exuberant. His enthusiasm for the subject is contagious enough to infect even the least science-minded of readers, but you can be sure his aim is not simply to entertain. “To some,” he writes, “our adventures might seem to be nothing more than a romantic frolic. After all, why should anyone care about an obscure creature found only on a distant island? Would the world lose anything with its extinction?” The answer is most emphatically yes, and the author situates obscure animals in a worldwide perspective that entwines all living things, including humans, together. Flannery’s research efforts contribute significantly to continuing conservation efforts, and he is clearly grateful and appreciative to be a part of it. A breathtaking, informative tour of faraway lands.

A SMALL TOWN NEAR AUSCHWITZ Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust

Fulbrook, Mary Oxford Univ. (464 pp.) $34.95 | Nov. 15, 2012 978-0-19-960330-5

Of ordinary Germans, ordinary Poles and ordinary Jews in an ordinary place—one that, with the right provocation, turned into an inferno in 1939. Bedzin was a town like many others in western Poland. Part of Silesia, it was close enough to the border to be home to many ethnic Germans. When Hitler’s forces poured over the frontier and annexed the Landkreis, or county, of Bedzin into the Reich, one of those Germans became an administrator supervising the extraordinary violence visited upon the area’s Jewish population. A central figure in Fulbrook’s (German History/University College London; Dissonant Lives: Generations and Violence Through the German Dictatorships, 2011, etc.) narrative, Udo Klausa protested after the war that he was only following orders, didn’t know of the crimes being committed and never had a hint of the Holocaust. He was merely one of countless “many who held themselves to be ‘decent’ people [and who] went along with the Nazi regime for so long.” One consequence of this was the fact that, within four years of the German invasion, half the population of his hometown was dead: “Not only the Great Synagogue, but the entire culture and society that it represented, were erased.” It is that systematic erasure, carried out by those decent people, that is the heart of Fulbrook’s narrative. Toward the end of the book, scrupulous in its naming of names and remembering the dead, the author writes of the administrator, “I cannot help

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N O N F I C T I ON

Christopher Hitchens Faces Mortality B Y G RE G O RY MC NA M EE

Twenty-odd years ago, when he was in my town for a reading, I asked Allen Ginsberg that most unbearable of questions for a working writer: “What are you working on?” His answer? “Deathwork.” He meant by that, I think, the Buddhist practice of paving the way for one’s own passing by getting soul and karma in shape for it. By way of Western practicality, too, he meant disposing of papers—he would soon sell his 300,000-object archives to Stanford University, igniting a minor controversy by doing so—and otherwise scheduling in what some wise soul once summed up as “lawyers in the morning, priests in the afternoon.” There would be no priests in the afternoon for Christopher Hitchens, that famously militant atheist. And just where his own archive, which must be plentiful, is bound for has yet to be determined, so far as I know. But Hitchens did his own deathwork, at least of a sort, by charting the progress of his illness to very nearly the moment of his death last December. That trajectory now finds its way into the pages of Mortality, chronicling Hitchens’ passage into the country of the ill and dying, a place without rancor, racism and certainly sex: “A generally egalitarian spirit prevails,” he writes of it, “and those who run the place have obviously got where they are on merit and hard work.” In this new country, whose capital is an unhappy but very clean place called Tumortown, the newcomer learns to speak the foreign language of medical and pharmaceutical terminology, as well as to accept and anticipate some strange gestures on the part of the inhabitants—as when a doctor sank his fingers deep into Hitchens’ neck to feel about to see whether the cancer had spread into his lymph nodes, as in fact it had. Confronted with death, many an atheist has had second thoughts about his or her position with respect to the whole God thing. Thomas Browne 2058

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wrote in his Urn Burial of 1658 (helpfully, given all the death around us these days, New Directions reprinted it last year), getting that bad news forces at least some reconsideration: “It is the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw at a man, to tell him he is at the end of his nature; or that there is no further state to come, unto which this seems progressional, and otherwise made in vain.” But not so with Hitchens, who had surely imbibed of Browne, just as he had read nearly every author worth reading and could summon up whole paragraphs of quotation without pause. He didn’t seem to mind the lights-out-forever part of the equation, the prospect of which troubled Browne greatly, so much as regret the fact that he wouldn’t be around to read his own obituaries and, for that matter, the obituaries of “elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger.” Neither—emphatically—did he want anyone praying for his soul, though it would seem from his narrative that more good Christians wrote to him in his illness to revel in his impending demise than to offer their sympathies, hypocrisy being one of the few growth industries this country has to offer. Not that he forbade raising prayers entirely: “Please do not trouble heaven with your bootless cries,” he quietly urged. “Unless, of course, it makes you feel better.” Mortality quickly moves from those hesitant, tentative explorations of the fringes of Tumortown into full citizenship in that new land. Hitchens is regretful, but not petulant, about the transition: Sure, he who had already read everything, was peeved that there were yet books left to read and, more important, books left to write, but he seems to have taken at least some small comfort in knowing that the cancer that was within him, unlike his reputation and fame, was not a thing that could outlast his last breath. Hitchens gets in some nice last digs at the likes of the pope and Kissinger

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and Mother Teresa, among others whom he made a career of savaging. Along the way, he even takes down Randy Pausch, the viral-video-generating cheerleader for a shiny, happy Tumortown, whose famed farewell lecture, he growled, “should bear its own health warning: so sugary that you may need an insulin shot to withstand it.” But Hitchens’ fierceness quiets as he moves deeper into the territory, his narrative finally yielding its Nietzschean scourges to become reflective, at times melancholic, at times even a touch puzzled. But never safe as milk and never without humor. In his closing pages, which have devolved from essays into brief notes as his energy fades, he declares, that crooked half-smile of his no doubt fully engaged, “I’m glad nobody wants to slaughter any endangered species on my behalf.” “Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.” So Browne also wrote. Christopher Hitchens’ sun burned more visibly than most, illuminating any number of dark paths—for truth-telling is an endangered species, much as it pains me to say so. Given that Hitchens was the bravest and best of its champions, we can hope that Mortality will not be the last of his books. Honoring his passing, whose first anniversary will be upon us before we know it, we cannot use that hopeful Catholic phrase “rest in peace.” Instead, the religiously neutral “He will be missed” will have to do—and, as Mortality affirms, he will be missed indeed. MORTALITY

Christopher Hitchens Grand Central (128 pp.) $22.99 Sept. 4, 2012 978-1-4555-0275-2


but conclude that, whatever Klausa’s perhaps ambivalent inner feelings, the way he actually behaved had horrendous historical consequences.” Self-serving, cowardly and drenched in blood, Klausa became a good anti-communist civil servant in the West Germany that rose from the Reich’s ashes. Fulbrook’s well-crafted book joins other studies of war behind the front lines to remind readers that something unthinkable is nevertheless possible.

THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal

Galuszka, Peter A. St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-250-00021-7 978-1-250-01808-3 e-book

Scrupulously researched account of coal’s resurgence, focused on the Upper Big Branch mine explosion that killed 29

BETTER THAN FICTION True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers George, Don--Ed. Lonely Planet (320 pp.) $15.99 paperback | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-74220-594-6

An uneven collection of pieces that extend and expand the typical notion of travel writing. The subtitle proclaims these “True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers,” though the contents raise some issues. All of the included writers have written some fiction, but many are known as well (or even more) for their journalism, including Jan Morris, who has earned her reputation primarily as a travel writer (yet here writes of an imaginary destination). Some of the authors write not as travelers, but as immigrants who have made adjustments to a different home or adults who have made a homecoming.

miners in 2010. Having lived there as a child, former BusinessWeek Moscow bureau chief Galuszka has particular empathy for the residents of Appalachian coal country. He consistently contrasts the hard work and poverty they endure with the ruthless, one-sided capitalism long practiced by coal companies. In his view, the 2010 disaster was no fluke, but the culmination of the shortsighted policies of Massey Energy and its then-CEO, Donald Blankenship, a notoriously pugnacious throwback to the robber-baron era. Himself a product of an Appalachian childhood, Blankenship makes a compelling if repellent central figure; he not only relished breaking unions and defying competitors, he even resisted basic safety measures. Galuszka outlines the complex relationship of the rural mining communities in West Virginia and Kentucky with the corporate energy concerns that have consolidated formerly independent mining firms, often with inadequate oversight. He notes that Blankenship played on the cultural conservatism of many miners to attack union and environmental efforts, despite the ecological devastation caused by strip mining and the controversial “mountaintop removal” method. The region’s persistent poverty notwithstanding, overseas demand for Appalachian coal suggests it will remain profitable for corporations undeterred by fearsome tragedies like the one at Upper Big Branch. Galuszka’s thoroughness provides readers a clear sense of the complex class issues at play in Appalachia and the difficult politics within coal-mining communities; he is attuned to both the lives of the miners and the maneuvers of the energy industry. Though his account is at times dry and repetitive, the author ably elucidates the latest chapter in a long history of antagonism around mining issues. A disturbing and pessimistic narrative documenting little-known problems of fossil-fuel dependence. (8-page b/w photo insert)

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Others write of places where no traveler would likely visit—e.g., the cellblock of San Quentin, explored by Joyce Carol Oates in the longest and most emotionally powerful piece. Yet, cumulatively, they reinforce the assertion of Bryce Courtenay (“Australia’s top-selling novelist”) that “[g]ood travel is returning home a slightly bigger part of everyone and not quite the same person as when you set out.” His essay, more of a trend piece than an illumination of a destination, is about how “personal adventure travel has come of age. For a great many of us, our travel mindset has largely changed from seeing to doing and from observing to participating.” The most affectingly literary of the inclusions is by Britain’s Stephen Kelman, on a reporting trip to India, where he realized that “the world is as weird and sad and beautiful as I would have it be, and that my place in it is as inevitable as the wind in the trees.” Other notable contributors include Isabel Allende, Kurt Andersen, Pico Iyer, Alexander McCall Smith and Frances Mayes. Some interesting reading for armchair travelers.

A MAN OF MISCONCEPTIONS The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change Glassie, John Riverhead (352 pp.) $26.95 | Nov. 8, 2012 978-1-59448-871-9

Biography of 17th-century Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher. In his introduction, former New York Times Magazine contributing editor Glassie (Bicycles Locked to Poles, 2005) begins by describing the now-forgotten polymath as nothing less than “a champion of wonder, a man of awe-inspiring erudition and inventiveness, who...helped advance the cause of humankind.” Born in what is now central Germany in 1602, Kircher entered the Jesuit order as a seminarian, teaching mathematics, philosophy and other subjects, before eventually becoming ordained as a priest. He wrote more than 30 books on Egyptian hieroglyphics, volcanoes, optics, Chinese history and more. However, even by the standards of his time, Kircher was often completely wrong, and his scientific books were sometimes “valued more for the entertainment than the information it provided.” This did not stop his books from being “read, if not always respected, by the smartest minds of the time.” Kircher and his work enjoyed a modicum of fame during his lifetime, but even before his death, his reputation was already in decline. Glassie does his best to place his subject in the larger context of the age, but as the book soldiers on, it becomes increasingly difficult to see why Kircher warrants a full biography. Links to his contemporaries often feel tacked-on, such as the description of Kircher’s relationship with Queen Christina of Sweden. In the case of Sir Isaac Newton, these links are stretched extremely thin, as Glassie claims that “[t]here is no way to know if Newton read Kircher, but it’s very likely that he did.” A competently written but nonessential biography. 2060

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FROM GERMANY TO GERMANY Diary 1990

Grass, Günter; Winston, Krishna--Translator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (256 pp.) $24.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-547-36460-5

A momentous year for Germany and the author, as detailed in a journal published more than two decades after the fact. In 1990, nine years before he would win the Nobel Prize for literature, Grass (The Box: Tales from the Darkroom, 2010, etc.) experienced a year of such turmoil that he thought it might be worth documenting in a daily journal, even though, he writes at the outset, “I am not one of those people who love keeping a journal. Something unusual must be happening to inflict this ritual on me.” The fall of the Berlin Wall and the rush toward German unification, about which the author’s attitude ranged from profound ambivalence to outright resistance, provided the spur, as the political and economic climate in his homeland would tempt Grass to renounce his German citizenship and cause critics to disparage him as “the nation’s pessimist” or even a traitor. Though he shows no reluctance to “challenge the politicians’ pieties and spit in the unity soup,” even Grass wonders whether he is “merely a captive of the past, a dinosaur.” The author is not usually prone to intimate confession, but he provides a daily account of a year that saw Germany win the World Cup, his extended family experience a birth, a wedding and a death, and the author ponder various conceptual permutations of what would become his next novel, The Call of the Toad. Some of the most entertaining passages are those that seem out of character—e.g., “Poked my head into the minibar, which contained three bottles, nothing else. I thought I was pouring a glass of mineral water and found myself downing vodka, and a minute ago, instead of my cigarillo, I stuck half a pretzel stick in my mouth and sucked and sucked on it.” Very much the work of a writer conscious of his role as a political man of letters. Much of what he finds interesting may not interest readers two decades after the fact. (18 b/w small sketches)

BLACK FIRE The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer—and of the Mysterious Fires that Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco Graysmith, Robert Crown (336 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-307-72056-6

True-crime veteran Graysmith (The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower, 2010, etc.) uses Mark Twain’s

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most famous character as a springboard for exploring San Francisco’s rocky beginnings as a boomtown plagued with crime. For anyone who believes that the City by the Bay has always been a peace-and-love destination renowned for its bridges, seals and winding streets, this book will prove to be a wake-up call. Graysmith re-creates the lawless decade that began with the 1849 Gold Rush and the attendant lack of infrastructure that turned the city into a literal hotbed—in less than two years, an arsonist and his accomplices burned it to the ground on six different occasions. In their haste to get rich, prospectors had erected flimsy structures that practically beckoned firebugs to strike matches. Gangs stalked the streets, harassing, robbing and even killing citizens. The streets themselves were cobbled together from wooden planks and glass bottles, making the work of firefighters and police extremely difficult. Into this melee strode young Tom Sawyer, a former New York volunteer fireman who had gone west to seek his fortune. In the days before steam engines and gas lamps, a corps of boys ran ahead of the hand-pumpered fire trucks with torches to light the way through San

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Francisco’s treacherous streets. As one of the most loyal and dedicated torch boys, Sawyer caught the eye of visiting writer Mark Twain; the two became fast friends, with Twain mining Sawyer’s adventurous past for his novel. Graysmith also peoples this rich and sometimes overwhelming account with a bevy of characters instrumental in rebuilding San Francisco in the wake of each successive blaze. While lively and chock-full of eye-opening tidbits, the book’s simultaneous coverage of firefighting history, Twain and Sawyer’s relationship, and crooked political alliances, along with its zigzagging timeline, threaten to deluge readers with details.

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“An interesting read and a must-have for Hemingway lovers and craft bartenders.” from to have and to have another

A WICKED WAR Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico

Greenberg, Amy S. Knopf (368 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 8, 2012 978-0-307-59269-9

A condensed new study of the Mexican-American war portrays America’s terrible loss of innocence. Waging war against an unoffending neighbor changed the tenor of American politics in the mid 19th century, created a new crop of military leaders and aroused a deep anti-government suspicion among American citizens, writes Greenberg (History and Women’s Studies/Penn St. Univ.; Manifest Destiny and American Territorial Expansion: A Brief History with Documents, 2011, etc.). The rebellion of Texas from Mexican rule created a clamor for annexation, taken up first by President John Tyler in advance of congressional approval. The author focuses mainly on five individuals whose destinies were intimately tied up in the war with Mexico. Former Speaker of the House Henry Clay was morally opposed to annexation and lost his bid for the presidency in 1844 to James Polk, who used the expansionist frenzy to win political advantage, becoming the key advocate of Texas and California annexation. In the wake of Clay’s eloquent speech in Lexington, Ky., in 1847, denouncing the aggressive war against Mexico, Illinois congressman and fervent Clay admirer Abraham Lincoln distinguished himself in Congress with his own stirring emotional condemnation of the president’s evasive tactics. Two other lesser-known figures appear prominently: Illinois patriot and Lincoln’s Whig Party rival John Hardin represented the typical zealous volunteer to the Mexican conflict, grown quickly disillusioned by the senseless violence, while State Department clerk Nicholas Trist was secretly dispatched to Mexico by Polk to make a treaty advantageous to the U.S.—though Trist harbored great ambivalence. A well-rendered, muscular history of a war whose ramifications are still being carefully calibrated.

TO HAVE AND HAVE ANOTHER A Hemingway Cocktail Companion Greene, Philip Perigee/Penguin (272 pp.) $24.00 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-399-53764-6

The co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans breathes new life into some of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite libations and adds new depth to many of the author’s characters. Spirits consultant Greene writes that he has “a lifelong appreciation” of Hemingway’s works, but he wanted to know more about the epicurean context behind some of the settings and 2062

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characters. The author features recipes and histories for Hemingway’s cocktails, from haze-inducing absinthe to the sour White Lady. He does his best to tell the stories behind the inventors, though he aptly writes, “Heck, show me a timeworn drink with an undisputed lineage and I’ll buy you a round.” He follows each recipe with suggested reading: Negronis in chapter six of Across the River and Into the Trees, a Rum Swizzle in chapter 11 of Islands in the Stream. That work also features the “double frozen daiquiri with no sugar,” which “pretty much steals the show in the ‘Cuba’ book of Islands in the Stream.” Popular cocktails, such as the Tom Collins, feature the traditional recipe and Hemingway’s variation. Even an obscure cocktail, Physician, Heal Thyself (named by Greene), is included; the recipe was based on a diagram drawn by Hemingway in his medical files. Interspersed between recipes are archival photographs, relevant sidebars and historical facts about Hemingway’s friends and bars and the characters based on them, among other intriguing bits. An interesting read and a must-have for Hemingway lovers and craft bartenders.

VIPER PILOT A Memoir of Air Combat

Hampton, Dan Morrow/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $27.99 | $14.99 e-book | CD $24.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-06-213035-8 978-0-06-213036-5 e-book 978-0-06-220776-0 CD

A colorful memoir of a pilot who had a great deal of fun during his career, which included 726 career combat hours flown and service throughout the world, including Iraq during both wars. Hampton emphasizes that he performed a fighter pilot’s most dangerous assignment—and it wasn’t air-to-air combat, which is probably a dying profession. He was a Wild Weasel, a member of the group of first planes sent into a conflict whose mission it is to suppress surface-to-air missiles. Barely mentioning his personal life, the author delivers 300 pages of aviation fireworks and strong opinion—noncombatant airmen, politicians and most foreigners do not come off well—accompanied by a torrent of technical details and military acronyms that will mystify military buffs but not discourage them. Hampton is not shy about recounting brushes with death, many of which involved mechanical failure, bad weather or human error (occasionally his). Though the Iraqi air force struck fear into no one’s heart, the author’s accounts of fending off anti-aircraft missiles during the 2003 Iraq invasion provide the book’s most dramatic combat experiences; however, none of the enemy missiles reached their targets. As a result, Hampton never describes a routine occurrence in memoirs of earlier wars: the deaths of comrades. A patriot and a warrior, the author expresses incomprehension that America’s crushing victories over evil Saddam Hussein have brought so little satisfaction.

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The author concentrates on the fighting and does a fine job communicating the camaraderie, adolescent horseplay, conservative politics and hair-raising incidents of service in the elite macho fraternity of American fighter pilots. (8-page b/w photo insert)

PRESIDENTIAL RETREATS

Hannaford, Peter Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $16.00 paperback | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-4516-2714-5 Hannaford (Reagan’s Roots: The People and Places that Shaped his Character, 2011, etc.), a Republican public relations specialist and associate of Ronald Reagan, adds to his writings on presidents and their office with a comprehensive discussion of presidential vacation retreats. The author presents his material chronologically, by president. Each section concludes with a summary statement that provides details of the presidential homes, retreats, museums and libraries associated with each of the nation’s leaders. The author provides addresses, phone numbers, websites, business hours and information about tours and other attractions, making it easy for people who live within reach of the presidential sites to visit. Some of the highlights: Long Branch, N.J., emerged as a popular summer watering hole for a number of post–Civil War presidents. Several sites, like Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldier’s Home in NW Washington D.C.’s Armed Forces Retirement Home, have been extensively restored and opened to the public. There, Lincoln spent one-quarter of his presidency and drafted the Emancipation Declaration. Hannaford also discusses the activities presidents enjoyed at their retreats, including fishing, golf, wilderness hikes and yachting—e.g., Truman with the USS Williamsburg. Hannaford also provides brief biographical snapshots of each president and a concise outline of major developments and concerns during their years in office. Breezily written and enjoyable, this book opens up a different perspective on the presidency. (8-page b/w photo insert; map)

HEISMAN The Man Behind the Trophy Heisman, John M.; Schlabach, Mark Howard Books/Simon & Schuster (288 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1451682915

The man behind the trophy—John William Heisman (1869–1936)—had surpassing talents and a character as spotless as burnished bronze. |

So says this biography by his great-grandnephew and ESPN columnist Schlabach (Called to Coach: Reflections on Life, Faith, and Football, 2010). The authors begin in 1935 with the presentation of the first award for football prowess at New York’s Downtown Athletic Club, an award Heisman, who worked for the club, initially opposed, then designed and wholeheartedly supported. That first year was the only year it would not bear Heisman’s name; when he died in 1935, the club appended his name, and we all know about the hoopla associated with it nowadays. The authors take us back to Heisman’s German ancestors (who spelled the name Heissmann) and show us their emigration and their move to Pennsylvania, where the family became involved in the booming oil business as coopers. Growing up in Titusville, young Heisman learned “personal responsibility; hard, persevering work; and honest dealings.” The authors sketch Heisman’s education (he went to the University of Pennsylvania), his passion for football (he was the dynamite-in-small-packages type) and his decision to coach, a decision that would take him to numerous schools, virtually all of which became winners under his innovative tutelage. The authors offer too much history of every school where he worked, and we hear about plenty of games and players and Heisman’s superior thespian and writing skills (he had a “mastery of the English language”). An uncritical text so inflated with celebration that it nearly floats out of readers’ hands.

INVENTING THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT

Hersch, Matthew Palgrave Macmillan (256 pp.) $27.00 paperback | Oct. 29, 2012 978-1-137-02528-9

An astronaut-focused history of NASA’s first 30 years. Hersch (Science, Technology and Society/Univ. of Pennsylvania) debuts with an analysis of the astronauts as a special subset of professional skilled laborers, along with an examination of their part in the evolution of the technological systems developed for the Apollo program and beyond. The author shows that pilots recruited into the program under the original military test-pilot profile maintained a stranglehold on the flight schedule during the entire period of his study, and he discusses their relations with competing contenders as if they were involved in labor disputes. The shuttle program of the 1980s was still piloted by veterans like Richard Truly, who had been recruited in the ’60s. Hersch documents a series of struggles for control of flying seats among administrators, pilots and astronaut-scientists or engineers. Original NASA Mercury Seven astronaut Deke Slayton, rejected as a pilot for health reasons, and his secondin-command, Alan Shepard, refused to allow non-test-pilottrained astronauts on “hazardous missions”—and by their definition, almost all missions were hazardous, including those of the shuttle. So NASA’s efforts to recruit civilian scientists to the program were undermined, and seats on nine of the

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“A biophysicist examines the relationship between chance and necessity at the boundary between life and inanimate objects.” from life’s ratchet

moon shots were allocated by the end of 1966. Knowing they would never fly, the scientist-astronauts called themselves “the excess eleven.” Hersch shows that this kind of conflict helped shape the evolution of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. However, the experimental pilots were also a vital part of the program, assisting with equipment design and redesign to ensure project safety. The importance of their training and experience was validated time and again. A provocative effort to cast new light on the NASA program.

THE POWER OF INDIGNATION The Autobiography of the Man Who Inspired the Arab Spring Hessel, Stéphane Translated by Belli, E.C. Skyhorse Publishing (208 pp.) $22.95 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-62087-092-1

An intellectual autobiography by the French activist who wrote Time for Outrage, the pamphlet some claim sparked the Arab Spring. Now 94, Hessel hopes that the era of nation-states is passing. He fled his own nation during World War II to join Charles de Gaulle’s resistance group in London. Returning to France, he was captured by the Nazis and deported to Buchenwald; he survived with help from Eugen Kogon, later a witness against Nazi atrocities. Hessel was one of 12 people who worked for three years to draft the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published in 1948. Subsequently making a distinguished career in French government, he was inducted into the Légion d’honneur in 2006. In Hessel’s view, the Universal Declaration offers an agenda for the future. Its groundbreaking feature is the assertion that human rights are primary; Hessel and others intended that this would provide the “fundamental value on which the new world would be built.” The sovereignty of governments has “to cede to human rights,” he argues; potential conflicts must be settled rather than fought. Nation-states, products of the Treaty of Westphalia, are driven by two forces: libido possidendi, the lust to own or possess, and libido dominandi, the thirst for power or domination. These imperatives transform leaders into tyrants and citizens into subjects. Hessel buttresses his argument with references to contemporary European philosophers and politicians; he grounds his opposition to Marx, Freud and Nietzsche in the abiding truths of the Greek classics. Reliance on these sorts of sources means that Hessel’s book is very much out of step with the political discourse favored in contemporary America, but he does provide insight into a particular strand of contemporary European thought, rooted in what he calls “indignation” over the selfish, irresponsible behavior of today’s political elites. Unfocused, and not for the fainthearted, but a clarion call for the like-minded that will perhaps attract the curious as well. 2064

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ELIHU WASHBURNE The Diary and Letters of America’s Minister to France During the Siege and Commune of Paris Hill, Michael Simon & Schuster (224 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-1-4516-6528-4

A plucky spirit and revolutionary sympathy emerge from these richly detailed dispatches by America’s intrepid minister to France during the Franco-Prussian War. Independent historical researcher and producer Hill does a solid job editing these evocative, immensely readable extracts from the letters and diary of former Rep. Washburne (1816–1887). Stuck in Paris during the five-month siege by the Prussians from July 1870 to January 1871, though refusing to leave when the other diplomatic legations fled the capital, Washburne was determined to record for history the increasingly appalling conditions and subsequent reign of terror he witnessed firsthand. Originally a “green Yankee boy” who had plied his trade as a lawyer in Illinois before becoming a congressman known for his independence and honesty, Washburne was a “homespun” type, appointed as Minister to France thanks to his long friendship with and support of Ulysses S. Grant. With his family relocated for safety, Washburne lived alone in Paris, never in good health, yet able to maintain a dignity that the French, divided and under siege, frankly lacked. Delighted at the proclamation of a French Republic, Washburne was nonetheless horrified by the persecution of German nationals, who flocked to his legation for asylum; he visited the prisons and noted the toll of the cold and pestilence on the populace, as well as the fantastic rise in prices for foodstuffs. Bombardment was soon followed by armistice, and Washburne recorded the shameful capitulation to the Prussians and their eventual entrance into Paris to enormous martial display. With the government in the hands of the Commune, led by sadistic men such as Raoul Rigault, a reign of terror followed, duly observed by Washburne in all its sinister and arbitrary violence. A wealth of historical and personal detail builds a suspenseful story. (8-page b/w photo insert)

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LIFE’S RATCHET How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos

Hoffmann, Peter M. Basic (288 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-465-02253-3

A biophysicist examines the relationship between chance and neces s ity at the boundary between life and inanimate objects. |


Hoffmann (Physics and Materials Science/Wayne State Univ.) founded his university’s Biomedical Physics program in order to apply the latest advances in nanotechnology to probe the nature of life. Although his field of expertise is physics (he admits to having never formally studied biology), while still in graduate school, he became fascinated by the discrepancy between life at the level of atoms and molecules, where “chaos reigns,” and at the larger scale of human existence, where, for the most part, “order prevails.” With the development of the atomic force microscope, which can sense motion, scientists are now able to witness the action in living cells of molecular machines, “autonomously moving molecules performing specific tasks like tiny robots.” The author applies Darwin’s profound insight into the evolution of species to the question of how life itself evolved. He shows how Darwin implicitly resolved the split between reductionism and vitalism with the discovery of natural selection. Hoffmann distinguishes between macroscopic machines created to serve a specific purpose and the “autonomous [molecular] machines” found in life. He believes that the key to their functioning is the relationship between different kinds of energy at the nanoscale level, where different kinds of energy (chemical, electrostatic, thermal, etc.) operate on the same scale. He speculates about the “exciting possibility that the molecules in our body can spontaneously convert different types of energy into one another.” By creating order from the chaotic storm of thermal energy through a process of natural selection, the mechanisms and enzymes necessary for a cell to live come into being. “Evolution is not random,” Hoffmann writes. “It is a collaboration between a random process (mutation) and a nonrandom, necessary process (selection)…all of nature is a result of this balance.” A fascinating mix of cutting-edge science with philosophy and theology. (40 b/w figures)

WHAT’S A DOG FOR? The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man’s Best Friend Homans, John Penguin Press (272 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 12, 2012 978-1-59420-515-6

An intriguing look into the life of dogs. Through careful observation and analysis, New York executive editor Homans opens the door into the world of dogs, from the scientific to the humorous. The author explains that dogs are much more than man’s best friend; they are faithful companions, sure, but also separate entities with their own personalities and personal histories to rival those of humans. Using his own dog, Stella, as a prime example, Homans explores the intertwined world of animal and person. For the author, Stella is definitely a family member, a concept that will be relatable to most dog owners (the author cites one study that found 81 percent of dog owners considered |

their dog a part of the family). How this love developed spurs Homans to examine how dogs evolved from wolves, how they became test animals under Pavlov and now are one of the most common pets in the world. Some researchers believe this stems from the proliferation of failed marriages and people living more isolated lives and having fewer children. To fill the void created by a lack of human companionship, dogs are taking up the slack. Homans also touches on pedigree pets and mongrels, the need for adoptions via rescue dog operations and the rights of dogs. From the Bible to Descartes to modern scientists, the author marshals evidence that shows dogs and humans have been linked for centuries, both physically and emotionally, and that this connection will continue for a long time to come. Although aimed primarily at dog owners and dog lovers, other animal enthusiasts will find illuminating nuggets of information on the ever-changing and complex world of people and their pets.

ON SAUDI ARABIA Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future

House, Karen Elliott Knopf (336 pp.) $28.95 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-307-27216-4

Former Wall Street Journal reporter and publisher House delivers a wellresearched, informative book about Saudi Arabian society and where she believes it is headed. The author interviewed a wide variety of Saudi Arabians, including rich and poor, Muslim fundamentalist and modern. Among the subjects is a devout Muslim woman who hosted House for several days in hopes of converting her to Islam. House was not allowed to speak to the woman’s husband and was covered from head to toe the one time she was in close quarters with him. On the other end of the spectrum, a young Saudi Arabian female journalist runs an all-girls soccer team, goes to private beaches and has dinner with male friends. She leads a life resembling that of any young woman in the West. House also interviewed reformed terrorists whom the Saudi Arabian government provided with jobs and homes in exchange for repenting. She follows developments in women’s rights, such as efforts to change the court system, which favors males. House succeeds in capturing the diversity of Saudi society, painting a more complex picture than the caricature of oil wells and extreme wealth, but a smug authorial tone occasionally creeps in. She references the “passivity” of Saudi people in relation to their government, as if overthrowing a dictator who has no qualms about cutting off people’s limbs is an easy task. House claims that the country demonstrates Marx’s statement about religion being the opium of the masses, a contention that disregards how a ruthless religious dictatorship can enforce religious practices. Fortunately, for most of the book, House sticks to the facts. Good reading for readers interested in learning about

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“A sharp reframing of the history of the early Western frontier in personal terms.” from empires, nations, and families

LIBERATION Diaries: 1970-1983

the Saudi Arabia that lies beyond the image of a wealthy country with unlimited money from oil, but some of the author’s opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. (First printing of 50,000)

EMPIRES, NATIONS, AND FAMILIES A New History of the North American West, 18001860 Hyde, Anne F. Ecco/HarperCollins (640 pp.) $19.99 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-06-222515-3

A sharp reframing of the history of the early Western frontier in personal terms. At the outset of this elegantly written study, winner of the Bancroft Prize and a finalist for last year’s Pulitzer Prize (the book was first published in 2011 by the University of Nebraska Press), Hyde (History/Colorado Coll.) observes that the Louisiana Purchase did not suddenly dump into the tender hands of the new United States a howling, savage unknown. Instead, granted that the “Anglo-Americans were newcomers in a world that was anything but wilderness,” the vast region was a territory both held together and divided by complex lines of relation, friendship and other affinities elective and otherwise. Within the confines of the West were settlements such as St. Louis, Santa Fe, Nootka and Prairie du Chien whose inhabitants spoke countless languages and were often of mixed ethnicity. It was family connections more than any political or military power that enabled those people to cross lines of nationhood and race; Hyde cites, for instance, the case of William Bent, the founder of Bent’s Fort, Colo., a success as both a trading post and a non-Native American settlement only “because [he] had made familial relationships with the Cheyenne, American, and Mexican elites.” With the arrival of formal American institutions, writes Hyde, racism began to take hold; as she concludes, after 1860, “[i]deas about race and how it described people and circumscribed behavior remained very shifty but soon had the power of the state to give them shape.” The shape they took was that of Jim Crow, and soon, those old kinship and friendship ties gave way to a different set of laws. With a vast dramatis personae and stage, Hyde’s book sheds considerable light on the 19th-century development of the nation. Highly recommended.

Isherwood, Christopher Harper/HarperCollins (928 pp.) $39.99 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-06-208474-3 Final volume of the meticulously detailed diaries of the acclaimed author of Goodbye to Berlin (1939) and other celebrated works. Isherwood (1904–1986), who, writes Edmund White in his preface, “had a personality that sparkled,” was the icon of the infant gay liberation movement during the 1970s, where this collection picks up. Editor Bucknell’s (What You Will, 2008, etc.) close knowledge of the man and his world may have eased her monumental task, but it may be difficult going for readers not privy to the vast assortment of friends that Isherwood collected throughout his lifetime. In the last 135 pages, the editor presents a glossary explaining personages cited often or only once, events mentioned in passing and Hindu terminology. Most readers should consult the glossary first, as footnotes prove to be little more than distractions pointing out typos and errata. Isherwood knew that one day his diaries would be published, but readers may wonder if he assumed the mundane quotidian drivel would be edited out. The entries drag as he lists his weight, visits to the gym, swims in the ocean, movies attended, lunch with this famous cultural icon, dinner with another famous person, etc. His complete comfort with his homosexuality, his adoration of his partner, American portrait artist Don Bachardy, and the sheer variety of people whose “friendship never ends” may keep the pages turning for more dedicated readers, but his comments on his writing projects and these later diaries don’t really expose the man as writer, only as the man who writes. Isherwood was unquestionably a fascinating man. True fans of his work as well as gossip lovers will no doubt read all three volumes of his diaries. For the rest of us, a simple biography should be sufficient.

SAVING EACH OTHER A Mystery Illness, a Search for the Cure, a Mother Daughter Love Story

Jackson, Victoria; Guthy, Ali and Rivas, Mim Eichler Vanguard/Perseus (288 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-59315-733-3

The story of a mysterious medical ailment that blindsided a tightly knit family. Jackson, a successful cosmetics entrepreneur, writes in her prologue about surviving a turbulent, insecure childhood fraught with emotional neglect and exacerbated by a violent sexual assault she endured as a teenager. These experiences 2066

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seem to have prepared her to deal with the sudden onset in her teenage daughter, Ali, of an extremely rare, crippling autoimmune disorder called Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disease, which attacks the optic nerve and the central nervous system. Ali’s eyesight and pain levels worsened, and she was given four or five years to live. Jackson shifted into “warrior mode” and began canvassing the Los Angeles medical community for answers. A stay at the Minnesota Mayo Clinic initiated several radical chemotherapy treatments, though each debilitating stage further compromised Ali’s youthful dreams of excelling on the tennis courts. Interwoven through mother’s and daughter’s individual accounts of shock, denial, resignation and eventual acceptance are lighter scenes in which Jackson appeals to holistic healers for alternative solutions to the needles and MRIs of traditional medicine. She leavens the unsettling details of her daughter’s daunting ordeal with a personal history of her romance with infomercial magnate Bill Guthy and her progression from Hollywood makeup artist to cosmetic guru. Fully immersing herself in Ali’s malady, Jackson became medically knowledgeable about an obscure disease and ultimately founded a charitable foundation for the education and eradication of NMO. The closing “Thriver’s Guide” by Ali provides a brief five-step plan for those coping with the ailment. A compassionate mother-daughter memoir written with inspiration, empathy and hope.

THE ROLLING STONES 50

Jagger, Mick; Richards, Keith; Watts, Charlie; Wood, Ronnie Hyperion (352 pp.) $60.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-4013-2473-5

At the half-century mark, the “World’s Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band” unambitiously recounts its own story in pictures. A commemorative project devoted to 50 years of the Rolling Stones faces some immediate problems, since the band, in emulation of the Beatles’ great multimedia success with Anthology, already took a look backward in According to the Rolling Stones (2003). That previous authorized work surveyed the Stones’ lives and careers with a minimum of candor and a wealth of illustrations. The present anniversary-year tome is a straight-up-the-middle picture book. After four short introductory essays by founding members Jagger, Richards and Watts, and longtime guitarist Wood, the collection becomes a photographic march down Memory Lane. Many of the shots will be familiar to Stones fans and to owners of the earlier book (and former bassist Bill Wyman’s colorful history, Rolling With the Stones); some of the short quotes that accompany the stills have been lifted directly from the 2003 work. With so little context supplied by the authors or their editors, readers are on their own. Anyone with knowledge of the group’s history or mythos will wind up filling in the blanks: “Say, isn’t that Mick’s ex-wife Bianca there? Is that saxophonist Bobby Keys?” Since the focus is almost exclusively on the band’s onstage life, the book works |

best as a pictorial reflection of the Stones’ status as a touring attraction of nearly unequaled massiveness. Ultimately, the book is little more than a visual keepsake for obsessive fans, some of whom will already own the revealing high-end picture books by such gifted Stones shutter men as Dominique Tarlé and Ethan Russell. As histories go, the book takes a distant back seat to such essential books as Richards’ bestselling Life (2010) and Stanley Booth’s still-revelatory work of fly-on-the-wall reporting, The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones (1985). A soulless corporate birthday party that sheds no new light on its well-traveled subjects. (1,000+ illustrations in color and b/w)

ROCKIN’ A HARD PLACE Flats, Sharps & Other Notes from a Misfit Music Club Owner

Jeter, John Hub City Press (200 pp.) $16.95 paperback | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1891885-99-0

Musical memoir from the owner of venerable Greenville, S.C., music venue The Handlebar. Ex-journalist turned club promoter Jeter assures readers that all the hard work, sacrifice, frustration and disappointment that went into building and sustaining his dream “Listening Room” has been worth it. Played mostly in minor keys, The Handlebar’s history is rife with tour managers constantly demanding too much, patrons expecting too much and city inspectors withholding too much. The admittedly naïve author explains how he found himself frequently holed up inside his closet-sized office breaking down over that night’s dismal receipts. It all started out so gloriously, of course, in the early 1990s, when Jeter and his brother decided to throw caution to the wind and rent out space inside a largely abandoned textile factory on the outskirts of town. Although they had absolutely no experience booking performers or running a music venue, they were convinced that they could make it work. What they didn’t count on, however, was a cavalcade of obnoxious tour managers, boorish artists and impossible city officials constantly getting in their way. While these encounters are mostly sketchy, the fallout is heartbreakingly real and begs the question, why? The money never seems to have been there (at least not enough of it), and for every transcendental night with Joan Baez or John Mayer, there appears to have been 10 hellacious nights with snotty eccentrics demanding costumed hamsters in their contract riders. Jeter’s brother eventually decided to leave the business, but the author, with Herculean help from his wife, hung in there, and The Handlebar is still rocking. A hard, sobering look at what it really takes to bring live music to the fans. (20 b/w photographs)

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“A delightfully serious—well, mostly— dissection of monsterland.” from medusa’s gaze and vampire’s bite

MEDUSA’S GAZE AND VAMPIRE’S BITE The Science of Monsters Kaplan, Matt Scribner (256 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4516-6798-1

A delightfully serious—well, mostly— dissection of monsterland. Give a nod of welcome to our old friends: rukh and the Minotaur, Chimera and the Sphinx, Charybdis and the leviathan, griffin and the cockatrice, ghosts, demons, spirits, zombies, vampires, werewolves and HAL 9000. What a parade, and we clearly love them, for a goodly number have been around for centuries. However, asks science journalist Kaplan, why do we willingly scare ourselves? And from what dark materials did we fashion these golems and Medusa and dragons? Kaplan plumbs a wide array of possible natural explanations: the simple amplifications of lions, tigers, bears and boars; the mutations that cause extremes in animal appearance; the mixing of bones in tar pits and in the general fossil record (of which the griffin is a prime example). The author mostly stays on solid ground, taking the monsters apart to see whether they might have come from some sort of natural science or history. There are moments when he can be somewhat cute, overreaching for jokey asides or the dumb puns, but more often than not, he is on the path of scientific fun, deconstructing zombie brews, the behavioral ecology of vampires or the geological challenge of being buried alive. As for the evolutionary advantage: “Like lion cubs play-fighting in the safety of their den, monsters may be allowing threats to be toyed with in the safe sandbox of the imagination.” The appeal of monsters never stales, and in Kaplan’s hands, these characters shine. (17 b/w photos)

BET THE FARM How Food Stopped Being Food

Kaufman, Frederick Wiley (272 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-470-63192-8

Beginning with a simple question— “Why can’t inexpensive, healthy, and delicious food be available to everyone?”— Harper’s contributing editor Kaufman (A Short History of the American Stomach, 2008, etc.) embarked on an odyssey into pizza kitchens, tomato fields, biotech labs, United Nations conference rooms and commodities exchanges. The author argues that we grow enough food to feed the world’s population, but it’s priced too high for the poorest one billion. “The price of basic farm goods drives world hunger,” he writes, “but it also drives the push for sustainability, the rise of longdistance food from nowhere, the scourge of cheap and unhealthy 2068

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foods, the single-minded drive to own the smallest molecules of food, the declarations and pledges of the politicians, the global mania for markets, and the profit margins of many of the world’s largest corporations.” He notes that the content of our meals often has very little to do with agriculture and getting seasonal products and more with economics and the exigencies of international commodities markets. Kaufman explains the history of wheat futures and their role in stabilizing food prices worldwide for over a century. Yet these commodity pricing tools have been eclipsed in recent years by new trading structures, derivative-trading hedge funds that trade food futures, increase volatility and drive up the price of food. In short, food, one of the most basic necessities of life, has become another avenue of asset allocation. So how do we stop this shift in food pricing and profiteering? Because they are global, food derivative markets are nearly impossible to curtail, but the author suggests position limits for traders and a national grain reserve, among other possible solutions. Kaufman went looking for a pizza and ended up on Wall Street, giving a revealing view into commodity markets and food pricing.

NETFLIXED The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs Keating, Gina Portfolio (288 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 11, 2012 978-1-59184-478-5

Chronicle of the multibillion-dollar bout between Netflix and former heavyweight home-video champ Blockbuster. Veteran media journalist Keating’s nonfiction debut is a surprisingly swift-paced mix of investigative journalism and thrillerlike suspense. The major players in the game—Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Blockbuster’s John Antioco—are both complicated characters, and Keating does a commendable job painting a portrait of these very different business leaders, each with his own unique approach to vying for the same brass ring: domination of the American home-entertainment market. Hastings’ management style was coldly calculating, emphasizing the importance of algorithms to the issue of customer service. On the other hand, Blockbuster’s business model was almost Luddite in comparison, as they were convinced that traditional face-to-face transactions with customers would never go out of style. Keating covers the period from Netflix’s inception in 1997, through its lean years in the early 2000s, to its dramatic rise to prominence in the mid-2000s, and its near-downfall in 2010. Dutifully following the strands of Blockbuster’s ignominious decline, Keating also portrays Netflix as being in danger of succumbing to the same monopolistic arrogance as Blockbuster once did. This leaves them open to new business models popping up on the scene, such as the upstart DVD vending-machine service Redbox. Keating does an expert job at taking dry facts and stuffy Silicon Valley CEO types and arranging them all into a propulsive and satisfying narrative.

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An impressive look at the infinite complexities and cutthroat competition driving the deceptively simple business of 21st-century movie delivery.

CAPTURING CAMELOT Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedys

Kelley, Kitty Photos by Tretick, Stanley Dunne/St. Martin’s (240 pp.) $29.99 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-312-64342-3 978-1-250-01883-0 e-book

Don’t let the billing fool you. Though Kelley’s books (Oprah, 2010, etc.) are often unauthorized biographies heavily resisted by their subjects, this is a labor-of-love collection of work by the photographer she praises as “my best friend…a pal without parallel.” First with United Press International and later with Look,

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Tretick developed his relationship with the first family into his own personal beat. It was the extraordinary access he gained with the wire service that led to the magazine hiring him, assigning him to shoot an amazing 68 different stories on the president and his family before it ceased publication in 1971. Though Kennedy remains known as the first “TV” president, the intimacy and range of these shots (on horseback, wearing a hard hat or an Indian headdress) reminds readers that in the era before the 24/7 cable-news cycle, a still photographer largely captured the public image of the Camelot presidency. Because “[i]mage was paramount to JFK,” the relationship that he and his family had with the photographer had plenty of push-and-pull tension; most of the revealing shots here are also the most intimate, the least guarded. Yet, as Jackie Kennedy (who was most protective of her children’s public exposure) said to the photographer, “There’s a small group of people who really loved Jack, and you’re one of them.” There may be some shots here that the Kennedys wouldn’t have approved (a few that they resented when published and others that they refused to permit Look to publish), but this

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“A fascinating exercise in futurology.” from how to create a mind

HOW TO CREATE A MIND The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

book is by no means an exposé. It’s a tribute to a photographer, a president and a time when the former functioned as the world’s eyes into the latter. A pleasant mixture of iconic and surprising shots—a photo book that is ultimately as much about the photographer, and the access he gained, as it is about its subject. (First printing of 100,000)

FRIENDKEEPING A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can’t Live Without Klam, Julie Riverhead (224 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 25, 2012 978-1-59448-806-1

Zealous, funny and rambling accounts of a New York writer’s many friendships. Klam (Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself, 2011, etc.) describes herself on the first page as “a middle-aged person who uses the term ‘BFF’ without irony.” Her meandering text goes on to describe the multiple varieties of her friendships, starting in childhood. The cast of regulars features Barbara, a friend from fifth grade; Jancee, a fellow writer she met on a hayride in the ’90s; and Ann and Laura, co-hosts with Klam of an NPR radio show. The list of friends goes on and on and on; the good news is that it’s not hard to see why. While there’s nothing particularly compelling here, Klam’s voice is often flat-out hilarious. She retains the dry, self-deprecating tone of fellow conversational memoirist Jen Lancaster, and no matter how stale or hackneyed the subject, Klam never fails to come up with terrific comic vignettes and sharp oneliners. Her witticisms mostly compensate for such occasional platitudes as, “Friendship might be free, but it requires a real, solid investment.” The book is organized by subject, with chapter titles like “You Hate My Husband/I Hate Your Wife” and “Don’t Be a Drain.” Within these categories, Klam offers advice on how to manage platonic relationships, but she avoids being preachy by sticking mainly to her own life. Threaded through the chapters are observations about her daughter and the myriad ways in which having a child has affected, even enhanced, Klam’s social life. Somewhat glib but highly entertaining.

Kurzweil, Ray Viking (384 pp.) $27.95 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-670-02529-9

A pioneering developer of optical character recognition and text-tospeech software explores the possibility of creating a synthetic neocortex that could surpass the human mind. Kurzweil (The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, 2005, etc.) bases his prediction on modern insights into how the brain has evolved a hierarchical pattern-recognition structure. We perceive the bare outline of events and reconstruct memories in an ordered sequence, and our ability to fill in the blanks provides the foundation for conscious experience. “We are constantly predicting the future and hypothesizing what we will experience,” writes the author. “This expectation influences what we actually perceive.” Kurzweil estimates that at birth, the neocortex contains 300 million pattern processors connected horizontally and vertically, which allow us to connect patterns. In his opinion, it is these processors, rather than the neurons of which they are composed, that are the fundamental units of the neocortex. They allow us to fill out an increasingly complex picture of reality, enabling us to rapidly evaluate our environment and then confirm our hypothesis by checking out the details. Then we are able to respond rapidly to changes in our environment by creating new technologies. Why not create a synthetic extension of our brain using advanced computer technology? It could “contain well beyond a mere 300 million processors,” perhaps as many as a billion or a trillion. Our dependence upon search engines and other technology is a harbinger of a future in which we will not only outsource information storage but directly enhance our mental functioning. In a parallel development, Kurzweil and other software developers are designing more advanced computers based on complex modular functioning. A fascinating exercise in futurology.

