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REVIEWS

t h e w o r l d’s t o u g h e s t b o o k c r i t i c s f o r mo r e t h a n 7 5 y e a rs fiction

nonfiction

chi l dr en’s & te e n

David R. Gillham delivers a vividly cinematic novel that’s impossible to put down p. 1560

Jonathan Kozol returns with another cleareyed, compassionate and hopeful book p. 1612

One young man-to-be receives some spectacularly unorthodox preparation for his bar mitzvah in Michael Rubens’ jubilant debut for kids p. 1686

in this issue: halloween picture-book roundup featured c h i l d r e n ’s & teen Bookshelves of Doom’s Leila Roy digs into Kat Rosenfield’s Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone p. 1649

featured indie Guy Kawasaki has long been an innovator to watch. Now, the groundbreaking author is sharing exclusive excerpts of his next book, APE: Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur, with us every week until it is published in the fall. p. 1717

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Anniversaries: Hermann Hesse 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

O f a l l t h e l i t e r a r y h e r o e s o f t h e 1 9 6 0 s , the German author Hermann Hesse, who died 50 years ago, on August 9, 1962, is perhaps the one most forgotten today. J.R.R. Tolkien has that constantly augmented trilogy of films, with the prequel to the whole Lord of the Rings business now in production. J.D. Salinger and Kurt Vonnegut’s stars have dimmed, but because Catcher in the Rye and Slaughterhouse-Five still figure on high school reading lists—at least where they’ve not been banned—they retain some currency. There are even a few people who didn’t get the memo and are still reading Carlos Castaneda.

Editor E L A I N E S Z E WC Z Y K eszewczyk@kirkus.com Managing/Nonfiction Editor E R I C L I E B E T R AU eliebetrau@kirkus.com Features Editor M O L LY B RO W N mbrown@kirkus.com Children’s & Teen Editor VICKY SMITH vsmith@kirkus.com Mysteries Editor THOMAS LEITCH

But Hesse? Well, he’s not much spotted these days, and through no fault of his own. It’s not

Contributing Editor G R E G O RY M c N A M E E

as if spiritual quests ended in 1975, but check a college student’s kit for Siddhartha, almost part

Senior Indie Editor KAREN SCHECHNER kschechner@kirkus.com

of a hipster’s uniform back in the day, and you’re likely to come up empty—except, perhaps, on the campus of Reed or Oberlin. That book, Hesse’s searching life of the Buddha, has lost nothing of its power to enchant, but it’s no longer available in the jeans- and backpack-pocket-sized uniform Bantam Books edition of old; instead, it’s been reprinted in a comparatively clunky “thrift edition” that doesn’t quite invite being hauled everywhere the seeker goes, from Whole Foods to the laundromat. But it’s more than a matter of format. Much of Hesse’s early work—Demian, Peter Camenzind, Beneath the Wheel—spoke to a kind of teenage angst better played out in the age of Goethe’s Werther than a time of iPods and overscheduled children, a time when youngsters sighed and wondered at the meaning of life rather than hung out disaffectedly at the mall. (“Where you spent your childhood,” Hesse wrote, “is where you will always be at home.” He probably didn’t mean Abercrombie & Fitch.) Hesse grew up among the woods, forests and castle-dotted hills of southwestern Germany, and if he might have been a rapper today—he startled his elders as a very young boy by his ability to rhyme—he likely would have been one who insisted on breathing fresh air. It is his later books, however, that have fallen into still greater neglect. Almost a Bible four decades ago, Steppenwolf is almost unheard of today. Hesse professed puzzlement when he learned that young people in the postwar years were reading it; he wrote it when he was 50, and he meant for it to be a book about the desperate longing of a 50-year-old man to shed his civilized skin and go a little wild. Whether he meant to or not, Jim Harrison got to do exactly the same thing in his novella Wolf, which, in film form, got Jack Nicholson the ability to pee on James Spader’s shoe— something it’s hard to picture Max von Sydow doing in the 1974 film version of Hesse’s 1927 novel. And as for Hesse’s masterwork, the philosophical novel The Glass Bead Game? Every time I read the newspaper, I think that living in a mountain valley where mathematics is the prevailing religion and reason the prevailing doctrine seems like a very good idea. If for no other reason than that he offers such a vision, I wish Hermann Hesse generations of readers to come.

for more re vi e ws and f eatures, vi si t u s on li n e at k irkusreviews.com.

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This Issue’s Contributors

Maude Adjarian • Mark Athitakis • Michael Autrey • Joseph Barbato • Amy Boaz • Lee E. Cart • Marnie Colton • Dave DeChristopher • Gregory F. DeLaurier • David Delman • Kathleen Devereaux • Daniel Dyer • Lisa Elliott • Gro Flatebo • Julie Foster • Peter Franck • Faith Giordano • Michael Griffith • Jeff Hoffman • BJ Hollars • Robert M. Knight • Paul Lamey • Louise Leetch • Judith Leitch • Angela Leroux-Lindsey • Elsbeth Lindner • Raina Lipsitz • Joe Maniscalco • Don McLeese • Gregory McNamee • Carole Moore • Clayton Moore • Chris Morris • Liza Nelson • Mike Newirth • John Noffsinger • Sarah Norris • Jim Piechota • Christofer D. Pierson • William E. Pike • Gary Presley • David Rapp • Kristen Bonardi Rapp • Karen Rigby • Melissa Ruttanai • Lloyd Sachs • Bob Sanchez • Michael Sandlin • Rosanne Simeone • Elaine Sioufi • Wendy Smith • Margot E. Spangenberg • Andria Spencer • Matthew Tiffany • Claire Trazenfeld • Steve Weinberg • Rodney Welch • Carol White • Chris White


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contents fiction INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS...................................................p. 1551 REVIEWS........................................................................................p. 1551 MYSTERY.......................................................................................p. 1583

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

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY.................................................. p. 1597 THE RAP SHEET ON STEVE HAMILTON’S DIE A STRANGER................................................. p. 1561

nonfiction INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS.................................................. p. 1599 REVIEWS....................................................................................... p. 1599 Q&A WITH ED KELLER................................................................ p. 1614

children’s & teen INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS.................................................. p. 1631 REVIEWS.......................................................................................p. 1632 BOOKSHELVES OF DOOM ON KAT ROSENFIELD’S AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE ...................................... p. 1649 HALLOWEEN PICTURE-BOOK ROUNDUP.............................. p. 1699 INTERACTIVE E-BOOKS............................................................. p. 1705

indie INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS...................................................p. 1709 REVIEWS........................................................................................p. 1709 GUY KAWASAKI ON WRITING AND PUBLISHING................. p. 1717

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Acclaimed cartoonist Chris Ware returns with a full-length graphic novel. See the starred review on p. 1581.

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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

A teenage girl at an exclusive school? Check.

Here’s what’s exclusively online at kirkusreviews.com: Guy Kawasaki has long been an innovator to watch. The author of 11 books, including What the Plus!, Enchantment, Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream and The Macintosh Way, his advice on writing, selfpublishing, marketing and more should be considered essential by anyone in publishing looking to gain an edge—or just find their niche audience to entertain. Now, Kawasaki is sharing exclusive excerpts of his next book, APE: Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur, which he will self-publish this fall, barring a massive advance from a traditional publisher. Join us every week as we unveil a sneak peak into Kawasaki’s successful, smart publishing world. author Darcie Chan shares with us the Indie story of what she calls her “life-changing year.”

In 2011, Chan put her first novel, The Mill River Recluse, up on Amazon’s Kindle store. Some hard work and smart, tactical moves on her part have helped make her a bestselling author. She’s sold more than 650,000 copies to date and appeared on New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists for more than 28 weeks. Chan also landed an outstanding profile in the Wall Street Journal last December. Go online for Chan’s story—and the stories of other Indie publishing sensations much like her—in our new ongoing Indie features on self-publishing and e-books. Today’s bestselling and publishing-savvy independent authors will share their personal tales of how they’ve achieved their success, the best tips and tricks of the trade, and their next steps. It’s a self-publishing journey you won’t want to miss.

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London are finally here…why not complement the spirit of watching the Games with some Olympicthemed books? During the week of July 27, online only, our editors will share their picks to celebrate the Games. While cheering on the new heroes of 2012, it’s important to remember just how much has gone into creating this monumental event of athletic prowess

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and international goodwill. We revisit the legends of Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe, and the Dream Team of Jordan, Bird and more, who have most impacted these Games.

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Foreboding, fog-shrouded woods around every corner? Check. A handsome, pale-skinned paramour with a macabre appetite? Check. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill, sanguine supernatural love story. Jane (not Eyre, but pretty close) is a scrappy little thing from the wrong side of the tracks with a past so terrible she subconsciously refuses to remember it. Hard work, determination and motivation spurred by a near-palpable rage have rewarded her with admission to a reputable all-girls school, a full scholarship and a dreamy private cottage. And when the headmistress’ incredibly dashing son appears to have a keen interest in plain Jane, it all seems too good to be true. Because it is. Go online for our interview with Dark Companion’s author, Marta Acosta, who lets us in on how she crafted her creepy schoolgirl drama. F o r t h e l a t e s t a n d g r e a t e s t every day in new reviews and features, 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, and more, every day.

w w w. k i r k u s r e v i e w s . c o m / i s s u e Don’t wait on the mail for reviews! You can read pre-publication reviews as they are released on KirkusReviews.com—even before they are published in the magazine. You can also access the current issue and back issues of Kirkus Reviews on our website by logging in as a subscriber. If you do not have a username or password, please contact customer care to set up your account by calling 1.800.316.9361 or e-mailing customers@kirkusreviews.com. Print indexes: www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/print-indexes Kirkus Blog: www.kirkusreviews.com/blog Advertising Opportunities: www.kirkusreviews.com/about/advertising-opportunities Submission Guidelines: www.kirkusreviews.com/about/submission-guidlines Subscriptions: www.kirkusreviews.com/subscription Newsletters: www.kirkusreviews.com/subscription/newsletter/add

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fiction THE ABSENT ONE

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Adler-Olsen, Jussi Dutton (400 pp.) $26.95 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-525-95289-3

THE ORCHARDIST by Amanda Coplin...................................... p. 1554 THE BARTENDER’S TALE by Ivan Doig..................................... p. 1557 THE LOST PRINCE by Selden Edwards....................................... p. 1558 CITY OF WOMEN by David R. Gillham................................... p. 1560 THE SURVIVOR by Gregg Hurwitz........................................... p. 1566 THREE STRONG WOMEN by Mary NDiaye............................. p. 1572 THE TWELVE ROOMS OF THE NILE by Enid Shomer............... p. 1576 WE’RE FLYING by Peter Stamm.................................................. p. 1578 BUILDING STORIES by Chris Ware............................................ p. 1581 ROCK BOTTOM by Sarah Andrews............................................. p. 1583 PORT VILA BLUES by Garry Disher........................................... p. 1587 SIMPLE by Kathleen George........................................................ p. 1590 LEAST OF EVILS by J.M. Gregson............................................... p. 1591 A KILLING IN THE HILLS by Julia Keller................................... p. 1591 THE ORCHARDIST

Coplin, Amanda Harper/HarperCollins (448 pp.) $26.99 Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-06-218850-2

Copenhagen Deputy Detective Superintendent Carl Mørck returns from vacation to discover that his tiny cold case unit, Department Q, has been reshuffled, and a citizen’s complaint has reopened a 20-year-old case on which all the relevant documents have disappeared. Ditlev Pram is a founder of private hospitals. Ulrik Dybbøl Jensen is a stock market analyst. Torsten Florin is a prominent designer. Before they achieved their success, however, they were fifth-form students together at Rødovre High School along with Kristian Wolf, Bjarne Thøgersen and Kirsten-Marie Lassen. These last three haven’t done so well. Kristian died in an apparent hunting accident; Bjarne is doing time for killing Lisbet Jørgeneon and her brother Søren back in 1987; and Kimmie is living on the streets of Copenhagen. Now new evidence suggests that all six of them were responsible for the Jørgensens’ deaths and for a whole lot more mayhem as well. The upshot of Carl’s dogged investigation is to get himself suspended from the force. But aided and abetted by his loyal Syrian assistant, Hafez el-Assad, and his new secretary, Rose Knudsen, assigned to his unit after she failed her police driving test, he continues to build a case against his influential quarry, themselves desperate to track down Kimmie, whose voices have been telling her that it’s time to get revenge on them for their mistreatment of her. The long, eventful, often tedious chase climaxes in a wild hunt guaranteed to satisfy the most bloodthirsty readers. As in Department Q’s debut (The Keeper of Lost Causes, 2011), Adler-Olsen plots and writes with both eyes on Stieg You-Know-Who. The result is overscaled, lumpy, strenuously unnuanced and destined for the bestseller lists.

LIONEL ASBO State Of England

Amis, Martin Knopf (256 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-307-95808-2

A social satire with a wickedly funny setup fails to sustain momentum and provide much of a payoff. |

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The latest from Amis (The Pregnant Widow, 2010, etc.) returns to familiar themes of British caste and culture, though rarely has his writing been so over-the-top or so steeped in the vernacular. This is the story of the ultimate dysfunctional family (through which the “State of England” subtitle invites the reader to extend the symbolism), where the title character is a hardened, perpetual criminal, a sociopath who prefers prison to the outside world and the pleasures of porn to the complications of relationships. He has taken his last name from the acronym for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, and he has become “the anti-dad, the counterfather” to his nephew, Des, a teenage orphan only six years younger than Lionel. As the novel opens, the racially mixed Des is secretly involved in sexual relations with his grandmother (Lionel’s mother), though this isn’t quite as age-inappropriate as it is incestuously taboo, for both Des’ mother and grandmother began procreating when they were 12. The boy’s other uncles include John, Paul, George, Ringo and (for Beatle obsessives) Stu. Nothing subtle here, but much that’s outrageously funny. Des writes a letter to a newspaper advice columnist about his predicament, as Lionel rails about the “GILF” phenomenon that is dragging down “a once-proud nation. Look. Beefy Bedmate Sought by Bonking Biddy. That’s England.” Lionel becomes rich beyond all expectation by winning the lottery, Des disappoints him by maturing into a conventional and respectable family man, grandma suffers from some sort of early-onset dementia. The climax to which the novel builds is whether she’ll ever regain her wits and reveal the secret she shares with Des. All of this in a town where “everything hated everything else, and everything else, in return, hated everything back.” An initially sharp satire turns tedious by midpoint.

ME, WHO DOVE INTO THE HEART OF THE WORLD

Berman, Sabina Translated by Dillman, Lisa Henry Holt (256 pp.) $24.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-8050-9325-4

Narrated by a savant rescued from a feral existence by a woman who discovers her in the basement of the house she inherits in Mazatlán, Mexico, this is a novel of ideas masquerading as a story about sustainable tuna fishing. Preposterous as that sounds, it’s an assured and satisfying debut. Isabelle Nieto arrives in Mazatlán to collect her inheritance: a tuna-packing company, a fleet of fishing boats and a dilapidated mansion. The company is successful. Isabelle is wealthy, determined. When she learns from the housekeeper, Gorda, that the feral child trashing the basement is a tenant of sorts, Isabelle investigates. She brings the wild thing up, teaches it to read and write. Karen is “born.” Suffering from what we call Asperger’s syndrome, Karen proceeds to change the world, one tuna harvest at a time. Ideas perfume the narrative as thoroughly as wine does stew. To Karen’s way of thinking, Darwin refutes Descartes. How strange “standard human” behavior appears, how bizarre our 1552

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ideas are, when seen from her peculiar perspective. Karen hates metaphor. Not because she doesn’t understand it, but because she experiences it as lying. This leads to conflict, violent and scabrous; also to hilarious comedy and genuine insight. Even if her migration from the cellar to the jet set is too pat, her revelation a bit trite, Karen is a fully realized character. A satisfying novel.

VENGEANCE

Black, Benjamin Henry Holt (320 pp.) $26.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-8050-9439-8 Another breezy read in the mystery series by a Dublin novelist whose more literary work is often considered “difficult.” The prolific alter ego of the masterful, Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville, Black takes it easy on himself and his readers with this fifth volume in a mystery series featuring the inscrutable Quirke, who is not a detective, but a pathologist and who here is less a protagonist than a supporting character. The plot’s riddle isn’t whodunit, but why. It entangles two families, headed by business partners who are the sons of business partners, though one of the families has long decidedly held the upper hand. Victor Delahaye, the dominant partner, takes a resistant Davy Clancy, son of the resentful secondary partner, out for a day’s sail. While in the middle of the sea, under a scorching sun, Victor proceeds to relate an inscrutable parable to Davy about growing up independent, then commits suicide by shooting himself in the chest, leaving a particularly bloody corpse. In some respects, this is surprisingly similar to the previous novel in the series (A Death in Summer, 2011), which also concerned a mysterious suicide by a financial magnate that leads to Quirke’s involvement with the widow. There really isn’t much action after that fatal first chapter, as Black explores the possible manipulations of a bunch of peculiar and suspicious characters. Did Victor’s womanizing partner (and Davy’s father) play a part in the death? How about his insidiously eerie twin sons (and the seductive girlfriend of one)? His promiscuous and much younger widow? His mentally unbalanced sister? Davy’s mother? Davy? Though the novel makes some fun of mystery novels that arrive at an impossibly neat resolution, moving its characters like chess pieces, the suspense here proceeds to a climax that untangles all loose ends. Along the way, there’s the pleasure of Black’s prose, of the “sudden sweet pang for the lost past, all those possibilities long gone, never to be offered again.” Quirke remains a compelling mystery, perhaps to himself most of all, but initiates might better read these novels in order rather than starting here.

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“A very creative artist lets his imagination loose in the middle of somewhere, where only the most adventurous lovers of graphic narrative might dare to tread.” from the hive

THE HIVE

Burns, Charles Pantheon (56 pp.) $21.95 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-307-90788-2 The second volume of a trilogy in which the acclaimed graphic novelist returns to comic-book format while exploring the darkest recesses of the subconscious. As if the introduction to this series (X’ed Out, 2010) wasn’t hallucinatory enough, this second installment will leave initiates feeling significantly disoriented. And perhaps that’s part of the point, as Burns blurs the distinctions within this anti-narrative among comic books, reality, drugs, masks, nightmare and identity. We’re back in the mind (or life or memory or dream) of protagonist Doug, who pays a visit to the convalescing Lily, hidden in a secret room, where they discuss events or dreams that the other doesn’t remember, and Doug promises to bring Lily romantic comics (with cover typeface in a foreign language) in the Throbbing Heart series. Yet, she (like the reader?) lacks some crucial information, leaving her confused. “It’s so frustrating,” she tells the masked, bandaged Doug. “I’m missing the last two issues and now I can’t figure out why Danny had to leave town!...It drives me crazy ’cause there’s all this new, exciting stuff going on that I can’t figure out.” The craziness extends beyond missing comics issues, as the reader must also contend with gaps, leaps and somersaults in narrative continuity, in a way that subverts the pleasure of reading comics while reveling in the imaginative possibilities. Only nonlinear masochists would want to start with the series here, and only the seriously deluded would anticipate that everything will make sense when the trilogy concludes with its final volume. A very creative artist lets his imagination loose in the middle of somewhere, where only the most adventurous lovers of graphic narrative might dare to tread. (Author tour to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle)

THE ODYSSEY

Chwast, Seymour--Adapt. Bloomsbury (128 pp.) $20.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-60819-486-5 The renowned illustrator and graphic designer continues his series of classic adaptations, with diminishing returns. When Chwast, a very influential stylist in visual communication, published his adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (2010), he set the bar very high, with an irreverent triumph of the imagination that was somehow both true to the spirit of the source material and totally original. The next year’s similar transformation of The Canterbury Tales was less revelatory, and this third in the series fails to fulfill the epic’s promise. It is playful but slight, like a cross between Flash Gordon (complete with space ships and |

rocket burners) and fractured fairy tales. He concentrates on two set pieces: The hero’s romantic island idyll with Calypso (in her beach chair and bikini) and the repeated efforts by his wife and son to fend off suitors—who multiply alarmingly, like cockroaches. Penelope and Telemachus hope that Odysseus has been long delayed in his return but fear he is dead. Eventually, he does return, in disguise, with help from the gods (and goddesses), and virtue triumphs. Otherwise, the narrative is both skimpy and fast-paced, barely pausing to take a breath for such dramatic staples as the Sirens and Scylla and Charybdis. The artistry (especially the larger scale panels that dominate a page) continues to dazzle, but most of the moral of the story is left to the framing. “The Odyssey is more about what happens after battles end,” explains Homer in the Prologue. “In those days, only men fought in wars. But this story shows how they affected everyone—women too. My story tells you a lot about human nature.” And then, at the end of the tale, his listener realizes, “Getting into trouble and out of it again is really everyone’s story, isn’t it?” And so the universality of the age-old epic asserts itself. A quick, breezy read through a cornerstone of literary tradition.

THE LAUGHTERHOUSE

Cleave, Paul Atria (432 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-4516-7795-9 In Cleave’s (Collecting Cooper, 2011, etc.) third psycho-thriller, Theodore Tate is the quintessential flawed hero, a damaged soul hunting deviants in a forest of moral quandaries. The disgraced Christchurch detective, released after serving a term for drunken driving, struggles along as a private investigator. Tate meets his friend and detective Carl Schroder at a police funeral and follows him to a boozy wake. A murder is reported, and Tate finds himself the “guy giving a drunk detective a lift to a crime scene.” One murder turns to two, then three, and then a kidnapping of a psychiatrist and his three young daughters. The case’s complexity soon has Tate provisionally returned to duty. The serial assassin, Caleb Cole, is revealed early. Cole’s daughter was brutally assaulted and murdered in an abandoned slaughterhouse, a case where Tate first confronted the hell released by a twisted mind. The novel is less a character study than a dissection of the need for, and cost of, revenge. Cole spent 15 years imprisoned for killing his daughter’s murderer, James Whitby, only to be released obsessed with destroying everyone who played a part in putting Whitby on the streets after his first assault—the defense attorney, jury foreman, defense psychiatrist, character witness. Cleave’s back story follows multiple narrative threads, including one exploring Tate’s own loss of a daughter to a drunken driver, an accident that also left his beloved wife in a coma. That tragedy spurred him to commit his own act of singular revenge, one suspected but never proven, one that opens a window to Cole’s torment. With scenes as shocking as Cole’s

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“The novel is so beautifully written, so alive to the magnificence of the land and the intricate mysteries of human nature.” from the orchardist

amputation of a child’s finger, Cleave’s horrific narrative takes no prisoners, with the bloody action relentlessly ricocheting around Christchurch at a pace that leaves the detectives near collapse and readers sometimes overwhelmed. An intense and bloody noir thriller, one often descending into a violent abyss reminiscent of Thomas Harris, creator of Hannibal Lecter. (Agent: Jane Gregory)

FOUR NEW MESSAGES

Cohen, Joshua Graywolf (208 pp.) $14.00 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-55597-618-7 A quartet of cleverly conceived tales that capture our anxieties about living in an increasingly commodified and digitized society. Following his previous novel, Witz (2010, etc.), a satirical epic about the last Jew on earth, this trim collection of short stories seems relatively breezy. But Cohen packs a lot of ideas and syntactical somersaults into a slim book. The opening, “Emission,” follows the travails of Richard, a young drug dealer who commits an embarrassing sexual act that all but annihilates his reputation online. Through his desperate efforts to scrub his shame off the Web, Richard reveals how much we’re subject to (and exploited by) others’ interpretations of our identity. The closing, “Sent,” is similarly focused on the Internet and sex, but the treatment is more offbeat, tracing the path of a bed from the craftsman’s shop to an ad hoc porn set, then following a journalist whose porn habit catches up with him in curious ways. The sense of unreality in these stories is echoed and bolstered by Cohen’s style, which is recursive and sometimes threatens grammatical collapse. Yet the force of his intelligence is always strong, and even at his knottiest, his tone remains conversational. He can push his prose frustratingly deep into abstraction: “McDonald’s,” a metafictional piece that deploys a dying woman into a symbolic commentary about the titular fast-food chain, is an ungainly blend of the logorrheic and the allegorical. His experimental bent is much better served in “The College Borough,” about a group of writing students who build a replica of Manhattan’s Flatiron Building on a Midwest college campus. Within the story’s metaphorical superstructure, Cohen embeds a tragic, evocative story about writerly struggles to make sense of the world. Cohen doesn’t pull off every trick he attempts, but it’s a pleasure to witness him test the limits of narrative. (Author tour to New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle)

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THE ORCHARDIST

Coplin, Amanda Harper/HarperCollins (448 pp.) $26.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-06-218850-2 Set in early-20th-century Washington State, Coplin’s majestic debut follows a makeshift family through two tragic decades. “You belong to the earth, and the earth is hard,” 9-year-old Talmadge heard from his mother, who brought him and his sister Elsbeth to Washington in 1857 to cultivate an apple orchard after their father was killed. Their mother died three years later, and Elsbeth vanished five years after that, leaving Talmadge with a load of guilt that grew alongside his orchards. So when two starving, heavily pregnant teenage girls, Jane and Della, turn up on his land in 1900, he feels protective toward them even before he learns their history. They have run away from Michaelson, a monstrous opium addict who stocks his brothel with very young girls whom he sexually and physically abuses. When he turns up shortly after the girls have given birth, a shocking scene leaves only Della and Jane’s baby, Angelene, alive to be nurtured by Talmadge and his close friend Caroline Middey, an herbalist who warns him that Della is likely to disappear as his sister did. Sure enough, Della soon heads off for a peripatetic life of hard drinking and aimless wandering, driven by the hatred and fear instilled by her youth with Michaelson. Angelene grows up devoted to Talmadge and the orchard, worried by the knowledge that he still pines for Della and Elsbeth. Della sees her erstwhile tormentor being led off in handcuffs when Angelene is 13, setting in motion a disastrous chain of events that engulfs Talmadge and everyone he cares for. “Why are we born?” wonders Della, a question that haunts all the characters. Coplin offers no answers, only the hard certainties of labor and of love that is seldom enough to ease a beloved’s pain. Yet the novel is so beautifully written, so alive to the magnificence of the land and the intricate mysteries of human nature, that it inspires awe rather than depression. Superb work from an abundantly gifted young writer. (Author appearances in Portland, San Francisco and Seattle)

LAST LAWYER STANDING

Corleone, Douglas Minotaur (352 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-312-55228-2

Honolulu attorney Kevin Corvelli’s latest pair of clients serve up surprise after unhappy surprise. Kevin has represented career criminal Turi Ahina, who once saved his life, so many times that he should award him frequent-client miles. So nothing could be more routine than the news that the cops have busted Turi in his meth lab. Threatening

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him with serious time, Assistant U.S. Attorneys William F. Boyd and Audra Levy demand that Turi earn his Get–Out-of-JailFree card by infiltrating the inner circle of legendary drug lord Orlando Masonet, whom neither Turi nor anybody else ever seems to have met. Then Turi’s arrested for shooting Detective Kanoa Bristol, and Kevin decides that his best defense is to argue that Bristol and virtually the entire Honolulu PD were on the take. As if all these complications aren’t enough, Kevin’s landed a second assignment that’s anything but routine from the get-go: to make sure that Governor Wade Omphrey never even goes on trial for the strychnine poisoning of Oksana Sutin, his Russian mistress. The governor has a cast-iron alibi for the time of her death, so Kevin’s job is limited to convincing the cops—the same cops he plans to identify as crooks—that Omphrey didn’t hire world-class hit man Lok Sun, recently spotted in the Aloha state, or anyone else to administer the fatal dose and, of course, to manage the press coverage leading up to the election. Keeping both the wisecracks and the satyriasis he showed in Night on Fire (2011, etc.) under relative control, Kevin makes only one new conquest, his opposite number Audra Levy, but still finds plenty to keep him busy inside and outside of the courtroom. More lawyers, law enforcement types, Class-A felonies and plot twists than you can shake a stick at. Instead of a map, Corleone should have supplied a score card.

OUT OF IT

Dabbagh, Selma Bloomsbury (320 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-60819-876-4 British-Palestinian writer Dabbagh’s debut examines her people’s tragic past and conflicted present through the prism of one family’s experiences. The Mujaheds are the sort of intellectual, nonreligious Palestinians who once formed the expatriate backbone of the struggle to reclaim their homeland, but who are rapidly being marginalized in Gaza. Indeed, Jibril, the father, has abandoned the Palestinian Liberation Organisation—and his wife and kids—for the consumerist narcolepsy of a Gulf state. Rashid, like his father, just wants to get out of Gaza and is thrilled in the opening pages to get a scholarship that will enable him to return to London and his English girlfriend Lisa. His twin sister Iman is frustrated by the Women’s Committee she’s joined, whose members disdain her as an outsider who’s only recently returned to Gaza. The only people who seem to share her thirst for meaningful action are the Islamic fundamentalists who gain credibility each time the Israeli army bombs civilian sites or bulldozes Palestinian homes. Their mother, once the most militant of all, is reduced to clipping newspaper articles and answering questions for a history of the movement being written by eldest son Sabri, who lost both his legs, his wife and his infant son in a car bombing facilitated by a Palestinian informer. Dabbagh unsparingly shows a people divided and demoralized by six decades of exile and |

powerlessness, and her novel quietly but acidly indicts Western ignorance of and indifference to the Palestinians’ plight. Yet, the book is also a finely wrought tale of family and comingof-age that fulfills the mandates of any serious work of fiction: Dabbagh creates characters we care about, puts their equally valid but conflicting agendas into play and engineers an ending that brings individual satisfactions and some closure without ever suggesting that the larger dilemmas have been resolved. Fine work from a gifted writer who has important subject matter to explore. (Agent: Karolina Sutton)

YOK

Davys, Tim Harper/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $19.99 | Jul. 31, 2012 978-0-06-179747-7

From the mysterious Swede behind the pseudonym Davys, a lively fourth book of sophisticated Aesopian fables set in a city much like those of the modern West, except for the fact that it’s populated by walking, talking stuffed animals. Like its predecessors, the final volume of the Mollisan Town quartet (it began in 2007 with Amberville, followed by Lanceheim and Tourquai) is set in a specific district, in this case the seedy, down-at-the-heels Yok. The book consists of four long stories. In “Sors,” the brutish restaurateur/racketeer Dragon Aguado Molina throws barriers in the way of the dashing but dim Fox Antonio Ortega, who, hopelessly smitten, seeks the hand of the dragon’s daughter, Beatrice Cockatoo. In “Pertiny,” long-suffering Erik Gecko, brewery worker and abused younger brother, tries to help his siblings and tormentors, Leopold Leopard and Rasmus Panther, chase their dream of TV-newsreader stardom—and gropes toward finding a way out for himself. “Corbod” features a dissatisfied rock guitarist, Mike Chimpanzee, and a genie who enjoins him to come up with three wishes. While Mike struggles to come up with suitably nonmaterialistic items, the two (“Cloud” and “Mr. Rock Star Ape,” as they refer to each other) bicker. The entertaining “Mindie,” told in overlapping documents and testimonies, features Vincent Hare, a brooding self-styled philosopher who’s achingly aware that time is always slipping away: “I’m in a bit of a hurry,” he says again and again. Davys makes ingenious use both of traditional folktales and of his conceit, and the book is charming, but at times it does feel a bit like a grab bag. An intriguing mix of fable, philosophy and witty fun.

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“Desrochers’ debut follows a spirited young woman from a grim charity hospital in 17th-century Paris to the equally challenging Canadian wilderness.” from bride of new france

BRIDE OF NEW FRANCE

Desrochers, Suzanne Norton (304 pp.) $24.95 | Aug. 6, 2012 978-0-393-07337-9

Desrochers’ debut follows a spirited young woman from a grim charity hospital in 17th-century Paris to the equally challenging Canadian wilderness. Snatched from her parents by a law that forbids begging on the city streets, the best Laure Beauséjour can hope for as an inmate of Salpêtrière Hospital is that her nimble fingers will get her a job with a seamstress, where she can assess single men for their marriageability. She has no interest in the cloistered life, unlike her pious friend Madeleine, who aspires only to become one of the nuns who oversee the hospital’s indigent women with varying degrees of severity. But when Laure’s ill-judged letter to the king complaining of their treatment results in her being sent to Canada, she persuades Madeleine to join her in the contingent of unruly women destined to atone for their sins by marrying settlers and providing population for New France. The improbable scene in which Madeleine decides to cast her lot with Laure is only one instance of the awkward tone and sketchy motivations that indicate a beginning novelist throughout this oddly conceived and structured narrative. With nearly half the text devoted to Laure’s experiences in Paris and the voyage to the New World, the author fails to provide sufficient time and emotional weight for the ordeal in the Canadian wilderness, where the protagonist reluctantly marries an odious fur trader but finds herself drawn to one of the natives the French scornfully call Savages. Desrochers, who drew her fictional inspiration from her research for a masters’ thesis at York University on the subject of female immigration, certainly conveys the bleak conditions endured by French settlers, particularly in the stark depiction of Laure facing starvation during her first Canadian winter. But she fails to bring to life any of the characters other than willful Laure, and her self-absorbed heroine is hard to like. Vivid historical background wasted on unengaging fiction. (Agent: Samantha Haywood)

MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND

Dicks, Matthew St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-250-00621-9

An imaginary friend can be the best friend a boy’s got. But how can an imaginary friend help when the boy faces very real danger? Max, 8, is on the autism spectrum. His loving parents struggle to make a secure life for him, although his father cannot quite face that his son is different. 1556

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Max is able to cope with the close quarters of public school, the unpredictable people and the surprises of everyday life with the help of not only his parents, but also his teacher, Mrs. Gosk, and his imaginary friend, Budo. Told from Budo’s perspective, Dicks’ (Unexpectedly, Milo, 2010, etc.) latest novel explores the interior life of an imaginary friend, and imaginary friends have one overriding concern: What will happen to them when their imaginer forgets them? Budo is lucky that Max imagined him fully; a lot of the other friends he meets are missing ears, feet or even recognizable bodies. Max also imagined Budo as a bit older than himself, and this slightly more mature perspective comes in very handy when things go wrong for Max. Budo is a lifesaver. Literally. Budo helps Max find words, stops him from running out into traffic, and even helps him survive a terrifying encounter with the fifth-grade bully, Tommy Swinden, in a bathroom stall. But Budo is thwarted when Max begins to meet with Mrs. Patterson, an assistant teacher, in her car. Privately. During the school day. And Max won’t let Budo come along. Suddenly, Max disappears. This time, Budo will have to go out into the world alone, and since he cannot interact with any adults, he will have to rely on the imaginary friends of other children to save Max. Budo is charming, but Dick’s previous novels have treated eccentric characters with more success. The childlike perspective and simplistic syntax of this novel clash with its quite adult concerns of autism and child abduction. Quirky and heartwarming, but thin. (Agent: Taryn Fagerness)

THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS

Dilloway, Margaret Putnam (368 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 2, 2012 978-0-399-15775-2

The life of a high school biology teacher parallels her cultivation of roses in Dilloway’s (How to Be an American Housewife, 2010) exquisitely written novel about love and redemption. Thirty-six-year-old Galilee Garner suffers from kidney failure, a condition that has defined her life. After undergoing two transplants, which ultimately failed, Gal is back on dialysis while hoping for another kidney. She is insular, obstinate and regimented in her private life, and these attributes have spilled over into her professional life, making her unpopular with many students and their parents. Gal sets the bar high and refuses to cut anyone, including herself, any slack, and she has trouble viewing issues from anyone else’s perspective. Socially isolated except for fellow teacher Dara, who often drives Gal to and from her dialysis treatments, and Brad, a star student who helps Gal as part of his senior community service requirement for graduation, Gal rarely goes out. The only time she is relaxed and happy is when she is tending her roses, the one passion Gal allows in her life. A methodical breeder, Gal hopes to develop a rose that will win Queen of Show at competition. When her 15-year-old niece, Riley, appears at her school one day after a

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“Possibly the best novel yet by one of America’s premier storytellers.” from the bartender’s tale

seven-year separation, Gal reluctantly allows Riley to move in. She resists the changes that occur in her orderly, measured and exact routine and stubbornly refuses to compromise her principles. But as Riley helps Gal with her roses and they begin to form a bond, she changes in slow but subtle ways. No longer as inflexible as she once was, even when she discovers a disturbing secret about her students, Gal reaches out to a fellow dialysis patient, a new colleague at school and her older sister. A witty and compassionate lesson about the importance of empathy, friendship and family.

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THE BARTENDER’S TALE

Doig, Ivan Riverhead (400 pp.) $27.95 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-59448-735-4

His father’s past both unsettles and entices Rusty Harry in Doig’s latest loving portrait of Montana and its crusty inhabitants (Work Song, 2010, etc.). Some of Doig’s best work (English Creek, 1984; The Whistling Season, 2006) has been narrated by young adolescents; the inquisitive perspective of boys puzzling out adult ways seems to suit an author with a sharp eye for the revealing particulars of everyday human behavior. Twelve-yearold Rusty is no exception, and the air vent in the back room of his father Tom’s saloon, the Medicine Lodge, gives him an earful of grown-up goings-on in the town of Gros Ventre. But it’s outsiders who really stir things up in the summer of 1960. First to

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arrive is Zoe, daughter of the local restaurant’s new owners, who quickly becomes Rusty’s best friend and, after they see a vividly described outdoor production of As You Like It, his fellow aspiring thespian. Next is Delano Robertson, an oral historian who wants Tom to help him gather reminiscences at the forthcoming reunion of workers from the New Deal’s Fort Peck dam project—a period in his past the bartender does not seem anxious to recollect. We learn why (readers of Bucking the Sun, 1996, will already have guessed) at the reunion, where Tom is stunned by the appearance of Proxy, a taxi dancer at the wide-open bar he ran back then, who announces the existence of a daughter from their one-time fling. Disheveled Francine needs a refuge and a profession, so Tom agrees to let her learn his trade at the Medicine Lodge, while Rusty anxiously wonders if Proxy might be his long-gone mother. Doig expertly spins out these various narrative threads with his usual gift for bringing history alive in the odysseys of marvelously thorny characters. Possibly the best novel yet by one of America’s premier storytellers.

THE ZENITH

Duong Thu Huong Translated by Young, Stephen B.; Young, Hoa Pham Viking (528 pp.) $32.95 | Aug. 16, 2012 978-0-670-02375-2 Scenes from the last months in the life of Ho Chi Minh, as imagined by Vietnamese novelist Huong (Paradise of the Blind, 1993, etc.). In the mountain fastness of northern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh is cold—and who would have thought that the jungly mountains of that country could possibly be “frigid and foggy”? He is there, and not in Hanoi, because a very subtle coup d’état has taken place even as Ho’s People’s Republic is struggling in its bloody war against the Americans (“Did you not see what happened when Thang’s soldiers ran into the minefield?” asks one combat veteran of another. “Eighteen guys altogether and yet it took the vultures only two days to clean them out.”) Much of Huong’s story centers on Ho, who, though embittered at the turn of events, is also quietly grateful for the chance to read, meditate and get away from it all; other episodes shift to members of Ho’s family, the soldiers surrounding him, their families and, by extension, just about everyone who ever called Ho Chi Minh “the great father of the land.” Huong’s tone is somber, even exalted, her language formal without being stilted or stiff, her approach sometimes didactic; only rarely are there flashes of that strange language called Translationese, as, for example, this passage: “If he dared speak so boldly, what would keep him from insulting her to her face in a rude and cruel manner when he learned that she had gone all the way to Khoai Hamlet?” Huong’s lyrical narrative, developed at a deliberate pace, is sometimes reminiscent of Hermann Broch’s The Death of Virgil, that classic 1945 novel that imagined, from the ruins of Europe, 1558

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the early years of the Roman Empire from the point of view of someone not quite at the center of power who stands in the presence of those who control it absolutely. On that note, it also has undertones of Anatoly Rybakov’s Children of the Arbat (1987), whose story switched back and forth from the oppressed man in the Moscow street to the Boss, Josef Stalin, himself. And that’s altogether fitting, for Ho was said to be the most Stalinist of all of Stalin’s heirs, even if Huong manages to find glimmers of humanity within him. A complex, politically daring story, much of which will be unfamiliar to Western readers—and that demands to be read for that very reason.

THE LOST PRINCE

Edwards, Selden Dutton (448 pp.) $26.95 | Aug. 16, 2012 978-0-525-95294-7

Hints of time travel haunt this historical and philosophical novel set in early-20th-century Boston and Europe. In 1898, Weezie Putnam returns to the States from a memorable trip to Vienna with three things: a manuscript, a ring and a journal. The manuscript lauds the genius of Mahler, and she publishes it pseudonymously under the name “Jonathan Trumpp.” The ring she sells for $5,000, an enormous sum, to provide seed money for future investments. And the journal—the most precious artifact of all—was written in the future and thus provides her with a window into major 20th-century events. One might also add that she returns with a new name, Eleanor, and thus with a new persona. Because of the information provided in the journal, she knows her destiny and starts ensuring it comes about. As predicted, Eleanor marries a prominent banker, Frank Burden and begins a series of investments that initially seem questionable, though her foreknowledge assures her of their inevitable exorbitant worth. She hires a man named T. Williams Honeycutt, because the journal has informed her that he will be important in the success of her business life, but he has a cousin with the same name, so it’s problematic whether she’s hired the right one. She takes her largest risk with a young Viennese intellectual named Arnauld Esterhazy, who becomes the father of her son and who seems to have died at the battle of Caporetto in 1917, but the journal has predicted a long life for him, one intricately interwoven with Eleanor’s. She’s so convinced of the journal’s truth that she makes a dangerous trek to postwar Europe to find him, and she succeeds. He’s shellshocked, and she takes him to Jung’s clinic in Zurich to recover. Throughout the novel, Edwards skillfully intertwines Eleanor’s predestined fate with her relationships to Freud, Jung, J. P. Morgan, William James and other historical figures. A powerful, intense and fascinating read.

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“The book thrives on its fast pace...with a hero who’s seen society at its worst but somehow finds time to enjoy the occasional word puzzle.” from a pimp’s notes

A PIMP’S NOTES

Faletti, Giorgio Translated by Shugaar, Antony Farrar, Straus and Giroux (336 pp.) $26.00 | Jul. 17, 2012 978-0-374-23140-8 A Milanese pimp with a heart of gold is drawn ever-deeper into the city’s seedy underworld. The third bluntly titled thriller by Faletti (I Kill, 2002; I Am God, 2009) is narrated by Bravo, who lets the reader know a few important things up front. First, his penis was cut off years ago after falling afoul of the wrong people; he’s a tough but compassionate boss to the women who serve his high-priced clients; and he works hard to keep the more sordid aspects of Milan’s druggy, violent underbelly at arm’s length. The novel’s plot turns on him bungling that last part badly: Not long after taking a new prostitute under his wing, he discovers that he’s been framed as part of a complicated scheme that’s left some of Italy’s prominent movers and shakers dead. Though the novel is set in 1978—the kidnapping of politician Aldo Moro plays a small role in the plot—its spirit and tone are closer to that of the ’30s and ’40s noirs of Cain, Hammett, Chandler and Goodis. Bravo is a black-humored, streetwise narrator with an appealingly flinty demeanor even when he’s in over his head, and he has an excellent femme fatale in Carla, an initially pliable woman who turns out to be much more manipulative than he expected. Faletti is particularly adept at showing how the scales slowly fall from Bravo’s eyes: First his moral certainty about his profession erodes, then his sense of personal security, then his faith in his country’s social structure. The nobody-can-be-trusted plot is familiar, and some closing revelations about Bravo’s past feel shoehorned in, but the book thrives on its fast pace—translator Antony Shugaar has taken care to keep the style pulpy yet elevated, in keeping with a hero who’s seen society at its worst but somehow finds time to enjoy the occasional word puzzle. A savvy lowbrow-highbrow thriller.

THE AGE OF DESIRE

Fields, Jennie Pamela Dorman/Viking (368 pp.) $27.95 | Aug. 2, 2012 978-0-670-02368-4 Joining the burgeoning genre of novels concerning famous people’s unknown subordinates, Fields (The Middle Ages, 2003, etc.) offers a fictionalized account of Edith Wharton’s troubled love life in large part through the eyes of her former governess and lifelong secretary, Anna Bahlmann. By age 45, Edith has found literary success with the publication of The House of Mirth, but is miserably unhappy in a sexless, lifeless marriage. Teddy Wharton is a simple man, totally |

unsuited to Edith, although 60-year-old Anna has always admired and been secretly a little in love with him herself. During their annual winter in Paris in 1908, Edith meets and falls headlong in love with Morton Fullerton, a Harvard-educated journalist. More than one literary acquaintance warns Edith that Morton has a licentious reputation—that he has been one of Henry James’ “favorites” should be warning enough—but Edith, elated by her new sense of herself as a desirable woman, pursues Morton as much as he pursues her. Witnessing the growing infatuation, Anna is torn between her devotion to Edith and her loyalty to Teddy, who sinks into a severe depression, a harbinger of the madness to come. Anna’s moral disapproval irritates Edith’s own guilty discomfort, and she sends Anna temporarily away. With Morton, Edith discovers sexual passion (in some excellent erotic writing) but is frustrated by his emotional slipperiness. Meanwhile, Anna has her own, much quieter romantic adventure, although her first commitment remains with Edith. Fields does not simplify their relationship; they call themselves friends, but Edith often treats Anna as a servant, a role Anna accepts with a sanguinity modern women may not appreciate. As in life, fictional Anna never becomes more than a foil to the fictional powerhouse that is Edith. Teddy is a tragic figure, his basic decency eroded by Edith’s understandable inability to appreciate him. Morton remains the mystery, neither his motives nor his charms made quite clear enough. One doesn’t have to be an Edith Wharton fan to luxuriate in the Wharton-esque plotting and prose Fields so elegantly conjures. (Agent: Lisa Bankoff)

SHADOW MAN

Fleishman, Jeffrey Steerforth (208 pp.) $15.95 paperback | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-58642-198-4 Fleishman’s second novel is a melodrama: Losing all but a memory of a single summer of his adolescence to early-onset Alzheimer’s, the protagonist loses his identity. The Shadow Man of the title is James Ryan, once a respected foreign correspondent, afflicted with acute early-onset Alzheimer’s. He’s housed in a care facility walking distance from his childhood home in Philadelphia. One nurse takes a peculiar interest in him, and there are a few pages of prickling suspense before she reveals an improbable secret. Nearly dead to the world, James dwells in a period not long after his mother was killed, a victim of a hit-and-run accident. The memory: James and his father, Kurt, live almost as roommates. Kurt paints ships and loves tennis. The callow James is an uneasy Catholic, devoted to the dictionary. The erratic Vera insinuates herself into their lives. Vera is the catalyst, and the majority of the book details a brief but fateful escape the three make to Virginia Beach. This episode, including his kisses with the flirtatious Alice, seems to contain the totality of James’ life, its vividness in stark contrast to the ashen present, where, in a

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bid to rekindle his memory, James’ wife, Eva, takes him to the Jersey Shore. Eva, who met James overseas, tells and retells him the story of his life, of their vagabond life together, including vignettes of James’ daring reporting. The novel’s emotional force is the tension between the past and present. While there are moments of pleasure and passages of real skill, sentimentality eclipses the novel.

GOODBYE FOR NOW

Frankel, Laurie Doubleday (288 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-385-53618-9

The Social Network meets One Day in an attractive love-and-loss story that applies new technology to the job of soothing broken hearts. Frankel’s (The Atlas of Love, 2010) inviting second novel comes with a cyber plot twist that demands significant suspension of disbelief. For readers who can, their reward is a cute romance between Sam Elling and Meredith Maxwell, singletons who work at a computer dating service in Seattle. Software engineer Sam writes a brilliant new algorithm that will outstrip all previous matchmaking efforts and tests it on himself. The result is Meredith— a perfect fit—but also termination of employment, since the algorithm will destroy the business through its success. When Meredith’s grandmother, Livvie, dies, Sam creates another algorithm, piecing together Livvie’s emails and video chats, allowing Meredith to carry on communicating with her electronically. And so RePose is born, a controversial business that offers the bereaved the opportunity to stay in computer dialogue with their lost loved ones, provided they have left an electronic memory. The value of this comes home to roost when the plot takes a dark turn, leaving one half of the couple struggling, with RePose’s assistance, to live, love and let go. An excess of ethics overshadows the simple love story, but there’s no denying Frankel’s warmth, wit and ingenuity in this cleverly conceived charmer.

SWEET TALK

Garwood, Julie Dutton (336 pp.) $26.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-525-95286-2 An IRS officer and an FBI agent find love while following the money. Olivia MacKenzie meets Grayson Kincaid when the FBI agent interrupts her job-interview lunch (she fears impending IRS layoffs) with financier Eric Jorguson. Technically, the interview had already ended when Jorguson, who knows the Feds are after him for money 1560

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laundering, ripped Olivia’s dress, looking for a wire. Olivia and Grayson soon find they have more in common than government employment. Both are attorneys, both have trust funds, and both have dedicated themselves to aiding children. Olivia rescues abused youngsters, and Grayson has all but adopted his 9-year-old nephew, Henry, whose father prefers the jet-set life. Before the requisite sexual pyrotechnics occur, Grayson must sort out the many miscreants out to get Olivia, most of whom are her relatives. Her father, Robert MacKenzie, is running a Ponzi scheme of Madoff-ian proportions, the Trinity Fund, but Olivia alone suspects financial malfeasance. Her sister, Natalie, is pressuring her to persuade Aunt Emma, the only relation who was there for Olivia during her childhood bout with a rare cancer, to invest in Trinity. Natalie, whose own money is tied up with Trinity, doesn’t know that her husband, George, owes a loan shark a small fortune. George is trying to get his hands on Olivia’s trust, and MacKenzie and his crooked attorney know she’s looking for the smoking gun to bring Trinity down. Then there is Jorguson’s irate bodyguard, fired over the FBI fracas. All the above are suspect when Olivia is wounded in a drive-by shooting. Meanwhile, Olivia is worried about Jane, one of three women who underwent experimental protocols for childhood cancer along with Olivia, and who now, except for Emma, constitute her family. Is Jane suffering a relapse, and is her addict brother, Logan, really in recovery? The evil characters lack any semblance of humanity, and the good characters, including the Fed-crossed lovers, are perfect and unbecomingly smug about it. A standard melodrama with occasional flashes of originality.

CITY OF WOMEN

Gillham, David R. Amy Einhorn/Putnam (400 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-399-15776-9 In his debut about 1943 Berlin, Gillham uses elements common to the many previous movies and books about World War II—from vicious Nazis to black marketeers to Jewish children hiding in attics to beautiful blond German women hiding their sexuality inside drab coats—yet manages to make the story fresh. The blond beauty is Sigrid, a stenographer living alone with her unpleasant mother-in-law while her husband, Kaspar, serves on the eastern front. Sigrid’s Berlin is a grim city full of suspicious, fearful citizens barely coping with shortages and almost nightly air raids, people not above turning each other over to the Gestapo for unpatriotic behavior. But Sigrid is mostly consumed in pining not for Kaspar but for Egon, the Jewish black markeeter with whom she carried on a passionate affair before he went into hiding. At first, Sigrid resists when Ericha, a rebellious teenager living in her building, involves her in an underground network hiding Jews, but iconoclast Sigrid soon finds that her experience as Egon’s occasional “bagman” serves her

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FI C T I O N

Rescue and Redemption Drive Die a Stranger B Y J.

K I N G ST ON

PI ERC E

If Steve Hamilton has ever written a boring book chapter, he must have consigned it to the yawning recesses of a desk drawer someplace—back there with furry old Tootsie Rolls and mangled PostIts—because I’ve certainly never read it. More often, I’m impressed by the high-pitched tension, multilayered plots and character enrichment that he brings to his tales about former Detroit cop Alex McKnight. I’ve even come to enjoy McKnight’s persistent bitching about the cold weather. He does, after all, live in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula. Read the Rap Sheet’s review of three thrillers inspired by the Watergate scandal. Hamilton’s entry into the mysterywriting field came with plenty of fanfare. He won the 1997 Private Eye Writers of America/St. Martin’s Press prize for Best First Private Eye Novel with A Cold Day in Paradise, the book that introduced reluctant sleuth McKnight. That work then went on to capture both the Edgar and Shamus awards for Best First Novel in 1999 and spawn what are now eight sequels. Although he’s also penned a couple of nonseries novels, Night Work (2007) and The Lock Artist (2009)—the latter of which scored him a second Edgar Award— it’s the McKnight stories that have secured Hamilton his greatest following. With good reason. His now 50-something protagonist was once a promising minor-league baseball catcher. But McKnight was never quite able to step up to the major leagues. Instead, he joined the Detroit Police Department, from which he retired eight years later, after a shootout that left his partner dead and McKnight with a bullet lodged “less than a centimeter from my heart”—too near his most vital organ to be safely extracted. In the aftermath, McKnight relocated north to Michigan’s densely forested Upper Peninsula and into one of half a dozen cabins his late father had built, mostly during the 1960s and ’70s—“one per summer until

he got too sick to build them anymore”—in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Paradise (a real place at the eastern end of Lake Superior, in case you’re wondering). He figured on living quietly in that chilly countryside, renting out his father’s cabins to summer vacationers and winter snowmobilers, maybe playing some recreational hockey and tipping back a few frosty Molson ales at the nearby Glasgow Inn. But friends, acquaintances and the occasional adversary in serious trouble keep interrupting McKnight’s tranquility, compelling him to exercise the investigative skills he learned as a big-city policeman. In Die a Stranger, the ninth installment in Hamilton’s series (following last year’s Misery Bay), the party bestirring McKnight to action is Vinnie LeBlanc, an Ojibwa tribal member, veteran blackjack dealer and the “retired” detective’s best friend and neighbor. Following a disastrous, clandestine delivery of high-grade marijuana across the border from nearby Canada— “disastrous” because it left five corpses on the remote airstrip where the plane carrying that shipment landed—Vinnie has disappeared, along with his considerably lessupstanding cousin, Buck Carrick. There’s no logical link between these two incidents, and McKnight wants to believe that Vinnie has simply gone off somewhere for a spell to mourn the recent death of his mother, rather than fleeing a murder scene. Yet the ex-cop can’t help worrying that something serious has gone amiss. He knows that drug smuggling is fast becoming a big business in border areas such as the Upper Peninsula, and he fears Vinnie might have tried to rescue Buck from the consequences of an illegal action, only to find himself in danger as well. His concerns are exacerbated when the local sheriff suddenly receives a phone call from Vinnie, asking him to pass along word that he and Buck are OK. The sheriff tells McKnight to stay out of the matter, but he can’t. So, accompanied by Vinnie’s estranged father, ex-con Louis LeBlanc—who’s jetted east from Las Vegas after hearing from one of the Ojibwa “old-timers” that his son is missing—McKnight goes looking for his friend. It’s a task that will see him wheeling |

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DIE A STRANGER

Steve Hamilton St. Martin’s (288 pp.) July 3, 2012 | $25.99 978-0-312-64021-7 back and forth across the Wolverine State, lead him to a couple of supposedly hippie drug dealers and leave him prey to a psychotic criminal boss. By the time this tale spins to a close, more lives will have been lost, sacrifices made and futures put in serious doubt. It all adds up to a storytelling burden that couldn’t be borne easily by many novelists, but that Steve Hamilton carries off with confidence. If I have a criticism of Die a Stranger, it’s only that the interactions between Vinnie and his redemption-hungry father, whom he hasn’t seen in years, take place primarily offstage, where readers can’t watch and learn more about the younger man by observing the pair’s undoubtedly strained exchanges.

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This is an abbreviated version of this essay. Please visit kirkusreviews.com for the full column. J. Kingston Pierce is both the editor of The Rap Sheet and the senior editor of January Magazine. |

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“Yet another favorite thing gets the vampire-meets-classic mashup treatment.” from my favorite fangs

well as she delivers supplies and humans to a safe house. At the same time, she befriends new neighbors, two sisters and their wounded-officer brother, Wolfram, whose impeccable German credentials are not what they seem. Sigrid finds herself wondering if a particular Jewish woman with two daughters in hiding might be Egon’s wife. But when Egon reappears in her life, she doesn’t bring up her suspicions. Instead she hides him in her neighbors’ apartment, an awkward situation given that she has recently begun what she considers a purely sexual affair with Wolfram. The wounded and embittered Kaspar’s return only complicates the situation. With her underground activities as intricate as her love life, Sigrid can trust no one, yet must trust a dangerously wider circle of acquaintances until the hold-yourbreath suspense ending. World War II Germany may be familiar ground, but Gillham’s novel—vividly cinematic yet subtle and full of moral ambiguity, not to mention riveting characters—is as impossible to put down as it is to forget. (Agent Rebecca Gradinger)

MY FAVORITE FANGS The Story of the von Trapp Family Vampires Goldsher, Alan Dunne/St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-312-64020-0

Yet another favorite thing gets the vampire-meets-classic mashup treatment. What do you do with a problem like The Sound of Music? Time has made the irrepressibly catchy Rodgers and Hammerstein tale of a family singing down Nazi oppression ever more sappy and out-oftouch. So while the musical is fair game for parody, Goldsher (Paul Is Undead, 2010, etc.) attacks it with all the subtlety and violence of a chain saw. Tracking the plot of the 1959 film version, Goldsher dutifully makes each scene bloodier and bawdier, if not necessarily funnier. Here, beloved governess Maria, possessed of a pair of fangs and an out-of-control libido, departs Zombie Abbey to manage the overflowing von Trapp household, where dad is a vomit-prone alcoholic, Leisl is ripe for seduction (she’s 16 going on 17, after all), Baroness Elsa is a succubus and Nazi Undeath Squads attempt to chase down the von Trapp children after Maria turns them all into vampires. Goldsher’s humor tends to trawl every gutter (daughter Marta is renamed Farta, for instance). But sometimes he drags things a step or two above the curb. The “Do-Re-Mi” routine cleverly references acid rain and “a dead deer that’s ready to be eaten,” characters routinely break down the fourth wall by referencing the musical they inhabit, and interludes feature other fictional vampires (Sesame Street’s Count von Count and Twilight’s Edward), delivering knowing commentary on genre conventions. There’s a cameo from John Coltrane, who elevated “My Favorite Things” from a Broadway showstopper to sublime art; alas, it only prompts Goldsher to move in the opposite direction, with Maria dubbing Coltrane “Chocolate Thunder.” Goldsher is 1562

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narrowly obsessed with making every scene either a romp of PG-13 double-entendres or a blood bath. So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, and fangs for nothing.

TRIBURBIA

Greenfeld, Karl Taro Harper/HarperCollins (288 pp.) $25.99 | Jul. 31, 2012 978-0-06-213239-0 A half-dozen fathers in the fashionable environs of Tribeca circa 2008 struggle with regret, ambition, family and secrets on their way to the playground. They’re a not-so-diverse group, the guys who populate the first novel by memoirist/journalist Greenfeld (Boy Alone, 2009, etc.). Thrown together by geography, a group of dads commiserate over breakfast, survey their peers for advice and bicker like little old ladies much of the time. They’re so universal, in fact, that each chapter identifies each man not by name, but by address. 113 North Moore is the Asian-American sound mixologist who studies his daughters like they’re a foreign species. 65 Hudson is the secretive husband who’s having an affair with another member’s wife. 47 Lispenard is the artist whose “punk puppetry” is now old hat in fast-moving Tribeca. “The hurt was three-fold: the art, the money, the girl,” he muses. 57 Warren Street is really the only anomaly in the interconnected stories, starring Rankin, a Jewish gangster who finds his comrades tiresome but serves a vital purpose in their lives. “For most of the men, Rankin also served as the living embodiment of warning,” Greenfeld writes. “Of whom you never want to turn to. Of a desperation you hope you will never feel.” While the stories are well-composed, the novel is often disjointed, and some characters are so bland as to be nearly unnoticeable—the film producer who frets about neighborhood pedophiles, the playwright whose success the others find unfathomable. And others are oh-so-naughties, as is the case with the story of 85 West Broadway, the memoirist with an autistic son whose flashy stories about Japan and his own drug addiction turn out to be fabrications. It’s pretty evident that Greenfeld is mining his life experiences for fiction, but that doesn’t give them the ring of truth. It could be challenging for readers to drum up sympathy for wealthy young men with rich world problems. A soapy portrait of pre-economic-crisis Manhattan. (Author appearances in New York and Tristate area)

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“Midwives are warriors in this beautifully sweeping tale.” from the midwife of hope river

THE KINGMAKER’S DAUGHTER

THE SPYMASTERS

Griffin, W.E.B.; Butterworth IV, William E. Putnam (400 pp.) $27.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-399-15751-6

Gregory, Philippa Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (432 pp.) $26.99 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-4516-2607-0 The latest of Gregory’s Cousins’ War series debunks—mostly—the disparaging myths surrounding Richard III and his marriage to Anne Neville. Anne and her sister Isabel are both used without hesitation as political bargaining chips by their father, Richard, Earl of Warwick. True to his sobriquet, “Kingmaker,” Warwick engineered the downfall of the Lancastrian King Henry VI after Henry succumbed to mental illness and supplanted him with Edward IV, scion of the YorkistPlantagenet claims to the English succession. Increasingly disenchanted by the degree to which Edward is allowing his queen, Elizabeth Woodville, to dole out favors to her large family, Warwick marries Isabel off to George, Duke of Clarence, Edward’s brother, on the theory that George, next in line for the throne, can dislodge his older brother. When George fails at this, Warwick gives Anne, barely 14, in marriage to Henry’s son, Edward and, together with his former enemy, Margaret of Anjou (Henry’s exiled consort), attempts a coup that fails miserably, bringing us to the time period chronicled in Shakespeare’s Tudor/Lancaster-biased take on events. With her father and new husband slain in battle and mother and mother-in-law either in prison or otherwise defanged, Anne is left penniless. Her brother-in-law, George, and her own sister have taken her inheritance and are keeping her a virtual servant. King Edward’s youngest brother, Richard, rescues Anne, marries her and uses some unorthodox means to regain her inheritance (while ensuring that it all belongs to him). The marriage, unlike the sinister seduction depicted by Shakespeare, is presented as a genuine love match (aside from some doubt about that tricky prenup). The chief threat to the realm is not Richard but Queen Elizabeth: A reputed witch with a grudge against Warwick’s daughters (Warwick killed her father and brother), she will not be happy until Isabel, Anne and their progeny (and if necessary her brothers-in-law) are dead. Although their fates are known, Gregory creates suspense by raising intriguing questions about whether her characters will transcend their historical reputations.

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The seventh installment of Griffin’s Men at War series dramatizes a pivotal moment in the campaign against Hitler, who plans on hitting London with “aerial torpedos” laced with nerve gas—this while the U.S. is still developing the atomic bomb back home. The book opens in German-occupied Poland in the summer of 1943. Polish guerillas blow up railroad tracks to stop a train carrying scores of Jews to a death camp, only to a derail a private train with one car carrying a top Nazi officer. The incident sets in motion intelligence activities in Germany, Italy and Algeria designed to infiltrate the Nazis, turn some of Hitler’s generals against him, and clear the way for the American invasion of Normandy—which Churchill steadfastly opposes, preferring to attack through the Mediterranean. There’s also the question of who is selling Manhattan Project secrets to the Soviets. At the heart of the narrative are “Wild Bill” Donovan, headstrong chief of the Office of Strategic Services; his top agent, strapping 26-year-old Dick Canidy; Allen Dulles, head of the OSS in Switzerland; and his sympathetic old friend, German industrialist Wolfgang Kappler, whose son Oskar is a die-hard member of the SS. Hitler’s top scientist, Wernher von Braun, plays a significant role in developing the V-2 rocket, years before he was whisked to the U.S. Griffin and Butterworth, his son, are completely at ease mixing fact and fiction, skillfully piecing together pieces of their narrative puzzle. Their writing is straightforward to a fault, sometimes reminding you of a scholastic “You Are There” novel, but the book never sags, and the characters never lose our interest. A knowing thriller in which the world must be saved on several fronts from the fascist threat.

THE MIDWIFE OF HOPE RIVER

Harman, Patricia Morrow/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Aug. 28, 2012 978-0-06-219889-1

Prohibition, the Ku Klux Klan, unions, Mother Jones—the early-20th century would be a tough world for anyone. Orphan, unwed mother, widow, midwife— Patience Murphy is a worthy adversary. Following her acclaimed memoirs (Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey, 2011, etc.), Harman offers her debut novel, tracing the life of a midwife in Appalachia. Yet Patience Murphy is no ordinary midwife. Indeed, much of society would question whether she meets the primary qualification for midwives in early-20th-century America: good moral character. Orphaned at the age of 14, Patience is sent to live first with

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a kind widow and then to Saint Mary’s House of Mercy Orphanage. She makes good use of herself, reading to the younger children and working in the laundry. Eventually, Patience escapes her drudgery to become a chorus girl, lying about her name and age to secure the job. There she falls in love with Lawrence, a scene designer. Soon pregnant, Patience loses her child when Lawrence is killed in a train wreck. Yet Patience’s tribulations and adventures have only begun. She becomes a professional wet nurse, an accidental thief and a fugitive from a would-be rapist. She is welcomed on the fringes of society by union agitators and midwives—until a violent workers’ strike brings her world crashing down. After fleeing to Appalachia, Patience finds herself hiding her past while trying to gain some professional respect—a difficult goal, given that midwives could not legally perform internal exams on their patients. Threading these events together are the fascinating birth stories. Midwives are warriors in this beautifully sweeping tale.

THE DOG STARS

Heller, Peter Knopf (272 pp.) $24.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-307-95994-2

A post-apocalyptic novel in which Hig, who only goes by this mononym, finds not only survival, but also the possibility of love. As in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, the catastrophe that has turned the world into its cataclysmic state remains unnamed, but it involves “The Blood,” a highly virulent and contagious disease that has drastically reduced the population and has turned most of the remaining survivors into grim hangers-on, fiercely protective of their limited territory. Hig lives in an abandoned airplane hangar and keeps a 1956 Cessna, which he periodically takes out to survey the harsh and formidable landscape. While on rare occasions he spots a few Mennonites, fear of “The Blood” generally keeps people at more than arm’s length. Hig has established a defensive perimeter by a large berm, competently guarded by Bangley, a terrifying friend but exactly the kind of guy you want on your side, since he can pot intruders from hundreds of yards away, and he has plenty of firepower to do it. Haunted by a voice he heard faintly on the radio, Hig takes off one day in search of fellow survivors and comes across Pops and Cima, a father and daughter who are barely eking out a living off the land by gardening and tending a few emaciated sheep. Like Bangley, Pops is laconic and doesn’t yield much, but Hig understandably finds himself attracted to Cima, the only woman for hundreds of miles and a replacement for the ache Hig feels in having lost his pregnant wife, Melissa, years before. Although Heller creates with chilling efficiency the bleakness of a world largely bereft of life as we know it, he holds out some hope that human relationships can be redemptive.

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SHAKE OFF

Hiller, Mischa Mulholland Books/Little, Brown (288 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-0-316-20420-0 In Hiller’s (Sabra Zoo, 2010) second thriller, Michel Khoury is a skilled linguist, a supposed student at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, and a PLO operative controlled by the mysterious Abu Leila. Khoury is a Lebanese Christian, a survivor of a horrific massacre in a Beirut refugee camp. Discovered by Leila, a PLO mastermind rumored to be connected to Arafat, Michel has been groomed since his orphaned teenage years for a purpose never revealed to him. He’s learned multiple languages and was schooled in spy craft in Gorbachev’s Moscow. Now, Abu Leila has assigned Michel to London, where he runs clandestine errands and acts as Leila’s agent. With no other contact within the PLO, Khoury is confused but loyal when he is tasked to find a site for a meeting between Palestinians and Israelis who are working secretly for a single-state solution to Middle Eastern turmoil, a gathering sure to draw assassins from all quarters. In a life driven by deceit, Khoury’s motives, decisions and reactions can be traced to the massacre that cost him his family. Khoury’s initial human contact is the superbly written Abu Leila, but Hiller opens the narrative by introducing Helen, a beautiful and free-spirited English anthropology doctoral candidate. A romance begins, one filled with the same ambiguity that mirrors Michel’s life as an operative. But then Michel’s world is shattered when Abu is assassinated in Berlin shortly before the clandestine conference. That sends Khoury, accompanied by Helen, into the wilds of Scotland, pursued by Abu’s killers. Moving from Lebanon to Cyprus to Berlin to Moscow and then to London, a city that Hiller knows and makes central to the story, the author writes believably of the world of undercover spies, both about the practicalities—picking locks, coding messages, using false identities—and the atmosphere of constant paranoia, continual double-dealing and amorality. An entertainingly complex, quick-moving psychological thriller.

FREAK

Hillier, Jennifer Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (384 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-4516-6454-6 “Free Abby Maddox, 2/10.” Carved into the back of a murdered prostitute, these words resurrect a violent story that everyone thought had ended. Picking up where Creep (2010) left off, the latest from Hillier reassembles a cast of characters facing the aftermath of serial killer Ethan Wolfe’s

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“A cheeky exposé on gold digging (the marital sort).” from marrying up

death. Dubbed the Tell Tale Heart killer, Wolfe had seduced and tortured psychology professor and recovering sex addict Sheila Tao. Now that Wolfe is dead and his girlfriend, Abby Maddox, has been incarcerated for attacking Detective Jerry Isaac, Sheila believes she can rebuild her life. Retired from the force and estranged from his wife, Jerry struggles to regain his confidence after Maddox’s attack. The scar she left on his throat is simply the physical manifestation of the scars within his psyche. Suddenly, the wary peace is shattered, and Jerry’s partner calls him back to help with a murder case. The corpse bears a strong resemblance to Maddox, and the killer has strangled her with a zip tie. The message carved into her back prophesies nine more victims. Who is willing to kill for Maddox’s freedom? Twists and turns reveal a website devoted to freeing Maddox, a trash bag full of fan letters to Maddox and a mysterious young man hiring prostitutes online. Jerry isn’t quite ready to cope with this case, particularly when the only leads seem to lie in Maddox’s hands. Even more strange, Maddox wants to talk to Sheila. Luckily, Jerry has a new intern, Danny. Studying to become a criminologist, Danny is, of course, intrigued by the case. Her fresh-faced

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interest, energy and technological skills rejuvenate Jerry’s hunt. Yet as the kill count mounts, he has to begin to wonder: Is someone orchestrating everyone’s every move? The second book in this series leaves readers hungry for the next. Taut and fraught with surprise twists, Hillier’s thriller is addictive.

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MARRYING UP

Holden, Wendy Sourcebooks Landmark (384 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Aug. 1, 2012 978-1-4022-7067-3 A cheeky exposé on gold digging (the marital sort) from the British bestselling author of Beautiful People (2009) and Filthy Rich (2008). A large cast of characters searching for something—money, excitement,

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“A fine thriller that succeeds on every level. How often do you read about a hero who just wants to die in peace?” from the survivor

love, ancient Roman toilets—all show up at the novel’s glamorous royal wedding finale, but it takes a lot of scheming and luck to get them there. Polly, an archaeology student, is on Lord Shropshire’s estate unearthing Roman artifacts when she meets the dashing Max. A veterinary student spending the summer at Shropshire’s manor (he’s a bit vague on the connection), he and Polly begin an easy summer romance. Meanwhile, Alexa MacDonald (formerly Allison Donald, only child of an embarrassingly working-class couple from the Midlands) is looking for a rich husband. She studied hard and made it to St. Andrews but squandered her time at university attending parties, hunts and weekend soirees—all in search of a marriageable title—but now she is both without a degree or a husband. If only she could have been born into Lady FlorenceTrevorigus-Whyske-Cleethorpe’s high-heeled Manolos. Lady Florrie, a fixture of Socialite magazine, is beautiful, fashionable and innocent as only the superprivileged can be. She has no interest in marriage or money; she just wants some fun, life as an endless banquet. Just as Max and Polly are falling in love, he has been summoned back to Sedona, a principality on the Riviera. Turns out Max is the heir apparent, and his father is insisting he marry. Sedona needs to attract investors, and there is nothing like a royal wedding to court publicity. While Max is fighting his father, Alexa has the help of Barney, an equally dedicated social climber and hangeron. Alexa, an odious character from the beginning, has to sleep with so many ghastly lords (and one Russian oligarch) that, by the end, even she deserves a little happiness. As for Max, he’s been fixed up with Florrie, but not if Polly can steal him away before the wedding. Holden, a former writer for the Mail on Sunday, certainly knows her way around snarky royal gossip and delivers here a very guilty pleasure.

THE SURVIVOR

Hurwitz, Gregg St. Martin’s (416 pp.) $25.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-312-62551-1 Hurwitz demonstrates his mastery of the thriller genre. Nate Overbay stands on an 11th-story building ledge as gunshots erupt inside. Curiosity overcomes his suicide plan as he looks through the bank window and witnesses a robbery in progress. He climbs back inside, shoots five criminals dead and saves the day. Thus, instead of splattering himself on top of a Dumpster, Nate becomes an unwilling hero. He suffers from ALS and simply wants to spare himself the agonizing end that is only months away. The trouble is, now he has angered Pavlo, the Ukrainian mobster who had directed the heist. Pavlo is an unusually sadistic sort who plans to make Nate pay in the worst possible way—through Nate’s daughter. The book opens as dramatically as a reader could hope for and doesn’t relent. That Nate must die is inevitable, given his fatal illness. The question is whether he dies on his own terms. 1566

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Nate’s been a hero once before, but he’s also been weak. Now he must protect and re-bond with his estranged family in the face of vengeful monsters. Hurwitz’s writing is crisp and economical, and he steers clear of hackneyed phrases and one-dimensional characters—Nate’s and Pavlo’s back stories are well-crafted, although the ghost of Nate’s dead friend Charles seems inspired by a James Lee Burke novel. A fine thriller that succeeds on every level. How often do you read about a hero who just wants to die in peace?

REQUIEM

Itani, Frances Atlantic Monthly (320 pp.) $24.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-8021-2022-9 Layers of grief and anger surrounding dishonorable events in history are excavated in the new work from a muchgarlanded Canadian writer. Itani (Remembering the Bones, 2007, etc.), who has won or been shortlisted for several major prizes, here tackles a national outrage in a skillful if mournful story woven around the experience of Japanese Canadians who, after Pearl Harbor, were labeled enemy aliens and deported from the West Coast to makeshift camps in inhospitable terrain, often at the loss of their livelihoods, homes and possessions. Such was the fate of Bin Okuma’s family, shifted from a coastal fishing community to a brutal mountain location. But Bin’s wounds run deeper. He is also grieving the recent death of his beloved wife, Lena, and nursing a long-held estrangement from his father who, during camp life, gave young Bin away to their educated, childless neighbor. Now Bin—an artist obsessed with rivers—embarks on a long, lonely road trip across Canada accompanied by his dog, his music and his memories, possibly to visit his elderly father. Itani deftly braids the various timelines, but even the late promise of forgiveness scarcely mutes the darkness of the underlying themes: racism, rejection, the legacy of national and personal pain. Although the plotting and conclusion are simple, this is an undeniably respectful and moving homage to a shameful factual episode. (Agent: Jackie Kaiser)

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YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW Jackson, Lisa Kensington (416 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-7582-5857-1

New York Times’ bestselling author Jackson puts her touch on this dark thriller and tale of forbidden romance. Ava Church Garrison has it all. She’s beautiful, a near-genius and wealthy. Married to a handsome attorney and living in her family’s ancestral home on a small island off the coast of Washington, her future couldn’t be brighter, except for one small problem. It appears to everyone, including Ava, that she’s lost her mind. It all started when she lost her child. Two-year-old Noah wandered out of the house, and authorities believe he fell into the icy water and drowned. But Ava won’t accept this. She keeps searching for Noah, her searches prompted by sounds and visions she can’t control. No matter what she does, Ava keeps hearing Noah call for help and sees him toddling off toward the dock. To add to Ava’s issues, she has her loony-bin-worthy family living with her. Her cousin, Jewel-Anne, wheelchair-bound following an accident that killed Ava’s only brother, and the rest of her family treat her like she’s a basket case. Even her best friend (who’s Jewel-Anne’s nurse) and the household help are creepy. In fact, everyone in the book qualifies as a character out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Plus, there’s also the little problem of the escaped madman, who may or may not still be hiding on the island, and Ava’s therapist, a woman she fears has grown too close to Ava’s husband, Wyatt. Soon, the landscape is littered with bodies, and Ava is rapidly finding herself the target of a police investigation. With only the help of a newly hired hand on the estate, she tries to prove she’s not crazy and find her son in the bargain. Jackson’s book is crammed with suspects and a palpable air of creepiness, but readers will spot a number of inconsistencies in the story and ultimately grow weary of the way she draws out the action with unnecessary dialogue and details. Melodramatic and filled with a lot of pointless meanderings, but Jackson’s many fans will still enjoy it. (Agent: Robin Rue)

THE MAKING OF US A Novel

Jewell, Lisa Atria (416 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-4516-0911-0 Filled with heart and humor, this latest from British bestseller Jewell raises all those big questions about identity, family and fitting in. What if your father was a sperm donor and you had unknown siblings out there. Would you want to know them? This is the question three Londoners have to |

confront in this poignant novel. Twenty-nine-year-old Lydia lives in a mansion in St. John’s Wood thanks to a clever chemical invention she sold for millions. She lives a minimal existence with minimalist furniture (plus a cat, housekeeper and personal trainer so perfect-looking he must be gay). This shiny life does little to make up for the wretchedness of her poor Welsh childhood: Her mother, Glenys, used a sperm donor when she sensed her macho husband, Trevor, was infertile, but after her mysterious death, Trevor despised the daughter he suspected wasn’t his. Out of the blue, Lydia receives an anonymous package that tells her she was conceived by a sperm donor—shocking yet somehow vindicating news; she never felt she belonged. She finds a website that tracks donor siblings and there discovers Dean and Robyn. Dean is a 21-year-old sad sack and screw-up. After his girlfriend dies giving birth to their daughter, Dean’s response is to run from the hospital and get high. But in his ongoing stupor, he does manage to get on the donor sibling registry and finds Lydia. The two meet—both loners in possession of startling good looks—and feel immediately at home. Last in line is Robyn who, unlike Dean and Lydia, has two loving parents and a happy life (she’s a gorgeous med student) but is driven to the registry because she has an irrational fear that her boyfriend—soul mate really—may be her brother. Meanwhile, a man is dying in a hospice, wishing he had made more of his life and confessing to his friend that he has children out there—children she could find for him. In this odd and lovely story, Jewell makes believable the connection between these strangers, bound by biology and longing.

THE DEAD DO NOT IMPROVE

Kang, Jay Caspian Hogarth/Crown (272 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-307-95388-9

A Pynchon-esque menagerie of California surfers, cops, thugs and dot-com workers converge in a comic anti-noir. In his debut novel, Kang, a journalist and editor at the online magazine Grantland, does some serious musing on gentrification and racism (particularly toward Asians), but the storyline and overall tone are satirical. Set in present-day San Francisco, the story runs on two alternating tracks, following two lead characters toward an inevitable confrontation. Philip Kim is a recent MFA graduate who’s stuck working on a website counseling recently dumped men, and Sid Finch is a homicide cop who, between surf breaks at Ocean Beach, is investigating the murder of Dolores, a neighbor of Philip’s. Connecting the two is an organization called Being Abundance, a hyper-PC group of activists targeting the city’s leading online pornographer and online culture in general. Kang sends up the Bay Area’s moralizing atmosphere along with its inherent weirdness, but he also parlays the setup into some surprisingly affecting observations: Philip’s budding relationship with a gorgeous neighbor sparks incisive passages on San Francisco’s tense mix of races and cultures, and he has plenty of insights on hip-hop, social

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media and Cho Seung-Hui, the Virginia Tech mass murderer. Finch, in turn, gives the story a hard-boiled, Hammett-esque feel, with sharp takes of the city’s smut culture and surfer dudes. (San Francisco retro-rock musician and surfer Chris Isaak has a brief, funny cameo.) The structure of this novel is loose to the point of near-collapse—at times it feels like it’s held together with Simpsons references and easy digs at West Coast liberals, while the closing pages satirize thriller climaxes in particular and narrative arcs in general. But Kang mostly earns the right to his metafictional games, capturing the sense of disconnection of a young minority in the city. Smart, funny and eager to fly its freak flag. (Author events in Los Angeles)

GONE TO THE FOREST

Kitamura, Katie Free Press (224 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-4516-5664-0 A violent story set in a nameless country, this book wavers, uncertain, between parable and reality, unable to commit to its own demands or come to terms with its premise. The book follows Kitamura’s debut The Longshot, 2009, a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award. The titular forest is not named, the title a phrase borrowed from the great Modernist novelist Knut Hamsun. We meet Tom, the son of the nameless patriarch who calls his son Thomas. We hear of conflict between “whites” and “natives,” indicating a colonial conflict. We meet the faithful servant Celeste and her inscrutable son Jose. Celeste was Tom’s wet nurse. Tom and Jose grew up together; native and master suckled at the same breasts. The nameless patriarch arranges a marriage for Tom to the coquettish Carine. Carine is a guest of the Wallaces, the only characters to have surnames. We are not meant to reflect on this curiosity, nor are we to wonder about the mix of periods. Clothing, methods of travel and the lack of phones seem to evoke the end of the colonial period, and yet the farm is a “fishing resort”; there is fish farming and a reference to “pain management.” When a volcano erupts, it seems no more than an excuse to terrorize the hapless Tom, the nymphomaniac Carine and the nameless patriarch. The writing is too idiosyncratic to pass without comment. The sentences are short, declarative. Many are fragments. The style affected, the metaphors mixed, the effect pretentious: “The thought of the girl returns to him like a flood and she kicks inside his brain.” Enthralled by its own ambition and desire to shock, this book makes astonishing demands on readers’ good faith.