MADAME BLAVATSKY The Mother of Modern Spirituality

Lachman, Gary Tarcher/Penguin (272 pp.) $16.95 paperback | Oct. 25, 2012 978-1-58542-863-2

A glimpse into the foggy biography of the mother of modern spiritualism. Former Blondie member and prolific writer Lachman (The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus, 2011, etc.) attempts to pin down the nearly impenetrable life story of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (often 2070

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referred to as HPB), a 19th-century Russian best known as the founder of a mystical practice she called Theosophy. In the author’s view, “anyone who meditates, or considers himself a Buddhist, or is interested in reincarnation, or has thought about karma” owes a debt to HPB. After a childhood filled with creaky manors and imaginary friends, Blavatsky was propelled by her interest in the occult into a life of travel that led her throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. Upon her arrival in New York in 1873, she befriended journalist and Civil War veteran Henry Olcott; the pair founded the Theosophical Society, an organization committed to furthering their studies in religion and the occult. Despite Lachman’s extensive research on HPB’s life and accomplishments, he struggles to make sense of this “profoundly contradictory character.” Confirmable biographical information is scant, and readers are left with more speculations than conclusions. Occasionally, Lachman apologizes for the convoluted narrative (“if the reader feels a bit dizzy after all this, I can’t blame him”), yet the book’s complexities are more the result of HPB’s own mythmaking than any major authorial shortcomings. Near the conclusion, the author alludes to his frustration with HPB’s highly interpretive accounts of her history and provides what closure he can. “Although practically nothing about her life is certain,” he writes, “one thing is for sure: the world is a far less interesting place without her.” Dense and exhaustive, a valiant attempt to capture the essence of a life that defies simple retelling.

MARMEE & LOUISA The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother LaPlante, Eve Free Press (384 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-1-4516-2066-5

Revisionist dual biography shows just how much iconic children’s author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) “was her mother’s daughter.” LaPlante (Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall, 2007, etc.), a descendant of Abigail May Alcott’s brother, relies on previously undiscovered family papers and untapped pages from Abigail’s dairies to provide new evidence exposing her undeniable influence on her daughter. Born to a prestigious Boston family, intellectually ambitious Abigail sought independence and dreamed of “teaching school and learning more about the world,” until she found her “ideal friend” in self-made, self-styled reformer Bronson Alcott. LaPlante ably demonstrates that Abigail was a “vibrant writer, brilliant teacher and passionate reformer;” she fought to eradicate slavery and promote women’s equality. When Bronson proved incapable of supporting his wife and children, Abigail, like many 19th-century women, sacrificed her ambitions to maintain the family. In contrast to earlier Alcott biographies that credit Bronson for guiding their daughter’s education and |

ideas, LaPlante suggests it was Abigail who nurtured Louisa’s feminist ideals and encouraged her to write and keep a diary. The author also hints that Abigail’s unsatisfactory marriage and disappointment contributed to Louisa’s determination to remain a spinster and earn enough money writing stories to care for her beloved Marmee. Fresh material gives flesh to the formerly invisible Abigail, revealing how she and her famous daughter mirrored one another in temperament and depended on one another emotionally. Both longed for freedom; neither achieved it. LaPlante emphasizes Abigail’s family, especially her brother, abolitionist Samuel Joseph May, as well as Abigail’s and Louisa’s involvement in the women’s rights movement. Thoroughly researched and moving—will appeal particularly to 19th-century women’s history buffs, Alcott fans and Little Women aficionados.

TRANSCENDING DARKNESS A Girl’s Journey Out of the Holocaust

Laughlin, Estelle Glaser Texas Tech Univ. Press (224 pp.) $26.95 | $19.95 e-book | Oct. 15, 2012 978-0-89672-767-0 978-0-89672-800-4 e-book

A moving account of educator and Holocaust survivor Laughlin’s experiences living in the Warsaw Ghetto and later, two concentration camps in the north and south of Poland. After the Germans marched into Warsaw in 1939, the author’s charmed life came to a sudden end. Soldiers immediately forced Jews “to surrender furs, paintings, jewelry and currency to pay for the war…[they] were accused of starting.” Within months, the invaders forced Warsaw citizens to move into Christian and Jewish-only sectors. The latter, known as the Warsaw Ghetto, became Laughlin’s home until the uprising of 1943. Then, she, her mother and her sister were separated from her father and sent away to Skarzysko, in northern Poland, and then Czestochowa in the south, both slave labor camps that forced inmates to produce ammunition for the Nazi war machine. With heart-wrenching clarity, Laughlin recalls the “lines of giant, thundering machines with turning turbines tended by sallow, emaciated people” and the deprivation and personal degradation she, her family and other Jews endured on a daily basis. Even after they walked out of Czestochowa after liberation in early 1945, they struggled to survive. Relying on the kindness of strangers, the trio wandered from city to city, eventually reuniting with relatives and other fellow survivors and beginning to heal, a process that for Laughlin and her family would include becoming American citizens. Through her many trials, Laughlin came to understand that the pain she and her community had suffered was not onesided. Many innocent Germans had also been condemned to concentration camps or had been expelled from territories reclaimed by Poland and Czechoslovakia. But even more profoundly, she realized that because both Germans and Jews had

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“Tackling a wide variety of subjects...the author proves to be a funny, slightly punky literary critic, reading between the lines of American history.” from the story of america

CREATURES OF POLITICS Media, Message, and the American Presidency

experienced the Holocaust together as victimizer and victim, both were bound to each other forever, “condemned to relive the shared past a thousand times; one to soothe his conscience, the other to soothe his pain.” Bracingly intimate and heartfelt. (21 b/w photos)

MIRROR EARTH The Search for Our Planet’s Twin

Lemonick, Michael D. Walker (304 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-8027-7900-7

The discovery of planets beyond our solar system has become almost commonplace. Veteran Time science writer Lemonick (Echo of the Big Bang, 2003, etc.) looks at the scientists who carry out the search. The author begins with a brief look at the time before planets had been found orbiting other stars. Astronomers thought such planets probably existed, but finding them entailed very precise measurements of the wobble caused by a body in orbit around a star or the dimming of light as it passed between the star and the observer. Attempts were made as far back as the 1960s, but it took until 1995 for Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz to make the first discovery, a body half the size of Jupiter orbiting the star 51 Pegasi every four days. This “hot Jupiter” confounded existing theories of planet formation, which assumed our solar system was somehow “typical.” But when Geoff Marcy and Paul Butler of San Francisco State University found two more planets in observations they had been recording for six years, the game was on. New tools, notably space telescopes, made the task easier; so did the arrival of a generation of astronomers whose imaginations were fired by this grand new enterprise. Lemonick gives profiles of a number of these “exoplaneteers”: Canadians Dave Charbonneau and Sara Seager, who learned their trade at Harvard; and Debra Fischer and Natalie Batalha of the University of California. Also central to the story is Bill Borucki, the driving force behind the Kepler space telescope. The chase is now focused on finding planets close to Earth in size. Do any of them have the conditions under which life could have arisen? That remains to be seen, but Lemonick makes it clear that the exoplaneteers are busily working to find ways to detect them. A solid overview of the cutting edge of astronomy and of the new breed of astronomers who are exploring it.

Lempert, Michael; Silverstein, Michael Indiana Univ. (260 pp.) $25.00 paperback | $21.99 e-book Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-253-00752-0 978-0-253-00756-8 e-book

Anthropological take on the centrality of “message” to American presidential politics. Lempert (Anthropology/Univ. of Michigan; Discipline and Debate: The Language of Violence in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, 2012) and Silverstein (Anthropology, Linguistics and Psychology/Univ. of Chicago; Talking Politics: The Substance of Style from Abe to “W,” 2003, etc.) argue that high-minded moralizing about the victory of style over substance in presidential campaigns misses the point about what really goes into the power struggles of “late democracy”—their term, following the Frankfurt School’s formulation of “late capitalism.” “Our intent is not to…join the chorus that criticizes the electoral campaigns…for embracing theatrics, personalism, style and brand,” they write, “but to detail in this way the life of our political communicators at work and the peculiar conditions under which they must now labor.” While critics of presidential politics may presume this to be a shallow approach, the authors dig deep in their examination of message creation—as it is manifested during debates, ads, speeches, gesture and even “bloopers” (accidental or intentional). In essence, Lempert and Silverstein find message to be a sort of telegraphed biography of a candidate—a “cartoon” or “grotesque,” they call it. A positive message (“maverick,” “decider”) is constructed by the candidate’s campaign, a negative one (“flip-flopper,” “un-American”) by the opposition. It’s what campaigns hope voters instantly grasp about a candidate’s “character” before casting a ballot, and it is largely pieced together for them by the media during the height of election season. The authors don’t so much condone these “peculiar conditions” as seem resigned to them, as evidenced by a cynical humor in their presentation that shares the stage (not always felicitously) with dry but precise academese. A quirky, sharp and depressing analysis of the current state of campaigning.

THE STORY OF AMERICA Essays on Origins

Lepore, Jill Princeton Univ. (448 pp.) $27.95 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-691-15399-5 “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” says a character in John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. As New Yorker contributor Lepore

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(American History/Harvard Univ.; The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death, 2012, etc.) sees it, American historians have been doing just that since the dawn of the republic. Tackling a wide variety of subjects—e.g., the Founding Fathers, Charles Dickens, Clarence Darrow, Charlie Chan, voting regulations, the decline of inaugural speeches—the author proves to be a funny, slightly punky literary critic, reading between the lines of American history. She takes historians to task for embellishing myths, citing the way John Smith’s long-discredited history of Jamestown is still used to support contrasting views of colonial life. She calls out Nathaniel Philbrick, in his 2006 book on the Mayflower, for leaning uncritically on the suspiciously self-centered account of the militia captain Benjamin Church. She rereads original documents and finds that Benjamin Franklin’s advice in Poor Richard’s Almanack was made mostly in jest. Lepore also takes a fresh look at the U.S. Constitution, explaining why everyone debates original intent: “A great deal of what many Americans hold dear is nowhere inked on those four pages of parchment, nor in any of the twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution.” She examines how the legend of George Washington began, with his own writings brutally edited by Jared Sparks to dress the first president in full patriotic trappings. Most interestingly, Lepore finds that Longfellow’s 1861 “Paul Revere’s Ride” is both a subtle call to overthrow slavery and “a fugitive slave narrative.” The author weighs her opinions throughout with research and original insight; the same goes for her essay on Edgar Allen Poe, although it does have a bit of a mean streak. As smart, lively and assured as modern debunkery gets.

HELL-BENT Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga Lorr, Benjamin St. Martin’s (288 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-312-67290-4 978-1-250-01752-9 e-book

A comprehensive examination of hot, competitive yoga, its cultlike following and the author’s immersion into the practice. Named for its founder, Bikram Choudhury, Bikram Yoga is a strict series of 26 postures performed in a heated room set to at least 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Lorr, a New York City high school teacher, started practicing at age 29, after dislocating a rib during a drunken fall. He was overweight, out of shape and depressed after a breakup. Within three months, he’d lost 45 pounds and felt he’d “discovered magic.” At the urging of an instructor, he entered a local yoga tournament in which contestants are judged for their poses. His hobby grew into a full-blown obsession, and Lorr details his stints at backbending retreats where he practiced yoga for 14 hours a day and “hallucinations, waves of tears, anger, and pulsing headaches are |

just a few of the many releases that occur as you work.” During his expensive Bikram Yoga teacher training, guzzling massive quantities of water and sweating constantly, Lorr experienced 14-pound swings in weight loss from single classes. The author writes extensively about Choudhury’s unusual life, total adherence to proper alignment and form and belief that pain can be good. Now a multimillionaire, Choudhury has garnered more than a few skeptics, in part for his seemingly self-serving behavior. Lorr interweaves his story with fascinating history and photographs; some of the most compelling parts of the book concern the stories of other practitioners, from famous athletes to former drug addicts, whose lives have been utterly transformed by hot yoga. Meticulously researched, suspenseful and engrossing.

THE LAST LION Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965

Manchester, William and Reid, Paul Little, Brown (1232 pp.) $40.00 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-316-54770-3 A (very) posthumous study of the late, great British leader by the late, great popular historian, aided by journalist Reid. Just before Manchester (A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance—Portrait of an Age, 1992, etc.) died in 2004, he handed over the task of finishing his Churchill biography to Reid, who retains Manchester’s habit of writing at extreme length, and it’s clear where Manchester left off in his own primary research: Though the book spans the years 1940 to Churchill’s death in 1965, roughly only one-tenth of it covers the “lion’s” last 20 years, while the vast bulk is given over—fittingly enough—to Churchill’s leadership as British prime minister during World War II. The documentation would not pass a professional historian’s muster, but Manchester never wrote for historians, and general readers, as always, will be taken by his boundless abilities as a storyteller. Manchester also saw patterns that may not have been apparent to most other writers. Whereas Hitler was famously known as an artist manqué, Churchill “came at every issue with a painter’s eye,” whether developing a battle plan for the invasion of Italy or “parsing geopolitical matters such as continental hegemony.” The great-man theory of history, too, may be passé in academia, but Manchester/Reid gladly subscribe to it, with an account of the friendship of Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt (and rivalry with Josef Stalin) that is both searching and unsentimental. The authors clearly admire Churchill, for reasons that they make evident throughout, but there is little in the way of hero worship. Indeed, their critical account of Operation Torch— which Dwight Eisenhower exaggeratedly called “the blackest day in history”—is thorough and convincing, and it does not reflect well on the cigar-chomping PM. The manuscript is replete with Manchester’s journalistic flourishes, some of which cross into cliché, and it’s as much a monument to the author as to its subject.

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“A welcome addition to business and financial history, illuminating little-known aspects of the early republic.” from the founders and finance

THE FOUNDERS AND FINANCE How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy

Essential for Manchester collectors, WWII buffs and Churchill completists. (32 pages of b/w photographs; 6 maps)

LISTENING FOR MADELEINE A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices

McCraw, Thomas K. Belknap/Harvard Univ. (460 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 15, 2012 978-0-674-06692-2

Marcus, Leonard S. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (384 pp.) $27.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-374-29897-5

A multifaceted portrait of the complicated writer who won the 1963 Newbery Medal for A Wrinkle in Time. Timed as part of the publisher’s 50th-anniversary celebration of the beloved classic (an observance that also includes a graphic-novel treatment by Hope Larson and the inevitable commemorative reissue), this collection brings more than 50 voices to bear on the life and career of Madeleine L’Engle (1918–2007). Children’s-literature scholar Marcus (Show Me a Story: Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World ’s Most Celebrated Illustrators, 2012, etc.) approached the project with a curator’s eye, seeking out interview subjects who knew L’Engle in an impressive range of roles. He has arranged their remarks thoughtfully, in sections that cover L’Engle as a child and youth, writer, matriarch, mentor, friend and icon. Readers most familiar with her work for children will discover L’Engle the Anglican mystic, and vice versa. Marcus is an unobtrusive interrogator; in many cases, he elides his questions altogether, allowing his interlocutors to speak fluidly and directly. Though their relationships with L’Engle were varied, common threads emerge. An actor by training, L’Engle consciously constructed her own public persona, transforming her biography and history into “mythic material,” as with the ever-expanding number of rejections she received for A Wrinkle in Time. Generous with the public (“Fame fit her like a glove,” remarks Stephen Roxburgh, one of her editors), her personal life was not so easy—only one of her two surviving children chose to participate. Many of the interviewees directly respond to Cynthia Zarin’s controversial 2004 profile in the New Yorker (including Zarin), though few try to refute it. Other contributors include Judy Blume, Jane Yolen, T.A. Barron, Thomas Cahill and Wendy Lamb. Though readers may not understand L’Engle the human being any better than they did before, they will certainly come away with a greater appreciation for the way she grappled with her life and wrestled it into narrative. (6 b/w photographs)

The U.S. financial system was a creation of aliens—i.e., immigrants, who are numbered among the founding

lights of the country. If you think the current system is a mess, consider the national economy after the American Revolution. The country was broke after fighting Britain, and it had what Pulitzer Prize winner McCraw (Business History Emeritus/Harvard Business School; Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction, 2007, etc.) notes was “the highest public debt it has ever experienced, measured against the income of its government.” For reasons that are not readily apparent, the new Americans were not adept at financial matters. In the first 50 years of nationhood, only six of 60 Cabinet members were foreign-born, and five of them were secretaries of the treasury. Two were Albert Gallatin and Alexander Hamilton; statues of both, McCraw notes, anchor the present treasury, next door to the White House. Hamilton, from St. Nevis, was a firm believer in federal power and an advocate of strong central-state solutions to various problems, including putting down rebellions of the sort that had been raised against the British crown. Gallatin, from Switzerland, was better born than Hamilton but ventured across the ocean because he “seemed to believe that Rousseau’s notions about the moral virtues of nature might be realized in the United States.” Hamilton was an urbanite and Gallatin a Daniel Boone of sorts, settling far beyond the Appalachians, but both introduced practices of banking, taxing and borrowing that were foundational. Further, because they were philosophically so different, they also introduced tensions that continue to be with us today, including the idea of taxation in the first place. A welcome addition to business and financial history, illuminating little-known aspects of the early republic. (24 halftones)

THE HORSE IN MY GARAGE AND OTHER STORIES

McManus, Patrick F. Skyhorse Publishing (224 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-62087-064-8

McManus (Kerplunk: Stories, 2007, etc.) repackages some of his magazine writing into a handy collection of stories loosely based on life. Some of these first-person narratives are more loosely based than others. McManus identifies 2074

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“$7,000 TV Historical Extravaganza” and “Wild Life in a Room with a View” as “factual articles” that “pretty much represent the highpoint of my article writing.” Another piece, “A Bit About My Writing Life,” may even be autobiographical, discussing as it does the protagonist’s family life, education and marriage to Darlene (who appears as “Bun” in other tales). Here we learn that Milton Pederson, an instructor at Washington State College, once told the narrator to “look for the telling detail.” McManus often works on the far side of memoir, where truth and untruth sometimes blend into fiction. In this delightful region, we meet the “ghost b’ar” that might have killed Ginger Ann’s pig and two boys who intrepidly stalk the woods in the freezing twilight, then hide from wolves that appear where once there was a log pile. Other memorable characters on the far side include the old woodsman Rancid Crabtree and boyhood chums named Retch Sweeny and Barney Wapshut. McManus’ is a world of canoeing adventures, fishing tales, hunting trips and harrowing adventures with chain saws. Then there’s the tale of Harold and Emma and what happened after she pickled the goldfish. McManus finally returns to the

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story of life with Bun, having thoroughly confused us as to what actually happened and what he made up just for fun. A nice opportunity for nonmagazine readers to catch up with this engaging humorist, who never met a tall tale he didn’t like.

CUSTER

McMurtry, Larry Simon & Schuster (256 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-1-4516-2620-9 A Pulitzer Prize winner’s idiosyncratic take on one of American history’s great blunderers. Clearly well-read on the subject— McMurtry (Hollywood: A Third Memoir, 2011, etc.) generously refers readers to Evan Connell, Nathaniel Philbrick and others for more detailed information—once the owner of a vast

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“Combat memoirs don’t get any more personal, and Meyer deserves honors for his honesty here just as much as for his experiences in the field.” from into the fire

collection of Custer-ology, twice a visitor to the Little Big Horn battlefield, the celebrated novelist offers not quite a history and barely the “short life of Custer” he proposes. Rather, this effort is best understood as an informed commentary on the dashing cavalry officer and on the Custer moment, the closing of “the narrative of American settlement,” which featured an unusual twist: a dramatic victory by the ultimate losers, the Native Americans. A few of McMurtry’s observations are not especially interesting (the author’s own encounters with the Crow and Cheyenne tribes), and some wander off topic (Sitting Bull’s passion for Annie Oakley), but many offer fresh insights on the Custer story. McMurtry fruitfully muses on the striking similarities between Custer and another overhyped western legend, John C. Fremont, the “confusion of tongues” that complicated the period of Western settlement, the willingness of Custer’s Indian scouts to accompany their commander to a certain death, George and Libbie Custer’s complicated marriage and the “modern” (in 1876) media mechanisms poised to supercharge Custer’s fame. Many products of that publicity machine are spectacularly reproduced here, including photos, maps, paintings, lithographs, posters, magazine covers and newspaper headlines, all of which attest to the national fascination with this endlessly revisited story and with the man whose final message to his subordinate—“Come on, be quick. Be quick”—went tragically unheeded. The distilled perceptions of a lifetime of study, beautifully illustrated. (150+ illustrations)

MUCK CITY Winning and Losing in Football’s Forgotten Town

Mealer, Bryan Crown Archetype (288 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-307-88862-4

High school football players and other residents of hardscrabble Belle Glade, Fla., fight for their pride and their lives in this chronicle from veteran reporter Mealer (All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo, 2008, etc.). The rich soil of the region around Lake Okeechobee, known to locals as “muck,” produces cane sugar and other valuable crops. It also produces professional football players (including current star Santonio Holmes) at a surprising rate, especially considering the equally staggering rates of crime, disease and poverty in the area. Glades Central Raiders and their attempt to win a state championship in the 2010 season are the focus of this entry in the inspirational sports genre. At the center is former NFL wide receiver Jessie Lee “Jet” Hester, who has returned to Belle Glade a hero and agreed to take over as coach of his former team in an attempt to give back to his hometown. The book also spotlights two of the players—wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, expected to follow Hester to NFL stardom, and linebacker turned underdog quarterback Jamarious “Mario” 2076

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Rowley—as well as the head cheerleader, Jonteria Williams, who dreams of becoming a doctor. No one on the team or in the town escaped untouched by tragedy, and Hester learned that trying to give back is not without its own pitfalls. The source material, including some fascinating history of the Okeechobee region, is compelling enough without the author’s occasional slips into purple prose, and the chronological jumps in the narrative can be confusing. But there is real drama here, with the stakes much higher than the question of who wins or loses the big game. Mealer tries a little too hard to tug at the heartstrings; nonetheless, he offers a stirring tale of sports as a means of escape from dire circumstances. (8-page b/w insert)

INTO THE FIRE A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War Meyer, Dakota and West, Bing Random House (256 pp.) $27.00 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-8129-9340-0

Scarifying memoir by Medal of Honor winner Meyer, proving that war is indeed hell—and the bureaucracy of war

more hellish still. This cathartic, heartfelt account is not really a work of literature. Few readers would put it in the same class as similar memoirs by, say, Caesar or Ulysses S. Grant or even Anthony Swofford, and even the participation of military journalist West (The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan, 2011, etc.) doesn’t keep the narrative from falling into pits of cliché and sentimentality. Earnest clumsiness aside, this is a book readers will want to study closely if they plan to go to war anytime soon, not least because of its helpful hints— e.g., in a firefight, watch your flank and pay attention to your officers, and you might just stay alive. A son of rural Kentucky and a highly trained sniper, Meyer gives a close reading of the tough and tenacious farming people he was put up against in Afghanistan: “It takes plain stubbornness to hack a living out of that flinty earth. If the villagers supported the insurgents, we were in for a long war.” The villagers indeed supported the insurgents—the Taliban and their allies—in the sliver of mountain-ringed valley, hard against the border of Pakistan, into which Meyer and his fellow Marines were inserted. There they fought what has come to be known as the Battle of Ganjigal, where Meyer earned his medal even in the face of inept decisions higher up. As he writes, an investigation of various intelligence and tactical failures found “some shortcomings and ‘poor battle management,’ ” which he likens to saying that Lincoln was shot because someone left a door at the Ford Theatre unlocked. Combat memoirs don’t get any more personal, and Meyer deserves honors for his honesty here just as much as for his experiences in the field.

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FIVE LIEUTENANTS The Heartbreaking Story of Five Harvard Men Who Led America to Victory in World War I Nelson, James Carl St. Martin’s (384 pp.) $26.99 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-312-60423-3

An intimate tracking of officers’ perspectives during World War I. In this complement to his previous study of some of the enlisted men in Company D of the 28th Regiment, The Remains of Company D (2009), Nelson focuses on the officers of the same regiment, all volunteers who were siphoned through the officers’ training camp at Plattsburg, N.Y. They sent copious letters home and happened to have come through Harvard more or less at the same time. By 1915, the Plattsburg “preparedness camp,” originally organized by Theodore Roosevelt, was key to providing the officers sorely needed for the war effort, after only three months of training. Richard Newhall, 29, from Minneapolis, was teaching history at the college while working on his doctorate; bookish, bespectacled, not gung-ho about the militaristic mood of the country, he was hoping to work for “the welding together of the liberty-loving peoples into a great cooperating society.” The other four included George Guest Haydock, a 22-year-old Quaker from Massachusetts; William Otho Potwin Morgan, who was from a rich Chicago family and wondered how his education had brought him to the “cold killing of men who are fundamentally the same as I”; George Alexander McKinlock Jr., 24, heir to the Central Electric Company in Lake Forest, Ill., who volunteered out of a sense of duty to prove his own mettle; and George Buchanan Redwood, from Baltimore, who thirsted all his life for military experience and became an intelligence scout. The lieutenants expressed exasperation with the pettiness of army command structure, the misery of trench conditions and the occasional awkwardness of speaking with much less educated men. This eloquent work of the toll of war builds moving stories through a wealth of personal detail.

rural areas, it stands to reason that the people and ways of life most strongly affected by the work of conservationists are found in the hinterlands. Former Globe and Mail, Time and Life contributor Nickson (The Monkey Puzzle Tree, 1994), who owns forest property on an island in the Pacific Northwest, waged a long battle against environmentalists there for the right to build another house on her property. Aghast at her encounter with environmental regulations, the author decided to investigate environmentalism’s impact across the country. Her book is a chronicle of her personal struggle to claim her rights as a property owner and a broad, ranting overview of the environmental movement, “a grand idea corrupted by powerful fanatics” whose nongovernmental organizations rely on “a suffocating web of lies, distortions, fearmongering, and bad science.” Conservation biology and the “sophistry” of Harvard scientist E.O. Wilson, with his overblown claims of species extinction, have curtailed the use of natural resources, extinguished jobs, forced rural people off the land, and sharply diminished working- and middle-class incomes. Nickson characterizes The Nature Conservancy, a leading NGO, as a wealthy group of “virtuecrats” with deep corporate ties. Like other groups, it uses the Endangered Species Act as a weapon to “destroy rural America.” The author chronicles her interviews with aggrieved ranchers, other property owners and like-minded individuals such as philosopher of science Alton Chase, who faults conservation biology and researchers at the Property and Environment Research Center, a free-market think tank. Nickson’s sledgehammer approach contributes little to understanding the clash between conservationists and property owners. A broad-brush demonization of environmentalism.

UNDERDOGS The Making of the Modern Marine Corps O’Connell, Aaron Harvard Univ. (376 pp.) $29.95 | Oct. 29, 2012 978-0-674-05827-9 978-0-674-06744-8 e-book

How the Marine Corps became the country’s preferred globe-spanning intervention force during the early years

ECO-FASCISTS How Radical Conservationists Are Destroying Our Natural Heritage

Nickson, Elizabeth Broadside Books/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-06-208003-5

A veteran journalist’s screed about the tyranny of the environmental movement in rural America. With much of American biological diversity located in |

of the Cold War. Unlike the other branches of the armed forces, writes O’Connell (History/U.S. Naval Academy), the Marines did not rush into nuclear technology after World War II. Instead, he argues, the Corps built on its combat record, especially in the Pacific island-hopping campaign, to re-orient itself as an elite, naval or helicopter-borne, quick-reaction force, able to provide various combinations of unit strength on very short notice. Using an equipment and technology budget line from the Navy, the Marines expanded in size and technical capability to meet this adopted objective. The real eye-opener here is O’Connell’s account of the behind-the-scenes lobbying and PR

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work conducted by the Chowder Society, “an unofficial organization of…well-connected officers” dedicated to protecting the Corps from postwar defense reorganizations. According to the author, this went beyond lobbying and included spying, leaking classified documents and smearing opponents. The group made full use of the Marine’s press networks, building especially on the wartime centralization of news distribution. Headquarters had developed tactics for dealing with the press, such as preparing “Joe Blow” stories of hometown combat troops. O’Connell shows how Hollywood transformed the image of the Marines, who sustained a casualty rate double that of the Army, by crafting stories that depicted them as military heroes. Then, to support peacetime political combat, those stories were tweaked to portray them as gentle protectors of families and motherhood. The author contrasts the stories with the reality. A powerful account of the relationship between fighting war and preserving peace, viewed through the lens of the stories that built support for both. (24 halftones)

JEWS AND WORDS

Oz, Amos; Oz-Salzberger, Fania Yale Univ. (248 pp.) $25.00 | Nov. 20, 2012 978-0-300-15647-8 An Israeli novelist father (Scenes from Village Life, 2012, etc.) and historian daughter (Israelis in Berlin, 2001, etc.) argue that words are the most crucial ingredients in the long history of Jewish culture. In a tone that is genial and modest, father and daughter—both professors (Literature/Ben Gurion Univ., and History/Univ. of Haifa, respectively)—only occasionally disagree in this disquisition about the significance and relationship of words, history, religion and culture. After establishing their fundamental and shared beliefs—they are secular Jews who value the Bible not for its historical or religious meanings but for “its splendor as literature”—they establish their thesis (the printed word has unified and identified Jews) and begin marshaling support. They talk about the importance of the “teacher-parent module” in Jewish families and traditions, recognize that debate and dispute are part of the reading process, and repeatedly state that the fiction of the Bible communicates great human truths. As the authors recount various Bible tales in support of their thesis, they devote an entire chapter to powerful and otherwise significant women (from Eve to Tamar), and they note how swiftly, once liberated, Jewish women rose in academe. Another compelling section deals with the concept of time (cyclical, linear), and the authors declare that Jews have their “backs to the future and [their] faces toward the past.” They also deal with the term “Judaism,” observing that it began as a term of opprobrium before it became more common, and they note the immense significance of individual names in the Bible. A provocative mixture of scholarship, sly observation and wry writing that often glistens. 2078

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THE MAKING OF GLOBAL CAPITALISM

Panitch, Leo; Gindin, Sam Verso (368 pp.) $29.95 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-84467-742-9

Left-leaning intellectuals examine the exceptional role of the United States in the development of global capitalism. In this densely detailed work, Panitch (Political Science/York Univ.; Renewing Socialism: Transforming Democracy, Strategy, and Imagination, 2009, etc.) and Gindin (The Canadian Auto Workers: The Birth and Transformation of a Union, 1995, etc.) offer “not another book on U.S. military interventions” but rather an account of “the political economy of American empire,” in which the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve are far more important players than the Pentagon and CIA. As early as World War I, during which American finance and industry were critically important to the war’s outcome, it was clear that the U.S. would eventually take the lead in creating global capitalism. That likelihood was realized at the end of World War II, when America emerged as the strongest single postwar power and sought to promote free enterprise in every nation. Changes in the Treasury, Federal Reserve and State Department made possible a postwar economic policy aimed at securing adequate natural resources to sustain domestic capital accumulation; creating conditions abroad to attract foreign investment; and integrating other states into an American-managed global capitalism. The authors show how both Europe and Japan became part of the “informal” American empire and how the postwar growth of American finance—including the externalization of American practices and institutions—led to the creation of the integrated system of expanding financial markets that characterizes capitalist globalization. By the end of the 20th century, write the authors, “capitalists, literally almost everywhere, generally acknowledged a dependence on the U.S. for establishing, guaranteeing, and managing the global framework within which they could all accumulate.” Will be appreciated most by specialists in economics and globalism.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE GREATEST GENERATION The Americans Who Fought the Korean War Pash, Melinda L. New York Univ. (344 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 9, 2012 978-0-8147-6769-6

Who served during the Korean War? How did their wartime and postwar experiences differ from those of World War II veterans? Why did they sometimes come to see themselves as not measuring up to the Greatest Generation?

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In attempting to answer these questions, Pash (History/ Fayetteville Technical Community Coll.) begins by examining who entered the service and why, what parts of the country they came from, how they accepted the call to serve, and how well they were trained for battle. Through interviews with Korean War veterans, the archives of the Eisenhower library, government documents and contemporary books and articles, the author constructs a portrait of the men and women who served in Korea. She reveals their attitudes once they were in Korea, where, as the war dragged on, troops came to question the reason for U.S. involvement and to understand that the American public had little knowledge of or interest in the conflict. She also looks at the experience of American POWs, who, upon their return, often faced questions of their possible brainwashing and collaboration with the enemy. Pash then briefly examines the situation of servicewomen, mostly nurses, and more extensively, the relations of black and white troops in the newly integrated armed forces. Manpower pressures had created a military life far less segregated than life at home, making the return to civilian life especially difficult for African-Americans, who faced continued discrimination. In general, Korean War veterans found that a hero’s welcome was not to be, that veterans organizations like the American Legion excluded them, that the VA offered less help to the physically or psychologically damaged, and that the education benefits were less generous than those of World War II’s GI Bill. Americans, it seemed, just wanted to forget about an inglorious war. Packed with facts, figures and anecdotes, the book doesn’t entertain like M*A*S*H, but it does provide a wealth of source material for future historians.

THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION How 1965 Transformed America Patterson, James T. Basic (304 pp.) $28.99 | Dec. 3, 2012 978-0-465-01358-6

A Bancroft Prize–winning historian revisits the year the ’60s truly began. Lighting the National Christmas Tree in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared these “the most hopeful times…since Christ was born in Bethlehem.” Nobody laughed. Near the end of the ensuing year, the nation’s political and social consensus had unraveled to the point that a protest song called “Eve of Destruction” topped the charts. Again, nobody laughed. Patterson (History Emeritus/Brown Univ.; Freedom is Not Enough: The Moynihan Report and America’s Struggle over Black Family Life from LBJ to Obama, 2010, etc.) traces the cracks in the cultural zeitgeist, when Sinatra gave way to the Rolling Stones, when TV news exploded into color, when The Sound of Music made room for James Bond and Thunderball, when the feel-good Beatles turned pensive, when Dylan went electric. The author’s at his best, though, tracking the year’s |

political developments. During a period of unprecedented economic prosperity, Congress enacted transformative legislation covering immigration, employment, voting rights, health care and education. At the same time, Selma, Ala., became infamous, and Watts erupted in riots. A baffled Johnson wondered how this was possible. More than anything, the military escalation in Vietnam accounted for the growing unrest. Loath to jeopardize his Great Society programs with an open debate on the war and unwilling to “lose” Vietnam, the president gradually increased the bombing and the troop commitment. The “Credibility Gap” between the president’s words and deeds in Vietnam helped supercharge peace demonstrations that would ultimately overwhelm his presidency. Patterson’s sketch of an agonized Johnson perfectly mirrors the nation’s descent from smug self-assurance to puzzlement, peevishness and, finally, anger. A useful time capsule that explains the social fragmentation, political polarization and tumultuous mood swing of a pivotal year in American history. (16-page photo insert)

PATERNO

Posnanski, Joe Simon & Schuster (416 pp.) $28.00 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-4516-5749-4 Sensitively shaded portrait of the late Penn State football coach, an ethical man who failed to “go to the ball” when it really meant something. When former Sports Illustrated reporter Posnanski, now a senior writer for the website Sports on Earth, set out to write Paterno’s biography, it looked like a dream assignment: The author would be in intimate contact with Paterno and his family, with access to his files about the Penn State football program. This book does have that intimate, backstage feel, and Posnanski tells a story no one else is ever going to get. His voice is warm, but frequently touched by melancholy, because it recounts Paterno’s shattering fall from grace after Jerry Sandusky, the team’s defensive coordinator, was convicted on 45 counts of child molestation. Posnanski offers a number of scenarios to contextualize Paterno’s failure to investigate the allegations that led to Sandusky’s conviction, most persuasively his protectiveness of the program and conviction that the problem could be dealt with in-house. Posnanski draws for readers a man who had a passion for education and saw his players as students first; Penn State athletes had a terrific graduation rate. He would pepper pep talks with Shakespeare; Virgil was his guide. “You have to listen for the divine word that tells you your destiny,” Paterno said to Posnanski. The author charts the many highs and lows of a 61-year career in the voices of both friends and foes. He also traces the dwindling scope of Paterno’s idealism, as the coach grew more crotchety and remote in later years. Despite Posnanski’s sympathy for his Ivy-educated, Brooklyn street-fighting subject, the book never escapes from the pall of the debacle that ended Paterno’s career.

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“Fast-paced, clearly written account of how justice was served in a difficult wartime case.” from human game

ISLANDS OF DESTINY The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun Prados, John NAL Caliber/Berkley (416 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-451-23804-7

Prados (Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe, 2011, etc.) takes on the widely held view that the Battle of Midway in 1942 was the decisive victory that gave Allied forces a key advantage over the Japanese. This “entrenched interpretation” of the battle does not bear close scrutiny, writes Prados, a senior research fellow at the National Security Archive at George Washington University. While Midway was indeed a major defeat, Japanese strength remained high; it took numerous battles in the Solomon Islands during the following year and a half to truly shift the balance in favor of Allied forces in the Pacific. Prados argues that these victories were due in significant part to effective Allied intelligence efforts, including aerial reconnaissance and code-breaking that “came as close to eliminating the fog of war as can be imagined.” In vivid, immediate prose, Prados details battles from Guadalcanal to a late-1943 siege at Rabaul in New Guinea, showing how cunning strategy allowed the Allies to overcome the Japanese at sea and in the air. Drawing on a wide range of sources, he looks at the fighting from both Allied and Japanese points of view, stressing the importance of intelligence and strategy over numerical advantage. Though the book is largely aimed at military-history aficionados—there are 14 complex battle maps, an aircraft chart and a three-page glossary of military acronyms and abbreviations—Prados provides an accessible history that avoids excessive jargon. Even casual readers of World War II history will find it engaging, and they will likely agree that the author makes a strong case for his revisionist assessment. A well-crafted addition to the canon of World War II military histories.

RECIPES FOR DISASTER A Memoir Rafferty, Tess Dunne/St. Martin’s (288 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-250-01143-5

Calamities in the kitchen for a newbie chef. Rafferty, former writer for The Soup, brings yet another snarky voice to the myriad of memoirs that revolve around culinary experiments and dinner parties by inexperienced cooks. What distinguishes this author from others is her insatiable appetite for wine, her indomitable spirit in the face of catastrophe, her resolute desire to please everyone and her 2080

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offbeat sense of humor. Rafferty wittily pokes fun at herself and her attempts to pull off Martha Stewart–type meals in a tiny apartment hardly big enough for one, let alone seven guests who often don’t know the difference between good and bad wine. Runny gravy, watery polenta and a cranky boyfriend running on empty are all included in a hodgepodge of memories. Attacking each meal with gusto, Rafferty discusses entertaining at some of the most important food moments of the year, Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as preparing a dinner for well-known restaurant owners and volunteering to cater a baby shower for 100 guests. She yearns to satisfy appetites and create memories that extend beyond the frazzled nerves (before and after the meal) and the occasional outbreak of tears. For Rafferty, “preparing food is a meditation,” even if something goes wrong and “the food sucks.” Recipes at the end of each chapter enhance the narrative, but some readers may find more fluff than sustenance as they tag along for the ride. Energetic account of a comedienne’s mishaps in the kitchen as she prepares meals for family and friends.

HUMAN GAME The True Story of the “Great Escape” Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen Read, Simon Berkley Caliber (320 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-425-25273-4

The truth about the murders of 50 airmen who escaped from a top-security World War II prison camp and how the Third Reich’s killers were brought to justice. Read (War of Words: A True Tale of Newsprint and Murder, 2009, etc.) draws heavily on the British Royal Air Force Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) case files to put together the story of what happened after the events portrayed in the 1963 movie The Great Escape. Supposedly escape-proof in design and construction, Stalag Luft III became the holding pen for a multinational contingent of repeat escapees. Six hundred were involved in organizing the plot intended to free 250 from confinement. Read shows how the escape shocked Hitler and the Nazi security services high command, resulting in a nationwide manhunt for the escapees. The men were summarily executed upon capture and cremated anonymously. The SIB detailed a task force of 21 investigators and 16 translators to track down the killers. They identified 72 members of the Gestapo, SS and Kripo chains of command who played an active part in the murders; of them, 21 were sentenced to death by hanging, 17 to prison terms. (Others had died during the war or committed suicide.) The guilty included fanatics like Wilhelm Scharpwinkel, head of the Breslau Gestapo, and Johannes Post, the deputy Gestapo chief and executioner in Kiel. Read provides an admirable record of the meticulous police work involved in accumulating proof sufficient for prosecution and conviction. The RAF detail started from scratch and had to use

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many different methods to reconstruct personnel and their units and to identify the 72 found responsible. Fast-paced, clearly written account of how justice was served in a difficult wartime case.

A NATION OF WUSSES How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great

Rendell, Ed Wiley (256 pp.) $25.95 | Jun. 5, 2012 978-1-118-27905-2

Veteran Democratic politico Rendell prescribes a potent tonic for today’s anemic leadership, simultaneously looking back on his spirited 30-plus years in

elected office. Whether as district attorney, mayor, governor or head of the Democratic National Committee, the author has always been a reliable source of unscripted, straight-from-the-gut observations. Despite the provocative title, however, he doesn’t seem particularly interested in skewering political rivals. Rather than dwelling on the negatives, this famously loose cannon is earnestly preoccupied with finding workable solutions to the many problems he sees in the United States. Not surprisingly, the author’s remedies trace back to policies he enacted as an elected official. But this is no ideological rant. In fact, the sheer joy with which Rendell recollects past victories and the raw enthusiasm he reserves for solving current problems are likely to win admirers of every political stripe. Where others may have viewed balancing budgets, cleaning up after snow storms and contending with critics as endless annoyances, Rendell appears to have genuinely enjoyed these challenges. While he supports Obama, he freely shows where the president has failed. He is most steadfast in his support for Hillary Clinton and writes that he is looking forward to putting a woman in the White House in 2016. A surprisingly jubilant treatise on American politics.

THE GENERALS American Military Command From World War II to Today Ricks, Thomas E. Penguin Press (576 pp.) $36.00 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-59420-404-3

Foreign Policy contributing editor Ricks (The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006–2008, 2009, etc.) assesses the state of generalship in the U.S. Army and finds it wanting. During World War II, Gen. George Marshall designed a template for identifying leaders and selecting generals, rapidly |

promoting those who met the standard and readily relieving underperformers. For Marshall, firing a general was part of the natural order, a necessary tool of personnel management in the notoriously difficult business of battlefield success. How is it, asks the author, that we’ve fallen away from this strict standard over the past 75 years? After acknowledging the occasional flaw in the Marshall system and identifying the grand exception, Douglas MacArthur, Ricks turns to the Korean War, where only O.P. Smith and Matthew Ridgeway met the Marshall standard and prevented disaster. Post-Korea, senior officers acted “less like stewards of their profession, answerable to the public, and more like keepers of a closed guild, answerable mainly to each other.” In Vietnam, the system collapsed entirely, with rotation, ticket-punching and micromanagement the norms. Relieving a general came to be seen as a system failure. From this low point— Ricks recites the manifold sins of Maxwell Taylor, Paul Harkins and William Westmoreland—the Army retooled, improving training, doctrine and weaponry, but leaving its concept of generalship untouched. As the author turns to our recent wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, none of Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, Tommy Franks, Ricardo Sanchez, or George Casey will much appreciate what Ricks has to say about continuing deficiencies in military leadership. Only David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno emerge unscathed. Informed readers, especially military buffs, will appreciate this provocative, blistering critique of a system where accountability appears to have gone missing—like the author’s 2006 bestseller, Fiasco, this book is bound to cause heartburn in the Pentagon.

NEVER SAY GOODBYE

Rowan, Quentin YETI/Verse Chorus (224 pp.) $14.95 paperback | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-891241-58-1 An affectedly “literary” confession and apology from a notorious plagiarizer. As Q.R. Markham, Rowan made a splash in the fall of 2011 with the publication of his spy novel Assassin of Secrets, the first of a proposed series. He made a bigger splash when the publisher withdrew the book after its first weekend of sales upon finding it had been constructed almost entirely of bits and pieces from a dozen or more already published spy novels by the likes of John Gardner and Robert Ludlum, to name only the best known. Rowan was instantly pilloried, particularly on the Internet, where he was showered with poisonous barbs and death threats. Online sleuths quickly uncovered more plagiarism in his past, including a short story partly lifted from Graham Greene that appeared under Rowan’s name in Partisan Review in 2002. Why did he do it? Unsurprisingly, Rowan blames an overwhelming desire for fame, fortune and the respect of friends and family combined with lack of confidence in his own abilities to acquire all the above. “I did at one point have

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“An affecting yet never saccharine glimpse of the relationship among place, family and fiction.” from elsewhere

a voice,” Rowan laments, suggesting that his thievery was a way to borrow others’ voices when his went missing. Trying to retrieve it here, he often sounds like a self-conscious imitation of David Foster Wallace, with dashes of Kurt Vonnegut, Martin Amis and James Joyce thrown in willy-nilly. A former girlfriend summed up nicely the problem with Rowan’s style, calling it “show-offy and geared to impress by overwhelming the reader.” She suggested he aim for “writing that tries to communicate rather than obscure.” The author finally pulls that off in the final chapter, a straightforward account of the unfolding of the Assassin affair that, like the best crime writing, is almost unbearably suspenseful. If the rest of this book had the panache of its closing pages, Rowan might almost have atoned for his years of deceit. (16 pages of illustrations. Author appearance at Bumbershoot Festival and on CBS Sunday Morning on Oct. 14. Author tour including New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Calif., Portland)

THE BIG FLATLINE Oil and the No-Growth Economy

Rubin, Jeff Palgrave Macmillan (256 pp.) $27.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-230-34218-7

Contradicting conventional wisdom about the worldwide recession now in its fourth year, a Canadian economist predicts a gloomy future for consumers who

worship growth. Beginning in 2008, writes Rubin (Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization, 2009), the high cost of oil consumption drove many nations on different continents into an economic tailspin. The mortgage crisis in the United States, so often blamed as the primary cause, was collateral damage rather than the trigger. The U.S. and other industrialized nations highly dependent on oil cannot sustain growth; oil prices in the triple digits will force consumers to cut back on everything from automotive transportation to eating at restaurants. With consumerism growing precipitously in China and India as their already massive populations expand, those nations will find ways to grab more fossil fuels, and the U.S. will be left behind in the competition for limited, nonrenewable energy sources. Rubin is not shy about trumpeting the correctness of his analysis; he states unequivocally that the reason economists and politicians have failed to reverse the current recession is that they are relying on outmoded world views. He spotlights Denmark as a nation that has come to grips with oil shortages by charging high prices for energy, thus directly discouraging consumption. He notes that Danish citizens have supported central planning for a ramped-down consumer society by using bicycles as primary transportation, among other realistic lifestyle decisions. Advances in technology will never be significant enough to allow continued economic growth, 2082

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Rubin writes, and he characterizes green energy sources as worthy but inconsequential. Clearly written and smartly argued, although short on nuance.

AMERICAN LYNCHING

Rushdy, Ashraf H.A. Yale Univ. (240 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-300-18138-8

An all-encompassing history of lynchings in America from 1780 to the present. Rushdy (African-American Studies/ Wesleyan Univ.; Remembering Generations: Race and Family in Contemporary African American Fiction, 2000, etc.) delves deeply into the complicated subject of lynching in America, both from a historical and linguistic perspective. “There are different kinds of lynchings,” writes the author, “different sorts of acts, some of which are called lynchings and others not, driven by different motives, employing different strategies, and occurring in different historical contexts.” In short, “lynching” knows no singular definition, and, according to Rushdy, it is a term “more evocative than descriptive.” For the most part, however, the author steers clear of the subject’s evocative nature and relies on an intellectual distance that allows scholarship to outweigh pathos. From Revolutionary War colonel Charles Lynch’s 1780 extralegal execution of a Tory to the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr. by white supremacists, Rushdy’s sweeping story addresses race, politics and the sordid history of vigilante justice that often brought them together. While relying heavily on previous scholarship, the author’s most interesting contribution surrounds his argument that lynching “was not just a means of social control that replaced slavery. It was a product of slavery.” That institution, Rushdy argues, created the culture that “empowered [the] lynch mob.” A triumphant work on the problematic history of one of America’s longest and most troubling traditions.