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DREAM LAKE

Kleypas, Lisa St. Martin’s Griffin (384 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-250-00829-9 The amnesiac ghost of a World War II pilot could be just what Alex Nolan needs. The third in Kleypas’ (Rainshadow Road, 2012, etc.) Friday Harbor series follows the fortunes of the youngest Nolan brother. Emotionally starved by his alcoholic parents, Alex learned to trust no one. When his wife, Darcy, asks for a divorce, Alex doesn’t even ask why, because, of course, it was only a matter of time before she realized the extent of the damage to him. The breakup coincides with a steep economic downturn, which torpedoes his real estate development project, driving Alex to seek comfort in a bottle of Jack Daniels every night. Erasing himself bit by bit, Alex nonetheless begins helping his brother, Sam, renovate a beautiful home on Rainshadow Road. The moment Zöe Hoffman walks in the door with a plate of blueberry muffins, however, Alex realizes he is in trouble. Zöe is the gorgeous chef at a local inn, and, like Alex, she has sworn off love after a heartbreaking divorce and years of being seen as nothing more than a pinup girl. Abandoned by her parents, Zöe was raised by her loving grandmother, who will soon need roundthe-clock assistance and a home with some serious renovations, which Alex could do well. Alex and Zöe are clearly meant for each other and predictably try to deny their obvious attraction. Luckily, Alex has also met the ghost, who has lived in the old house for over 60 years. Yet the moment Alex sees him, the ghost becomes instantly anchored to him, an unwilling witness to Alex’s alcoholic binges, an eager investigator of his own shadowy past and a believer in true love. Surprisingly, the ghost character works, allowing other magical events in the novel to seem less contrived. A little magic, a lot of romance and well-drawn characters make a satisfying read.

THIS IS HOW IT ENDS

Macmahon, Kathleen Grand Central Publishing (352 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-4555-1131-0 A disenchanted—and recently unemployed—banker goes to Ireland to trace his ancestral roots and finds life and love in the form of Addie, his second cousin. It’s October 2008, and Bruno Boylan has had it. He’s just lost his buttoneddown life at Lehman Brothers, and the presidential election, only three weeks away, looms large in his consciousness. He impulsively gets a round-trip ticket to Ireland, with a return on Wednesday, November 5th, but vows that if Obama loses he’ll stay on the Ould Sod. Although Bruno has gotten some sketchy information about family ties from his aunts, once he arrives in

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“Newcomers to the series may be put in mind of the Nicolas Cage-starring National Treasure films, and these books share their history-mystery spirit—though Martin’s series is far more thoughtful and complex.” from the lincoln letter

Dublin, he realizes how little he actually knows about the family. Still, he makes an effort, arranging a “chance” meeting with Addie on the beach while she walks her dog. Addie is far from impressed by the 50-year-old, for she’s seen the type before—Americans who romanticize their Celtic roots and seek connections to an imagined past they’ve never had. Despite her reservations and her initial coldness, Addie quickly finds herself taken by Bruno, for his vulnerability and “lostness” appeal to her. In her late-30s, Addie has recently lost a child, and she finds Bruno genuinely interested in her life experience, the first man who has shown her both empathy and respect. Addie also has to deal with her abrasive father, Hugh, a physician who’s temporarily laid up, and like many physicians, he’s a demanding patient. He also faces an inquiry into medical negligence that’s preoccupying for the two of them. What starts as a passionate love affair for Bruno and Addie eventually leads to a marriage cut short by tragedy. An autumnal novel that combines the poignancy of Persuasion with the sentimentality of Love Story. (Agent: Marianne Gunn O’Connor)

THE LINCOLN LETTER

Martin, William Forge (448 pp.) $25.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-76532-198-5

Martin serves up the fifth book in his adventure series featuring antiquities expert Peter Fallon, in which he searches for Abraham Lincoln’s lost diary. In previous outings, Fallon has always been embroiled in plots involving historically significant objects: a Paul Revere-crafted tea set (1980’s Back Bay), a lost Shakespeare play (2003’s Harvard Yard), an early draft of the country’s founding document (2007’s The Lost Constitution) and a stash of 18th-century bonds (2010’s City of Dreams). The tradition continues in this latest installment, which opens with the discovery of a letter written by Lincoln on April 14, 1865, shortly before he was shot at Ford’s Theatre. In it, Lincoln alludes to another item, which turns out to be a heretofore unknown diary

A WINTER’S NIGHT

Manfredi, Valerio Massimo Translated by Feddersen, Christine Europa Editions (368 pp.) $18.00 paperback | Aug. 28, 2012 978-1-60945-076-2 A novel from Italian author Manfredi (The Ides of March, 2009, etc.) that follows three generations of the Bruni family, sharecroppers in the countryside near Bologna, Italy. A modern chronicle, it begins just before World War I and ends in the politically turbulent period after World War II. Callisto and Clerice Bruni have a large family: seven sons and two daughters. They farm a large piece of land where they grow hemp and wheat. They maintain a vineyard and pastureland. Close to the house is a large stable known as Hotel Bruni. Here the poor and the vagabonds stop for a crust of bread, a bowl of soup, a bed in the hay. Travelers passing through tell stories of other times, as remote from this dark manger as the cities of Tuscany. Country folk, with little education, they speak a dialect distinct from Italian and obey old customs. Weddings, births, deaths, the atrocities of two wars, jealousy, ill luck, suspicion and a pair of terrible decisions divide the family from their wealth, their land, their ideals and, ultimately, from each other. There is a pleasing simplicity in the style, a sober summing up of each character, a sense that character is fate while curses retain power. Raffaele, called Floti, is the Bruni we follow furthest. Advising his sister, he says, “Listening to a good story is like dreaming, but then you have to wake up, and life...well, life is another thing. Don’t ever forget that.” This novel is a fulcrum, tipping toward life and fate, then back towards the dream of something better. A solid, credible, satisfying examination of the destruction of a way of life. |

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of the late president, which includes his personal thoughts on freeing the slaves several months before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Fallon travels to Washington, D.C., to locate the priceless diary, and he, along with travel writer Evangeline Carrington and other allies, finds that some dangerous people are also looking for it. The action pings effectively back and forth between the 1860s and the present day to fill in details of the mystery. In the Civil War-era sections, Union Lt. Halsey Hutchinson finds Lincoln’s misplaced notebook in April 1862, but it is stolen from him before he can return it to the president, and he soon finds himself wrongly accused of murder. Martin is a skillful storyteller, simultaneously packing his book with engaging and well-researched historical detail while also keeping the action moving. Newcomers to the series may be put in mind of the Nicolas Cage-starring National Treasure films, and these books share their history-mystery spirit—though Martin’s series is far more thoughtful and complex. A satisfying historical mystery. (Agent: Robert Gottlieb)

THE ROMANOV CONSPIRACY

Meade, Glenn Howard Books/Simon & Schuster (496 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-4516-1186-1 The fate of Anastasia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last Russian emperor, is at the heart of this cross-continental tale of espionage, infatuation, martyrdom, massacre and archaeology. Did the Bolsheviks kill her along with the rest of her family, as history tells us, or did she escape? Meade, prompted by his discovery of Russian graves in the burial grounds of a small church in his native Ireland, concocts a history-based tale about an attempt to rescue the imprisoned Romanovs. The year is 1918. The man spearheading the operation is Boyle, a wealthy Irish-Canadian whose storied past includes being amateur heavyweight boxing champion in the U.S. His rescue team includes Lydia Ryan, an Irish gunrunner, and Andrev, a Russian army captain who escaped execution. The large cast of characters includes Borg, a laudanum-addicted American spy posing as a businessman who falls for the teenage Anastasia, and, in cameos, Lenin and Trotsky. The story is told by a man named Yakov to archaeologist Laura Pavlov. She tracks him down in the coastal Irish town of Collon after digging up the permafrost-preserved body of a young girl in Ekaterinburg, the Russian town where the Romanovs were killed. The girl is clutching a locket with the seal of the family. Could this be Anastasia, aka Anna Anderson? The novel is so stuffed with characters and narrative complications, not all of them compelling, that the princess’ story gets a bit lost in the shuffle. And Andrev, “a truly remarkable man...who changed history,” according to Yakov, doesn’t make a deep impression. But give credit to Meade (The Second Messiah, 2011, etc.) for rebooting a story that, after various films, plays, mini-series and Steve Berry’s 2004 novel, The Romanov Prophecy, seemed played out. A flawed book, but one that has its moments. 1570

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FIFTY SHAMES OF EARL GREY

Merkin, Fanny Da Capo/Perseus (224 pp.) $13.99 paperback | Jul. 31, 2012 978-0-306-82199-8

Can a young, preternaturally successful corporate executive overcome his 50 shameful secrets to find true love? Andrew Shaffer (Great Philosophers who Failed at Love, 2011), writing as Merkin, skewers both E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight in his debut novel. Both series are certainly ripe for parody, yet Shaffer misses a real opportunity by indulging in easy, crude jokes, rather than incisive satire. Shaffer’s Anna Steal, like James’ Anastasia Steele and Meyer’s Bella Swan, suffers from a relentless interior monologue. Unfortunately, she offers little in the way of thought or advice, but instead wonders how elevators work and gulps in awe of Mr. Grey. Anna meets Grey while interviewing him for Boardroom Hotties, the magazine her too-often-hung-over roommate writes for, and the attraction is instantaneous. Grey quickly seeks to acquire Anna, dazzling her with his wealth by purchasing Wal-Mart just to give her the afternoon off for a date, buying Washington State University just to relieve her of taking tests, flying her about in his fighter jets and helicopters, ordering two of everything on the room-service menu, and whisking her away to a private island. Yet Grey has “dangerous” secrets. Unlike Edward Cullen, who was a lethal vampire, or Christian Grey, who sought the perfect submissive for his domination, Earl Grey indulges in rather tame danger. His secrets include a fondness for spanking, swimming in silver thongs, dressing up as an elf, and decorating with black velvet paintings. Warning Anna about his kinky sexuality, he introduces her to his Room of Doom, where they play Bards, Dragons, Sorcery and Magick. More a Master of Dungeons and Dragons than BDSM, Grey shocks Anna not with his deviance but his self-delusions. Anna may learn to laugh with, instead of at, Grey, but the constant lampooning leaves the reader numb.

OM LOVE

Minot, George Knopf (368 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-400-04274-6 Minot’s second novel (The Blue Bowl, 2004) has a few too many twists for comfort. A strange love story begins in a New York City yoga studio, and quirky characters inexplicably float in and out. So does narrator Billy Winslow’s ability to communicate his thoughts and actions in complete sentences. Billy, a once-popular artist and stream-of-consciousness thinker, finds the focus he so desperately needs when he joins RamAnanda yoga studio, but he expresses

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himself in an extremely unfocused manner: punctuating every word or sometimes every other word with a period or rambling on for pages using incoherent run-on sentences. Attracted to two women, the much younger Rose, and Amanda, a free-spirited studio employee, Billy finds himself more often in the company of Amanda. Between flashbacks of a weird Fourth-of-July incident from his youth and sweaty yoga workouts, Billy attends a dance with Amanda and eventually they move in together. When, midway through the book, Billy travels to California to be with his ailing father during his final days, Minot finally hits his stride. A genuinely emotional story emerges, and the author takes the reader on a profound journey uninterrupted by random punctuation and yoga terminology. Returning to New York, Billy faces an additional crisis, and, once again, Minot comes through with a well-written, poignant narrative; but sadly, it doesn’t last. Rather than ending the story at a logical point, the author adds a couple of gratuitous twists to the plot. This uneven attempt may prove frustrating for readers who aren’t yoga-savvy and who prefer their sentences replete with subjects and verbs, but Minot handles the emotional connections well.

THE SECOND EMPRESS A Novel of Napoleon’s Court Moran, Michelle Crown (320 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-0-307-95303-2

The last six years of Napoleon’s empire, as witnessed by Bonaparte’s sister, her Haitian retainer and the Hapsburg princess Empress Marie-Louise, Joséphine’s successor. Title aside, this is an ensemble piece in which the above three narrators carry equal weight. Marie-Louise, daughter of the Austrian Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, tries to avoid a match with Bonaparte, whose conquest of Europe has bankrupted her father’s kingdom. However, no one dares refuse Napoleon, even though he is not yet divorced from first wife Joséphine, who still has the title of empress. Brought to Napoleon’s palace in the Tuileries, Marie-Louise is shocked by the degree to which his large, squabbling Corsican family holds sway over the conqueror. His sister, Pauline, who may be suffering from the mentally debilitating effects of mercury treatment for gonorrhea, pictures herself as Cleopatra, surrounded by the spoils of her brother’s victory in Egypt, dreaming of ruling at his side as his incestuous consort. Although she initially befriends the young second empress, Pauline continues to machinate against her, particularly after Marie-Louise gives birth to Napoleon’s longed-for male heir, Franz. Pauline’s devoted chamberlain, Paul, son of a French planter and an African slave, is at first devoted, even infatuated with Pauline, who rescued him after his family was massacred during the Haitian revolution. However, her antics (she uses female courtiers as footstools, bathes in milk and is unabashedly promiscuous) and scheming erode |

Paul’s admiration. After Napoleon’s ill-fated Russian campaign results in his disgrace and temporary exile to Elba, all three narrators return to their true homes: Marie-Louise to Austria and her lover, Count Adam Neipperg; Paul to Haiti; and Pauline to her brother’s side to help him plan his short-lived return to power. With excerpts from Napoleon’s and Josephine’s (always cordial, even post-rupture) correspondence thrown in, the novel is mostly unfocused, other than to demonstrate how fortunate (and undeserving) Napoleon was to be surrounded by such loyal, or at least dutiful, women. Richly detailed but diffuse. (Agent: Dan Lazar)

SILVER Return to Treasure Island

Motion, Andrew Crown (416 pp.) $24.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-307-88487-9

The British critic/biographer and former Poet Laureate, in his spirited sequel to Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island, keeps the core of the original (the quest), while adding his own distinctive imprint. It’s 1802, and 35 years since the Hispaniola set sail for Treasure Island. Former cabin boy Jim Hawkins owns a Thames-side inn outside London; his only child, also called Jim, is a well-educated amateur botanist. This 17-year-old Jim is our new hero and narrator, but don’t expect Stevenson’s pell-mell pace; Motion’s rhythm is much more leisurely. A blanketed figure in a small boat beckons to Jim. This is Natty, the tomboy daughter of the treacherous Long John Silver, who has his own inn upriver. It’s love at first sight for Jim, despite his unexplained fear of women. Natty takes Jim to meet Silver, blind and feeble. The old reprobate’s dying wish is for the youngsters to retrieve the remaining silver from the island. A ship and crew await them. Silver needs Jim to get the map, which his father keeps locked away; Jim’s theft of the map weighs heavily on his conscience, but he’s not about to pass up an adventure with Natty, disguised as a man for the voyage. Their position on board is privileged; Natty is her father’s representative, and Jim’s history is well-known. The situation on the island is horrifying. Stevenson’s three maroons, or castaways, have been joined by passengers from a shipwreck: 50 slaves and their guards. The maroons have imposed a reign of terror, resulting in a Conrad-ian “impenetrable darkness.” Natty will be captured. There will be exciting reversals of fortune before her stouthearted Captain’s party confronts the former pirates, who are almost too freaky in their “disgustingness.” Good people die; Jim must spill blood. In these scenes, Motion matches the raw vitality of Stevenson, though his conclusion is far more grim. Motion’s plot wobbles as he casts his net wide to include slavery, but his ambition is admirable, as is his stylistic elegance.

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“Unrelenting in its anger, pain and sorrow, but hard to put down.” from three strong women

THREE STRONG WOMEN

WHAT THE NANNY SAW

NDiaye, Mary Translated by Fletcher, John Knopf (304 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-307-59469-3 The three women personifying the complicated relationship between France and Senegal in French-born NDiaye’s tripartite novel, winner of France’s Prix Concourt in 2009, need all the strength they can muster as they struggle to survive. The novel opens with 38-year-old lawyer, Norah. Half-Sengalese, she was raised in France by her French working-class mother after her businessman father returned to his native Senegal, taking with him her beloved younger brother, Sony. When her once-powerful father asks her to visit, she drops everything to return to Senegal, where she finds him a seemingly broken man. Sony is in prison, charged with murdering the old man’s newest wife, the mother of two small girls he keeps locked in a room with a nursemaid named Khady. Soon, Norah’s Parisian live-in-lover, whom she no longer trusts, shows up in Dakar with Norah’s little daughter, Lucie, and Norah is increasingly overwhelmed by conflicting pulls and loyalties. In the second section, Fanta is a Senegalese woman seen only through her French husband Rudy’s eyes. Rudy’s father ran a Senegalese vacation resort, possibly with Norah’s father, although the timeline and specifics remain vague. A bookish intellectual, Fanta was a successful teacher in Dakar before they married, but she has moved with him to France, where she finds herself unemployable. NDiaye follows Rudy, an emotionally damaged, abusive husband (not unlike Norah’s father and not unsympathetically drawn), through a disastrous day that shows the precarious position into which he has placed Fanta and their child as immigrants. The third section focuses on Khady. No longer caring for Norah’s nieces and suddenly widowed after a short marriage, Khady is forced to live with her in-laws. They don’t want her and pay a stranger to get her headed to France, supposedly to live with her cousin, Fanta. On the overland trip to the boat that will supposedly take her overseas, Khady faces one calamity after another. She thinks she has found a protector in a young man, but his desperation to escape Senegal proves greater than his affection or loyalty. Unrelenting in its anger, pain and sorrow, but hard to put down.

Neill, Fiona Riverhead (464 pp.) $26.95 | Aug. 2, 2012 978-1-59448-716-3

A university student gets an insider’s look at the world banking crisis when she becomes nanny to a London financier, from the British author of Slummy Mummy (2007). In 2006, Ali Sparrow has mounting tuition debt and a rocky affair with a professor she would like to escape. To solve both problems, she takes a year off from university to nanny for the Skinner family. In the world of London nannies, populated by buxom Eastern European refugees, Ali is quite a find: Though without experience, she is legal and in possession of a driver’s license. For her part, Ali has never seen such wealth. Father Nick is in charge of Lehman’s London branch and Bryony runs a financial PR firm. Their Holland Park mansion is filled with art (Ali stashes her Francis Bacon poster in the closet when she notices the real thing is above the fireplace), a ridiculous pug, a Philippina housekeeper and four children. Jake is 17 and soon off to Oxford; Izzy is 14 and flirting with boys and anorexia; and then there are the twins, Hector and Alfie, Ali’s primary charges. Ali’s story—a bright girl from a fishing village making good, with a junkie for an older sister and an unspectacular love life—really plays second fiddle to the drama at hand: the rise and fall of the glamorous Skinner family. Nick is mysterious and perhaps guilty of insider trading, Bryony is intense and controlling, Bryony’s father, Foy, is a fabulous drunken lothario, and the twins are a bit eerie, what with their secret language, empathic responses and refusal to be separated. It is all too much and not enough at once—a life lived extravagantly and shallowly, a series of parties, meetings and personal tragedies to schedule. Not much happens in Neill’s novel, but her portrayal of the family is happily addictive and their greed-driven downfall a little bit delicious.

CASCADE

O’Hara, Maryanne Viking (368 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 16, 2012 978-0-670-02602-9 A woman artist in 1935 Massachusetts negotiates the Great Depression, sex discrimination and anti-Semitism while seeking self-expression. Desdemona Hart married Asa Spaulding, a prosperous, landowning pharmacist in Cascade, Mass., a once-vibrant resort town, for security. When her father, the impresario who made Cascade’s Shakespeare Playhouse a magnet for theater mavens from Boston to New York, lost everything, including the family home, in the crash, Dez had no other choice. Shortly after confessing that he’s willed the

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“The tone is reminiscent of Janet Evanovich’s novels, but perhaps with a touch more sadness. Also, Madeleine is more competent at her job than Stephanie Plum.” from valley of ashes

now-shuttered playhouse to Asa, in gratitude for his hospitality, her father dies. His only legacy to Dez is a locked casket, which she is instructed only to reopen when the playhouse does. That event is unlikely, though, because the state water commission has long had its eye on Cascade as a site for a new reservoir to supply perennially parched Boston. Although some will profit from eminent domain, most townsfolk oppose the project, which will flood Cascade. Dez pitches and sells a series of illustrations of the ongoing crisis to a national magazine. In a last-ditch effort, Asa tampers with a dam on his property, hoping that the commissioners will pick another town. Dez and her artist soul mate, Jacob Solomon, one of Cascade’s few Jewish residents, happen to have been trysting near the dam where, later, a water surveyor’s body will be found—apparently he fell and drowned while investigating. Witnesses place Jacob at the scene, and after Dez explains their presence there, he is exonerated, but her marriage to Asa is doomed. Since her ambition was to move to New York (where Jacob is also bound), the breakup is timely. In New York, Dez has a chance to realize her goals but at the cost of romantic entanglements. O’Hara excels at describing Dez’s two-dimensional images—her three-dimensional humanity, less so. Promising conflicts, such as Cascade’s prejudice against Jacob (echoing in microcosm the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany), fizzle or turn into afterthoughts. A flawed debut; nevertheless, a promising new voice. (Agent: Stephanie Cabot)

Eventually, Dorothy becomes a grandmother, and even toward the end of her life feels the lure of Daniel, for she discovers he has become the primary relationship in her richly indulgent life. Perkins writes with soft beauty and brings out both the serenity and the strains of growing up, growing old and facing the lives we’ve made.

VALLEY OF ASHES

Read, Cornelia Grand Central Publishing (368 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-0-446-51136-0 A funny and sad novel about a woman trying to establish an identity for herself. Madeleine Dare is a stay-at-home mother of twin daughters and the second-class wife of a man who travels a lot on business. A casual housekeeper at

THE FORRESTS

Perkins, Emily Bloomsbury (352 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-60819-677-7 A novel that highlights the triumphs and vicissitudes of the Forrest family, primarily Dorothy, who both lives her life and tries to make sense of it. Sisters Dorothy, Eve and Ruth— along with their brother, Michael—have affectionate though spotty memories of their early life in New York, but while the girls are still young the family moves to Auckland, New Zealand. They soon meet 13-year-old Daniel, whose life will intertwine with theirs for the next 50 years, for he will eventually become both Eve’s and Dorothy’s lover. The life of the Forrests plays out in both conventional and unconventional ways. When the children are still quite young, for example, the mother takes them to a “wimmin’s commune” for some rest and relaxation, where they meet earth mother Rena. As a young adult, Dorothy marries Andrew, an artist, while Eve marries Nathan, seemingly a “safer” choice since he’s an accountant. Along the way, both couples have their marital ups and downs and occasional infidelities, but Eve dies at a relatively early age, leaving several young children behind her. As Robert Frost reminds us, however, “Life goes on,” and so it does for the Forrests. The kids grow up, Dot grows out of love with her husband, and almost always lurking in the background is Daniel, occasionally messed up by drugs but always charismatic and electrifyingly attractive to Dorothy. |

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“This is a beautiful exploration of how the heart’s irrational responses to love and betrayal can stand in the way of forgiveness.” from when it happens to you

best, she wants to find freelance work as a writer. Her rat of a husband belittles her ambitions, but she lands a gig as restaurant critic for a local newspaper. Soon the editor assigns her to report on a series of arsons. Meanwhile, her relationship with her husband is strained as he treats her with a mixture of love and disrespect. In fact, she has plenty of issues with herself as she grapples with self-loathing. She is loyal to her husband (is it mutual?) but enjoys fantasies involving teenage pool boys, and she uses enough gratuitous f-words and their ilk to fill a whole series of books. Madeleine (“Bunny” to her husband) is a sympathetic character in a witty, wiseass sort of way. That wit goes over the top at times, as when she jokes about sex with a chain saw. But she really wants to be a good wife and mother, while damn well wanting to do something for herself. The book seems at first to be mainly about the arson, but that turns out to be less important than Madeleine’s relationships with her husband and her friends and the surprising turns those friendships take. The way the book ends, it’s easy to imagine at least a sequel or two. The tone is reminiscent of Janet Evanovich’s novels, but perhaps with a touch more sadness. Also, Madeleine is more competent at her job than Stephanie Plum. A fast-paced, well-written book that will appeal to readers not bothered by profanity.

CARAVAN OF THIEVES

Rich, David Dutton (304 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 30, 2012 978-0-525-95288-6

Hollywood screenwriter Rich’s debut novel follows the adventures of a Marine poster boy, Lt. Roland Waters. Son of a con man who taught him to lie, steal and cheat, Rollie joined the Corps, found a home, toured Iraq and Afghanistan and made it through officer’s candidate school. Given his natural flair for languages, Rollie was assigned undercover in Afghanistan to stop black-market weapons thefts. The Afghan action alternates with the primary narrative and injects essential back story. Recalled to Camp Pendleton when his undercover connection is killed, Rollie learns he’s being tailed, but no one takes his worries seriously. Rollie’s also a rogue general’s target, because the general’s incompetent son was ensnared in the weapons-theft sting. Rollie soon learns he’s being followed because the feds are tracing military caskets full of money, $25 million in each, stolen by a corrupt colonel from Saddam Hussein’s larder during Iraq’s liberation. With Rollie’s father, Dan, in Iraq when the money disappeared, a treasury agent confronts Rollie with the suspicion the missing millions might be connected to Dan, “a con artist…a wise man who wasted his wisdom foolishly.” Now word is circulating that Dan dug up one casket from a veteran’s gravesite, and with Dan nowhere to be found, good guys and bad suspect devious Dan has the millions, and they want Rollie to find him. In a realistic story with an attention-grabbing premise, Dan becomes an entertaining character, while a measure of narrative depth comes from Rollie’s growing rapprochement with all that 1574

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was gained and lost in being Dan’s son. Rich’s screenwriting skills send Rollie adventuring across the American Southwest, all while being pursued by killers, moles and spies. Although Rich displays a nice touch for descriptive phrasing—“a slurry of chain stores”—it’ll be readers with a taste for Bourne-level action who will be eager for Rollie’s next adventure. An easy-to-root-for hero in a fast-paced thriller makes for entertaining reading.

WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU

Ringwald, Molly It Books/HarperCollins (272 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-0-06-180946-0

Everyone hopes that love will last forever, that only other people’s loves will fail. But what if the unthinkable happens to you? Ringwald’s (Getting the Pretty Back, 2010) debut novel employs a series of interlaced stories with a constellation of characters at different stages of life facing varied obstacles (many self-created) in the path of love. Among the characters fumbling to understand their own behavior and bewildered by the consequences of their actions is Greta. She and Phillip have built a secure, happy marriage, one that helps her endure the indignities of a third round of fertility injections and the difficulties of raising their energetic 6-year-old daughter, Charlotte. When Phillip confesses he has cheated on her with Theresa, Charlotte’s 19-yearold violin teacher, Greta is staggered. She returns to her mother, Ilsa, who faces her own challenges in love, including her plan to take in Greta’s drug-addicted nephew, Milo—Milo, who is so difficult that his own mother has run away to join a NewAge yoga practice. Ilsa challenges Greta: Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? But Greta cannot forgive Phillip. As she tries to repair her life, Greta embarks on a relationship with the much younger Peter. Estranged from Greta, Phillip forges a friendship with Marina, whose son, Oliver, is a friend of Charlotte’s. Oliver, however, likes to dress up in Charlotte’s clothes, which leads to his being attacked by older boys. Ringwald deftly weaves together the threads of these stories, creating a tapestry that captures the emotional landscape of both young and wellworn relationships. Amid the dust of that landscape lies a sort of letter to Theresa, a letter that exposes the myriad emotions swirling in the aftermath of a betrayed love. This is a beautiful exploration of how the heart’s irrational responses to love and betrayal can stand in the way of forgiveness.

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THE LAST VICTIM

Robards, Karen Ballantine (336 pp.) $26.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-345-53540-5

Robards (Sleepwalker, 2011, etc.) combines a few of her favorite themes in the first of a series featuring a psychiatrist with paranormal abilities who researches serial killers. During her senior year in high school, Charlie Stone survived a vicious attack by a serial killer who slaughtered her friend Holly Palmer’s family and then abducted Holly. Her classmate’s body was found buried beneath the boardwalk less than a week later near the coastal North Carolina town where the family had lived. Dubbed the Boardwalk Killer, the murderer attacked several families with teenage daughters before the killings stopped, and the girls’ bodies were always found within a week following their abduction. Fastforward 15 years, and Charlie is now a psychiatrist researching serial killers at a Virginia prison when FBI special agent Tony Bartoli and his colleague come calling. It appears either the Boardwalk Killer has resurfaced or a copycat murderer is on the loose. Since Charlie is an expert on aberrant behavior and has seen the Boardwalk Killer, the FBI wants her help. They must act quickly, though, if they want to save the latest girl to be abducted. The team heads to Kill Devil Hills, the site of the most recent crime, and Charlie quickly discovers that she’s brought along some extra baggage. The ghost of one of her subjects at the prison, a convicted serial killer named Michael Garland, has “attached” himself to her. (He claims he’s innocent, but DNA proves otherwise.) It appears that in addition to being a brilliant, beautiful, serial-killer magnet, Charlie also can see and communicate with the spirits of some victims of violent deaths. And hot-looking Garland just happens to fit the bill—he died of a stab wound in Charlie’s arms right before she left the prison. As the search for the Boardwalk Killer intensifies and Charlie wrestles with her attraction to the hunky dead serial killer, she has steamy erotic dreams about Garland that may or may not have actually occurred. Is there a ghost of a chance that Robards can conjure up a more believable—and less repulsive—love interest for Charlie in her next installment than the ghost of a convicted serial killer? Sadly, probably not. (Agent: Robert Gottlieb)

THE ART OF WAR A Graphic Novel

Roman, Kelly Illus. by DeWeese, Michael Perennial/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $22.99 paperback | Jul. 31, 2012 978-0-06-210394-9 What’s black and white and red all over? This harrowing revenge piece that |

blends globalization anxiety and the Sino-American struggle for global dominance with acute violence and technology run amuck. Debut creators Roman and DeWeese use the teachings of the ancient Chinese general, Sun Tzu, as the foundation for an epic dystopian story of brotherly love and corporate greed set in a nightmarish American wasteland circa 2032. Our nominal hero, Kelly Roman, has come home from the military prison where he served time for a friendly-fire incident that has scarred him body and soul. Worse, Kelly discovers that his brother, Shane, has died in the service of a resurrected Sun Tzu, whose mastery of warfare now extends into a heavily armed global financial market controlled by his company, Trench. To get things started, Trench’s human resources manager neatly snips off Kelly’s hands just to prove that he won’t succumb in battle. (Lots of things get sewn back on in the future, apparently.) In Manhattan, Kelly mentors under Sun Tzu and clashes with the general’s daughter, Qing, all while maneuvering against a mysterious competitor, Vespoid, whose leader, The Prince, competes fiercely against Trench. There are also enough sci-fi high-concept ideas to fill a kitchen sink, from genetically-engineered soldiers to militarized black holes to the integration of insect biotech to produce more accurate algorithms. Much like James O’Barr’s bestselling graphic novel The Crow, the art here is purposefully rough, incendiary and ugly at times, with a provocative style that dares readers to keep flipping to the end. It would fit in well with the likes of Vertigo’s Army @ Love or even the black-and-white visions of Brian Michael Bendis’ Torso or Goldfish graphic novels, but there’s something about the immediacy and volume of the single narrative that lends this martial nightmare a little something extra. A bold, messy conflagration that revels in all of the trespasses and heroism of which only human beings are truly capable.

SUMMER LIES

Schlink, Bernhard Pantheon (240 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-0-307-90726-4 Painful choices confront Schlink’s characters in the second story collection from the German author (The Weekend, 2010, etc.). They meet on vacation on Cape Cod. In “After the Season,” the first of seven stories, Richard is a German immigrant, a flautist; Susan works for a foundation. He’s shocked to discover she’s filthy rich; Richard doesn’t like rich folks, but head-over-heels love sweeps him into a commitment to move in with her, though he’s loath to leave his gritty Manhattan neighborhood; these are his people. Richard is a plausible but not fully autonomous character in a very well-crafted story. Not quite so plausible is the protagonist of “The House in the Forest”; he too is a German immigrant, a novelist like his American wife. She’s successful, he’s not. They find an idyllic country hideaway in which to raise their little girl, away from the distractions of Manhattan; but how can the husband make

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“Shomer skillfully combines historical plausibility and historical truth.” from the twelve rooms of the nile

their seclusion total? Credibility dissolves as his first act of vandalism propels him into madness. The most painful choice is faced by Thomas in “The Last Summer.” The retired philosopher has inoperable bone cancer. Thomas will treat himself to a last summer with his family; when the pain becomes unbearable, he will take a lethal cocktail. His plan goes awry when his wife finds the bottle. Again, credibility suffers when she goes ballistic at a family gathering. Nina’s painful choice came during her youth (“The Journey to the South”). Should she leave her bourgeois family and prospective husband for the happy-go-lucky student she’s fallen for? She chose wrongly and now, a cranky old woman, is eaten up by regret. The fun story is “Stranger in the Night.” The very proper Jakob is transfixed by the wild odyssey of his seatmate on a trans-Atlantic flight. Who could resist the story of a beautiful girlfriend, a swaggering sheikh, a suspicious death and five million euros? And now the stranger wants to borrow Jakob’s passport! A thoughtful, stimulating collection.

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE

Semple, Maria Little, Brown (336 pp.) $25.99 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-0-316-20427-9

From Semple (This One Is Mine, 2008), a cleverly constructed Internet-age domestic comedy about a wife/mother/genius architect who goes a little nuts from living in that cesspool of perfection and bad

weather called Seattle. Bernadette left Los Angeles years earlier after a professional disaster: After she won a MacArthur grant for building a house using only materials that originated within 20 miles of the site, vengeful neighbors had the house destroyed. Now she lives in Seattle with her equally genius husband, Elgie, who is working on a big project in artificial intelligence at Microsoft, and their genius eighth-grade daughter, Bee, whose devotion to her mother is one of the novel’s least credible plot points. Bernadette may be brilliant and funny, but she is also mean-spirited and self-absorbed, with a definite case of entitlement that the author too frequently seems to share. She certainly hates everything about Seattle, especially the other mothers at Bee’s crunchy-granola private school. Because she hates to leave her house, a crumbling ruin she’s never bothered to renovate, she has hired a personal assistant in India to run her life via the Internet. After her vendetta against one of her Seattle mommyenemies goes terribly awry, Elgie begins to wonder if she is having a mental breakdown. Meanwhile, Bernadette decides she wants to get out of a planned family trip to Antarctica. Days before the trip, in the middle of an intervention Elgie has plotted with his adoring administrative assistant, Bernadette disappears. To makes sense of the disappearance, Bee creates a book by collating the Internet postings, public records and private emails she has received from an anonymous source. Although 1576

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there are wonderful scenes of deadpan absurdity—Semple wrote for Arrested Development—Seattle, already the butt of so much humor lately, seems an awfully easy mark. The tone is sharply witty if slightly condescending, but ultimately Semple goes for the heartstrings. A fun beach read for urban sophisticates or those who think they are. (Author tour to Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle)

THE TWELVE ROOMS OF THE NILE

Shomer, Enid Simon & Schuster (464 pp.) $26.00 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-4516-4296-4

Alternative literary history—the conceit here is that Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert, both of whom traveled to Egypt in 1850, met on the voyage and developed an ardent friendship. In 1850, Flaubert had not yet written Madame Bovary and Florence Nightingale was still looking for an outlet for a personality that identified with the suffering of the world and had yet found no proper channel for her empathy. Flaubert is traveling with Maxime du Camp, and both are worldly men, having frequented whorehouses over several continents. In fact, Flaubert is currently enamored with Kuchuk Hanem, whose sultry beauty he recalls with lascivious fondness—and this while having temporarily left his mistress, Louise Colet, back in France. In contrast, Nightingale is traveling with Charles and Selina Bracebridge, friends who also serve as chaperones, and she is trying to escape both a family that tries to rein in her assertive personality and a broken engagement to Richard Monckton Milnes, the English man of letters. Although Flaubert’s English is spotty, the language barrier is more than made up for by Nightingale’s excellent French. He begins addressing her as “My dear Rossignol [Nightingale],” and their conversation becomes increasingly intimate, as does their physical contact, the sensual novelist helping to loosen up the strait-laced Nightingale. Although they never consummate their relationship, the sexual energy increases dramatically when they take a caravan trip across the desert. By the end of the novel, Flaubert and Nightingale split up wistfully, neither overly nostalgic for what might have been. By weaving her own imaginative constructions in with actual journal entries of both Flaubert and Nightingale, Shomer skillfully combines historical plausibility and historical truth. (Agent: Rob McQuilkin)

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YOU ARE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE Shreve, Susan Richards Norton (336 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 20, 2012 978-0-393-08280-7

Lucy Painter’s love for unreliable men has resulted in a life built on shame and secrets, until a crisis involving her own daughter cracks the mold. A conspiracy of silence, matched by the Watergate-hearings background, enfolds Shreve’s (Warm Springs, 2007, etc.) readable family drama that opens with 12-year-old Lucy Baldwin discovering her father’s suicide. Instructed by her mother never to speak of their shame, Lucy has spent subsequent years not dealing with the trauma. Now a successful children’s writer, she has held a long relationship with her married editor in New York, the father of her two children, who has often talked of leaving his wife but has never

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done it. Finally, Lucy and the children, Felix and Maggie, have relocated to D.C., to the selfsame house where her father died. Felix takes the move well; Maggie however is becoming infuriated by her mother’s secrecy and wants to know the identity of her father. Across the road lives another mother with a secret, Zee Mallory, who craves Maggie as the daughter she never had. As Maggie falls under Zee’s spell, Lucy is forced to act and speak. The gothic finale doesn’t fully deliver, but with her engaging tale and prose as fluid as Sue Miller’s or Anna Quindlen’s, if quirkier, Shreve hits the commercial bull’seye.

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“Undercurrents of spiritual turmoil and existential despair charge this powerful collection of provocative stories.” from we’re flying

MOTHERLAND

Sohn, Amy Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-4391-5849-4 A satirical swipe at the Park Slope Crowd of parents reveals promiscuity, secrets, despair and, oh yes, child care. In her fourth novel, Sohn (Prospect Park West, 2009, etc.) brings a satirical, soapy yet downbeat focus to the Brooklyn suburb where an Upper West Side and East Village group has relocated “with resignation, for the children’s benefit.” Rebecca, wife of Theo, is concealing the fact that her second child is not her husband’s; Marco, husband of Todd, is feeling increasingly trapped and unhappy as a gay father of two. Theo and Marco are good fathers, but elsewhere the children can seem patchily parented as the grown-ups flirt, kvetch, cruise via their iPhones, fall off the wagon and variously transgress in their preoccupation with personal fulfillment. Sohn’s one-liners add wit and her media insider’s perspective contributes a further layer of dry—if not wholly relevant—commentary. Her cast of characters is neither especially attractive nor sympathetic, not even the crazed stroller-thief, an older resident understandably exasperated by the new neighborhood sidewalk traffic. While the plotlines interknit implausibly (in one case, jaw-droppingly so), relationships reconfigure; some failing, some igniting. Are life lessons learned? Maybe one or two. A smart but soulless social survey which, despite the title, seems more interested in celebrities and explicit sex. (Agent: Daniel Greenberg)

WE’RE FLYING

Stamm, Peter Translated by Hofmann, Michael Other Press (384 pp.) $15.95 paperback | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-59051-324-8 Beneath the surface placidity of Swiss life, undercurrents of spiritual turmoil and existential despair charge this powerful collection of provocative stories. Renowned in European literary circles, Switzerland’s Stamm didn’t achieve his stateside critical breakthrough until his last novel (Seven Years, 2011, etc.). This story collection is even better, with pieces that read like the Zurich equivalent of Camus or Kafka, occasionally laced with a bit of Ibsen or Ingmar Bergman. Not a lot happens in these stories and what does mainly takes place internally, in the psyches of characters who don’t seem to have much control over their destinies or understanding of their motives and whose essential mysteries—to themselves and to the reader—could be described as the human condition. The American publication combines two separate story collections, the first published in 2008, the second in 2011, yet the stories themselves are timeless, like fables or 1578

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parables, with the plainspoken translation reinforcing the stark, spare essence of the fiction. Some of these stories deal with the awkwardness of adolescence and sexual initiation, but the protagonists of many more are innocents as well. In “Children of God,” the longest story here, a minister navigates between sin and divinity as he falls in love with a young girl who insists that her pregnancy is an immaculate conception. In the process, he consults a doctor, one who was “not even an atheist, he believed in nothing, not even that there was no God.” The following story, “Go Out into the Fields...,” concerns a landscape artist—identified in the second person as “you”—who learned to paint when “you learned to see,” who “kept painting dusks, as if you wanted to stop time, to escape the certainty of death,” and who approaches his work with “a passionate indifference.” Another protagonist, a young girl who lives “In the Forest,” survives through “alert indifference.” Such a perspective might be considered Zurich Zen, and Stamm is its master. For those who have an affinity for metaphysical fiction written with a surgeon’s precision, this collection will spur readers to seek out everything else by its author.

THE BLACK ISLE

Tan, Sandi Grand Central Publishing (480 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-446-56392-5 Tan debuts with a cinematically epic ghost story set largely on a Malaysian island that bears a striking resemblance to her native Singapore. In 2010, fearing that she is being erased from history, an aged woman living in Tokyo recounts her life to a visiting professor: Born in 1922 Shanghai, Ling and her twin brother, Li, are inseparable until 7-year-old Ling realizes that she can see ghosts while he can’t. From then on, ghosts surround her, some charming, some sorrowful, some horrific. During the Depression, Ling’s father loses his teaching job. At the insistence of Ling’s agoraphobic mother, he travels to the island in search of work, taking only the twins with him. They live in poverty, but Ling enjoys the cosmopolitan city until her father takes a job managing a rubber plantation when she is 12. He proves inept, so for three years Li and Ling run the operation, engaging in a little incest along the way, until the spirits of the dead rise up in an act of violence. As Japanese power builds ominously, Ling takes a job with the wealthy Wee family. Before long, she is engaged to sweet, dopey Daniel Wee and has changed her name to Cassandra. Recognizing her as a kindred spirit, the Wees’ chauffeur, Issa, encourages her to corral her power over the spirit world, but she bungles her attempt. The Japanese invade; the Wees are destroyed; and she becomes a Japanese officer’s sex toy until the British return victorious. Cassandra reunites with Issa and with Daniel’s former schoolmate, Kenneth. Helping them in their struggle for postwar independence, Cassandra enlists a host of child ghosts who wreak uncontrollable havoc. As Kenneth rises in the political world, he becomes Cassandra’s secret lover, but their affair is doomed: He

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ONE LAST THING BEFORE I GO

embodies the relentless pursuit of ghost-free prosperity, while she can’t shake the haunted tension between the present and the past. Cassandra is compelling, but despite graphic, sometimes gratuitous eroticism and violence, the ambitious novel eventually becomes a slog through too many ghosts. (Events in Los Angeles)

SYNDROME E

Thilliez, Franck Translated by Polizzotti, Mark Viking (384 pp.) $26.95 | Aug. 16, 2012 978-0-670-02578-7 In this terrific French thriller, a veteran Paris profiler struggling with paranoid schizophrenia and a lonely female police detective are brought together by a series of gruesome murders that have something to do with an old experimental film containing disturbing subliminal images. Chief Inspector Franck Sharko is a medicated mess. His wife, who died with their daughter in a horrific accident, appears to him in taunting visions; he runs toy trains in his apartment to blot out sounds in his head. But he’s a lot better off than five men who were buried with the tops of their heads cut off and their brains removed. Detective Lucie Hennebelle, a single mom whose daughter is in the hospital with a mysterious ailment, has two patients to attend to after an old boyfriend of hers is blinded by an experimental movie he bought in a house sale. After others who have had contact with the film are murdered— one of them is hung with the film strips of Good Day for a Hanging—Lucie follows a lead to Montreal, where the film was shot in the ’50s and at least one of the girls who appeared in it still lives. Sharko is sent to Egypt, where three girls were victimized in the same manner as the five men, and his own life is threatened. Teaming up in Canada, the investigators learn about the little-known phenomenon of Syndrome E—the inducement of hysteria and violence through sensory control—and its possible role in mass killings. The Nazis, the French Legion and the CIA all have had a stake in the film experiments. This novel boasts distinctive characters you want to spend time with, a lively plot, evocative settings, fun film references and, icing on the cake, an enjoyable offbeat romance. Having achieved bestseller status in Europe, Thilliez is poised to do the same in the U.S.

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Tropper, Jonathan Dutton (352 pp.) $26.95 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-525-95236-7

Drew Silver is dying in many ways: his marriage has been over for seven years, his ex-wife is getting remarried, his career as a rock drummer is long past, his 18-year-old daughter is pregnant, and he has a life-threatening heart condition. Tropper finds unexpected humor in all of these incongruous elements. Silver has never been much of a dad or a husband, so when he finds out about his defective heart, he determines he will not have a life-saving operation. After all, what does he have to live for? He’s lived long enough to see the breakup of his band, The Bent Daisies, and his music career ended with their one-hit wonder, “Rest in Pieces.” Now he’s living his days with other losers at The Versailles, a run-down motel. To his credit, the awareness of his precarious health causes him to rethink his pathetic life, and he’s able to come up with a to-do list that includes “Be a better father. Be a better man. Fall in love. Die.” By the end of the novel he’s able to cross almost everything off. Knowing he’s going to die concentrates his mind, and even the surgeon— both coincidentally and ironically his ex-wife Denise’s fiancé— can’t persuade Silver to undergo the operation. Silver is able, albeit briefly, to reestablish intimacy with Denise, and Casey, Silver’s daughter, effects a temporary reconciliation that leads her to call her father “Dad” (which both perplexes and pleases him) instead of “Silver.” In other words, what Silver ultimately achieves is to move beyond the inscription he imagines on his tombstone: his name, the years of his birth and death, and a phrase, the acronym for which is “WTF?” Tropper entertainingly examines the angst of middleage masculinity as he looks at Silver, a man both growing up and growing old.

A HUNDRED FLOWERS

Tsukiyama, Gail St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-312-27481-8

A young boy and his family struggle to adjust after the imprisonment of his father, an outspoken intellectual, in this dour slice-of-life novel about Maoist China from Tsukiyama (The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, 2007, etc.). In 1957, Mao encouraged intellectuals to speak their minds in his “Hundred Flowers” proclamation, but by 1958 they are being rounded up for re-education. Sheng, a history teacher in a small southern city, has been arrested for sending a signed letter critical of the government to the premier’s office. Shipped to

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a labor camp 1,000 miles away, he leaves behind his wife, Kai Ying, an herbalist/healer, and their 7-year-old son, Tao, who live with Sheng’s aged father, Wei, a retired professor—the Lees have long been members of the educated bourgeoisie. These are stoic yet sensitive characters, filled with remorse for past mistakes and anxieties about the future they do not share with each other. They are also relatively well-off, with enough food and a large house, even after Sheng is taken away. As the novel opens, Tao falls out of a kapok tree in their garden, fracturing his leg. Although Tao faces typical boyhood obstacles, he mends physically and emotionally without much trouble (or real drama). Tao’s injury and recovery become an emotional outlet for his mother’s and grandfather’s reactions to Sheng’s incarceration. Kai Ying yearns for Sheng despite what she considers his foolhardy if morally upright stand, while Wei blames himself for letting Sheng go with the police when Wei actually wrote the letter (he and Sheng share the same formal name). Ultimately, Wei screws up his courage to find Sheng and has the liveliest adventure in the novel. Subplots involve two female victims of abuse: Suyin, a teenager raped by her stepfather, and Auntie Song, who survived her vicious husband. For all the delicacy of the prose, the novel substitutes moral clichés against abuse and authoritarianism for emotional energy. The result reads like a faded black-and-white photo, charming but indistinct. (Agent: Linda Allen)

BATTLEBORN

Vaye Watkins, Claire Riverhead (304 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 2, 2012 978-1-59448-825-2 Ten stories, carefully and lovingly constructed, about Western characters as prickly as barbed wire. The epistolary story, “The Last Thing We Need,” chronicles the letters of Thomas Grey to one Duane Moser after the correspondent finds a lost stash of prescriptions, a collection of letters and an abandoned ’66 Chevelle out in the desert. “Rondine Al Nido” uncovers a young woman’s secret shame. If there’s an anomaly in the collection, it’s “The Diggings,” a story about the Gold Rush of 1849 and the madness of greed. It’s a fine story but feels out of place among those that surround it. There are two here that are flat-out outstanding. “The Archivist” is a spare, unflinching story about the desolation of loss. “There was no salve for the space he left,” is an amazing opening line for this heartbreaker about a woman building a shrine to the flimflam man she loved and lost. Watkins builds a fully formed world in “The Past Perfect, The Past Continuous, The Simple Past,” in which a beautiful young Italian boy wreaks emotional havoc on the workers of the brothel he stumbles into by accident. Gloriously vivid stories about the human heart.

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DEATH IN AUGUST

Vichi, Marco Pegasus Crime (232 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 15, 2012 978-1-60598-351-6

A first American appearance for a shrewd, worldly Florentine police inspector with some appealingly unexpected affinities. Florence, 1963. Maria Dolci is somehow convinced that Signora Rebecca Pedretti-Strassen, to whom Maria acts as full-time companion, doesn’t answer her door because she’s dead inside, murdered. Sure enough, when Inspector Bordelli quietly breaks into the Villa Pedretti-Strassen, he finds its mistress inside, just as dead as her companion feared. Although it’s clear that the signora died of an asthma attack, Bordelli is equally inclined to follow Maria’s lead in considering this a case of murder. The obvious suspects, according to the victim’s brother, antic inventor Dante Pedretti, are her nephews, Anselmo and Giulio Morozzi, who have no idea that their aunt has left her considerable fortune to the Sisters of Monte Frassineto. Both brothers, however, offer an unbreakable alibi: They were out late, dining and drinking with their wives, on the night of their aunt’s death. Relegating the job of building a logical case against them to his new subordinate Piras, a bright young man from Sardinia whose father served with Bordelli during the war, Bordelli focuses instead on what he does best: eating, drinking, showing up his superiors, palling around with the city’s ex-cons and lowlifes, recalling his experiences in the war and the time he lost his virginity, and preparing for a climactic dinner in which his old friend Ennio Bottarini, who happens to be both a burglar and a born cook, prepares a meal for the major suspects and whomever else Bordelli has run into. Forget the ingenious, disposable mystery. Reading Vichi is like vacationing with friends who’ve lived in Florence all their lives, know how to enjoy all the high and low spots, and solve murders.

THY NEIGHBOR

Vincent, Norah Viking (320 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 2, 2012 978-0-670-02374-5

For any reader still suffering from the delusion that suburbia is Eden, this debut novel explores the sinister side, where “a dark shadow lay just on the other side of the picket fence.” Though Vincent has attracted attention with her nonfiction (Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man, 2006, etc.), this book will challenge the reader to get a handle on just what sort of novel it is, and it reads as if its author wrestled with a similar challenge. At its most clichéd, it’s a social indictment of modern suburbia—its broken families, its secrets

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“A treasure trove of graphic artworks—they’re too complex to be called comics—from Ware, master of angst, alienation, sci-fi and the crowded street.” from building stories

behind those manicured lawns, its desperate promiscuity, its obsession with Facebook. But it’s also a whodunit, or at least a whydunit, as narrator Nick Walsh, an alcoholic, unemployed writer in his mid30s, attempts to solve the mystery of his parents’ murder-suicide. Why did Nick’s father kill his mother and then himself? Was the unhinged Nick more responsible than he lets on, or even understands? Is he criminal or casualty or both? Nick identifies a little too much with Hamlet, while recognizing that “Any spoiled kid who has a vaguely philosophical bent, serious daddy issues, and a bleak outlook on life has thought of himself as Hamlet and thought himself mighty profound and soulful for doing so.” The novel (or Nick) tends to deal in generalizations and stereotypes (“You know the breed.”), while reducing practically every supporting character to a plot device. “How many horrible things are going on right now in any one of these houses?” he asks, though he is in a better position than most to know, since he has had cameras and microphones installed in the houses of his neighbors, which he monitors from his basement (again, more plot device than plausible). Ultimately, another mystery emerges, though the savvy reader is likely to untangle a crucial question of identity well before clueless Nick does. The results fall through the categorical cracks, with the book succeeding neither as page-turning mystery nor as sharp social criticism. (Author events in New York)

by any measure—especially the being stuck in the suburbs part— but considering the likely fate of the little honeybee, Branford, who is the hero of one of the little books, it’s not to be dismissed. And anyway, try finding a four-room flat for $650 a month in the city these days—one in a building that, in Ware’s surreal inventory, has seen 13,246 light bulbs, 725 roasted turkeys and 158,854 lighted matches—all of which add up, one suspects, to the number of ways in which one can read this puzzling tome. A dazzling document, beautifully if most idiosyncratically drawn; in this iteration, sure to become a collector’s item, though one that begs for an easier-to-handle trade edition.

BUILDING STORIES

Ware, Chris Pantheon $50.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-375-42433-5

A treasure trove of graphic artworks—they’re too complex to be called comics—from Ware, master of angst, alienation, sci-fi and the crowded street. At 44, Ware (The Acme Novelty Library, 2005, etc.) is old enough to remember the day when you could stick a few dollars in an envelope, send it off and have a box full of strange goodness come to your door—a mystery box, that is, with puzzles, games, gag items and maybe one or two things worth keeping. Opening the oversized box that contains the many pieces of this book is a kindred experience: It’s not quite clear what’s inside, save for brightly colored paper in various forms, from foldout poster to ultrathin, small notebook to sturdy hardcover. Each package contains a story set, as the title suggests, in or near a teeming city. How the reader reads these seems not to matter, for the box is like a river, if that’s not too mixed a metaphor, into which one steps where the current seems safest; there’s no beginning to it and no end. One thing is clear: Not many of Ware’s characters are happy, even if they live in buildings that are overstuffed, like this box, with things. One young woman, for instance, recounts, “There were whole stretches of days where I never even left the house at all...never saw or talked to another human being...I just ordered pizzas, watched TV, and read books....Of course, I went grocery shopping, and a couple of times I walked to the ‘downtown’ of the suburb and ate dinner by myself, just for variety’s sake.” That’s a humdrum existence |

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THE PLEASURES OF MEN

Williams, Kate Voice/Hyperion (384 pp.) $15.99 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-4013-2423-0

A young lady of the privileged class becomes intrigued with a series of violent crimes in this thriller set in Victorian England. It’s 1840, and orphaned 19-year-old Catherine Sorgeiul resides with her uncle in his London home. England is in the midst of a recession, and the streets in this section of the city are dangerous to traverse and strewn with clutter and filth. While her uncle encourages Catherine to become socially active—potential suitor, Constantine Janisser, and his parents come calling as do the daughters of a prominent family—she shuns their company and prefers to stay within the confines of the home. But when a serial killer, christened the Man of Crows by the newspapers (because of his unique positioning of each body), begins preying on young, vulnerable working-class women, Catherine’s imagination is sparked, and she is irresistibly drawn to the case. She writes about each victim’s life as she imagines it to be and begins to slip out of the house to secretly visit the murder sites. Fixated with each slaying, Catherine agrees to accompany Constantine and Miss Grey, an acquaintance, to a magic show that reenacts the murders, with unpleasant consequences. As each killing strikes closer and closer to home, and more people disappear from Catherine’s life, the circumstances behind Catherine’s delicate emotional state are slowly revealed, and eventually, the identity of the killer is disclosed. Veteran nonfiction author Williams’ (England’s Mistress, 2006, etc.) first attempt at fiction is uneven at best. While she writes with authority about this era in English history and paints a graphic image of the difficulties people faced during that time—be thankful for hot showers—the meandering narrative is often difficult to follow, and the story seems to lose its focus. At times the story is a pleasure to read, but not often enough to recommend.

DIVING BELLES

Wood, Lucy Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (240 pp.) $14.95 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-547-59553-5 A dozen strange and original stories inject the magical, sinister and downright peculiar into the everyday. Talking magpies, husband-stealing mermaids, women who turn periodically to stone: English writer Wood’s debut collection is full of mysteries and inexplicable occurrences in domestic lives. The application of eye cream in “Of Mothers and Little People” reveals to 1582

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a daughter a wholly different reason for her mother’s behavior. “Notes from the House Spirits” gives voice to the inanimate and brings a strange perspective to human habitation. In “Lights in Other People’s Houses,” a ghostly shipwrecker arrives during a drought, filling an apartment with sand, pebbles and creeping damp. The sea is never far away in these narratives, sometimes as landscape—there’s a Cornish flavor to the book—at others central to events, as in the title story, which takes an abandoned wife down deep to the ocean floor. Wood’s tales often feature single females—unmarried women, deserted wives, perhaps the most memorable being Mrs. Tivoli in “Blue Moon,” who changes into a hare. Weaker stories are desultory or a bit obvious, and there’s an overreliance on vague endings, but at her strongest, Wood captures something fresh, fantastical and eloquent. Occasionally just fey, elsewhere convincingly unworldly, these stories express a distinctive voice and a gently beguiling imagination.

THE BARCELONA BROTHERS

Zanón, Carlos Translated by Cullen, John Other Press (304 pp.) $15.95 paperback | Aug. 28, 2012 978-1-59051-518-1

A dark, nihilistic novel evoking the spirit of Dostoevsky. Brothers Epi and Alex Dalmau visit a seedy Barcelona bar that serves as a magnet for whores and drugs. Epi comes prepared to knock in his friend Tanveer’s skull, which he accomplishes with some difficulty. Epi escapes the crime scene, but an innocent Pakistani man also runs away from the violence. Alex decides to do whatever he can to protect Epi, so he tells the police that the “Paki” did it. But why would Epi kill his friend? The answer becomes evident before long through a series of flashbacks. The author vividly writes of the Spanish underclass and its turbulent interactions with Arab immigrants. The language and many scenes are depressing, and the characters unsympathetic, perhaps with the exception of Epi’s girlfriend, Tiffany. No one’s bulb shines brightly in this book, and no one appears to have any chance of escaping the barrio or aspiring to anything better. The story is well-told, but there are no light moments to ease the tension. What if the police see through Alex’s lies? Will Epi get what he deserves? Assuming that readers care about the characters’ fates, they likely will be disappointed by the way the story ends. The writing is strong, but this is not an easy book to like. If you aren’t averse to a dose or three of gloom, give it a shot.

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“The Grand Canyon provides a stunningly scenic backdrop for murder.” from rock bottom

m ys t e r y INVISIBLE COUNTRY

Alfieri, Annamaria Minotaur (304 pp.) $25.99 | Jul. 3, 2012 978-1-250-00453-6

1868’s War of the Triple Alliance pits little Paraguay against its mighty neighbors Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay— and a freelance killer. Despite losing almost every battle he’s fought, Paraguay’s delusional dictator Francisco Solano López, egged on by his Parisian mistress Eliza Lynch, continues to wage war. Now he’s reduced to sending young boys, infirm old men and even women to slaughter. Preparing for the inevitable outcome, “La Lynch” commands Ricardo Yotté to take the four trunks full of treasure she’s pillaged from Santa Caterina’s church and hide them for her departure. But someone murders Yotté and leaves him under the church’s belfry for Padre Gregorio to find. Where is the treasure now? And who killed Yotté? The vicious commandante Menenez is ordered from on high to find out. His task sets him against his brother-in-law Salvador, a gentle villager; the padre; and a Brazilian officer hiding in the campos who’s bewitched Salvador’s daughter Xandra. To repopulate the decimated town, the padre has suggested it is the women’s duty to lie with the remaining males. His exhortation, which sets tongues wagging and libidos throbbing, thrusts Xandra into her uncle’s sights and endangers secrets kept by Salvador and Yotté’s two sisters. Fighting off starvation, night-hunting jaguars and the invading Brazilians, an alliance of villagers and determined soldiers win a mostly pyrrhic victory. Alfieri (City of Silver, 2009) has written an anti-war mystery that compares with the notable fiction of Charles Todd. (Agent: Adrienne Rosado)

THE PORTRAIT OF DOREENE GRAY

Allbritten, Esri Minotaur (288 pp.) $24.99 | Jul. 3, 2012 978-0-312-56916-7

The staff of a supernatural magazine can’t decide if its latest mystery is a case of human trickery or something more. When Doreene Pinter decides to auction off a portrait of herself painted by her identical twin, Maureene, the news of the sale makes the local press in Port Townsend, Wash. Although Maureene’s art has some fame in its own right, the reason for the notoriety of this particular sale is in the change of the painting over the years. Like Dorian Gray, |

Doreene hasn’t seemed to age a day since the painting was completed, though the painting, as in Oscar Wilde’s, has fared less well. The mystery surrounding this phenomenon brings the staff of Tripping, the magazine for all your supernatural needs, to town to get the story firsthand. Helmed by fearless Scot Angus MacGregor, its editor and cofounder, Tripping also counts among its staff the firm nonbeliever Michael Abernathy and the quirky and eye-catching photographer Suki Oota. Once assembled, the crew is ready to get down to the business of finding the truth, though Angus and Michael wind up bickering about everything from the nature of the supernatural to the use of aphorisms, which Michael dryly describes as “The spray cheese of wisdom.” Fast and furious wit like this helps move the tale along, though Allbritten (Chihuahua of the Baskervilles, 2011, etc.) still insists on saddling the otherwise charming Tripping staff with Doreene’s Chihuahua, Gigi, in an effort to put a Chihuahua in every pot. Streamlining the complexities of this series by focusing on dialogue and character development rather than elaborating everyone’s connection to Chihuahuas might expand its reach beyond readers infatuated with the breed. (Agent: Jennifer Unter)

ROCK BOTTOM

Andrews, Sarah Minotaur (304 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-312-67659-9 The Grand Canyon provides a stunningly scenic backdrop for murder. Even though she’s still terrified of water years after her brother drowned, forensic geologist Em Hansen has agreed to accompany her new husband, Fritz Calder, and his son, Brendan, on a raft trip down the Colorado River. Em is gingerly attempting to establish a relationship with 13-year-old Brendan, who’s thrilled by the chance to spend more time with his father. The trip is a wedding present from Fritz’s pal, Tiny, whose accident leaves Fritz as team leader. It’s immediately clear that the 15th member of the party, casually invited at the last minute by Tiny, is going to be trouble. Wink Oberley is an experienced, but much disliked, river runner with his own boat. He claims to be a former Army Ranger who’s currently working on a Ph.D. in geology at Princeton. Despite having a wife and children, he’s also a womanizer and a bully who picks on Brendan. Oberley is earning some extra cash by conducting an educational program for the group right behind them on the river, a religious group that denies geological evidence of how the canyon was created. He ruffles many feathers, but when he vanishes after a night of heavy drinking, Fritz, assuming that he’s drowned, simply reports him missing, and the trip continues. Once Oberley is found murdered, the park rangers who are investigating take Fritz as their prime suspect, forcing Em to use all her skills to find the real killer. Geologist Andrews enhances Em’s adventures (Dead Dry, 2005, etc.) with expert detail. A challenging mystery with the added fillip of evocative descriptions of the canyon.

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HOUSE OF BELLS

Brenchley, Chaz Severn House (240 pp.) $28.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-7278-8156-4 A girl with a troubled past takes an undercover assignment that may be the death of her. Grace Harley is a household name for all the wrong reasons. Implicated in a government scandal, she gave birth to a stillborn baby while she was in prison. Now she earns her living as a party girl in the swinging ’60s. One of her former lovers, newspaper editor Tony Fledgwood, offers her an assignment to go to the mysterious North Country great house of D’Espérance (The House of Doors, 2012, etc.). A former World War II army hospital, the sprawling mansion is now a hippie commune that’s swallowed up one of Tony’s reporters sent to investigate. Taking on the name and character of meek Georgie Hale, Grace is welcomed by the community, run by a former naval officer and the nurse companion known as Mother Mary. She’s taken under the wing of Tom, a young man who hero-worships the charismatic Webb, who is creating a new language. Since her attempts to induce an abortion brought about her baby’s death, Grace has been tormented whenever bells are rung, and the ones tolling at D’Espérance scourge both her spirit and her body, for her wrist keeps opening and bleeding. The house seems intent on magnifying her torment as she fights to discover the truth about the commune and save her sanity. A page turner full of mystery and horror that’s unfortunately marred by a weak ending.

QUEEN’S BOUNTY

Buckley, Fiona Creme de la Crime (240 pp.) $28.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-1-78029-024-9 Even the sister of a monarch is in trouble when she’s accused of witchcraft. Thrice-married Ursula Blanchard is the illegitimate sister of and former ladyin-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I. The queen has not hesitated to use Ursula’s skills as a spy in the past. But now Ursula is retired quietly in the country and planning the wedding of her daughter when she receives a threatening letter from the exiled Countess of Northumberland, who hates her for helping to unravel the treasonous plot that caused her downfall. Ursula ignores the letter, until suddenly a series of misfortunes befall her household, and she’s falsely accused as a witch. Two of her neighbors have feuded for generations, and either one of them could plausibly be behind her troubles. An outbreak of smallpox, accusations against a servant who had once been convicted as a witch and books on witchcraft found in the home of some friends are 1584

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evidence enough to persuade a zealous sheriff to investigate. Ursula and her longtime comrade in spying, Roger Brockley, put themselves in a dangerous position as they attempt to show that Ursula has been set up by a vengeful but unknown enemy. The latest in Buckley’s always-entertaining series (Queen Without a Crown, 2012, etc.) combines the obligatory historical tidbits with an adventurous mystery.

KILL YOU TWICE

Cain, Chelsea Minotaur (336 pp.) $25.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-312-61978-7

A fourth match—a fifth, if you count The Night Season (2011), in which she’s limited to a cameo—between Gretchen Lowell, the Beauty Killer, and Archie Sheridan, the Portland cop who alternates between locking her up and having

sex with her. Gretchen claims over 200 murder victims, but how could she have killed Jake Kelly, the philanthropist who volunteered at the Life Works Center for Young Women? Yet the corpse, bashed, skinned, hanged from a tree on Mount Tabor and decorated with a lily, certainly seems like more of her handiwork. So does the body of PR flak Gabby Meester, taken from her car and set afire at the foot of a Portland landmark with another lily. Of course, it’s no trouble to prove an alibi when you’re drugged to the gills and incarcerated in the Oregon State Mental Hospital. Although he swears that he’s not going to see his murderous ex-lover again, Archie’s lured back into contact with her when Gretchen’s interview with Susan Ward, the newspaper reporter whose life Archie saved, concludes its grueling description of Gretchen’s very first murder, the slaughter 16 years ago of James Beaton, with an urgent plea Susan passes on to Archie: “Children are going to die....You have to find the flash drive.” Could one of those children be Pearl Clinton, who’d been staying at the Life Works Center before she disappeared? How much of what Gretchen says can be trusted? And just how many serial killers are lurking in the hills of Oregon? Cain’s abiding determination to outdo the suspense, plot twists and gore of each previous outing is both perverse and awe-inspiring. (Agent: Joy Harris)

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“The shadow of Nazi Germany looms large over the case, which becomes more horrific with every new discovery.” from not my blood

KILLER CRITIQUE

Campion, Alexander Kensington (320 pp.) $23.00 | Jul. 1, 2012 978-0-7582-6879-2

Someone is killing the most exacting food critics in Paris before they can even file their reviews. The first victim, Gautier du Fesnay of Le Figaro, ends up facedown in a bowl of ravioles d’homard after he’s shot with a curare-enhanced projectile at heiress Béatrice Mesnagier’s new restaurant Chez Béatrice. The second, Le Figaro’s Jean Monteil, is stabbed with a basting needle as he sits in total darkness struggling to finish the gloppy bill of fare served at Dans Le Noir. The third, Arsène Peroché of Nouvel Observateur, is strangled and his mouth stuffed with his last course and then sewn shut at the ritual celebration of Dîner en Blanc. Clearly, someone has a grudge against food critics. But doesn’t that pretty much include everyone in Paris, certainly every restaurateur in the City of Light? Though she’s assured her boss that she’ll make an arrest within the week, Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier of the Police Judiciare (Crime Fraîche, 2011, etc.) hasn’t a clue who’s guilty, and interrogating the five high-living suspects who were demonstrably on the scene of the first two crimes (tout le monde turned out for the third) offers more badinage and food porn than enlightenment. Even when she allows her intuition to take over, her certainty about whodunit is unsupported by any evidence. Can she end the slaughter before the killer works his way down the list of Parisian food critics to her husband, Alexandre? Despite the overextended wrap-up, the mystery is as lightweight as the gustatory talk. There are no recipes: You couldn’t prepare the grenadine de veau in a million years. (Agent: Sharon Bowers)

along Dorcas Joliffe, a tough young family friend whose psychology degree will turn out to be an asset. Over the years, a number of troublesome boys have left St. Magnus school and have never taken up their rightful place in life. The latest goes missing under the noses of Joe, Dorcas and Mr. Gosling, an MI5 agent posing as a teacher. Joe, Dorcas and Gosling end up investigating what turns out to be a troubling case indeed. Too many people connected with the school over the years have had an interest in eugenics and believe only the best and brightest should be allowed to breed. The shadow of Nazi Germany looms large over the case, which becomes more horrific with every new discovery. As usual, Cleverly (The Blood Royal, 2011, etc.) neatly captures the style and feeling of the period between the world wars and provides plenty of mystery, suspense and danger.

NOT MY BLOOD

Cleverly, Barbara Soho Crime (352 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-61695-154-2 A desperate plea for help from a schoolboy sucks Scotland Yard Detective Joe Sandilands into a case that could end his career. Jackie Drummond’s mother had once used Joe in an attempt to conceive, so there’s a chance that young Jackie could be Joe’s son. Because his parents live in colonial India, Jackie attends St. Magnus, a Sussex boarding school. When a schoolmaster who was about to give him a beating is murdered, Jackie runs off to London, where “Uncle Joe” takes him in and prepares to return him, even though all is far from normal back at school. Before they leave, Joe is called into a meeting with high government officials who give him the vague assignment of investigating St. Magnus. Joe takes |

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THE CRIME OF JULIAN WELLS

Cook, Thomas H. Mysterious Press (304 pp.) $24.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-8021-2603-0

Cook’s 27th dip into his fictional characters’ troubled past asks why an expatriate writer took his own life. Before he rowed out to the middle of a pond and slit his wrists, Julian Wells’ most notable legacy was his shelf of meticulously researched true-crime studies of notorious serial killers. His death, however, creates a more poignant legacy for his sister Loretta, a failed actress and copy editor, and his old friend Philip Anders, a reviewer whose father, like Julian’s, was a State Department functionary. Why would Julian have chosen to kill himself during a particularly quiet period of a largely uneventful life? Taking his cue from the dedication of Julian’s first book—“For Philip, sole witness to my crime”—Philip retraces his friend’s steps over three continents and 40 years, focusing at length on a trip the two of them took to Argentina, a rare journey that was not designed to produce background material for one of Julian’s books. He recalls their friendship with Marisol Menendez, a guide to Buenos Aires who vanished into the deep shadows of the Casa Rosada during the dirty little war of the 1980s. As he interviews an activist priest, a Casa Rosada contact of his father’s, and a Russian agent who earned the sobriquet the Rostov Ripper, Philip can feel himself getting closer to one of those grimly climactic epiphanies so characteristic of Cook (The Quest for Anna Klein, 2011, etc.). This time, however, the big reveal seems neither inevitable nor weighty enough to justify the weight of the portentous buildup. This sprawling update of Eric Ambler’s A Coffin for Dimitrios lacks the baleful focus of its model, or of the most successful of Cook’s own nightmare excavations of the past. Wait till next year.

A BREW TO A KILL

Coyle, Cleo Berkley Prime Crime (384 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-425-24787-7 A rivalry between food trucks becomes a deadly affair. Clare Cosi (Murder By Mocha, 2011, etc.) has invested a lot of money in the Village Blend’s Muffin Muse coffee truck. So she’s not happy to be harassed by a rival whose Kupcake Kart truck parks in front of Clare’s coffeehouse. Although the rival is run off, the night turns deadly when Clare’s friend Lilly Beth is run down by a van in front of the store. The police call it attempted murder, but although Clare does all she can to solve the crime, it may be the least of her 1586

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troubles. A recent trip to Brazil has netted her ex-husband Matt, her partner and coffee buyer for the Village Blend, not only some superb new coffee beans, but the enmity of a crack dealer who made Matt an offer he did refuse. Clare and Matt’s visit to the warehouse for more beans leads to the discovery of crack hidden in the shipment and their arrest by DEA agents. Luckily, Clare’s main squeeze, NYPD drug specialist Mike Quinn, has the connections to set them free. Clare gets a full-time bodyguard posing as a waiter, but now she and the police must decide if she was the real target of the hit-and-run, which may have been part of a series. Politics, business rivalries, drugs—with so many possibilities, it won’t be easy to solve this case. A foodie’s delight, packed with information on coffee and desserts, along with appended recipes and a satisfyingly rich mystery. (Agent: John Talbot)

NEVER SAY PIE

Culver, Carol Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (264 pp.) $14.95 paperback | Aug. 8, 2012 978-0-7387-2379-2 Making consistently fabulous pies is the least of a local baker’s problems when a critic who gave her a thumbsdown is murdered. Now that Hanna Denton has gotten settled running her Grannie’s old pie shop in Crystal Cove, Calif., she’s doubling her duties by pushing her pies at the local Food Fair. It’s a great opportunity to encourage more folks to buy products, like the yummy-sounding butterscotch pecan pie (recipe included). And Hanna enjoys getting to know her fellow local-food purveyors. Bill and Dave claim to have the best sausage in town, cheese vendor Jacques has a personality that sells his wares, and even Nina, Hanna’s old high school chum, has gotten in on the action with a stand selling sweets. When a man comes by offering Hanna a free knife perfect for slicing pies, Hanna is happy to take one off his hands and promises to showcase it as an advertisement for him. In spite of the success of the pies at the Food Fair, critic Heath Barr pans the pies, along with those of several other vendors, in the local paper. The review turns out to be Heath’s last; he’s found stabbed to death by the knife given away at the Food Fair. Not only does that make Hanna a suspect, it raises police chief Sam Genovese’s suspicions about everyone who was given a promotional knife. Culver’s latest charts new developments in Hanna and Sam’s relationship, though it provokes fewer laughs than A Good Day to Pie (2011).

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“To Disher’s usual brisk pacing, add heaps of noir.” from port vila blues

A FOREIGN COUNTRY

Cumming, Charles St. Martin’s (368 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-312-59133-5 978-1-250-01501-3 e-book A deadly long-shot mission gives a disgraced secret agent a chance at redemption. Isolated pieces—the dissolution, in Tunisia a generation ago, of the marriage of Jean-Marc Daumal and wife Celine over his affair with nanny Amelia Weldon; the present-day murder of elderly Parisians Philippe and Jeannine Malot on a Cairo street; the kidnapping of a target nicknamed HOLST by one Akim Errachidi and his team—precede the introduction of dissolute Thomas Kell, waking up in a hotel room with another hangover eight months after his surgical dismissal, after two decades of service, from Britain’s MI6. A call from his old pal, Jimmy Marquand, sobers Kell immediately. The new MI6 chief-designate, Amelia Levine, has gone missing before even assuming the job. Kell knew Amelia well, and he leaps at the chance to be back in the game. He checks files, Amelia’s car and her room, noting that the signs indicate abduction. He questions veteran agents Bill and Barbara Knight, pictures of concern and cooperation with Kell...until he leaves, and their manner turns conspiratorial, and they hint at allegiances other than MI6. Using Amelia’s Blackberry as a guide, Kell follows her movements over the previous two weeks. Cumming flashes back to Amelia for the same period; when she’s found by Kell, it’s just the beginning of a complicated cat-and-mouse game stretching back to the trio of prologue events and weaving together personal and political tangles. Cumming’s sixth thriller (The Trinity Six, 2011, etc.) is smart and intricate, with a large cast of cool characters and an authentic feel.

PORT VILA BLUES

Disher, Garry Soho Crime (240 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-61695-101-6

Dirty doings Down Under as Australian superthief Wyatt (Wyatt, 2011, etc.) returns to steal something he wishes he hadn’t. He’s endlessly cool, enormously competent, a man who notices everything. But the eternal verities of Wyatt’s larcenous world are shifting. Cops, for instance, can no longer be depended upon to be the honest plods that made them predictable adversaries. Robbers, fences and pretty women are developing unforeseeable vagaries. Most troubling of all, however, is the dereliction of Frank Jardine, Wyatt’s old friend and job-planner. Jardine and Wyatt had had a good thing going, but suddenly Jardine’s not what he |

once was, and as a result, Wyatt’s life has become less comfortable. Consulting the floor plans Jardine has supplied to a plush Sydney mansion points him unerringly to the safe he intends to loot of $50,000, split down the middle between Jardine and himself. He finds the safe with no problem. It’s what he finds in addition, without any caveat from Jardine, that turns out to be a problem. The diamond-encrusted butterfly is gorgeous, and Wyatt unhesitatingly adds it to his bag of swag. What he doesn’t know, what he feels he should have been warned about, is that the butterfly has already been stolen. And that numerous hard guys will kill to get it back. To Disher’s usual brisk pacing, add heaps of noir. The result is not for everyone but is a banquet for those who like it uncut and unsparing.

BAD LITTLE FALLS

Doiron, Paul Minotaur (320 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-312-55848-2

Now that he’s antagonized every other lawman in the state of Maine (Trespasser, 2011, etc.), game warden Mike Bowditch gets exiled to Washington County, the Down East territory where nothing ever happens. Things happen. A snowy dinner with Doc Larrabee, the elderly veterinarian who’s one of the few people on speaking terms with Mike, and Doc’s friend, survivalist/professor Kevin Kendrick, ends when Doc, somewhat the worse for liquor, asks Mike to respond with him to his neighbor Ben Sprague’s call for help. Seems that someone has staggered out of the blizzard into the Spragues’ home and told Ben and his wife, Doris, a wild story about a friend he left wandering out in the snow. The someone, Mike realizes on their arrival, is Prester Sewall, brother of local beauty Jamie Sewall, who’s constitutionally drawn to all the wrong men, from her bullying little ex Mitch Munro, father of her son Lucas, to Randall Cates, the drug dealer she’s been seeing most recently. The friend, Mike soon discovers when he and Kevin go looking for him, is Randall Cates. His death, which seems at first like a happy ending for Jamie, looks both backward to the overdose last year of college student Trinity Raye and forward to the consequences of Mike’s fatal attraction to Jamie. The story’s ultimate import becomes clear only after more bad weather, some truly ugly surprises and the obligatory standoffs between Mike and everyone capable of fighting with him. A high-stakes, high-tension yarn in which you keep wishing everything would turn out fine for the deeply flawed, deeply sympathetic hero even though you know it won’t. (Agent: Ann Rittenberg)

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NO FOOTPRINTS

Dunlap, Susan Counterpoint (272 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-58243-771-2 San Francisco stuntwoman Darcy Lott (Power Slide, 2010, etc.) learns the burden of responsibility that comes from saving someone’s life. On her way to meet her brother, Mike, back home after 20 years away, Darcy spots a jumper on the walkway of the Golden Gate Bridge. Athletic Darcy wrestles the young woman from the railing only to see her disappear into the fog. To help find the jumper before she can try again, Darcy enlists Mike and her police officer brother, John. But it isn’t until she hooks up with shady Declan Serrano, who keeps peace in the Mission District by methods that don’t follow San Francisco PD protocol, that she’s able to track down Tessa Jurovik. Tessa works at a high-end copy shop by day and sleeps in a building owned by a bagpiper whose practice keeps his tenants awake all night. Is it those midnight bagpipe sessions that prompt Tessa to swipe a credit card from socialite Varine Adamé and hole up in the Presidential Suite of the swanky Mark Hopkins? Or is it the mysterious influx of cash that also allows the former bike messenger to purchase a pricey new ride? Whatever the reason, Darcy ignores her Zen master’s admonition to live in the moment and trains her sights on the future that she’s afraid Tessa won’t live to see. As her plot thrusts forward, Dunlap’s terse style battles her complex storyline, with a result more ZipCar than Zen.

BAGPIPES, BRIDES, AND HOMICIDES

Dunnett, Kaitlyn Kensington (288 pp.) $23.00 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-7582-7265-2

The still waters of a quiet Maine town run deep when a local professor is killed and suspects abound. As she plans her wedding, Liss MacCrimmon thinks the biggest hurdle she has to face will be convincing her mother, Violet, to give up hope that Liss and her fiancé, Dan Ruskin, will celebrate their marriage with a traditional Scottish handfasting ceremony. With just weeks left before the big day, Liss has no time to worry about the hubbub surrounding the legitimacy of the upcoming Medieval Scottish Conclave. So when professors A. Leon Palsgrave and Caroline Halladay ask her to display reproduction weapons meant to promote a battle recreation at the festival, Liss agrees to let the two use the Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium’s front window. Liss is having her bridal gown fitted when she hears the news that a professor at local Anisetab College has been murdered, and she can barely believe it when the deceased 1588

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turns out to be the controversial Dr. Palsgrave. Even more shocking, however, are the ties that Liss’ family had to the professor, and especially the news that Liss’ father, Mac, may be Detective Franklin’s number one suspect. Though Liss knows better than to get mixed up in another mystery, she also knows that family comes first. If she can discover the truth, she can save her father’s good name in time for him to walk her down the aisle. The latest from Dunnett (Scotched, 2011, etc.) doesn’t exactly break new ground, but cozy readers may well enjoy a story that meets their expectations. (Agent: Christina Hogrebe)

SERENADE TO A CUCKOO

Fitzpatrick, Flo Five Star (292 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 15, 2012 978-1-4328-2601-7

An actor in a television crime show finds that her role is becoming more like a part in a dangerous reality series. As Detective Jocelyn Girard on CUNJ: Crime Unit New Jersey, Texas-born tomboy P.L. McGinnis does many of her own stunts. But finding a body adrift in the chilly waters of Raritan Bay isn’t part of the script. The murdered man is one of the many Tonys working on a makeover of the house P.L.’s friend Sol Chastaine has inherited. Luckily, the harrowing experience does gain her a good deal of attention from three sexy men: her fellow actor Xander Casella, FBI agent Elijah Rossi and reporter Mike Chizoba Shimada. When another Tony is found electrocuted and hanging from a ceiling fan in Sol’s makeover, the plot thickens. The most sinister of the Tonys for P.L. is Toni Mainerio, the gorgeous contractor for the makeover whose ill-assorted crew seems to lack the most rudimentary skills for the job. They’re not the only ones who are unskilled, though. Toni’s insistence that P.L. reveal the whereabouts of a Catalan cuckoo clock leaves the feisty Texan baffled. With Mike’s help, she attempts to track down the elusive clock and figure out why Toni is so desperate to get it. Kidnapped, stalked and harassed by Toni and her helpers, P.L. continues to act, pack in the food and socialize with her pal Bambi and the CUNJ cast until the show and the case are a wrap. In introducing P.L. and her pals, Fitzpatrick (Hot Stuff, 2005, etc.) gets pretty silly. A last-minute twist saves the mystery from complete inconsequence.