ELSEWHERE A Memoir

Russo, Richard Knopf (288 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 14, 2012 978-0-307-95953-9

The celebrated best-selling novelist recalls his late mother’s powerful, often frustrating influence on his life and work. Fans of Russo’s fiction (That Old Cape Magic, 2009, etc.) likely know that the model for his novels’ working-class Northeast settings is Gloversville, N.Y., a factory town that fell on hard times in the 1960s. The author escaped his hometown when he went to

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college, but not without some company: His mother joined him as they drove to Arizona, and she’d rarely be far from him in the decades that followed. Russo describes how his life decisions were often limited by the need to accommodate his mother’s particular needs and, later, debilitating illness: One of the book’s most powerful chapters describes the author’s mother as her dementia begins to set in, fussing over a clock as if the device itself had the power to control time. (What his extended family and estranged father called “nerves” was likely a severe case of obsessive-compulsive disorder.) Though she routinely made her son’s life more difficult, this book isn’t borne out of bitterness, yet he doesn’t place his mother in soft focus either. What Russo strives to do is place his mother’s life in a social, cultural and personal context. He explores how her options were limited as a single mother in the ’60s, as a product of a manufacturing culture that collapsed before her eyes, and as a woman who needed to define herself through other men. That Russo found the time and emotional space to write novels is somewhat miraculous given her demands, but he acknowledges he couldn’t have written them without her. He inherited her sense of place as well as her compulsive personality, and this book contains much of the grace and flinty humor of his fiction. An affecting yet never saccharine glimpse of the relationship among place, family and fiction. (First printing of 75,000)

HALLUCINATIONS

Sacks, Oliver Knopf (288 pp.) $26.95 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-307-95724-5

Acclaimed British neurologist Sacks (Neurology and Psychiatry/Columbia Univ.; The Mind’s Eye, 2010, etc.) delves into the many different sorts of hallucinations that can be generated by the

human mind. The author assembles a wide range of case studies in hallucinations—seeing, hearing or otherwise perceiving things that aren’t there—and the varying brain quirks and disorders that cause them in patients who are otherwise mentally healthy. In each case, he presents a fascinating condition and then expounds on the neurological causes at work, drawing from his own work as a neurologist, as well as other case studies, letters from patients and even historical records and literature. For example, he tells the story of an elderly blind woman who “saw” strange people and animals in her room, caused by Charles Bonnet Syndrome, a condition in with the parts of the brain responsible for vision draw on memories instead of visual perceptions. In another chapter, Sacks recalls his own experimentation with drugs, describing his auditory hallucinations. He believed he heard his neighbors drop by for breakfast, and he cooked for them, “put their ham and eggs on a tray, walked into the living room—and found it completely empty.” He also tells of hallucinations in people who have undergone prolonged sensory |

deprivation and in those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, migraines, epilepsy and narcolepsy, among other conditions. Although this collection of disorders feels somewhat formulaic, it’s a formula that has served Sacks well in several previous books (especially his 1985 bestseller The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), and it’s still effective—largely because Sacks never turns exploitative, instead sketching out each illness with compassion and thoughtful prose. A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks. (First printing of 100,000)

SEA MONKEYS A Memoir

Saknussemm, Kris Soft Skull Press (272 pp.) $15.95 paperback | Nov. 6, 2012 978-1-59376-448-7

Noted cult writer Saknussemm’s (Reverend America, 2012, etc.) darkly funny, offbeat memoir of growing up around San Francisco in the 1960s. It’s immediately evident that we’re dealing with a poet who’s operating in a sublimely blurred space between poetry and prose. The opening sentences of many of these fractured vignettes are some of the most strangely evocative lead-ins out there: “I turned ten inside a giant tire, honoring the engineers and earthmoving machines of the Oroville Land Dam, and a memorial to a mummified Indian chief who disintegrated into dust the moment he was exposed.” So goes the amusingly confounding opening of the short piece “Fire and Forget,” in which the author recalls his life at 10, when he was apprehensive of both the future and the past, just wanting to hide away until everything made sense again. Much of Saknussemm’s early childhood, as captured in short sketches and longer, more essayistic remembrances, often seems little more than common childhood horseplay, but filtered through the author’s undeniably funhouse-mirror sensibilities. Nevertheless, there are some truly singular incidents that almost read like a West Coast take on Southern Gothic fiction (especially the scene involving the author as a young kid finding the bloody severed limb of an amputee friend). The autobiographical sketches that cover the author’s early adult years are full of the sort of boozing, drugging and sexcapades one would naturally expect from an alcoholic preacher’s son. Highlights from these years include the author’s stint as a soul radio DJ (“Mr. Very Late Night”) and a Henry Miller– esque romp through Saknussemm’s many sexual conquests as a randy college professor. A wonderfully warped grab bag of memories from a wilder and weirder time. (Events in Las Vegas, San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles)

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“An eye-opening, unconventional war story in which the war itself resides in the training.” from the guerrilla factory

DRINKING WATER A History Salzman, James Overlook (320 pp.) $27.95 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-59020-720-8

Salzman (Law and Environmental Policy/Duke Univ.) looks at the history of drinking water and how it is connected to a range of global environmental, social and political issues. The drinking of water, writes the author, is “one of the few human actions and conditions that are truly universal,” and the quest for potable water is intertwined with nearly every aspect of human life. Inspired by popular histories such as Mark Kurlansky’s Salt (2002), Salzman presents a broad examination of drinking water through the ages. He examines mythological and religious ideas surrounding drinking water, referencing Ponce de León’s fabled quest for the Fountain of Youth, the reputedly healing waters at Lourdes in southern France and centuries-old Jewish and Islamic drinking-water laws. The author then embarks on a wide-ranging discussion of water safety, including natural arsenic contamination and terrorist threats to water supplies. Other major subjects include the amazing rise of bottled water and the politics of water access in places such as New York City, McCloud, Calif., and Cochabamba, Bolivia. As might be evident by this description, Salzman covers a lot of ground in this relatively short book, rarely resting very long on one subject before jumping to the next, and he rattles off facts at a rapid-fire pace. With so many areas to cover, it’s no surprise that he ends with the perfunctory assertion that “[t]he story of drinking water is still being written.” The book is consistently entertaining, however, and Salzman delivers it all in a light, accessible style. An appealing, fact-filled overview of the most basic necessity of human life. (27 b/w illustrations)

THE GUERRILLA FACTORY The Making of Special Forces Officers, the Green Berets Schwalm, Tony Free Press (304 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-4516-2360-4

A retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer provides a behind-the-scenes look at the physical, psychological and emotional toll one pays to join the ranks of America’s most elite fighting force. In his debut memoir, former Green Beret Schwalm minces no words recounting the near-tortuous training endured by America’s Special Forces. The author begins by categorizing Special Forces soldiers into two types, the Supermans and the Daniel Boones: While “Superman goes, does, and leaves” 2084

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the Daniel Boone variety of soldier “goes, does, and stays and stays and stays.” The staying is the hard part, explains Schwalm, because it demands that trained killers learn to make nice with local citizens in foreign, dangerous terrain. It is a tightrope walk depending more on rhetoric and rapport than conventional weaponry, though for Special Forces soldiers like Schwalm, both brain and brawn have their place. The author’s riveting account into the inner workings of elite training proves particularly interesting to military outsiders, who soon learn of icy swims in makeshift rafts, endless midnight runs and war games so realistic that the word “games” seems wholly inaccurate. After enduring POW training—which demanded Schwalm and his comrades be locked in hot boxes and deprived of all basic necessities—the exhausted soldier leaves the extreme training exercise having drawn a single conclusion: “I would rather be a pile of bleached bones shining in the sun than taken alive.” Soon after, the student becomes the teacher; Schwalm was dispatched to Trinidad to train Trinidadian commandos in the ways of American warfare. Yet in the wilds of Trinidad, he was faced with a new and humbling challenge: learning to lead despite vast cultural differences. An eye-opening, unconventional war story in which the war itself resides in the training.

ODDLY NORMAL One Family’s Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality Schwartz, John Gotham Books (288 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 8, 2012 978-1-59240-728-6

A family’s memoir of raising a gay son. New York Times national correspondent Schwartz (Short: Walking Tall When You’re Not Tall At All, 2010) enlightens readers on the difficulties he and his wife faced while trying to help their son, Joe, accept his homosexuality. From a very early age, Schwartz and his wife suspected Joe might be gay, noting some telltale signs: the desire to play with Barbie dolls, the need for a pink feather boa and pink light-up shoes, the love of glitter and costume jewelry and the lack of interest in sports. However, because they had raised all three of their children in a gender-neutral environment, with dolls, action figures and trucks available to both their older son and daughter, they simply assumed Joe was just different. When Joe started school, though, behavioral problems developed. Because he was an avid reader at an early age, his parents suspected boredom; Joe’s teachers suspected mental issues and suggested therapy. Numerous therapists later, with diagnoses that included ADHD, autism and Asperger’s, Schwartz and his family were still no closer to understanding what made Joe different from his siblings and peers—and no one suggested homosexuality as a possible explanation for Joe’s mood swings, anger and sullenness. Thanks to Internet research, the coming-out of TV personalities and

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“An elegant, deeply researched life of the Canadian musician, poet and novelist.” from i’m your man

new acceptance and legislation for homosexuals, the author was able to provide Joe with a safe home environment for him to reveal his “secret.” It was only when Joe divulged his natural tendencies at school that disaster struck in the form of rejection, resulting in a life-altering situation for the entire family. Definitely defined as “not a self-help book,” Schwartz’s frank discussion of a subject many still find taboo will be helpful to parents of LGBT children as one example of how to accept a natural condition with dignity and love. An added bonus is the delightful story written and illustrated by Joe. An honest, earnest, straightforward account of one boy’s coming out.

MEET ME AT EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE CLAIM

Scottoline, Lisa; Serritella, Francesca St. Martin’s (272 pp.) $25.99 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-312-64008-8 978-1-250-02507-4 e-book 978-1-4272-2591-7 CD A warm, lively collection of narrative vignettes chronicling the day-to-day relationship of two women who also happen to be part of a successful mother-daughter writing team. In this sequel to Best Friends, Occasional Enemies (2011), bestselling mystery writer Scottoline and her 20-something daughter Serritella offer insight, peppered with plenty of dish about men, their pets and each other’s quirks, into the powerful bond they share. Love and worry, like “two strands in the double helix of some very twisty DNA,” are at the heart of what keeps them together. And when Scottoline isn’t worrying about her daughter or being worried over by her mother, then the three of them are driving each other crazy with contrarian behaviors. In describing a crosstown move she helped Francesca make, Scottoline writes, “it takes me five seconds to pack a box”; but for her daughter, packing—and especially dish-packing—involves wrapping everything several times over in white paper and then “stuffing the sides of the box with even more white paper.” Fights are also par for the course for Scottoline, her mother and her daughter. In fact, it’s the thing she claims they love best because all fights eventually devolve into risible caricatures of themselves. Then there’s the guilt that inevitably goes along with the love. If it isn’t Francesca feeling like “a jerk” for wanting her mother to stop trying to dress her, it’s Scottoline feeling the need to buy her mother an expensive gift at Christmas that the latter claims she doesn’t want. Despite all the “emotional baggage” they carry (and fearlessly claim), however, their faith in and commitment to each other remains unshaken because, writes Scottoline, “that’s love.” Erma Bombeck for mothers and daughters, with a zesty Italian twist.

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THANKSGIVING How to Cook It Well

Sifton, Sam Illus. by Rutherford, Sarah C. Random House (112 pp.) $18.00 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-4000-6991-0 978-0-679-60514-0 e-book An easy-to-read, concise, somewhat tongue-in-cheek guide for how to host the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. This simple book is a valuable tool for someone hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. New York Times national editor Sifton begins by describing the items needed to prepare a turkey. Considering varying budgets, the author gives a range of options for pans, cutting boards, knives and other kitchen equipment at different price points. He provides more than one recipe for many traditional Thanksgiving items as well, catering to differing time restrictions and cooking expertise. For example, Sifton includes four recipes for an ovenroasted turkey: “A Simple Roast Turkey,” “An Even More Simple Roast Turkey,” “Herb-Roasted Turkey” and “Faster Roast Turkey.” The author also advises on what brands and types of ingredients to buy, how to set a table and how to use leftovers. He takes the mystery out of terms such as “brining” and “heritage turkey” and how, and if, they make a difference in the turkey’s final taste. Also of note is Sifton’s advice on what not to do. Thanksgiving should be appetizer-free; chocolate should be put aside in favor of classical American desserts such as apple, pumpkin and pecan pie; mashed potatoes should not have garlic or basil. Additional tips on what to serve for drinks, as well as Sifton’s policy for serving oysters on Thanksgiving, will help make the entire day a better experience. His leftover recipes, which go beyond the basic turkey sandwich, will ensure that the days after Thanksgiving are filled with great culinary experiences. A brief, straightforward guide to hosting a Thanksgiving dinner without being overwhelmed.

I’M YOUR MAN The Life of Leonard Cohen

Simmons, Sylvie Ecco/HarperCollins (576 pp.) $27.99 | $14.99 e-book | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-06-199498-2 978-0-06-209691-3 e-book

An elegant, deeply researched life of the Canadian musician, poet and novelist. With the resurgence of his career in the last decade, Cohen has been the subject of several new books, but it’s hard to imagine a better one than veteran music journalist Simmons’ (Neil Young: Reflections in Broken Glass, 2001, etc.) work. Born into a wealthy family of Jewish

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clothiers in Montreal, Cohen became one of Canada’s leading young literary lights with his early volumes of poetry and two well-received novels. He was already in his early 30s when he became a professional musician, after folk singer Judy Collins brought his songs to the world’s attention with her cover of “Suzanne.” Beginning in 1968, the globe-trotting, seemingly driven Cohen recorded a series of wise, dark albums that made him a star in Europe and brought him a far smaller but devoted following in the United States. He was enjoying renewed commercial and critical success in the mid-’90s when he withdrew into a Zen Buddhist monastery for more than five years. Upon his return to the world, he discovered that his longtime manager had embezzled millions; his unexpected penury prompted a wildly received 2008-2009 world tour that grossed $50 million and finally lifted him, as a septuagenarian, into the top echelon of international stars. Simmons follows every step of Cohen’s peripatetic artistic journey with acuity and no small measure of poetic observation. Drawing on interviews with Cohen and most of his important collaborators and paramours, she paints a deep portrait of a man seemingly torn between the spiritual and the worldly, deeply gifted but plagued by abiding depression and frequent self-doubt. Simmons offers an abundance of revealing stories about Cohen’s ardent womanizing, restless pursuit of enlightenment through sex, drugs, alcohol and spirituality, and sometimes excruciating artistic perfectionism. He emerges in his full complexity, brimming with both seemingly boundless brilliance and abundant human imperfection. Taking on a looming subject with intelligence and wit, Simmons manages to take the full measure of her man. (16page b/w photo insert)

HOWARD’S GIFT Uncommon Wisdom to Inspire Your Life’s Work

Sinoway, Eric C. with Meadow, Merrill St. Martin’s (288 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-250-00424-6 978-1-250-01562-4 e-book The man who essentially invented the concept of entrepreneurship discusses some of the lessons he’s learned. A few weeks after passing a complete physical exam with flying colors, Howard Stevenson lay on the ground in the throes of a major heart attack. Technically dead for four full minutes, he was revived against the odds. Sinoway, a former student turned friend, decided it would be a loss to the business world to not put in writing some of the wisdom Stevenson has gathered through his more than 40 years of teaching at Harvard Business School. (The list of his students who went on to business success is as long as it is populated with recognizable names, including Weather Channel creator Frank Batten and Brazilian billionaire Jorge Paolo Lemann.) Stevenson and Sinoway worked together with Meadow to write this collection of anecdotes and advice 2086

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for entrepreneurs and other business-minded readers. A characteristic question posed by the author and Stevenson gives an idea of the book’s tone: “How did you approach the whole challenge of figuring out your core capacities, identifying where you have competitive advantages, and matching them to career goals?” A key concept returned to repeatedly in the text is “inflection points,” the times in our lives where we face a pivotal decision. Regrettably, both Stevenson and Sinoway employ a great deal of jargon at the expense of lucidity, and though they chuckle together over terminology like “latent motivational energy,” baffled readers are unlikely to be laughing with them. Will resonate most with those who have already sat through Stevenson’s classes. (100,000 copy market distribution)

THE GREAT CHARLES DICKENS SCANDAL

Slater, Michael Yale Univ. (224 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-300-11219-1

A noted Dickens scholar and biographer traces the story of Dickens’ relationship with young actress Nelly Ternan, an affair that has titillated Dickens fans and scholars since the mid 19th century. Slater (Victorian Literature Emeritus/Birkbeck Coll., Univ. of London; The Genius of Dickens, 2011, etc.) begins and ends with recent news and headlines related to the story—the story that, as the author shows convincingly, is not likely to go away soon. The two principal questions remain: Did Dickens and Ternan have a sexual relationship? Did she deliver Dickens’ child? Slater begins by sketching Dickens’ early romantic attachments and disappointments followed by his marriage to Catherine Hogarth, a marriage that by the late 1850s was essentially over. Dickens and his wife separated, and the story spread everywhere. One early (and false) story was that Dickens had become involved with his wife’s sister. But gradually, eyes turned to Ellen “Nelly” Ternan, a young woman in a family of actors who’d met Dickens in 1857 while performing with him in a play, The Frozen Deep. She was more than two decades younger than the phenomenally popular writer. A friendship and much more ensued. As Slater proceeds, he examines the Dickens-related biographies and scholarship and journalism to show us how each work portrayed the relationship and how each little documentary discovery prompted inference and theory. (Dickens and his heirs had done much to destroy and cover up; letters and other documents disappeared in flames.) Slater is evenhanded in his assessments and has solid praise for the work of Claire Tomalin, whose book The Invisible Woman (1991) first propelled the story toward a more general audience. Slater concludes: surely sex, probably no child. A sexy story resting on a bed of comprehensive scholarship and pursued with Sherlock-ian imagination.

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“An informative and moving book that raises profound issues regarding the nature of love, the value of human life and the future of humanity.” from far from the tree

THE WISDOM OF THE SHIRE A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life Smith, Noble Dunne/St. Martin’s (224 pp.) $22.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-250-02556-2 978-1-250-02641-5 e-book

How to live long and prosper, Hobbit-style. Tolkien fans breathlessly awaiting Peter Jackson’s upcoming three-part feature film will be pleasantly satiated with this self-help guide channeling the effervescent spirit and timeless morality of the much-loved Hobbit population. Playwright Smith calls Tolkien the original “alternate reality historian” and confesses to decorating his room as a boy in Hobbit-hole style. The author’s many comparisons between the “safe, warm, comfortable” facets of Hobbit life and contemporary reality lived outside Middle-earth are creative and satisfyingly goodnatured. Smith issues challenges for readers to rediscover their inner artisan with handmade crafts and to appreciate the benefits of a good night’s sleep, invigorating exercise, monogamy, friendship, birthdays and “foraging” for farm-grown organic comfort foods. The author suggests that the Hobbits’ egalitarian society, courteous demeanor and simplistic, bucolic lifestyle are admirable and should be emulated. Interwoven throughout the text are factoids about Tolkien’s life as an outspoken youth, a soldier in World War I and the writer of a beloved body of work that began with a published poem in 1915 at age 23. The final chapter, though brief, pleasantly condenses Smith’s clever analogies and interpretive symbolism. The book also includes a humorous Hobbit test and practical instructions for creating a sustainable, “Hobbitish” vegetable garden. A life-affirming, must-have morsel for Tolkien’s colossal fan base.

FAR FROM THE TREE Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Solomon, Andrew Scribner (906 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-7432-3671-3

National Book Award–winning journalist Solomon (The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, 2001, etc.) uses issues raised by disability to examine the nature of parenthood, the definition of disability and the ability to control reproduction to create designer children. More than a decade ago, when he was assigned to cover a student protest at the Lexington Center for the Deaf in Queens, N.Y., over the hiring of a CEO with normal hearing, the author began to look at medical and cultural issues raised by disability. The protesters demanded that deafness should not be considered |

a disability, but rather a neuro-diversity on par with ethnic diversity. Some members of the deaf community even considered cochlear implants in young children as “a genocidal attack on a vibrant community” because of the linguistic richness of sign language. Solomon also wrote a piece on child prodigies based on an interview with the Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin, and he followed with a story about the lives of dwarfs based on the experience of a friend who sought role models for her daughter. Gradually, Far from the Tree began to take shape as the author explored more deeply the question of disability. Additional chapters cover Down syndrome (a genetic disorder), autism (of unknown origin), transgenderism and more. Solomon writes about the transformative, “terrifying joy of unbearable responsibility” faced by parents who cherish severely disabled children, and he takes an in-depth look at the struggles of parents of autistic children who behave destructively. He also explores the fascinating mental lives of independently functioning autistic individuals and speculates on the possibility that geniuses such as Mozart and Einstein were at the far end of the spectrum. Throughout, Solomon reflects on his own history as a gay man who has been bullied when he didn’t conform to society’s image of masculinity. An informative and moving book that raises profound issues regarding the nature of love, the value of human life and the future of humanity.

SINGER’S TYPEWRITER AND MINE Reflections on Jewish Culture

Stavans, Ilan Univ. of Nebraska (392 pp.) $24.95 paperback | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-8032-7136-4

Born in Mexico City and educated in a Yiddish-language school, Stavans (Latin American and Latino Culture/ Amherst Coll.; Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years, 2010, etc.) collects some of his journalistic output as a deeply engaged cultural observer. Calling himself an “accidental Mexican,” and rather more Jewish than Mexican, he moved to New York in 1985. In the life and work of Isaac Bashevis Singer, who immigrated to New York from Poland in 1935, Stavans found a kindred spirit. From anonymous immigrant, switching languages and cultures and moving from poverty to recognition and financial stability with the help of his antiquated, trusty Hebrew-character Underwood typewriter purchased in Coney Island, Singer personifies the American dream. Stavans’ own devotion to Yiddish burbles in other essays here, such as a revisiting of Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish. Stavans writes about the particularly delightful hurdles of translating Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye der milkhiker; offers some prescient re-readings of Argentine Jacobo Timerman, poet Homero Aridjis and critic Lionel Trilling; and includes an interview of novelist Allegra Goodman and an interview of himself regarding the translation of the King James Bible. Among

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the most elucidating essays concern Singer’s sister, Esther Kreitman, “the other Singer,” relegated to obscurity despite her own impressive literary output and due for correction and rehabilitation along with numerous other female masters of Yiddish. In “What Melting Pot?” Stavans delivers a moving, detailed take on the profound changes the author has observed in Jewish American identity through language and literature. Too scholarly for some readers, but Stavans provides a relevant, fresh point of view.

FAITHEIST How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious

Stedman, Chris Beacon (208 pp.) $24.95 | $24.95 e-book | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-8070-1439-4 978-0-8070-1440-0 e-book The searching, intelligent account of a gay man’s experiences growing away from God and into a thoughtful and humane atheist. Religion blogger Stedman first heard the term “faitheist” used by a fellow atheist to disparage Stedman’s tolerance for the religious beliefs of others. In this book, he reclaims this misunderstood concept for himself and other like-minded individuals. Stedman embraces the faitheist label because it clearly shows his interest in “putting ‘faith’ in my fellow human beings and our shared potential to overcome the false dichotomies that keep us apart.” He began his religious explorations as a young teenager, not long before his parents divorced and he became aware of his homosexuality. However, he soon found out that the born-again Christianity to which he had dedicated himself shunned homosexuality. Stedman desperately tried to hide his orientation and “pray the gay away.” His mother took him to see a minister who validated Stedman and gave him hope that he could still have a positive relationship with God. By the time he entered college, however, his religious fervor was gone, and he had declared himself an atheist. Nevertheless, he still sought to understand religion, both intellectually and through community interfaith work. The more he delved into the deeper questions of religion and morality, the more he saw the commonalities he shared with men and women of faith. He also realized that too many atheists were demonizing “those with different metaphysical beliefs” in the same way others had demonized him for his homosexuality. Stedman concludes that greater understanding and tolerance for religious diversity is possible, but only by rehumanizing the “other” through “intentional encounter[s] with difference.” Brave and refreshingly open-minded.

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HACKING THE FUTURE Privacy, Identity, and Anonymity on the Web Stryker, Cole Overlook (304 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-1-59020-974-5

A multilayered and well-reasoned retort against all those who would seek to erase anonymity from the Web. Since hired assassins and child pornographers on the Internet hide behind anonymity to prey on their victims and escape prosecution, anonymity should be scrapped and replaced with full “transparency”—that’s the way the argument goes. Unfortunately, as media consultant Stryker (Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan’s Army Conquered the Web, 2012) so effectively argues in this stirring call to action, a lot of other types of people also rely on anonymity for their continued existence. Coldblooded killers and creepy pedophiles may exploit the Internet’s openness, but so do patriots, reformers, human rights advocates and soccer moms. The author explores the rich history of anonymity in politics, literature and culture, while also debunking the notion that only troublemakers fear revealing their identities to the world. In relatively few pages, the author is able to get at the heart of identity itself, and why the name on your driver’s license isn’t sufficiently revelatory. The Web has become a battleground, and depending on who wins, the Internet could soon bear little resemblance to what we know now. Stryker also introduces the uninitiated into the “Deep Web,” alternative currencies and even the nascent stages of a kind of parallel Web that exists beyond the power of governments to switch it off. Beyond even that is the fundamental question of whether or not absolute anonymity is even possible given the nature of the technology. One of the most well-informed examinations of the Internet available today.

THE RISE OF THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Surdam, David George Univ. of Illinois (272 pp.) $25.00 paperback | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-252-07866-8

An unrelentingly dry look at the NBA’s early growing pains. Rigorous analysis of reams of data has become de rigueur in sports circles; there is a limit, however, to the stories numbers alone can tell. Surdam (Economics/Univ. of Northern Iowa; Wins, Losses, and Empty Seats: How Baseball Outlasted the Great Depression, 2011) ultimately draws some interesting conclusions: Early NBA owners’ willingness to experiment with rule changes was a major factor in the fledgling league’s ultimate success; the advent

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“A brave, cleareyed look at the contemporary flourishing of Islam.” from stranger to history

of the 24-second shot clock increased scoring, but was not, as is often assumed, solely responsible for higher point totals; travel logistics were primary determinants in assessing whether or not a city was a viable location for a new (or relocated) franchise. To get to those conclusions, however, the author wades through an endless morass of regression analysis, ticket-price statistics and attendance figures. The book’s target audience is unclear. The limited time period covered (1946-1961), heavy focus on numbers unrelated to performance on the court and academic tone make it too esoteric for a general audience, and the nature of Surdam’s thesis—that the league struggled to survive in its infancy and succeeded primarily because of team owners’ willingness to take risks, integrate the league relatively quickly and persevere in the face of economic adversity—does not allow for more analytical readers to extrapolate many lessons that would apply to a sports league that did not face the NBA’s particular set of circumstances. Makes watching a replay of the lowest scoring game in NBA history—a 19-18 contest between the Minneapolis Lakers and Fort Wayne Pistons in 1950—seem exciting in comparison. (33 tables)

STRANGER TO HISTORY A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands Taseer, Aatish Graywolf (336 pp.) $16.00 paperback | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-55597-628-6

A poignant journey through Muslim lands by a half-Indian, half-Muslim son attempting to find answers to his paternal identity. Journalist and novelist Taseer (Noon, 2011, etc.), raised in Delhi but largely educated in English and American schools, records his eight-month journey to break the “sterile obsessions” with his long-absent father and ascertain for himself what being a Muslim entailed. The product of an affair between a Delhi journalist and a Pakistani politician and disciple of Ali Bhutto, Taseer was raised in Delhi by his mother and Sikh grandparents amid no small confusion about where he fit in. His journalistic trip was an attempt to learn about Islamic traditions and practices and to discover how his own father could consider himself so staunchly Muslim without being in any way religious. Taseer traveled from the extremely secular, in Istanbul, to the extremely pious, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and found Islam served as both a nationality and “brotherhood of man.” Interviewing people of varying degrees of faith, he gained the sense that Islam was considered a “world system,” with its own rituals and rejection of everything else, namely Christian and Jewish practices, and a conviction that “to be a Muslim is to be above history.” Increasingly appalled by the Muslim parochialism he witnessed, Taseer realized the more he learned about Islam, the more his interest in it was “extinguished.” In another painful twist, the more he got to know his father, whom he visited in Lahore, the more he recognized |

a similar narrow-minded focus and indifference to the hard truths of history. A brave, cleareyed look at the contemporary flourishing of Islam.

THE FUTURE OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE IN FIVE PHOTOGRAPHS

Temes, Peter S. Univ. of Nebraska (216 pp.) $26.95 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-8032-3979-1

Reflecting on his faith, an educator decodes some snapshots from the Jewish family album. Temes (The Power of Purpose, 2006, etc.) selected honored teachings with his personal convictions to decide how to be Jewish today. The picture on which he bases his first essay recalls Darius, the Zoroastrian ruler. At the time, Jewish intermarriage was high and birth rate low; would Judaism become, like Zoroastrianism, a lost religion? The dangers of assimilation are raised again with the image of the Jews of Kaifeng, in China in 1910. Next is the familiar photo of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel on the march with Martin Luther King Jr. How far, we are asked, is one obliged to go to repair a broken world, as Jews are called upon to do? A picture of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who followed orders to murder millions, elicits a call to think and to decide how right might prevail over might. Finally, there is snapshot of a female Torah scribe. Is a relation to God best mediated through fixed Scripture or firsthand? Is there a middle path to find the hidden canonical ways to repair the world? Is Judaism a universal theology or a special religion? Temes reviews some of the divergent ways his religion is practiced in a time of baleful demographics, factions and indifference. He explores the possibility of a middle ground somewhere between exacting adherence and careful evolutionary change. The author’s thoughtful sermons, drawing on diverse authorities, reveal a passionate understanding of his faith. Illuminating homilies of the Jewish people, by the Jewish people and, particularly, for the Jewish people.

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DEAR DEB A Woman with Cancer, a Friend with Secrets, and the Letters that Became Their Miracle Terry, Margaret Thomas Nelson (224 pp.) $16.99 paperback | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1400204373

An emotionally charged friendship shared epistolary-style. |

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Faith in God and the belief in miracles are the underlying themes in the letters debut author Terry wrote to her dying friend, Deb. Although terminally ill, Deb believed she would experience a miracle and lived her life as if she had all the time in the world. Unable to fully comprehend this perspective, Terry did the next best thing and faced her own fears. A bond that normally could have taken years to create was quickly built between the two women through the dozens of letters Terry sent as she delved deeply into her own world. As her condition grew worse, Terry’s words became the one thing Deb looked forward to on a daily basis. Terry wrote about her estranged father, her unexpected divorce and her mother’s mental illness. However, in thinking about her own past, she also rediscovered the many joys in her life, including her favorite moments with her sons. Through her writing and Deb’s continued conviction that a miracle would take place, Terry reconnected with her own faith in God. She joined a church and realized her life was full of small miracles. Although occasional leaps in time can be a bit confusing and some of the more grim aspects of her story are only partially addressed, the overall effect of these letters is that of faith, hope and perseverance in the face of adversity. Moving stories of one woman’s life that renewed her faith in friendship and in God.

THE BIG NEW YORKER BOOK OF DOGS

The New Yorker Random House (304 pp.) $45.00 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-679-64475-0 978-0-679-64476-7 e-book

A New Yorker anthology provides a classy tribute to man’s best friend. With a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell (What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, 2009, etc.), who also authored a piece on Cesar Millan’s methods of training out-of-control dogs, and new packaging for older pieces on dogs by great masters of the literary pen (James Thurber, Arthur Miller, Roald Dahl, John Updike and others), this beautiful volume is a winner. There are 18 reproduction covers on the subject of dogs spanning the period from 1933 to the present, a number of them standouts, ranging from the sentimental to the outright satirical. The essays are organized into sections on “Good Dogs,” “Bad Dogs,” “Top Dogs and “Underdogs,” and include a piece about Long Island’s Buckram Beagles in the 1930s, a salute to Rin Tin Tin, an essay about dog racing in the U.K. in the 1950s, a profile of Leona Helmsley and her bequests, which have helped establish legal rights for dogs, and an article on the New Tabernacle Baptist Church Urban Hunting Club. These contributions are interleaved with poems about dogs (five of which contain different versions of their authors’ drafts), editorial cartoons and nine full-page pictures of doggy subjects. The list is long and impressive, but other notable contributors include E.B. White, Ogden 2090

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Nash, Donald Barthelme, A.J. Liebling, George W.S. Trow, Donald Hall, Roddy Doyle, Jerome Groopman, Ian Frazier, Jim Shepard, Adam Gopnik, Susan Orlean, Roger Angell, T.C. Boyle, Joan Acocella and Jonathan Lethem. A real treat for New Yorker fans and dog lovers alike.

THE BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING 2012

Vollmann, William T.--Ed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (320 pp.) $14.95 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-547-80897-0

The latest intriguing batch of travel writing from the venerable series. With series editor Wilson, National Book Award winner Vollman (Imperial, 2009, etc.) pulls together a wide range of pieces, including Monte Reel’s look at how to explore the world like a Victorian gentleman and Elliott D. Woods’ essay on the zabaleen, or garbage pickers, in the Garbage City of Cairo. “There are real-life garbage kings in the village with informal businesses worth millions of dollars,” writes Woods, “but most of the 60,000 in the Garbage City live modest lives defined by hard labor and strong family obligations.” Indeed, many of the pieces will not make readers hurry to follow the narrator’s footsteps—e.g., Henry Shukman’s visit to Chernobyl, where a strange lushness permeates the region, or J. Malcolm Garcia’s haunting and brutal piece on a murder where everyone knows what happened, but no one is willing to talk for fear of reprisal. Other narratives may entice fellow travelers, however—e.g., Paul Theroux’s short piece on the Maine coast and, for those with a religious bent, Kimberly Meyer’s essay on the elaborate Passion play performed each year in the Holy City of the Wichitas. From crossing the border in Tijuana in search of the Tijuana Sports Hall of Fame, to walking the border fence between the United States and Mexico, these stories, from such publications as National Geographic, Outside, Esquire and the Atlantic, undoubtedly bring a taste of adventure to readers. Though not filled with glamor and glitz, they open a window onto the strange, seedy and beautiful in the world, offering readers glimpses into places that many will never see or experience except through the eyes and words of these writers. Mostly engaging, diverse tales of offbeat travel adventures.

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RISE TO GREATNESS Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year

Von Drehle, David Henry Holt (480 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-8050-7970-8

A historian zeroes in on the year Lincoln found his footing as president and set the country on a bold new course. |


“Vonnegut’s most human of hearts beats on every page.” from kurt vonnegut

“Never has there been a moment in history,” said one U.S. senator, “when so much was all compressed into a little time.” Von Drehle (Triangle: The Fire that Changed America, 2003, etc.) charts the tumultuous year, month by month, to demonstrate how the momentous events of 1862 unfolded. Amid the turmoil of Civil War, the largely Republican Congress passed legislation with far-reaching postwar consequences: funding a transcontinental railroad and land-grant colleges, strengthening the Army and Navy, establishing a Bureau of Agriculture, adopting new fiscal and monetary policies, outlawing slavery in the District of Columbia, instituting a draft and authorizing the enlistment of blacks in the military. For all these enterprises to flourish, though, the war still had to be won. With rumors of domestic conspiracies and coups swirling and with the allegiance of border states still tenuous, the Civil War turned savage and hard with unprecedented slaughters at places like Shiloh, Antietam and Fredericksburg. At the center of the storm, Von Drehle deftly places Lincoln, gradually mastering the art of war, ultimately firing the too-timid McClellan, solemnly accepting and desperately searching for a general to apply the cruel arithmetic necessary for Union victory. In 1862, Lincoln suffered the loss of a son and the near loss of another, and he watched his grieving wife become unmoored. All the while, the president maneuvered around Taney’s Supreme Court, quelled an insurrection in the Republican caucus, mediated the squabbling in his Cabinet, held off the Democrats in the midterm elections, and prepared the ground for the Emancipation Proclamation. Two years of bitter fighting remained, but Confederate armies would never again be as formidable. Meanwhile, under Lincoln’s steady hand, the Union put in place the political and military machinery that would win the war and assure a future few imagined before Fort Sumter. A thoroughly engaging examination of the irreversible changes emerging from a year when the nation’s very survival remained in doubt. (8-page insert with 16-20 b/w illustrations; 3-5 maps)

KURT VONNEGUT Letters

Vonnegut, Kurt Delacorte (496 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-385-34375-6 978-0-345-53539-9 e-book Selected and edited letters by the author of Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five and other enduringly popular novels, letters that reveal Vonnegut’s passions, annoyances, loves, losses, mind and heart. Edited and annotated by his friend and fellow Hoosier novelist Wakefield (The Hijacking of Jesus: How the Religious Right Distorts Christianity and Promotes Prejudice and Hate, 2006, etc.), Vonnegut’s letters, arranged by decade, reveal his wit and literary style, as well as his demons. Wakefield annotates lightly |

and introduces each decade with a swift biography and commentary. Mostly, however, the letters stand alone—and stand tall, indeed. A letter from 1945 tells his worried parents about his experiences as a POW in Dresden during the firebombing; the final letter declines an invitation to appear at Cornell. “At 84,” wrote Vonnegut, who died in 2007, “I resemble nothing so much as an iguana, hate travel, and have nothing to say. I might as well send a spent Roman candle in my stead.” Vonnegut remained close to his many relatives, and readers can chart his personal life here—his first marriage (ended in divorce), his relationships with his children (some were adopted), his second marriage (to photographer Jill Krementz). That marriage was often difficult, and he writes bitterly about finding evidence of her infidelity. His professional growth chart is here, too—his early struggle, his time teaching at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his rising celebrity and fame and his struggles to write later in his life. The political Vonnegut is much in evidence, as well. There are fiery letters about censorship and book burning and some anti-conservative rhetoric. Wakefield also includes Vonnegut’s touching letters to encourage other writers and to deal with an angry daughter. Vonnegut’s most human of hearts beats on every page. (1 or 2 b/w inserts of illustrations)

IN THE HOUSE OF THE INTERPRETER A Memoir wa Thiong’o, Ngugi Pantheon (256 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 8, 2012 978-0-307-90769-1 978-0-307-90770-7 e-book

Kenyan writer and professor wa Thiong’o (English and Comparative Literature/Univ. of California, Irvine) offers a second harrowing volume of memoir, a sequel to his Dreams in a Time of War (2010). The author begins in 1955, when he had just completed his first term of boarding school and returned home to find… no home. His village was destroyed, and his family was relocated. Right from the outset, then, the themes of dislocation, fear and random violence and terror emerge. His older brother sided with the anti-colonials and was eventually captured, then released; the author was imprisoned, not long after his graduation—a random detention that culminated in the 1959 trial that concludes this book. Wa Thiong’o highlights his family and friends, but also the dominant presence of the school principal, Edward Carey Francis, who appears as a strong, principled but enormously complex character whom the author both feared and revered. School became a revelation, as the author plunged into the library, reading indiscriminately at first (he loved Sherlock Holmes, was troubled by the literature of empire). Excelling in the classroom, he submitted a story for publication in the school journal (it was accepted), and he participated in the school’s annual Shakespeare production. The author also writes about his dawning spiritual and religious life (he became an

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LICKING THE SPOON A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity

extraordinarily devout Christian, then began to question) and about his ineptness at sports. He preferred table tennis and chess to soccer and field hockey. Throughout, he fittingly refers to school as his “sanctuary,” for the place shielded him from the Mau Mau Uprising and other regional and continental crises. An inspiring story of a young man determined to excel and escape.

BOTH FLESH AND NOT Essays

Wallace, David Foster Little, Brown (272 pp.) $26.99 | Nov. 27, 2012 978-0-316-18237-9

Previously uncollected essays and reportage by the late author, reflecting his varied interests, from tennis to Borges to higher math. This collection is arranged not in terms of chronology but notoriety: It’s front-loaded with three pieces that Wallace fans have long wished to see in book form. “Federer Both Flesh and Not” is a bracing critical study of tennis star Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2006; though Wallace spent face time with the star, quotes are tucked into the author’s trademark footnotes, and he writes mainly as a spectator admiring the power of the human body to perform at extraordinary levels. “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young” is a potent 1988 essay on the roots of what he felt was largely threadbare minimalist fiction. “The Empty Plenum,” an encomium to David Markson’s 1988 novel Wittgenstein’s Mistress, explores the philosophical machinery behind the book and serves as a careful defense of avant-garde fiction. The remainder of the collection is weaker, composed of book reviews and brief essays on politics, sex and the writing life that feel less impassioned than commissioned. A report on the 1995 U.S. Open is a shallower version of Wallace’s infamous cruise-ship article, and a 2001 essay on prose poems fractures the traditional essay form into bullet points to little effect. The best overlooked work here is a set of usage notes contributed to the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus: Wallace has a blast riffing on the fine points of “pulchritude,” “unique,” “hairy” and other words. To stress his status as a lifelong word maven, the pages between pieces are filled with words and definitions from Wallace’s personal vocabulary list, from “croker sack” to “pyknic.” Not altogether Wallace’s finest work, but it brings some welcome exposure to some of his best pieces.

Walsh, Candace Seal Press (256 pp.) $16.00 paperback | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-58005-391-4

One woman cooks and cries her way through seasons of disenchantment and discovery. Fraught with family drama and dinner tables, New Mexico Magazine managing editor Walsh’s (co-editor: Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women, 2010, etc.) story begins before conception and leaves few moments of her life thereafter unturned. “This story,” she writes, “is not only the story of my lifelong love affair with food, but a story of identity: how I found out what (and who) I was truly made of historically; what my own truth was, one meal at a time.” Walsh opens with a brief climb up the family tree, focusing especially on her family’s matriarchs and their bruised relationships with men, prefiguring the author’s own story. We see Walsh as a child, forced by her father to clear her plate of her own vomit; as a high school graduate, nearly choked to death by her stepfather; as a young adult, experimenting with drugs and alcohol and dating losers. The book’s brightest points serve as testaments to personal reinvention and healing. The rapid hot-and-cold changes in her undeniably tumultuous life will keep pages turning, and Walsh wins points for resisting the frostinglike sweetness of many contemporary food memoirs, but the thick, bitter glaze of self-pity will not suit everyone’s tastes. Passionate depictions of food and cooking, seemingly offered as a main course, fail to tempt, although several of the book’s small moments of levity are catalyzed by culinary matters. When Walsh writes with pride and joy of the day she brought her shiny, new KitchenAid home and recalls tenderly the comfort found in a simple chicken fricassee, those moments shimmer like oil in a hot pan. A memoir of broken relationships, family recipes and hard-earned love that reads at times like a menu of personal grievances and their suggested food pairings.

KICKING AND DREAMING A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll

Wilson, Ann; Wilson, Nancy with Cross, Charles R. It Books/HarperCollins (288 pp.) $27.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-06-210167-9

Shared memoir by the Wilson sisters, driving forces behind the band Heart and pioneers of the hard-rock scene for countless female musicians. |

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“We never took up that cause on purpose—it was accidental, or at best the fate we were born to,” writes Wilson. “We were naive, young, and unwilling to believe that we couldn’t do something just because we were females.” The sisters were part of a very musical family. Both parents were accomplished musicians who always had opera, jazz, folk or country music playing. The family, including older sister Lisa, would sing together on road trips. Ann received a guitar while home sick from school for several weeks, but it was Nancy, four years younger, who took to it. When they saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, the sisters knew they wanted to be rock stars. As teenagers, Ann and Nancy performed together for family, friends and eventually small crowds. They were hooked. Since the 1970s, Heart has had top-10 hits in four different decades and sold more than 35 million records. With the help of Cross (Led Zeppelin: Shadows Taller Than Our Souls, 2009, etc.), the sisters take turns describing the highs and lows of being females in a male-dominated world, the loves that led them to write “Magic Man” and “Barracuda,” the joys of motherhood and partying with rock legends. “When I first auditioned for Heart and sat in with my sister’s band back in those Vancouver cabarets, I never imagined that I was signing up for a life under the microscope,” writes Nancy Wilson. “Seeing my personal failures highlighted in the press was a price of fame, but it was a steep cost.” An interesting duet that details precisely how women truly rock. (16-page photo insert)

HOW THE FRENCH INVENTED LOVE Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance

Yalom, Marilyn Perennial/HarperCollins (416 pp.) $15.99 paperback | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-06-204831-8

Cultural historian Yalom (Birth of the Chess Queen, 2004, etc.) explicates Gallic attitudes toward the notalways-so-tender passion. Tracing l’amour à la française “from the emergence of romance in the twelfth century until our own era,” the author employs an enjoyably downright style, blending in her own experiences in France over the course of 60 years as well as the personal stories of French friends. She begins with the troubadour poetry that established the idealized conventions of courtly love in medieval France, then moves on to the more cynical trope of gallant love, which emphasized physical passion. The distinction between a true emotional bond and mere lust runs through all of French literature, but they are not necessarily in conflict; Yalom notes the culture’s forthright acceptance of sexual pleasure, so much more problematic for puritanical Anglo-Saxons. The famous union of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, who maintained an “essential” love while enjoying “contingent” loves with others, is a 20th-century example of the pragmatic French acknowledgment that marriage and passion don’t always 2094

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go hand in hand. Yet Yalom finds many examples of French men and women (but mostly women) overwhelmed by all-consuming ardor, from Racine’s Phèdre to the “irresistible force that penetrates through the skin, regardless of its color,” in Marguerite Duras’ novel, The Lover. Yalom also covers homosexual love in the works of Proust, Gide and Colette, and she devotes a chapter to the “yearning for the mother” that fueled some decidedly sexual affairs between young men and older women in the novels of Stendhal, Balzac and others. Yalom’s prose occasionally seems a bit breathless for an octogenarian author, but her first-person confidences give this an engagingly informal tone that matches the relatively light treatment of its subject.

JACOB Unexpected Patriarch

Zakovitch, Yair Translated by Zakovitch, Valerie Yale Univ. (224 pp.) $25.00 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-300-14426-0

A professor takes on the troubling story of Jacob, a deeply flawed man who later earned punishment, redemption and a unique and honored place in Jewish history. Part of the publisher’s Jewish Lives series, this volume immediately acknowledges that source material on Jacob resides principally in the biblical accounts. Zakovitch accordingly realizes he must rely on what he calls “literary archaeology”—close reading and searches for biblical and extra-biblical parallels—to unearth the story’s significance. The author relates the principal events in Jacob’s life, then reflects on what the biblical writers emphasized and deemphasized, altered or buried in a word or phrase. Zakovitch begins with the clash between Jacob and his twin brother, Esau, over the birthright from their father, Isaac. In these episodes, we see the fundamental ambition that impels Jacob to deceive and betray. Zakovitch spends a chapter on the well-known “Jacob’s ladder” story, then moves on to his troubles with Laban, whose daughter Rachel Jacob wished to marry. Laban practiced some deception of his own, but after much hardship, Rachel delivered sons to Jacob, including Joseph. Off to Canaan went Jacob, then, later, to Egypt, where Joseph gained power. Zakovitch recounts the death and burial and notes how his sons would go on to head the 12 tribes. The author continually points out the similarities in other Bible stories and ends with a discussion of the conflicts in Jacob’s character. Throughout, Zakovitch analyzes the stories as stories and does not explicitly insist that they are either certain history or sacred texts. Intensely scholarly at times, but also an engaging analysis of one of the Bible’s most complex figures.