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“You’d swear you were reading the first police procedural ever written.” from simple

THE SINGAPORE SCHOOL OF VILLAINY Inspector Singh Investigates

Flint, Shamini Minotaur (336 pp.) $25.99 | Jul. 17, 2012 978-0-312-59699-6

There’s no dearth of suspects when a lawyer is murdered. Singapore police inspector Singh enjoys an orderly, civilized breakfast with his chatty wife. Singh is unquestionably a brilliant detective, but because he’s off-puttingly formal in his interactions and physically squat to boot, the advancement that would gratify Mrs. Singh to no end eludes him. Across town later that day, Mark Thompson, senior partner at Hutchinson & Rice, steels himself with alcohol before tackling an unspecified problem. The following day, Thompson’s protégé, Annie, on edge after her father makes another long-distance request for money, enters the boss’ office with her colleague Quentin and finds Thompson dead. Singh arrives in short order, trailed by a line of uniformed policemen. After a thorough search of the office, Singh visits Mrs. Thompson (more grateful that her children are safe than distressed that her husband is dead), who energetically accuses Mark’s ex-wife Sarah. Gathering his team, Singh lays out his plan for the investigation, then meets with the nervous Hutchinson & Rice senior partner and a flock of phlegmatic suspects, and, as usual, Superintendent Chen keeps a close eye on Singh to make sure he continues to toe the mundane line rather than play dramatic detective. Singh complies by serving as the new mentor to inexperienced Cpl. Fong, who gets elaborately nauseated at the site of his first autopsy. Faithfully recreating the conventions and pacing of vintage Asian-sleuth whodunits, Singh’s third (A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul, 2011, etc.) should satisfy traditionalists, offering a solid mystery.

SIMPLE

George, Kathleen Minotaur (336 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-312-56914-3 George’s Pittsburgh cops (Hideout, 2011, etc.) investigate a robbery-murder that’s a lot less routine and more sordid than it looks. Gubernatorial hopeful Michael Connolly can’t keep his hands off Cassie Price, a new paralegal in his father’s law firm. But as he tells Todd Simon, his campaign manager, his need to maintain a squeaky-clean family image means that he can’t acknowledge her either. So Simon takes Cassie out for a margarita to find out how dangerous she is. By next morning, she’s no danger at all, because she’s been killed in the house she’s been fixing up in the 1590

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low-income neighborhood of Oakland. Witness accounts and other evidence send Detectives Coleson and McGranahan to Cal Hathaway, the son of the Connolly housekeeper. Damaged as a child by a concussion and subject to blackouts, Cal seems tailor-made for the role of Cassie’s killer, and after hours of interrogation, he says he did it, or he didn’t, or he can’t remember. That’s good enough for the cops, who lock him up and get ready to move on. But Cmdr. Richard Christie, dissatisfied with the case against Cal, keeps playing devil’s advocate, urging that Detectives John Potocki and Colleen Greer look at other scenarios and other suspects. As they painstakingly build a second case against an unsurprising suspect, Cal makes friends and enemies in jail, raising the distinct possibility that even if the police arrest someone else, his vindication will be posthumous. George’s all-too-familiar story is so richly observed, subtly characterized, precisely written—her syncopated paragraphs are a special delight—and successful in its avoidance of genre clichés that you’d swear you were reading the first police procedural ever written. (Agent: Ann Rittenberg)

TROUBLE BREWING

Gordon-Smith, Dolores Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-7278-8169-4

A clever sleuth’s efforts to find a missing man involve him in murder. H.R. Hunt, the head of Hunt Coffee Limited, wants Jack Haldean, a World War I pilot turned mystery writer and amateur sleuth, to find his vanished greatnephew Mark Helston. Although the police have concluded that Mark left for reasons of his own, Haldean (Off the Record, 2011, etc.) agrees, despite his reservations, to look for him. Mark and his sister Pat inherited a large amount of money from their grandmother, most of it going to Mark. Pat, who’s been collecting an income from her share, would inherit it all if Mark was proved dead. A body Haldean finds in a deserted house is identified as that of the Brazilian who managed the Hunt coffee plantation. Suddenly Mark is a murder suspect. The case becomes even more confusing when Pat’s first husband, Larry Tyrell, who was reported killed in the war, turns up claiming amnesia. Pat’s current husband, Greg Jaggard, loves her despite their often rocky relationship and is suspicious that Tyrell’s appeared now that Pat may be in line for a fortune. H.R. Hunt has a pal of Haldean’s looking for reasons for the company’s suspiciously low profits, even though Frederick Hunt, who currently runs the business, is untroubled by them. When a company secretary is murdered and Haldean finds Mark buried under another man’s name, Jaggard is arrested for murder. Haldean doesn’t believe in Jaggard’s guilt, but it will be tough to prove him innocent. A classic mystery in the style of Philip Macdonald’s Anthony Gethryn stories; complex, insouciant and very British.

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LEAST OF EVILS

Gregson, J.M. Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | Jul. 1, 2012 978-0-7278-8143-4 A foiled robbery pits DCI Percy Peach (Merely Players, 2011, etc.) against a wolf in philanthropist’s clothing. Locals in Brunton regard Oliver Ketley as a benefactor, little suspecting that his generous donations to a host of local charities are funded by a chain of drug and prostitution operations he runs with an iron fist. Eddie Barton feels the weight of that fist when he has the audacity to break into Thorley Grange and make off with a bagful of Mrs. Ketley’s jewelry. Even after Ketley’s bodyguards shoot Barton, leaving him wounded in the road, Barton won’t grass, no matter how hard Peach, eager to get some dirt on Ketley, presses the young thug. Soon enough, though, the Grange opens wide to the local constabulary when Ketley is found in his Bentley, shot through the head. And much as they’d love to pin this one on Ketley’s hit man, George French, Peach soon learns that there are just too many suspects for him to focus only on the most desirable. Ketley’s younger wife, Greta, certainly fits in the frame, as does her lover, Martin Price, a former member of Britain’s secret service. The field is so large that Peach and his bagman, DS Clyde Northcott, simply can’t handle the volume. So against department practice, Peach enlists the aid of his former sergeant and current wife, DS Lucy Peach. Peach is a formidable opponent whose insight and persistence earn him top honors among British procedurals.

TOMBSTONE BLUES

Hodgson, Ken Five Star (264 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 15, 2012 978-1-4328-2603-1

Arsenic and Old Lace meets al-Qaida. Fresh from her divorce to a soulless Houston lawyer and her job at a chain restaurant, Samantha Sterling hopes for new horizons managing the Sunset Bed and Breakfast in Tombstone, Ariz. Both the town and the B&B turn out to be aptly named indeed. As Samantha realizes when the only guest in residence suddenly keels over dead, Sidney Munson and Michael Herod, the 50ish gay couple who own the place together with Sidney’s mother, Esther, are nothing less than an assassination team for The Company. Your tax dollars, funneled through the CIA, send enemies of the American way of life—smugglers, terrorists, attorneys— to the Sunset, where they’re quietly dispatched, preferably by poison, by a crew determined to make initially aghast Samantha one of their number. Nor are Sidney and Michael the only Tombstone residents who nod off every night dreaming of homicide. Tex Birdsong, the retired longshoreman who lives |

nearby, lives for the date of his shrewish wife Fern’s funeral, and the clueless Tombstone Minutemen plot mayhem at every turn. After two routine rounds of executions, the Sunset circle gets word that an al-Qaida crew has procured a 30-megaton nuclear weapon that it plans to detonate in the area, and matters rapidly descend from the silly to the creepy as Samantha finds herself getting a taste for the work. Apart from the tin-eared dialogue, relentlessly arch without being funny, Hodgson (The Man Who Killed Shakespeare, 2007, etc.) makes the first half genuinely amusing before those nuclear terrorists arrive and spoil it all.

A KILLING IN THE HILLS

Keller, Julia Minotaur (416 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-250-00348-5 A tough prosecutor who’s trying to make a difference in the lives of West Virginians suddenly finds her own life in shambles. Whatever plans Bell Elkins made for herself as a child growing up near the town of Acker’s Gap ended when her older sister killed their father. From that point on, Bell was brought up in various foster homes. After intelligence and determination got her through law school, she and her husband, fellow attorney Sam Elkins, found high-paying jobs in Washington until Bell, tired of their shallow lifestyle, returned with their daughter Carla to West Virginia. When Carla, who’s changed from a delightful little girl to a sulky teen, witnesses the murder of three old men at a local fast-food joint, her love-hate relationship with Bell becomes worse, especially since she recognizes the killer as someone she saw at an alcoholand drug-laced party she can’t mention to her mother. Bell and her longtime friend Sheriff Nick Fogelsong have been fighting a losing battle against the drug kingpin whose dealers are feasting on the misery of the poor and often desperate population. So it’s only natural that they suspect these killings are drug-related. In addition, Bell has to decide if she wants to prosecute a mentally challenged young man accused of killing a child he often played with. Even with her own life in danger, Bell won’t back down. A fictional debut for a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, born and raised in West Virginia, whose love for the state, filled with natural beauty and deep poverty, pervades a mystery that has plenty of twists and turns and a shocking conclusion.

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SHUNNING SARAH

Kramer, Julie Emily Bestler/Atria (336 pp.) $23.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-4516-6463-8 Another hot tip from her best informant, her mother, leads TV reporter Riley Spartz (Killing Kate, 2011, etc.) far from the Twin Cities to a murder among the Amish community in misnamed Harmony, Minn. There was little enough chance of identifying the dead woman who’d been stripped naked, wrapped in a homemade quilt, and dumped in a sinkhole weeks before Josh Kueppers, 10, falls into the hole with the corpse and blows off her face with his shotgun in a panic. Since there are no photos available of the victim and the whole drama is playing out far from Channel 3’s market audience, Riley’s lecherous new boss, news director Bryce Griffin, isn’t eager to turn her loose on the story. But once the dead woman is identified as Sarah Yoder, 18, Riley persuades Griffin to send her back to Harmony, only to get predictably stiffed by Sarah’s mother, Miriam, Bishop Abram Stoltzfus and the rest of the closemouthed Amish. Only Linda Kloeckner, the Lamplight Inn owner who put up Sarah when she ran away from home shortly after committing her life to the community, and Isaac Hochstetler, who briefly employed her at Everything Amish, are willing to talk to Riley, and their information doesn’t do much to sensitize the reporter who asks her confessor, Father Mountain, whether ritual shunning by the Amish community is “worse than unfriending someone on Facebook.” No wonder a pair of attackers break into Riley’s room at the Lamplight Inn and (gasp!) cut her hair. Riley’s obtuseness makes her a uniquely incompetent detective, an investigative reporter constantly surprised by developments less likely to ambush seasoned genre fans.

NO WAY TO KILL A LADY

Martin, Nancy Obsidian (320 pp.) $23.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-451-23705-7

The death of her great-aunt sends Philadelphia socialite Nora Blackbird (Murder Melts in Your Mouth, 2008, etc.) into a nicely accessorized tizzy. It’s not easy running Blackbird Farm, her family’s sprawling Main Line estate, on her salary as a society-page reporter. Not even with the help of her pregnant sister, Emma, who supplements their income giving riding lessons, or the encouragement of her ditzy sister, Libby, whose attempts to raise five children and post pictures of her latest pedicure to her website, PitterPat, leave her no time to actually earn money. So Nora is overjoyed to learn that her great-aunt, “Madcap” Madeleine Blackbird, left her estate 1592

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to the three sisters and their cousin, Sutherland. Unfortunately, her trip back to Quintain reveals the mansion stripped of all the glittering treasures Nora remembers from her childhood visits. But worse than what’s gone is what’s been added: a skeletonized corpse trapped in the elevator. While Sutherland tries in vain to seduce Nora into a partnership that will consolidate his hold over their joint inheritance, Nora slips a Dior spring jacket over her vintage lace suit and hits the charity fundraiser circuit, hoping that someone from Maddie’s flamboyant past can ID the deceased. But her boyfriend, repentant mobster Michael “Mick” Abruzzo, is not the kind who can let a lace suit pass unnoticed, particularly when it encases his shapely paramour. Will Mick’s release from prison to house arrest at Blackbird Farm distract Nora from her mission, or will his connections help her solve the puzzle from the past? Slightly gamer than in her earlier exploits, Nora steps closer to the plate in Martin’s latest outing.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SEVEN

McCall Smith, Alexander Anchor (336 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-307-73936-0 85 more snapshots of the tenants of 44 Scotland Street and their friends and lovers. Now that crime kingpin Lard O’Connor has been taken out of the deck (The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, 2010, etc.), life moves on a more even keel for the citizens of Edinburgh. Pregnant ex-schoolteacher Elspeth Harmony and her bridegroom Matthew, owner of the Something Special Gallery, look at a bigger and much more expensive flat in Moray Place. Anthropologist Domenica Macdonald’s friend Antonia Collie invites Domenica and their mutual friend, painter Angus Lordie, to share her villa in the Tuscan hills. Surveyor Bruce Anderson, who’s broken many hearts already, gets engaged to Lizzie Todd, his boss’ daughter, but a scheme Lizzie’s friend Diane concocts to test Bruce’s motives backfires spectacularly. Matthew’s ex-employee and ex-girlfriend, art history student Pat Macgregor, informs him that her part-time replacement, the beautiful Kirsty, is a member of Women’s Revenge—he must fire her but dares not. Most of these plotlines are slender stuff; some are wound up with featherweight insouciance or not at all. By far, the most rewarding pages are devoted to Bertie Pollock, the matter-of-fact 6-year-old who hatches a plan to take his baby brother Ulysses in for show and tell. A pair of climatic voyages yield very different results. Antonia, finally face to face with the treasures of the Uffizi Gallery, comes down with Stendhal Syndrome; Bertie, who yearns in vain to turn 7 and earn some measure of respect, is graced with a magical fishing trip with his put-upon father. Another charming demonstration that it’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive—a motto that might stand for every soap opera ever written.

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“Determined to avenge an attack on her uncle, a photographer turns investigator in this character-rich whodunit and whydunit.” from going to the bad

GOING TO THE BAD

McFarland, Nora Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-4391-5557-8 Determined to avenge an attack on her uncle, a photographer turns investigator in this character-rich whodunit and whydunit. Lilly Hawkins’ job as chief photographer for the Bakersfield KJAY news team lets her listen in on the police frequency. She’s at work with her closest friend, 60-something Leanore Drucker, when she hears an alarming call for an ambulance to go to her boyfriend Rod’s place. When Lilly shows up at the house, she’s relieved to see that Rod is okay but is horrified by the news that her Uncle Bud has been shot. While she’s had her share of ups and downs, Uncle Bud’s been there through them all as Lilly’s reliable surrogate parent, and Lilly knows exactly what she has to do. Ignoring Rod’s insistence that she stay with Bud at the hospital to see what the rounds of emergency surgery bring, Lilly grabs her station news van to investigate. Her first stop is the home of Leland Warner, with whom she’s already had too many run-ins. There, Lilly finds that Leland is convalescing, supervised by his sister, Erabelle, and his son, Junior, a not-so-pleasant chip off the old block. Although the Warners do their best to stop her in her tracks, Lilly’s nose for news tells her there’s something more, and she won’t stop until she finds the truth. Fans of McFarland’s series (A Bad Day’s Work, 2010, etc.) will be shocked at the involvement of Uncle Bud. It’s hard when a mystery hits so close to home.

MÜNSTER’S CASE

Nesser, Håkan Translated by Thompson, Laurie Pantheon (320 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-307-90686-1 Throughout his first five appearances translated into English (The Inspector and Silence, 2011, etc.), Chief Inspector Van Veeteren has constantly threatened to retire, but this time he seems to mean it, leaving the scant detecting honors here to Inspector Münster. Waldemar Leverkuhn’s lucky day, which begins when he splits a lottery prize of 20,000 guilders with three old friends, ends when he’s stabbed 28 times as he sleeps off his drunken celebration. That same night, fellow winner Felix Bonger goes missing from his houseboat, and shortly thereafter so does Else Van Eck, the wife of the caretaker in Leverkuhn’s building. The Leverkuhn children are no help in Münster’s investigation. The eldest daughter, Irene, has been a patient in a mental hospital for years, and her lesbian sister Ruth and weak-kneed brother Mauritz haven’t remained close enough to their parents to offer any helpful information. The |

biggest break in the case comes when Leverkuhn’s wife, MarieLouise, who’s been acting more shocked than grief-stricken, suddenly confesses to his murder and—this being an unspecified fictional country that combines features of Sweden, Finland and Holland, but certainly not the U.S.—is promptly put on trial. From beginning to end, in fact, the case is driven not by any discoveries the police make but by developments outside their control. Münster, who feels very much like a stopgap sleuth, cuts an even less assuming figure than Van Veeteren, who pops up as a kind of Greek chorus from time to time to remind you that it’s his franchise. The mystery, like the detection, manages to be both routine and gripping.

THE VIPER

Östlundh, Håkan Minotaur (352 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-312-64232-7 Journalist Östlundh’s first Englishlanguage translation provides sad proof that not every crime novel that takes root under the midnight sun blossoms equally brightly. Corporate consultant Arvid Traneus has been away from home for 10 years, spending longer and longer periods of time doing what he does best: driving his employer’s closest competitor closer to extinction. Only a few days after he returns to the Swedish island of Gotland, it becomes clear that he didn’t stay away long enough when his housecleaner arrives at work to find two blood-soaked bodies. The woman is obviously Arvid’s wife, Kristina, whom he stole away from his cousin Anders many years ago. But the man has been so savagely attacked by a razorsharp blade—the pathologist counts 30 wounds, half of them bad enough to have individually been the cause of death—that it’s impossible to identify him. Attempting to figure out whether the corpse is that of Arvid or Anders or someone else, Fredrick Bowman and his colleagues in the Visby Police Department question Anders’ father, ex-wife and daughter, as well as Arvid’s son Rickard, a part-time accountant, and his daughter Elin, a university student in Stockholm. They pick up dark hints about the death of Arvid’s eldest child, Stefania, who died 10 years ago at the age of 19. And in the fullness of time, they discover a third corpse that raises as many questions as it answers. The ruthless patriarch, the dysfunctional family, the mysterious earlier death and the pattern of domestic abuse all suggest that Östlundh has made a close study of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy. But this procedural is altogether slower, less surprising and more routine than its high-flying sinners seem to promise.

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“Elliptical and often oracular, but also remarkably penetrating and humane.” from the beautiful mystery

THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY

Penny, Louise Minotaur (384 pp.) $25.99 | Aug. 28, 2012 978-0-312-65546-4

A prior’s murder takes Quebec’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his sidekick, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, inside the walls of the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loupes. The Gilbertine order, long extinct except for the two dozen brothers who live on an island apart from the rest of the world, enforces silence on its members. In the absence of speech, a raised eyebrow or averted gaze can speak intense hostility. Now someone has found a new way to communicate such hostility: by bashing Frère Mathieu, the monastery’s choirmaster and prior, over the head. Gamache and Beauvoir soon find that the order is devoted heart and soul to Gregorian chant; that its abbot, Dom Philippe, has recruited its members from among the ranks of other orders for their piety, their musical abilities and a necessary range of domestic and maintenance skills; and that an otherworldly recording the brothers had recently made of Gregorian chants has sharply polarized the community between the prior’s men, who want to exploit their unexpected success by making another recording and speaking more widely of their vocation, and the abbot’s men, who greet the prospect of a more open and worldly community with horror. Nor are conflicts limited to the holy suspects. Gamache, Beauvoir and Sûreté Chief Superintendent Sylvain Françoeur, arriving unexpectedly and unwelcome, tangle over the proper way to conduct the investigation, the responsibility for the collateral damage in Gamache’s last case (A Trick of the Light, 2011, etc.) and Beauvoir’s loyalty to his two chiefs and himself in ways quite as violent as any their hosts can provide. Elliptical and often oracular, but also remarkably penetrating and humane. The most illuminating analogies are not to other contemporary detective fiction but to The Name of the Rose and Murder in the Cathedral.

THE ST. ZITA SOCIETY

Rendell, Ruth Scribner (272 pp.) $26.00 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-4516-6668-7

Rendell’s 62nd novel is a highly characteristic anatomy of the many varieties of servitude—some stifling, some nurturing, some murderous—along posh Hexam Place, Knightsbridge. The members of the St. Zita Society, named after the patron saint of domestic servants, serve functions as wide-ranging as their personalities. June Caldwell has done for Her Serene Highness, Princess Susan Hapsburg, for nearly 60 years. Dex Flitch, who worships Peach, the god who speaks to him over the telephone, is the gardener for Dr. Simon 1594

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Jefferson and his neighbor Ivor Neville-Smith. Jimmy, the St. Zita’s chair, is Neville-Smith’s driver. Thea, whom Jimmy loves, doesn’t think of herself as a servant at all, since Roland Albert and Damian Philemon, the gay couple who depend on her to manage every detail of their lives, don’t pay her a penny. Henry Copley, Lord Clifford Studley’s driver, is having it on with both his employer’s wife and daughter. Rabia Siddiqui is nanny to Preston and Lucy Still’s baby, but Montserrat Tresser, as it turns out, is much more than the Stills’ au pair. Inevitably violence breaks out among the members of the society, leaving Montserrat and insurance magnate Preston Still in uneasy thrall to one another. But although DC Colin Rickards makes the usual inquiries, the sardonic focus of the sequel is on the plodding round of life cycle events, promises of new romantic relationships and monthly meetings in which the St. Zita’s members ponder the problem of canine waste disposal and inquire who’s been invited to Roland and Damian’s wedding. Over her last several outings (Tigerlily’s Orchids, 2011, etc.), Rendell has been returning to the stripped-down dyspepsia of her earliest work, adding freak-show sociology to her velvet nightmares. Instead of exhausting the possibilities of her collection of plausible misfits, this group portrait leaves you longing for more.

FAR NORTH

Ridpath, Michael Minotaur (384 pp.) $25.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-312-67504-2 Detective Sgt. Magnus Jonson, seconded from Boston to Reykjavík, tackles two cases, one with global consequences, the other striking considerably closer to home. In the wake of the calamitous financial meltdown that’s paralyzed Iceland, Óskar Gunnarsson, ex-chairman of the Ódinsbanki, has taken himself off to London, but that’s not far enough for whomever shoots him to death. The Metropolitan Police are far from certain that his killer was Icelandic, but they send DS Sharon Piper from Kensington to Reykjavík to liaise with local law enforcement just in case. Magnus is only too eager to work the case even before Inspector Baldur Jakobsson, head of the Violent Crimes Unit, hands it to him. He wastes no time in connecting Gunnarsson’s murder to the suspicious suicide several months earlier of Ódinsbanki manager Gabríel Örn Bergsson. And rightly so, since author Ridpath has already shown Bergsson being killed by his subordinate and lover Harpa Einarsdóttir, whose anger that he swindled her and her father out of their life savings and then threw her under the bus was whipped into a fury by an unlikely crew of agitators: aging punk rocker Sindri Pálsson, fisherman Björn Helgason, London School of Economics student Ísak Samúelsson and laid-off chef Frikki Eiríksson. Whoever pulled the trigger on Gunnarsson, Magnus realizes, has more targets in mind. But despite the Boston cop’s instincts, he’s seriously distracted from the case by disturbing

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“Slan refashions a beloved heroine as a surprisingly canny detective.” from death of a schoolgirl

new information about a long-simmering family feud that involves his own Icelandic relatives. Which case will claim his deepest loyalty? As in Where the Shadows Lie (2011), Magnus doesn’t shine as a detective, and his fish-out-of-water act could just as easily have played out back home in Boston. Even so, his second case is bound to hook readers who wonder about either the fictional or the real-life implications of the Icelandic financial crisis. (Agent: Oliver Munson)

A WHISPERING OF SPIES

Rowe, Rosemary Severn House (256 pp.) $28.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-7278-8163-2

A favor for his wealthy patron puts a Roman citizen of Britain in a dangerous predicament. In A.D. 191, when Britain has been a Roman province for over 200 years, ex-lictor Voluus plans to make the city of Glevum his retirement home. The wealthy but ill-tempered retiree has already hired an apartment and bought property to build a house for his family, none of whom have arrived. Pavement-maker Libertus is sent by his powerful patron Marcus Septimus Aurelius to seek information about the new arrival by offering his services to Voluus’ steward Calvinus. After his visit, one of the carts carrying part of Voluus’ treasure is found empty, and all the guards and even the horses have been slaughtered. Members of the council who have had spies watching Voluus’ household accuse Libertus of the crime. All the spies’ information may be open to interpretation, but Libertus has a difficult time explaining it away. He’s arrested and held by the commander of the local fort, who’s had dealings with Libertus before and is so disposed to believe him that he takes him to the scene of the crime, where all is not as it seems. With his adopted son and a slave of Voluus’ doing some of the investigating, Libertus must find the actual criminal or face exile under Roman law. Historical details provide the principal pleasures in Libertus’ 13th case (The Vestal Vanishes, 2011, etc.), but the mystery still poses a challenge.

THE TINTERN TREASURE

Sedley, Kate Severn House (256 pp.) $28.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-7278-8164-9

Doing a favor for his wife involves Roger the Chapman in yet another complicated and possibly treasonous mystery. Now that he’s taken over the throne of England, Richard III faces opposition from several fronts. Because Roger has |

done some tasks for Richard, many people are convinced he is a spy for the king and treat him with more respect than most peddlers would command. But not Roger’s wife, who asks him to go check on an old friend in Hereford. He finds her well but, disconcerted by rumors that the town will be attacked by rebels, seeks refuge with his traveling companions at nearby Tintern Abbey. There Roger, his fellow peddler Yorkshireman, Oliver Tockney, lawyer Heathersett, wealthy goldsmith Gilbert Foliot and wine importer Henry Callowhill, all from Bristol, witness a robbery at the abbey. Many years before, a secret cavity had been found containing some pages and a book of little interest. Now it seems that the cavity was much larger than anyone thought, and the thief has stolen something of real importance. When his body is found in the river, it turns out that he was also from Bristol. Upon their return home, members of the group have their houses broken into—all except for unfortunate Tockney, who’s murdered in the street. Once the king’s real spy is unmasked, it’s up to Roger to discover what certain people are willing to kill to find. Although Roger’s latest is far from the most exciting of his long series of adventures (The Midsummer Crown, 2011, etc.), it still provides the usual meticulous historical research along with a satisfying mystery.

DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL

Slan, Joanna Campbell Berkley (352 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-425-24774-7

A cry of distress from a schoolgirl takes Jane Eyre Rochester far from her sheltered life. Edward Rochester is still suffering health problems from the fire that destroyed Thornfield Hall. In the meantime, Edward and Jane have married, have recently had a son, and are living in the family hunting lodge until a new home can be built. When a letter arrives from Edward’s ward, Adèle Varens, covertly asking for help, Jane goes to London to see what is amiss at Alderton House, Adèle’s boarding school. During the trip, Jane is attacked and the Rochester diamonds stolen. Once in London, Jane stays with Lucy Brayton, a fashionable family friend who plans to improve Jane’s timid image. Arriving at Adèle’s school, Jane finds that a girl has been murdered, and the hysterical Adèle, who found the body, has been drugged. Mistaken for the new German teacher, Jane decides to stay when Nan Miller, an old friend who teaches at Alderton House and remembers Jane as an orphan waif, asks for her help. The young woman who was murdered was a beauty with a nasty disposition who was cordially disliked by all. In the course of a Bow Street Runner’s investigation, Jane learns that there are connections to royalty that must be suppressed. Although Jane may seem meek, the formidable intelligence behind her demure exterior stands her in good stead as she attempts to uncover a murderer. In a radical departure from her scrapbooking series (Ready, Scrap, Shoot, 2012, etc.), Slan refashions a beloved heroine as a

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surprisingly canny detective. Her stylistic imitation of Charlotte Brontë is seasoned with a dash of social commentary and plenty of suspects to mull over. (Agent: Paige Wheeler)

IN THE SHADOW OF EVIL

Smith, Frank Severn House (256 pp.) $28.95 | Jul. 1, 2012 978-0-7278-8152-6

Family life can be messy, DCI Neil Paget (A Killing Resurrected, 2011, etc.) finds, when a retired surgeon’s stepdaughter is brutally murdered. When Charles Bromley left his London practice for the country, he’d hoped to find escape from the scandal that erupted when young Antonia Halliday accused him of deliberately botching her father’s surgery so that he could marry his rich, beautiful widow Margaret. But now Toni’s back, trying to patch things up with her mother and, Charles suspects, wheedle her way into the fund Margaret holds in trust for her. So he’s not really sorry when local farmer Bob Thorsen, in search of his dog Toby, finds Toni’s body in the Bromley Manor barn. He is sorry, though, for all this fuss the investigation causes—so sorry he complains to Chief Superintendent Brock, who warns Paget to rein it in. But Paget wants to learn much more about this peculiar household. Why, for instance, did Charles’ brother Paul flee the scene on the night of Toni’s murder? What connection did Charles’ son, Julian, have with Toni and with her newly announced pregnancy? Why does Elizabeth Etherton, the sister of Charles’ first wife, still live with them? And most of all, why has housemaid Gwyneth Jones, who was likely in the barn the night of Toni’s murder, disappeared? Smith takes the usual elements—dogged investigator, loyal subordinates, interfering boss, family plagued with secrets—and combines them to produce the usual result.

THE RESISTANCE

Steiner, Peter Minotaur (352 pp.) $26.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-250-00371-3

Three decades after it began, an unlikely investigator examines the way the Nazi occupation of France turned neighbor against neighbor and led to murder. In the early 1970s, Louis Morgon is sacked from the CIA without warning. His wife, Sarah, denounces him and moves out with the children. Louis tries teaching and writing and working in the garden but all diffidently. One day, someone suggests France, and Louis settles into the charming village of Saint Léon-sur-Dême. He buys a house and sets about cleaning and repairing it, becoming an object of friendly curiosity. Curiosity turns to concern when 1596

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Louis finds in a crawl space a collection of handbills and several small pistols wrapped in a cloth, all of which he brings to town. At that point, the story flashes back to 1940 and the beginning of the German occupation. Rifleman Onesime Josquin catches a wagon to the Hôtel de France, where locals gather to strategize and argue. Superficial cooperation with the occupiers is a given, but even this becomes challenging when the German officer in charge, Col. Büchner, demands that local officials keep order...or else. Particularly contentious is the wrangling of the schoolmaster, Bertrand, and the young policeman, Renard, whom Büchner seems to have taken under his wing. Onesime is riding his bicycle home one evening when he sees a body on the side of the road. It’s a German soldier, shot in the back of the head. The murder is covered up and remains unsolved until the involvement, 30 years later, of the astute and persuasive Louis Morgon. Morgon’s fourth appearance (The Terrorist, 2010, etc.) is a subtle and complex thriller/whodunit, written with wit, intelligence and luminous precision.

OFF THE GRID

Tracy, P.J. Putnam (320 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 2, 2012 978-0-399-15804-9 Amazing but true: The Monkeewrench gang, that misfit quartet of lovable cybergeeks who moonlight as the nemesis of Twin Cities serial killers, actually gets upstaged by the Minneapolis Police Department. Battered, paranoid Monkeewrench founder Grace MacBride’s recuperative sailing trip through the Florida Keys with retired FBI desk-jockey John Smith is rudely interrupted by a pair of killers who climb aboard Smith’s boat and start to cut his throat. Grace handily dispatches them both and rolls the bodies overboard, but she’s seriously rattled to find Smith’s particulars on one of them. Clearly these men weren’t pirates, but assassins who specifically targeted her host. Back in Minneapolis, Ojibwe teen Aimee Sergeant, abducted from Sand Lake Reservation for the sex trade, has her own throat slit when she tries to escape. Ojibwe Officer Bad Heart Bull just happens to be on hand to rescue the four even-younger girls who were snatched with her. In the meantime, even more surprisingly, Joe Hardy, a cancer-ridden Special Ops sharpshooter, executes Aimee’s Somali kidnappers. A sizable stash of weaponry and a remarkably similar murder spree in faraway Culver City confirm Minneapolis PD Detective Leo Magozzi’s hunch that the sale of the kidnapped girls was intended to provide financing for a gang of Somali terrorists who’ve gone after Smith for mysterious reasons that provide the slender mystery’s most pleasing surprise. The rest of the Monkeewrench crew—Annie Belinsky, Harley Davidson and Roadrunner—don’t have much more to do than the abducted Ojibwe girls; for better or worse, this show mostly belongs to Magozzi, his partner, Gino Rolseth, and the imperturbable Smith. Despite the high body count, Tracy (Shoot to Thrill, 2010,

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etc.) seems to have taken something off her customary manic formula: The murders are much less florid than usual, and the regulars seem almost subdued.

LINE OF FIRE

White, Stephen Dutton (384 pp.) $26.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-525-95252-7

MERCY KILL

As a series of wildfires swoop ever closer to his Boulder office, psychotherapist Alan Gregory’s life threatens to go up in metaphorical flames even before their arrival. As part of his deep-laid plan of revenge against Alan and his friend, Detective Sam Purdy, Alan’s incarcerated ex-patient Michael McClelland sicced Currie Brown on the oh-so-susceptible Sam. When he realized that Currie planned to kill his own family and Alan’s, Sam reacted in the way every cop dreams of: by staging a fake suicide that would neutralize Currie’s threat for keeps and telling Alan what he’d done. One night the two conspirators, meeting over a comatose accident victim at Community Hospital, review their actions and assure themselves that they’re safe. But that very conversation puts them back in the hot seat when the accident victim, threatened by a variety of police charges himself, makes a complete recovery, checks out of the hospital, comes after Alan with what he’s learned, and vows to bring down Sam in order to keep himself out of jail. Meantime, Alan’s begun to treat Amanda Bobbie, who insists she wants his advice about a friend who’s about to go broke, then reveals that she’s a paidcompanion-with-benefits to said friend, who begins to sound an awful lot like somebody Alan knows. The two plot lines take quite a while to get established, but once they do, the pressure on Alan mounts relentlessly until a stunning coincidence sends the unrelated two stories crashing together. White (Dead Time, 2008, etc.) makes it clear that Alan’s 19th appearance is his penultimate case; the next case will be his swan song. Judging from the risks he takes this time, fans won’t want to miss the sequel.

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Allston, Aaron Del Rey/LucasBooks (272 pp.) $27.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-345-53059-2 Series: Star Wars: X-Wing The Star Wars expanded universe continues to grow, as Allston (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Conviction, 2011, etc.) supplies the 10th book in the Star Wars: X-Wing series and the first since Allston’s Starfighters of Adumar (1999). The new novel centers on the now-decommissioned Wraith Squadron, a misfit group of highly-skilled fighters founded by Rebel Alliance pilot Wedge Antilles (a minor character from the original Star Wars film trilogy). Many years after the Wraiths’ last mission, former commander Garik “Face” Loran is getting members of the old team back together—including Gamorrean math whiz Voort saBinring and human tactical expert Bhindi Drayson—for a new, off-the-grid mission: to go after Alliance general Stavin Thaal, suspected of being part of a conspiracy to overthrow the Alliance. The team—including new members, such as Antilles’ daughter Myri and a Yuuzhan Vong named Scut— organizes a mission to draw their target out. But the situation with the general turns out to be more complicated than it first appears. Allston does an excellent job moving the action along and skillfully juggles the many colorful alien and human characters with ease. This latest novel follows on the events of the recently completed nine-book Fate of the Jedi saga, for which Allston also wrote three installments. Though it will please fans of previous entries in the X-Wing series, this entry (save for a few scenes) takes place years after those books and features several new characters, effectively functioning as a stand-alone work. As such, it provides a rare entry point for newbies to the Star Wars expanded universe. It also leaves the door open for further Dirty Dozen-esque Wraith Squadron adventures. A fine addition to the ongoing Star Wars saga.

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“Historical/fantasy novelist Hambly takes another bite out of crime and otherworldly goings-on in her latest vampire novel.” from magistrates of hell

THE DEVIL DELIVERED And Other Tales Erikson, Steven Tor (336 pp.) $27.99 | Jun. 19, 2012 978-0-7653-3002-4

A collection from Erikson (The Crippled God, 2011, etc.) featuring stories set outside of his established Malazan fantasy universe. Erikson co-created the Malazan setting some 30 years ago to use in a role-playing game and has since written 11 novels set there—from 1999’s Gardens of the Moon to Forge of Darkness, due to be published later this year—among other works. (The setting’s other co-creator, Ian C. Esslemont, has written his share of Malazan novels, as well.) But here Erikson takes a different tack, collecting three very different novelettes. None are connected to his fantasy series—indeed, they take place largely in various versions of North America—but all contain elements placing them squarely in the wider genre of speculative fiction. “The Devil Delivered” shows a tech-filled society facing an environmental apocalypse. “Revolvo” is a bizarre satire involving art and artists, set in an alternate Canada. In perhaps the most readily accessible story, “Fishin’ with Grandma Matchie,” a 9-year-old tells stories about his colorful grandmother, who lives at the bottom of a lake, rides a giant snapping turtle (and then a talking buffalo) and tangles with Satan. All three novelettes are skillfully executed—”Fishin’ with Grandma Matchie,” in particular, is a truly imaginative story in the folk-tale tradition—but they are a definite departure in subject matter and style from Erikson’s Malazan output and, indeed, differ greatly from each other. As such, they may not hold the interest of some of Erikson’s epic-fantasy-minded fans. That said, readers may find it refreshing to see the established fantasy author branch out. An intriguing change of pace.

MAGISTRATES OF HELL

Hambly, Barbara Severn House (256 pp.) $28.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-7278-8158-8

Historical/fantasy novelist Hambly (Blood Maidens, 2011, etc.) takes another bite out of crime and otherworldly goings-on in her latest vampire novel. Accompanied by his brilliant wife, scientist Lydia, and elderly mentor, Dr. Solomon Karlebach, former-spy-turned–vampire-hunter James Asher travels to Peking to investigate the possibility that a new form of the Undead exists. Known as the Others, even vampires fear these creatures. After arriving in the country, James quickly becomes involved in the investigation of a young woman’s murder. Her reluctant fiancé is accused of the crime, and James’ 1598

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inquiries lead him into the murky Chinese underworld, where his pursuit of the truth behind the murder and his quest of the Others intersect. He discovers that the ruthless head of the most formidable criminal family, Madame Tso, plans to use the Others for her own gain. Two key allies, Don Simon Ysidro, a vampire who died in 1555 (and who appeared in a previous novel), and Japanese nobleman Count Mizukami, assist James as he executes a daring plan that leads them to the Shi’h Liu Mine and the hideous monsters that lurk in the bowels of the earth. Rich in imagery and full of historical detail, the story works well when the author depicts life in the diplomatic community during this particular era of Chinese history; and the parts of the story that describe the characters’ encounters with the Others are deliciously frightening. But the plot becomes somewhat unfocused and difficult to follow when the two merge. Frequent references to events, relationships and entanglements in the first three novels of this series interrupt the flow of this particular story. For the sake of clarity and continuity, readers would be well-advised to read the previous books in the series before tackling this one.