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children’s & teen HEAVEN

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Adornetto, Alexandra Feiwel & Friends (432 pp.) $17.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-312-65628-7 Series: Halo Trilogy, 3

OH! WHAT A SURPRISE! by Suzanne Bloom.............................p. 2100 ROBIN HOOD by David Calcutt; illus. by Grahame Baker-Smith....................................................p. 2106

This final installment of the forbidden love story in the popular Halo trilogy stands on its own well, with only a few references to events in previous books. Bethany, an angel, fell in love with handsome Xavier, a human with turquoise eyes, back in the first book. At the beginning of this volume they marry, thereby incurring the wrath of Heaven or, at least, the wrath of a faction of warrior angels called the Sevens. The couple goes into hiding, protected by Bethany’s brother, the archangel Gabriel, and her sister Ivy. The Sevens stay on the hunt, however, until Bethany and Xavier find themselves compelled to make a desperate bargain that leads to their possibly eternal separation. What will Bethany have to do to reunite with Xavier? Adornetto writes from a staunchly Christian viewpoint, stopping frequently to discuss fairly standard Christian doctrine. Her prose flows along quickly despite this, but the plot seems hastily thrown together, leaving some minor but noticeable holes. Most egregiously, late in the book readers learn a crucial fact about Xavier that may change everything, but the story never again refers to that point. Although major characters come across as standardissue romance heroes, a few of the minor characters stand out, such as rakish archangel Raphael. Mostly forgettable. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE by Cassandra Rose Clarke................ p. 2107 WHAT HAPPENS NEXT by Colleen Clayton ............................. p. 2108 FOOD by Kathlyn Gay..................................................................p. 2115 ARCHIE by Domenica More Gordon........................................... p. 2116 THE WARRIOR’S HEART by Eric Greitens...............................p. 2118 DREAMING UP by Christy Hale.................................................. p. 2120 INFINITY AND ME by Kate Hosford; illus. by Gabi Swiatkowska..........................................................p. 2124 OTTER AND ODDER by James Howe; illus. by Chris Raschka.................................................................p. 2124 I HAVE A DREAM by Martin Luther King; illus. by Kadir Nelson.................................................................... p. 2128 THIS IS NOT MY HAT by Jon Klassen.......................................... p. 2128 SON by Lois Lowry.......................................................................p. 2131 GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS by Jeff Mack..................................... p. 2132 MAN FROM THE LAND OF FANDANGO by Margaret Mahy; illus. by Polly Dunbar................................................................... p. 2132

THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN

Agee, Jon Illus. by Agee, Jon Michael di Capua/Scholastic (32 pp.) $17.95 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-545-16204-3

LITTLE WHITE DUCK by Andrés Vera Martínez; Na Liu; illus. by Andrés Vera Martínez......................................................p. 2133 BUFFALO BIRD GIRL by S.D. Nelson.......................................... p. 2139 BLACK DOG by Levi Pinfold....................................................... p. 2141

In a droll episode that caters to the beliefs of many Manhattanites, a cabbie discovers that the “other side of town” actually is an alternate universe. The bemused narrator’s fare is a strange gent in a pale green body suit topped by a pink pompom. Following his directions takes the cabbie through the “Finkon” (not Lincoln) Tunnel to “Schmeeker” (not Bleecker) Street—where “glom” (not palm) trees grow, baseball fans root for the Spankees or the Smets,

HAND IN HAND by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illus. by Brian Pinkney..................................................................p. 2142 ICE! by Laurence Pringle..............................................................p. 2142 THE BRONTË SISTERS by Catherine Reef................................. p. 2143 BRIGHT LIGHTS AND STARRY NIGHTS by Andy Runton....... p. 2145 OLIVER by Birgitta Sif.................................................................p. 2148 |

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TEN BIRDS

and “mush hour” jams the roadways. Fortunately, getting back entails little more than a quick trip over the undulating Snooklyn Bridge to…Times Square!—though signs of leakage between the realities follow when dinner that night turns out to be “tweet loaf, with bravy.” Agee illustrates his sparely told tale with large cartoon scenes rendered in muted colors and dizzying tangles of offbeat urban detail; the “other side” looks an awful lot like Hobbiton as rendered by Dr. Seuss. Though the cabbie’s fellow New Yorkers are this book’s most obvious audience, with a little prompting, children from just about anywhere can have uproarious fun replicating the wordplay and imagining just what the other sides of their towns might be like. No fare required for this trip, just a tongue and a cheek in which to put it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Amann, Jürg Translated by Wilson, David Henry Illus. by Gebert, Helga NorthSouth (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7358-4100-0 Ten birds frolic in fractured count-down number rhymes. Ten birds, most with identifying hats and cloaks, open this series of misfortunes in a wordless double-page spread showing a concert that, from their expressions, must be more cacophonous than musical. Then disaster happens: “Ten fine birds were sitting in a line / When the fence got smashed, / which was not a good sign, / So then there were NIGN.” Similar calamities follow, each with its ending number misspelled to fit the rhyme. The verses appear on the left-hand pages, along with a pictorial hint about which bird will disappear. On the facing page, bordered at the top and bottom with white, are Gebert’s illustrations of each catastrophe. (Some details are left for readers’ imaginations, as when the “six scared birds” encounter a crocodile.) But all ends well. Readers will have to judge for themselves whether it’s the parent owl or child that leaves the nest to “WUN,” but the eggs inside miraculously hatch all 10 again. They end the tale with a quiet picnic. Wilson’s clever translation of the German Mit großem Krach: Vom Reimen auf Biegen und Brechen (2012) preserves the tortured rhymes and most of the mispronunciations of the numbers. Even children who can’t yet read will get at least a portion of the joke. (Picture book. 5-9)

THAT NIGHT’S TRAIN

Akbarpour, Ahmad Illus. by Arsenault, Isabelle Groundwood (96 pp.) $14.95 | paper $9.95 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-55498-169-4 978-1-55498-170-0 paperback A writer’s broken promise to a motherless child frames ruminations on story crafting and the sometimes conflicting imperatives of life and art. In a shifting patchwork of narratives and points of view, Iranian author Akbarpour (Good Night, Commander, 2010) opens with a chance meeting between 5-year-old Banafsheh and a friendly, unnamed children’s writer who promises to call in a few days. When the call never comes, Banafsheh’s delight changes to feelings of anger and betrayal that simmer even after her loving father reads her one of the writer’s tales about a sundered friendship between a child and an old man. Meanwhile, the writer presents the original encounter as an open-ended story to a class of fifth-graders, and their sometimes poignant suggestions about what happens next prompt thoughts about how authors must sometimes be ruthless, even cruel in serving the demands of their work. But the revelation that the real friendship that inspired the other, embedded story took a different and happier course prompts the writer to make good on her promise at last—and even, in a fence-mending sacrifice, to destroy her manuscript. Short and simply told, but hard to follow and likely to have less meaning to children than to reflective older readers with authorial ambitions of their own. (Fiction. 12-14, adult)

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MY FIRST BOOK OF KOREAN WORDS An ABC Rhyming Book

Amen IV, Henry J; Park, Kyubyong Illus. by Padrón, Aya Tuttle (26 pp.) $12.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-8048-4273-0

Simple Korean words and culture are introduced to young Westerners using an ABC format. Two language-learning and software professionals, Amen and Park, use an alphabetic structure to introduce Korean words using simple verse supplemented by tidbits of surprising information. For example, one page reads “D is for dal, / the moon shining bright. / I think it’s a rabbit / who visits each night.” The sidebar states that in “Korea and other East Asian countries, people say there’s a rabbit in the moon in the same way that we say there’s a man in the moon.” Illustrations are reminiscent of manga-styled cartoons, with a little girl named Ji-min providing additional context for the definitions. Strengths include seeing the Korean words in Hangeul as well as in its Romanized form, with the English word in bold to correlate the two. Although there is an occasional less-than-successful rhyme, the word selections are interesting and provide |

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“This successful debut delivers chick-lit fun and a bit of depth, all served up with a dash of ESP.” from kiss and make up

KISS AND MAKE UP

insight into the culture. However, the alphabetic structure is problematic. The Korean alphabet does not have equivalent sounds for the letters F, L, Q, V, X and Z, nearly a quarter of the examples. An English word stands in its place. Although this too provides insight into the language, the inconsistent structure creates confusion. A valiant attempt to introduce culture and simple words, but the alphabet structure is a poor vehicle. (preface, pronunciation guide) (Picture book. 4-8)

Anderson, Katie D. Amazon Children’s Publishing (320 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-7614-6316-0 978-0-7614-6320-7 e-book This successful debut delivers chicklit fun and a bit of depth, all served up with a dash of ESP. Fourteen-year-old Emerson cares about two things: cosmetics, especially lip gloss, and finding a suitable boyfriend. She always struggled with school, but now she’s close to failing. Her aunt, struggling financially, threatens to pull her out of her high-priced private school if her grades don’t improve. But Emerson has a strange ability: She can read minds when she kisses someone, so the panic-stricken teen decides to use it to her academic advantage. Kissing one of the school’s math geeks zooms mathematics into her head, and she aces her next test. She devises a plan to kiss all the nerdy boys and thereby fill in her academic needs, but she winds up falling for one of them. Trouble ensues when he discovers her kissing promiscuity, and Emerson finally realizes she’s done wrong. Anderson writes with a light touch but fleshes out her characters nicely. She keeps her focus on Emerson’s guilt about using the boys and gives her a difficult family history—her mother committed suicide—investing her story with some emotional intensity. Although the book easily can appeal to the chick-lit audience with its constant search for those elusive boyfriends, some school rivalries and, especially, the overarching importance of cosmetics in life, those looking for more won’t go away unsatisfied. Fun, funny and thoughtful. (Paranormal chick-lit. 12 & up)

DEAR TEEN ME Reflections on Hard Truths, White Lies, and Miraculous Escapes

Anderson, E. Kristin; Kenneally, Miranda--Eds. Zest Books (192 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Oct. 31, 2012 978-1-936976-21-8

Plodding through this mostly disposable collection of blog posts is claustrophobically tiring, like watching someone else reflected in a hall of mirrors. The preponderance of young, white, female authors of commercial series fiction may explain the chatty, repetitious content and tone, larded with perishable pop-culture references. The view that blogs and social networks foster petty narcissism is reinforced here as authors reassure their teen selves that they’ll be hotties, win awards and be admitted to their first-choice colleges. Popularity, dating and looks are major themes. Writers congratulate themselves on surviving parental divorce or mean behavior from peers. Reflecting on one’s teens from a vantage point of very few years (one was 18 when she “looked back”) can sound self-congratulatory and pompous—asserting wisdom without having paid the dues of accumulated life experience. Tough personal stories often feel flat—the short form and high concept work against emotional depth. Scattered among the self-reverential messages are a few gems: Joseph Bruchac’s account of how a personal choice became a foundation for self-esteem; Carrie Jones’ refusal to be defined by stigma; Don Tate’s tough love–style straight talk to his messed-up teen self. Michael Griffo, Mike Jung and Mitali Perkins also avoid cute-speak, conveying genuine feeling and the deeper complexity and contradictions of life as it’s lived, not just blogged. Some gems for readers willing to get out the sieve. (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

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THE HAUNTING OF APARTMENT 101

Atwood, Megan Darby Creek (112 pp.) $7.95 paperback | $20.95 e-book | PLB $27.93 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-8225-9077-4 978-1-4677-0036-8 e-book 978-0-7613-8332-1 PLB Series: The Paranormalists, 1 Two teen ghost hunters use their skills to solve a mystery in a haunted apartment house. Jinx has always had a difficult time fitting in, beginning in middle school. However, by the time she is in high school, she has embraced her outsider status, even reveling in the negative way she is viewed by fellow students. Indeed, she’s even adopted the nickname they gave her, preferring it to her real name. Her one friend, Jackson, remains loyal to her despite his insider status as a member of the football team. Jinx spends her time pursuing her plan to use technology to investigate paranormal phenomena. When one of the girls |

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“Badescu…creat[es] a calm neatness that holds things steady while the color examples bounce between conventional and complex.” from pomelo explores color

POMELO EXPLORES COLOR

Jinx particularly dislikes seeks help with mysterious events in her family’s apartment, she is extremely skeptical. Instead, it is soft-hearted Jackson who convinces Jinx this is a case they should take. Finally, Jinx will be able to use the equipment and research she has been working with for some time. This easy-to-read ghost story will grab reluctant readers with its intriguing plot, its quirky main character and her more straight-laced best friend. In addition to the plot’s twists and turns, all of the primary teen characters are coping with issues familiar to readers. The cliffhanger ending with its human and supernatural components will lead fans to the next in the series, The Terror of Black Eagle Tavern, which publishes simultaneously. (Mystery. 12 & up)

Badescu, Ramona Illus. by Chaud, Benjamin Enchanted Lion Books (120 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 22, 2012 978-1-59270-126-1

An unusual look at colors provides something for preschoolers and something more for older kids. Pomelo, a tiny elephant, initially appears integrated into a black-and-white checkerboard, his body black where the squares are white and vice versa. Wanting more, he becomes pink and “rediscovers” color in his garden environment. One sentence carries the text through 120 pages in this small, square volume, but that sentence never stretches thin. Each spread showcases an example of a single hue. Badescu places all the whites in a row, then the yellows, then the oranges, creating a calm neatness that holds things steady while the color examples bounce between conventional and complex. From familiar (“the glowing yellow of fireflies”) to surprising (“the happy

It’s 1909, Minnesota . . . early one morning a prostitute is found in the snow . . . Frozen is a suspenseful story, set at the dawn of Prohibition, of a young girl left behind, struggling to speak for herself— no matter the risks—from critically acclaimed and awardwinning author Mary Casanova. “Mary Casanova knows the lakes and woods of northern Minnesota as few other writers do, and she brings them to life along with an intriguing mystery set in that region’s dark past.” —Marion Dane Bauer, author of On My Honor $16.95 | hardcover | 256 pages

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA PRESS

www.upress.umn.edu Available at better bookstores or to order call 800-621-2736

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“J.K. Rowling meets Blue Balliett in this series opener in which imagination comes to life—literally.” from hollow earth

FANGIRL

gray of rain”), from abstract (“the gray of things you can’t quite remember”) to concrete (“the green-gray of rot”), the sensibility’s always whimsical. A subtle philosophical arc charts how “the promising red of ripening strawberries” becomes “the mysterious blue of dreams”—Pomelo dreams, in blue, of future strawberries—and then “the deflating gray of disappointment” as the fruit, crushingly, turns gray on the plant. Chaud’s art is sweet, offbeat and eye-catching, even when oranges and carrots are darker than real life. While preschoolers dip in and out for fun, older kids could use these inventively expanded color definitions as inspiration in an art or English classroom. (Picture book. 3-13)

Baker, Ken Running Press Kids (272 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-7624-4344-4 In what could have been an escapist fantasy romp, E! Entertainment Television chief news correspondent Baker delivers a tepid Hollywood romance. The protagonists are Josie, a 14-yearold California tomboy, and Peter Maxx, a 16-year-old Justin Bieber–like teen idol. Josie and Peter overcome the odds, their frenemies and their own anxieties to find chaste true love and a reliably tidy ending. Whole paragraphs of journalistic exposition befit Baker’s reportorial background but translate awkwardly to narrative fiction; the stiff third-person narration is too distant to make Josie and Peter’s alternating perspectives feel authentic. A relentless stream of pop-culture references (Coldplay, TOMS shoes, Formspring) feel less like real teen dialogue and more like an adult straining for relevance, anchoring the story to a very specific period in time that might render it already passe among trend-spotting teens. Baker’s access to entertainment titans has given him much to draw upon in his descriptions of the lonely life of a teenage star, but the story’s stale arc might be insufficiently compelling to hook readers not suffering from Bieber fever. Intriguing premise, flawed execution. (Fiction. 12-16)

UNLOCKING THE SPELL

Baker, E.D. Bloomsbury (272 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-59990-841-0

Annie has been home less than a week after finding a prince to wake up sister Gwennie, aka Sleeping Beauty (The Wide-Awake Princess, 2010), when her father demands she undertake another quest: seek the dwarf who turned Gwennie’s beloved Prince Beldegard into a bear and convince him to undo the spell. Annie’s conflicted response—gratitude that her newly awakened family no longer shuns her for her gift for repelling magic; resentment that they are so quick to send her away— is quickly sketched, especially in relation to Gwennie. Annie agrees to go after stipulating that Gwennie wait at home while she and her sweetheart Liam, led by Beldegard, make the trip. Surprisingly, Gwennie runs away from the castle to join their journey across many lands and through several fairy tales. As before, readers will delight in the twists the author makes to the familiar tales, seamlessly weaving them into the plot, from “Snow White and Rose Red” to “The Three Little Pigs” and more, but despite the often-comical interactions, there is not much action. The hunt eventually leads the foursome to Snow White’s home with the dwarves (who knew an eighth dwarf had gone bad?). Nor does the stream of sometimes-petulant bickering provide insight into the characters, leaving the sisters’ relationship unplumbed and making the romantic resolutions feel shallow. The hint of a future romance between Snow White and Maitland, Beldegard’s formerly fratricidal brother, is particularly disturbing. Recommend only to those set on an undemanding jaunt through retold fairy tales. (Fantasy. 8-12)

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HOLLOW EARTH

Barrowman, John; Barrowman, Carole E. Aladdin (400 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-4424-5852-9 J.K. Rowling meets Blue Balliett in this series opener in which imagination comes to life—literally. When 12-year-old twins Matt and Em Calder “draw” themselves into a Georges Seurat painting in London’s National Gallery, their single mother knows it’s time for them to learn the truth about their magical heritage. Secretly fleeing to their grandfather’s estate on a remote Scottish island, the twins—who communicate with each other telepathically—discover that their mother is an Animare, who can change reality through drawing, and their father, who abandoned the family years ago, was a Guardian meant to protect their mother. Matt and Em, the products of this forbidden relationship, possess highly developed powers and worry the Council of Guardians. Adventure ensues when the twins’ mother disappears and they must use art to battle ruthless Council Guardians and Animare who want to open Hollow Earth, a mythical space in Earth where monsters and demons remain trapped. Helping them along the way is Zach, a deaf Guardian in training, although Matt and Em learn sign language with credulity-straining speed, and it’s unclear how a deaf |

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“Exuberant pastel illustrations with loose, scratchy textures stand out against brilliant, royal-blue backgrounds….” from oh! what a surprise!

teen would understand telepathic “speech.” It’s a frustratingly confusing narrative, though speculations about famous artists and interspersed chapters about a teen Animare from the Middle Ages do add interesting connections. Hopefully the sequel will draw a more coherent storyline. (Fantasy. 8-12)

summer. Lexi, the focus of this installment, spent part of the summer with her quirky aunt in New York City, but she experiences some jealousy as her friends come back with stories of their own summer adventures. After school starts, she’s attracted to Jeremy, with whom she’s been partnered in the school production of Romeo and Juliet. This makes for some uncomfortable moments as she, with her friends egging her on, searches for a way to let him know she likes him. Meanwhile, the girls are baking at-times vast quantities of cupcakes to fill commercial orders. One weekend they need to come up with 3,500 cupcakes, baked and decorated, which they—remarkably—do! The entrepreneurial aspects of the club seem far beyond the capabilities of a few grade schoolers, however motivated. While most of the interactions and situations (except the baking, and the Shakespeare is a stretch) are typical of the age, there’s nothing terrifically compelling going on here. Appended recipes add an amusing, probably yummy, dimension. Fans of the first effort—and young bakers—will likely enjoy another outing, but it’s nothing more than an average early chapter book in a crowded field. (Fiction. 8-11)

THE SKULL IN THE ROCK How a Scientist, a Boy, and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins

Berger, Lee R.; Aronson, Marc National Geographic (64 pp.) $18.95 | PLB $27.90 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-4263-1010-2 978-1-4263-1053-9 PLB

When 9-year-old Matthew Berger found a fossil, he “opened a door two million years back in time.” “Dad, I’ve found a fossil.” His father, noted paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, figured it was just the remains of ancient antelopes. But when he got closer, he knew this “was a gift from the past so precious almost nothing like it had ever been found,” part of a nearly complete skeleton of a new species, Australopithecus sediba, that has led to a new way of viewing human evolution. Aronson weaves the story of sediba’s discovery around a brief biography of Lee Berger, plaiting in enough background about paleoanthropology to provide context. He writes the story with vigor, but he’s not just writing about science, he’s urging young readers to learn from Dr. Berger: “to train your eyes, to walk the land, to learn to see the anomaly—to make the next key discovery.” Aronson emphasizes that the science is ever evolving and that more than the specific discovery, it’s the vision and the debate that are so important and fascinating. Matthew’s discovery was important in itself, but it also opened the door for new discoveries, and it’s the spirit of scientific inquiry that Aronson imparts here. A fascinating account of an Indiana Jones–style fossil hunter and how his discoveries have changed the way we see human evolution. (“A New View of Evolution,” further reading, glossary/index, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

OH! WHAT A SURPRISE!

Bloom, Suzanne Illus. by Bloom, Suzanne Boyds Mills (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-59078-892-9 Series: Goose and Bear, 4 In the fourth entry in the charming Goose and Bear series, the polar bear and gawky white goose are again joined by their irrepressible little friend, a fox with the personality of a bright 2-year-old. Each of the volumes in the series deals with some aspect of friendship, and this time the issue concerns gifts for friends. Making presents, wrapping them, wondering about the recipient, waiting to open the package—all are exciting concepts for the little fox, who narrates the tale. The clever story conveys a complete plot in only a few words and will appeal to both younger children who are just starting to listen to stories and to older ones who will appreciate the subtle humor. Fox thinks the scarf Bear is knitting must be for her, as well as the mittens Goose is making. She’s so excited about the present exchange that she wraps herself up as a surprise package and pops out to delight her more-experienced friends. They give her a custommade vest, which delights Fox so much she suggests they do their present exchange all over again. Exuberant pastel illustrations with loose, scratchy textures stand out against brilliant, royal-blue backgrounds with the text set in white. This one has “read it again” potential, and Fox has the makings of a star. (Picture book. 2-6)

RECIPE FOR TROUBLE

Berk, Sheryl; Berk, Carrie Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (192 pp.) $6.99 paperback | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4022-6452-8 Series: Cupcake Club, 2 Kylie and her friends, introduced in Peace, Love and Cupcakes (2012), are back for another bakefest. Founders of a successful cupcakebaking club they call “Peace, Love and Cupcakes,” the girls are now entering fifth grade and have been separated for the 2100

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ON THE RUN

of view, Hamweenie is also shown playing a video game, reclining and reading a magazine while his owner fans him assiduously, and snubbing an extensive, if not especially appealing, feast. While obviously incorporating fantastic elements, Bowman’s words and pictures nonetheless capture perfectly typical feline behavior and the fawning affection felt by many cat owners. Clever and quirky, cat lovers will approve and understand, though others may be somewhat mystified. (Picture book. 4-7)

Bourreau, Clara Translated by Maudet, Y. Delacorte (128 pp.) $14.99 | $9.99 e-book | PLB $17.99 Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-385-74276-4 978-0-307-97706-9 e-book 978-0-375-99076-2 PLB Resentful that he didn’t know his father was in jail, Anthony determines to stick with him after he escapes, running away with him to the seaside at Nantes. For two years, the third-grader has been receiving postcards from his father’s “travels.” His family thought him too young to be told the truth: His father has been in a detention center awaiting trial. With relatively little emotion, narrator Anthony describes his discovery that both his father and grandfather had been professional burglars, his visits to the jail, the disapproval of his classmates when his father’s trial is on the news, and how he joins his fugitive father and successfully conceals his getaway under cover of a fireworks display. In this fast-paced, presenttense account, Anthony’s voice is believably naïve and accepting. At home, he slept with a night light, but by story’s end he’s self-sufficient in the dark. He’s grown, but his father has not. Anthony would like him to return the stolen money, to have a normal life. But his father justifies himself: Banks are insured; he’s never been hurt. Honesty doesn’t enter into the picture. First published in France as En Cavale in 2009, this has been smoothly translated by Maudet. This glimpse of existential amorality will leave readers with much to think about. (Fiction. 9-12)

DOUBLE VISION

Bradley, F.T. Harper/HarperCollins (272 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 18, 2012 978-0-06-210437-3 978-0-06-210439-7 e-book A middle school troublemaker turns secret agent. After a disastrous field trip, Linc Baker is offered an opportunity to make things right for himself and his family. In order to make their legal problems disappear, Linc must travel halfway around the world and impersonate a look-alike secret agent. Unfortunately, the agent he has to pretend to be is none other than Benjamin Green, junior operative extraordinaire. Almost from the moment his plane touches down in Paris, everything becomes a lot more complicated. Doppelgangers abound in the form of double agents and a set of secret, and possibly evil, Leonardo da Vinci paintings. If Linc can just see past his double vision, he might be able to protect his family from financial ruin and save the world along the way. Focusing as much on what it claims not to be (a rehash of Percy Jackson or Spider-Man) as what it is (a watered-down Alex Rider), this first installment in what hints to be a new series suffers from a lack of originality, not to mention believability. Its sole strength is Linc. His self-professed laziness and bumbling, good-natured manner might be enough to keep this story fresh. Strong character. Weak premise. (Adventure. 8-12)

THE AMAZING HAMWEENIE

Bowman, Patty Illus. by Bowman, Patty Philomel (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 25, 2012 978-0-399-25688-2

This portrait of a pampered pet uses sly humor and illustrations with an old-fashioned feel to reveal a marmalade cat’s essential feline nature. Hamweenie, the titular hero of this (not quite) epic adventure, yearns for glory. Pictured in a top hat and cloak, this debonair tomcat imagines himself a magician, the star of a parade (in person and as a large balloon) and a red-carpet habitué. He chafes against the limitations inherent to his current situation, the beloved and cosseted pet of a pony-tailed, freckle-faced little girl, and presents himself as horribly misunderstood and mistreated. Bowman’s illustrations, executed in pen and ink and watercolor, are reminiscent of Edward Gorey, with round-faced, pointy-limbed creatures and decidedly odd touches. They also contradict almost every detail of her brief, deadpan text. While being forced to ride in a baby carriage or take a bath might indeed be considered a fate worse than death from a cat’s point |

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THE SECRET PROPHECY

Brennan, Herbie Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-06-207180-4 978-0-06-207183-5 e-book Conspiracies abound in this tensionfilled series starter from a master of many genres, catching two teens up in the secretive Knights of Themis’ plot to dominate the world and casting them into a maelstrom of danger. Em (short for Edward Michael) Goverton is being hunted by a man with a gun whom he spotted at the funeral of his |

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“…brilliant color photographs provide children with examples of the concepts being presented, all of them emphasizing that shapes are all around us, waiting to be discovered.” from circles, stars, and squares

THE UNFAILING LIGHT

father, a noted expert on Nostradamus, and again on a sightseeing jaunt in Paris. Back from France and still being hunted, he meets I Ching devotee Victor, who rescues him and teaches him about both the Knights and his employer, the supersecret agency Section 7, which has tracked the Knights for over 50 years. The ensuing mayhem—tightly narrated, with cliffhangers, red herrings and a deliciously complex wheels-withinwheels conspiracy—is spellbinding. The final chapters and outstanding ending must be read in one sitting. Thoroughly believable, Em is suitably fearful about the chaos but is decisive when tough choices are needed. His friend Charlotte is smart, funny and helpful. This well-constructed thriller will appeal to all fans of suspense. Middle schoolers—male and female—will enjoy this novel and hope en masse the next book comes soon. (Adventure. 11-14)

Bridges, Robin Delacorte (320 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $20.99 Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-385-74024-1 978-0-375-89902-7 e-book 978-0-385-90830-6 PLB Series: The Katerina Trilogy, 2 In the sequel to The Gathering Storm (2012), the tsar forces Katerina to put aside her ambition to attend medical college and return to Smolny Institute for another year of finishing school, immersing her in the dangerous paranormal intrigue of the Russian court. Since the blood bond created with vampiric Prince Danilo in the previous effort, he now has access to her thoughts, but Katerina knows better than to trust this handsome royal. Her thoughts are centered instead on Grand Duke George Alexandrovich, but he’s been sent to Paris to acquire a better understanding of magic, and besides, he’s aligned with the Light Court and she’s tied to the Dark. Thanks to her inborn talent as a necromancer, she can reanimate the dead at will. Now, in spite of a protective spell cast over Smolny Institute, an evil spirit has taken over the library, threatening students and staff. Katerina is determined to resolve the situation. The pace is deliberately slow; readers will have to be sustained by Bridges’ complex worldbuilding rather than any rapidly rising level of suspense, although the climax is satisfyingly perilous. Given the back story’s complexity, the second volume cannot stand alone. Katerina’s first-person voice is smart and believable, fitting well into this atmospheric romance. The simmering tale never quite reaches the boiling point, but fans will nonetheless yearn for the conclusion. (Paranormal romance. 11 & up)

MAESTRO STU SAVES THE ZOO

Brennan-Nelson, Denise Illus. by Bowers, Tim Sleeping Bear Press (32 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 15, 2012 978-1-58536-802-0

An uneven tale of a boy saving his city’s zoo. Young Stu and his mother both love the neighboring zoo. At night, it radiates a great animal music, sometimes soft and sometimes upbeat, but Stu is happy to conduct either like a symphony. Then the action shifts. A fat-cat developer—all skeezy-sleazy, with a nasty comb-over—wants the zoo’s land for a mall and easily buys the city council by padding their pockets. The animals get wind of their fate and take stock. This is the most droll part of the book, with the polar bear “coming apart at the seams.” “Pull yourself together,” instructs the rhino, while the tiger admonishes the slothful sloth to “get your head out of the clouds!” Here readers begin to appreciate that there has been an overarching other-interest all along: that artful expression, the idiom. Then they will start hunting for them: weak at the knees, wear your heart on your sleeve, mad as a wet hen, selling like hotcakes, all ears and wee hours. Which is a good thing, for the story itself is rather artless. Stu conducts the animals in a public forum, and they are a hit. The developer becomes the pooper-scooper at the zoo. One steady hand throughout is Bowers’ artwork—light but lush and charged with character and emotion. As a hunt-and-peck for idioms, this can be fun and even educational; as a story, this can be forgotten. (Picture book. 6-10)

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CIRCLES, STARS, AND SQUARES Looking for Shapes

Brocket, Jane Photos by Brocket, Jane Millbrook/Lerner (32 pp.) $18.95 e-book | PLB $25.26 | Oct. 1, 2012 Series: Clever Concepts The Clever Concepts series gets a new entry that teaches readers about two- and three-dimensional shapes. As with previous titles, brilliant color photographs provide children with examples of the concepts being presented, all of them emphasizing that shapes are all around us, waiting to be discovered. The first of two loose sections looks at “flat” shapes—circles, ovals, squares, rectangles, triangles, diamonds, and a brief mention of pentagons, hexagons and octagons—the second at “solid” shapes—spheres, cylinders, cubes, cones, rings and eggs. But this latest entry has some troubling problems. While the author uses good vocabulary in some |

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JOHNNY DELGADO: PRIVATE DETECTIVE

areas, in others, she oversimplifies—for example, never using the terms 2-D or 3-D—or provides what could be described as half-definitions: A sphere is a “solid circle,” while a cylinder “has circles at each end and straight sides in between.” In at least one case, vocabulary is erroneous: A life-saving ring in a picture is called a life jacket within the text. Furthermore, her pictures are not always the best examples. Bricks are great rectangles, but the pattern depicted shows three bricks stuck together, which make a square. She also says that “chocolate candies are all spheres,” showing a cake decorated with spherical candies, but also with M&M’s and chocolate discs, which are hardly spheres. This just doesn’t stand up to geometrical scrutiny. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Brooks, Kevin Stoke Books (81 pp.) $16.95 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-78112-116-0

This unvarnished, all-action, hi-lo lit features a would-be PI who is largely, but not entirely, clueless. Would-be sleuth Johnny allows himself to be hired against his libido-clouded judgment by a pair of teen hotties to find out whether bad-news punk Lee Kirk is seeing a certain “ugly little bitch.” He quickly discovers that he’s been set up to take the rap for the bloody murder of a gang leader. Happily, Johnny turns out to have more allies than enemies in the run-down housing project where he lives with his mother. Writing in short chapters of simply phrased staccato prose, Brooks propels his amateur detective past an unlikely escape from pursuing police to a rooftop climax

Fall Favorites from Sleeping Bear Press

New York Times bestselling author Sandra Dallas crafts a spellbinding story about a family’s journey as they travel west by wagon train on the Overland Trail.

An amusing visual riff on the frequent refrain “nothing ever happens to me.”

Sprinkled with animal idioms such as “snug as a bug in a rug” comes a tale of a young boy named Stu who loves the zoo and all the animal sounds that are music to his ears.

Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) —May 2012

A companion title to My Teacher Likes to Say.

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that ends with a likely opening for sequels. Narrator Johnny has a knack for noir phrasing that’s abetted by his naïveté: “The problem is this. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World was sitting on my bed, and The Second Most Beautiful Girl in the World was sitting next to her. And they were both wearing very tight clothes. That was the problem.” Another violent, mean-streets caper along the lines of Kissing the Rain (2004), but at about one-quarter the page count, catering more to reluctant readers than avid ones. (Mystery. 10-12)

to Amherst, Mass., and repeating her senior year for a second time, Claire thinks she should be a recluse, too. Inspired by Dickinson’s poetry, the teen writes her own, featured throughout the story, to sort through her troubled world. When Claire’s student teacher in English class, Mr. Tate, notices her dark writing and inadvertently triggers her theft of Dickinson’s dress from the poet’s home, the pair has more to sort out than what to do with the antique garment. Claire’s lyrical, first-person narration turns more intense when Richy’s body is recovered and as Tate (no longer a “Mr.” once student teaching is over) helps her piece together clues about his final moments. In the process of finding Richy’s killer, she also discovers how to deal with her grief, move on, make new friends and watch her father date. And of course, there’s still the issue of that dress—and each other—in this quick yet fulfilling read for aspiring writers and fans of literary fiction. (Mystery. 13 & up)

DUCK BOY

Bunn, Bill Bitingduck Press (288 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Oct. 20, 2012 978-1-938463-60-0

GUARDIAN

A teenager takes up alchemy where his suddenly vanished mom left off and falls afoul of police, vicious thugs and a digital intelligence determined to separate him into generic components. Battling grief and a loser mentality (the latter reinforced by widespread derision after a quixotic attempt to save a duck frozen into a pond), Steve is electrified when his eccentric great-aunt Shannon transforms an ordinary “clock” into a “lock.” She informs him that he, too, can use words to work transformations—and perhaps discover what happened to his mother. Stronger on action than logic, the plot then proceeds to evolve into a wild tangle. On the one hand, Steve is pursued by police for a series of kidnappings and house trashings that are actually the work of rival alchemist John Dee and his murderous crew, and on the other, he travels back and forth between this plane and a “World of Pieces” where everything is made of numbers and a hypnotic voice urges him to dissolve into a protean liquid. Bunn works a predictable transformation on Steve, who rescues everybody, and caps his debut with a tidy, melodramatic, thoroughly contrived happy ending. The premise is better than the execution, but readers who aren’t bothered by arbitrary notions and unlikely situations will enjoy the nonstop action. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Burch, Heather Zondervan (320 pp.) $14.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-310-72821-4 Series: Halflings, 2 The second installment of the Halflings trilogy picks up right where readers left off, with Nikki Youngblood caught smack-dab in the middle of a love triangle between the two half-men, halfangels assigned to protect her. Tensions are even higher now that Nikki, Mace and Raven (plus a trio of Halfling ladies and Will, everyone’s resident guardian angel) are forced to exist in close quarters on a yacht bound for Europe as the host of heavenly bodies continues its quest to uncover the dark forces that threaten the worlds of both men and angels. The ocean voyage is a necessity, as the “creatures from the pit” have been cast into “dry places,” and it allows Nikki time to explore her unique talents as a Seer. Unfortunately, much like its predecessor, this outing is plagued by heavy-handed Christian overtones that exclude nonbelievers and an indecisive heroine whose declarations of love for her suitors change with the wind, making it hard to put any stock in her feelings for either. Though the power of the love triangle suffers as a result of Nikki’s waffling, at least by the novel’s end her true identity is revealed, and readers will at long last understand what Damon Vessler and his army of Darklings have in store. Fans of the series will likely be entertained, but those who disliked Halflings (2012) shouldn’t seek redemption here. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

EMILY’S DRESS AND OTHER MISSING THINGS

Burak, Kathryn Roaring Brook (240 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-59643-736-4

Emily Dickinson remains an enigma; this debut featuring her dress offers another mystery. After losing her mother to suicide, being considered a suspect in her best friend Richy’s disappearance, relocating from Providence, R.I., 2104

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“A fine introduction to the value of Thoreau and the natural world.” from if you spent a day with thoreau at walden pond

IF YOU SPENT A DAY WITH THOREAU AT WALDEN POND

closing art of the book proper with its yellow star. The illustrations throughout the picture book, however, do much to elevate the story as a whole, with lush, full-bleed acrylic paintings that will delight dragon aficionados. A title with appeal for readers interested in dragons, this picture book doesn’t quite live up to other offerings with similar themes. (Picture book. 3-6)

Burleigh, Robert Illus. by Minor, Wendell Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (40 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-8050-9137-3 What would it be like to spend a day with Henry David Thoreau, observing and appreciating nature? Readers are immediately thrust into the world of Thoreau through the experiences of a modern boy who enjoys a day with the great writer from sunrise to dusk. Evocative prose replete with memorable images gives readers a child’s-eye view of Thoreau’s days, capturing the importance and excitement of being at one with nature. Images of a modern boy in basic jeans, T-shirt and sneakers and Thoreau in simple 19th-century garb wandering through the woods, water and meadows surrounding Walden Pond provide a shimmering tableau of the natural world. While the inclusion of both modern and older dress is initially somewhat jarring, the illustrations are closely interwoven with the text, providing keen visuals that are sure to draw in young naturalists. Initial information may have been helpful in providing children with context, but the end pages include biographical information as well as a selection of both Thoreau quotes and Burleigh’s child-friendly interpretations of them. The audience skews a bit on the younger side because of overall tone, but older children will find much to interest them in the subject matter and final pages as well. A fine introduction to the value of Thoreau and the natural world. (Picture book. 4-9)

MR. TERUPT FALLS AGAIN

Buyea, Rob Delacorte (368 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-385-74205-4 978-0-375-98910-0 e-book 978-0-375-99038-0 PLB Looping with his students into sixth grade, Mr. Terupt continues to surprise them with challenging projects and perfect reading suggestions, but there are still aftereffects from the snowball Peter threw. As in Because of Mr. Terupt (2010), short chapters narrated by seven students describe the year, their final one at Snow Hill School. Peter plays with failure, hoping not to have to leave his classmates for seventh grade in boarding school. Lexie hurries to grow up, egged on by some dangerous older friends, but Danielle is the first to get her period. Jeffrey finds an abandoned baby and an outlet for his anger in wrestling. Anna and her mother learn to be senior-citizen caregivers as volunteers in a medical facility. Luke may have saved a life with his Boy Scout skills, and Jessica provides continuity with her screenplays and voiceover comments. Family worries go along with lingering questions about the health of their teacher. Sixth-grade relationships and a grown-up romance, lessons in tolerance and a fairy-tale ending make this an exceptionally satisfying school story. Mr. Terupt seems unusually skilled and perceptive, but the student voices are spot-on. Readers will be better equipped if they attended fifth grade with this trueto-life yet timeless group, but this sequel can be read on its own. Moving and real. (Fiction. 9-12)

FLIGHT OF THE LAST DRAGON

Burleigh, Robert Illus. by GrandPré, Mary Philomel (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 11, 2012 978-0-399-25200-6

The high-interest topic of this picture book about “the last dragon” fails to realize its full potential. Ultimon is the name of the titular last dragon, and he lives a pitiful existence in the sewers and subway tunnels of a contemporary city. Dreaming of the glory days of the past when other dragons “Ruled the waves / And breathed hot flames / In jewel-filled caves,” Ultimon mourns his solitary, pathetic life. Trite phrasing delivered in rhyme describes his plight as he laments, “And I am left / With thoughts that pass / Like grains of sand / In an hourglass.” Hoisting himself up and out of a manhole, he begs for pity and hears a voice calling to him from the heavens. He follows the cry, flying up to the stars and taking his place amid the constellations. Closing text asks readers to find “Draco, / The dragon star,” with accompanying art highlighting one bright yellow star in the sky. The afterword directs attention to the constellation Draco, which, unfortunately, is not easily discerned in the aforementioned |

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A IS FOR MUSK OX

Cabatingan, Erin Illus. by Myers, Matthew Neal Porter/Roaring Brook (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-59643-676-3 Myers’ hilarious illustrations strengthen debut author Cabatingan’s ticklish prose in this not-quite-an-alphabet book. A frustrated zebra attempts to finagle a confession out of the musk ox, who obviously ate his apple. The musk ox, after admitting his guilt, tries to convince the zebra that |

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he did him a favor since “A is for apple” is “sooo boring.” Instead, the book would be far more interesting if every letter of the alphabet corresponded to an attribute of musk oxen. What follows is the morphing of a concept primer into a humorous science (and sometimes pseudoscience) book, as each colorful spread features the zebra’s intended example plastered over by the words “musk ox”. The “facts” about musk oxen range from ridiculous (“D is for musk ox. Because musk ox are daring”) to genuinely interesting (“Q is for musk ox. Because the soft underwool of a musk ox is called Qiviut”). Cabatingan’s expansive dialogue misses the humor mark as often as it hits, though, and a poor design choice renders the two characters’ lines confusingly indistinguishable (the zebra’s words are rendered in a san-serif type, but its color and font are too visually similar to the musk ox’s lines), making this a challenging choice for group read-alouds. For audiences already familiar with their alphabet and mature enough to appreciate sophisticated humor, this vibrantly illustrated romp will deliver big laughs. (Picture book. 5-10)

Calonita, Jen Poppy/Little, Brown (368 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-316-09116-9 Series: Belles, 2 The second book in the series begun by Belles (2012) doesn’t improve upon its predecessor; in fact, it only cements the flaws in this limp take on Southern chick lit. Even though their father’s political campaign is in turmoil, newfound sisters Izzie Scott and Mira Monroe take comfort in the good things in their lives. For Izzie, there’s her slowly developing relationship with Brayden; Mira is hoping her friendship with Kellen can become more. Both girls are united in their anger toward their father and his secrets about Izzie’s parentage. When cotillion season arrives, Mira can’t wait to make her debut, although Izzie is skeptical about whether she belongs amid the white-gloved debutantes. Dylan, Brayden’s rebellious sister, plays upon Izzie’s self-doubt and acts as a cardboard puppet master, while one-note mean girl Savannah still causes problems for Izzie and Mira. Romances are tested, shallow problems overcome, and a political campaign is nearly derailed, once again because of a bad campaign worker, on the way to yet another “shocking” twist. This novel, told from both Izzie’s and Mira’s third-person perspectives, suffers from neither girl’s voice having any life or depth. Character decisions and plot points are telegraphed without subtlety. This soapy melodrama comes off as a tiring chore instead of guilty pleasure reading. (Fiction. 14 & up)

ROBIN HOOD

Calcutt, David Illus. by Baker-Smith, Grahame Barefoot (112 pp.) $24.99 | paper $12.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84686-357-8 978-1-84686-799-6 paperback Robbing the rich and punishing the privileged, Robin Hood and his band return in a series of nine episodes gracefully retold and beautifully designed to appeal to modern readers. From the archery contest that sent Robin into life as an outlaw in Sherwood Forest to his probable deathbed, each chapter begins with a portion of a traditional ballad rendered in modern English. British poet and playwright Calcutt’s thoughtful selections from early accounts will introduce young readers to key events and familiar characters. His lively dialogue and fastpaced action will keep them engaged. For those curious to know more about Robin’s 13th-century world, helpful backmatter includes explanations of outlaws and their longbows, the role of women, sheriffs, and medieval jails, among other topics. The whole is impressively presented on pale-yellow or blue-green pages with a variety of underlying designs and gilt decoration; illustrations range from double-page spreads of battle to portraits and images of small animals cavorting below the text. This atmospheric artwork was painted and drawn in acrylic, watercolors and ink, then “combined, blended and composed in Photoshop with photography and scanned natural textures.” The flat effect, suggestive of anime and the work of Dave McKean, heightens the sense that readers are looking into a different, long-ago world. Sure to attract new followers for a perennially popular hero. (research and bibliography) (Folklore. 9-13)

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RUINS

Card, Orson Scott Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (544 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-4169-9177-9 In this sprawling science-fiction sequel to Pathfinder (2011), three timeshifters discover that the secrets of the past threaten their world with imminent obliteration. Rigg, his sister, Param, and best friend, Umbo, have joined their abilities to slip through time and escaped from murderous pursuit, circumventing the invisible Wall that divides their planet into 19 independent evolutionary experiments. As they explore these new environments and encounter the ancient, intelligent machines that manipulate their development, a warning from the future reveals that ships from Earth are about to revisit their timedisplaced colony—and won’t like what they find. This setup allows the author to display his worldbuilding bravado in wildly imaginative scenarios; unfortunately, it also leads to 500 pages of little more than exposition. The company spends a |

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“A kick-ass pirate heroine gets into and out of (mostly into) trouble in this invigorating fantasy.” from assassin’s curse

BIRTH OF THE STONE MONKEY

year travelling and meeting characters conveniently prepped to dump vast swaths of back story. Switching viewpoints each chapter among the three young protagonists should provide some variety, except that their voices are mostly indistinguishable: Supernaturally self-aware and infinitely introspective, they brood over their flaws and failures, ruminate upon the nature of truth and trust, and obsess about the possibility of free choice and the definition of “human,” with occasional jarring lapses into juvenile potty humor and teenage romantic crushes. Nonetheless, the writing is still infused with a compulsive readability that will keep the pages turning right up to the cliffhanger climax. Nobody combines gee-whiz, geeky speculation and angst-y adolescent navel-gazing better than Card; this series should prove catnip to his many fans. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Chen, Wei Dong Illus. by Peng, Chao JR* Comics (176 pp.) $29.95 | paper $9.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-89-94208-69-5 978-89-94208-45-9 paperback Series: Monkey King, 1

All monkeys are beautiful. Not everyone knows this, but the dynamic, textured artwork in this book will convince them. When the Monkey King walks into the Palace of the East Sea, he says: “Ha ha! I am Sun Wu Kong, the Handsome Monkey King of Spring Mountain!” Those two sentences tell readers everything they need to know about Sun Wu Kong. He’s vain, he’s always amused, and he speaks in exclamation points. He’s come to the palace to borrow a weapon that weighs 9 tons, and he never doubts that he’ll be able to lift it. Before the book is over, he’s battled the King of Hell, Crown Prince Ne Zha and the Evil King. The story is hundreds of years old (it’s based on the Chinese novel The Journey to the West), but it follows the structure of a video game, with the Monkey King facing a more powerful fighter with each round, and carries roughly the same moral lesson. Each book in the series has its own lesson and, in fact, its own writing style. Volume three is about the Monkey King’s efforts to learn mercy and compassion. They do not come easily to a warrior monkey. Though the dialogue is sometimes flat, the pictures tell a rich and captivating story on their own. There may be children in the world who don’t wish they were monkeys. This book will change their minds. (character guide, synopsis, thematic essay) (Graphic classic. 8-16)

LET’S CELEBRATE! Festival Poems from Around the World

Chatterjee, Debjani; D’Arcy, Brian--Eds. Illus. by Adl, Shirin Frances Lincoln (56 pp.) $19.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84780-087-9

With 24 poems—by Neruda, Longfellow, Emerson and Issa, as well as many contemporary children’s poets from Britain and the United States—this collection focuses on holidays celebrated in the United Kingdom and the United States. Arranged month by month, it includes many cultural groups that now live in these places. Because it was published in the United Kingdom, there are some omissions that U.S. audiences will notice. While La Tomatima, a Spanish tomatothrowing festival, is included (with a Neruda poem that mentions Chile), there are no Latin American festivals represented. Native Americans are left out too, although there are a few children wearing feathers in the Thanksgiving picture, an illustration that does feature a multiracial celebration. Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Jews are all represented. The busily populated collage, watercolor and colored-pencil pictures are joyful and often humorous, but the snowman in the Hanukkah illustration that wears payes (side curls worn by Hasidic men) and a fedora may strike some as strange, and the Caribbean Carnival dancers may seem scantily clad (although realistic). The descriptions of the holidays are informative, although some additional information about the various calendars and a bibliography would be helpful. Although the poems vary in quality, and few really stand out, this collection will enliven holiday units and programs in schools, libraries and religious institutions. (Poetry. 6-12)

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THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE

Clarke, Cassandra Rose Strange Chemistry (320 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-908844-01-9 A kick-ass pirate heroine gets into and out of (mostly into) trouble in this invigorating fantasy. Within the first five pages of this debut, Ananna of the Tanarau ditches her wedding, meant to ally her pirate clan to the Hariri. She may escape this unwanted bond, but she finds herself in another, far more powerful one when she saves the life of Naji, the assassin hired by the Hariri to bring her back or kill her. Now magically connected to the scarred blood magician, she attracts the collateral attention of malignant Otherworldly powers. If she wants any chance at a future that includes her own ship—hell, any future at all—she must quest with Naji for a cure to the curse that binds them together. Clarke’s debut harkens back to the best in fantasy/adventure, offering |

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rock-solid worldbuilding, satisfyingly perilous obstacles and a protagonist whose charismatic ’tude goes way beyond spunk. Ananna’s voice grabs readers from the beginning (“I ain’t never been one to trust beautiful people, and Tarrin of the Hariri was the most beautiful man I ever saw”) and doesn’t let go. Her wry, agreeably foulmouthed (“Fuck me, they’re machines”) narration is equally smart and funny, incorporating both trenchant observations and frankly beautiful phrasing that never misses a step (“I hadn’t even recognized the hope for what it was until it got dragged away from me”). A ripsnorting series opener; may the sequels arrive soon. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Six months after leaving Herman Plunkett, aka the Shroud, buried beneath a rock slide, ungifted Daniel and his five variously powered friends, self-styled the “Supers of Noble’s Green,” are thrown into a tizzy by the arrival of Theo Plunkett. He is a wealthy, smooth-talking teenager who could well share his mad uncle’s evil tendencies. Furthermore, amid multiple subplots and other complications, hints that the old man might still be alive emerge. These range from disturbing dreams to Daniel’s horrified realization that he can steal away his friends’ powers. More worrisome yet, the Supers have suddenly come under periodic attack by mysterious killer Shades. Readers who haven’t read the opener will flounder, and those who require even weak rationales for the MacGuffins in their thrillers will come away dissatisfied by the multiplicity of unexplained elements and apparent contradictions. Overall though, Cody delivers a series of escalating physical and relational conflicts that culminate in a pulptastic climactic battle and a resolution that hints at sequels set on a much broader stage. Stronger on action than internal logic, but the central cast’s array of personal foibles and amusingly arbitrary superpowers, along with some eerie adversaries, carry the load. (Fantasy. 11-13)

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Clayton, Colleen Poppy/Little, Brown (320 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-316-19868-4

When 16-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy decides to join her two best friends on a class ski trip, she has no idea that the trip will change her life forever. A chance meeting with a local college boy leads to a night Sid can barely remember, but will certainly never forget, sending her on a downward spiral so severe she becomes quite literally a shadow of her former self. Sid’s unable to put into words the truth of what happened that night, leaving her friends and classmates to draw their own conclusions while Sid struggles to pick up the broken pieces and cobble them back together on her own. Little does she know that by opting to forego her normal course load and hide out in the AV room, she’s made another life-altering decision. This time, however, it is thankfully for the better. Enter Corey Livingston, “the half-baked, pothead, ex-juvie thug” who might just hold the answers. Equal parts endearing spunk and heartbreaking vulnerability, Sid Murphy is a character who feels more like family by story’s end. The story—and even more importantly, Sid herself— will stay with readers long after the final page is turned. Kudos to Clayton for crafting a powerful, moving debut. (Fiction. 13 & up)

POISON PRINCESS

Cole, Kresley Simon & Schuster (384 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-4424-3664-0 Series: Arcana Chronicles, 1 Mixing romance, a plant-killing apocalypse and mystical mumbo jumbo, this YA debut brings tears for the trees killed to print it. Before the Flash, Evie worried about avoiding Jackson Deveaux, a Cajun boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and not going crazy from the horrifying visions she sees or the voices in her head. After the Flash, a convenient apocalyptic event that wipes out any life exposed to it—human, animal and vegetable—Evie, bland and kind, eventually joins forces with the one-dimensional Jackson, who’s either surly or sexually aggressive. Evie learns that she is part of the Arcana, a secret group with supernatural powers representing cards in the tarot, and they will soon engage in a battle with Death itself. If Evie doesn’t accept her powers as the Empress, the world is doomed, but probably not as much as this novel. The relationship between Jackson and Evie seems more like emotional manipulation and abuse than sexy romance. Cole clearly missed the science lesson about photosynthesis—wiping out all plants would probably quickly eliminate all life, period. Meanwhile, the plot is all setup, wandering through seemingly disconnected scenes until a jarring ending. This novel is more dead garden than lush paradise. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

SUPER

Cody, Matthew Knopf (304 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-375-86894-8 978-0-375-89979-9 e-book 978-0-375-96894-5 PLB The magically endowed kids introduced in Powerless (2009) have a second go at their power-sucking nemesis in this overstuffed, if high-voltage sequel. 2108