BLACK BOTTLE

Huso, Anthony Tor (448 pp.) $27.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-7653-2517-4 Wrapping up the duology begun with The Last Page (2010), Huso’s persuasive mingling of medieval and modern technology, cutting-edge science and blood-magic. Previously, we learned that Caliph Howl, thanks to his holomorphic magic (reality-altering applied mathematics powered by blood), and his lover, Sena Iilool, adept of the Shradnæ witchocracy, defeated the rebels to gain control of Stonehold. During the fighting, Caliph was killed and brought back to life by Sena wielding the power of an ancient book of magic, the Cisrym Ta. Remote, frigid Stonehold thus announces itself to the powerful empires in the south, who immediately scheme to acquire the book, as does the witchocracy. Sena, however, has acquired godlike powers by forming an alliance with the shade of Caliph’s supposed uncle Nathaniel, now revealed as the last lingering presence of a once-mighty, immortal alien race, in order to outwit some even more ancient and mysterious intruders. There’s an outbreak of plague and a spy for the southerners who’s intent on establishing a church. So much eventually, painfully, emerges, via dreams, hallucinations, time travel, long extracts from books left by Sena for Caliph to read and bursts of at best, obscurely related action. Having read the first book does not help. With a plot that can only be inferred and characters that either know everything and explain nothing or don’t have a clue, the problem is caring about any of it. As evidenced by his debut, Huso has plenty of talent, but this ponderously unintelligible effort collapses under its own weight. (Agent: Paula Guran)

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nonfiction SOMETHING FIERCE Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter

These titles earned the Kirkus Star: BAILOUT by Neil Barofsky...........................................................p. 1600

Aguirre, Carmen Douglas & McIntyre (288 pp.) $17.95 paperback | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-77100-036-9 978-1-55365-791-0 e-book

PREDICTIVE HEALTH by Kenneth Brigham and Michael M.E. Johns...............................................................p. 1602 REINVENTING BACH by Paul Elie.............................................p. 1606 TOWER by Nigel Jones.................................................................. p. 1611 FIRE IN THE ASHES by Jonathan Kozol..................................... p. 1612 DESERT AMERICA by Rubén Martínez...................................... p. 1616 THE MAN WHO SAW A GHOST by Devin McKinney.............. p. 1618 CITY OF PROMISES by Deborah Dash Moore............................ p. 1619 THE AMERICAN BIBLE by Stephen Prothero............................. p. 1622 A FREE MAN by Aman Sethi....................................................... p. 1625 WHO STOLE THE AMERICAN DREAM? by Hedrick Smith..... p. 1626 MASTER OF THE MOUNTAIN by Henry Wiencek.....................p. 1629

A FREE MAN A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi

Sethi, Aman Norton (240 pp.) $24.95 Oct. 22, 2012 978-0-393-08890-8

A sentimental education among anarchists, Trotskyists and Tupamaros. Now a popular actress and playwright in her adopted Canada, in 1973 Aguirre fled her native Chile as a 6-year-old with her parents following the coup against the government of Salvador Allende. She returned six years later with her mother, a peace-loving hippie turned resistance fighter who “had made it clear from day one that the refugee thing in the imperialist North was not for us.” Fast-forward to the teen years spent on the run throughout much of South America; it was an adolescence with the usual fixations, but some out-of-the-ordinary ones as well—e.g., “My assertion that Loverboy was from Vancouver had been met with sidelong glances among my friends. My school friends in Canada reacted the same way when I talked about stadiums being used as concentration camps in Chile and Bolivia.” While in Argentina, Aguirre surveyed the scene of a country reeling from yet another dictatorship after a woefully misguided war against Britain, when the walls were beginning to tumble down. Most of her youthful revolutionary acts, from bringing down the mighty to plotting to assassinate Augusto Pinochet, did not come to fruition, but Aguirre is usually funny and self-deprecating rather than rueful or repentant. Not necessarily uplifting, but often oddly entertaining—certainly more so than Giorgio’s Memoirs of an Italian Terrorist (2003), which Aguirre’s reminiscences complement. (Canada Reads 2012 winner)

THE SPARK OF LIFE Electricity in the Human Body

Ashcroft, Frances Norton (352 pp.) $28.95 | Sep. 24, 2012 978-0-393-07803-9

From taking a breath to running a marathon to retrieving memories, the human body is powered by electricity—but how does it work, and how can understanding its effects assist innovations in physiology? |

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“A courageous, insightful book that offers no cause for optimism.” from bailout

In every organism on earth, electrical activity is regulated by proteins called ion channels. Ashcroft (Physiology/Univ. of Oxford; Life at the Extremes: The Science of Survival, 2000, etc.) argues that ion channels “are truly the ‘spark of life’ for they govern every aspect of our behavior.” The author’s research led to innovative new treatments when she discovered that ion channel mutations can cause diabetes. Everything from inception (ion channels play a role in successful egg fertilization) to death (which is a cessation of electrical pulses between nerve cells) is affected by animal electricity, including all five senses. Thinking and dreaming, too, are powered by electric nerve impulses, suggesting intriguing connections between human emotions and memories and their underlying electrochemical processes. Ashcroft explores all of this with clarity and enthusiasm, citing ample research-based evidence to give readers an understanding of cutting-edge scientific research while also incorporating the vibrant history of the discovery of animal electricity. Informative and relatable real-life anecdotes tie many of these scientific concepts together and provide tantalizing hints of what new applications of electricity may be on the horizon. Brain-powered Internet, electric sight and even mind-reading may be possible. A captivating read sure to pique the interest of any science fan. (50 illustrations)

BAILOUT An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street Barofsky, Neil Free Press (288 pp.) $26.00 | Jul. 24, 2012 978-1-4516-8493-3

A former watchdog in the federal government attacks the officials who perpetuated the financial meltdown by kowtowing to behemoth banks and Wall Street firms while abandoning the public interest. Barofsky was a federal prosecutor in New York in 2008 when his boss encouraged him to apply for a newly created position in Washington, D.C., as inspector general overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Created during the waning months of the Bush administration and inherited by President Obama, TARP allocated hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to allegedly stabilize too-big-to-fail banks, strengthen investment firms and rescue homeowners from foreclosure. Ignorant of cutthroat Washington politics, Barofsky, a Democrat, won confirmation by the U.S. Senate despite Republican Party dominance and set out to account for the TARP spending in a transparent, nonpartisan manner. However, as he demonstrates in his energetically written first-person account, he and his staff met resistance every time they tried to share the truth with Congress, the White House and the American public. The villains are numerous, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at the top of the list. Of course, it’s possible that some of the negative characterizations shared by Barofsky involve score-settling 1600

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or well-intentioned differences. That seems unlikely, however, because the author provides copious evidence of the petty attacks on his office by Geithner, other Treasury Department officials, White House staff members, senators and representatives, coddled journalists and ill-informed bloggers. Barofsky’s account contains enough self-deprecation that he does not come off as a holier-than-thou hero. A courageous, insightful book that offers no cause for optimism.

MY ALMOST CERTAINLY REAL IMAGINARY JESUS A Memoir

Barth, Kelly Arktoi/Red Hen Press (240 pp.) $17.95 paperback | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-9800407-5-3

Learning how to be gay and Christian. From an early age, Barth knew she was different than other girls, and she knew she had to keep this difference a secret. Raised in the Midwest in an oldfashioned Presbyterian home, the author was trained to view homosexuality as deviant and sinful. As such, she could not accept her sexuality and certainly could not reconcile it with her faith. As Barth grew to more fully recognize her attraction to her own gender, she reacted by shutting herself off as much as possible from that very attraction, pretending to be straight. Eventually, she found herself diving into Christian fundamentalism as a way out of her dilemma, going so far as to take part in a class designed to change her sexual preference. Throughout, she was accompanied on and off by an “imaginary Jesus.” Barth’s concept of her imaginary Jesus may be difficult to grasp for many readers. He is an imaginary friend, an inner voice, someone for her to cry out to in times of desperation, but he is certainly not the divine Jesus Christ of organized Christianity. Barth recalls her youth and young adulthood with vivid detail and imagery. Though much of the book centers on her faith or life amid various faith traditions, she also weaves detailed stories about her relationships with others, including the woman she would go on to marry. At times, the narrative becomes dull as Barth veers down paths few readers will find of interest—e.g., a discussion of her good credit report when she applied for a home loan. Apart from such divergences, however, the author provides an intriguing life story.

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THE VICTIMS’ REVOLUTION The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind

Bawer, Bruce Broadside Books/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-06-180737-4

Bawer (The New Quislings: How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate About Islam, 2012, etc.) attacks the alleged takeover of American universities by identity studies faculty who turn students into close-minded, America-bashing semi-intellectuals. The author devotes the bulk of his polemic to what he sees as the undesirable academic disciplines of women’s studies, black studies, Chicano studies and queer studies. (Bawer is openly gay but asserts that he is not a mainstream gay man intellectually.) He believes the corruption of entire university campuses derived from liberal/radical movements of the 1960s. The college students who grew up during that era frequently became professors, individuals guided by a belief that oppressed groups should be studied as movements, with little emphasis on individual rights. In Bawer’s version of American higher education, anti-capitalist, anti-American authors such as Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire and Antonio Gramsci dominate campus curricula, driving out more moderate scholars who celebrate the current strengths and future possibilities of the United States. Bawer offers copious anecdotes as representative of across-the-board reality on thousands of American college campuses. These anecdotes are purported to prove his already formed hypothesis, rather than allowing a hypothesis to grow organically from hard evidence. Toward the end of the book, Bawer throws in attacks on additional identity study realms, including disability studies, fat studies, men’s studies and whiteness studies. He calls on parents of potential college students to examine curricula carefully and avoid campuses—even the Harvards and the Yales—that he believes have been hopelessly compromised. Bawer is a powerful user of language relying on weak evidence and preconceived notions to create a questionable reality.

WHY IS THE PENIS SHAPED LIKE THAT? And Other Reflections on Being Human

Bering, Jesse Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (320 pp.) $16.00 paperback | Jul. 3, 2012 978-0-374-53292-5

Research psychologist Bering (The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life, 2011, etc.) tackles touchy subjects with aplomb and humor in this snappy compilation of essays. |

The book is divided into eight sections, each devoted to a single theme “sampling the astounding oddities of simply being human.” These include the male reproductive anatomy, littleknown facts about our bodies, brain science, sexual paraphilias, fetishes and conditions, the bodies and minds of women, homosexuality, how religion is intertwined with our psychology, and suicide and the meaning of life. Many of the essays were previously published in another form in the author’s columns in Scientific American and Slate. Each essay offers a concise, illuminating overview to such queries as “how our coveted free will articulates with our genitalia,” or whether it is “really possible for an otherwise normal, healthy person to develop a genuine sexual preference for a nonhuman species.” The author also ponders whether suicide could be an adaptive behavioral strategy or “how people’s everyday reasoning about free will, particularly in the moral domain, influences their social behavior and attitudes.” Bering admits that he doesn’t delve into every aspect or all dissenting views surrounding each topic, but he includes endnotes for readers hungry for more insight. The author adroitly weaves together previous scholarly ideas and case studies with current research on his subject matter, then tops it off with his own idiosyncratic approach. At the beginning, he writes, “let me start by offering a full disclosure: my perspective is that of a godless, gay, psychological scientist with a penchant for far-flung evolutionary theories.” An accessible, lively, thought-provoking book for anyone curious about what it means to be human.

HOW TO BE SECULAR A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom

Berlinerblau, Jacques Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (336 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-547-47334-5

Berlinerblau (Jewish Civilization/ Georgetown Univ.; The Vow and the ‘Popular Religious Groups’ of Ancient Israel, 2009, etc.) offers a solid history of secularism in America and a defense of its virtues at a time when conservative Christians attack it as a moral evil and advance the “flawed” idea that one cannot be both religious and secular. Arguing that the revival of religion in the United States since the 1970s has led to the ascent of the Christian Right and the crackup of secularism, the author cites examples of ways in which traditional boundaries have been breached, including the creation of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and frequent threats by elected officials to establish Christianity as the national religion. Berlinerblau calls for the strengthening of secularism to guarantee “both freedom of and freedom from religion in American life.” In tracing the roots of the American secular vision, the author points to the shared beliefs of Martin Luther, Roger Williams, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Despite their differences, each warned about mixing religion and governmental power,

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“Humanitarian activists and opponents of those settlements will find much ammunition in these pages.” from our harsh logic

celebrated religious freedom, emphasized the need for social order and argued that all religious groups must be equal in the eyes of the state. The author recounts secularism’s rise and broad public support from the 18th century through the mid-20th century, when separatism became the preferred secular policy of the U.S. Supreme Court. Responding to the “signature” secular decade of the 1960s, conservative Christians began an attack that has left secularism in a state of exhaustion. To ensure the future of secularism and its “virtues of moderation and tolerance,” millions more Americans must declare themselves secularists, including followers of liberal faiths and religious minorities. An impassioned argument for “a firm and dignified defense of the imperiled secularish virtues and moderation, toleration, and self-criticism.”

OUR HARSH LOGIC Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 Breaking the Silence Metropolitan/Henry Holt (384 pp.) $32.00 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-8050-9537-1

A soldier’s-eye view of the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. Breaking the Silence, an NGO founded in 2004 by Israeli Defense Forces veterans, isn’t likely to gain fans among the Likud for this collection of oral histories and testimonials from Israeli soldiers, almost all of them recounting episodes of oppression of the Palestinian minority. “In school they’re given the same worth as other human beings,” says one soldier of the Palestinians, whom he encounters daily at checkpoints and on patrols, “also at home, and also in the army according to the rules, but when you interfere in people’s lives like that, and you’re in control, and you can decide when he eats and when he does whatever, he slowly loses his worth.” The soldiers are nothing if not self-reflective, but their “harsh logic” would seem to be no different from that of any other occupying force: The other is to be feared and mistrusted, but also separated and tightly controlled, even at the risk of dehumanizing both occupied and occupier. “I hated them,” says another soldier. “I was such a racist there, as well, I was so angry at them for their filth, their misery, the whole fucking situation.” The testimonials have a depressing sameness: We thought we had to do it, many of them say, and we did it to a fault. That “it” might involve kidnapping or killing a suspected terrorist, but just as likely it involved lobbing shells to keep people from their sleep in a psychological ploy, to say nothing of entering a home and smashing a family’s belongings. All these things come through loud and clear—as does the soldiers’ disdain for illegal Israeli settlers who only multiply the bitterness and bloodshed. Humanitarian activists and opponents of those settlements will find much ammunition in these pages. (20 photographs; 3 maps)

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PREDICTIVE HEALTH How We Can Reinvent Medicine to Extend Our Best Years

Brigham, Kenneth; Johns, Michael M.E. Basic (272 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-465-02312-7 Two doctors envision a future in which many illnesses could be prevented, where “disease, not death…will be the

medical failure.” Brigham (Medicine/Emory Univ.) and Johns, Emory University’s chancellor for health affairs, open their debut with a case study. In 1966, Carleton Hensley was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital suffering a systemic infection brought on by diabetes and a drinking habit. Despite the best efforts of the unnamed doctor, Hensley, just over the age of 60, died. From here, the authors advance a theory: What if diseases, like Hensley’s diabetes, could be treated before they even began? With researchers constantly discovering more links between our genetic code and the predisposition to specific diseases, the authors describe a possible future in which patients like Hensley have a blood sample drawn at birth. They make it clear, however, that biology is not destiny, and they describe at length the specifics of how this future health care system would work. The main idea would be to guide people toward healthier living based on their genetic makeup, freeing up doctors to “once again become the caretaker of an individual person’s health and well-being.” Brigham and Johns also look at the potential overall savings to the health care system and examine the links between environment and health. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the book is the well-written prose. The authors discuss their main points in accessible terms, with a mix of thorough research and reallife evidence, without getting bogged down in technical jargon. They acknowledge that these changes, if they happen, will be a long time coming, but they effectively show how “[t]he promise is real and the voyage is underway.” A clear, insightful vision of a health care system that could bring about a better, healthier world. (11 b/w illustrations. Tie-in with author speaking schedules and university lectures)

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DARING GREATLY How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Brown, Brené Gotham Books (256 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-1-592-40733-0

Brown (Univ. of Houston Graduate College of Social Work; The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, 2010, etc.) exposes and challenges some of the common myths surrounding vulnerability. After more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, the author presents her findings on the concepts of shame, weakness and vulnerability. Defining vulnerability “as exposure, uncertainty, and emotional risk,” the author maintains that this feeling is the crux of most of our meaningful experiences. Ultimately, she writes, it is not a weakness; everyone is vulnerable, we all need support via friends and family. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand. Brown believes it is essential to expose oneself to a wide range of feelings in order to combat shame, break down the walls of perfectionism and stop the act of disengagement that separates many from themselves and others. By accepting her directives, readers will be engaged, gain a sense of courage and learn how to create meaningful connections with their children or fellow workers. “Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice,” she writes, “we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.” When we choose to dare greatly, the rewards are vast: We feel more loved and are more loving, we feel worthy of that love, we choose our path and commit to it with daily practice, and we live with courage, engagement and a clear sense of purpose. A straightforward approach to revamping one’s life from an expert on vulnerability.

how scientists are now altering the nature of living organisms by modifying their genomes, or genetic makeup. Organisms whose genes have been selectively altered can be made to do things they wouldn’t do in their original state. Already, this has resulted in making plastic out of corn and carpet fibers from naturally occurring sugars. But carried out on a larger scale, such altering of genetic programming can be made to produce “practically any imaginable artifact.” Genomic technologies can improve human and animal health, extend our life span, increase our intelligence, enhance our memory and allow us to raise the dead. Recounting the evolution of life forms from the Hadean geologic era (3.8 billion years ago) through the present, the authors describe the raw material with which geneticists are working to create new organisms. While sometimes technical, their descriptions of the science are sufficiently lucid for general readers. In the future, they write, we will have novel methods of treating and preventing diseases. We will also be able to bring back extinct species and their habitats to increase genetic diversity and may even explore cloning as a possible route to immortality. Much of the book might be dismissed as science

REGENESIS How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves

Church, George; Regis, Ed Basic (288 pp.) $28.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-465-02175-8

A heady overview of the emerging discipline of synthetic biology and the wonders it can produce, from new drugs and vaccines to biofuels and resurrected wooly mammoths. In this authoritative, sometimes awe-inspiring book, geneticist Church (Genetics/Harvard Medical School) and veteran science writer Regis (What Is Life?: Investigating the Nature of Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology, 2008, etc.) team up to explore |

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fiction were it not for the fact that Church helped develop direct genomic sequencing and heads the Personal Genome Project, which is sequencing the genomes of many volunteers. With biotech hobbyists now at work in garages, the authors urge the establishment of safety measures to keep people safe and engineered organisms under control. A valuable glimpse of science at the edge. (22 b/w illustrations. Author tour to Boston, Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Seattle)

THE SCIENCE OF HUMAN PERFECTION How Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine

Comfort, Nathaniel Yale Univ. (320 pp.) $35.00 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-300-16991-1

A presentation of two sides of the complex history of eugenics: eradicating disease and improving the human race. Comfort (History of Medicine/Johns Hopkins Univ.; The Tangled Field: Barbara McClintock’s Search for the Patterns of Genetic Control, 2001) reveals the origins of the eugenics movement, beginning with the population studies begun by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton. These were picked up by British and American progressives who campaigned for “race hygiene” as a way of improving the human race. In the post–World War II era, ethical issues came to the fore as medical professionals and scientists tried to avoid “throwing out the eugenic baby with the Nazi bathwater.” As concerns about the effects of nuclear radiation mounted, researchers focused their attention on the role of mutations in causing cancer and degenerative diseases. Crick and Watson’s discovery of the structure of DNA led to the unraveling of the genetic code and the mapping of the human genome, and the door opened for the development of new pharmaceuticals and the possibility of direct intervention to correct genetic diseases. Race science, which encouraged the unfit not to reproduce, could be replaced by molecular biology and the genetic engineering of plants, animals and humans. As a result, new ethical issues arose—e.g., stem cell research, cloning and genetic selection of embryos. Comfort worries that the eugenics impulse is again coming to the fore and obscuring the “power of diversity” and the “beauty of chance,” while involving humanity in a fruitless search for perfection. He suggests that by opting for technological rather than social solutions to problems, we may be blinding ourselves. A well-balanced consideration of both the promise and problems involved in the scientific search for human betterment.

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IN SEARCH OF GENTLE DEATH The Fight for Your Right Côté, Richard N. Corinthian Books (480 pp.) $29.95 | Sep. 30, 2012 978-1-92917536-9 978-1-92917543-7 e-book

The history and evolution of the controversial death-with-dignity movement. Social historian Côté (City of Heroes: The Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886, 2005, etc.) contends that one’s right to a peaceful, elective death has been contentious subject matter for as long as agonizing end-stage diseases have been extinguishing lives. With the average life span expanding each year, this also prolongs the time it takes to die, which can result in an excruciatingly painful experience. Côté shares the complicated story of longtime friend George Exoo, a gay reverend and fierce death-with-dignity champion who was incarcerated and considered an accessory to murder by Irish police after he became a “euthanasia exit guide” to a desperate, suicidal woman. He thoughtfully profiles pioneering self-deliverance proponents like Hemlock Society founder and Final Exit author Derek Humphry, infamous defender of physician-assisted suicide Jack Kevorkian and Philip “Peaceful Pill” Nitschke. He also highlights the highly publicized plight of Terri Schiavo and the struggles of everyday people, stateside and internationally, in achieving the right to a more sympathetic delivery from a painful life. Though descriptions of suicidal methods—including helium-filled “exit bags” that fit over the head and Kevorkian’s “Thanatron” and “Mercitron” devices—make for grim reading, Côté’s research intensifies and personalizes the “rational elective death” movement through a wealth of interviews, authoritative medical professional testimonies and comprehensive analysis of complex legal and political positions. A hot-button issue intelligently scrutinized.

I’D LIKE TO APOLOGIZE TO EVERY TEACHER I EVER HAD My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High Danza, Tony Crown Archetype (272 pp.) $24.00 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-307-88786-3

Surprisingly thoughtful and passionate account of an actor’s turn at the helm of an urban high school classroom. After his talk show was cancelled in 2007, Danza (coauthor: Don’t Fill Up on the Antipasto, 2008) faced a late-career crisis. Weighing his options and feeling personally dissatisfied, he considered becoming a teacher, which led to his show’s producer pitching this as a reality TV concept. To his credit, the

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“A refreshingly different view of manufacturing that clearly identifies what is necessary to compete globally.” from american drive

self-depreciating actor owns up to the obvious doubts readers may harbor about this book or the underwatched show behind it (A&E’s Teach). Initially nervous in the classroom, the affable yet hapless Danza understandably reverted to his chatty, ingratiating stage persona, which failed to impress students in Philadelphia’s largest high school. Fortunately, he remained open to advice from his more experienced peers and tried different approaches in the classroom. For many readers, his classroom may seem initially composed of various urban adolescent “types,” but they develop into fully realized characters due to Danza’s verve and care in discussing them. Danza is generous in praising the full-time teachers who, with some reservation, mentored him. The writing is slick and occasionally mawkish (in Danza’s telling, some dramatic classroom moments were punctuated by him bursting into tears), but the author has produced a real discussion of the challenges faced by American high school teachers, rather than merely a celebrity self-reflection. He approaches this project with heart, though his conclusions are grim: “many of those who went through orientation with me have already left the profession because of cutbacks, frustration, and/or their own economic necessity.” Teachers will appreciate Danza’s advocacy, and perhaps readers who know him from TV will be moved to consider the urgent questions he raises.

AMERICAN DRIVE How Manufacturing Will Save Our Country

Dauch, Richard with Cox, Hank H. St. Martin’s (352 pp.) $27.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-250-01082-7 978-1-250-01083-4 e-book With the assistance of Cox (Lincoln and the Sioux Uprising of 1862, 2005, etc.), automotive industry veteran Dauch (Passion for Manufacturing, 1993) provides a unique view of manufacturing and its role in the future of the United States. In the early 1990s, the author organized teams that built up American Axle and Manufacturing as a world-class competitor out of the relics of some of GM’s former parts suppliers. In the ’80s, he had provided the leadership on the factory floor that helped turn Chrysler around. When he took control of American Axle in 1994, the average educational level of the work force was 9th grade. Ten years later, the average worker was a community college sophomore. “You need a strong background in mathematics, science, computers and communications,” he writes. “Modern manufacturing is not your father’s factory floor.” Dauch’s quality reputation is built on lean manufacturing and the just-in-time inventory system. He and his teams modified the approach of W. Edwards Deming, who became legendary in the Japanese auto industry in the ’50s. The author describes how he built up quality systems at Chrysler and then American Axle and how the process is organized from the design and engineering phase forward. Sometimes, writes Dauch, the United |

Auto Workers union would support his efforts, but most often the organization was obstructive. From a base in renovated 100-year-old factories in Detroit, American Axle has become one of the world’s premier axle and drivetrain assembly manufacturers. Throughout the book, Dauch discusses his leadership philosophy and argues against the view that foreign competition is undermining American manufacture. A refreshingly different view of manufacturing that clearly identifies what is necessary to compete globally. (16page color photo insert)

GATHER AT THE TABLE The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade

DeWolf, Thomas Norman; Morgan, Sharon Leslie Beacon (240 pp.) $25.95 | $25.95 e-book | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-8070-1441-7 978-0-8070-1442-4 e-book

An instructive journey of reconciliation. DeWolf (Inheriting The Trade: A Northern Family Confronts its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History, 2008) is a descendant of a family of slave traders; Morgan is the descendant of slaves. Together, they set out to discover how the shared legacies of violence and brutality continue to affect perpetrators and victims in every aspect of life. Starting with their respective family’s culture, food and entertainment, the authors attempted to better understand their differing emotions and reactions to slavery, racism and prejudice. Their project came together after they met in 2008 at the Coming to the Table program at Eastern Mennonite University and participated in programs like EMU’s Trauma Healing Journey. DeWolf describes how he discovered segregation in Alabama in 1970 as a member of a church choir. Morgan writes about the reception she was accorded when she was trying to organize a music festival on Alabama’s Gulf Coast in 1994. As trust developed, the authors combined their skills to investigate both their families’ histories. Morgan’s genealogical expertise and her ability to glean pertinent information from old county records and tombstones were matched by the capabilities DeWolf had developed working on Inheriting the Trade. Between 2008 and 2011, the authors traveled more than 100,000 miles in 27 states, investigating old plantations and other loci of the slave trade. The authors’ accomplishment stands on its own, but their book also serves as a great introduction to a shared past that ought to be better known.

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“The author’s passion, thorough research and imaginative heart produce one revelation after another.” from reinventing bach

CITIZEN SOLDIER A Life of Harry S. Truman Donald, Aida D. Basic (224 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-465-03120-7

A scholar of American history builds on previous biographies of Harry Truman to offer her own interpretation of his career. Donald (Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt, 2007), the former editor in chief of Harvard University Press, was fascinated by Truman’s ascendancy to the presidency near the end of World War II. However, she felt that previous biographies (e.g., David McCullough’s Truman and Alonzo L. Hamby’s A Man of the People), despite their overall excellence, failed to emphasize certain of his character qualities. Compared to other Truman biographers, Donald emphasizes the psychology of the man to a greater extent and the outward actions of the man to a lesser extent. She delves into the countervailing influences of Truman’s strong mother and weaker father; the future president’s despair at spending a decade on the family farm, trying but failing to make it prosperous; the leadership qualities he developed during World War I; his epic love for his wife and total devotion to his daughter; his ability to maintain his personal integrity while struggling with the corrupt political machine of Kansas City; and the forces behind his decision to initiate a nuclear attack on Japan to end WWII. Donald argues that Truman’s psychological state while a senator from Missouri opens vital vistas on his performance as an accidental president, and her most searing insight involves Truman’s loyalty to family, to political allies and to soldiers with whom he served. That intense loyalty, writes the author, led him to make some personally and politically harmful decisions. A skillful psychobiography by an empathetic scholar. (21 b/w illustrations)

REINVENTING BACH

Elie, Paul Farrar, Straus and Giroux (496 pp.) $30.00 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-374-28107-6

The author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own (2003) returns with a tour de force about Johann Sebastian Bach and a description and assessment of the recordings that have made his work an essential part of our culture. Elie, a former senior editor with FSG and now a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, tells a polyphonic tale, weaving throughout his narrative a history of the recording industry and brisk biographies of Bach and the 20th-century performers who 1606

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first recorded his work for mass audiences, including Albert Schweitzer, Leopold Stokowski, Pablo Casals and Glenn Gould. The author begins with a snapshot of Bach’s pervasive presence today, then takes us back to 1935 and Schweitzer’s recordings of Bach’s organ works on wax cylinders. Throughout the text, Elie moves us forward in the history of technology—from 78s to LPs to tapes to CDs to MP3s, showing how Bach managed to remain relevant. We also follow the careers of his principals; Elie’s treatment of the talented and troubled Gould is especially sensitive and enlightening. Occasionally, the author enters the narrative for a personal connection, perhaps nowhere more affectingly than in his account of the time he danced in the rain on the Tanglewood grass while Yo-Yo Ma played a Bach cello suite. Elie also tells us how other cultural figures have employed the music and the man—e.g., Douglas Hofstadter’s 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach, the 1968 album Switched-On Bach and the use of Bach in films and on TV. The author’s passion, thorough research and imaginative heart produce one revelation after another. (8 pages of b/w illustrations)

MICHAEL DOUGLAS A Biography

Eliot, Marc Crown Archetype (400 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-307-95236-3

Celebrity biographer Eliot (Steve McQueen, 2011, etc.) highlights American actor and producer Michael Douglas, considering his life and career through a competitive lens. The author proposes that Douglas was driven by both his parents’ divorce and his legendary father Kirk’s career—the son constantly sought to emerge from his father’s shadow. In addition to covering Kirk’s formative years as the child of Russian Jewish immigrants and his journey in Hollywood, Eliot examines Michael’s struggles and successes, his personal and professional relationships (with emphasis on his marriage to Catherine Zeta-Jones as the height of his personal life) and his diagnosis and recovery from cancer. References to his father, replete with discouraging remarks, punctuate the narrative in sometimes heavy-handed ways, though Eliot concludes by surmising an eventual peace between father and son. Readers seeking a deep, insightful examination of the actor will likely be disappointed, and casual, lazy descriptions hamper the writing. Of the role played by Melanie Griffith in Shining Through, Eliot remarks that her character “…is spying for America in the heart of Berlin during World War II and [is] somehow able to slip in and out of Germany more easily than a teenage hottie gets past security at a Justin Bieber concert.” Of Sharon Stone’s memorable turn in Basic Instinct: “One quick flash of her pubic hair would make her a star—if not at the morning-after water coolers, like Fatal Attraction, then in the night-before wet dreams of the film’s vast male viewers.” Despite such moments, film buffs

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SHARP A Memoir

will appreciate chapters on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the Oscar-winning film Douglas co-produced, as well as behind-thescenes glimpses of such popular fare as Romancing the Stone and mentions of other stars, from Jack Nicholson to Danny DeVito. A fleeting account of ambition tempered by experience, with special emphasis on reconciling past and present and finding a renewed sense of family.

CARNIVAL OF DESTRUCTION Sherman’s Invasion of South Carolina

Elmore, Tom Joggling Board Press (624 pp.) $39.95 paperback | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-9841073-7-7

Hyperfocused account of General Sherman’s swath of destruction through the hotbed of the Confederacy. While Sherman’s advance on Atlanta and subsequent March to the Sea is well-known, less well-advertised is his slog to Columbia, S.C., where his troops perhaps inadvertently but unapologetically burned down the town in what proved to be a spectacularly successful effort to demoralize the enemy. South Carolina native and historian Elmore (Columbia Civil War Landmarks, 2011) has thoroughly scoured the archives regarding these decisive few months of the Civil War, beginning in the fall of 1864, when Sherman continued his infiltration of enemy territory after the fall of Atlanta, marching to the sea in a display to “make Georgia howl,” all the while foraging liberally from the land, avoiding Confederate lures into battle and keeping the Rebel army guessing where he would strike next, Charleston or Columbia. Elmore evenhandedly reports on both sides of the conflict—e.g., he ably shows how Sherman continually instructed his confident troops in the art of foraging, which may strike modern ears as remarkably respectful in a time of war, yet he was also not averse to turning a blind eye to the federals’ urge for taking revenge on the “traitor state.” Sherman moved with astonishingly little resistance through the swampy land, turning railroad ties into “Sherman hairpins” and ravaging the countryside, keeping an eye on the prize: Columbia, the manufacturing and rail hub of the Confederacy. Abandoned by the Rebels, the defenseless city was taken and set ablaze on February 17, 1865; cheering blacks lined the streets to welcome the conquerors with plenty of liquor and food. Elmore also provides extensive appendices, including a chronology of events, organization of opposing forces and a short essay, “Did Sherman wish to spare Charleston?” Comprehensive and densely detailed—too much so for general readers, but sure to please Civil War buffs.

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Fitzpatrick, David Morrow/HarperCollins (288 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-06-206402-8 978-0-06-206404-2 e-book

A young man harrowingly details the depth of a two-decade bout with mental illness. Fitzpatrick’s unsettling memoir begins innocently enough with early memories of summers spent on Cape Cod as the middle child of five in an Irish Catholic family. But his bucolic upbringing was marred by his brother’s rough, mean-spirited version of sibling horseplay, a string of predatory men inexplicably propositioning him and the merciless emotional and physical mistreatment from his cruel, stoner college roommates. This, coupled with the dissolution of an intense, if short-lived, love affair, perhaps precipitated the

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initial psychiatric breakdown he had in Boston while in his early 20s. Fitzpatrick found mental relief by randomly slicing into his skin, a behavior he justified by claiming that “it just helps me loosen up.” His incremental descent into psychosis sorrowfully continued a familial lineage “spiked with mental illness.” The author provides an extensively detailed chronicle of 17 years spent at the mercy of debilitating mental incapacitation as he juggled eccentric psychiatric professionals, potent psychotropic drug cocktails, questionable alternative therapies, lost, depressive female friends and an exhaustive procession of inpatient psychiatric programs. Aided by a precise drug regimen and thoughtful psychiatry, Fitzpatrick quite miraculously managed to restore his sanity a few years ago. There’s nothing tentative in the author’s intense avalanche of grim histrionics; he writes with a personal urgency initially tapped by author Wally Lamb, who encouraged him to commit his experiences to paper. Fitzpatrick slam-dunks readers into the grim, murky bowels of his psychotic ordeal, yet provides a promising coda for himself and those jonesing for a “normal” life.

RARE BIRDS The Extraordinary Tale of the Bermuda Petrel and the Man Who Brought It Back from Extinction Gehrman, Elizabeth Beacon (256 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-8070-1076-1

The fascinating tale of one man’s fight to save the cahow, a bird “believed extinct since the early 1600s.” In a book that is part history of the Bermuda area and part collection of interviews, Boston Globe Magazine contributor Gehrman brings to light the surprising story of David Wingate, known in his homeland as “birdman.” Captivated by birds from a very early age, Wingate has devoted his life to studying and saving the Bermuda petrel, or cahow, a seabird only found in the Bermuda Islands that mates at night and spends most of the year over the open ocean. A common bird in the islands when settlers first arrived in the 17th century, the cahow’s habitat and numbers were devastated by invasive rats, cats, dogs and pigs, and it was believed to be extinct. In 1951, 15-year-old Wingate and two scientists discovered several nesting pairs of cahows, an event that changed his life. Not content to just reestablish their colonies, Wingate battled bureaucratic red tape, natural disasters and personal loss to stabilize and reforest an entire island to serve as home and sanctuary for these birds. After all, Wingate surmised, “[i]t wasn’t just the cahow that deserved to be saved, but the country’s entire natural heritage—the sedge grass and buttonwoods, the night herons and skinks, the hackberries and cicadas.” It has taken decades to reach the target 100-pair nesting mark, and the battle is not over yet, as rising sea levels and ocean pollution continue to threaten the cahow’s existence. Although others are now in charge of this huge conservation 1608

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project, Gehrman’s detailed account of Wingate’s life demonstrates what amazing feats can be accomplished given sufficient time and determination. Environmentalists and bird lovers alike will enjoy this look at the restoration of an endangered bird.

NOSTRADAMUS How an Obscure Renaissance Astrologer Became the Modern Prophet of Doom Gerson, Stephane St. Martin’s (368 pp.) $29.99 | Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-312-61368-6 978-1-250-01756-7 e-book

Cultural historian Gerson (History/ New York Univ.; The Pride of Place: Local Memories and Political Culture in Modern France, 2003, etc.) shares his vast knowledge of and fascination with the legendary seer. The author attempts to explain how Nostradamus’ (1503– 1566) mystique has endured for more than five centuries. Trained as a doctor, he found that writing almanacs was much more to his pleasure, and this interest eventually begat his most famous work, Prophecies. He categorized his quatrains in groups of 100 and wrote a total of 942, although new ones appeared after his death. Nostradamus eventually became a good excuse for disasters, and few were above writing quatrains in his style; he was a matter of wonder and public amusement as well as an answer to anxieties and fears. While he was a Catholic of Jewish heritage, he never really accepted a religion, cult or political faction. The growth of communications in the 16th century enabled his writings to proliferate throughout his native France and elsewhere in Europe. Like the Oracle at Delphi, Nostradamus’ quatrains are worded so that interpretation is just a matter of the reader’s tendencies. There are few dates in any of his work, and he wrote in veiled terms, switched verbs and often changed tenses. While some of his obscurity could have been involuntary, it is much more likely that he did it deliberately. He also predicted that he would have detractors, and his mysterious death only adds to his mystique. Gerson deftly explains the lure of Nostradamus, but no one can possibly translate his verses. Just like poetry, only the author knows what he meant. (8-page b/w photo insert)

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WHAT MAKES LOVE LAST? How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal

Gottman, John; Silver, Nan Simon & Schuster (384 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-4516-0847-2

Gottman and Silver (co-authors: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, 1999, etc.) return with a discussion of trust, intimacy and the secrets to love’s longevity. The book is the product of 40 years of research culled from Gottman’s “Love Lab,” an observational program based at the University of Washington. There, he subjects “long-term romance to scientific scrutiny” via the analysis of a couple’s physical and psychological behavior and their social interactions and routines. The authors describe what Gottman calls the “Four Horsemen” of a couple’s back-and-forth negative interactions: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. The roles of betrayal and infidelity are also important, and couples must avoid falling prey to the marriage-dooming “lack of deep understanding and connection with each other.” Through the in-depth analysis of specific couples (many presented as case studies), Gottman’s theories ring true, though redundancies and unrealistic expectations (“a partner’s life should be an open book, without secrets”) surface intermittently. His core belief—that “the death of love is a tragedy”—begets proactive, positive solutions ranging from the calculated mapping of a marriage’s development to tips for sex-positive communication. Love Lab home tests include a “Trust Metric,” a true-love indicator and an all-important “When to Bail” test for sputtering relationships. In the appendixes, the authors further identify and open conversational avenues for partners stymied by intimate communication, past emotional baggage and imbalances in sexual desire. For such an overcrowded topic, this entry manages to be both instructional and enlightening.

SEX AND GOD AT YALE Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad

Harden, Nathan Dunne/St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-312-61790-5 978-1-250-01354-5 e-book

A radically anti-conservative agenda and biennial campus series known as “Sex Week” are blamed for the alleged corruption of one of the nation’s most prestigious universities. When Harden arrived at Yale, he was shocked and horrified by what he found. Somehow, just a few years prior to his arrival, the porn industry had inveigled its way onto Yale’s campus under the guise of sexual education during the 11 days of |

“Sex Week” programming in the spring. Wildly popular among students, Sex Week inundates Yale’s elite student body with lots of talk about sex and tons of free sex toys, condoms and dirty movies. Porn stars like Sasha Gray and Ron Jeremy visit as guest lecturers, taking part in supposedly high-minded panel discussions about human sexuality and the art of pleasure. For Harden, it was all too much and entirely indicative of Yale’s decadent descent into a liberal morass. To his chagrin, naked bedroom romps were even becoming part of his language teacher’s lesson plans. Many of Harden’s targets—topless instructors, unctuous lube seminars and abortion-themed art projects—are easily derided, but other objects of derision, such as a yoga-heavy speech class the author took as part of the drama program, appear suspect. While his tone is relentlessly snarky and dismissive throughout, the author does manage to raise a few important issues about the continued objectification of women and the cheapening of sexual intercourse among college students. He attributes much of Yale’s woes to the university’s long-ago split with its religious roots as a divinity school for colonial elites. While that reasoning may be too ideological for many to seriously entertain, the author’s concern about what students at Yale are learning is valid. Provocative but regularly flippant.

THE MISSILE NEXT DOOR The Minuteman in the American Heartland Heefner, Gretchen Harvard Univ. (296 pp.) $35.00 | Sep. 10, 2012 978-0-674-05911-5 978-0-674-06746-2 e-book

Heefner’s first book tells the history of the placement in the 1960s of 1,000 nuclear-weapons-armed missiles across the American Great Plains, “scattered like buckshot in American farm fields.” Sure that a “missile gap” spelled doom for the United States, a massive national effort began to assure nuclear deterrence against a Soviet attack. Emerging from this hysteria came the idea of depositing individual intercontinental ballistic missiles in underground silos across tens of thousands of square miles in the American heartland. Heefner expertly examines the players in this ghastly game: the engineers who developed the technology, the military personnel who implemented it, the politicians who proselytized for it and the rugged individualist landowners who accepted it. The cooperation among industry, the military and government—Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex”— allowed the idea to gain acceptance by the American people. As always, America was the good guy, merely defending itself, though with 1,000 missiles pointed at them, the Soviets might have seen it differently. Throughout the process, the realities of nuclear war—55 million Americans would die in a Soviet retaliation—were carefully downplayed or ignored. And it all worked. The militarization of the Great Plains became part of normal

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life, albeit not without some protest and resistance. Even as the Cold War faded, however, America became addicted to conflict. Defense industries would not simply dismantle, and towns dependent on military bases could not simply see them close. While not all will agree with her findings, Heefner’s dispassionate and engrossing prose manages to raise both reasonable and troubling questions. An important look at a militarized America and the costs of this transformation.

LAW MAN My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption

Hopwood, Shon with Burke, Dennis Crown (320 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-307-88783-2

With the assistance of Burke (co-author: The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur, 2008), Hopwood delivers an unusual tale of punishment and redemption. The author is frank and regretful about his youthful decision to rob five banks in the vast area around his small Nebraska hometown. When his crime spree unraveled, he wisely took a plea offer, resulting in a 12-year federal prison sentence. Without diminishing his own culpability, Hopwood writes affectingly of the prison experience: “It is beyond strange to be in such a place and feel your life freezing over, like a sci-fi story where you lie down in your rocket, not to return until everyone you know is old.” Although he was nervous about the intricate social behaviors required to survive in prison, he was luckily transferred from the kitchen to the prison legal library, where he discovered an aptitude for decoding court decisions. He also realized that helping his fellow prisoners with their appeals gave him a sense of moral balance. Improbably, one such filing, concerning a dubiously obtained confession, went all the way to the Supreme Court, and Hopwood worked with high-powered attorney Seth Waxman to prepare the ultimately successful argument. He also found time to strike up a long-distance romance with a beautiful but troubled girl from home. The author’s success helped him stay straight after his release, when he found employment at a printer of Supreme Court briefs. The prose is clear and thoughtful, vividly illustrating the grim absurdity of life in prison, and most readers will root for Hopwood’s attempts to follow a different path. However, some readers will tire of the author’s proselytizing tone with respect to his rediscovered Christian faith. Will appeal to fans of legal thrillers and stories of redemption. (8-page color insert)

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THE UNIVERSAL SENSE How Hearing Shapes the Mind

Horowitz, Seth S. Bloomsbury (320 pp.) $25.00Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-60819-090-4

How our sense of hearing affects how we think, feel and act. “What we think of as sound,” writes Horowitz (Neuroscience and Psychology/ Brown Univ.), “is split between two factors, physics and psychology.” This dichotomy forms the framework of the author’s debut book, with chapters examining both how we hear sounds and the effects those sounds have on our brains. Horowitz first spends several chapters on how hearing works, using bullfrogs as the model animal to demonstrate how low-frequency sound works, then flipping to bats to discuss high-frequency sounds. After establishing the physical mechanics of hearing, Horowitz moves on to what he calls “psychophysics”: the relationship between what we hear and how we react. For example, a recording of angry bees is “almost universally frightening”; even elephants will move away from the sound and call out a warning to others. While there are some interesting factoids like this scattered throughout the book—e.g., readers will be surprised to hear that herring emit bubbles from their anuses to make ultrasonic noises—these moments are few and far between, with most examples coming off as bland illustrations for whatever is being analyzed in a particular chapter. Throughout, the prose is stuffy and overly explanatory and academic, and Horowitz punctuates the text with heavy-handed quirky asides. Each chapter begins like a new week’s lecture, and, ultimately, the book never manages to coalesce around any overarching idea. A fairly dreary read about what should be a fascinating subject.

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics

Jones, Daniel Stedman Princeton Univ. (424 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-691-15157-1

A cerebral, pertinent exegesis on the thinking behind the rise of the New Right. Jones offers a comparative examination of how the ideas of the Austrian neoliberals Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper, among others, emerged from their experiences of war, depression, Nazi Germany and communist totalitarianism, and how those ideas translated into strong political currency in the administrations of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. The so-called Mont Pelerin Society was formed in 1947 by a group of like-minded intellectuals, united to “combat the forces of collectivism” (fascism, but also the New Deal) as a threat to

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“Historian and journalist Jones enlightens and delights in this history of the London Tower.” from tower

individual liberty and free markets. Jones sifts carefully through the group’s influential Cold War–era books, including Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944) and Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945). Jones also traces the transit of the ideas across the Atlantic, with Hayek installed at the University of Chicago, indoctrinating eager students such as Milton Friedman and George Stigler, who further developed neoliberalism in opposition to social spending, activist government and central planning. As the free-market gospel spread, so did conservative think tanks in America—e.g., the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, founded in 1953 by William F. Buckley Jr., who went on to start the National Review. By chance, they were able to implement their ideas when the stagnation crisis hit in the 1970s. President Carter appointed Paul Volcker to the Federal Reserve and deregulation was under way. Jones does not adequately examine the neoliberal debacle of Pinochet’s Chile, but he does explore the consequent rise of inequality. Too scholarly for most general readers, but still a valuable study that helps flesh out the caricature of conservatives as only believing “greed is good.”

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TOWER An Epic History of the Tower of London Jones, Nigel St. Martin’s (464 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-312-62296-1 978-1-250-01814-4 e-book

Historian and journalist Jones (Countdown to Valkyrie: The July Plot to Kill Hitler, 2008, etc.) enlightens and delights in this history of the London Tower. The author begins with tales of William the Conquerer, whose “motte-and-bailey” forts could be erected “within a week.” The stone Tower of London, on the other hand, became the center of power and residence for the English royalty through Elizabeth I. The buildings surrounding the White Tower served not only as royal pomp, but also as the armory, where blacksmiths forged swords, fletchers made arrows and

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weaponry was stored, including gunpowder (a near disaster during the Great Fire of 1666). After King John lost the crown jewels in the Wash estuary, his son Henry III ruled that their replacements be kept in the Tower at all times. During his reign, Henry expanded the buildings, centralized the Mint and established the Royal Menagerie, which delighted visitors for 600 years, until the Duke of Wellington expelled the animals to the newly built London Zoo in Regent’s Park. Jones enumerates the many who lost their heads, as well as the many prisoners who suffered little and accomplished much—e.g., Walter Raleigh, who wrote The History of the World during his 13 years there. There were also many who left behind heartfelt letters to family, most notably Thomas More. Jones offers a wealth of interesting tidbits, including the story of one escapee who carved tools and blackened them with polish. A historian’s history that deserves pride of place in every library. (8-page b/w photo insert; map)

MUST WIN A Season of Survival for a Town and Its Team Jubera, Drew St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-312-64220-4

A former writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution witnesses the resurrection of the football fortunes of the Valdosta High School Wildcats during

their 2010 season. In this narrowly focused treatment, Jubera is most interested in the lives of the players and others directly associated with the team, including boosters, parents, coaches and the occasional cheerleader. The author avoids discussion of the school’s teachers or fellow students with other talents and interests. This is understandable given the fact that, in this area of the country, football is king (one booster compares the new head coach, Rance Gillespie, to Jesus). Jubera became a great admirer of Gillespie, whom Valdosta hired to restore its once-stellar football program. Indeed, much of the story is a paean to the coach’s work ethic. The author also follows some of the key players—a laidback white quarterback and some enormously talented black athletes—many of whom come from very troubled backgrounds. These are kids with attitude, who only do schoolwork to stay eligible and who have lost friends to gunfire. But Gillespie whipped them into shape with ferocious practices, and they went 11-1 during the regular season (losing only to a hated crosstown rival) and won a couple playoff games. Unfortunately, Jubera hurls around the clichés as frequently as forward passes (one juggled ball “just hung there, in mid-air, almost still, like a low-hanging peach”), and some readers may ask: What if all that energy, money and community support went into, well, education? Moves swiftly, but lacks gravity and neglects uncomfortable questions.

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MORE THAN FREEDOM Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889

Kantrowitz, Stephen Penguin Press (512 pp.) $36.00 | Aug. 20, 2012 978-1-59420-342-8

A searching history of the efforts by African-Americans before and after the Civil War to liberate their people and to stake a claim as equals in the land they helped build. Until the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted in 1865, writes Kantrowitz (History/Univ. of Wisconsin), “nearly 90 percent of African Americans lived in slavery, and blackness was intimately intertwined with lifetime hereditary bondage.” So intimately was slavery equated with being black, in fact, that even well-meaning whites had trouble putting African-Americans on equal footing— e.g., African-American lecturers on the abolitionist circuit were paired with white lecturers but were paid less for the same work of rallying the audience to the cause of freedom. “Displays of autonomy,” writes the author, “or requests for more pay by black speakers could bring chilly refusals and sharp rebukes.” It was perhaps small comfort to the spurned speakers that they were at least free, for there were escaped slaves and ex-slaves among the freemen, among them Frederick Douglass, Henry Bibb and William Wells Brown. Such men—rarely women—became well known in the 1840s and ’50s as the abolitionist movement grew, and inarguably they grew it. Still, when Douglass relocated to New York, his Bostonian patrons acted as if it were a personal rejection, setting off a decade of ugly back and forth that threatened to split the movement apart. Many of the figures in Kantrowitz’s narrative have long been forgotten; many are oddly prescient, including those who refused to drop the notion that African-Americans might actually bear arms in wellregulated militias to serve the cause of freedom. That changed with the Civil War, the aftermath of which, writes the author, promised much but did not deliver all that it should have. A deft handling of overlooked history and a useful close study of data, documents and real lives.

FIRE IN THE ASHES Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America Kozol, Jonathan Crown (368 pp.) $27.00 | Aug. 28, 2012 978-1-4000-5246-2

The award-winning author of Death at an Early Age (1967) tells the stories of the later lives of poor children who grew

up in the Bronx. Kozol (Letters to a Young Teacher, 2007, etc.) has worked with children in inner-city schools for 50 years. In this engaging,

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“A glimpse inside the lives of the unsung people who do the work that keeps America ticking.” from hidden america

illuminating, often moving book, he recounts the lives of poor black and Latino children—many now close friends—who once lived in Manhattan’s Martinique Hotel and were relocated in the late 1980s upon the closing of that crowded and filthy shelter to Mott Haven, a poor Bronx neighborhood. As the children grew into young adulthood, Kozol kept in touch with them and their families through visits, emails and phone calls. In a series of intimate portraits, he describes the astonishing odds the children faced and how many managed, with the critical help of mentors and caring others, to achieve successful lives, both in the conventional sense of graduating from college, but above all, by becoming kind and loving human beings. There is Leonardo, recruited by a New England boarding school, where he emerged as a leader; the introspective Jeremy, who befriended a Puerto Rican poet, got through college and took a job at a Mott Haven church that is central to the lives of many; and the buoyant, winning Pineapple, whose Guatemalan parents provide the emotional security of a warm home. “I’m going to give a good life to my children,” says Lisette, 24, after her troubled brother’s suicide. “I have to do it. I’m the one who made it through.” Some children are still struggling to find their way, writes the author, but they do so with “the earnestness and elemental kindness” that he first saw in them years ago. Cleareyed, compassionate and hopeful. (Author tour to St. Louis, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Portland, Milwaukee, and upon request)

HIDDEN AMERICA From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work

Laskas, Jeanne Marie Putnam (336 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-0-399-15900-8

A glimpse inside the lives of the unsung people who do the work that keeps America ticking. Laskas, an intrepid reporter and great storyteller, spent weeks underground in a coal mine and lived with blueberry pickers in a migrant-worker camp in Maine and with roughnecks on a drilling rig off Alaska’s North Slope. Her accounts of these and other ventures, most of which first appeared in GQ, introduce people doing jobs that most Americans never think about. She learned about what really goes on at a cattle ranch in Texas and at a huge landfill in California, and she shared a ride with a female longhaul trucker and exposed the strains of air traffic controllers at La Guardia Airport. Although these pieces are character-driven, Laskas has done her research, and she inserts some provocative facts and figures. In Washington County, Maine, which has the state’s highest unemployment rate, and where a good blueberry raker can earn $1,350 a week, there are no white applicants for the job; in Puente Hills, Calif., methane from the trash dump produces enough electricity to power about 70,000 homes. Two |

pieces that do not quite fit into the theme of revealing a hidden but necessary world are the one on the cheerleaders for the Cincinnati Bengals—visible on TV and hardly essential—and the one on buying guns at a sporting goods store in Yuma, Ariz. Both of these pieces are enjoyable, however, and the author succeeds in capturing the attitudes, concerns, experiences and sometimes the private lives of workers that most readers are unlikely to come into contact with. Highly informative and thoroughly entertaining.

A WOMAN LIKE ME

LaVette, Bettye with Ritz, David Blue Rider Press (320 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-399-15938-1 Unrepentant, unpleasant memoir by the well-traveled R&B vocalist. Kicking off with a lurid recollection of being dangled from the top of a building by her lover/pimp, the singer’s autobiography charts one missed chance and blown opportunity after another on the way to belated renown 40 years into her career. Born Betty Haskins in Michigan, she was a high school dropout, married and a mother by the age of 15, and ran wild through the Motor City clubs. Rechristened Bettye LaVette, she dove into the music scene, notching a top10 national R&B hit on Atlantic in 1962. While she reached the top 40 several more times through the early ’80s, LaVette never experienced sustained success. Her latter-day albums for the independent label Anti- finally brought her the audience she coveted. She rings up her limited career to “buzzard luck” and the apathy of her record-industry associates (who are usually condemned with a coarse epithet). Her own recounting suggests she was the victim of her own monumentally misguided judgment. She indulged heartily in alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and sex—she counted Otis Redding, Solomon Burke and Jackie Wilson among her many paramours, sustained a decades-long affair with record exec Clarence Paul, had a long-term female lover and worked off and on as a prostitute. She praises her mentor Jim Lewis for broadening her musical reach and repeatedly steering her back on track, but rewards most other musicbiz pros with suspicion and undisguised contempt. There’s no denying LaVette’s great interpretive gifts, but she emerges here as a petty, self-deluding and ungrateful figure. Listen to the records and give this self-serving, embittered book a wide berth. (16-page full-color photo insert)

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h e d k e l l e r Social media is not king, according to the head honchos of the Keller Fay Group, the groundbreaking marketing and research consultancy devoted not to the Twitterverse but to good old-fashioned word of mouth. In their new book, CEO Ed Keller (The Influentials, 2003) and COO Brad Fay delve deep into the fallacies behind the “Social Media Gold Rush,” and give great thought to the media strategies that really work best for business and not just buzz. Here, Keller answered a few of our questions about The Face-To-Face Book. THE FACE-TOFACE BOOK:

Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace Ed Keller and Brad Fay Free Press (304 pp.) May 22 | $26.00 978-1-4516-4006-9

with too many businesses and marketers in search of Facebook and Twitter gold dust that they hope will rub off on them, chasing an immense social wave that they don’t fully understand. While the growth of online social networks is impressive, the largest social gold mine is literally right beneath our noses, in the word-of-mouth conversations that happen next to the office water cooler, powered by the intimacy and ubiquity of face-to-face communications. Q: How can companies strategize to reduce their risk of exposure to social media gone awry?

Q: In an age when word on the street is that social media is the wave of the future, whatever possessed you two to write about face-to-face communication?

A: Negative word of mouth is a worry for many companies as they consider a social strategy. And certainly from time to time there are negatives that get people talking online or offline. But people often overestimate the potential for negative word of mouth. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of the time, when people talk about brands they have positive things to say—twothirds of brand conversations are positive, according to my firm’s research; less than 10 percent of the time are conversations mostly negative. There is a lot more opportunity for brands to benefit from encouraging word of mouth advice and recommendations. Negative feedback allows management to act, rather than leaving problems to fester. That’s the best way to deal with negative feedback.

A: It is interesting that you refer to “word on the street.” We agree that’s what matters most, more than online buzz via social media. Our research consistently finds that the vast majority of wordof-mouth conversations continue to take place in the real world, primarily face to face. We feel it’s important for people to know how social influence really takes place and to realize that there are many social pathways that can be taken. In The Face-toFace Book we try to open people’s eyes to the full range of possibilities rather than looking narrowly at just one channel. Q: How do you define success when you’re working in the world of word-of-mouth marketing?

Q: What are the key ingredients to running a word-ofmouth campaign?

A: We believe that for marketing to be successful in today’s social era, it is no longer enough for marketing to raise awareness about a brand. And paid marketing alone is not likely to be as persuasive as it once was. We believe that the objective of all marketing should be to encourage conversation and even more, to encourage advocacy. That is the future of marketing—consumers persuading other consumers, either based on their own love of a product or service, which they in turn share with others; or being asked for their advice and recommendations. It is this consumer-to-consumer interaction, based on real-life relationships, that has the credibility to persuade others to take the advice. Q: What don’t people “get” about social media and its value? A: The biggest misconception relates to its size and its centrality. People are shocked when we tell them that most conversations, and the most productive conversations, take place offline. They assume that social media is ubiquitous and central. We liken it to the American Gold Rush of 18481853. Social media represents the latest gold rush, 1614

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–By Clayton Moore

9 For the full interview, please visit kirkusreviews.com

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P H OTO © K E V IN VA N TA S S EL L

A: The most important ingredient is to realize that word of mouth needs to be built around authentic consumer experiences with a product or service. This suggests that marketing strategies that hope to tap the power of word of mouth should focus on current customers—especially, brand advocates. This represents a big change from many marketing strategies that focus primarily on prospects, meaning nonconsumers. Another key ingredient is to focus not on social technologies but rather to focus on people and the stories they are likely to tell about your brand. In short, don’t limit word-of-mouth marketing to a single set of practices. All marketing should have as its goal to get people talking and advocating for your brand.


SMOKE SIGNALS A Social History of Marijuana—Medical, Recreational and Scientific Lee, Martin A. Scribner (528 pp.) $30.00 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-4391-0260-2

Everybody must get…well, hip to the history of hemp and all the hobgoblins that made it heinous. Thus the seeming intent of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) founder Lee’s (The Beast Reawakens, 1997, etc.) tome, a tale of “a remarkable plant that befriended our ancestors.” If that sounds a little too inauspiciously H.R. Pufnstuf, the author counters the groove with a tough Texas cop, decidedly unhip with his “jingly spurs,” who tells anyone who’ll listen that the war on drugs is a sham and scam. Smoking a doobie isn’t the worst thing a person could do, said cop avers, and Lee backs that thought up with social history aplenty, ranging from neolithic experiments down to the Kerouac-ian consumers of the Beat Era. (Of the bop jazz soundtrack of that time, the author writes, “[t]he music and the weed were fellow travelers, so to speak, joined at the juncture of hip.”) A little righteous paranoia kicks in when Lee looks at the genesis of the Harrison Act, which taxed the production and distribution of opiates. Suffice it to say that the author attributes the anti-hemp tenor to some financial interests on the part of DuPont’s “chief financial backer,” Andrew Mellon, who aimed to block a “natural alternative” to nascent Big Pharma. There’s no smoking gun there, but there’s smoke aplenty in between thick, chunky blocks of scientific lore on such matters as the “discovery of the endocannabinoid system” and claims that cannabidiol, a major constituent of the plant, “lowers glucose levels, improves insulin sensitivity, and protects the health of diabetic patients’ hearts”—and a good thing, too, for readers tempted to head down to Ben & Jerry’s for a double scoop of Cherry Garcia while taking a break from Lee’s long, earnest and sometimes plaintive text. The author provides plenty of interesting material, but sometimes it’s laid on a little too thick. Readers will understand very quickly that pot should be legal and that it’s not the scourge that square politicos have made it out to be.

BETTER CAPITALISM Renewing the Entrepreneurial Strength of the American Economy

Litan, Robert E.; Schramm, Carl J. Yale Univ. (288 pp.) $32.50 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-300-14678-3

Litan and Schramm (Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, 2007, etc.) take on the question of how to increase the longterm rate of potential economic growth to get back in line with |

the roughly 3 percent that prevailed during the “ ‘golden’ post– World War II quarter-century spanning 1948 to 1973.” The authors believe that what was then achieved through public expenditure for infrastructure, education and military commitments can now be mimicked by downsizing government to make it work “more like the private sector.” This involves transferring publicly owned infrastructure to the private sector, turning university research over to the marketing wizards of big business, and encouraging entrepreneurship wherever possible. “To navigate this complicated terrain,” write the authors, “people need to think of themselves as their own business.” They assert that the unemployed and school-age populations should ���know how to launch actual businesses to implement ideas.” Of course, most won’t succeed, but Litan and Schramm believe enough will to achieve their desired increase in the economic growth rate. They also believe American entrepreneurship was at its best in the century before Teddy Roosevelt and the trustbusters, when roads and bridges were privately owned and John D. Rockefeller held sway. Apart from opening up university research departments, the authors also recommend a package of immigration reforms designed to increase the number of scientifically and technically qualified graduates in America’s colleges and encourage entrepreneurs to come here to invest in startups. An uneven follow-up to Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, but it may find an audience in certain economics classrooms and among die-hard supporters of private-sector interests.

MA, HE SOLD ME FOR A FEW CIGARETTES A Memoir of Dublin in the 1950s Long, Martha Seven Stories (480 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-60980-414-5 978-1-60980-415-2 e-book

The story of a poverty-stricken young girl growing up broke—but not broken—in 1950s Dublin. In the first of four volumes, Long lays the groundwork for the tale of her lifetime of hardships. Just 4 years old at the start of the book, the author had to grow up fast in the extreme poverty that engulfed her. Born to a teenage mother whose primary talent seemed to be childbearing, Long was forced to do anything she could to survive, including drinking milk from a sibling’s bottle. “Me Ma doesn’t give me anthin te eat these days,” she writes, “so I share the babby’s bottle wit him.” These desperate acts are continually on display throughout the book, and they are made most apparent on the day of Long’s first Communion, when she was told to fast until after receiving the Lord. “I don’t want Holy God,” she wailed, “I want a bit of bread.” Yet poverty was but one of many struggles Long faced. The other main one, her cruel-hearted stepfather, Jackser, proved the more complicated of the two. In a particularly horrific scene, Jackser demonstrates his villainy by dangling Long’s baby brother over a bannister to show his resentment at having

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“Thrilling and illuminating.” from the negotiator

to take in another man’s children. After much pleading, Jackser relented. “Here, take it,” he grumbles, handing the baby over to its mother. “An count yerself lucky he’s not splattered in the hall.” Yet Long knows little of luck, and her book demonstrates her impressive determination and perseverance. Coming-of-age hardships skillfully recounted by way of the colloquial Irish tongue. (Author tour to New York, Boston, Chicago, Toronto)

THE NEGOTIATOR My Life at the Heart of the Hostage Trade

Lopez, Ben Skyhorse Publishing (320 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-61608-862-0 A dissatisfied psychologist abandons the therapist’s couch for the high-pressure world of hostage negotiations. Lopez (not his real name) recounts his fascinating journey from inchoate postdoctoral candidate to international man of mystery and intrigue with all the sinewy grit you’d expect to find in a big-budget Hollywood movie. The heroes of this kinetic tell-all are predictably rough-and-tumble, while the villains are suitably vile. But that’s where the familiarity ends. As the author demonstrates, the real world of kidnap and ransom—or K&R as it’s known in the industry—isn’t about busting down doors with high-powered semi-automatics at the ready in the hopes of freeing a hostage. It’s actually a much subtler and nuanced discipline where the ability to understand the inner workings of a kidnapper’s mind is the greatest weapon of all. The taut narrative marches through some of Lopez’s toughest cases, starting out in Mexico City where affluent businessmen are often the targets of thugs hoping for a big payday. From there, the saga eventually lands in Kandahar, where a very different kind of kidnapper—militants with a political agenda— has been preying on hapless Westerners since the United States first invaded Afghanistan years ago. Suspense fuels each exotic locale, and even when no one is shot, the outcomes are explosive. Much of that is due to the absorbing interplay between complex bad guys and the crackerjack psychoanalyst manipulating them. No one escapes psychological scrutiny—including Lopez himself. In addition to lifting the curtain on the intricate world of K&R, the author also sheds light on his remarkable life and how his ongoing efforts to restore other people’s interrupted lives have cost him personally. Thrilling and illuminating.

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THE BOY KINGS A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network Losse, Katherine Free Press (256 pp.) $26.00 | Jun. 26, 2012 978-1-4516-6825-4

An account of the early days of Facebook from a former employee, who examines how the social network’s origins match up with the Internet behemoth of today. Though he claims that “privacy is dead,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg guards his own privacy closely, insisting that seamless sharing benefits humanity. He apparently hasn’t taken umbrage with this book, from Facebook’s “51st employee.” Losse joined the company in 2005 as one of the first customer-service representatives, fielding a wide variety of questions and answering outraged letters demanding an explanation of the privacy settings. In her memoir, the author dutifully chronicles the machinations of Zuckerberg and company as they codified their boss’ vision. Losse depicts the offices as “frat-house”–style environs, with the all-important programmers on one floor and everybody else—in the author’s understanding, the vastly less important workers—on another. Seeing an opportunity, she worked on preparing editions of Facebook for other countries; when told not to by her manager, she went ahead and did it anyway, noting later that the atmosphere at Facebook simultaneously encouraged the establishing of control and the dismantling of control. Despite some genuine insights into the nature of the network, the narrative is hampered by the dull chronicles of the author’s personal life. For example, ruminations on a pseudo-romance with a programmer named “Thrax” add little to the story. When Losse shares that she “was happy to hear that Britney Spears was nice” from Spears’ former personal security guard, the book begins to feel like Facebook itself—some useful, interesting parts overwhelmed by unrelated news of little interest. An uneven look at the early years of Facebook.

DESERT AMERICA Boom and Bust in the New “New West”

Martínez, Rubén Metropolitan/Henry Holt (352 pp.) $28.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-8050-7977-7 A savage journey into terror, cacti, drugs, desperation and all-around anomie in the superheated atmosphere of the desert Southwest. Go east of Los Angeles 100 miles and you’re in downtown Tweakerville, an area full of meth labs, bad vibes and bad attitudes. The desert runs all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, and Martínez (Literature and Writing/Loyola Marymount Univ.; Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, 2001, etc.) makes it his beat.

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The narrative begins in Albuquerque, a city that “cannot imagine itself a city because to do so would negate its reason for being.” It moves, subtly and without much fanfare, from the Southwest of the boom years, when the population of the region grew by 25 percent in just a decade, to the Southwest of today, a place of abandoned suburbs and forgotten hopes. Some of the ports of call are familiar—Joshua Tree, El Paso—and others not, but what sets Martínez’s journey apart is its philosophical underpinnings, the governing question being, “Who belongs here and who doesn’t?” By that reckoning, the adobe shacks, tattered palm trees and sunbitten desert flats are all perfectly at home, whereas such things as the Santa Fe Opera, and most of Phoenix, and walls and fences that run parallel to the international line…well, not so much. As for the people, Martínez finds room for the likes of Mary Austin and Charles Lummis alongside the Native Americans and Latinos who have made the desert home for centuries. It is the latter people who are forgotten; toward the end of the book, for instance, the author quietly contrasts the well-heeled confines of Marfa, Texas, with the rest of Presidio County, half of whose people live in poverty. Less self-absorbed than Luis Alberto Urrea, less cynical than Charles Bowden, less otherly obsessed than William Vollmann—and right in the pocket, a necessary chronicle of a weird corner of America.

LINCOLN’S HUNDRED DAYS The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union Masur, Louis P. Belknap/Harvard Univ. (310 pp.) $29.95 | Sep. 22, 2012 978-0-674-06690-8

In a scholarly examination of the Emancipation Proclamation, Masur (American Studies and History/Rutgers Univ.; The Civil War: A Concise History, 2011, etc.) reveals the intensive intellectual development and political debate behind President Lincoln’s resolve. The Proclamation was actually heralded by a preliminary document floated cautiously on September 22, 1862, announcing that in 100 days—Jan. 1, 1863—the president would proclaim the freeing of any slaves within the states “in rebellion against the United States,” among other important assertions intended to test the waters. Masur revisits the president’s growing sense of solemn moral responsibility, in spite of being battered by criticism from all sides. Prior to this time, runaway slaves were already being declared by the Union military as “contraband of war,” codified into law by the Confiscation Act of 1861, while John Charles Frémont, as commander of the Department of the West, had declared his own bold emancipation proclamation for Missouri. Yet Lincoln hesitated for legal reasons, uncertain about a proclamation’s constitutionality; he feared the effects on the army, on the border (slave) states of Missouri, Kentucky, Delaware and Maryland, which might be pushed to join the |

Confederacy, and on the slaves themselves—would emancipation foment insurrection against whites? During these 100 days, Lincoln essentially took the country’s measure and found that many abolitionists felt relief and could finally express their views; soldiers often wrote how the war experience turned them against slavery; and if the U.S. didn’t pass emancipation, the South might have first, in order to curry England’s support. Moreover, the exigencies of winning the war demanded action. Masur carefully delineates the differences inherent in the final Proclamation, such as the elimination of mention of colonization of blacks and inclusion of blacks into the military. A moving, accessible portrayal of Lincoln as a deeply humble, strangely physical presence who spoke in oracular parables. (20 halftones)

GOVERNING THE WORLD The History of an Idea Mazower, Mark Penguin Press (304 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 17, 2012 978-1-59420-349-7

Mazower (History/Columbia Univ. Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe, 2008, etc.) explores the evolution of internationalism. The idea is essentially a Western creation, originating from the “Concert of Europe” in 1815 by the great powers in the wake of Napoleon’s defeat, and marking an important effort to keep sovereigns in check and create a more just “brotherhood” of nations. While the “Big Four” nations (Austria, Russia, Britain and Prussia) were more interested in policing revolutionary insurrections and restoring the principles of monarchy, they still recognized that there was too much at stake not to work together at “fundamental rules of the game.” Avoiding lawlessness and anarchy was the impulse, and many leaders sought to embrace the promotion of a law of nations and universal peace. Mazower considers some fascinating mid-19th-century currents flowing from the international groundswell—e.g., in futuristic literature (foreshadowing H.G. Wells), the peace movement, free trade, Giuseppe Mazzini’s influential notion of nationalism, communism, the founding of the Red Cross, the arbitration movement and the hope that science could develop universal humanitarian standards. After tracing the early strands of internationalism, Mazower moves into the modern’s era complex convergence of political and economic factors in forging what Mikhail Gorbachev called a “new world order.” The peacetime League of Nations, despite its failures, would “marry the democratic idea of a society of nations with the reality of Great Power hegemony.” Finally, Mazower brings us to the present, as a European union has been achieved, but has been driven by a “bureaucratic elite” with little sense of “principles of social solidarity and human dignity,” except perhaps by noted philanthropists. A well-articulated, meticulously supported study.

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“In rich, lyrical prose, McKinney deftly honors both the man and the mystery.” from the man who saw a ghost

THE LONGEST WAY HOME One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down

McCarthy, Andrew Free Press (288 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-4516-6748-6 978-1-4516-6751-6 e-book

Former 1980s heartthrob actor McCarthy embraces world travel to make sense of life after movie stardom. The author’s debut is a linked series of introspective essays inspired by his extended trips to Patagonia, Spain, the Amazon, Costa Rica, Baltimore, Vienna, Kilimanjaro and Dublin. McCarthy, who writes for National Geographic Traveler, among other publications, is a fair writer with adequate descriptive powers at his disposal. However, much of the prose lacks wit and originality, and though he has traveled to some extraordinary places, what’s lacking here are extraordinary experiences. McCarthy often writes about the therapeutic qualities associated with traveling solo and the psychological advantages of anonymity while visiting a strange, remote place. Whether he’s walking alone in Spain, taking a group river cruise down the Amazon or slurping coffee in Vienna with his family, McCarthy’s writing slips deep into the intensely personal territory of memory. But with so much inner searching, even the most exotic surroundings fade into an amorphous blur to accommodate the author’s personal life. In fact, there’s rarely a point where readers will feel that the author has connected to his surroundings in a significant way. Although driven by Paul Theroux’s ideas about wisdom being best acquired by traveling alone, McCarthy’s ruminations on the meaning of solitary experience in relation to his surroundings never quite penetrate the ordinary. A clunky mix of memoir and travelogue that only occasionally does justice to either form. (Confirmed author appearances on The Today Show, The View, and Tavis Smiley)

THE MAN WHO SAW A GHOST The Life and Work of Henry Fonda

McKinney, Devin St. Martin’s (448 pp.) $29.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-250-00841-1 978-1-250-01776-5 e-book

The story of a great American actor whose art was burnished by an anguished life. For McKinney (Magic Circles: The Beatles in Dream and History, 2003), Henry Fonda (1905–1982) is very much a mystery: an affable common man on screen whose piercing blue eyes suggested dark depths. It was a face of wisdom and pain, which is why no one else has ever played Abraham Lincoln with so much quiet conviction. Fonda knew suffering, and he was the 1618

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cause of suffering in others. He saw death up close—as a youth in Nebraska (where he witnessed a mob take over a local jail and lynch a black man) and as a soldier in World War II and in the suicide of his wife, Frances, a wealthy heiress who finally wearied of the demands of being Mrs. Henry Fonda. (A third wife, Susan Blanchard, would also divorce him for “extreme mental cruelty.”) Though well liked as an actor, he was chilly and distant as a husband and an apparent controlling terror to children Peter and Jane. He may not have liked himself that much either, as there were possible suicide attempts of his own. Through it all, Fonda greeted every struggle with either stoic Christian Science hardiness or dogged denial, plunging into work to keep from dealing with the domestic turmoil. The face said it all. No one ever had a problem believing him as an actor. “Fonda’s fate all along, his curse and his cure, has been to become the thing that haunts him,” writes the author in this excellent work of biography. In rich, lyrical prose, McKinney deftly honors both the man and the mystery. (14 b/w photos and two 16-page b/w photo inserts)

UP ALL NIGHT My Life and Times in Rock Radio

Miller, Carol Ecco/HarperCollins (272 pp.) $26.99 | $11.99 e-book | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-06-184524-6 978-0-06-210234-8 e-book An autobiography by a veteran female DJ in New York City. After four decades on air, Miller still works as a DJ at Clear Channel’s Q104.3 FM and Sirius/XM radio. In her debut book, she chronicles her entire life, beginning with her 1950s childhood in Fort Bragg, N.C., Brooklyn, N.Y., and suburban Nassau County, where she grew up in a somber household with Jewish parents whose lives had been “tainted by tragedy” stemming from World War II. Musicrelated memories include being riveted by Elvis’s performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 and attending a Beatles concert in 1964. “The current music was just about my only source for the alien but evidently essential information about socializing,” she writes, “since such things were never spoken about at my house.” Miller also discusses her college career at the University of Pennsylvania, where she started working in radio. Subsequently, she worked as a DJ in Philadelphia, and then New York, focusing on classic and progressive rock. An early fan of Bruce Springsteen, Miller describes meeting and/or interviewing celebrities such as Lily Tomlin, Paul and Linda McCartney and Murray Head, as well as briefly dating Steven Tyler. Darker chapters of her personal life include a long-running battle with breast cancer, which followed a doctor’s misdiagnosis, a costly divorce and her struggle with uterine cancer. Throughout the book, Miller’s voice remains upbeat and energetic, despite the shadow of her family’s mysterious health issues. Her enthusiasm for rock ’n’ roll vividly colors her life, if not these pages.

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“This ambitious three-volume history, overseen by Moore, provides a lively, much-needed overview of the role that Jews have played in the history and success of the Big Apple” from city of promises

Of interest to aspiring or working DJs, but the mostly tepid stories won’t hold wide appeal. (16-page color photo insert. Events in New York City and on Long Island)

AGAINST SECURITY How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger Molotch, Harvey Princeton Univ. (272 pp.) $35.00 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-691-15581-4

Molotch (Sociology/New York Univ.; Where Stuff Comes From, 2005, etc.) profiles the workings of our anxieties and fears and how they can be exploited by authorities who have an interest in stoking them. The author is concerned with the complex systems that permit us to feel safe in public places. He traces a path from public toilet facilities through subways and airports to the reconstruction of ground zero before taking on the catastrophic effects of nature in the hurricane damage and flooding of New Orleans in 2005. Molotch treats each phase of the narrative separately and considers the design and organization of space, entries and exits, fields of vision and patterns of activity, whether encouraged or not. The author’s approach to public spaces as an environment permits an insightful, provocative treatment of whether the security we seek is fostered or not—and if so, how. Public toilet facilities in New York City evoke the same kinds of anxieties and fears of public humiliation as the procedures at airport security inspections. Molotch considers that large numbers of people often increase the sense of danger instead of security, especially because of the difficulties of exiting. Political priorities, bureaucratic ineptitude and panic also figure as contributors to our fear. The author argues for the “default to decency” approach, and he recommends improvements intended to encourage confidence and promote cooperation. A humane, well-researched examination of privacy and security issues.

of promises, some fulfilled, some pending, some beckoning new generations.” The first volume, Haven of Liberty: New York Jews in the New World, 1654-1865, by Rock (History/Florida International Univ.; Cityscapes, 2001, etc.), traces the history of New York Jews back to the first Dutch Jews who settled in the New Amsterdam colony in the mid-17th century, where they fought for the rights to own real estate and run businesses. As the years went by, Jewishowned businesses prospered despite widespread anti-Semitism, as the city as a whole grew into an economic powerhouse. The volume also covers the rise of Reform Judaism and, later, disputes within the community regarding slavery. In Emerging Metropolis, New York Jews in the Age of Immigration, 1840-1920, Polland, the vice president of education for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (Landmark of the Spirit: The Eldridge Street Synagogue, 2008), and Soyer (History/Fordham Univ.) show how the influx of immigrant Jews from Europe changed the city, as Jewish organizations proliferated and the community began to make itself felt in city politics, journalism and the arts. In the third volume, Jews in Gotham: New York Jews in a Changing

CITY OF PROMISES A History of the Jews in New York

Moore, Deborah Dash New York Univ. (1,050 pp.) $99.00 | Sep. 24, 2012 978-0-8147-1731-8

This ambitious three-volume history, overseen by Moore (Judaic Studies and History/Univ. of Michigan; American Jewish Identity Politics, 2008, etc.), provides a lively, muchneeded overview of the role that Jews have played in the history and success of the Big Apple, helping to transform it into “a city |

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City, 1920-2010, Gurock (Jewish History/Yeshiva Univ.; Orthodox Jews in America, 2009, etc.) examines a range of engaging issues, including the community’s growth in Queens and suburbia, crises such as the 1991 Crown Heights riot and Jewish feminism. Each volume also includes a vibrant photo- and illustrationpacked “visual essay” by art historian Linden, which ably supplements and enriches the text. Such a large historical project could have easily descended into tedious and dry academia, but instead all three volumes are briskly paced, well-researched and insightful. Aficionados of urban histories, in particular, will find much to enjoy. (Three-volume box set)

YANKEE MIRACLES Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers Negron, Ray; Cook, Sally Liveright/Norton (288 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 3, 2012 978-0-87140-461-9

With the assistance of Cook (coauthor: Another Season: A Coach’s Story of Raising an Exceptional Son, 1997, etc.), longtime New York Yankees employee Negron (One Last Time: Good-bye to Yankee Stadium, 2009, etc.) relates a series of heartwarming tales from his time with the storied franchise. The author, whose previous Yankee-related books have been aimed at children, here offers a biography that seems straight out of a 1930s movie. As a young troublemaker, he was caught spraypainting graffiti on Yankee Stadium by the team’s new owner, George Steinbrenner. Hours later, he found himself in uniform, shagging flies from his heroes as a batboy, a job that would lead to a lifetime working in baseball. Negron’s effort to show the kindhearted side of the notoriously prickly “Boss” permeates this touching book. He joined the Yankee organization shortly after Steinbrenner’s purchase of the team, and he was there through the glory years of the 1970s, when the team included such icons as Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin. The author formed life-altering friendships with each of them, and he also features the triumphs and tragedies of other stars, including Mickey Mantle, Catfish Hunter, Dwight Gooden, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Each chapter recounts a “miracle” from the author’s time with the team, and Negron provides ample insight into the real men behind the uniforms. Though he doesn’t hold back from showing their flaws, the lenses through which he views them are heavily rose-colored. A treasure-trove for sentimental Yankees fans and a feel-good read for all baseball fans. (8 photographs)

THE BLOOD OF FREE MEN The Liberation of Paris, 1944 Neiberg, Michael Basic (352 pp.) $28.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-465-02399-8

From the Allied landings at Normandy to Charles de Gaulle’s triumphant march down the Champs-Élysées, a war historian tracks the ouster of the Nazis from the City of Light. After four years of a humiliating occupation, Paris prepared during the summer of 1944 to finally throw off the Nazi shackles. Hitler ordered the city defended to the last man, reduced to rubble if necessary. With the Allied armies only 150 miles away, factions among the Resistance forces, many of them communist, jostled for leadership. They all shared a hatred for the Vichy regime, sought vengeance against collaborationists and wanted Parisians to liberate themselves. None knew that Allied commanders, dismissing the city’s strategic value, aimed instead to capture key ports and drive the German army east. De Gaulle appreciated the city’s symbolic importance. He knew that capturing Paris was the key to postwar power in France, and he wanted the capital liberated by his army. Neiberg’s (History/Univ. of Southern Mississippi/U.S. Army War College; Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I, 2011, etc.) taut narrative explains how the liberation played out. While he makes clear that credit for the city’s emancipation must be shared, he features the contribution of the Resistance, especially the tireless Henri Rol-Tanguy, the martyred Jean Moulin and Robert Monod and Roger Cocteau. Neiberg highlights the critical role played by the Paris police force and the heroism of thousands of anonymous Parisians. Hurling Molotov cocktails and harassing German soldiers from behind makeshift barricades, they suffered 500 men killed and 2,000 wounded. Neiberg also effectively debunks commanding German Gen. Choltitz’s postwar claim that he surrendered Paris for humanitarian reasons by demonstrating the hopelessness of his military situation and noting he was “motivated in no small part by his deep fear of the Paris mob.” An evenhanded, efficient account of one of World War II’s signature moments. (23 b/w illustrations; 1 map)

WILL OLDHAM ON BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY

Oldham, Will Norton (400 pp.) $16.95 paperback | Sep. 3, 2012 978-0-393-34433-2

Indie-folk cult hero Will Oldham’s oral dissertation on his enigmatic folkrocker alter ego, Bonnie “Prince” Billy. With the content composed solely of respected New York City musician 1620

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Licht’s (Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories, 2007) probing interviews with Oldham, the book sometimes slides into the kind of self-assessing navel-gazing usually reserved for the analyst’s couch. Nevertheless, Licht seems to know all the right buttons to push, allowing his subject to reel off into fits of philosophic banter about everything from the influence of dreams in his work to the usefulness of drugs in the creative process. Licht usually begins a chapter by hovering over a loose theme (film music, music as communal effort, recorded music as opposed to live music, etc.); then he often branches off on some strange and unexpected tangents, such as the viability of Jimmy Buffett, the main points of stage etiquette, Glenn Danzig and the pros and cons of going to sleep. But if there’s any unavoidable characteristic that runs throughout all these conversations, it’s the importance Oldham places on exclusivity of taste and intimacy in music. For some readers, it may be difficult to interpret Oldham’s ideas about music being better as a personal experience than a mass public event as being anything but anti-social snobbery. However, it’s also hard to fault him for his principled stance when it comes to issues like his reluctance to license his songs for film and TV and his longtime unwillingness to deal with major labels or corporate entities. Although the book is strictly interview format, readers will gain a sense of Oldham’s personal narrative: He’s a nomadic artist who has seemingly, almost unconsciously, drifted into an indie-music idealist’s dream career, forever hanging in the comfortable middle ground between fame and obscurity. Gushy and long-winded at times, profound and eloquent at others. (11 illustrations)

VISITING TOM A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace Perry, Michael Harper/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-06-189444-2

The warmhearted account of a middle-aged man’s friendship with an eccentric octogenarian neighbor. When Men’s Health contributing editor Perry (Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting, 2009, etc.) met Tom Hartwig, he had no idea that this man with the “brushy shock of hair, the fatless cheeks, the deep-seamed skin and the nose like a flint broadhead” would one day become an important part of his life. A farmer who loved tinkering in a home workshop that looked like it was “stocked by Rube Goldberg, curated by Hunter Thompson, and rearranged by a small earthquake,” Tom had a special fondness for assembling, and firing, vintage Civil War canons. Perry did not consciously go to Tom “seeking” anything beyond repairs for small pieces of equipment or the occasional get-together, yet he still found himself quietly inspired by Tom’s feistiness and wisdom. The older man’s unwillingness to surrender his dignity in the face of an interstate construction project that cut through his farm gave Perry the courage to fight a |

county-highway-commission project to reconfigure an intersection near his own house. The almost-60-year relationship Tom had with his wife, Arlene, offered a model of enduring domestic success that Perry also admired. Musing on his own comparatively brief marriage, the author observes somewhat wryly, “[f]amiliarity is no excuse for lowering your standards.” But perhaps most importantly of all, the couple provided both Perry and his family a link to the past and a feeling of generational continuity rare in an otherwise disconnected modern age. Perry’s portrayal of Tom and his life are both engaging, although the meandering nature of the narrative can be frustrating. Nevertheless, the moments of genuine emotion make up for its slow pace. Flawed, but down-to-earth and genuine. (9 b/w photos. Author driving tour through Midwest)

THE RICH DON’T ALWAYS WIN The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class Pizzigati, Sam Seven Stories (384 pp.) $18.95 paperback | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-60980-434-3

Labor journalist Pizzigati (Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality that Limits Our Lives, 2004, etc.) makes the case that graduated tax rates and strong unions once led to an economic golden age for average Americans— and could do so again. The author focuses on how, since the end of the 19th century, a massive economic gap between the rich and poor in America has sparked populist and progressive ideas. The resulting legislation and regulations, he writes, brought about changes that greatly improved the lives of many Americans by mid-century. But as Pizzigati shows, many of those policies and institutions were weakened or eliminated in later decades, and economic inequality has since grown. By revisiting and reinvigorating those ideas—such as steeply raising taxes on the wealthy—he argues that the gap could be narrowed once more. The author gives due attention to several major historical figures, most notably Franklin D. Roosevelt, but Pizzigati also name checks less-discussed individuals, such as attorney and reformist Amos Pinchot and Colorado congressman Edward Keating. The author also delves into complicated labor history and tax law, examining the many victories and defeats of progressive-leaning policies. However, Pizzigati has an unfortunate tendency to broadly demonize the rich, at one point even taking issue with the wealth of doomed passengers on the Titanic. He is undeniably passionate about his subject and skilled at marshaling information to make his points, but the book seems largely aimed at like-minded readers and may not change the minds of skeptics. A flawed but ambitious, readable look at economic reformism over the last century.