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THE PLANET OF MUSIC

doesn’t sugarcoat its risks and considerable downsides.) As Ever loses weight, the story loses its grip on reality, avoiding tough issues, like the power assigned to appearance. A stylish classmate takes Ever under her wing, and enhanced by a designer wardrobe and hair, Ever’s loveliness turns heads. Surgery’s magic wand has opened doors for her that only the beautiful and gifted may enter. Lip service is paid to “inner beauty,” but Cinderella, that quintessential consumer fairy tale and the plot’s template, tells another story: It’s what’s outside that counts. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Constantine, Clélia Illus. by Élyum Studio Graphic Universe (56 pp.) $7.95 paperback | $19.95 e-book PLB $26.60 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-8225-9424-6 978-1-4677-0329-1 e-book 978-0-7613-8753-4 PLB Series: Little Prince— The New Adventures, 3

ONE SHOT AWAY

With more imperiled planets to save, The Little Prince and the Fox return again to face the nefarious Snake and his Gloomies (The Planet of Wind, 2012, etc.). With his wide-eyed innocence and unflappable devotion to helping others, the Little Prince works to save imperiled planets with the help of the Fox. Here, they stop the Snake from creating war between a music-loving populace and a flower-loving citizenry. In Book 4, The Planet of Jade, our plucky hero and his vulpine companion must stop—gasp!—the Snake from starting a war between a society of stone and an assemblage of brambles who sides with nature; is the pattern evident yet? The authors (who vary by volume) do not stray a hair’s breadth from the overarching formula that governs every volume. Some odd idiosyncrasies become particularly visible by this point in the series: For example, the Little Prince changes into a more princely getup when he needs agility, but he can still perform amazing feats and utilize his magic sketchbook (his “weapon”) even when in his plebeian dress—why bother changing at all? On a positive note, Elyum Studio, which illustrates every volume, does a pleasant job of bringing this to life, with a style that’s vaguely reminiscent of Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series. More of the same. (Graphic fantasy. 9-13)

Coughlin, T. Glen HarperTeen (336 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-06-208323-4 978-0-06-208325-8 e-book Three wrestlers in their senior year and last season are desperate to leave their unhappy lives behind as they compete with each other and themselves in this gritty story. Trevor is haunted by his father, who died the year before, and angry at his mother, who moves them into the seedy motel she manages for a friend. Jimmy aspires to become a teacher and coach, but he’s saddled with an abusive, alcoholic father who steals building supplies. Overwhelmed by pressure to live up to his older brother’s past success, Diggy cheats at wrestling. The three also work through complicated relationships with girlfriends. Trevor and Diggy vie for the same weight class, and Trevor’s displacement of Diggy prompts a betrayal that threatens to destroy the team. The characters have equal measures of positive and negative attributes, but none are likable. Coughlin’s passion for and knowledge of wrestling is apparent in this fast-paced, vivid narrative that is often compelling but never light. This novel will inevitably appeal to boys, especially fans of stories in which sports figures prominently. A compelling story, but a dark, heavy and humorless one without much hope. (Fiction. 14 & up)

SKINNY

Cooner, Donna Point/Scholastic (272 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-545-42763-0 For the ultimate makeover, nothing beats gastric-bypass surgery. Her beloved, ever-dieting mom died five years ago. Now saddled with a beautiful stepmom and two gorgeous stepsisters, Ever, a sophomore, is pretty, smart, musically gifted and 302 pounds. Former buddy and long-term crush Jackson ignores Ever. She’s taunted by classmates, but her own self-loathing eclipses their slurs—she’s even given it a name, Skinny, and mostly ceded her identity to it. Skinny prevents Ever from taking up drama or accepting friendly overtures from stepsister Briella and takes Rat, science geek and loyal friend, for granted. Desperation drives Ever to gastric-bypass surgery. Her agonizing self-awareness, imprisoned in a body under severe stress, is compelling. (Author Cooner, who’s had the surgery, |

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ONE IN EVERY CROWD

Coyote, Ivan E. Arsenal Pulp Press (238 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-55152-459-7

Celebrated Canadian storyteller Coyote here compiles short, mostly autobiographical vignettes about childhood, family and queerness. Unlike many compilations aimed at youth, this one doesn’t limit itself to stories about being a teenager. Readers are just as likely to hear about the adult Coyote’s worries about performing in a high |

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“A kind and satisfyingly executed portrait of a music-loving teen coming out as transgender.” from beautiful music for ugly children

SHERLOCK BONES AND THE MISSING CHEESE

school or the moment when she learns her father has stopped drinking as about the author’s younger self rolling down hills in tires or playing kissing games. Most stories are neither explicit nor didactic about queerness or gender; within stories about childhood or travel, incidents of the author being forced into dresses or nearly chased out of bathrooms speak for themselves. Details from one piece are sometimes echoed in another. In one section, Coyote tells several stories about a friend’s gentle, feminine child named Francis; later, she talks about deciding whether to tell that story to an audience of “beefy...biker-looking types,” explaining, “The Francis story was a tale about a little boy who liked to wear dresses.” Rather than seeming tedious, however, this repetition builds a sense of familiarity as readers come to know about and recognize details of the storyteller’s life. Sophisticated, earnest, plainspoken and intimate, this collection will speak to LGBTQ youth as well as straight youth, teens and adults. (Memoir. 14 & up)

Crummel, Susan Stevens Illus. by Donohue, Dorothy Amazon Children’s Publishing (40 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0761461869 “What’s that smell in the Dell? / Do tell! / W—e—l—l…it comes from a cheese. / A great big cheese. A smelly, scrumptious cheese, / if you please.” The cheese is so smelly the denizens of the Dell keep it in the middle of a field on a stone; it’s so yummy that they all gather together on each full moon to eat a small piece. But one night, the cheese is gone! So Farmer Jones does the only thing he can think to do: call Sherlock Bones, a hound dog of a detective in a houndstooth-check coat. Sherlock uses his senses and his smarts to solve the spiniest of mysteries. He asks the right questions; he follows his nose. He writes down his clues, and he confronts…a giant?! When the cheese thief is brought to justice, everyone celebrates and congratulates Sherlock Bones. Crummel and Donohue try to capture the rollicking wit of their Ten-Gallon Bart series and miss the mark. Donohue’s layered pencil and cut-paper illustrations are as detailed and expressive (especially the saggy, solemn Sherlock) as ever. However, shoehorning a logical investigation into a goofy tale of a pizza-making giant and a cheese cult that stores their Roquefort on a rock in the middle of a field doesn’t fit. An additional purchase even after Sherlock explains his clues. (Picture book. 4-8)

BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN

Cronn-Mills, Kirstin Flux (288 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Oct. 8, 2012 978-0-7387-3251-0

Readers first meet Gabe as he DJs his first community-radio show, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. It is only after hearing Gabe’s friend and neighbor John, a fellow music lover who worked as a DJ for forty years, use Gabe’s birth name that readers learn that Gabe is transgender. Being trans, Gabe opines, is like being a 45 record with an A side and a B side. When the story opens, only a few people know about Gabe’s B side; the rest see him as a girl. When Gabe’s radio show becomes an underground hit, generating a difficult-to-believe-but-pleasingto-imagine cadre of fans calling themselves the Ugly Children Brigade, Gabe’s B side is pushed further into public view. There are dates failed and successful, a forcible outing, a heartfelt but refreshingly easy coming-out talk with John, and a pair of increasingly violent, threatening and genuinely scary enemies. While Gabe’s coming-out process figures heavily into the story, it is, refreshingly, only one aspect of his experience. The show-stealer here is John, a unique, well-conceived, funny and loving figure whose enthusiasm for music and endless support for Gabe provides solidity and warmth amid the many changes Gabe experiences. A kind and satisfyingly executed portrait of a musicloving teen coming out as transgender. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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AFTER Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia Datlow, Ellen; Windling, Terri --Eds. Disney Hyperion (384 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-4231-4619-3

Both superstar and up-and-coming YA authors tackle the themes of apocalypse and dystopia in 19 short stories and poems. Nearly every story provides a first-person adolescent protagonist, with male and female viewpoints equally represented, some with explicit GLBT orientation. The scenarios they narrate vary widely—from ecological catastrophes to alien invasion, political revolutions to supernatural uprisings, religious tyranny to socioeconomic collapse—but with less emphasis on the mechanics of the disaster than on coping with the aftermath. Graphic violence and destruction are avoided in favor of pointed allusions and carefully selected images; although many are creepy or even nightmarish, most conclude on a note of hope. Yet the relentless succession of bleak circumstances and failure eventually blurs the individual voices into an indistinguishable grimness. Indeed, the concluding bibliographical essay by the editors is in many ways the highlight of the volume, succinctly tracing the history, appeal and best current examples of the genre. |

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A fine selection for new readers looking to sample this type of fiction or for dedicated fans seeking fresh voices. (Science fiction/short stories. 12 & up)

attempts to guide her toward a second chance at life. However, Ally soon learns that for this chance, she must decide if she can live with the pain of her reality. The novel unflinchingly incorporates serious topics of depressions, rape, alcohol and drug abuse, bullying and suicide as common components of high school. This blend of fantasy and potent reality succeeds. (Fiction. 13-18)

THE SKY OF AFGHANISTAN

de Eulate, Ana A. Illus. by Wimmer, Sonja Cuento de Luz (24 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-84-15503-04-0

MR. BIG A Tale of Pond Life

Dembicki, Matt; Dembicki, Carol Illus. by Dembicki, Matt; Axtell, Jason Sky Pony Press (160 pp.) $12.95 paperback | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-61608-967-2

A young girl dreams of the day peace will come to contemporary Afghanistan, the war-torn country she loves. Letting her imagination soar, a little girl looks to the sky and visualizes flying the “bright kite of peace” across Afghanistan into “people’s houses, their homes, their families, their hearts.” She sees her dream in children’s smiles and eyes, “a wonderful dream in which we all hold hands” and the “sound of war has truly gone forever.” She envisions a future filled with hope, opportunity and harmony. Speaking idealistically in the present tense, the little girl’s voice rings with compelling optimism, and her verbal images of the sky, kites, soaring and flying are visually reinforced in elegant, wistful illustrations that compositionally sweep the eye diagonally upward across the page from left to right. Somber, gray pencil drawings and tan backgrounds reflect the current bleak Afghan reality, while blue headscarves and red kites provide hopeful accents. Powerful images of dancing kites, ascending doves, women in burqas, a child playing with toys made from trash and flowers sprouting from tanks juxtapose the real and the aspirational. While topically relevant, the absence of historical, political or cultural context for the current Afghan crisis may leave young readers somewhat clueless. Ardent advocacy for Afghan peace. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pond dwellers beware! Mr. Big’s on the prowl. Spring begins the cycle of life that continues night and day in the pond. Small creatures are born, and some fall prey to Mr. Big, a large common snapping turtle. The fish and frogs tire of losing friends and family to the predations of Mr. Big, so they ask the crows to get rid of him. The crayfish warn that there’s a natural order; if the crows succeed, something worse may come along to take Mr. Big’s place. Even before the crows agree to help, rumors of a giant predator fish begin to circulate. Is the fearsome fish real? Will it fight Mr. Big? Will the crows try to take over? Only Nature knows. The Dembickis, a husband-and-wife team, craft a graphic novel grounded in the natural world that explains the food chain and pond ecosystems on a middle-grade level with a minimum of anthropomorphism. They successfully tackle the concepts of invasive species (the big fish is an Asian snakehead) and West Nile virus. With a mix of full-bleed, captioned pages and splashy graphic panels rendered in vibrant natural colors, the struggle against Mr. Big will hold attention while sneakily imparting a science lesson or two. Solid science-based adventure. (foreword, introduction, afterword) (Graphic fiction. 7-11)

FORGET ME NOT

Dean, Carolee Simon & Schuster (384 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-4424-3254-3

PIRATE CINEMA

A novel in verse tells the intertwined stories of teen classmates Ally and Elijah as they deal with the pressures of high school and the consequences of deadly decisions. When a sexual photo of Ally is maliciously spread across her school, it tips off a cascade of horrific events that lead Ally to her school’s rooftop for what she believes to be her only escape. Upon her decision to kill herself, Ally finds herself trapped in her school’s deserted humanities hallway. H Hall, as it is known, is a sort of fantastical holding zone populated by ghoulish classmates that have all died at the school via various, mostly suicidal means. Having made a similar decision— and lived to regret it—Elijah helps Ally escape from H Hall and |

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Doctorow, Cory Tor (368 pp.) $19.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-7653-2908-0

The near future’s oppressive copyright laws criminalize creativity in the name of protecting it. Trent McCauley has an irrepressible drive to create, carefully splicing bits and pieces of movies together into entirely new films. However, he gets his footage through illegal downloading, and when he’s caught, his family loses their Internet for a year, nearly ruining them. His mother can’t get |

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h p h i l i p n e l

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature Philip Nel University Press of Mississippi (368 pp.) $40.00 Sept. 1 978-1617036361

As Philip Nel states at his informative blog, Nine Kinds of Pie, he teaches, reads, blogs and, fortunately for us all, writes. Nel, who directs Kansas State University’s Program in Children’s Literature, has written several meticulously researched books about children’s lit. His latest explores the lives of legendary picture book creators Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson. Together, Krauss and Johnson created the children’s book classic The Carrot Seed, published in 1945. In collaboration with Maurice Sendak, as Nel notes below, Krauss captured the outspoken child. And Johnson brought readers that “small god in a white romper,” as Nel describes it, Harold of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Nel writes that this book “has captivated so many people because Harold’s crayon not only embodies the imagination, but shows that the mind can change the world: What we dream can become real, nothing can become something.” In Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss, Nel takes readers through the lives and careers of these two visionaries, showing us how their work affected not only children’s literature, but also fine art, comics and graphic design. I took a moment of Phil’s time to ask him about his research, as well as what’s next for him.

Kevin Henkes. When you see outspoken children in children’s books, you can thank Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak.

Q: Part of your book’s subtitle is How an Unlikely Couple...Transformed Children’s Literature. What do you think their most enduring contributions are to the field of children’s literature?

Q: Tell me what Chris Ware has done on the wonderful book jacket.

A: Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon— the most succinct, profound distillation of imaginative possibility ever created—has inspired many. In his Caldecott acceptance speech for Jumanji, Chris Van Allsburg actually thanked “Harold and his Purple Crayon.” The influence of Harold emerges in the artist protagonists of Anthony Browne’s Bear Hunt, Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman’s The Pencil and Thacher Hurd’s Art Dog. Harold shows us that to create a universe all you need is a blank piece of paper and a crayon. Ruth Krauss’ influence has become so pervasive as to be invisible. She didn’t invent spontaneous, loose-tongued children, but she, in eight books created with Maurice Sendak, did establish for them a place in children’s literature. After the first Sendak-Krauss collaborations A Hole Is to Dig (1952) and A Very Special House (1953), other children’s writers began attempting similar books. Imitators (Joan Walsh Anglund, Phoebe Wilson Hoss) didn’t get it, creating books that sentimentalized the unruly Krauss-Sendak child character. Fortunately, better artists embraced that vital, rebellious spirit: Lane Smith, Laurie Keller, 2112

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Q: Tell me about your research. A: Writing a biography is assembling a vast puzzle for which you have no box, missing pieces, and no sense of how many pieces you’ll need. I interviewed over 80 people who knew Johnson and Krauss, including Sendak, Syd Hoff, Jules Feiffer and Marc Simont. I visited over three dozen archives and special collections, looked at century-old city directories and insurance-company maps, birth certificates, marriage certificates, census data, property deeds, wills, FBI files and photographs. I drove to Maine’s Camp Walden, where Ruth spent two formative summers: I found her first published writing in the 1919 camp yearbook. On Staten Island, I met 67-year-old Thomas Hamilton, who 60 years earlier starred as Barnaby in the 1946 stage production of Crockett Johnson’s comic strip. Writing a biography is a challenge. But it’s also fascinating detective work. I was on a quest, and had to continue until I finished! And I did—a dozen years after I began.

A: Every time I look at it, I find something new to admire. He’s created the art in the style of Crockett Johnson. Fans of Johnson and Krauss can play “spot the character” to their hearts’ content. Ellen and her lion (from Johnson’s books) sit at the foot of her table. On the spine, The Carrot Seed boy plants a seed. On the back cover, Johnson’s Frowning Prince scowls up at the silhouettes of two FBI agents. Surrounding the ISBN and UPC code, the bookshelves contain their works and works by people important to them. Appropriately, a Pythagoras volume (a tribute to Johnson’s love of mathematics) is at a diagonal angle, creating the hypotenuse of a right triangle! It is SUCH an honor and a privilege to have a cover by the great Chris Ware! — By Julie Danielson

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For the complete interview, visit our website at kirkus.com.

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UNCLE WALLY’S OLD BROWN SHOE

her benefits, his father loses his job, and his academic sister is cut off from her homework, all in the name of miniscule amounts of corporate profit. Guilt-stricken, Trent runs away to London, where he’s taken under the wing of streetwise Jem Dodger, learning Dumpster diving, squatting and panhandling. After Trent builds a family of fellow outcast kids, his creative urge leads him into an underground subculture of piratecreated movies in makeshift venues. There, he meets 26 and creates the persona Cecil B. DeVil. Pulled by 26 into the politics of copyright and the lobbyist money that purchases laws, Cecil becomes a creative figurehead for reform against escalating laws that aggressively jail kids. Doctorow (For the Win, 2010, etc.) isn’t subtle with his stances; characters often seem to be giving campaign speeches. Fortunately, those rich characters are well-rounded enough and the laws close enough to already proposed measures that the agenda detracts minimally from the novel’s success as a story. For computer-savvy kids who like to think. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

Edwards, Wallace Illus. by Edwards, Wallace Orca (32 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4598-0154-7

Wallace, author of The Cat’s Pajamas (2010), picks up where he left off, as the cover features a tiger sitting on a bed in splendid, red-and-white striped pajamas. On one foot is the old brown shoe that begins this often surreal but delightful fantastical romp. Faithfully adhering to the rhythm of the “House that Jack Built,” the text introduces interesting things involved in actions or placed in settings that are unexpected. The shoe leads to introductions of a “bee with the smoochable lips,” “the fish with the spooky mask” and “the dog with a musical flair” among others. Although the text is entertaining in itself, the illustrations beg to be pored over. On most spreads, the left page displays framed text and a circular portrait of the animal or object newly added to the story. On the right is a lush, detailed painting executed in watercolor, gouache and pencil. Readers’ eyes will initially focus on what is referred to in the text but then wander into the dreamlike landscape, which is full of surprises that stretch the imagination. Is that a snow-capped mountain or ice cream? What are all of the green creatures in the flora doing? Why do some pages have puzzle pieces? The only constants are the shoe and “the button from the cat’s pajamas / That rolled away into a dream… // And became a wheel on Uncle Wally’s old brown shoe.” Save for small groups or one-on-one sharing so readers can linger in this visual wonderland. (Picture book. 4-7)

BEING FRANK

Earnhardt, Donna W. Illus. by Castellani, Andrea Flashlight Press (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-9362611-9-2 Frank believes that honesty is the best policy, but is that always the case? Elementary schooler Frank never lies to his schoolmates. He tells Dotty her freckles look like the Big Dipper, and he tells Carol her singing is “kind of shrieky.” Neither of them is pleased. Frank is also truthful with adults. He tells his teacher her breath smells; when sent to the principal, Frank tells him his toupee looks like a weasel. Even his mother doesn’t seem to appreciate his candor. No one in Frank’s life (including Frank) is happy, so he seeks help from his grandpa. Grandpa Ernest tells Mrs. Peacock he likes the purple flower in her hat best when she asks if he likes her gaudy chapeau. Frank thinks Grandpa has lied, but no: Grandpa only focused on the good things. Frank applies Grandpa’s advice to good effect and serves up the honesty with “more sugar... / and less pepper.” Earnhardt’s debut is a humorous object lesson in honesty, though the central punniness will be lost on the audience without some explanation. Italian illustrator Castellani’s blocky and bright Saturday-morning-cartoon–style illustrations amp the wackiness and make this frankly fun. On-the-mark help for the parents of inadvertently tactless tots. (Picture book. 4-8)

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BLIND SPOT

Ellen, Laura Harcourt (336 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-547-76344-6 A girl with macular degeneration finds herself the key witness in a murder mystery set in Alaska. When AP student Roz discovers she’s in a special ed class because of her visual “disability,” she is furious. Mr. Dellian, who teaches both Life Skills and AP history as well as coaching hockey, seems to take active pleasure in her discomfort. Everything about Life Skills is awful, especially junkie Tricia, who, on the first day of school, somehow manages to get Roz to buy pot for her with the help of hottie Jonathan Webb. This isn’t all bad, as soon Jonathan is calling Roz “Beautiful” and taking her to parties. Meanwhile, Roz makes friends with new-kid-at-school Greg, former crush object of her ex-BFF, and slowly comes to appreciate her fellow Life Skills classmates. And then Tricia goes missing after a calamitous party and is discovered dead |

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“Immediate danger is averted, intriguing questions hover for next time, and Jaxter’s headed down a fresh path.” from the vengekeep prophecies

SHAHNAMEH The Persian Book of Kings

months later. Roz is an enormously appealing narrator, her tangled emotions about everything from needing to ask for help to navigating friendships both believable and sympathetic. Secondary characterization is for the most part solid, though Greg is a bit on the saintly side, and Mr. Dellian (who speaks like a boarding school relic) is thoroughly unconvincing as an educator, however good an antagonist he makes. The convoluted end is both hard to believe and emotionally satisfying. Though there’s entirely too much going on, this is an engaging page turner with a very likable protagonist. (Mystery. 12-18)

Ferdowsi, Abolqaesm Retold by Laird, Elizabeth Illus. by Adl, Shirin Frances Lincoln (136 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84780-253-8

In this adaptation of the Iranian epic, finished in the 11th century by Ferdowsi, the tragic tale of Rustam and Sohrab takes center stage. The chronology of Persian kings at the beginning is difficult to follow, with many names to master and innumerable battle scenes, but as the great hero Rustam enters the story, events begin to slow down. His exploits are described in detail. Years later, his son Sohrab, never having met his father, seeks him out on the battlefield. He is deceived by Rustam, who does not realize that Sohrab is his son. Sohrab’s death at the hands of his father, ignorant of the relationship, is emotionally engaging. Laird’s language is hyperbolic, as befits the description of mythological heroes, but it is always accessible, despite the occasional introduction of couplets reminiscent of the original poem. The illustrator uses elements of Persian miniatures in her naïve style, melding painting and collage. Handsomely produced with flowery borders on each page and intense color, the single- and double-page spreads are full of movement. Less successful are the smaller black-andwhite vignettes, which are sometimes intertwined with the attractive borders. Lists of characters and museums with collections of Persian miniatures are included. Although there are many stories omitted in this version, this is an excellent starting place to encounter the ancient heroes of Iran. (introduction) (Folklore. 9-11)

THE VENGEKEEP PROPHECIES

Farrey, Brian Illus. by Helquist, Brett Harper/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-06-204928-5 978-0-06-204930-8 e-book

There couldn’t be a more likable family of thieves. The tightknit, affable and affectionate Grimjinx clan is trouble in Vengekeep. They steal (not from anyone poor or weak) and nimbly avoid prosecution. Ma’s a master forger, Da an expert thief. Little sister Aubrin (terrific nickname: Jinxface) is an ace pickpocket. But 12-year-old Jaxter, the narrator, is clumsy. Lockpicking evades him. “Every year it became clearer: I really wasn’t a very good thief.” Jaxter excels at “beating magic with nonmagical means,” though: His carefully mixed plant/herb pastes dissolve magical protections on locks and loot. When a tapestry meant to predict Vengekeep’s future reveals, astonishingly, that the Grimjinxes are “saviors,” readers will giggle as the con emerges. And then the con becomes deadly. The (faked) tapestry’s fabric is “fateskein,” which means its ominous images will come true. Woe is Ma, who unknowingly used fateskein in the weaving; woe is Vengekeep, now truly destined for lethal plagues. Can Jaxter traverse enough land beyond his familiar town-state to gather the plants and spiderbat milk that might dissolve the fateskein? He’s no crackerjack thief, but he has heart and unflagging humor. This funny and serious series opener features action, twists and pleasingly original vocabulary, such as the swear “zoc” (as in “Zoc that”) and the expression “bangers,” which means, roughly, “awesome.” Immediate danger is averted, intriguing questions hover for next time, and Jaxter’s headed down a fresh path. Bangers! (Fantasy. 8-12)

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THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER

Fforde, Jasper Harcourt (304 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-547-73847-5 Series: The Chronicles of Kazam, 1

Finally, the first in Fforde’s fantasy trilogy for young readers, published in the U.K. in 2010, makes it to this side of the pond. In the Ununited Kingdoms (whose names and political inclinations presumably hold more meaning than their United counterparts), (nearly) 16-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange (think indentured servant with pluck) has taken over running Kazam, one of the last Houses of Enchantment. She shepherds once-powerful wizards through pizza delivery and rewiring homes in Hereford, a kingdom bordering the last Dragonland. When the last dragon’s death is foretold, Jennifer finds herself smack in the center of political maneuvering and foundering in massive tides of greed. Jennifer never comes across as adolescent or real; instead, her knowledge of her world and her even-toned |

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narrative (even of high-intensity scenes) seem downright authorial. Too much of the novel is comprised of comic bits strung together with first-person exposition, and laughs fall flat when they depend on British slang, as with know-it-all William of Anorak. The obvious and clearly broadcast message (“Greed is all powerful; greed conquers all,” tempered by Jennifer’s innate goodness) further impedes the effect of the broad, sometimes ingenious humor. The second volume may fare better as it promises to highlight the aging, odd wizards and world rather than the less-than-sparkling Jennifer. Mostly for Fforde’s fans, although fantasy readers with a taste for the silly should appreciate the subverted tropes. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

her trademark vibrant collages, in this case, made from string and handmade paper. A single triangle forms the body of each mouse, while a second triangle perches on top to form the head. Add pink circles for ears, bright white rectangles for teeth, more colorful circles for eyes and strings for arms and legs—with knots serving as wrists and ankles—and you’ve got two majorly adorable mice. A consistent black background emphasizes the nighttime setting and allows the textures and colors of the handmade paper figures to really shine. Children will delight in following the mice as they enjoy the run of the house: using art supplies to create their own collages; playing with lipstick, a toothbrush and dental floss; scampering over fruits and vegetables; chowing down on crackers, cupcakes and cereal. They will also be tickled to discover that the narrator of the poem turns out to be none other than a big, grinning cat with a gleam in his eye. No wonder he insists that mice “are rather nice.” The simple, rhyming text, very large print and crisp, vibrant images make this one an excellent choice for sharing with your favorite group of toddlers or preschoolers. (Picture book. 3-5)

SANCTUM

Fine, Sarah Amazon Children’s Publishing (432 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 16, 2012 Series: Guards of the Shadowlands, 1 A paranormal romance confirms that, indeed, hell is hell. A convoluted sequence of events finds university-bound foster kid Lela, 17, dead. She wakes up in a paradisaical countryside—which she rejects in order to enter the Suicide Gates to save her best friend, Nadia, who killed herself a week before. Within the gates, hapless embodied souls wander aimlessly in an urban landscape of utter misery, kept in by Guards and threatened by Mazikin, who steal their bodies and condemn their souls to who-knows-where. Lela quickly draws the attention of both Guards and Mazikin, persuading the incredibly hot Malachi, human Captain of the Guard, to help her rescue Nadia. Fine’s gloomy city of suicides and the rules that govern it will draw readers in, though the motives of the thoroughly evil Mazikin are unclear. Her theology is equally fuzzy; readers who want to find the overt Christianity implied by the concept may need to wait for subsequent volumes. Theology be damned, though: Lela and Malachi are both likable protagonists, and readers will be happy (though not surprised) to find them drawn together; the supporting cast among the Guards is also strong. A touch of homoerotic creepiness to hammer home the evil of the Mazikin will distress many readers. This flaw notwithstanding, this trilogy opener has a lot going for it. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

FOOD The New Gold

Gay, Kathlyn Twenty-First Century/Lerner (96 pp.) $23.95 e-book | PLB $31.93 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-4607-4

An intelligent examination of food that probes how it is produced, procured and delivered to consumers—or not. While many Americans and citizens of other wealthy nations take food for granted because of its abundance and availability in seemingly endless variety year-round, millions elsewhere, even in the United States, fare terribly. Gay explores the topic of food as a commodity in a way young readers have perhaps never encountered. Writing with skill, clarity and a finely tuned sense of fairness on all sides of issues, she conveys what a complicated business getting food to the table is. The word business is not to be underestimated, as today’s food culture involves multinational corporations in addition to governments and politics, science and technology, and the environment and global warming. Excellent color photographs and illuminating, easy-tounderstand charts and diagrams enhance readers’ comprehension. Some of this may be difficult to digest: Descriptions of the treatment of food animals before and after slaughter and the handling of industrial waste might turn some stomachs; photos of starving youngsters are heart-wrenching. Yet the outlook isn’t completely dire. Gay points to optimistic news, such as the sustainable-agriculture movement, for example. Documentation is sound, though the bibliography offers few child-friendly titles—which perhaps speaks to this book’s singularity. A sobering, thought-provoking discussion that provides, yes, much food for thought. (glossary, source notes, bibliography, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

MICE

Fyleman, Rose Illus. by Ehlert, Lois Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $16.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-4424-5684-6 978-1-4424-5686-0 e-book This fresh interpretation of a classic poem is a charmer. Ehlert illustrates Fyleman’s simple, well-loved poem with |

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“A tail-wagging delight for budding Coco Chanels everywhere.” from archie

ARCHIE

future megastructures as well as photos of contemporary ones, such as offshore drilling platforms, the “Blinking-Eye Bridge” over the River Tyne in England and the Large Hadron Collider, that are utterly futuristic. Nor has Graham forsaken the past, with visits paid to the Ponte Vecchio, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Delaware Aqueduct. A rangy and exuberant, if skimming, introduction to giant, man-made structures. (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Gordon, Domenica More Illus. by Gordon, Domenica More Bloomsbury (48 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-59990-936-3 The clothes make the dog in this nearly wordless, tongue-incheek homage to fashion and the power of creativity. Felt artist and first-time author Gordon turns her talents to painting in this hilarious tale of dogs, fashion, the creative impulse and entrepreneurship. Big dog Archie, an Irish terrier or perhaps an Airedale, and his little cairn terrier live a quiet life until Aunt Betty sends a sewing machine in the mail. Soon, Archie’s nimble paws create a fetching olive coat for his pup, and every dog in town wants an outfit for its pet. They even hire Archie to design matching dresses and coats for both owner-dogs and companion-dogs. Droll, black-outlined watercolors pop from the creamy, uncluttered pages. Archie’s own dog plays the role of supporter, cheerleader, delivery boy and quality controller. Young readers will love following the fabric through manufacture to its eventual wearer, and Project Runway types will appreciate Archie’s limitless energy and dedication to finding just the right outfit for each customer. Anglophiles in the know will recognize the final phone customer, a corgi wearing a crown with a pet corgi in need of a new outfit. What will happen if Aunt Betty sends another gift—say, a table saw? A tail-wagging delight for budding Coco Chanels everywhere. (Picture book. 3-8)

EVE & ADAM

Grant, Michael; Applegate, Katherine Feiwel & Friends (304 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-312-58351-4 The husband-wife team behind the Animorphs series returns with the first installment of an entertaining saga that pits smart teens against high-tech evildoers and bionic skullduggery. A run-in with a streetcar left Evening Spiker’s body seriously mangled. Against medical advice, her widowed mother, Terra, insists on moving her from the hospital to Spiker Biopharmaceuticals, the cutting-edge biotech company she owns, renowned for its worldwide medical good works. Assisting Terra—though with an agenda of his own—is Solo Plissken, who takes more than a passing interest in Eve. Both teens feel a deep ambivalence toward Terra and Spiker Biopharm, though for different reasons, and beyond their mutual attraction, share a troubling, mysterious connection from the past. Eve’s healing is strangely swift but leaves her bored and restless until Terra drops a project, billed as genetics education, in her lap: Design a virtual human being from scratch. With help from her feisty, reckless friend Aislin, Eve takes up the challenge. While she becomes increasingly mesmerized by her creation, Adam, Solo edges closer to achieving his own goals. The straightforward narration by Eve, Solo and Adam in compact, swiftmoving prose, makes this a first-rate choice for reluctant readers while raising provocative questions about the nature of creation and perfection. An auspicious, thought-provoking series opener. (Science fiction/romance. 12 & up)

MEGASTRUCTURES Tallest, Longest, Biggest, Deepest Graham, Ian Firefly (128 pp.) $19.95 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-77085-111-5

Graham explores the building of “megastructures,” from skyscrapers to stadiums, bridges to dams, opera houses, tunnels and oil-drilling platforms. This is one of those big, busy books that jam a lot of information onto the page via boxed insets, quick, jumpy paragraphs with attention-grabbing snippets, and a tumble of artwork and illustrations, with an occasional gatefold that feels as big as a quilt. Nothing is conveyed with much context or depth. The material all comes in a rush, so it pays to slow down and drink it in; readers must assemble all the components to get the big picture. Graham is informed and in his brusqueness has chosen all the right tidbits. There are fun facts—how long it takes to paint the Eiffel Tower or wash all the windows in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building; how all the concrete in the Hoover Dam could pave a highway from San Francisco to New York City—and an array of monster problems that can beset massive structures. There are peeks at 2116

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THE CURIOSITIES A Collection of Stories

Gratton, Tessa; Stiefvater, Maggie; Yovanoff, Brenna Carolrhoda Lab (304 pp.) $17.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-7527-2 978-1-4677-0007-8 e-book The paranormal trio of Gratton, Stiefvater and Yovanoff here translate their

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“Nuanced and gently-paced, share this with imaginative young readers dealing with a change.” from tilly ’s moonlight garden

THE GREATEST LIAR ON EARTH A True Story

collective writings from their blog, Merry Sisters of Fate, into a collection of stories that feature Nordic mythology, murderers and secrets. In addition to the author’s introduction at the start of each story, doodles and handwritten marginalia hint at the interaction among the authors during the brainstorming and writing process. Notable stories include Yovanoff ’s look at two killers meeting for the first time, Stiefvater’s humorous take on zombies, and Gratton’s exploration of sacrifice and Samhain. A silent dinner with ghosts gives Gratton an opportunity to create a narrative with no dialogue, while Stiefvater looks at the cost of immortality and the ways people gain it, and Yovanoff takes a peek inside the head of someone who’s been pushed to the brink. While most of the stories are strong, the Arthurian suite doesn’t have the same sense of magic, simmering madness and insight of the other stories. The marginal notes sometimes seem to be a bit of a lovefest among the authors, but there are flashes of genius as well as humor in them, and the illustrations add back some edge. For those with dark hearts looking for the edgier side of paranormal fiction, this will be something to stay up with at night. (Anthology/paranormal. 14 & up)

Greenwood, Mark Illus. by Lessac, Frané Candlewick (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-7636-6155-7

A freestyle tribute to a turn-ofthe-20th-century yarn spinner whose wild accounts of supposed exploits in exotic climes earned him great, if brief, notoriety. Billing himself “Louis de Rougemont,” Swiss ne’er-do-well Henri Louis Grin caught public attention both in print and on the lecture circuit with astonishing tales of shipwreck and lonely subsistence on “evening dew and fish emptied from pelicans’ pouches”—plus encounters with “gruesome fish with bulging eyes and hairy mustaches,” flying wombats and “swarming bull ants.” So disappointed were credulous audiences when

TILLY’S MOONLIGHT GARDEN

Green, Julia Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (208 pp.) $15.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4022-7730-6

If Tilly’s world seems surreal, it is because it has been upended: Her mother is absent, bedridden with a difficult pregnancy, the family has moved, and Tilly’s best friend is miles away. Starting school where the girls seem cliquish is hard without her mom to talk to. But there are some things about the new house and grounds that lend Tilly courage, such as the fox that enchants her nightly. In parallel to her mother’s condition, the fox is expecting a litter. Then there is the girl, Helen, whom Tilly meets in the garden in the moonlight. Whether Helen is real, a ghost, or a product of Tilly’s dreams will tease children into spirited debate. What is sure is that Helen serves as a stand-in for a companion until Tilly makes friends with Susila. Briticisms and an unusual syntax may put off some readers. Others will be lulled by the slow-moving, dreamlike quality of the writing until they, like Tilly, will be barely aware of how the real world begins to reassert itself as the pieces come together: Mom feels better after giving birth, Tilly looks forward to teaching her baby brother everything she knows, and Susila shows promise as a friend who will enjoy stories about the fox in the garden. Nuanced and gently-paced, share this with imaginative young readers dealing with change. (Magical realism. 8-12)

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his claims were debunked that he was even booed off the stage during a comeback try as the titular “Greatest Liar,” and he died in obscurity in 1921. Greenwood makes it clear from the outset that Grin was a charlatan, but he also notes that some of his tales (a tentacled sea monster, fish raining from the sky) have a basis in reality. Taking a cue from his subject, perhaps, he admits that even lines he puts in quotes here are only paraphrased from Grin’s published works. More problematically, among Lessac’s stylized, naïvely imagined illustrations, one spread features putative “cannibals” sporting bones in their noses, artificially colored plumes and what are probably meant to be loincloths but look a lot like red Speedos. Far better known Down Under than on this side of the Pacific, Grin/de Rougement merits a shoutout, though a more historically rigorous one might play better than this Aussie import. (afterword) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Griffin, Paul Dial (304 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 25, 2012 978-0-8037-3815-7 Griffin fleshes out a gripping whodunit with a host of believable teen characters. Nicole is wealthy, popular and beautiful right up until someone throws acid in her face in the corridor of her high school and just as quickly disappears. Classmate Jay, a talented hacker and perennial social outcast with partially controlled epilepsy, surprises himself by resolving to discover the perpetrator. Could it have been her boyfriend, Dave, who is hiding something and was the last person to be seen with her that day? Or did fellow outsider Angela, who joins forces with Jay, have an axe to grind? How about the school janitor, who keeps a big jug of acid in his office? Or even Nicole herself? Jay’s slightly edgy, self-deprecating voice matches perfectly with his determined and cleverly inquisitive investigative efforts. Readily mocked and dismissed by classmates because of his seizures, he makes a perfect sleuth. Observing others keenly, he remains apart from the drama right up until he falls for Nicole. His hacking activities are both amusing and also surprisingly gratifying. While readers will probably already have judged—and found wanting— the eventually exposed perpetrator, they will still be astonished by the person’s identity. A taut thriller explores the evolving relationship between two outsider teens, at first defined by their shared defectiveness but later superseding it. (Mystery. 12 & up)

THE WARRIOR’S HEART Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage

Greitens, Eric Houghton Mifflin (208 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-547-86852-3

Selecting high and low points from his experiences as a child, college student, teacher, refugee-camp worker, amateur boxer, Rhodes scholar, Navy SEAL and worker with disabled vets, Greitens both charts his philosophical evolution and challenges young readers to think about “a better way to walk in the world.” Revising extracts from his memoir The Heart and the Fist (2011) and recasting them into a more chronological framework, the author tells a series of adventuresome tales. These are set in locales ranging from Duke University to Oxford, from a low-income boxing club to camps in Rwanda and Croatia, from a group home for street children in Bolivia to a barracks hit by a suicide bomber in Iraq. Prefacing each chapter with a provocative “Choose Your Own Adventure”–style scenario (“What do you do?”), he describes how similar situations ultimately led him to join the military, impelled by a belief that it’s better to help and protect others from danger than to provide aid after the fact. What sets his odyssey apart from Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin’s I Am a SEAL Team Six Warrior (2012) and most other soldiers’ stories is an unusual ability to spin yarns infused with not only humor and memorable lines (SEAL training’s notorious Hell Week was “the best time I never want to have again”), but cogent insights about character and making choices that don’t come across as heavyhanded advice. An uncommon (to say the least) coming of age, retraced with well-deserved pride but not self-aggrandizement, and as thought provoking as it is entertaining. (endnotes, bibliography [not seen]) (Memoir. 14-18) 2118

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WHAT BODY PART IS THAT?

Griffiths, Andy Illus. by Denton, Terry Feiwel & Friends (192 pp.) $12.99 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-312-36790-9

“There is a lot of nonsense written about the human body,” writes the author, “and this book is no exception.” Though not quite making good on his promise of “100 percent fact-free chapters,” (he does accurately describe “chondrolaryngoplasty”) Griffiths’ anatomical tour in general steers clear of anything that would be marked as correct on a test. From “Ears can be big or small, depending on their size” to “Capillaries are the larval form of butterflies,” he offers pithy inanities about 68 mostly real body features. Though he closes every entry with “That is all you need to know about…,” he then goes on to regale readers with the news that the epiglottis was named after a Greek philosopher and other “Fun Body Facts.” Similarly, noting that his illustrations “may not be scientifically accurate” (the understatement of the decade), Denton nonetheless provides on |

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“…this luminous fairy-tale world radiates warmth and magic—and, naturally, provides a very happy ending.” from sleeping beauty

nearly every spread profusely labeled, free-association cartoon views of each body part. These are filled out with tiny figures, mechanical apparatus and miscellaneous junk. Though serious young researchers may be disappointed to find the “Private Parts” pages blacked out, a full index follows to provide ready access to any references to poo, pus, farts, drool, “sneeze-powered missiles” and like essentials. Occasionally clever—fifth-grade boys will love it. (Humor. 10-12)

the party. She didn’t know about Alex’s allergy but blames herself anyway, as do many of her schoolmates. Sam believes she doesn’t deserve to continue with the swim team, even though she’s close to setting national records. Some stand up for her, such as wealthy, handsome Casper, who wants to be more than friends. Even as Sam makes some unfortunate choices, she gets help from several friends, a grief counselor and her Aunt Allie, a professional psychic. Relationships tangle and untangle while Sam slowly works her way toward forgiving herself, long after Alex’s family has forgiven her. Gurtler demonstrates sensitivity toward her characters and insight into their emotional responses to their friend’s death. Although her high-school villains seem a bit one-dimensional, the rest of the characters breathe with life. Skeptics will curl their lips at the psychic element, but there is enough realism to keep them involved. A touching story. (Fiction. 12 & up)

SLEEPING BEAUTY

The Brothers Grimm Illus. by Dusíková, Maja NorthSouth (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7358-4087-4

THROUGH TO YOU

“Once upon a time, a king and a queen used to say to each other every day, ‘If only we could have a child!’  ” Readers will eagerly embrace this sparkling retelling of the classic tale, which comes to life through delicate, ethereal illustrations by renowned Czech illustrator Dusíková. Soft-focused pictures, reminiscent of the work of Lisbeth Zwerger, glow in a rosy palette as they depict the king and queen blessed with a sweet princess who is cursed by a vengeful and forgotten fairy. Straightforward text with just the right amount of detail gracefully presents the story as the illustrations follow closely along, bursting into bloom as the appropriate prince arrives to greet the sleeping princess with his kiss. Readers interested in the history of the tale will have to look elsewhere, but fans of fairy tales and princesses will happily lose themselves in the subtle details and dreamlike quality of the pictures; replete with sprightly courtiers, evocative stone stairways and turrets, sumptuous fabrics and lively animals, this luminous fairy-tale world radiates warmth and magic—and, naturally, provides a very happy ending. A fine choice for princess lovers and traditionalists. (Picture book/fairy tale. 6-10)

Hainsworth, Emily Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (272 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-06-209419-3 978-0-06-209421-6 e-book The (almost) always-intriguing game of “what if ” is subjected to tortuous navel-gazing in this debut. The story opens two months after the death of Camden’s girlfriend, Viv, in an automobile accident. Two years earlier, when his football career was sidelined permanently by an injury, it was Viv who exclusively sustained him. Now he has nothing. When he finds himself—again—one night at the shrine erected at the accident site and sees an unfamiliar girl in an eerie green light, he reaches into the green light to push her away, inadvertently pulling her into his reality. It turns out that in her universe, the accident at that street corner had a very different result. The grief-stricken Cam finds himself drawn to this alternate reality, learning much about himself and his relationship with Viv that both tantalizes and disturbs him. The novel takes a very long time to get to this point and presents only one possible permutation of Cam’s reality, leaving readers with only their attachment to Cam to keep them going. Unfortunately, his first-person, present-tense narration first wallows in his misery and then plods along, describing thoughts and actions in blow-by-blow detail that quickly becomes tiresome. Try the far more exciting and provocative The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (2011), for a successful exploration of “what if.” (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

WHO I KISSED

Gurtler, Janet Sourcebooks Fire (304 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-4022-7054-3 Samantha feels so guilty after her kiss actually kills a boy that she ends her champion swimming career. Sam doesn’t normally go to parties or kiss boys. She’s really attracted to Zee, another swimmer, but he ignores her, so she kisses Alex instead. Alex immediately gasps for breath and dies on the way to the hospital. It turns out that he had a peanut allergy, and Sam had eaten a peanut-butter sandwich just before |

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DREAMING UP A Celebration of Building

he hates. Now, his parents have arranged for him to audition for the prestigious school and have bought him a brand-new, very itchy suit. Arriving too early, his father takes him up to the roof, and they get locked out. Nonetheless, Marvin plays, well, sensationally. He takes note of his father’s admonition that practice and learning are required before one can compose music that “would be magic.” Madsen’s colorful paintings are suitably amusing but not necessarily evocative of mid-20th-century Manhattan. This is more anecdotal than inspirational or motivational and will be of greatest appeal to nostalgic grandparents. (Accompanying CD not heard.) His A Chorus Line was “One singular sensation.” This is not. (Picture book. 3-6)

Hale, Christy Illus. by Hale, Christy Lee & Low (40 pp.) $18.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-60060-651-9

Hale turns her educated eye to modern and contemporary architecture and produces a book that is at once groundbreaking, child-friendly and marvelously inclusive. With a celebratory tone, Hale cleverly structures this unusual picture book by matching a series of lively concrete poems and vignettes of young children at play (creating simple structures of all types), pairing them with carefully selected photos of complementary, emblematic 20th- and 21st-century structures. Mud pies are compared to Hassan Fathy’s allearthen New Gourna Village (Luxor , Egypt); beachfront sand castles to Antoni Gaudí’s soaring La Sagrada Família Basilica (Barcelona, Spain); busy LEGO® projects with Moshe Safdie’s modular Habitat 67 housing (Montréal, Québec); cardboardtube models to Shigeru Ban’s amazing Paper Tube School (Sichuan Provence, China); tongue-depressor/Popsicle-stick and white-glue crafts with the vertical slats of David Adjaye’s Sclera Pavilion (London, England); and the “soft forms / tumble making / ever-changing / caverns, secret spaces” of pillow forts with Frank Gehry’s curvilinear Guggenheim (Bilbao, Spain). Wellorganized and accessible backmatter contains the photo, name and location of each of the 15 highlighted structures, a brief biography of and a telling quote from each structure’s architect, and Hale’s own portrait of each designer. This extraordinary new picture book masterfully tackles the complex task of contextualizing seemingly complex architectural concepts within a child’s own world of play. (Informational picture book/poetry. 2-8)

CADILLAC CHRONICLES

Hartman, Brett Cinco Puntos (304 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-935955-41-2

Angry, just-turned-16-year-old Alex, a white boy, and equally angry but very old Lester, a black man, are unlikely road-trip buddies in this novel that transcends its conventions. The cross-generational road trip is a familiar trope; so is the life-changing cross-racial relationship. Where this book that combines the two stands out is in its refusal to make Lester simply a tool for Alex’s coming-of-age. While Lester initially seems to conform to many of the stereotypes, he is, as Alex learns, nevertheless entirely an individual, one who hates his age-inflicted vulnerability with bullheaded passion. They come together—unwillingly—when Alex’s frankly odious, local-politician mother takes Lester in to make herself look good. In fairly short order, though, they find themselves on the run together in Lester’s Cadillac, on their way to, first, Florida to find the father Alex has never known and then to Alabama, to visit the sister Lester hasn’t seen in years. Lester counsels him: “[W]hen you commit to a course of action, don’t hesitate. Don’t limp-dick yourself into a hole.” Accordingly, Alex learns to drive, comes to understand a little of the hard truth of race in post–civil rights– era America and spectacularly loses his virginity in a scene that will surprise readers as much as Alex. If there’s little doubt about the end of the trip, readers will be happy they’ve gone along for the ride. (Fiction. 14 & up)

MARVIN MAKES MUSIC

Hamlisch, Marvin Illus. by Madsen, Jim Dial (32 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 8, 2012 978-0-8037-3730-3

An episode from the childhood of the late mega–award-winning composer of Broadway and film. New York City–born and –raised, Hamlisch was a child prodigy who was accepted into the Juilliard School at a very young age and who went on to win multiples of all the major performance awards—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Add a Pulitzer Prize for the 1975 Broadway hit, A Chorus Line. In this extremely sweet (one might say saccharine) story, written in the third person, the young Marvin loves listening to sounds and playing his own melodies. Practice he hates. Performing for others he hates. Playing ancient music by Mozart and Beethoven 2120

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“A brisk, lively cumulative narrative highlights the joyous making of the traditional Sabbath bread, made a little messy when two energetic youngsters help their patient grandmother in the kitchen.” from this is the challah

THREE LITTLE WORDS

sets up a contract. The illustrator is a Pixar animator, and the digital illustrations employ a confectioner’s palette of hot pink and greenish blue, sometimes against dark backgrounds. Strong shapes and a mix of modern objects (Ganesha tries to use a stapler and tape dispenser to re-attach his tusk) with traditional designs add to the fun. A sugarcoated but hardly saccharine introduction to one Hindu myth. (Picture book. 5-8)

Harvey, Sarah N. Orca (224 pp.) $12.95 paperback | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4598-0065-6 Sid, 16, is an odd, orderly soul. He wears black T-shirts and jeans exclusively, sketches obsessively, hangs out with his best friend, Chloe, and helps out with Caleb and Megan’s other foster kids on their peaceful British Columbia island. At age 2, Sid (short for Siddhartha) was taken from his bipolar mother, Devi, who’d neglected him; now only his private sketchbooks hint at his difficult history. After he shares these with mute, traumatized foster child Fariza, they create stories together, a healing process interrupted when Devi’s friend Phil arrives. Sid learns he has a 13-year-old half brother, Wain (short for Gawain), who’s gone missing. Phil enlists Sid’s help in searching for him in Victoria. There, Sid discovers the source of his artistic gifts, meets his congenial grandmother and easily locates his brother, who’s touchy, sullen and black. Many questions go unasked and unanswered. Why, after 14 years, haven’t Sid’s foster parents adopted him? Do the boys ever think about their birth fathers? What is it like to be the black son of a white mother in such a white world? Appealing, original characters—especially Sid, eccentric but high-functioning—are a strong suit. While strangely tone deaf to adoption and transracial family issues, Harvey portrays parental mental illness and the long-term effects of childhood trauma with compassionate insight. (Fiction. 12 & up)

UNDER THE MOUND

Heinrichs, Cynthia Simply Read (454 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 6, 2012 978-1-897476-62-8

Around an eldritch incident recorded in the Orkneyinga Saga, Heinrichs spins a 12th-century coming-ofage tale rich in both political intrigue and supernatural visitations. Dispatched by his roaring father to join a company gathered by young earl Harald Maddadson, who is out to regain control of Orkney from a usurper, Malcolm Mac Alasdair is cast into a maelstrom of political maneuvering and murky alliances. When part of the expedition is forced by a storm to take refuge in an old barrow, he finds himself engaged as well in a deadly struggle with the tomb’s raging occupant. Though the verbal sparring among Harald’s advisors and positively Shakespearean family (his mother Margaret makes Lady Macbeth look like Mother Teresa) does tend to go on, the author counters with plenty of rousing scenes on wild seas and windy moors. Woven throughout are streams of prophetic visions capped by climactic encounters with Odin and his Wild Hunt. By the end, Malcolm has outgrown his petulance and naïveté, broadened his initially parochial Christian outlook and seen Harald on his way to a long and relatively peaceful reign. Fantasy elements aside, this saga is reminiscent of a Rosemary Sutcliff novel in plot, themes, cast and overall tone. (Historical fantasy. 12-14)

GANESHA’S SWEET TOOTH

Haynes, Emily Illus. by Patel, Sanjay Chronicle (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4521-0362-4

Emphasizing Ganesha’s playfulness, this story is a takeoff on one legend about the elephant-headed Hindu god. Ganesha, god of beginnings, is also a mischievous boy. Together with his sidekick, Mr. Mouse, he loves to eat candy. When he bites into “THE SUPER JUMBO JAWBREAKER LADDOO!,” he breaks his tusk. He is so angry that he throws his tusk to the moon, but he accidentally hits an old man. Not just any old man, but Vyasa, the poet who has created the Mahabharata, the Sanskrit epic. In this tale, Vyasa suggests that Ganesha be his scribe and use his tusk as a pen. In the traditional story, Ganesha starts to write with a pen, and when it breaks, he uses his tusk as his writing implement. Here, he starts right off with his tusk. The unusual conditions of the legend (that Vyasa never stop reciting the poem and that Ganesha must understand the meaning of the epic) are here, but they are presented in an unusual double-page spread in which Mr. Mouse, as lawyer, |

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THIS IS THE CHALLAH

Hepker, Sue Illus. by Wummer, Amy Behrman House Publishing (24 pp.) $8.95 paperback | Oct. 15, 2012 978-0-87441-922-1 A brisk, lively cumulative narrative highlights the joyous making of the traditional Sabbath bread, made a little messy when two energetic youngsters help their patient grandmother in the kitchen. After introducing “the challah that Bubbe made,” ingredients such as water, sugar, salt, yeast, oil, eggs and flour are |

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THE READER

introduced with each new line of the text, until it is time for a baker’s expertise. “These are the hands that squished the flour / that thickened the oil / that softened the sugar / that sweetened the eggs / that whipped the yeast / that frothed the water / that went in the challah that Bubbe made.” Cheery watercolorand-graphite drawings depict a modern and youthful-looking grandmother simultaneously administering instructions to a preschool-aged granddaughter and overseeing spilled mishaps by a toddler-aged grandson. They bring out a visual story that parallels the one described in the narrative, culminating in a warm, family dinner. The traditional blessing is reproduced in Hebrew characters, Romanized Hebrew and English, while the dog looks impishly out from under the tablecloth. Pleasant and easy to recite, the recurring phrases should help guide children as they create their own culinary mayhem when helping out in the weekly Sabbath preparation. (recipe) (Picture book. 3-6)

Hest, Amy Illus. by Castillo, Lauren Marshall Cavendish (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7614-6184-5 Reading anytime, anywhere is touted in this story about a boy, his dog and a snowy day. Never named in the text, the titular reader packs up a suitcase for a day of sledding and reading with his dog. Reaching the hilltop, they frolic about, making snow “angels … snowballs … more angels … and a snow dog for the dog.” Then, it’s time for “warm drinks and crunchy toast for two.” Well-fed and satisfied with their play, instead of heading home to read indoors, the reader takes out a book called Two Good Friends and reads aloud to his dog, delightedly saying, “Just like us!” at book’s end. After repacking the suitcase, they then sled downhill and return home. Although the premise might seem a bit odd—the snowy scene could spell book damage, after all—one might regard it as the wintertime equivalent of a beach read. The evocation of imaginative play on a snowy day is reminiscent of Uri Shulevitz’s Snow (1998) and, of course, The Snowy Day. Castillo’s soft, inked lines and luscious watercolors echo the text’s gentle tone. Subtle incorporation of white painted letters falling like snow around the pair during the read-aloud scene adds a lovely touch to a spread begging to be made into a poster touting the joys of reading. A charming (if rather implausible) celebration of a snowy, book-y, day. (Picture book. 3-6)

THE YOU KNOW WHO GIRLS Freshman Year

Hesik, Annameekee Bold Strokes Books (374 pp.) $11.95 paperback | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-60282-754-7

Just before their freshman year at Gila High, Abbey and her best friend, Kate, are warned by Kate’s older sister, Jenn, that the basketball team is full of “lezzies.” Despite promising Kate that she “will never try out for basketball or be friends with those youknow-who girls,” Abbey starts the year secretly crushed out on a girl she meets at a food court and is quickly scooped up by Garrett and Stef, sophomore basketball players and out lesbians. She soon learns about Gila High’s tangled web of lesbian relationships, including Stef ’s involvement with Keeta, Abbey’s increasingly flirtatious crush. Over the first few months of the year, Abbey joins the junior varsity basketball team and becomes involved with Keeta behind Stef ’s back, despite her new friends’ warnings that Keeta is bad news. Abbey’s well-rendered narrative voice easily conveys the joy of discovering new friends and the deliciousness of illicit kisses, as well as her fears about her old friends and her mom finding out. The cast, appropriately for the Tuscon setting, is ethnically diverse, and Keeta’s frequent Spanglish comes across as dreamy without being exoticized. The story isn’t completely polished—for instance, Abbey once recalls an incident that doesn’t actually appear in the text. However, its warmth and enthusiasm more than make up for its small oversights. (Fiction. 12-18)

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MAGISTERIUM

Hirsch, Jeff Scholastic (320 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-545-29018-0 978-0-545-46988-3 e-book What could have been an interesting exploration of the conflict between science and magic instead devolves into a choice based simply on who has the bigger bombs. Sixteen-year-old Glenn is a genius computer engineer torn between the desire to travel into deep space and the need to care for her increasingly unstable father. Perhaps it’s this tantalizing beginning that creates such disjunction once this tale turns out to be just one more story of a chosen girl with an inborn destiny. It seems that the Rift that destroyed so much of Earth in the year 2023 wasn’t a natural phenomenon after all. Instead, deep in the Rift lies a magical land, the Magisterium. There, quelle surprise, Glenn learns she has a dark magical heritage. The land calls out for a savior, but whom can Glenn trust? While she deals with her own developing magical powers and the possible betrayal of Kevin, her best friend and erstwhile beau, Glenn fights in a sudden and fairly inexplicable war that has descended |

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“This well-told story captures a pivotal life experience: What we’ve assumed was permanent, bedrock reality can shift beneath us without warning.” from the normal kid

THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES

upon the Magisterium. In fantasyland, Glenn’s apparently genius-level skills at engineering lie undeveloped and unmentioned. Even her name changes, the “Glenn” (perhaps evoking astronaut John Glenn) replaced with the over-the-top fairy-tale name “Glennora Amantine.” “You’re a scientist,” Kevin tells Glenn. “Tell me you don’t want to understand....” Would that she did, but there’s no thoughtful consideration here. Rushed worldbuilding and romance by peer pressure undercut any excitement the occasional battle might engender. (Fantasy. 12-14)

The Brother Grimm Retold by Hoffman, Mary Illus. by Miss Clara Barefoot (64 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84686-838-2 A traditional Grimm tale is retold, with mixed results, in chapter form for “confident readers.” The essential plot elements remain true to earlier versions; shoes are mysteriously worn out, and the king puts to death the princes who fail to find an explanation. An enterprising soldier, with a magic cloak of invisibility given to him by an old woman, follows the princesses through the silver, gold and diamond woods, sees them dancing until dawn with the enchanted prince, and tells their secret to the king. Of course, he is rewarded by the hand of the eldest princess in marriage. The princesses have lovely French floral names, but everyone else, including the hero, is nameless. There is no explanation for the princes’ enchantment, and the princesses seem to enjoy the delightful adventure of secretly dancing and feasting. When the enchantment fades away, along with the princes, no one seems to care or wonder. Hoffman employs descriptive language that maintains a sense of old-fashioned syntax while remaining accessible for modern readers. But there is little that is really fresh and interesting. It is Miss Clara’s intricate, three-dimensional creations that capture the imagination. Each illustration is a gem: a photograph of a highly detailed stage set filled with interesting and delightful objects and textures. A pleasant retelling enhanced by a truly original presentation. (Fairy tale. 7-10)

RESCUING THE CHILDREN The Story of the Kindertransport Hodge, Deborah Tundra (64 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-77049-256-1

Fitting neatly into primary-classroom units about World War II and the Holocaust, a broad if dispassionate overview of the privately funded evacuation of 10,000 European children in the months before the war’s formal start. Despite an introduction and frequent boxed comments or memories from eight still-living participants—plus repeated mention of the Talmudic saying that “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire”—Hodge’s account is more matter-of-fact than suspenseful or even particularly immediate. She sketches in Germany’s history from Hitler’s rise to Kristallnacht, noting the reluctance of other national governments to take German refugees, particularly Jewish ones. The author goes on to describe in general how the Refugee Children’s Movement in Britain and related individual efforts brought trainloads of children from 3-month- to 16-yearolds out of several countries to Great Britain (and, she notes only in passing, possibly to havens in other countries too). Though even sketchier in covering the refugees’ experiences settling in during and after the war, she does also bring their stories up to modern reunions and commemorations. Then-and-now portraits of her eight survivors, with a mix of period photos and paintings by Kind artist Hans Jackson, provide plenty of visual witness to those dangerous times and the children caught in them. A quick but systematic overview, well-endowed with both visual and documentary supporting material. (map, biographies, timeline, multimedia resource lists) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

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THE NORMAL KID

Holmes, Elizabeth Carolrhoda (248 pp.) $17.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-8085-6 978-1-4677-0261-4 e-book In a changing world, what can “normal” mean? Lately, change has rocked Sylvan’s world—and not in a good way: family breakup, an embarrassing newspaper photo and now a new fifth-grade teacher. Sylvan tells himself he’s a “normal, average, everyday kid.” Sylvan’s classmate and co-narrator, Charity, has bigger changes to process: Her missionary dad’s abruptly returned the family to the States after five years in rural Kenya. Now he works as a house painter and won’t say grace. Charity’s classmates think she’s weird to shake hands with their teacher, but next to Brian, she is normal. Brian, on the autism spectrum (his depiction is realistic and low-key), makes loud noises in class, avoids eye contact and spends hours alone jumping on his |

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trampoline. This well-told story captures a pivotal life experience: What we’ve assumed was permanent, bedrock reality can shift beneath us without warning. “Normal” changes. If it’s a tough lesson, it’s also liberating. Sylvan’s mom drags him with her to protest demonstrations (hence that embarrassing photo). That’s her normal—but is it Sylvan’s? Charity’s beliefs are her own, to keep or lose, whatever her dad believes. Pre-adolescent angst—funny, perplexing humiliating—is perennially fertile ground for middle-grade fiction. Holmes shows us where it comes from and where it can take us if we let it. (Fiction. 8-12)

The homophonous title arouses curiosity while intimating troubled waters. Although it is love at first sight in the opening spread, the central conflict—that fish fall beneath otters in the food chain—is present as well. Howe explores the pleasure and pain of loving someone who is different from one’s self in a manner that is both sophisticated and accessible to children. His rhapsodic language recalls William Steig’s in The Amazing Bone (1976). Myrtle (really Gurgle, the fish) ponders “…the stirrings of her own / heart— / her own tremulous / fish-not-wishing-to-be-dinner / heart— / awakened to… / not only love but a future / she could never have imagined.” The author builds suspense and credibility by twice speculating on the outcome. He first imagines what would happen “in a perfect world,” then “in a tragic tale.” Ultimately, Beaver’s wisdom helps Otter overcome his instincts and the gossipers’ ill will (a reality magnified by their tightly-knit circle, viewed from below). Raschka’s childlike renderings of creatures in thick, penciled outlines create the innocence, mirror the hope and provide the universality that contributes to the title’s ascent above its purely messagedriven counterparts. Ever-changing watercolor washes and primordial shapes depict a wondrous, liquid world in which the starcrossed lovers learn to trust their hearts. (Picture book. 5-9)

INFINITY AND ME

Hosford, Kate Illus. by Swiatkowska, Gabi Carolrhoda (32 pp.) $16.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-6726-0 978-1-58013-997-7 e-book Uma’s struggle with the meaning of infinity offers readers a playful, gorgeous introduction to the mathematical concept. When little Uma gazes at the vast night sky and wonders how many stars are there, she asks, “How could I even think about something as big as infinity?” When friends, her grandmother, the school cook and the music teacher offer creative ways of describing infinity, Uma ends up feeling rather overwhelmed. She then realizes that her pondering has made her forget about the new red shoes she’d been so excited about right before her stargazing musings began. Worse yet—no one had noticed her fancy new footwear that day! But after school, Grandma tells her “Uma, I meant to tell you this morning—those are the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen!” and in a joyous spread, Uma glories, “…my love for her was as big as infinity.” Then Uma and her grandmother go outside to look at the sky, and “[s]nuggled up to Grandma, the sky didn’t seem so huge and cold anymore. Now it was more like a sparkly blanket, covering us both.” While Hosford’s text deftly evokes the child’s voice, Swiatkowska’s expressive, lush illustrations steal the show, providing infinite opportunities for readers to examine each and every spread. A stellar artistic vision of the infinite power of intergenerational love. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

WHISPERS AT MOONRISE

Hunter, C.C. St. Martin’s Griffin (400 pp.) $9.99 paperback | $9.99 e-book Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-250-01191-6 978-1-250-01192-3 e-book Series: Shadow Falls, 4

The fourth installment of the popular Shadow Falls series finds Kylie still confused about her supernatural status. Kylie attends Shadow Falls, a camplike “school” in Texas that secretly trains supernatural teens to live in the normal world. The school hosts an assortment of vampires, werewolves, witches, shape-shifters and the like. Kylie has never been able to determine to which “race” she belongs. Kylie’s ghost dad told her she was a “chameleon,” but she doesn’t know what that means. Meanwhile, she’s still trying to choose between the two hottie guys who love her, werewolf Lucas and half-fae Derek. Also, Kylie gets continued visits from a ghost who looks just like still-living Holiday, the camp leader. Is Holiday in danger? What’s going on? New characters enter—could they be enemies? And could Kylie be in danger within Shadow Falls itself? Established romance writer Hunter lays out her plot threads and weaves in plenty of banter, much of it comic, between Kylie and her roommates. Constantly warned not to go into the woods, Kylie does so consistently and maddeningly, creating much of the book’s suspense. The ghosts easily come across as the most memorable, imaginative characters. It all fits the current paranormal craze perfectly. Fans will like it. (Paranormal romance. 12-16)

OTTER AND ODDER A Love Story Howe, James Illus. by Raschka, Chris Candlewick (40 pp.) $14.00 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7636-4174-0

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“It’s a rare teen novel that both tackles religion and creates fully realized adult characters, and Jarzab handles it all gracefully.” from the opposite of hallelujah

THERE WAS A TREE

author, an archaeologist himself, has included plenty of specific details about fieldwork and about the Chavín area, bringing out some of the conflicts inherent in the science. But middlegrade readers will be focused on the mystery, pulled on by gripping suspense. Claustrophobics may want to skip scenes where Samantha wriggles through pitch-black tunnels and navigates remembered passages without a light. Hardy readers will be eager to explore another lost world in the promised sequel. (Mystery. 9-13)

Isadora, Rachel Illus. by Isadora, Rachel Nancy Paulsen Books (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 11, 2012 978-0-399-25741-4 The East African savanna forms the backdrop for this appealing version of a familiar American cumulative song. Returning to the African setting and textured collage technique she has used so successfully in adaptations of folk tales, Isadora reworks what has become a traditional children’s song. (Credit to the 1912 songwriters and identification of the animals shown appear on the back jacket flap but not in the text.) The superb starling makes a splendid choice for the bird in the nest on the branch on the tree where the green grass grew all around, all around. Its bright blue and orange coloration both stands out and blends into the oranges and greens of this grassland world, which the artist has populated with people and iconic animals including lions, giraffes and elephants. Oil-painted and printed cut papers make up her scenes: The animals, plants and bright sun or concluding night sky are (mostly) set on a white background. Each illustration extends completely across the doublepage spread, bordered by a square patchwork that sometimes includes what appear to be woven textiles. In the white spaces, the song grows, with small rebus images appearing after the first use of each word on the page. A key to the rebus appears at the end along with the music and lyrics. A read-aloud, sing-along delight. (Picture book. 3-7)

THE OPPOSITE OF HALLELUJAH

Jarzab, Anna Delacorte (464 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-385-73836-1 978-0-375-89408-4 e-book 978-0-385-90724-8 PLB A teenage girl comes to terms with her sister’s secret past and her own spirituality in this sophomore title by the author of All Unquiet Things (2010). Eight years ago, 16-year-old Caro’s older sister Hannah left home to join a convent, and Caro hasn’t had much of a relationship with her or God since. “[After] Hannah left, God stayed up in the attic, like the toys and old clothes I’d outgrown that my mother couldn’t bring herself to part with.” But now, Hannah is coming home after telling the Sisters of Grace that she is renouncing her vows, and Caro couldn’t be more angry and confused. She lies to her friends and new boyfriend about Hannah’s prolonged absence and fights with her parents constantly. It is only after she understands the tragic reason why Hannah is so sad and withdrawn that she begins to open up to the idea of making a new connection with her sister. Though the author takes many, many pages to reveal Hannah’s secret, it is time well-spent, providing nuanced characterizations of not only conflicted Caro, but of her troubled parents and her kindly, philosophical priest, Father Bob. It’s a rare teen novel that both tackles religion and creates fully realized adult characters, and Jarzab handles it all gracefully. A layered meditation on family and belief that will ring true for faith-questing teens. (Fiction. 12 & up)

SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES

Jacobs, Jordan Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (288 pp.) $8.99 paperback | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4022-7560-9 Series: Samantha Sutton, 1

When 12-year-old Samantha Sutton gets to join her archaeologist uncle on an actual dig in Peru, she learns the secret behind the local tradition of a madman in Chavín de Huántar, but not before some terrifying moments both above and below ground. Longing to be an archaeologist herself, Samantha is thrilled when her Uncle Jay invites her to spend the summer working with him, even though her irritating older brother Evan has to come along. Her special job of exploring narrow passageways in the 3,000-year-old site is real scientific work, though it’s sometimes frightening. But when there really does appear to be an intruder in the maze of galleries, and finds go missing, the tension among the scientific staff and in the community becomes almost unbearable. Then her video-game–playing brother disappears. These middle-school–age characters are believable and the adults convincingly complex. The first-time |

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THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

Johnson, J.J. Peachtree (320 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-56145-623-9

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THE SANDMAN The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie

about her own culpability in the incident. Her snarky, conversational present-tense narration is filled with graphs, charts, and maps about her life, as well as numerous Star Wars references and capitalized words. In it, she hides her guilt and grief through sarcasm. It doesn’t help that her hot boyfriend wants to have sex or that she feels herself growing closer to Jamie’s twin brother, Emmett, who also wants to know the truth about his sister’s death. When she witnesses a deer crash through a gym window and die in the exact spot as Jamie, she discovers that in the mythology of the Ancient Scythians (cultures in Russia, China, Romania and central Asia), this swift animal was believed to speed the spirit of the dead on its way. Perhaps it’s not Jamie who needs the help moving on. A run-in with the seemingly odd custodian (aka Captain Possum because of his equally strange pet possum) sent to clean up the dead deer sets Sarah on the path to healing and forgiveness. Despite the story’s rushed ending, Sarah’s snappy yet pithy observations will appeal to teens working on their own theories about life. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Joyce, William Illus. by Joyce, William Atheneum (48 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-4424-3042-6 978-1-4424-5448-4 e-book Series: The Guardians of Childhood, 2 At the behest of the Man in the Moon, shooting-star captain Sanderson Mansnoozie takes on a new responsibility—guarding Earth’s children from the evil Pitch and his Dream Pirates. Back in the Golden Age, he was tasked with sending dreams down to everyone who made a wish upon his passing fiery vessel (because a granted wish “always begins with a dream,” as the narrator circularly notes). Now Sandy wakes after eons of sleep to sail our planet’s skies on a cloud of golden Dreamsand and assist in chasing away the nightmares plaguing slumbering children. Like the Guardians of Childhood origin tale it succeeds, The Man in the Moon (2011), the plotline and internal logic seem rudimentary next to Joyce’s extravagantly ornate illustrations. Here, amid dramatic curls and swirls of glowing sand, the smiling, newly minted Lord High Protector of Sleep and Dreams cuts a stubby but intrepid figure—topped by a wild golden mane and surrounded by attentive seashells and lissome, tattooed mermaids—as he does his nighttime work beneath deep fields of stars and a benevolently smiling moon. The art makes a bigger impression than the story, but the overall tone is appropriately dreamy, and as for that creeping nightmare: “you know it’s not real.” (Picture book. 5-9)

DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR

Jones, Darynda St. Martin’s Griffin (320 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-312-62520-7

Falling in love with a supernova-level handsome hunk when you’re only a sophomore can cause problems, but when you discover that he’s actually the Angel of Death, you might want to think twice. Lorelei does well in school until she meets the amazingly gorgeous Jared. She can’t believe he seems attracted to her instead of all the really pretty girls in her small-town New Mexico high school. Meanwhile, she worries about Cameron, another hunky student, who appears to be stalking her. It turns out that Cameron is stalking Jared, however, in an attempt to protect Lorelei. When Jared must make the decision to take Lorelei’s life, he goes rogue. Will his decision get him into trouble in Heaven, and can Cameron contain his rage against Jared? When Lorelei learns that she herself has some paranormal powers, she begins to understand some of the mysteries of her past. However, someone else appears to be stalking Lorelei, and he might menace her even more than the grim reaper. Jones deliberately keeps her tone light, with constant comic banter among the three friends even as battles rage between Jared and Cameron. The light atmosphere clashes somewhat with the overall level of suspense, but readers may not care. She hits plenty of buttons: impossibly handsome boys, supernatural powers, hot romance, friendship, school rivalries, suspense and comedy. The final scene sets up sequels, natch. Agreeable if formulaic. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

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MOUSETRONAUT Based on a (Partially) True Story

Kelly, Mark Illus. by Payne, C.F. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $16.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-4424-5824-6 978-1-4424-5832-1 e-book Diminutive size proves to be an advantage on a shuttle mission. Meteor the mouse would dearly love to join the shuttle crew, but all the other mice know he’s too small. The human shuttle commander’s had his eye on Meteor, though, and seeing his motivation, chooses him for one of the six mouse spots. Meteor is such a “natural” in zero gravity, he’s allowed out of the cage, aka the Mouse Hotel. The human astronauts are busy on spacewalks and conducting experiments, but there’s not much for Meteor to do. When the key to the control panel becomes stuck in a tight spot, the commander says, “This isn’t good.” Human fingers are too thick, but Meteor saves the day. Kelly, a |

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“Tavian’s need to know his past leads him on supernatural adventures around Tokyo, where he discovers satisfyingly predictable revelations.” from foxfire

retired astronaut, puts his expertise to work, naturally sliding the tiniest details of life on a shuttle into his story. Even in space, astronauts answer email; it goes without saying that at least one of the astronauts is a woman; and who knew you needed keys on a space shuttle? (Probably appropriately, the exact role of the mice on the mission is never explored.) Payne has a good time with his illustrations, investing little Meteor with a suitably outsized personality and making his multicultural human shuttle crew look normal as normal can be—like Meteor, maybe child readers can become astronauts, too. This little mouse may well inspire some big dreams. (afterword, further reading) (Picture book. 3-6)

Tavian, the romantic object of Other (2010), is returning to a Japan he hasn’t seen since he was 6 years old. What should be a routine visit to the adoptive grandparents he’s never met is haunted—literally—by a faceless ghost, a noppera-bo, that seems to be tailing him. Tavian is a kitsune, a fox shifter, and his accompanying girlfriend, Gwen, is half-pooka. There is much less bigotry against the shape-shifting Others in Tokyo than Tavian experienced in rural Washington, but there’s plenty of other things to worry about. Shape-shifting gangsters keep trying to attack Tavian, for no obvious reason. Tavian fights a mysterious illness he was left with after his adventures in Other, and possibly only some kitsune shrine maidens can help. Everything seems to tie back to the mother who abandoned Tavian when he was just a child, an ignorant fox kit freezing in the woods. Tavian’s need to know his past leads him on supernatural adventures around Tokyo, where he discovers satisfyingly predictable revelations. An enjoyable, mystical coming-of-age, complete with quick getaways, motorcycle chases and no distraction from the already-established, comfortable romance. (Paranormal romance. 13-15)

STEALING PARKER

Kenneally, Miranda Sourcebooks Fire (304 pp.) $8.99 paperback | Oct. 4, 2012 978-1-4022-7187-8 Readers of this teen novel will appreciate its realistic and witty dialogue as they navigate its tightly packed plot. High-school valedictorian Parker’s life has been a crush of sad confusion since her mother left the family to move in with her girlfriend. Ostracized by many of her friends and her church, Parker has quit the softball team and taken to making out with random guys in a heartbreaking effort to prove to her tormentors she’s not a lesbian like her mom. When she meets a hot 23-year-old assistant coach at her school, he seems to be a kindred spirit. As things progress and they become physical, however, he seems more interested in trying to convince her to have sex than in talking. Bits of Parker’s journal-style writing featured throughout very effectively serve to bring readers into her corner. In a sweetly described romantic turn, she also begins to fall for a longtime acquaintance, but her best friend Drew finally comes out to her and drunkenly confesses a secret crush on him. All of this, plus the poignant details of her home life with a depressed father and drug-abusing brother, eventually drives her to contact her mom and face herself. With characters this nuanced, many teens won’t mind all the issues flying fast and furious. (Fiction. 14 & up)

THE BLUE DOOR

Kinde, Christa Zonderkidz (256 pp.) $14.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-310-72419-3 Series: Threshold, 1

A spiritual adventure balances strong Christian messages of family and faith with the challenges of being a teenager on a farm. This first installment in the Threshold series introduces 14-year-old Prissie Pomeroy, the only daughter in her family (she has five brothers). Life for Prissie on her family farm is pretty mundane: The highlight of her week is a visit from the friendly letter carrier, Milo. However, one day a heavenly visitor changes everything, especially her interactions with Milo, who turns out to be an angel sent to help deliver her a message. This revelation rocks Prissie’s world, with the appearance of angels testing her deep faith and opening her eyes to the many ethereal beings that surround humankind, including her own guardian angel. Kinde dedicates much of this first volume to laying the foundation for the series and clearly defining the hierarchy of angels, which range from protectors to messengers. Although the tale is short on adventure, the majority of chapters open with a short snippet of text featuring fallen angels that hints of great danger for Prissie in future installments. In tandem with Prissie’s attempts to reconcile her new ethereal companions are her struggles to maintain friendships and deal with growing pains. A Christian fantasy with a wholesome message and down-on-the-farm twist. (Fantasy. 10-14)

FOXFIRE

Kincy, Karen Flux (312 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Oct. 8, 2012 978-0-7387-3057-8 Series: Other, 3 Kincy serves up this series entry blessedly free from the Other novels’ usual heavy-handed racism metaphors, finally offering the characters a straightforward action-adventure. |

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“Klassen combines spare text and art to deliver no small measure of laughs in another darkly comic haberdashery whodunit.” from this is not my hat

I HAVE A DREAM

spreads. This culminates in a page reading “I knew I was going to make it,” as the little fish disappears on the recto into plants evocative of Leo Lionni’s setting in Swimmy (1963), while a narrow-eyed big fish enters the verso. The little fish is clearly doomed—a fact coyly confirmed by wordless page turns revealing the big fish swimming away, now from right to left, hat firmly on head. Hats off! (Picture book. 4-8)

King, Martin Luther Illus. by Nelson, Kadir Schwartz & Wade/Random (48 pp.) $18.99 | PLB $21.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-375-85887-1 978-0-375-95887-8 PLB An award-winning artist captures the passion and purpose of this most notable 20th-century American speech in beautifully realized oil paintings. Nelson begins with the concluding paragraphs spoken on August 28th, 1963, with the Lincoln Memorial standing vigil over the massed assemblage. Dr. King’s opening paragraphs, with their urgent and specific references to America’s broken promises, slavery, discrimination and injustice, along with an acknowledgement of a “marvelous new militancy” are not often quoted; they are specific to the time. The words of his “dream,” in contrast, are universal, timeless and still needed. Dr. King evoked Scripture, an American hymn and an African-American spiritual in his sermon. Nelson mirrors that religiosity in his paneled montage of American mountains rising high from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Mississippi and California. His stately portraits of adults and children stand out against white and blue backgrounds as they march, listen and hold hands. A glorious double-spread likeness of Dr. King against a black background imparts both majesty and sorrow. And how perfect that white doves, symbols of hope and faith, soar at the conclusion. The entire speech is reproduced in print and on a CD (not heard). A title for remembrance and for re-dedication to the dream, published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. (Informational picture book. 5 & up)

FINN AT CLEE POINT

Knight, Richard Illus. by Manna, Giovanni Barefoot (128 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84686-401-8

A fishing contest leads 10-year-old Finn into danger, both literally and socially, when he’s rescued, befriended and helped by the town pariahs. Seamer Bay is a tightknit community with strong traditions and social mores. The Finer family, living far out at Clee Point, have been outcasts all Finn’s life. Hoping to win the contest, Finn ventures down the point and gets cut off by the tide. It is Davey Finer who rescues him and then shows him where the best fishing is and how to set his lines more successfully. What does Finn owe Davey and his family? Risking your classmates’ disapproval is one thing; it’s harder to disobey your parents. The moral questions here are clear and beautifully set against the menacing background of the ocean. It is deaths at sea that led to the Finers’ exile and the implacable tide that makes Finn’s fishing suspenseful. When a storm threatens to destroy Clee Point, Finn must make a decision. Spare prose, an unusual setting and interesting fishing details distinguish this tightly focused story, set in an indeterminate past. The narrative’s slow pace gives readers time to think. Manna’s watercolor illustrations, vignettes and full-sized paintings framed by the white page border, will help them picture this isolated world. A treat for the thoughtful reader. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

THIS IS NOT MY HAT

Klassen, Jon Illus. by Klassen, Jon Candlewick (40 pp.) $15.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-7636-5599-0

GOING UP! Elisha Otis’s Trip to the Top

Klassen combines spare text and art to deliver no small measure of laughs in another darkly comic haberdashery whodunit. While not a sequel to I Want My Hat Back (2011), the story does include a hat, a thief (a little fish) and a wronged party (a big fish). This time, first-person narration follows the thief, whose ego far outstrips his size as he underestimates the big fish’s tracking abilities. Meanwhile, much of the art follows the big fish on his hunt, creating a pleasing counterpoint with the text. For example, a page reading “…he probably won’t notice that it’s gone” shows not the thieving piscine narrator but the big fish looking up toward the top of his own bare head; he clearly has noticed that his hat is gone, and the chase is on! Sublime book design exploits the landscape format, with dogged movement from left to right across the double-page 2128

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Kulling, Monica Illus. by Parkins, David Tundra (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-77049-240-0

A buoyant if free-wheeling tribute to Otis—inventor not of elevators themselves, but of a safety brake that eased public fears of riding in them. Intent on telling a colorful tale rather than a systematic one, Kulling injects more anachronisms (of an early inspiration, circa 1845: “Betsy could almost see the lightbulb over her husband’s head”) and invented dialogue into her account than |

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“Though there are occasional forays into lovesick melodrama, the story is rooted in its dedication to showcasing Aria’s transformation from a clueless, privileged princess into a selfless revolutionary….” from mystic city

BUTTER

dates or other specific details. She follows her subject from delightedly watching a hoist drop a load of hay during his Vermont childhood to a dramatically staged demonstration of his safety brake at New York’s 1854 World’s Fair. This is sandwiched between a poem on “Elevator Etiquette” and a quick closing wrap-up that serves in place of any source notes or other backmatter. In his realistic, fine-lined illustrations, Parkins both enhances the sense of period and supplies the only hints of how Otis’ invention actually worked. He captures the narrative’s broad, high-energy tone in images of the inventor with eyes bulging, mouth wide open and arms flung out wildly during various Eureka! moments. Not much for school-report fodder, but in the annals of American invention, Otis definitely rates the attention this profile (the first separate one for young readers since the 1970s) brings him. (Picture books/biography. 6-8)

Lange, Erin Jade Bloomsbury (304 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-59990-780-2 Butter gets good grades and plays smooth-as-butter jazz sax, but he is defined by both himself and his peers by his weight. At 423 pounds, he sits by himself in the lunchroom, parks his Beemer (this is Scottsdale, Ariz., after all) in the handicapped space in the school parking lot and diligently keeps his diabetes in check. As SaxMan on the Internet, though, he has an intense relationship with Anna, a girl who doesn’t look twice at him in school. When a school meme designates him “most likely to have a heart attack,” he decides to “command the conversation online” by declaring that he will eat himself to death on a live video stream on New Year’s Eve, four weeks away. Almost immediately, he finds his social stock soaring, the A crowd—which includes Anna—adopting him as a mascot of sorts. Butter’s tale reads like the problem novel it is, his narration feeding itself to readers so they don’t miss a thing: “Popularity was like a drug—one taste and I was hooked.” But he is likable, in his wry, self-hating way, remarking that he is “a binge eater, not a bulimic. That shit is for girls.” In the end, it is the vision of life in the “fat suit” that should hook readers, whatever their size. Rubbernecking the train wreck that is Butter’s last meal makes for an uncomfortably thought-provoking read. (Fiction. 13 & up)

A WRINKLE IN TIME The Graphic Novel

L’Engle, Madeleine Illus. by Larson, Hope Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux (392 pp.) $19.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-374-38615-3

A faithfully adapted graphic novel of the beloved 1962 classic, just in time to celebrate its 50th anniversary. With a keen eye, Eisner Award winner Larson (Mercury, 2010) doesn’t stray a moment from L’Engle’s original text, following the Murry children, Charles Wallace and Meg, and their friend, Calvin O’Keefe, as they tesser through outer space looking for Meg and Charles Wallace’s lost father. Larson’s illustrations are clear and concise, neatly ordered across each page with a tidy sensibility. While it is an amazingly envisioned and sophisticatedly stylized offering, some purists may be slightly put off by the three-color black, white and blue palette. It’s difficult to see The Man with Red Eyes with baby blue eyes, or to miss out on her rainbow wings when Mrs. Whatsit morphs into the centaurlike creature on Uriel. Minor grievances aside, this is a stunning reimagining of L’Engle’s Newbery-winning tale, and it should entrance old and new readers alike. Adaptations can be difficult to execute with style and grace; Larson manages to do both and still add her own flair. Larson’s admiration and respect for the original text shines through; this is an adaptation done right. (Graphic fantasy. 9-14)

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MYSTIC CITY

Lawrence, Theo Delacorte (352 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-385-74160-6 Series: Mystic City, 1 Marriage is a lesson in self-discovery, particularly if your fiancé is the golden son of a rival political family you’ve been bred to hate. Such is the ground floor of the high-rise adventure where 18-year-old Aria Rose, the socialite daughter of a wealthy and crooked family, begins. She seeks to recapture her memory (lost after an apparent drug overdose) and uncover the dark deeds her parents perpetuate to gain ultimate power. In this futuristic Manhattan (think Blade Runner), strict class structures segregate mystics and non-mystics. Mystics, once hailed for their magic, are now second-class citizens literally drained of their power and thrust, weakened, into the decaying underbelly of the city while Aria’s family and the other elite rule from plush penthouses. Aria relates, at a believable pace, her evolution from the fragile puppet of her manipulative family to a defiant, independent young woman intent on |

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recapturing her lost memories and finding her true love. Though there are occasional forays into lovesick melodrama, the story is rooted in its dedication to showcasing Aria’s transformation from a clueless, privileged princess into a selfless revolutionary, as she realizes that what is family and what is right are sometimes polar opposites. A gripping Romeo-and-Juliet exploration of deception, espionage, revolution, the greater good and love conquering all—with the aid of magical green lights and a peculiar little locket. (Urban fantasy/science fiction. 14 & up)

Executing her “triple loop-de-loop spectacular” off the couch with her toy plane, she crashes into a cabinet full of bric-a-brac. Banished to her room, she sends a paper airplane behind her dresser. There, she discovers a small door leading into a “wondrous place” full of flying machines and propellers and with a desk full of books and maps. Climbing aboard the “FS Bessie” (Light’s nod to pioneering flyer Bessie Coleman), Zephyr’s off. “Her triple loop-de-loop spectacular was much more fun in the sky!” Ensuing spreads depict a harmless “BUMP” into a mountainous land where flying pigs dwell in trees. After the dexterous girl fashions paper wings for a flightless piglet, the porcine fliers help power her craft back into the sky. Light’s fountain pens produce boldly inked contours and appealingly frenetic gestural line. Colored pencils and PanPastels in sienna, ochre and yellow effect a mood both sunny and old-timey. Observant readers will note images of Zephyr’s aviator grandfather throughout—clearly, her zeal for flight is inherited. (Flying pigs are a favored collectible in her family, too.) Zipping from fanciful flight to a “triple-hug, triple-pancake spectacular,” Zephyr’s surely not earthbound for long. Flighty fun. (Picture book. 4-7)

OLD MACDONALD HAD HER FARM

Lawson, JonArno Illus. by Holdcroft, Tina Annick Press (32 pp.) $24.95 | paper $14.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-55451-457-1 978-1-55451-456-4 paperback

A new take on the old song highlights the role of vowels in the English language. “Old MacDonald had her farm, / a e i o u. / And when she came across an a, / this is what she’d do: / Saw barn planks, stack sacks….” Youngsters will never mistake this for the familiar song, especially when they attempt to read the tonguetwisting, nearly nonsense text aloud. Lawson’s giddily flowing style just doesn’t adapt well to this grammar lesson. The garish computer-generated art complements the silly tone by showing Old MacDonald fiddling with a Rube Goldberg–type contraption for sawing and stacking on the “a” page and continuing her over-the-top farm chores on the succeeding ones. There is really no story here, just a jumble of words that demonstrate the various sounds that each vowel can make. However, readers and listeners will enjoy following the action on each page right until the end, when Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald seem to settle down into a rowdy song with all their animals singing along. Teachers might find this helpful when working on vowels, and children will enjoy making lists of words that rhyme with the words in the story. No one will mistake this for anything other than a school exercise. High-energy ride to nowhere. (Picture book. 5-8)

THE TWINNING PROJECT

Lipsyte, Robert Clarion (272 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-547-64571-1

A high stakes twin-switch adventure. Unconventional, antisocial Thomas “Tom” Canty is highly intelligent and a gifted musician. He also has a bad habit of getting expelled from schools for standing up against bullies. Being a rebel and talking to his “imaginary” friend are two of the coping mechanisms he developed after his father went missing in a plane crash. His friend, Eddie, lives on a slightly younger alternate Earth, about 50 years in the past. Eddie is Tom’s identical twin and polar opposite—athletic and popular. Third-person perspectives of other characters, such as the not-so-imaginary Eddie, fill gaps in Tom’s first-person narration. The twins are key figures for a group of alien scientists wanting to take down the resistance that protects both Earths from imminent destruction, and the twins must switch places for some reason never fully explained. The overarching threat is ill-defined, but the immediate struggles of the young protagonists keep the story moving and enjoyable. The alien villains—who can appear on both Earths at the same time to menace all characters, although how is never addressed—are underdeveloped, like the threat they pose. Instead, the writing tightly focuses on Tom, Eddie and their friends on each Earth, and their interactions are more than strong enough to carry the weight of the plot. A multi-world adventure starring a band of heroes that readers will want to join. (Science fiction. 9-14)

ZEPHYR TAKES FLIGHT

Light, Steve Illus. by Light, Steve Candlewick (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-7636-5695-9

Zephyr, a buoyant, gum-chewing lass obsessed with airplanes, achieves a fantastical flight—and gets home in time for breakfast—in this enjoyable romp. Grandma, Daddy and Mom are all too busy to play. 2130

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surely awaits her. Jermaine’s pie-in-the-face comedy teeters on the brink of mean-spiritedness, saved only by her eventual, albeit late, recognition of the pain she’s inflicted. Surrounded by a cast of nearly normal folks, lightly sketched but believably depicted, and narrating in the present tense, Jermaine neatly captures her living-in-the-moment, no-holds-barred attitude. This debut novel offers an amusing lesson on the downside of reality television, one that readers will catch on to far sooner than the misguided protagonist. (Fiction. 9-12)

Lowry, Lois Houghton Mifflin (400 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-547-88720-3 Series: Giver Quartet, 4 In this long-awaited finale to the Giver Quartet, a young mother from a dystopian community searches for her son and sacrifices everything to find him living in a more humane society with characters from The Giver (1993), Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004). A designated Birthmother, 14-year-old Claire has no contact with her baby Gabe until she surreptitiously bonds with him in the community Nurturing Center. From detailed descriptions of the sterile, emotionally repressed community, it’s clear Lowry has returned to the time and place of The Giver, and Claire is Jonas’ contemporary. When Jonas flees with Gabe, Claire follows. She later surfaces with amnesia in a remote village beneath a cliff. After living for years with Alys, a childless healer, Claire’s memory returns. Intent on finding Gabe, she single-mindedly scales the cliff, encounters the sinister Trademaster and exchanges her youth for his help in finding her child, now living in the same village as middle-aged Jonas and his wife Kira. Elderly and failing, Claire reveals her identity to Gabe, who must use his unique talent to save the village. Written with powerful, moving simplicity, Claire’s story stands on its own, but as the final volume in this iconic quartet, it holistically reunites characters, reprises provocative socio-political themes, and offers a transcending message of tolerance and hope. Bravo! (Fiction. 12 & up)

PAUL BUNYAN AND BABE THE BLUE OX The Great Pancake Adventure

Luckhurst, Matt Illus. by Luckhurst, Matt Abrams (48 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4197-0420-8

In this quirky take on the tall tale, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are obsessed with pancakes, but mother knows best when it comes to nutrition. Paul’s mom cannot feed him and Babe enough pancakes. Throwing up her beater and spatula, she finally protests, “I have fields to tend.” Paul and Babe try helping her, even though they refuse to eat the vegetables yielded. But they squish the plants with their big feet, so they are forced to leave home to seek their pancake fortune elsewhere. Cheerful gouache illustrations, which appear to be partly influenced by 1920s animated cartoons and contemporary street art, bounce with energy, driving the story forward as their adventures unfold. Paul and Babe are depicted with such bold, playful verve they could be restaurant mascots. The inclusion of colorful, hand-lettered text adds emphasis and acts as a balance to the art. In this somewhat slight retelling, their assistance clearing a logjam and the formation of both the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon are directly related to their quest to get their fill of pancakes. They succeed—and get sick, just like Mom predicted. The doctor confirms it: The cure is a balanced diet; so the two turn for home and Mom’s healthy, homegrown food. Perhaps not a staple, but a light, fluffy read nonetheless. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 4-8)

THE UPSIDE OF ORDINARY

Lubner, Susan Holiday House (128 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-8234-2417-7

Jermaine is old enough to know better. She has a video camera, and she’s decided that it will carve her path to fame. She plans to tape all the foibles of her typical middle-class family. She quickly realizes that those ups and downs of family life aren’t sufficiently compelling, so she stages more exciting situations. She deliberately upsets a pitcher of ice water that lands in her mother’s lap one winter evening, a freezing cold mess. She bribes her older sister to give her best friend a “makeover”—with pinking shears and Scare-Hair—leading to another highly photogenic calamity. Next she brings home the class pet, a tarantula, and turns it loose in the presence of her spider-phobic mother. Eleven-year-old Jermaine regrets these manufactured mishaps, but not enough to keep her from staging another in the quest for the television fame that |

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A MUMMY IN HER BACKPACK/ UNA MOMIA EN SU MOCHILA

Luna, James Piñata Books/Arté Público (112 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Oct. 31, 2012 978-1-55885-756-8

In this bilingual book, a young girl finds a surprise upon returning from a trip to Guanajuato, Mexico. Going back to school after a |

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MAN FROM THE LAND OF FANDANGO

two-week vacation, fourth-grader Flor discovers a mummy named Rafael, who snuck into her backpack at a museum. Rafael, who tells Flor and her best friend Lupita to call him Rafa, had always “wanted to see los Estados Unidos.” The mummy’s delight with his new surroundings is dampened when he realizes that he will miss the Day of the Dead, the one day when his family comes to visit him at the museum. With help from the school custodian, Mr. García, Flor and Lupita concoct a plan to return Rafa to his museum home before the special day arrives. Of course, many obstacles stand in the way of their goal, but everything falls into place eventually. Luna moves the story along at a nice clip, with a text heavy on dialogue and short on description. One disappointing aspect is Flor and Lupita’s continuous ill treatment of the pesky Sandra, whose slightly annoying actions seem much less offensive than their mean-spirited reactions. The Spanish translation follows the original English version. (Illustrations were not seen.) An innocuous Halloween and Day of the Dead book for readers who prefer to skip scarier fare. (Adventure. 8-11)

Mahy, Margaret Illus. by Dunbar, Polly Clarion (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-547-81988-4

There’s fun for all when the man from Fandango comes to call. An unnamed and silent boy and girl paint a colorful figure that jumps right off the paper, bringing excitement, happy games and music. He cavorts and flies and dances with a bear and a bison, while a baboon plays a bassoon accompaniment. A frolicsome kangaroo and a dinosaur join in the rumpus along with the ecstatic children. The action races along at a breathless pace as words both real and created sing the rhymed tale that “bingles and bangles and bounces,” as they all “tingle and tongle and tangle.” The text winds and moves in arcs across the pages in the very aptly named Heatwave typeface. Watercolorand-collage illustrations work with the shaped text, curving and swirling in hills and valleys. Every animal and human is joyful and fully engaged in the moment. The bison sports red highfashion shoes, and there are bubbles and stars and all sorts of brightly hued shapes flying about, along with the magical man who dances and juggles without reference to gravity. The late Mahy’s New Zealand syntax and humor are on fine display here, and young readers will wish that the Fandango man would appear more than once in 500 years. Wonderfully exuberant and completely delightful. (Picture book. 3-8)

GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS

Mack, Jeff Illus. by Mack, Jeff Chronicle (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4521-0110-1

Working from a text composed solely of the titular phrases (plus one final qualifier) in an ongoing call and response, Mack depicts a day among friends whose dispositions couldn’t be more extreme. Rabbit is an optimist; framed by a soft, white cloud, he exhibits an overflowing picnic basket joyfully to his buddy. An ominous, grey formation shades Mouse’s skeptical reaction. When the storm begins, the fun-lover produces an umbrella; the frowner is blown into a tree. Happily, it’s an apple tree. Unhappily, the fruit descends forcefully on the fallen rodent. So it proceeds in a fashion reminiscent of Remy Charlip’s Fortunately (1964). The difference here is that viewers see the events through two distinct lenses, and the pair are not only experiencing the same situations, they are mindful of one another’s reactions. The artist manipulates body language and facial features to register a range of emotions through caricatures with personality to spare. Endpapers divided into 18 squares contain images than can inspire a variety of storytelling behaviors from prediction to sequencing. When a bear chases the duo up a flagpole, and lightning fries them to charred silhouettes (à la cartoons of yesteryear—sensitive readers beware), Rabbit’s worldview is clearly rocked, but now it is Mouse’s turn to find the silver lining. An instructive and entertaining primer on the art of friendship and the complexity of joy. (Picture book. 3-7)

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THE VOYAGE OF LUCY P. SIMMONS

Mariconda, Barbara Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (256 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-06-211979-7 978-0-06-211981-0 e-book Magic helps an orphaned heiress fight a rapacious uncle out to steal the family fortune. After her parents drown off the coast of Maine in 1906, Lucy is left in the care of her aunt. Unfortunately, Aunt Prudence is off in Australia tracking down a family curse, and greedy Uncle Victor steps in to control Lucy and the purse strings. Lucy has both her faithful servant and a good dose of magic on her side. She suspects that her uncle is up to no good and snoops through his papers, aided by beautiful magical mists. When her uncle decides to send her to boarding school, another magical creature shows up in the form of the teacher. The only other students at the school are three children desperately trying to avoid their drunken father, known as the Brute. Lucy tries to connect the dots between the teacher, a woman in a painting in |

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“…the new lyrics slip easily into the cadences of the old, and by the end, even the cat is dancing.” from every little thing

her father’s study and a mysterious woman seen walking on the shore. Events come to a highly dramatic and visually stunning conclusion. However, Mariconda leaves the reader with unresolved threads. What is the source of the magic? What will happen on the next voyage? Adventurous possibilities await in a necessary second installment. (Historical fantasy. 8-12)

intimate look at her childhood memories, Liu skillfully weaves factual tidbits into the rich tapestry of her life. In the section titled “The Four Pests,” she explains about the four pests that plague China—the rat, the fly, the mosquito and the cockroach (with an additional explanation of how the sparrow once made this list, and why it is no longer on it)—and her stomach-turning school assignment to catch rats and deliver the severed tails to her teacher. In “Happy New Year! The Story of Nian the Monster,” she explains the origins of Chinese New Year, her favorite holiday, and her own vivid, visceral reflections of it: the sights, sounds and smells. Extraordinary and visually haunting, there will be easy comparisons to Allen Say’s Drawing from Memory (2011); think of this as the female counterpart to that work. Beautifully drawn and quietly evocative. (glossary, timeline, author biography, translations of Chinese characters, maps) (Graphic memoir. 9-12)

EVERY LITTLE THING

Marley, Bob Illus. by Brantley-Newton, Vanessa Chronicle (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4521-0697-7 An effervescent adaptation of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” with a skinny plotline supplied by the art and new themes and verses added by the songwriter’s eldest daughter. Sporting stubby dreadlocks and a broad smile in BrantleyNewton’s sunny scenes, a child with Marley’s iconic image on his shirt waltzes out to the playground. There, three songbirds (supervised by an alert cat) “perch on the swing set, / Whistling these words, / These harmonies sweet in the air. / Sometimes you just need to show you care…” as he kicks a soccer ball about with both old friends and a newly made one. Later, he makes a gooey mess in the kitchen, earns quick parental forgiveness (“Everyone can make a mistake they say”) and is sung to sleep by birds and parents alike. Being given just once each time rather than repeated as in the song, the chorus looks and (read or sung aloud) sounds choppy, but the new lyrics slip easily into the cadences of the old, and by the end, even the cat is dancing. A sweet elaboration of the original’s reassuring message that “every little thing is gonna be all right.” (afterword) (Picture book. 4-8)

THE SPACE BETWEEN US

Martinez, Jessica Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (400 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-4424-2055-7

Teen pregnancy is a source of shame in this disappointing second outing from Martinez (Virtuosity, 2011). Amelia and Charly are very close, but as different as siblings can be: Amelia focuses on academics and athletics, and is almost prissy in her moral uprightness, while Charly flirts with the boundaries of acceptable behavior for preachers’ kids with her devil-maycare antics and free-spirited adventures. When Charly discovers that she’s pregnant after what appears to be a one-night stand, the girls’ grandmother chooses a very mid-20th-century approach to squashing the inevitable conservative small-town gossip, sending the girls to live with their late mother’s sister, Bree, in Calgary, until Charly gives birth and selects adoptive parents for her baby. Grandma’s jaw-droppingly retro decision, motivated by a wish to protect the girls’ father from the truth, means that both girls have to go to maintain the fiction of going to acquaint themselves with their Canadian relatives. Amelia, furious at being so out of control of her life, lashes out repeatedly at Charly. Amelia doesn’t exercise much self-awareness until she sees how gracefully Ezra—the cute library worker with whom she enjoys crackling chemistry—handles his own family burdens, and Charly finally confides the terrible secret she’s been hiding. This old-fashioned–feeling problem novel lets readers down in its focus on shame rather than the hugely life-altering results of teen pregnancy. Deeply troubling and unsatisfying. (Fiction. 12-16)

LITTLE WHITE DUCK A Childhood in China

Martínez, Andrés Vera; Liu, Na Illus. by Martínez, Andrés Vera Graphic Universe (96 pp.) $9.95 paperback | $21.95 e-book PLB $29.27 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-8115-0 978-0-7613-7963-8 e-book 978-0-7613-6587-7 PLB

A striking glimpse into Chinese girlhood during the 1970s and ’80s. Beginning with a breathtaking dream of riding a golden crane over the city of Wuhan, China, Liu Na, recounts her subsequent waking only to discover that Chairman Mao has passed away. The 3-year-old finds this difficult to process and understand, although she is soon caught up in the somber mood of the event. From there, her life unfolds in short sketches. With this |

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BOYS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD Heroes from King Tut to Shaun White

Sacagawea, Helen Keller, S.E. Hinton and Mother Teresa share the pages with Laura Bassi (an 18th-century Italian physicist), Queen Salote Tupou III (mid-20th-century queen of Tonga), the Night Witches (Russian fighter pilots during World War II) and Adriana Ocampo (a planetary geologist from Argentina now living in the United States). Intertwined with the profiles are comments from teenage girls expressing intentions to rock the world. An inspiring, empowering compendium. (bibliography, websites, endnotes) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)

McCann, Michelle Roehm Beyond Words/Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (256 pp.) $16.99 | paper $9.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-58270-362-6 978-1-58270-331-2 paperback An engaging collection of profiles of young men who achieved great success, a companion to Girls Who Rocked the World, which publishes simultaneously. What do King Tut, Mozart, Crazy Horse, Elvis Presley, Stan Lee, Will Smith and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? They all made their marks on the world before the age of 20. In an appealing, conversational style, McCann presents minibiographies (four to seven pages each) of boys from all over the world, from ancient to contemporary, who prove that youth need not be a barrier to “rocking the world.” There is good balance between the well-known, such as Albert Einstein, Tony Hawk, Bruce Lee and Nelson Mandela, and the more obscure, such as Okita Soji (a 19th-century Japanese swordsman), Chico Mendes (a Brazilian environmental activist), Hrithik Roshan (a Bollywood actor) and Mau Piailug (an explorer from Micronesia). Intertwined with the profiles are comments from teenage boys expressing what they intend to do to rock the world. This collective biography offers readers great examples of how dreams can be realized through dedication and hard work. (bibliography, websites, endnotes) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)

THIS IS NOT A DRILL

McDowell, Beck Nancy Paulsen Books (224 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 25, 2012 978-0-399-25794-0 In this fast-paced, suspenseful thriller, two high-school seniors and a classroom full of first-graders are held hostage at gunpoint by a distraught, emotionally disturbed parent. Classmates and former couple Emery and Jake have signed up to teach French to Mrs. Campbell’s first-grade class three mornings a week. One day, their lesson is interrupted when Brian Stutts, an Iraq War veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder, barges into the room and demands his son, Patrick. Stutts is having a custody dispute with his estranged wife. When the teacher refuses to let Stutts take his son, he draws a gun. A security guard appears at the door, and the startled Stutts shoots him dead. When Mrs. Campbell lapses into a diabetic seizure, Emery and Jake are left to comfort the children and placate Stutts. Despite their own fears and self-doubts, revealed in alternating present-tense chapters, the teens are remarkably composed outwardly. Their history together and personal back stories—Jake has been adrift since his mother died; Emery has a nervous condition that brings on panic attacks—help keep readers involved as the pages turn. The hours-long standoff comes to a dramatic and violent climax, but the loose ends of the story are tied up too easily. Nevertheless, a vividly depicted and gripping tragedy. (Thriller. 12 & up)

GIRLS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD Heroines from Sacagawea to Natalie Portman

McCann, Michelle Roehm; Welden, Amelie Beyond Words/Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (256 pp.) $16.99 | paper $9.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-58270-361-9 978-1-58270-302-2 paperback

DEVIANTS

Like its companion volume, Boys Who Rocked the World, this collective biography offers engaging profiles of women who achieved great success at a young age. It’s unusual to find Joan of Arc, the Brontë sisters, Harriet Tubman, Coco Chanel, Rigoberta Menchu, Wilma Rudolph, and Natalie Portman in the same company. What they have in common is that they made their marks on the world before the age of 20. In an appealing, conversational style, McCann presents short biographies of young women from all over the world, from ancient to contemporary, who prove that youth need not prevent one making a difference. Familiar names such as 2134

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McGowan, Maureen Amazon Children’s Publishing (320 pp.) $16.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-6121-8367-1 978-1-6121-8773-0 e-book Series: The Dust Chronicles, 1 This first installment in an interesting new post-apocalyptic dystopian series finds the Earth choked with dust that creates paranormal abilities in some humans. |

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ENEMY TERRITORY

Sixteen-year-old Glory has hidden her paraplegic little brother Drake from the tyrannical authorities in their domed city for three years, ever since her father murdered their mother. Glory has the ability to kill by merely looking into the eyes of her victims, making her a Deviant and therefore, an outlaw subject to death by expulsion from the dome. The population of Haven comprises mostly “employees,” who live on meager rations, and “Management,” who enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. When Glory’s longtime heartthrob, who has just joined the cruel authorities, shows up with his new colleagues outside her tiny, windowless apartment, Glory and Drake escape with Burn, a rebel sent by her dreaded father. They must fight their way through the deathtrap surrounding the dome to get to uncontaminated lands Glory never knew existed. McGowan keeps the suspense throbbing throughout most of the novel, with new challenges constantly confronting the teens. In the opening scene, Glory hunts rats for food, bringing her bleak world clearly into focus. Glory’s ever-present mistrust, while understandable, begins to grate as she continually makes poor choices that increase the danger long after it becomes clear to readers that Burn is one of the good guys, but her contrition helps to set up the sequel. Exciting, if hardly groundbreaking. (Dystopian suspense. 12-16)

McKay, Sharon E. Annick Press (184 pp.) $21.95 | paper $12.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-55451-431-1 978-1-55451-430-4 paperback Two boys who have been taught to hate each other are thrown together in a Jerusalem hospital. Sam, an Israeli teen, was struck by a military truck and does not want to lose his leg to amputation. Yusuf, a Palestinian teen, lost his left eye and is now fighting an infection that may spread to his brain. One night, for reasons of rebelliousness, curiosity and honor (and quite frankly, to impress a girl, an impulse that crosses all cultures), the two find themselves sneaking out of the hospital to explore the Old City. However, only a few steps in, they become lost, have to run from the police and face persecution for being together at every turn. With Yusuf hardly able to see and Sam hardly able to walk, getting back to the hospital seems impossible. In an adventure story set over the span of one night, McKay, who has proven her abilities to write about cultural discord (Thunder Over Kandahar, 2010), portrays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in incredibly human terms. There is blame and wariness between the two boys, but ultimately they must let go of learned prejudices and trust each other in order to survive. In this fast-paced narrative, Sam and Yusuf blur together at times— anger is a realistic, defining characteristic for both—but given the overarching theme, that confusion just may be the point. Slim but powerful. (map, notes, postscript) (Adventure. 10 & up)

THE MOOGEES MOVE HOUSE

McGuirk, Leslie Illus. by McGuirk, Leslie Candlewick (32 pp.) $14.99 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-7636-5558-7

A picky family goes house hunting in this brief but intensely silly outing. Papa and Mama Moogee, rendered in the cartoon illustrations as four-legged, egg-shaped, yellow creatures with oversized, spiral schnozzes, drive real estate agent Mr. Ruru (also a Moogee) in their wiener-shaped Moogeemobile from one prospective new house to the next. The first is “a great big blue house with large windows, eight chimneys, and a yukie-yukie tree loaded with yukie-yukie berries,” but Mama Moogee doesn’t like blue. Ugly statues adorn the second offering, and the next house looks exactly like a big wedge of cheese. At each rejection, the three young Moogees scream a page- (ultimately spread-) filling, child-audience–friendly chorus of “WAA WAA MOOGEE DOOGEE WEE WEE LOW LUM!” until the last house—round and pink and perfect in every way—earns a nod and Mr. Ruru’s understanding that the nonsense means “We’ll be happy anywhere / as long as we’ve got our family there!” Not so much bibliotherapy for families on the move as a quick burst of verbal foolery, tailor-made for reading aloud. (Picture book. 4-6)

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MONSTERS DON’T CRY

McKee, Brett Illus. by Burfoot, Ella Andersen Press USA (32 pp.) $15.99 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-84939-291-4

Little Archie is very brave, but could it really be true that he never cries? A bad dream awakens orange monster Archie in the middle of the night (his teddy bear has exactly the same frightened expression on its face), but he doesn’t cry. He just snuggles into bed between Daddy and Mummy. When his toy boat springs a leak, when he’s chased by a goat, when he falls off his swing, and even when he eats too much birthday cake, the story is the same: “Monsters may roar, may growl or just sigh, / But monsters are strong, monsters don’t cry!” Archie also gets stuck in a tree, lost in a maze, scared by a bee during a picnic and dizzy after riding his tricycle in circles, and still there are no tears. But when his hug causes Teddy’s head to come off, Archie’s brave front crumbles, and the tears come. Luckily, Mummy and Daddy are right there to fix things. “Monsters may roar, may growl or just sigh, / But monsters need love if ever they cry.” McKee’s verse |

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“Mitchell’s prose debut, the first in a dystopian sci-fantasy series, is an imaginative mix of danger and humor.” from midnight city

is accessible, and his repeated refrain properly catchy. Burfoot’s pictures, in watercolor and colored pencils, are eye-poppingly bright and full of funny touches; Teddy is depicted in every adventure as Archie’s Mini-Me, probably the book’s strongest feature. Cute, but fuzzy in its message, and not memorable. (Picture book. 3-5)

that price, he sets out after Freebooter Mira Toombs, who has an even higher price on her head. Her magical artifacts from the Strange Lands nearly prove too much for him. After rescuing 8-year-old amnesiac Zoey from a crashed Assembly ship, Holt and Mira set aside their differences and head for Midnight City to clear Mira’s name amid the factions of kids and preteens who vie for points like currency and barter artifacts. The Assembly is on their tail, however, and everyone seems bent on their destruction…and Zoey is far more than she appears. Mitchell’s prose debut, the first in a dystopian sci-fantasy series, is an imaginative mix of danger and humor. Some descriptions can get repetitive, and the mechanism of the Strange Lands artifacts is a bit murky, but the action will keep readers turning the pages. Added bonus: a clear break in the middle makes this feel like two books in one. (Fantasy. 12-16)

CROWN PRINCE

McLoon, Linda Snow Trafalgar (288 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-57076-546-9 Series: Brookmeade Young Riders It’s time for the Dream Horse to die. It is. The Dream Horse is an archetype distressingly common in children’s literature, spawning awful books like this one for generations of obsessed little riders. Young teen Sarah Wagner is a Talented Horseless Rider who, through the interventions of an Amazingly Kind Adult, is gifted with a choice of four horses just off the track. The one she picks, a gelding of remarkable, valuable breeding who never raced because he is so poorly behaved under saddle (a fantastic choice for a kid!), is immediately found to have a reversible medical condition (somehow missed by the track vets) that will made him tractable. A real, honest teenager would at this point immediately return the horse for one of the others—his racing career is presumably restored, and since she’s only owned the horse one day and never ridden him, he’s the equal to her of the others. But no. This is a Dream Horse. Our Heroine must throw temper tantrums until she can keep the horse; the adults, instead of counseling her toward appropriate moral behavior, applaud her Loyalty and Perseverance. There’s also a Poor Little Rich Girl, a Stalwart Friend, an Irascible Groom and a Token Boy Rider. Despite the liberal use of tropes, far too much of the prose is unnecessary, laborious detail. Worse, it’s first in a series. (Fiction. 10-13)

AMBER HOUSE

Moore, Kelly; Reed, Tucker; Reed, Larkin Levine/Scholastic (368 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-545-43416-4 978-0-545-46973-9 e-book A deliciously creepy beginning to a projected trilogy. As 16-year-old Seattle native Sarah Parsons arrives at her maternal grandmother’s funeral, she learns that her family’s historic Maryland home, Amber House, has more than its fair share of secrets, having housed her lineage for more than 10 generations. Sarah and her 5-year-old brother, Sammy, feel an immediate connection with the house, and she discovers that she can feel echoes of the past, seeing visions of her ancestors—both good and bad. Predictably, there is the requisite love triangle between Sarah and Richard, a dashing senator’s son, and Jackson, the quiet, down-to-earth son of her late grandmother’s nurse, and it is quickly obvious who is the right admirer for her. What is truly novel is the spin that the Reed sisters and Moore, their mother, give the direction of the romance, setting this apart from many of the cardboard triangles found in the genre. Those who think that this is a straightforward ghost story will be sorely mistaken: This is a complex, layered tale that bends time and imagination, demanding to be read with all the lights on. Move over Bella Swan: Sarah is a strong, admirable character who’d rather speak her mind than sulk and sigh over some hot guy. Richly woven, with depth and swift plotting that will leave readers clamoring for the sequels. (Horror/romance. 13 & up)

MIDNIGHT CITY

Mitchell, J. Barton Dunne/St. Martin’s (384 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1250009074 Series: Conquered Earth, 1 Eight years after the fall of Earth, survival is the name of the game. In a near-future world controlled by the mechanized aliens known as the Assembly, where most adults have vanished and teens slowly succumb to the mind-controlling “Tone” that calls them to an unknown fate, 20-year-old Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter with a price on his own head. To clear 2136

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“Myers has great fun with his gravity-defying trash talk and spirited game of one-upmanship.” from h.o.r.s.e.

ASHEN WINTER

is challenged by decomposition. Three main chapters look at current forensic technology from the outside in—the first describes skin, hair, scars, tattoos, fingerprints and their reconstruction, while the second provides a look at how bones, teeth and implants provide structural identification. Murray describes the gold standard of identification—nuclear DNA profiling—in the last chapter with satisfyingly clear instruction in the essential features of forensic DNA. About 20 percent of the text is printed in white on a dark background, including all of the case-file narratives. File photos are used throughout to illustrate the points being made. A serviceable introduction both to this CSI-related field and to the relevant human anatomy. (index, bibliography, sources for more information) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Mullin, Mike Tanglewood Press (582 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 8, 2012 978-1-933718-75-0 Series: Ashfall, 2 Almost a year after the Yellowstone eruption in Ashfall (2011), Alex and Darla are drawn back to dangerous Illinois, which has only grown worse. Life on Alex’s uncle’s farm has settled into a routine, and while the eruption has triggered an extended subzero winter, Alex and Darla’s heated relationship keeps them warm. When a small flenser gang—cannibals—attack the farm, they drop the shotgun that Alex’s uncle gave Alex’s parents before they ventured into Illinois looking for their son. This discovery prompts Alex—accompanied by the more competent Darla—to head out in search of his parents. After a false start and a disastrous run-in with their old enemies, FEMA military contractors Black Lake, the story picks up with an even more catastrophic run-in with well-organized cannibals. The encounter leaves Alex trying to survive without Darla’s help, struggling against flensers who trade in humans—both as food (in explicit detail) and for sex (tastefully inexplicit). Alyssa, a former slave of the cannibals, and her high-functioning autistic brother, military expert Ben, join Alex’s rescue mission. The human-driven gore is much more horrifying than in Ashfall, though the realism isn’t as strong in the frequent action sequences. Alex’s nuanced feelings toward Darla serve to ground the book nicely, though. The cliffhanger ending leaves readers craving the next installment—and dreading what it may bring. A violent, desperate adventure in a chaotic, post-disaster world. (author’s note) (Adventure. 14 & up)

H.O.R.S.E. A Game of Basketball and Imagination Myers, Christopher Illus. by Myers, Christopher Egmont USA (32 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-60684-218-8

Two teens on a city basketball court start a game of matching each other’s shots. Miss five tries and you are out! The first to spell out H.O.R.S.E. loses, so these two literally shoot for the stars. Easy shots are baby stuff for them. Their conversation goes back and forth as the hoopsters, a guy and a gal, leave the physical confines of the court and let their imaginations take flight. He takes a mighty jump for his “Magellan shot,” leaving New York and going “clear around the world.” She aims an “outer-space resistant” ball with a “kind of bounce shot” that hits Saturn, mystifies astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, returns to Earth and slips cleanly through the hoop. “Not bad at all,” responds the guy. Myers has great fun with his gravity-defying trash talk and spirited game of one-upmanship. His ballplayers are beautiful, elongated figures painted in brightly textured yellow, blue and brown pastels. Photographic collages of New York City buildings adorn the pages. In his author’s note, Myers states that the shots are all fact-based. Who’s to argue? An exciting bragging-rights adventure on the basketball court, around and beyond planet Earth and back again. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)

FORENSIC IDENTIFICATION Putting a Name and Face on Death

Murray, Elizabeth A. Twenty-First Century/Lerner (72 pp.) $22.95 e-book | PLB $30.60 Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-6696-6

How does science work to identify corpses of the unknown? Murray’s compact, textbook look at the basics of forensic anthropology provides comprehensible introductions to individually unique anatomical and physiological characteristics and to the timetable for the decay or decomposition of each. Eight “case files” are presented to provide a story to illustrate the techniques of post-mortem identification in practical contexts and to provide human interest to accompany the straightforward text. Unsurprisingly gruesome, each involves the discovery of a body (or in one, the separate limbs and severed head of a young woman) of an unknown person whose identification |

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FALL TO PIECES

Naidoo, Vahini Amazon Children’s Publishing (320 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0761462170 978-0761462194 e-book An anorexic girl’s suicide throws her friends into a tailspin. Ella can’t remember what happened |

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“Using material from his subject’s own reminiscences,... Lakota painter and biographer Nelson describes Buffalo Bird’s village childhood.” from buffalo bird girl

THE MAELSTROM

the night Amy flung herself from Ella’s roof to die. She and their best friends, Mark and Petal, cope with “Pick Me Ups”: a dangerous game in which they throw themselves from increasingly high places. Ella does it in the hopes that imitating Amy’s action will help to restore her memories. And it seems to. The self-professed bitch recruits Tristan, a new boy, into their circle, mostly, it seems, to make his life as miserable as hers is. Predictably, Tristan helps her to the truth that she correctly suspects Mark and Petal have been keeping from her. Unfortunately, much as the revelation rocks Ella’s world, it probably won’t rock readers’. Naidoo writes as if with razor blades, with her intensity meter consistently amped up to 11. While this effectively evokes Ella’s inner turmoil, it also wears thin, creating a self-conscious narrative that is without modulation. There are too many words repeated for effect. Too many sentence fragments. Too. Many. Fucking. One-word. Sentences. A troubled proto-Amy at the child care center Ella’s mom makes her volunteer at (and where she meets Tristan) is the one real ray of hope for both Ella and readers, and it’s this relationship that will help readers care. Naidoo shows promise, but her debut has too darn many sharp edges for anyone’s comfort. (Fiction. 14-18)

Neff, Henry H. Illus. by Neff, Henry H. Random House (480 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-375-85707-2 978-0-375-89329-2 e-book 978-0-375-95707-9 PLB Series: The Tapestry, 4 Juggling a multitude of characters against a world at war, Neff ’s latest chapter in The Tapestry series proves his books are more than just a sum of their fantastical parts. Max McDaniels has returned to Rowan Academy after time spent on the road, and his arrival could not be better timed. The demon Prusias has Rowan in his sights and a secret weapon that he is certain will crush his enemies underfoot. Max and the brilliant David Menlo must determine what this weapon is and find a way to defeat it, all the while keeping their eyes peeled for a group of assassins that have marked Max for death. As with his previous books, the author wastes no words with back story, expecting readers to have read the previous novels or to catch up quickly. What started out as an American Harry Potter has instead, over the years, morphed into something that looks more like an American Lord of the Rings. Within its fantasy world, Neff makes this book a kind of in-depth consideration of war itself. Covering espionage, disinformation, false diplomacy and even cryptography (demonic cryptography, but still), he gives readers an education in the clandestine tools of war. Despite heavy themes, he continues to balance seriousness with a lighthearted humor that keeps the pages turning. A strong, gutsy chapter in what is already a noteworthy series. (Fantasy. 9-12)

DOWN IN THE DUMPS

Neel, Julien Illus. by Neel, Julien Graphic Universe (48 pp.) $8.95 paperback | $20.95 e-book PLB $27.93 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-8225-9165-8 978-1-4677-0159-4 e-book 978-0-7613-8779-4 PLB Series: Lou!, 3 Spunky Lou is back with more drama, heartache and self-discovery. Now 13, Lou is starting a new school year. She quickly befriends the sullen, overprivileged, goth-wannabe Mary Emily. At home, Lou’s erratic mother is still alarmingly quirky and is still in a relationship with Richard. With all these changes transpiring so quickly, Lou runs away seeking solitude and answers. Upon returning, she is able to sort things out and is invited to take a seaside vacation with Mary Emily’s family. Book 4, The Perfect Summer, picks up on vacation, where Lou runs into past-love Tristan and new-love Paul. Lou’s physical changes through these books are glaringly evident: She begins Book 3 still looking childlike, but by the end of Book 4, she begins to show womanly curves—a stark departure from one volume to the next. However, with her age, she seems to be losing her edge. Her funky fashions have fallen by the wayside in exchange for boys and friends, which feels ageappropriate—even though it was fun to see her esoteric ensembles. Though Lou is changing, Neel’s inviting, candy-colored art acts as a cohesive element pulling the whole series together. Those new to Lou will find a charming board game at the beginning of Book 3 that introduces former plotlines and characters. A frothy, sugary early-adolescent offering. (Graphic fiction. 9-14) 2138

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BUFFALO BIRD GIRL A Hidatsa Story

Nelson, S.D. Illus. by Nelson, S.D. Abrams (56 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4197-0355-3

A noted Native American artist interprets the early life of Buffalo Bird Woman, Waheenee-wea, one of the last of the Hidatsa to live according to old traditions. Using material from his subject’s own reminiscences, published by an anthropologist in the early 20th century, Lakota painter and biographer Nelson describes Buffalo Bird’s village childhood. Each section begins with a quote from her own story. Born around 1840, “three years after the smallpox winter,” the girl grew up in Like-a-Fishhook Village high over the Missouri River in what is now North Dakota. There, for nine months of each year, she lived with her family in an earth-mound lodge. She describes helping her aunts and |

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PROMISED

grandmother with traditional household and garden tasks, visiting a trading center, playing with other children and her dog, and a Lakota attack. During winter’s worst weather, villagers retreated to temporary lodges in the woodlands, where they ate stored food. The extraordinary illustration of this handsome volume begins with the endpaper maps and features acrylic paintings of the Hidatsa world reminiscent of traditional Plains Indian art. Pencil drawings and relevant, carefully labeled photographs round out the exquisite design. All the artwork both supports and adds to the text. An extensive author’s note and timeline supplement this beautiful tribute. Pair with Nelson’s Gift Horse (1999) for a broad vision of Plains Indian childhood. (notes, bibliography, index) (Informational picture book. 7-12)

O’Brien, Caragh M. Roaring Brook (304 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-59643-571-1 Gaia’s back at the walls of the Enclave, and this time she means business. Teen midwife and revolutionary Gaia has led her people from the false security of Sylum to the gates of the Enclave, determined to build a new city (and strangely confident that the baddies inside the Enclave walls will give her people water, despite her past history with them). But wait! The rich, powerful Enclave doesn’t want to share their (seemingly infinite) resources with anyone else, and so Gaia and love interest Leon, disowned son of the Proctectorat, decide to take the Enclave down. The faint feminism of the previous volumes here takes a conservative twist, with Gaia’s self-worth startlingly tied into her ability to reproduce; the emphasis on birth family as opposed to adoptive family as “real” may also distress some readers. Meanwhile, the plot hurtles forward with coincidence and convenience at the fore, and characters happily hang about at Peg’s Tavern even in the wake of a bloody revolution. At least the love triangle is resolved, and the ending promises a happy future for all. Less polished and more potentially troubling for close readers, but those who have read the first two will want to see Gaia succeed against the odds once again. (Dystopian romance. 12-16)

VEGAS TRYOUT

Nicholson, Lorna Schultz James Lorimer (144 pp.) $16.95 | paper $9.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4594-0071-9 978-1-4594-0070-2 paperback Series: Podium Sports Academy An unremarkable entry into the already-crowded field of problem novels about teen girls and eating disorders. Ever since she started taking birthcontrol pills to manage her acne, Carrie has been dissatisfied with the size and shape of her body. When her synchronizedswimming coach announces in front of the whole team that she wants Carrie to lose 10 pounds, the teen decides to take drastic measures. Almost immediately, she reduces her food intake to almost zero and records her calorie-counting and daily weigh-ins in diary entries that seem destined to trigger food-related anxieties in readers (“Saturday, November 20. 124 pounds. Lost three. Trick is to eat breakfast and nothing until dinner”). Surrounding Carrie, who is white, are hastily sketched-in characters whose diverse racial backgrounds never feel like more than tokenism. It is unclear what motivates Carrie’s swim-team archenemy Wanda to spread rumors or why Carrie is so insistent that her father is controlling. Synchronized-swimming terms like “sculling” and “egg-beatering” are never defined, and American readers (this is a Canadian import) will have to guess at the meaning of “billet.” The action builds to an ending both predictable and abrupt. Readers looking for a by-the-book eating-disorder cautionary tale can find comparable stories in any number of sensational teen magazines. (Fiction. 12-14)

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LOOK...LOOK AGAIN!

O’Brien, John Illus. by O’Brien, John Boyds Mills (64 pp.) $18.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-59078-894-3

Renaissance guy O’Brien (who, in addition to penning New Yorker cartoons and illustrating prolifically for children, plays banjo and lifeguards in North Wildwood, N.J.) delivers wacky vignettes riffing on six professional tropes: farmer, chef, woodsman, knight, doorman and clown. Throughout, double entendres and puns are made visual in titled cartoon strips composed of two to six panels each. In the group of stories about the profession of chef, a hatless pizza man rolls out and tosses dough that descends to settle on his head as a voluminous toque, and in “The Alphabet Soup,” the chef appeases an angry diner by fishing out three offending letters from his bowl: F, L and Y. A doorman’s thought bubble depicts a nearby water cooler; as he fetches a drink, the water cooler’s own thought bubble depicts the doorman. O’Brien finds particular fodder in a cartoonist’s stock trappings: A noisy snorer’s “ZZZZs” are shooed out a lobby window by the doorman, and one of the silliest bits has a dairy farmer, after looking fruitlessly |

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for his cow’s udders, milking a word balloon that contains the cow’s “MOO!” Stippled watercolor in the muted tones of old comics underlie crosshatched ink drawings, and O’Brien’s own hand lettering appears throughout. If the laughs come a tad unevenly, come they do: good, absurdist fun with sly, existential winks. (Picture book. 5-8)

self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.” Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

MY ROBOTS The Robotic Genius of Lady Regina Bonquers III

Olander, Johan Illus. by Olander, Johan Amazon Children’s Publishing (64 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-7614-6173-9

VENOM

Paul, Fiona Philomel (448 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-399-25725-4

The creator of useful field guides to monsters (2007) and aliens (2010) turns his attention to an eccentric Scottish inventor’s mechanical fancies. Along with images of taped- or tacked-on rough sketches, scrawled notes, product brochures and schematic diagrams purportedly discovered in Lady Regina Bonquers III’s mysteriously abandoned castle near Loch MeeAhwey, Olander offers descriptions of over 23 marvelous machines. These range from a 40-foot-tall, garbage-recycling Crocobot Compactor and the protean household helper Chore Master X2000 to a pocketsized Personal Grooming Robot equipped with pimple popper. Skating even closer to the boundaries of good taste, he also presents a tall and soft-bodied “Hugging Robot” built by the solitary Lady as her personal comfort object. Thanks largely to programming glitches and, often, attendant bad publicity, none of Lady Bonquers’ ingenious creations enjoyed commercial success, alas. Nevertheless, budding inventors may find inspiration in these pages (if not specific instructions or even clear details) for labor- and life-saving robots of their own. According to the author, Lady Bonquers is still remembered in “the international circle of pseudoscientists and mad geniuses.” Here’s hoping that this tribute will expand her renown to a wider audience. (Fiction. 10-12)

A romantic potboiler set in turn-ofthe-17th-century Venice. Readers meet Cassandra at the funeral of one of her best friends. Distraught, she leaves the funeral and bumps into a cocky young artist. That night, Cass goes wandering in the graveyard next to her guardian aunt’s villa across the lagoon and discovers that her friend’s body has been taken from its tomb and replaced with another’s, a murder victim. Readers will not be nearly as astonished as Cass that she meets the artist again next to the tomb. Though she is betrothed to another, she and Falco quickly team up to solve the mystery. Their investigations involve many hugely unlikely excursions into Venice proper: to a charnel house, a brothel and a masked ball, all at night. Fortunately, Cass’ aunt is wealthy, so she has gowns aplenty to replace the ones that get ripped, rained upon and otherwise ruined. Though the setting should be evocative, worldbuilding is continually hamstrung by clichéd and clunky American colloquialisms that overwhelm the occasional mild Italian imprecation. Steamy make-out sessions with Falco tempt Cass to adopt his carpe diem attitude—but could he be hiding a sinister secret? Her betrothed returns from France, setting up a love triangle that may prompt readers who make it to the end to pick up subsequent volumes. Those reading the book for the mystery will have given up long before it grinds to its tepid, 400-plus–page conclusion. (Historical mystery. 14 & up)

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr, Todd Illus. by Parr, Todd Little, Brown (32 pp.) $9.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-316-18101-3

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life. Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating 2140

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“With an authentic voice, the wryly humorous Lula Bell contemplates life and the nature of true friendship with distinctive candor.” from lula bell on geekdom, freakdom & the challenges of bad hair

LULA BELL ON GEEKDOM, FREAKDOM + THE CHALLENGES OF BAD HAIR

obsesses over Camilla and questions Maggie and Richard’s past. While Peloquin isn’t a bad writer—her control over a shifting third-person voice that captures both Alice’s reserve and Charlie’s attitude is particularly effective—Fitzgerald she ain’t. Readers will particularly wonder at the unfulfilled role of green-eyed waiter and scholarship student Stan in Charlie’s love quadrangle— until they get to the end and realize that the entire book has been an elongated setup for a series. This Side of Jealousy is scheduled for summer 2013; here’s hoping the characters develop some substance between now and then. (Chick lit/mystery. 12-16)

Payne, C.C. Amazon Children’s Publishing (272 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7614-6225-5 978-0-7614-6226-2 e-book Fifth-grader Lula Bell longs to escape the attention of strident bully—and former BFF—Kali. In her endeavor to blend in, Lula Bell forgoes her favorite lunches, spurns Alan, her staunchest ally, and dismisses her talents. However, her vivacious Grandma Bernice has different ideas, encouraging Lula Bell to “let [her] light shine no matter who’s watchin’” and be true to herself. Lula Bell’s desire to embrace anonymity is at odds with her mother and Grandma Bernice’s wishes for her to participate in the school’s talent show. Grandma Bernice’s unexpected death provides the impetus for Lula Bell to reconsider the status quo, leading her to take decisive action and bravely confront her anxieties. A surprising plot development finds Lula Bell demonstrating extraordinary generosity in the true spirit of her beloved grandmother. Ultimately, she realizes that in her quest to be accepted, she has overlooked a true and steadfast friend. Payne thoughtfully examines the grieving process as Lula Bell struggles to accept and adjust to her loss. With an authentic voice, the wryly humorous Lula Bell contemplates life and the nature of true friendship with distinctive candor. Payne’s hopeful tale encourages readers to rejoice in what makes them unique. (Fiction. 9-12)

BLACK DOG

Pinfold, Levi Illus. by Pinfold, Levi Templar/Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7636-6097-0 Pinfold’s story has a timeless quality despite its entirely original flair, with sumptuous paintings and thumbnail embellishments adding narrative and

descriptive content. One by one, the Hope family spies a black dog outside their home, each person describing it as larger and more fearsome than the next. They all proceed to hide from the dog, until “the youngest member of the Hope family, called Small (for short),” steps outside to confront it herself. While her family cowers inside, Small bravely approaches the shaggy beast, who appears quite large indeed in the tempera paintings. A sense of folkloric magic underscores the confrontation as this youngest of three siblings cajoles the dog to follow her on a journey through the woods, under a bridge, over a frozen pond and through a playground. All along, she entreats it to shrink in size, and it does, until it is small enough to fit through a doggy door back at her house. Once they are inside, Small’s family welcomes the dog and praises her bravery. “There was nothing to be scared of,” she succinctly replies. The closing scene showing Small and the dog cozy by the fire, alongside a thumbnail portrait of the family by the text, leaves readers with a satisfying image of familial contentment. A great pick for storytime, bedtime, anytime. (Picture book. 3-7)

THE INNOCENTS

Peloquin, Lili Razorbill/Penguin (272 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-59514-582-6 It’s dangerous when a novel references The Great Gatsby; it only begs unfortunate comparisons. Sensible Alice and rebellious Charlie have just arrived at the Connecticut shore after a whirlwind romance between their just-divorced mother, Maggie, and a filthy rich architect, Richard. It takes no time for them to be caught up in the dreary intrigues and festering secrets of the 1 percent. Charlie hurls herself into the country-club world of their new stepfather, connecting almost instantly with a creepy-yet-charismatic pair of cousins, the dissolute Jude and bitchy Cybill. Alice, though more resistant to the allure of luxury, is drawn to the ruggedly handsome Tommy, whose most recent girlfriend just happens to have been Camilla, Richard’s late daughter, who committed suicide the year before and who bore an uncanny resemblance to—gasp—Alice. Charlie drinks and acts out; Alice alternately moons over Tommy, |

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HAND IN HAND Ten Black Men Who Changed America Pinkney, Andrea Davis Illus. by Pinkney, Brian Disney Hyperion (256 pp.) $19.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4231-4257-7

Addressing the appetites of readers “hungry for role models,” this presents compellingly oratorical |

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pictures of the lives and characters of 10 African-American men who exemplify a “birthright of excellence.” Each of the chronologically arranged chapters opens with a tone-setting praise song and a commanding close-up portrait. From Benjamin Banneker, whose accusatory letter to slaveholder Thomas Jefferson “socked it straight / to the secretary of state,” to Barack Obama, who “turned Yes, we can! into a celebration call,” the gallery is composed of familiar names. Instead of rehashing well-chewed biographical fodder, though, the author dishes up incidents that shaped and tested her subjects’ moral and intellectual fiber along with achievements that make her chosen few worth knowing and emulating. Carping critics may quibble about the occasional arguable fact and an implication that Rosa Parks’ protest was spontaneous, but like Malcolm X, Pinkney has such “a hot-buttered way with words” that her arguments are as convincing as they are forceful, and her prose, rich as it is in rolling cadences and internal rhymes, never waxes mannered or preachy. A feast for readers whose eyes are (or should be) on the prize, in a volume as well-turned-out as the dapper W.E.B. Dubois, who was “more handsome than a fresh-cut paycheck.” (timeline, index, lists of recommended reading and viewing) (Collective biography. 10-15)

THE ICARUS PROJECT

Quimby, Laura Amulet/Abrams (304 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4197-0402-4

Who wouldn’t want to find something earth-shatteringly unique while on an Arctic expedition? Itching to make a discovery of her very own, 13-year-old Maya Parson, whose anthropologist mother is often away on another continent doing fieldwork, finally gets to accompany her woolly-mammoth–expert dad on a foray into the icy wilderness. She soon discovers there are backroom politics to the project, including the designs of a resident billionaire funder, his snarky, filmmaking nephew, some distinguishedbut-vaguely-suspicious scientists from Russia and Japan and a kindly anthropologist with a son the same age as Maya. When an unexpected discovery is made, Maya is right in the thick of it, trying to prevent the Russian scientist from cloning the newest finding. Meanwhile, the classic myth of Icarus figures heavily into the picture, with its themes of seeking freedom from captivity and the dangers of not heeding parental warnings when it comes to the perils of flying too close to the sun. While Quimby’s plot is exuberantly fast-paced and earnest, the first-person narration occasionally strains the believability of a 13-year-old’s voice. Limited character development leads to some cartoonish players who fail to evolve, yet readers who fantasize about testing their mettle in the icy wastes will still happily tag along for the ride. Both inventive and contrived. (Fantasy. 9-13)

ICE! The Amazing History of the Ice Business

Pringle, Laurence Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills (80 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-59078-801-1

A coolly fascinating, nostalgic glimpse into life as it was over a century ago. Long before the invention of the refrigerator, various methods were used to chill food and drink and to keep perishables from spoiling. Along came forward-thinking individuals who thought to make ice available on a year-round basis—even, remarkably, in locales where it didn’t occur naturally. Eventually, the ice industry was born, leading to ever-better technological innovations for cutting, harvesting, transporting and storing it in enormous ice houses along the banks of lakes and rivers. Selling eager customers ice from fresh, unpolluted sources became a thriving consumer and commercial enterprise. Pringle’s writing is as clear and sharp as well-hewn blocks of ice, and the book is a visually refreshing treat: Modern readers are brought directly into a past they may hardly have imagined by marvelous contemporary advertisements; black-and-white and color photos and engravings featuring tools, customers and workers in action; colorful, entertaining, informative sidebars and more. Youngsters may not believe that a commodity they take so for granted in their drinking glasses is the stuff of such fast-paced, absorbing historical reading. Very well-documented, even including links to some short Edison films. Readers will regard their refrigerators and freezers in a whole new, respectful light. (websites, list of films, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12) 2142

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HELEN’S BIG WORLD

Rappaport, Doreen Illus. by Tavares, Matt Disney Hyperion (48 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-7868-0890-8

Helen Keller’s transcendent leap across the barriers of her blindness and deafness continues to inspire. Rappaport recounts the well-known events of Helen’s childhood—the illness that left her blind and deaf as a toddler, her wild willfulness and the advent of Annie Sullivan’s companionship and tutelage with liberating results. The wide and tall trim size of this work allows Tavares’ full, closeup, edge-to-edge paintings to bring readers into the story and helps convey Helen’s passion, energy and delight as she defeats her limitations. Generous white space given to the text and the large font for Helen’s own words in every spread invites readers to come close to the subject, to understand Helen’s thrill at learning about the world and to taste some of her intense purpose and passion. What Rappaport adds to the familiar story about Keller is that this determined |

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“Reef looks at the 19th-century context for women writers and the reasons that the sisters chose to publish only under pseudonyms….” from the brontë sisters

THE RAIDERS

woman was never inclined to be pigeonholed. Keller continued to hunger after information, to learn about the world and to talk about it: “She spoke against war…and for the right of women to vote and for justice for black Americans.” Rappaport reveals that Keller had her critics, but once given a voice, she used it. There, one begins to realize, is the real story of Keller’s impressive life. A magisterial account. (author’s & illustrator’s notes, timeline, sources) (Picture books/biography. 6-10)

Riel, Jørn Illus. by Cann, Helen Barefoot (128 pp.) $12.99 paperback | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84686-744-6 Series: The Inuk Quartet, 2 The second episode in the Danish author’s Inuk Quartet sends young Icelander Leiv and his Inuit friends on a new mission of vengeance after Viking raiders plunder his newfound Greenland home. They have spent an idyllic spring and summer recovering from the trek in Shipwreck (2011); it’s been interrupted only by a quick clash with a longship captained by the brutal Thorleifsson brothers. Now, Apuluk and Narua set out to rejoin their nomadic clan with Leiv in tow. That friendly visit turns into a punitive expedition after the Thorleifssons massacre most of a native settlement and loot Leiv’s new home. The translated narrative reads smoothly, and high production values result in a handsome, open page design. Its visual appeal is enhanced by Cann’s stylized but crisply drawn and richly colored images of arctic wildlife and fur-clad human residents. Though wordy descriptions of seasonal cycles and farm life slow down the first several chapters, the pacing picks up on the way to a violent climax, gory ends for the bad guys, and (pointing to developments in volumes to come) Leiv’s decision to explore northward in search of a land route to fabled Vinland. Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human values. (Historical fiction. 9-11)

THE BRONTË SISTERS The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Reef, Catherine Clarion (240 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-547-57966-5

The wild freedom of the imagination and the heart, and the tragedy of lives ended just as success is within view— such a powerful story is that of the Brontë children. Reef ’s gracefully plotted, carefully researched account focuses on Charlotte, whose correspondence with friends, longer life and more extensive experience outside the narrow milieu of Haworth, including her acquaintance with the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, who became her biographer, revealed more of her personality. She describes the Brontë children’s early losses of their mother and then their two oldest siblings, conveying the imaginative, verbally rich life of children who are essentially orphaned but share both the wild countryside and the gifts of story. Brother Branwell’s tragic struggle with alcohol and opium is seen as if offstage, wounding to his sisters and his father but sad principally because he never found a way to use literature to save himself. Reef looks at the 19thcentury context for women writers and the reasons that the sisters chose to publish only under pseudonyms—and includes a wonderful description of the encounter in which Anne and Charlotte revealed their identities to Charlotte’s publisher. She also includes brief, no-major-spoilers summaries of the sisters’ novels, inviting readers to connect the dots and to understand how real-life experience was transformed into fiction. A solid and captivating look at these remarkable pioneers of modern fiction. (notes and a comprehensive bibliography) (Biography. 12-16)

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GOING TO MECCA

Robert, Na’ima B. Illus. by Cavallini, Valentina Frances Lincoln (28 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84780-153-1 The trip to Mecca, the Hajj, is the most important religious event in the life of a Muslim. A family living in London sets forth on their spiritual journey, leaving the youngest child behind with her grandmother. Most double-page spreads highlight one stage of the trip with a free-verse poem, such as the one that addresses attire: “Dress with a pilgrim / As he stands barefoot, / A sheet round his shoulders, / Another round his waist.” Readers are exhorted to vicariously take part in all the rituals of the nine-day observance. The repetitive nature of the first lines of the poems is soothing, but it may resonate most with young Muslim readers, as children are asked to call out in prayer and gaze at the Black Stone on one side of the Ka’bah, among other “requests.” Although the poems attempt to explain all the practices and there is a back page with additional information, adults familiar with Islam |

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“Unsubtle in all the right ways.” from far from home

are best positioned to share the book with children as part of a larger discussion on this pillar of the Muslim faith. The folk-art–style mixed-media illustrations, utilizing fabrics and papers, show the great diversity of Muslim pilgrims. There is no bibliography. Follow this contemporary family, but pack some more expertise in your imaginary suitcase. (Picture book. 6-9)

his best friend, Geoff. New girlfriend Jenna seems to always be interested in sex, though, and in the most daring of circumstances. Not altogether sure he is keen, Birm slowly finds himself drawn to fellow musician Amber Flood, who is a substitute teacher at his school and married to a writer he admires. Trouble ensues, as is to be expected. This is a refreshing reversal from the usual boy-intent-on-sex-while-the-girl-looks-foremotional-connection plot. The hints at how the adult world works blend with teen naïveté to create situations that may seem ambiguous to the main character at first glance, but not so much to readers, or in Birmingham’s hindsight, either. The writing is thoughtful, if pedestrian. Short as this is, the main appeal is to reluctant readers who are ready for the mature content and the fast pace of events. There’s a good grab on the first page when Geoff chortles loudly through a large list of synonyms for sexual intimacy. Unfortunately, the unrealistic depiction of school administrators and the unsatisfying resolution let Birmingham, Ms. Flood and readers all down. (Fiction. 12-16)

FAR FROM HOME

Robert, Na’ima B. Frances Lincoln (352 pp.) $8.99 paperback | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84780-006-0 A Shona girl ejected from her home shares thought-provoking parallels with a white girl forced from her own 25 years later. Fourteen-year-old Tariro loves her life, her family and her home under the baobab tree, but all that goodness comes crashing down when a Rhodesian colonialist claims the rich farmland for himself. Her fiancé is beaten so badly he loses his sight, while she’s brutally raped by the white man. Fast-forward from 1964 to 2000, and meet Katie, also 14. Despite the revolution, whites still own most of the land and wealth in the nation now known as Zimbabwe. Katie adores her father and loves her farm under the baobab tree. While Katie’s and Tariro’s feelings about their homes run lyrically side-by-side, their home lives are not so similar. Tariro’s family, pre-eviction, is nigh-idyllic. Katie’s (lest readers over-sympathize) is peopled by sexist drunks and abusive racists. Katie’s love for her home and family are sincere, though, and her own forced eviction is moving. Coincidence brings Tariro and Katie together long enough to help Katie understand the history of her family. While the Karanga and Afrikaans heavily peppered throughout are used flavorfully enough to make a glossary unnecessary, a historical note would provide vital context about Zimbabwe’s complicated present; readers could be forgiven for finding Robert Mugabe a hero. Unsubtle in all the right ways. (Fiction. 13-17)

HAPPY HARRY’S CAFÉ

Rosen, Michael Illus. by Holland, Richard Candlewick (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-7636-6239-4

The picture-book crowd will most likely find this thin story bland and unsatisfying. Happy Harry is a pleasant-enough white bear dishing out what appears to be delicious tomato soup at his café. Since the soup is so popular, all of “his friends come running for Harry’s soup before Harry’s soup runs out.” Soon Ryan the lion, Jo the crow, Robin the robin and Matt the cat come rushing in. As each friend arrives Harry says, “Take it easy…” and serves a bowl of soup. Most of the friends exclaim how wonderful it tastes, but Matt the cat declares, “The soup’s no good.” Usually happy Harry seems alarmed and agrees to try the soup at the cat’s urging. When Harry goes to taste the soup, he discovers that there is no spoon. This cheers up Matt immediately: “That’s it, Harry! There’s no spoon. That’s what’s wrong with the soup…!” The page turn shows everyone loudly laughing, and a few pages later Harry and Matt break into a song about the soup and their silly misunderstanding. Holland adds little spice with mixed-media illustrations in a palette of muted red, yellow-orange, sage green, white and gray. Slim plot, weak humor and lackluster appeal will leave preschoolers asking for more substantial fare. (Picture book. 3-5)

OFF LIMITS

Robert, Rayner James Lorimer (152 pp.) $16.95 | paper $9.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4594-0083-2 978-1-4594-0082-5 paperback Surprised to find himself attracted to the new, middle-aged music teacher, 15-year-old Birmingham negotiates his first intimate relationships with her and teenage Jenna in a whirlwind of sex and innuendo. Birmingham has always been less limelight-hungry than 2144

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DO YOU DREAM IN COLOR? Insights From a Girl Without Sight

the tale is told in big, easy-to-grasp sequential cartoons, with wordless pictures and signs in balloons creating a nonverbal language that serves just fine in place of narration or dialogue. Owly returns in triumph with not only the telescope, but a set of friendly bats to explain the scary sound effects. In a final bit of both plot and emotional resolution, Wormy’s fear of the dark is transformed to delight as the camp’s candle is blown out, and the seemingly empty skies overhead suddenly blaze with stars. Young readers and pre-readers alike will respond strongly to the tale’s elemental drama and clearly defined emotional arc. (Graphic picture book. 2-5)

Rubin, Laurie Seven Stories (400 pp.) $18.95 paperback | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-60980-424-4

A highly readable memoir traces Rubin’s journey from pampered child to acclaimed mezzo-soprano. A story that begin with a bookworm and culminates with a rising star explores blindness, sexuality and the everyday growing pains of a talented young woman. Born blind, Laurie is lucky enough to have adoring, well-to-do parents. They grant her not only a first-rate education, but skiing trips, tours of Europe and—most importantly—voice lessons. Laurie excels despite a society that disables her. She argues with directors who claim they lack “the time or resources” to work with blind singers; she approaches museums about their lack of tactile exhibits; she takes cooking classes to fill knowledge gaps left by a doting mother who protected her from learning basic life skills. Even as Laurie practices her arias and trains her new guide dog, she also learns to live openly as a lesbian. Coming out is relatively easy at college, but in post-university life, many see Laurie (a visibly disabled white woman) with her Japanese-American girlfriend and label Jenny the “Asian helper.” Laurie focuses on what she can do, rather than on any perceived lacks, so it’s no surprise when she successfully becomes an opera singer. Lyrical interludes evocatively communicate Laurie’s sense of color. Though Laurie’s memory lane lacks the structural cohesion of a novel, her stubborn perseverance guarantees plenty of colorful anecdotes. (Memoir. 12-16)

TOUCHING THE SURFACE

Sabatini, Kimberly Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-4424-4002-9 This ambitious take on the afterlife doesn’t quite deliver. Seventeen-year-old Elliot Turner has arrived at the Obmil—a Limbo-esque destination for the departed—for her third and most likely last time. Before souls can move on to the unknown beyond, they must reconcile issues from their past lives, but they are only given three chances. Also entering the Obmil is Elliot’s best friend Julia (who has been with her throughout her two prior lives, but didn’t factor into her life as Elliot), the handsome, charismatic Oliver and the dark, brooding Trevor. The quartet knows that they share a connection, but have no access to their past memories unless they Delve, an act somewhere between a lucid dream and hypnosis. As the group Delves, they find they must confront their greatest fears and discover the tenuous bonds between them. Predictably, there is a love triangle among Elliot, Oliver and Trevor, and while the scenes with the tempestuous Trevor have some smolder, the tension amid the trio sizzles out abruptly. Similarly, Julia and Elliot’s relationship seems to have a lot of drama, but it never gets the development or attention it deserves and often takes a hurried back seat to the brewing angst between Elliot and Trevor. The concept, while intriguing, feels rushed and cramped. Like the wayward souls in the book, some of the plotlines seem to unfortunately get lost in the fray. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

BRIGHT LIGHTS AND STARRY NIGHTS

Runton, Andy Illus. by Runton, Andy Atheneum (40 pp.) $15.99 | $12.99 e-book | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-4169-5775-1 978-1-4424-5439-2 e-book Series: Owly & Wormy, 2 The small owl with big eyes and equally outsized heart makes new friends on a nocturnal outing. Discovering that their view of the sky has been blocked by tree leaves, Owly and his little vermiform housemate march out to set up their new telescope on a woodland hilltop. When heavy rains drive them into a cave that night, and eerie “Clickety skreeeeeeeee” noises send them scrambling back out, the telescope goes missing. This prompts Owly to screw his courage to the sticking place, leave his shivering buddy behind and set off on a search. As in Owly’s previous picturebook (Friends All Aflutter, 2011) and graphic-novel appearances, |

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“Princess power saves the day in a humorous antidote to pretty in pink.” from princess in training

PRINCESS IN TRAINING

the bright, attractive pictures will appeal to boat-loving toddlers. (Picture book. 2-4)

Sauer, Tammi Illus. by Berger, Joe Harcourt (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-15-206599-7

PEOPLE WHO SAID NO Courage Against Oppression

Scandiffio, Laura Annick Press (172 pp.) $24.95 | paper $14.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-55451-383-3 978-1-55451-382-6 paperback

Karate-chopping, moat-splashing and skateboard-zooming are much more fun for Princess Viola than tiara-wearing and

hand-waving. When the royal post delivers a letter of invitation to attend Camp Princess, Viola is keen to try it, for who would not want to be “the darling” of one’s kingdom, as Madame Gertrude, the Director, promises. Alas, though the Princess tries hard at all things properly royal, she reverts to true form and enhances her actions by chopping instead of waving, splashing instead of walking and zooming instead of waltzing. Is all lost? Never! The night of the camp’s Royal Bash, Viola employs her skills to best a hungry, bright-green dragon and returns home in triumph. Sauer, who likes spunk in her characters, writes with brisk humor, employing action verbs to great effect. Berger, an animator and cartoonist, uses a mix of pencil, wax crayon, brush pen and Photoshop to create art with comic-book flair, complete with panels and exploding fonts. His palette of hot pink, lavender, blue and orange pulsates with energy. And, necessary for any princess outing, a generous dollop of glitter adorns the cover. Princess power saves the day in a humorous antidote to pretty in pink. (Picture book. 3-7)

An inspiring, informative collection of profiles of people who sacrificed freedom and life to take stands against oppression and to champion human rights. Sophie and Hans Scholl, leaders of a secret student movement opposing the Nazi regime, were executed for treason. Andrei Sakharov helped develop the Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb but later became an outspoken critic of nuclear proliferation and was effectively kept under house arrest for years. Aung San Suu Kyi also spent years under house arrest for protesting Burma’s dictatorship. For decades, Helen Suzman was the sole member of the South African parliament to fight against apartheid. Rosa Parks’ refusal to relinquish her seat prompted the Montgomery bus boycott, one of the first major triumphs of the civil rights movement. Archbishop Oscar Romero challenged El Salvador’s oppressive regime and was assassinated. The last and weakest chapter discusses the popular uprising in Egypt that brought down Hosni Mubarak’s government. Scandiffio’s concise, engaging profiles offer readers an informative overview of these heroes and their accomplishments, and occasional sidebars provide background information. These inspiring stories of people who challenged the status quo make for riveting reading, as well as excellent starting points for research and discussions about civil disobedience, ethics and morality. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)

LITTLE TUG

Savage, Stephen Illus. by Savage, Stephen Neal Porter/Roaring Brook (32 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-59643-648-0 Graphically spiffy and textually brief, this exploration of an anthropomorphic harbor tugboat’s working role tacks on a maudlin shtick in the final quarter. Savage’s crisp pictures clearly compare Little Tug’s height, speed and length to those of a tall ship, a speedboat and an ocean liner. Despite these obvious shortcomings, Tug helps all three maneuver safely when needed. Young children will likewise navigate through the broadly stylized images of city skyline, water reflections and ships, some of which sport eyes and mouths. An odd divergence, however, appears with the line “What happens when Little Tug tires out?” The story shifts from fact-based narrative to coy bedtime riff, ending with Little Tug being tucked in with a sail from the tall ship, soothed with the speedboat motor’s lullaby and receiving, from the big ocean liner, “a great big— / hug.” Though this cute-but-mighty tug’s strengths are oddly undercut by the syrupy gear-switch at the end, 2146

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SEND ME A SIGN

Schmidt, Tiffany Walker (384 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-8027-2840-1

A teen with cancer stresses out over all the wrong things. When Mia’s diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, she tells childhood best friend and boy next door Gyver (yes, short for MacGyver) but not her kinda-boyfriend or her best girlfriends and fellow cheerleaders, the Calendar Girls (Mia is Summer). She invents an extended trip to visit ill grandparents as cover for her summer in the hospital and then does her best to fake it once school starts. Gyver’s devotion—he rarely leaves her side all summer long—morphs |

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“Action-packed close-ups capture the seemingly omniscient, omnipotent Jangles from arresting angles, allowing readers to feel they are front and center in this fantastic fishing fable.” from jangles

ZOM-B

into jealousy when Mia finally confesses the truth to Ryan, who proves himself pretty devoted, too, making for a very mildly suspenseful love triangle. When a novel’s action consists of the protagonist’s decision not to tell people she’s dangerously ill (most of Mia’s treatment is told, not shown), it needs to compensate for the lack of plot with something else—astonishing characterization or spectacular language, for instance. This debut does not. Characters are largely one-dimensional, even Mia. Her superstitious nature (see title) feels tacked-on, and although she tells readers at one point that she had been in the running for valedictorian before her illness, she mostly seems as vapid as her friends. Add lines like, “His blue eyes glowed from within the faint outline of his Oakley’s tan line,” and you have a book that arrives at its moment of truth far too late. The topic has been handled far better elsewhere. (Fiction. 13-16)

Shan, Darren Little, Brown (192 pp.) $9.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-316-21440-7 Shan’s baaa-aaaack. For B Smith, school is a bore and home is a battlefield, with a racist and abusive father around whom to navigate. The years of hate have taken their toll, with B provoking fights against nonwhite students to earn parental approval and hiding friendships that would incur parental wrath. When zombies begin massacring B’s fellow students, it turns into a survival challenge, and B must cooperate with a diverse set of survivors to flee the barricaded school. Shan brings back his tried-and-true shock and gore narratives, with gruesome brain scooping and deathdefying action sequences. Troubled by divided loyalty between father and friends, B’s character is well-drawn though occasionally naïve; B often elects not to make any choice in difficult situations, and Shan doesn’t fully explore the consequences of those moments of inaction. The English slang may cause momentary trouble, but tension over immigration crosses the pond easily enough. Shan packs in the bites, and he rips out enough entrails for even the most jaded zombie fan; the cliffhanger ending, now expected by his fans, closes on just the right note to leave the audience gnawing for more. A series opener to sink your teeth into. (Horror. 12-18)

LEAGUE OF STRAYS

Schulman, L.B. Amulet/Abrams (288 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4197-0403-1

A group of misfits is drawn together by a charismatic, sinister boy for friendship and revenge. When narrator Charlotte Brody moves across the state in her senior year, she is virtually alone in her new school. She’s wary when she receives a mysterious invitation to join the “League of Strays,” but she figures she’s got little to lose. The League is a truly motley crew: a gay boy and suspected drug dealer, a perpetually angry girl who always wears camouflage, the likely school valedictorian and Charlotte, a violist on the fast track to a conservatory. They are pulled together by dark and dangerous Kade, a boy with Robert Pattinson hair and absent parents. Forbidden to interact at school, they meet in secret to plan revenge against the people who have made their lives miserable—“pranks” that are not innocent even from the first, but cruel, criminal and life-threatening. Lawabiding Charlotte, though horrified, stays with the League because of both the friendship it offers and her (irritatingly mindless) attraction to Kade. Readers will spot Kade’s sociopathy from the get-go, making it difficult to remain sympathetic to her. By starting the League’s activities out with an act of out-and-out vandalism that turns into arson rather than lulling Charlotte and readers with relatively innocent pranks, Schulman sacrifices building tension, turning this thriller into Charlotte’s drawn-out journey of self-discovery. Peer pressure is an evergreen theme, but it is imperfectly explored here. (Fiction. 13 & up)

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JANGLES A BIG Fish Story

Shannon, David Illus. by Shannon, David Blue Sky/Scholastic (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-545-14312-7

A boy recalls his father’s pretty amazing story of the larger-than-life trout he nearly caught in this tall tale of a remarkably big fish that got away. Everyone at Big Lake wanted to catch infamous Jangles, the “biggest fish anyone had ever seen.” Jangles earned his name from the metal lures and fishhooks embedded in his huge jaw that “clinked and clattered as he swam.” Locals believed Jangles was so big he could eat eagles and beavers, and some swore he’d saved a baby who fell into the lake. In the narrator’s father’s story of a boyhood encounter, Jangles swallows his lure and drags him underwater to a cave in the deepest part of the lake, where the fish talks and shares “secrets from the beginning of time” about Big Lake. But as Jangles returns him to the boat, the narrator’s father turns the tables by tricking and trapping Jangles. Arguing he is “more than a fish,” Jangles begs to be released, leaving the narrator’s father to decide his fate in a twist ending. Dramatic, realistic, full-color oil illustrations more than fill double-page spreads, accentuating the |

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tale’s colloquial hyperbole. Action-packed close-ups capture the seemingly omniscient, omnipotent Jangles from arresting angles, allowing readers to feel they are front and center in this fantastic fishing fable. Some fish indeed! (Picture book. 4-8)

progress. Quincy offers encouraging words on the union of the states and equality, but about fighting, she observes, “We’re still working on that one.” They share recurring dreams; Lincoln’s is about a “ship sailing rapidly for some shore I know not where.” A brief (although undocumented) afterword says this is so. The palette is appropriately somber, but touches like the striking red roses that fill the foreground of the moonlit mansion’s garden mitigate the darkness. Types of varying sizes and weights mimic those found in period newspapers and political posters. The final spread features Quincy’s dream: fireworks flaring, a smiling president sails into the light. An adroit blend of humor, compassion and quiet optimism reflects the statesman’s character and make this a first choice for February or anytime. (Picture book. 5-8)

OLIVER

Sif, Birgitta Illus. by Sif, Birgitta Candlewick (40 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-7636-6247-9 A delightful tale about a boy who is different and his discovery of a kindred spirit, gracefully written to celebrate dreamers and readers— and those who need not change to find friends. Oliver lives happily in his imagination; puppets and toys are his constant companions. Together, they brave deserts by cardboard box, cross treacherous couch bridges and dig to distant lands. Then, one day Oliver begins to feel different. A lost ball takes him through a new gate, where, against a pink sky, he meets Olivia. “It was the beginning of the best adventure he’d ever had.” It doesn’t matter that Oliver is different, because “Olivia [is] a bit different too.” Like artists such as Lane Smith or Tim Burton, Sif has a distinctive style, a particular way of expressing the world that feels like a natural expression of herself. Her pencil drawings are done in a muted, cool-color palette. With Oliver’s journey, she takes readers from an urban environment filled with pencil marks and gray images to a sparser, outdoor environment in which her marks are looser and the colors quietly bloom. A lovely gift—aglow with warmth and welcome—for those who feel, or have ever felt, different. (Picture book. 4-8)

RENEGADE

Souders, J.A. Tor (352 pp.) $17.99 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-7653-3245-5 Series: Elysium Chronicles, 1 In yet another grim, dystopian nearfuture, another pair of star-crossed lovers resists a megalomaniacal overlord. Mother is Governess of Elysium, a society of blond, blue-eyed citizens who live in a small, technologically advanced underwater enclave. Mother is also the adoptive mother of protagonist Evelyn, who tends her garden and looks forward to Coupling with a genetically approved suitor. “My life,” she tells readers repeatedly, “is just about perfect.” But it’s not. In Chapter 1, Timothy, her favorite suitor, is brutally murdered before her eyes for touching her before their coupling has been approved. In Chapter 2, she has forgotten Timothy entirely. This is good, because along comes Gavin, a Surface Dweller who has improbably stumbled into Elysium and to whom she is instantly attracted. Contrivance piles upon contrivance. Evie interrogates Gavin; Evie decides to help Gavin escape; Evie discovers that Mother has been erasing her memories selectively for years. While this last concept is undoubtedly intriguing, Souders buries it in banal dialogue, ludicrously choreographed action and a thoroughly tedious romance. She offers little worldbuilding to compensate, leaving readers almost entirely unmoored (except for the inevitable diary, discovered right when the plot needs it). As the bodies pile up, readers should join Evie in her dawning horror at what Mother has wrought; instead, those who have stuck with her will just be dying to escape. (Dystopian romance. 12-16)

ABE LINCOLN’S DREAM

Smith, Lane Illus. by Smith, Lane Roaring Brook (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-59643-608-4

Smith transcends clichés to present a fresh and intimate glimpse of the 16th president. Opening panels, rendered digitally and in oil and ink, hone in on three presidential pooches that wouldn’t “enter THAT room” in the White House. By the time present-day Quincy goes AWOL from her tour to discover a pale man in a stovepipe hat who walks through walls, there have been enough subsequent clues that readers will understand the dogs’ hesitation. The sensitive African-American protagonist perceives that Lincoln is haunted by unfinished business. While sharing groan-inducing jokes and flying over monuments, farms and the moon, the two discuss American 2148

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“Unthreatening despite its subject matter, yet impressively moving.” from the extraordinary music of mr. ives

ALEX THE PARROT No Ordinary Bird

to a bumpy start. Readers will likely be scratching their heads for a few chapters as they acclimate themselves to the rules and language of this dystopia. However, as the story becomes clear, readers will quickly find themselves invested in Lark’s success. Though magic lends an interesting dimension to the narrative, at its heart, this is an intense story of survival and self-discovery. At the end, though, it doesn’t stand out from the throng of like dystopias. Only for those who will read nothing else. (Dystopian adventure. 14 & up)

Spinner, Stephanie Illus. by So, Meilo Knopf (48 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-375-86846-7

Irene Pepperberg’s African gray parrot learned to speak and understand English so well he changed both public and scientific beliefs about animal communication and cognition. Named Alex, for Avian Learning EXperiment, the parrot was randomly acquired from a pet shop for graduate student Pepperberg’s research. Spinner deftly summarizes the next 30 years of his training, gradual learning and public attention, ending with his untimely death in 2007. The author weaves in information about other talking animals: Clever Hans, the horse who read his trainer’s unconscious cues, and the signing apes Washoe and Koko. She concludes with some outcomes of Pepperberg’s studies and her current research. But it is Alex’s story, told with admiration and acceptance, that is the essence of this appealing title. Organized topically into short chapters, the chronology of his life remains clear. So’s illustrations, done with colored ink and pencils, watercolors and gouache, show parrots in the wild and the pet store and, especially, Alex in action. Sometimes his words appear in colorful speech bubbles. These images, set directly on the white pages, above, below or alongside the text, filling an opposing page or bleeding across the fold, emphasize Alex’s personality but also add to readers’ understanding of the research work. Bird lovers will be charmed. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

THE EXTRAORDINARY MUSIC OF MR. IVES The True Story of a Famous American Composer Stanbridge, Joanne Illus. by Stanbridge, Joanne Houghton Mifflin (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-547-23866-1

Young readers lucky enough to encounter both this book and Mordecai Gerstein’s What Charlie Heard (2002) may never again hear the sounds of the world around them in quite the same way—they may be listening for music. The informing story for Stanbridge’s brief biographical account is the work that Charles Ives composed after the news of the sinking of the Lusitania reached New York City. Her gentle, full-color illustrations are rounded and appealing. The several wordless pages devoted to the sinking of the ocean liner are appropriately dramatic and scary, but they focus on a small girl rescued by a lifeboat and reunited with her mother. It is as if Charles Ives and his New York neighbors are seeing the events before their eyes, and this sequence serves to underscore their reaction of grieving astonishment. Ives’ From Hanover Square North, at the End of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arose was first, and at long last, performed 13 years after Ives’ death. Stanbridge tells her young readers that as listeners came to know Ives’ music and as composers took inspiration from Ives’ ideas, the line of succession grew, all the way to John Adams’ 2002 concert, On the Transmigration of Souls, composed to remember the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, filled with the ordinary sounds of the city. Unthreatening despite its subject matter, yet impressively moving. (author’s note, source list, suggestions for further reading and listening). (Picture book/biography. 4-9)

SKYLARK

Spooner, Meagan Carolrhoda Lab (344 pp.) $17.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-8865-4 978-1-4677-0010-8 e-book Another debut, another dystopia. For 15 years, Lark Ainsley, like all other children in the city, has longed to have her Resource harvested so she can begin life as a working citizen who contributes to the good of the whole. But Lark isn’t like all the other children. When she discovers that the architects plan to use her unique brand of innate magic to power the entire city, she is forced to choose between living life as a glorified battery or venturing beyond the Wall, leaving everything and everyone she has ever known behind, to search the wilds for others of her kind. Hunted for a power she possesses but barely understands, Lark is forced to journey through a treacherous wilderness, with little more than a hope that she will find her way to the safe haven of the Iron Woods. Spooner’s debut, the first in a planned trilogy, gets off |

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RED CAR, RED BUS

Steggall, Susan Illus. by Steggall, Susan Frances Lincoln (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84780-184-5

Gorgeously crafted paper illustrations reveal the interconnectedness of a small town’s inhabitants while introducing |

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MAYA AND THE TURTLE A Korean Fairy Tale

young readers to colors and the concept of patterns. A red bus, the number 17, travels along its route—from a solitary bench against a large expanse of sky to a bustling town and back again. With each turn of the page, a new vehicle is added, creating pairs of colors: A red car joins the bus, then a yellow car and van, and so on. But Steggall moves beyond this beginning concept to brilliantly execute an array of storylines for readers to find and follow. People wait, embark, ride and interact; the weather shifts; and the environment changes from sparse to dense. A mother and son run to catch the bus, a teddy bear is lost, the mother stops to catch her breath, a driver finds the toy, and a ride is given. Every opportunity is taken to show the passing of time, and all of this is represented impeccably in cut paper. However, upon first reading, the words don’t enhance the images as they should, and in fact, detract from the beauty of the detailed drawings. Clearly, the design and wide trim size, which extends the road and allows the illustrations to shine, sends the message that the text is less important than the pictures. Perhaps different text, or a wordless approach might have been more effective. Still, a rich opportunity for repeat visits and a masterful display of the manipulation of the chosen material. (Picture book. 2-5)

Stickler, John C. Illus. by Han, Soma Tuttle (32 pp.) $14.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-8048-4277-8

An original folk tale set in Korea tells the story of a selfless young maiden who is sacrificed to the monster in the neighboring village. This story begins at the deathbed of Maya’s mother. In a weak voice, the mother tells her daughter that she will grow up to become a princess. From this point, the authors combine elements from a number of popular Korean folk tales to write their own story. The core of the story (a girl sacrifices herself to aid her ailing father) is both strong from a plot point and a significant theme in Korean tales, but there are many distractions that create puzzling questions by the end. The relationship between Maya and her pet turtle, an expected cornerstone given the title of the story, drops dead when the heroic turtle does, without even a shred of gratitude from Maya. The story arc seems to be missing a main ending as the self-sacrifice story turns into a lingering and forced love story. The story is supplemented by notes, sometimes footnoted within the text, with cultural information explaining uniquely Korean facts, but these become highly distracting. This could have been a much-needed addition to the shelves, but it cannot overcome a meandering plot with characters that lack dimension. Look for other Korean folk tales or original fairy tales to round out the collection. (Picture book. 6-10)

THE LYNCHING OF LOUIE SAM

Stewart, Elizabeth Annick Press (280 pp.) $21.95 | paper $12.95 | Oct. 10, 2012 978-1-55451-439-7 978-1-55451-438-0 paperback

The title tells readers most of what they need to know. In 1884, in Washington territory, very close to the Canadian border, a white man of questionable character was found murdered. A 14-year-old Native American boy named Louie Sam was framed for the crime, tracked down by a group of over 100 vigilantes and hanged—by happenstance, on the Canadian side of the line. Louie Sam’s death remains the only lynching on Canadian soil. Stewart takes all the history she can find and works to craft a novel from it, but she’s only partially successful. Her narrative character, a 15-year-old white boy named George Gillies, is a real-life person known to have witnessed Louie Sam’s death. Her writing is clean and fluid and her attention to historical detail admirable. However, this story, constrained by history, does not follow a narrative arc, and Louie Sam cannot emerge as a character, in part because the author hesitates to express the feelings of the Native Americans. George seems to accept automatically the party line that Louie Sam must be a criminal. His very gradual conversion to Louie Sam’s probable innocence isn’t emotionally moving and has no effect on the story, which, because it follows historical truth, ends without any satisfying resolution. No doubt it’s historically accurate, and it is certainly honestly told; however, it doesn’t quite succeed as fiction. (Historical fiction. 11-15) 2150

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BELLA’S BLESSINGS

Stokes, Brenda Illus. by DesRosiers, Trisha Simply Read (30 pp.) $18.95 | Oct. 20, 2012 978-1-897476-61-1

Grandma Beaver and her grandkit, Bella, share a special bond and a family tradition. When Bella is born, her grandmother sews a bag that she calls a blessing bag. Over the years, Grandma Beaver places special rocks into the bag as gifts. On the rocks, she writes words that come to have meaning in her granddaughter’s life: love, dedication, honesty, beauty, kindness and courage. After the addition of each stone, Bella learns a lesson about the word as she experiences an appreciation for that quality in her own life. As the wordy story progresses, the illustrations show an aging and more fragile grandmother, and Bella learns what courage is when Grandma Beaver dies. The birth of Bella’s brother allows her to repeat the beloved custom and remember her grandmother at the same time. The gentle illustrations are primarily rendered in earthy browns and greens, adding reds and pinks when Bella tells a lie or confesses to Mama that she has not truly lived up to her grandmother’s expectations. Each spread |

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leaves little to the reader’s imagination, as every nuance of text is expressed in smiling suns, flying butterflies and pensive owls. Schools embracing character education often choose a “word of the year,” and this offering will dovetail nicely there. Clearly didactic and unabashedly sentimental, though undeniably well-meant. (Picture book. 4-6)

across the stream and hits a Vayam girl named Sama on the head. The Gamte side cheers, while the Vayam side plots revenge. Karune is held captive, and the villagers give Sama the same large stone to hurl back at him. But Sama can’t do it. Instead, she places the stone on the ground and suggests they use it to build a garden wall. She calls it a forgiveness garden. Peace isn’t restored instantaneously; there are still many questions: “If we forgive, must we forget all that has happened?” “Must we apologize?” True to life, there are no definitive answers—just simply sit in the garden and find out. Hale’s textured collages contain commonplace landscapes and silhouetted crowds, cloaking this parable in anonymity. An afterword by the Rev. Lyndon Harris explains the real Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Lebanon. There are many possible paths to peace, but learning forgiveness is essential to all of them, as this book demonstrates. (Picture book. 5-8)

TIME BETWEEN US

Stone, Tamara Ireland Disney Hyperion (384 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-4231-5956-8 A slow-moving time-travel romance emphasizes romance over everything else. When Anna sees a strange boy who smiles warmly at her when she’s out for her morning jog, she’s puzzled. Puzzlement turns to bewilderment when that boy—Bennett—shows up as a new student at her tony private high school and reacts violently to her name but seems not to recognize her at all. She has always wanted to see the world, but she’s hardly ever left her hometown of Evanston, Ill.; she explores the travel section of her father’s bookstore instead. One night, Bennett uses his amazing time-travel ability to save her from a robbery at the store; he explains that he comes from 2012 and is in Anna’s time, 1995, to find the sister he lost at a Pearl Jam concert. Love ensues. Stone doesn’t bother to give Bennett’s unique talent any kind of coherent framework, instead using it to fuel fabulous trips to exotic places and to provide an excuse for hand-wringing about unrequitable love. Anna forces him to go against his preternaturally developed sense of chrono-ethics when her two best friends are in a terrible car accident, but even the consequences of that are only limply explored. The rushed ending exposes the lost sister for the MacGuffin she is and knocks the feet out from under the novel’s only emotionally honest moment, Anna’s decision to live for herself. Time travel can be fascinating, but here it is not. (Fantasy. 12-16)

DARK LORD The Early Years

Thomson, Jamie Walker (336 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-8027-2849-4

The Dark Lord of the Iron Tower of Despair at the Gates of Doom...has to go to seventh grade!? After waking up in a parking lot trapped in the body of a 12-year-old human, the Dark Lord—renamed Dirk Lloyd by confused, puny Earthlings—is taken to the Hospital Lockup and then to a House of Detention. None of his dread spells work, and he’s forced to wear jeans! Everyone thinks him insane, but thankfully, Christopher, the child of his captors, agrees to be a minion, as does goth girl Sooz. Dirk must find a way back to his Darklands before he loses his mind and his “Mwah, ha, ha!” and definitely before the White Beast sent after him by the White Wizard Hasdruban cleaves from him his evil soul. British author Thomson stands the human-trapped-in-a-fantasyland tale on its head in this cheeky first of a trilogy. The Dark Lord’s misunderstandings of our world and his hyperbolic boasts of evil can be, at times, hysterical. However, as Dirk becomes more acclimated to our realm, the tale loses steam and its sense of humor for a bit. That said, the final chapters deftly set up Volume 2, already out in the U.K. It’s Lord Sauron, powerless and back in middle school…fun in many ways. (Fantasy. 9-14)

THE FORGIVENESS GARDEN

Thompson, Lauren Illus. by Hale, Christy Feiwel & Friends (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-312-62599-3

Two villages separated by a stream and a history of anger wonder if they will

ever stop fighting. Cleverly based on the Sanskrit words for “us” and “them” the two fictional villages of Vayam and Gamte have hated each other for a long time. One day, during a particularly violent argument, a Gamte boy named Karune throws a large stone |

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“The illustrations convey accurate details in settings and costumes as well as amusing expressions on the faces of the friendly animals….” from the friendly beasts

THE STONE HATCHLINGS

from the Holocaust that it is extremely difficult to convey its horrors. Upjohn makes this true story personal, immediate and accessible without resorting to bathos or sentimentality. Benoit’s sepia-tinted, ominously shadowed illustrations convey darkness, fear and uncertainty. An afterword accompanied by copious photos tells of the participants’ eventful postwar lives, including Anton’s induction at Yad Vashem as Righteous among Nations. Young readers will need some guidance and input from knowledgeable adults. Powerful and deeply moving. (Picture book. 8-14)

Tsiang, Sarah Illus. by Leng, Qin Annick Press (32 pp.) $19.95 | paper $9.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-55451-433-5 978-1-55451-432-8 paperback Can a girl’s imagination turn stones into eggs? Little Abby and her cute dog find two heavy eggs in the backyard. There’s no nest nearby: “They must have fallen from the sky,” she thinks. Lickety-split, Abby makes a nest of sweaters so she can hatch them. Mother says that they’re just stones, but she lets Abby carry her nest to the kitchen so she won’t miss dinner. That night, Abby’s dreams are especially lively. There could be swans inside the eggs, or alligators or turtles! Next morning, Abby hears some cracks, and out pop two peeping chicks. Mom wonders what Abby’s doing with her paint set; even colored blue and yellow, “They’re still stones,” Mom insists. Clever photo collage allows both to be true: The photographed stones form the bodies of the blue-and-yellow chicks, while wings, tails and heads are rendered in the same cartoon style as the rest of the illustrations. One day, the chicks stop singing, then their feathers begin to fall off. Abby knows what she must do. She takes them outside and kisses them and watches them fly away. Later that day, Mom asks whether Abby wants to bring her birds in for the night. “Those aren’t my birds,” Abby declares. “Those are stones.” Tsiang portrays the life cycle of imagination with a deft touch; Leng’s pictures capture both mirth and motion. Lovely. (Picture book 3-5)

THE FRIENDLY BEASTS

Vojtech, Anna Zondervan (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-310-72012-6

The familiar, old English carol using the voices of the animals approaching the Nativity scene serves as the text in this attractively illustrated, large-format version. Each of the animals contributes something, from the donkey who carried Mary to Bethlehem to the cow who gave up manger and hay to the sheep who provided wool for a blanket for the Christ Child. The dove who cooed the baby to sleep is a recurrent connecting device, appearing in the stable window on several pages and in flight on the endpapers, which show a contemporary scene of a snowy village with carolers surrounding a glowing Christmas tree. The illustrations convey accurate details in settings and costumes as well as amusing expressions on the faces of the friendly animals, but the cover design is diminished by an unnecessary coating of silvery-blue glitter on the animals. A large trim size provides illustrations large enough for use with a group, and the musical notation is provided along with a CD with spoken and sung versions of the text. As the only large-format edition of this carol currently in print, it will be a useful purchase for use with children at Christmas sing-alongs or church programs as well as at home. (Picture book/religion. 3-7)

THE SECRET OF THE VILLAGE FOOL

Upjohn, Rebecca Illus. by Benoit, Renné Second Story Press (32 pp.) $18.95 | Oct. 15, 2012 978-1-926920-75-7

A gentle, unassuming man’s courage and fortitude saves a Jewish family during the Holocaust in this tale taken from history. When the Nazis conquered Poland and took over their village, Munio, Milek, Mama, Tata and all the Jews of the village were in immediate danger. True to form, the Nazis quickly burned the synagogue and began roundups of whole families and all the young boys. Their neighbor Anton, a kind, simple man many call a fool, brings girls’ clothing for the boys to disguise themselves temporarily. Then he prepares a hiding place under his house, basically an earthen dugout where they and two girls whose families were taken away will spend the remaining years of the war. Anton is their only contact, constantly risking his life to feed them and keep them safe. Amazingly, at the very moment of near discovery, the Nazis are driven from the village. Modern children are so far removed 2152

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TIM’S BIG MOVE

Wagner, Anke Illus. by Eriksson, Eva NorthSouth (32 pp.) $17.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7358-4090-4

Will new friends mean that Pico will no longer be Tim’s “best cuddle buddy”? Feeling somewhat shaky about moving to a new home in a new town, Tim needs to pass on his parents’ assurances to his toy friend, Pico, who definitely does not want to move. This new place sounds too scary, and most of all, it’s too likely that Tim will find new friends there to take his place. But Tim holds him very tight |

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I NEED MY OWN COUNTRY!

on the way and even tighter during the first night in the new house. As Tim explores his new environs, to Pico’s relief, there are no new friends in sight. Then, on his first day at kindergarten, Tim makes a new friend, and so does Pico. It is great to have more friends, but it is wonderful that Tim and Pico are still best friends for ever and ever. Wagner chooses Pico as the story’s narrative focus, allowing him to voice emotions with which young readers can empathize, while Tim copes bravely with the move. Large-print text surrounded by white space, with Pico’s strongest worries set in larger, bold print is juxtaposed with Eriksson’s soft, slightly fuzzy, finely detailed illustrations. Humans and toys are cartoonlike in execution but have remarkably varied and clearly defined facial expressions. A fresh, comforting take on a familiar theme. (Picture book. 4-8)

Walton, Rick Illus. by Hargis, Wes Bloomsbury (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-59990-559-4

Childhood is full of injustices—why not start your own country, where you can make the rules? A young girl is fed up, especially with her troublesome little brother, and declares her independence. Spunky and full of pluck, she hereby lays claim to the country of “Myroomania.” But what does a country need to get started? Citizens are important (stuffed animals and pets work well). And a national currency helps too (craft skills come in handy). But Walton delves a little deeper, also exploring civil unrest (the cat will not always like the dog) and preparing for the possibility of invasion. With sibling rivalry, whose house hasn’t turned into a war zone at one point or another? Luckily, it doesn’t end in tyranny. It is important to remember that all potential enemies might be carrying a peace offering—in the form of chocolate cake. Hargis’ sprawling and energetic drawings follow each helpful instruction, packing in plenty of humorous details along the way. (The piggy bank is the obvious choice for Secretary of the Treasury, but the Secretary of the Navy? The goldfish has that covered.) Disgruntled and long-suffering children will cheer at this assertion of power. Especially those with political aspirations. (Picture book. 4-8)

THEIR SKELETONS SPEAK Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World

Walker, Sally M.; Owsley, Douglas W. Carolrhoda (136 pp.) $22.95 | $16.95 e-book | Oct. 10, 2012 978-0-7613-7457-2 978-1-4677-0001-6 e-book An attractive volume digs deeply into stories of ancient American skeletons. Walker, a Sibert Award winner, and Owsley, division head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, join forces to bring alive the history of Paleoamericans, a term used in the book to mean human remains older than 8,000 years. The narrative focuses on the Kennewick man, a skeleton found in Kennewick, Wash., in 1996, but it also looks at Paleoamerican remains from Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and California. It describes the exhaustive detail in which scientists study the Paleoamerican skeletons, artifacts found with them and excavation sites. Smooth writing, although not as compelling as Walker’s Written in Bone (2009), takes readers through two intensive exams of the Kennewick skeleton done five years apart (Owsley was a member of the second examination team). Juxtaposing the two exams illustrates how new technologies and fresh eyes can change scientists’ understanding of such remains, a major theme throughout the book. Another recurring topic concerns how the Paleoamerican findings shed light on the origins and routes of humans who first settled North America, important questions still unresolved. Color photographs and diagrams with helpful captions extend the text; occasional sidebars expand on topics like bone fractures and radiocarbon dating. The final chapter highlights a fascinating reconstruction of the Kennewick man’s face and head. A special treat for archaeology buffs. (source notes, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

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BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES

Waters, Daniel Hyperion (352 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-4231-2198-5

“Everybody’s haunted by something.” Generation Dead author Waters (2008) turns from zombies to ghosts in this supernatural thriller. Six years after the Event, a seemingly 9/11-type occurrence that killed an estimated 2 million people, ghosts (even those not associated with the Event) continue to inundate Jewell City. Teen Veronica Calder, born on leap day, sees many of these ghosts, including her father and fellow teen Brian, who committed suicide in her bathtub years earlier. Hoping to capture Veronica’s attention, classmate Kirk begins an independent study on the city’s ghosts. Also vying for her attention is serial killer and history teacher August Bittner, whose daughter died on leap day many years ago. As another leap day approaches, he secretly plans to kill Veronica in an effort to bring back his daughter’s spirit. Although occasionally slow, the fresh story reveals flashes of the author’s dark humor amid the terror as Kirk and Veronica’s initial romantic interest turns to trying to prove Bittner’s guilt in local unsolved murders, as well as trying to keep Veronica alive. Most of the novel |

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“The city scenes, stage moments and glimpses of Florence on- and offstage are sweetly retro….” from harlem’s lit tle blackbird

is written in the third person, except for Brian’s perspective. His side story and own dilemmas, told in the first person, offer both interesting diversions from and connections to Veronica’s survival. Waters not only causes hearts to race, but brains to ponder the possibilities of ghosts. (Supernatural thriller. 12 & up)

the friendship of their new classmate, Renata. When Chase, a bully from an influential family, and his followers target tiny Renata, the allies hatch a desperate plan to end her victimization. Readers meet the three as juvenile detainees awaiting judgment for kidnapping Chase. The tale unfolds in journal entries (Katie and Nate write; artist Renata draws hers) and partly through the third-person perspective of their sympathetic social worker. Each child is withholding crucial information, and uncovering these secrets takes the entire book. The experienced author manages her complicated plot deftly, but she artificially postpones promised revelations. The longer Willey holds out on readers, the higher their expectations for the payoff. The secrets are indeed big, but their revelation in the final pages feels rushed, leaving readers with unanswered questions. Though bullying is all too common, young readers won’t easily identify with these quirky characters. In this page turner, the needs of the plot eclipse realism, warping the presentation of an overworked juvie system, client confidentiality, and a touted LGBTQ element that offers little context. Ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful. (Suspense. 12 & up)

HARLEM’S LITTLE BLACKBIRD

Watson, Renée Illus. by Robinson, Christian Random House (40 pp.) $17.99 | PLB $20.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-0-375-86973-0 978-0-375-96973-7 PLB

Watson’s biographical distillation of the life of jazz singer and dancer Florence Mills is endearing and affectionate, at just the right level for very young readers. The child who “lived in a teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy house” won singing and cakewalking contests all over Washington, D.C., and became famous dancing with her sisters. When Florence was a young teen, the girls performed in Harlem’s Lincoln Theatre in New York, and from there, Florence landed roles in Shuffle Along and From Dover Street to Dixie, introducing jazz to white audiences and mesmerizing crowds. Robinson’s big-eyed portrayal of Florence and her work is terrific: jazzy, geometric and lively. The city scenes, stage moments and glimpses of Florence on- and offstage are sweetly retro; 20 blackbirds on stylized, blooming branches on both front and back endpapers add charm to the work overall. Mills’ generous personality comes through clearly, and Watson aptly uses lyrics from Mills’ songs to help emphasize the story. Watson describes Florence’s decision to turn down a part in the Ziegfield Follies for chances to perform with other black actors and singers and to continue to “use her voice for more than entertainment”—to sing for equal rights. Young readers and listeners will feel the thrill of her success here and in London and the sadness of Florence’s death at age 31. Her brief life is well worth celebrating, and here it is done well. (Picture book/biography. 3-8)

PRETTIEST DOLL

Willner-Pardo, Gina Clarion (240 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-547-68170-2

Thirteen-year-old Liv feels invisible behind the facade of her beauty. A veteran beauty-pageant participant, Liv recognizes life is easier because she is attractive. However, she longs to be valued beyond her good looks and feels trapped by her mother’s expectations. Willner-Pardo skillfully conveys Liv and her mother’s complicated relationship. Even as she struggles to extricate herself from her mother’s goals, Liv is keenly aware of the many sacrifices her mother makes so that Liv can achieve those goals. Liv rebels against her beauty-pageant image through subtly defiant acts; while her mother rarely swears, Liv occasionally sprinkles her language with curse words. However, her mother’s insistence that Liv sing at the upcoming Prettiest Doll pageant catapults Liv into open revolt. Danny, a 15-year-old runaway with his own struggles, inspires Liv to escape from her woes. When she impetuously joins Danny on the run, they discover a common goal: Both want to confront a person who has left them. Dan’s and Liv’s subsequent discoveries empower them to reconsider their futures. Willner-Pardo deftly captures the complexity of adolescence as these resilient teens endeavor to define their identities and establish control over their lives. (Fiction. 10-14)

FOUR SECRETS

Willey, Margaret Carolrhoda Lab (288 pp.) $17.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-8535-6 978-1-4677-0011-5 e-book Secrets, a renewable resource in tales of suspense, fuel this one. After eighth-graders and best friends Katie and Nate have been shunned by their peers (readers never learn why, and perhaps there is no reason), they find solace in 2154

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“Despite its misleading cover image of Sleeping Beauty, this is quite a nice back story as to how and why that last fairy was late to her christening.” from curse of the thirteenth fey

SMIDGEN OF SKY

dazzles with frame-worthy illustrations, masterful use of light guiding readers’ emotional responses. Something of the flipside to the team’s The Other Side (2001), this is a great book for teaching kindness. (Picture book. 5-8)

Winget, Dianna Dorisi Harcourt (208 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-547-80798-0

A throwback style of storytelling deals with love, loss and new beginnings in a familiar way. Piper Lee DeLuna, 10, is on a mission. Convinced her pilot dad, whose plane plummeted into the Atlantic four years ago, is still alive, Piper plots to bust up her mother’s plan to marry prison guard, Ben. The fact that Ben has his own 10-yearold daughter, Ginger, is even more incentive to stop the wedding. Young readers will relate to the squabbles between Piper Lee and Ginger. However, what young readers may find harder to believe is the overall tone of the book. With the 10-year-olds using such phrases as “all riled up,” “Boy, howdy” and “Gee willikers,” the novel reads like a story from another era; the Georgia setting can’t justify this antique-sounding language. Yet a subplot that finds Piper Lee entangled with an Internet predator places the story squarely in the 21st century. Plenty of heart is not enough to make up for the lack of freshness. Kids who spend lots of time with grandma and grandpa might recognize the old-fashioned phrases, but for most, the juxtaposition of the old-time expressions will clash with the contemporary world. This sweet throwback could have used a dash of zest and a pinch of modern dialogue. (Fiction. 8-12)

CURSE OF THE THIRTEENTH FEY The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty Yolen, Jane Philomel (304 pp.) $16.99 | Nov. 8, 2012 978-0-399-25664-6

Despite its misleading cover image of Sleeping Beauty, this is quite a nice back story as to how and why that last fairy was late to her christening. Yolen takes off from a handful of short stories she published in the mid-1980s and engages readers with the voice of Gorse, the 13th fey of the title, youngest child of her Irish Elven father and her mother, who is of the Shouting Fey. Despite her heritage, magic—using it or even being around it— always makes Gorse ill. She is sick when the rest of the family is called to the fateful christening, and her hurrying, late, with a magic spindle for a gift lands her down a hole—with allusions to both Alice’s rabbit hole and a wormhole—with a prince and his loyal companion. These two have been imprisoned together in caves inhabited by a furry and smelly lot of creatures for generations. The relationship between Grey and Orybon is silken with loyalty and betrayal, and Yolen studies it carefully through Gorse’s eyes. They expect Gorse to rid them of the curse that keeps them imprisoned, and she does, although not in the way anyone expects. The pages are peppered with subtle references to everything from Lord of the Rings to Emily Dickinson, and Gorse grows in both cleverness and thoughtfulness as the story unwinds. A graceful and absorbing look at a familiar villain. (Fairy tale/fantasy. 9-12)

EACH KINDNESS

Woodson, Jacqueline Illus. by Lewis, E.B. Nancy Paulsen Books (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-399-24652-4 Woodson and Lewis’ latest collaboration unfolds with harsh beauty and the ominousness of opportunities lost. Narrator Chloe is a little grade-school diva who decides with casual hubris that the new girl, Maya, is just not good enough. Woodson shows through Chloe’s own words how she and her friends completely ignore Maya, with her raggedy shoes and second-hand clothes, rebuffing her every overture. Readers never learn precisely why Chloe won’t return Maya’s smile or play jacks or jump rope with her. Those who have weathered the trenches of childhood understand that such decisions are not about reason; they are about power. The matter-of-fact tone of Chloe’s narration paired against the illustrations’ visual isolation of Maya creates its own tension. Finally, one day, a teacher demonstrates the ripple effect of kindness, inspiring Chloe—but Maya disappears from the classroom. Suddenly, Chloe is left holding a pebble with the weight of a stone tablet. She gets a hard lesson in missed opportunities. Ripples, good and bad, have repercussions. And sometimes second chances are only the stuff of dreams. Lewis |

kirkus.com

PENGUIN AND PINECONE A Friendship Story

Yoon, Salina Illus. by Yoon, Salina Walker (40 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-8027-2843-2

A tale of friendship that grows even through a separation. A little penguin with an orange scarf opens his heart to a shivering little pinecone. With care and concern, Penguin immediately knits a scarf for his new friend. Whooshing and whee-ing the day together cements their love for each other. But Grandpa says that Pinecone belongs in the forest far away |

children ’s

&

teen

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15 september 2012

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2155


WHEN I GROW UP

because it is too cold here. Showing continued concern for his companion, Penguin packs his sled for a long journey. Wanting only what is best for Pinecone, the little bird leaves him in a lovefilled nest in the forest and returns to his winter home. With the passage of time, Penguin has grown big and strong but has not forgotten his forest friend. Has Pinecone grown big and strong, too? She (he?) sure has. With crisp illustrations that capture a genuinely loving heart, this story addresses the issue of missing a best friend. The illustrations are well balanced with the text, using a simple color palette while still showing the emotions of both the bird and his unusual friend (no simple task). A strong if whimsical choice for those separated from loved ones. (Picture book. 3-7)

Zephaniah, Benjamin Photos by Das, Prodeepta Frances Lincoln (28 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84780-059-6

Zephaniah answers that oft-asked adult inquiry, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with 13 examples of everyday grown-ups following their dreams. His light yet substantial rhymed lyrics and Das’ engaging workplace photographs spotlight a wonderfully provocative array of career options. From Maggie the rocket scientist—“all that Maggie wants to do is / Tour the universe”—to Ness the jumbojet pilot, David the farmer or Shami the lawyer—“Nobody should bully you, / Shami knows that this is true”—these verse portraits depict actual professionals who not only love what they do, but whose work enriches the lives of others. American readers may be challenged by a few Briticisms from the likes of Bubblz the “Maths Clown,” vet Michelle—“If your dog is dodgy / Or your snake is sloppy / Michelle can fix it with a pill”—or, most hilariously, Ajmer the “Lollypop Man,” whom American children should easily recognize as a crossing guard, not a purveyor of sweets. Such cultural linguistic differences only heighten the great ethnic, gender and vocational diversity of the collection, offering countless jumpingoff points for discussion. In the short bios accompanying the poems and photos, Zephaniah also smartly expands the range of future possibilities to include living in more than one place and the freedom to change your mind a number of times about careers. A bold, inspiring work for forward-thinking early readers. (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-10)

GRANDPA MONTY’S MUDDLES

Zafrilla, Marta Illus. by Diaz, Miguel Angel Cuento de Luz (32 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-84-15-24117-1

First-person narration from a likable 7-year-old boy describes how he is adapting to the changes that follow once his grandfather moves in after experiencing increased memory loss. Zafrilla gives Oscar a straightforward yet caring voice to address readers, successfully drawing them into his world, where Grandpa Monty acts strangely, and his family needs to share responsibilities for his care. At first, Grandpa’s actions seemed a bit funny, ironing a fish and trying to open a tree with mailbox keys. But safety becomes a concern, so he moves in, and family members take turns b