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“Awesome scholarship to an admirable purpose.” from the american bible

THE AMERICAN BIBLE How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation

Prothero, Stephen HarperOne (320 pp.) $29.99 | May 29, 2012 978-0-06-212343-5

A religious scholar’s compendium of essential American texts. Prothero (Religion/Boston Univ.; God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter, 2010, etc.) assembles a canon of what he suggests are the nation’s most sacred documents and a selection of Talmudlike commentary on them over history. Few would challenge his inclusion of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but some might question the presence of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (the only “scripture” not actually quoted because the author’s estate denied permission) or Malcolm X’s Autobiography, among others, for having been most influential only to narrow interests. Others may wish for more women, Native American or Latino voices, even among the commentators. But it is difficult to fault Prothero for selecting texts that, as his subtitle indicates, may unite or divide us according to our party, race or class, but remain central to the ongoing discussion of what it means to be American. The book should be required reading just for putting in one place so many historic pieces that are more opined over than actually read. Perhaps frustratingly for some, Prothero declines to hint about where he stands on any of the controversies—slavery, race, abortion, the proper role of government in the economy, the proper role of religion in politics—his “scriptures” engender. But his object is not to settle these difficult questions, but to bring Americans “together to argue” about them. Awesome scholarship to an admirable purpose.

MEAT EATER Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter Rinella, Steven Spiegel & Grau (272 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-385-52981-5

TV host and outdoorsman Rinella (American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, 2008, etc.) contemplates the hunter’s place in modern society while reliving his favorite hunting trips. Before committing to the writing life, the author made a serious attempt at carving out a career as a fur trapper like his frontier hero Daniel Boone. Even though that endeavor fell through, the kid who grew up bagging squirrels, muskrats and beavers would not abandon the hunt. Instead, he found 1622

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other ways to devote much of his life to stalking bighorn sheep, black bears, mountain lions and the like. At one point, he even managed to successfully split his time between college and subsistence hunting. While Rinella has taken more than a few trophies along the way, his excursions into the great outdoors have mainly been about feasting on wild game at the conclusion of each hunt—and he’s eager to share. Relentlessly descriptive and endlessly evocative “tasting guides” at the close of each chapter help armchair hunters get a sense of what it might be like digging into their own heaping plate of camp meat, deer hearts or sun-dried jerky. Depending on the palate, readers will find these gamey recipes either mouthwatering or gut-wrenching, but the writing is steadfastly satisfying and clear. A passage on the purported edibility of roasted beaver tail is especially entertaining. The author wisely allows philosophical questions pertaining to the validity of hunting and the efficacy of state-enforced regulations to simmer in the background, and he effectively shows nature in all its glory. An insider’s look at hunting that devotees and nonparticipants alike should find fascinating. (Author events in New York, the Midwest, and on the West Coast)

IN PRAISE OF MESSY LIVES Essays

Roiphe, Katie Dial Press (288 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-8129-9282-3 978-0-679-64402-6 e-book

Of-the-moment essays about popular culture, literature and the author’s unconventional life. Critic and novelist Roiphe (Journalism/New York Univ.; Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910–1939, 2007, etc.) presents a collection of personal essays and cultural and literary criticism, most of which have been previously published in Harper’s, the New York Times Book Review and other venues. The book’s title is adapted from the headline of the author’s New York Times article, “The Allure of Messy Lives,” which unpacks the hedonistic appeal of the TV show Mad Men and current cultural obsession with healthiness and productivity. “Perhaps part of what is so appealing, so fascinating about [the show],” she writes, “is the flight from bourgeois ordinariness, the struggle against it, in all of its poetic and mundane forms.” In a different essay, Roiphe describes her single motherhood and the pervasive negative judgment she perceives as existing toward women who choose to have children on their own. The book is divided into four sections: “Life and Times,” essays about her life; “Books,” pieces of literary criticism; “The Way We Live Now,” cultural writing; and “The Internet, Etc.,” personal essays offering scathing critiques of the “angry Internet commenter” and sites such as Gawker. Roiphe’s searing polemics are notorious for sparking controversy and sometimes drawing ire, and certain pieces included here are sure to do the same. In one essay,

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she argues that “incest has become our latest literary vogue”; in another, she bemoans the sex scenes written by the “Great Male Novelists of the last century.” Whether readers agree with her opinions or not, Roiphe is a fine, serious writer. Her essays are surprising, interesting and sharp and occasionally fall somewhere between thought-provoking and downright aggravating, but her voice is confident and consistent. Mostly fascinating, lively writings on a spectrum of topics relevant to women and men with a literary bent.

BACK TO SCHOOL Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education

Rose, Mike New Press (224 pp.) $21.95 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-59558-786-2 978-1-59558-803-6 e-book

In a series of up-close stories, Rose (Education and Information Studies/ UCLA; Why School?: Reclaiming Education for All of Us, 2009, etc.) explains the necessity of secondary education for nontraditional students. The author supports second-chance education programs, believing that “when well executed they develop the skills and build knowledge that can lead to employment but also provide a number of other personal, social, and civic benefits.” Whether the students Rose interviews are attending school for retraining, for the social interaction or for a second chance at a better life, his prose pulls readers into becoming cheerleaders for them as they struggle to master basic reading and writing skills or learn the complexities of welding. From adult education programs to community colleges, Rose explores the need for a reassessment of the post–K-12 educational system, noting that growing sectors of the labor market require a four- or even two-year degree. The author calls for a system that allows for a wide variety of students: single parents, workers who can only attend school part-time, those coming from rehab programs or jail, and those just interested in learning something new or in need of a social life. These are the students who often fall through the cracks in the traditional straight-from-high-school-to-college system, and it is to these students that Rose’s book will ring true. Even though they “carry more than their fair share of hardship and sorrow,” they have the same hopes and aspirations as those fortunate enough to attend one of the top universities in the country and should not be neglected or looked upon unfavorably because of their circumstances. Inspiring stories of older Americans attending secondary schools.

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AN AMERICAN SON A Memoir Rubio, Marco Sentinel (320 pp.) $26.95 | Jun. 19, 2012 978-1-59523-094-2

A family oriented memoir from a rising superstar of the Republican party. Rubio comes across as humble, principled and all too conscious of the sacrifices inherent in political life. Readers looking for a Tea Party jeremiad will be largely disappointed; though Rubio is forthright about his political and religious beliefs and gives a detailed account of his unlikely run for U.S. Senate, he writes with more specificity about his lifelong love for the Miami Dolphins than he does about any of his present legislative priorities. Instead, the apparent purpose of this memoir is to place Rubio’s political convictions in the context of his family history. The driving thesis of the book is that his success is an affirmation of the sacrifices members of his parents’ generation made so that their children could have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. His personal political ambitions are especially meaningful because they represent the fulfillment of the hopes of not only his parents, but those of other Cuban refugees as well. He addresses the controversy of the timing of his parents’ arrival in America in a straightforward manner, and the prose is direct if not scintillating. He shows insight into his flaws, analyzes professional and personal mistakes, and extols the virtues of bipartisan cooperation. Rubio’s stories about his family are inarguably compelling and may help persuade a broader and more moderate electorate should he ever consider a national (vice-presidential?) run. A generally apolitical memoir that is politically shrewd because of, not despite, its focus on the author’s personal and family history.

THE WAR BY THE SHORE The Incomparable Drama of the 1991 Ryder Cup Sampson, Curt Gotham Books (288 pp.) $28.00 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-1-592-40796-5

Golf writer Sampson (Golf Dads: Fathers, Sons, and the Greatest Game, 2008, etc.) recounts the tale of the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island, S.C., perhaps the most famous edition of the biennial contest. The Ryder Cup began in 1927 as a competition between golfers from the United States and Britain and was dominated by the U.S. for the first 50 years of its existence. The tide began to shift, however, when, in 1979, the format changed to include players from the rest of Europe. By 1991, the European side had won three in a row, and there was no love lost between many

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“In a heartfelt tribute to his mother, Schwalbe illustrates the power of the written word to expand our knowledge of ourselves and others.” from the end of our life book club

of the players on both teams. The Kiawah Island “War by the Shore” had its share of controversy, including the continuance of a feud between Spanish star Seve Ballesteros and American Paul Azinger and accusations of jingoism after U.S. players Corey Pavin and Steve Pate wore camouflage hats with “Desert Storm” labels. But for all the controversy and nationalism, the tournament’s fame rests mainly on the excitement of the matches, a hard-fought competition that came down to a single putt on the final hole, an excruciating 6-foot miss by German Bernhard Langer. Sampson does a nice job recreating the frenzied atmosphere, with input from most of the major participants and a wealth of behind-the-scenes information that adds much to readers’ understanding of the events of that week. He should also be credited for avoiding the usual hushed, reverent tones of many sports historians, though some readers will be put off by the narrative style, which occasionally feels like being cornered at the 19th hole by the slightly drunk know-it-all who fancies himself a raconteur. An entertaining read for golf fans that sheds light on an important chapter in golf history.

EDUCATIONAL COURAGE Resisting the Ambush on Public Education

Schniedewind, Nancy; Sapon-Shevin, Mara Beacon (240 pp.) $18.00 paperback | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-8070-3295-4 978-0-8070-3296-1 e-book

Schniedewind (Humanistic and Multicultural Education/SUNY-New Paltz; Open Minds to Equality, 2006, etc.) and Sapon-Shevin (Inclusive Education/Syracuse Univ.; Widening the Circle: The Power of Inclusive Classrooms, 2007, etc.) curate a mixed bag of essays and stories on education that will resound with some readers but are unlikely to sway others. Joining the swollen ranks of strident, well-intentioned books about the problems facing public schools is this collection by educators of their experiences with the downside of “market-driven initiatives.” This loosely refers to standardized testing, both in quantity and in bearing on whether schools receive funding; merit pay; charter schools and their detriment to public schooling; and the sharp division across cultural lines observed in the effects of Race to the Top–style incentives. We learn of a superintendent faced with students wracked with anxiety over a mandatory test (some literally to the point of pulling out their hair) who, while empathizing with them and agreeing the pressure has become too intense, couldn’t do anything because “it’s the law.” Another story follows a teacher who quit a hard-won job with Teach for America in a high-poverty school, because there was no discussion of “institutionalized racism and classism as root causes of the achievement gap.” Many of the pieces concern how we define excellence in academics—is it by intrinsic motivation in students, uniformity, rigor, specificity, 1624

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or victory? At the strongest points in the collection, educators make solid, non-pedantic cases for a rethinking of local and national education standards. Other stories seem marginally related to the topic, serving as vehicles for various left-wing bugbears that, while worthy of discussion, limit the effectiveness of the book as a whole. Like a spray of buckshot—some pieces hit the target, but the impact is limited.

THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB

Schwalbe, Will Knopf (336 pp.) $25.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-307-59403-7 978-0-307-96111-2 e-book Schwalbe (co-author: Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home, 2007) chronicles his book-related conversations with his mother after she was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Books provided the author with much-needed ballast during the chaos and upheaval of his mother’s terminal illness. While they waited together through interminable doctor visits, hospital stays and chemotherapy sessions, they discussed what they had been reading. This became the beginning of the “End of Your Life Book Club.” As Schwalbe points out, the name was appropriate not just because his mother was dying, but because any book could be your last. Books provided an avenue for the author and his mother to explore important topics that made them uneasy. As his mother told him, “That’s one of the things books do. They help us talk. But they also give us something we all can talk about when we don’t want to talk about ourselves.” They discussed books not as a sick or healthy person but as “a mother and a son entering new worlds together.” Their reading list was diverse and cut across genres, generations and borders. Some of the books included The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, The Book of Common Prayer and The Etiquette of Illness, and the authors included Dennis Lehane, E.M. Forster and Thomas Pynchon. Schwalbe, who served as the editor in chief of Hyperion Books, introduces each of the authors with the insight of a veteran editor, highlighting their styles and strengths. Each chapter holds a subtle message fleshed out through their readings and discussions, and themes include gratitude, loneliness, feminism, faith, communication, trust and grief. In a heartfelt tribute to his mother, Schwalbe illustrates the power of the written word to expand our knowledge of ourselves and others. (First printing of 100,000)

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“Alternately sad, defiant, carefree and understated, this journey into a world hidden in plain sight is well worth taking.” from a free man

A FREE MAN A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi Sethi, Aman Norton (240 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 22, 2012 978-0-393-08890-8

A journalist ingratiates himself with a band of day laborers on the mean streets of Delhi, India. In 2005, Sethi, a young reporter eager to undertake an investigative study of Delhi’s working poor, befriended vagabond Mohammed Ashraf and his crew. Six years later, he found himself still involved in Ashraf ’s life, providing him with both emotional and financial support. Although Sethi initially expressed frustration with Ashraf ’s reluctance to provide a linear timeline of his life story, he soon fell under the spell cast by this streetwise raconteur. Like many others in his circle, Ashraf had run away to Delhi to escape a tempestuous home life. During times when he could find work, he painted houses and did other manual odd jobs; during times when there was either no work to be had or no work that he wanted, he drank heavily, spun tall tales and fantasized about opening his own business. Sethi excels at empathetically depicting what could come across as a miserable existence: he allows Ashraf and the other mazdoors (laborers) to share their stories without either judging them or pretending to be one of them. For all the injustices that these men face every day, the book offers ample humor. In the most poignant chapters, Sethi accompanies Ashraf ’s friend to a tuberculosis hospital. The bureaucracy and despair of such an institution becomes painfully clear when Sethi portrays the panel of admitting doctors, all wearing masks and looking away from their patients. Alternately sad, defiant, carefree and understated, this journey into a world hidden in plain sight is well worth taking.

YOU CAN BE RIGHT (OR YOU CAN BE MARRIED) Looking for Love in the Age of Divorce Shapiro, Dana Adam Scribner (256 pp.) $24.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-4516-5777-7

A filmmaker attempts to understand why so many marriages fail by interviewing survivors of divorce. It’s ironic that the author of this unoriginal book claims to have been spurred to write it by a hatred of self-help books and their attendant clichés. Former Spin senior editor Shapiro (The Every Boy, 2007), acclaimed director of Murderball and Monogamy, serves up cliché after cliché of his own, punctuated only occasionally by his shallow summaries of the lessons he’s learned from his research. Perhaps the author really is |

motivated by a desire to understand why all of his long-term romantic relationships broke up before reaching the level of marriage. However, in most of his interviews, he focuses less on gleaning fresh insights about intimacy, communication and the nature of marriage than he does on hooking readers with tawdry, often-irrelevant details about his subjects’ sex lives. What lesson should we draw from the story of Shapiro’s friend who paid a woman to clean his apartment in the nude? “It’s not that I want to be the type of guy who places sex ads on Craigslist,” he writes, “I just want to make sure that I’m never the type of husband whose wife would want to answer one.” Fair enough, but couldn’t he have made this claim without subjecting us to completely unnecessary details of his friend’s sexual encounter? After years of research, Shapiro’s primary belief seems to be that the key to a happy marriage is having a partner who is willing to perform a couple of highly specific sex acts. Few would argue against the importance of a mutually rewarding erotic relationship, but, given the specificity of Shapiro’s claims and the leading nature of his interview questions, it would be wise to take his lessons with an enormous grain of salt. Tedious and imperceptive.

FROM DICTATORSHIP TO DEMOCRACY A Conceptual Framework for Liberation Sharp, Gene New Press (160 pp.) $13.95 paperback | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59558-850-0 978-1-59558-857-9 e-book

First U.S. publication of a handbook on fighting dictators, first published in the early 1990s at the request of an exiled Burmese diplomat. In this slim book, which has been translated into at least 28 different languages, Sharp (Political Science Emeritus/Univ. of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; Waging Nonviolent Struggle, 2005, etc.) synthesizes his years of research on nonviolent struggle. He explains that his general focus “make[s] the analysis potentially relevant in any country with an authoritarian or dictatorial government.” The author opposes the use of violence unconditionally, insisting that to choose violence is to choose a means of struggle in which oppressors nearly always have superiority. Sharp claims that overthrowing a dictatorship is a matter of identifying how the dictatorship’s internal structure works and adopting a strategic design to identify weaknesses and change the balance. The author provides a list of “Achilles’ heels,” which can be targeted through psychological, economic, social and political action; in an appendix, he briefly discusses 198 such tactics. Sharp stresses the importance of cutting off a dictatorship from its sources of power and support and building up mass defiance and resistance. His generic format, however, presents problems since dictatorships, like political situations, offer particular challenges that are not easily addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach. Sharp insists that resistance, not negotiations, will be the key to change,

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AMERICA THE POSSIBLE Manifesto for a New Economy

but the longevity of Burma’s SLORC dictatorship raises questions about the author’s approach. Includes some interesting theoretical points, but the generalities limit the book’s effectiveness.

WHO STOLE THE AMERICAN DREAM?

Smith, Hedrick Random House (576 pp.) $30.00 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-4000-6966-8 978-0-679-60464-8 e-book Remarkably comprehensive and coherent analysis of and prescriptions for America’s contemporary economic malaise by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Smith (Rethinking America, 1995, etc.). “Over the past three decades,” writes the author, “we have become Two Americas.” We have arrived at a new Gilded Age, where “gross inequality of income and wealth” have become endemic. Such inequality is not simply the result of “impersonal and irresistible market forces,” but of quite deliberate corporate strategies and the public policies that enabled them. Smith sets out on a mission to trace the history of these strategies and policies, which transformed America from a roughly fair society to its current status as a plutocracy. He leaves few stones unturned. CEO culture has moved since the 1970s from a concern for the general well-being of society, including employees, to the single-minded pursuit of personal enrichment and short-term increases in stock prices. During much of the ’70s, CEO pay was roughly 40 times a worker’s pay; today that number is 367. Whether it be through outsourcing and factory closings, corporate reneging on once-promised contributions to employee health and retirement funds, the deregulation of Wall Street and the financial markets, a tax code which favors overwhelmingly the interests of corporate heads and the superrich—all of which Smith examines in fascinating detail—the American middle class has been left floundering. For its part, government has simply become an enabler and partner of the rich, as the rich have turned wealth into political influence and rigid conservative opposition has created the politics of gridlock. What, then, is to be done? Here, Smith’s brilliant analyses turn tepid, as he advocates for “a peaceful political revolution at the grassroots” to realign the priorities of government and the economy but offers only the vaguest of clues as to how this might occur. Not flawless, but one of the best recent analyses of the contemporary woes of American economics and politics.

Speth, James Gustave Yale Univ. (288 pp.) $30.00 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-300-18076-3

A longtime environmental policymaker and activist suggests a sweeping plan to save the United States by revamping the entire political-economic-societal paradigm. Speth served as the environmental advisor to President Jimmy Carter and is currently a Vermont Law School professor. His two previous books—Red Sky at Morning (2005) and The Bridge at the End of the World (2008)—were the first two installments in what can be considered a trilogy. He opens America the Possible with a familiar catalog of America’s ills, including environmental degradation, overdependence on fossil fuels, secondrate health care, income inequality, the unfair tax system and the hegemony of multinational corporations. Speth concedes that his agenda is daunting, and he suggests that it probably could not be fully achieved until at least 2050, even if a majority of voters could be assembled to support it. However, because he believes the country is in danger of failing the greater part of its citizenry unless current policies are altered, he chooses optimism, proposing specific reforms that can become reality if undertaken in a deliberate, measured way. Speth understands that the populace must move beyond an electoral choice between the equally hidebound Republican and Democratic parties, and he calls for a uniting of political progressives to form an electoral majority. The biggest weakness of Speth’s argument is his vagueness in showing how to persuade tens of millions of registered voters to coalesce into a progressive political movement. The author admits that it has been difficult to bring even like-minded individuals together, and he explains why environmentalists and social-justice liberals focusing on employee rights in the job market have too often failed to work in tandem. A hopeful book that generally fails to close the gap between our current situation and what Speth envisions for future generations.

PAST TO PRESENT A Reporter’s Story of War, Spies, People, and Politics Stevenson, William Lyons Press (272 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-7627-7370-1

A World War II Royal Navy fighter pilot turned journalist recalls a long, full life becoming a man of the world. Born to a French mother and a father involved in secretive “special operations” during the war years, Stevenson (A Man Called Intrepid: The Incredible WWII 1626

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“A refreshing chronicle of a fervent sportsman with his head and heart in all the right places.” from a father first

Narrative of the Hero Whose Spy Network and Secret Diplomacy Changed the Course of History, 2009, etc.) grew up in East London dreaming about faraway places. At age 16, during the London Blitz, he volunteered at the British Navy office and gradually made his way through stages of assessment as a pilot; he recounts his adventures and poignant loss of buddies in short, punchy chapters. “Help me justify being alive,” he swore to the memory of lost comrades, and he decided to devote his life to the romantic idealism of his boyhood. In peacetime London, he got a job with Mercury News under Ian Fleming, who first informed him of an infamous man who shared his name, but with a different spelling: William Stephenson, who was wellknown in British spy circles, and whom the author would later come to write about in A Man Called Intrepid. Stevenson relocated to Canada to work for the Toronto Star under the leadership of the enigmatic Harold Comfort Hindmarsh, or HCH, from whom he solicited approval for stories by submitting brief notes in his pigeonhole. The author was sent all over the world to cover exciting history-making moments (“HCH: Might it be worth confronting the killer of Leonid Trotsky in Mexico?”), and he records such encounters with Jawaharlal Nehru, Zhou Enlai, Mao Zedong, the young Dalai Lama, Ho Chi Minh (who impressed him mightily), Khrushchev and many others during his travels and documentary-making into Southeast Asia and Africa from the 1950s onward. Eloquent, bittersweet, memorable reflections.

THE POPE’S JEWS The Vatican’s Secret Plan to Save Jews from the Nazis

Thomas, Gordon Dunne/St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-312-60421-9 978-1-250-01355-2 e-book

A defense of the pope who got a bad rap for his public silence on Jewish persecution in Rome during World War II. While reading prolific English writer Thomas’ (Operation Exodus: From the Nazi Death Camps to the Promised Land, 2010, etc.) dramatized account of Pius XII’s backroom dealing to help the Jews, readers come away with the impression that the new pope was endowed with a mission by the moribund Pius XI on his deathbed to campaign against anti-Semitism and subsequently pursued little else during the duration of the war. Yet Pius XII deliberately resolved that “there must be no public denunciation by the church” of Nazi persecution, supposedly to work more effectively behind the scenes for Jews to escape and also to sustain the tenuous Vatican neutrality. In his episodic, fast-paced narrative, Thomas cuts among scenes involving an array of international characters who were agitating against the Nazis during the war years, such as the leaders of Rome’s ancient Jewish ghetto, British and American diplomats, members of the antifascist resistance, spies and helpful Vatican priests. Events move |

at a breakneck pace, from Mussolini’s embrace of Nazi Germany, bombing by the Americans, the Abwehr director Wilhelm Canaris’ courting of the pope for a secret assassination plot of Hitler, and Hitler’s own crazy plot to abduct the pope. The plot culminated in the extortion of gold from the Jewish community and the horrific Gestapo roundup of thousands of Jews in October 1943. And still the pope remained silent. Thomas offers secondhand accounts such as by Pius’ devoted Bavarian housekeeper Sister Pascalina Lehnert, and though many illustrious voices have defended the pope’s record, it is not all entirely convincing. A valiant but not fully successful attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of “Hitler’s pope.” (8-page b/w photo insert)

A FATHER FIRST How My Life Became Bigger than Basketball

Wade, Dwyane with Rivas, Mim Eichler Morrow/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | CD $24.99 Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-06-213615-2 978-0-06-213618-3 e-book 978-0-06-220514-8 CD The smooth, composed memoir of a superstar NBA player juggling celebrity and fatherhood. From the opening pages, Wade’s comforting narrative voice—assisted by author Rivas (co-author: Becoming Dr. Q, 2011, etc.)—draws readers in, as he provides recollections from his shy childhood in the 1980s, during which his drug-addicted mother shuffled him around the gang-addled streets of South Side Chicago. He was comforted by his loving grandmother and an obsession with basketball and Michael Jordan, as well as his older sister, Tragil, who shepherded her baby brother out of harm’s way. In school, Wade’s stepbrother dominated the varsity basketball games, but an early growth spurt and a string of expert coaches allowed Wade to shine and demonstrate his burgeoning abilities on the court. His star potential blossomed at Marquette University and eventually fostered NBA celebrity status as a guard for the Miami Heat. However, his marriage to high school sweetheart Siohvaughn Funches ended in a tumultuous 2007 divorce, and a custody battle for sons Zaire and Zion became ugly. The text seamlessly alternates between Wade’s rise to athletic fame and the aftermath of a 2011 decision to award him sole custody of his two sons, a legal decision eliciting both positive (stability for his boys) and negative ramifications (Funches’ vicious accusations and relentless interference). Wade capably demonstrates the power of hard work, faith, honest fatherhood and the dedication necessary to achieve happiness and harmony from hardscrabble beginnings. A refreshing chronicle of a fervent sportsman with his head and heart in all the right places. (16-page color photo insert)

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THE RICHEST WOMAN IN AMERICA Hetty Green in the Gilded Age

Wallach, Janet Talese/Doubleday (304 pp.) $27.95 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-385-53197-9

The transporting tale of Hetty Green, who, after being rejected by her parents, learned business from her grandfather and amassed a fortune valued at $100 million in 1916. Wallach (Seraglio, 2003, etc.) frequently points out that Green’s methods and philosophy of wealth were remarkably similar to that of Warren Buffett. She particularly notes the many references to her miserliness and how the same qualities were seen as mere eccentricity in men. Her Quaker background taught her how to be independent and make business decisions, and she never wasted her time and especially not her money on the foolishness of the Gilded Age. Green gave freely to charities of her choice but ruthlessly foreclosed when a note was due and unpaid. When her husband needed a bailout from one of his ill-advised speculations, she demanded his properties in return. She always kept a great deal of cash at the ready in order to quickly take advantage of a good buy, and she never bought anything until she had thoroughly investigated every aspect of it. She enjoyed the game of business, especially beating out her rivals. Green emerged from multiple financial disasters—e.g., in 1873, 1893 and 1908—richer than before, always buying as others panicked and selling when prices finally recovered. Her fiscal policies were firm, and she never waivered from them: Never use another’s money, never take on a partner, and avoid the pitfalls of leveraging, overborrowing and overspending. The dearth of diaries and personal correspondence available to the author has not prevented her from writing a thoroughly enjoyable biography.

ARMY OF EVIL A History of the SS

Weale, Adrian NAL Caliber/Berkley (496 pp.) $28.95 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-451-23791-0 Riveting look at the formation of the Schutzstaffeln (aka the SS), from Hitler’s early private bodyguards to Heinrich Himmler’s elite extermination squads. Weale (Patriot Traitors, 2001, etc.) plots the evolution of the SS as the embodiment and implementation of the Nazi racist ideology. Organized in 1925 as a personal security detail for the National Socialist leader on the rise, the SS was conceived as a self-conscious elite force set apart from the party’s thuggish, ill-disciplined paramilitary force, the Sturmabteilung, or SA. Once the young Bavarian Nazi-organizer 1628

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Himmler took over the restructuring process, the SS was soon imbued with new discipline, uniforms, recruitment and ideological framework that embraced the pseudo-science of eugenics current at the time. Weale breaks down the criteria for SS selectivity, which required not only absolute political loyalty, but a kind of physical perfection, including height restrictions and proof of “strictly Nordic German” blood; marriage by SS officers had to be approved by the Race Office. By 1933, Hitler was chancellor, and tension among the German army, the SA and the SS was eliminated by the Night of the Long Knives of July 1934, when Himmler’s SS became the fully independent organization within the Nazi party in charge of security and policing— soon to be armed and sent into invasion action in Poland and elsewhere. Step by step, Weale delineates the consolidation of Himmler’s power, including the implementation of the concentration camp system, first at Dachau, then in the “special task groups” sent in to mop up after Nazi invasion in Eastern Europe as the SS soldiers evolved into instruments of genocide. A chilling examination of the SS makeup, structure and ideology.

RESTLESS EMPIRE China and the World Since 1750

Westad, Odd Arne Basic (528 pp.) $32.00 | Sep. 3, 2012 978-0-465-01933-5

An astute, succinct study of modern China emphasizing overarching themes like hybrid identity and foreign influence rather than nationalism and centrality. In presenting this complex portrait of a fast-changing, multiethnic empire as it collided head-on with modern currents, Westad (International History/London School of Economics; The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times, 2005, etc.) takes a thematic approach, following a dozen currents including the effects of imperialism and the relationship with Japan. The orientation of China’s empire for millennia was toward the Yellow River and the east, with fluid borders, numerous tributary states and a sense of centrality dictated by Confucian ideals. Since 1636, the Qing, a conquering outsider tribe, consolidated rule by expanding outward, even by genocidal means. Qing rule would steadily be chipped away during the 19th century, due to subsequent ineffectual leadership and disastrous interventions in Burma and Vietnam, uneven growth while Europe began undergoing technological expansion, and a shifting trade with Russia and England. The aggressive arrogance demonstrated by Britain during the Opium War and the concessions wrung by the treaty underscored Qing impotence, emphasized Westerners’ contempt for Chinese traditions, and sowed internal dissent. Westad employs this theme of foreign intervention all the way through Mao Zedong’s stringent shutting off of China to the outside world. The author also examines the significance of the global Chinese émigré community,

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“Beautifully constructed reflections and careful sifting of Jefferson’s thoughts and deeds.” from master of the mountain

MASTER OF THE MOUNTAIN Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves

which has played a key role in China’s capitalist transformation since 1978. China’s relationship with Japan grew mutually suspicious and fearful as Russia and the West moved in, and Japan’s aggressive war with China, 1937-1945, wrought unimaginable destruction, as well as renewal and modernization. A fresh look at a confounding nation the West has not yet figured out. (Author tour to New York and Washington, D.C.)

I SHOULDN’T BE TELLING YOU THIS Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know

White, Kate HarperCollins (320 pp.) $24.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-06-212212-4

In this follow-up to her bestseller Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead…but Gutsy Girls Do (1996), Cosmopolitan editor-inchief White (The Sixes, 2011, etc.) offers straight-shooting career advice to women at all stages of their professional lives. In the first section of the book, the author discusses how to gain a foothold in the workplace and includes advice on everything from how to get a job and manage projects to developing “a golden gut” to read work situations beyond a surface level. As White sees it, success isn’t just about doing things right and “dazzling your boss.” It’s also about knowing how to survive, and thrive, in sometimes-hostile environments and unapologetically grab for the opportunities and sponsors (rather than mentors) that can make a real difference. White then turns her attention to what to do after a career begins to gather momentum. The first thing is to become “focused, fierce and steadfast.” This means learning how to own power and the responsibilities that come with it and understanding that personal confidence can ebb as well as flow. The key is to be self-aware and open to all possibilities for continued growth and development as a leader. But success only goes so far. In the last section, which is unfortunately the shortest, White discusses how to enjoy being at the top. She offers tips for time management, including ways to handle maternity leave. White’s portrait of a highly structured, tightly scheduled life may not appeal to all readers, but her advice is useful and delightfully no-nonsense. A smart, savvy guide for working women looking to climb the professional ladder and maintain positions of power.

Wiencek, Henry Farrar, Straus and Giroux (352 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-374-29956-9 A well-rendered yet deeply unsettling look behind the illusion of the happy slaves of Monticello. That Jefferson was riven by contradictions as both a passionate advocate of liberty and a dedicated slave owner is not new to scholars and historians. Yet Wiencek (An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America, 2003, etc.) scours the primary sources, such as Thomas Jefferson’s Farm Book, for a thoughtful reexamination of what was really going on behind the harmonious facade of the great house on the mountain. So much about Monticello was artful, full of contrivances, contraptions, inventions and labyrinths. It was an innovative and eccentric place, tricking the eye and keeping the visitor somewhat off balance. Wiencek does note some of the times when the facade was broken: “In one instance, a gentleman dining with Mr. Jefferson, looked so startled as he raised his eyes from the latter to the servant behind him, that his discovery of the resemblance was perfectly obvious to all.” Indeed, all the slaves at Monticello were related to one another, descendants of matriarch “Betty” Hemings, who had been the concubine of Martha Jefferson’s father, rendering Betty’s many children by him, including Sally, her own half siblings. Rather reluctantly, Wiencek looks at the substance behind the scandal of Sally and Jefferson’s reputed liaison and admits solid evidence. The author thoroughly examines Jefferson’s writings, such as Notes on the State of Virginia, for his problematic theories on race, miscegenation and human bondage, and he marvels at the man’s ability to justify what he called an “execrable commerce.” Slave suicides, runaways, whippings by his overseers and his furtive freeing of Sally’s two oldest children—the secrets and evasions compounded one another. Yes, Jefferson inherited slavery, but he knew better. Beautifully constructed reflections and careful sifting of Jefferson’s thoughts and deeds. (8 pages of b/w illustrations)

ALL GONE A Memoir of My Mother’s Dementia. With Refreshments.

Witchel, Alex Riverhead (224 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-59448-791-0

A journalist’s bittersweet memoir about coping with her mother’s dementia by preparing her mother’s recipes. When New York Times Magazine food columnist and novelist Witchel (The SpareWife, 2008, etc.) discovered her college-professor |

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mother was ill with dementia, she was shocked. The woman who had successfully managed to juggle marriage, motherhood and a career had also hidden her deteriorating health from her family. Witchel was suddenly forced into the position of becoming a parent to a stubborn, strong-willed mother and watching her begin “the tortuous process of disappearing in plain sight.” Overwhelmed by this role-shift and the changes it brought into her life, the author sought comfort by making the meals her mother once prepared for the family, such as meatloaf, spaghetti, roast chicken and potato latkes. Childhood memories came flooding back. Witchel remembers her mother as a gifted woman who defied both familial and social expectations to construct a professional identity for herself; as an individual who “lived her life as an act of will,” was the dominant force at home and expected nothing but the best from her children. Her father may have been “the ultimate authority,” but it was her mother who “ran the show.” She was also the person who guided her daughter toward the love of gastronomy that would eventually find expression in Witchel’s work as a journalist. Warm and always humane, Witchel’s narrative is a poignant, candid reminder of the new normal that now defines so many adult child-aging parent relationships.

COMET’S TALE How the Dog I Rescued Saved My Life

Wolf, Steven D. with Padwa, Lynette Algonquin (272 pp.) $23.95 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-61620-045-9 The close bond between man and dog is only part of this absorbing tale of love, family and dealing with disability. At 43, Wolf, a successful attorney, appeared to be at the top of his game when his spine gave way. Only gradually do we learn that his physical problems began when he was 16 and required a spinal fusion. In the years since his surgery, he had pushed himself to the limit. His condition was considered inoperable, and he was forced to retire—and spend the winter in Arizona while his family remained in Omaha. Depressed and suffering agonizing pain despite heavy medication, he struggled to maintain his independence. An encounter with foster greyhounds led him to adopt Comet, an abandoned greyhound who had been trained to race. Comet was not only an affectionate companion; she was also protective and sensitive to her owner’s increasing disability. The author began to rely on Comet to help him navigate simple tasks such as getting out of bed or opening doors, and ultimately he trained her to become a service dog who could accompany him everywhere. With the assistance of Padwa (Quick, Answer Me Before I Forget the Question: Everything You Need to Know About Turning 50, 2007, etc.), Wolf offers a wealth of fascinating detail about Comet’s socialization and about the breed, who are valued for their keen intelligence, speed and agility. After several years, Wolf found an orthopedic surgeon who was able to partially reconstruct his spine, increase 1630

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his mobility and reduce his pain. The author admits to becoming manic and refusing to recognize that he was still fundamentally disabled. In his obsessive drive to resume his former life, he alienated his wife, who could not accept his self-destructive behavior. Only then was he able to come to terms with his previously flawed view of manliness and independence, rebuild his marriage and treasure each day. A heartwarming story that will hold appeal far beyond just animal lovers.

THE CHEMISTRY BETWEEN US Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction

Young, Larry; Alexander, Brian Current (320 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-1-59184-513-3

A pop-science analysis of the complex brain chemicals behind lust and love. Why do we drunk-dial our exes? Why do strippers make more money when they are ovulating? Why do fools fall in love? These are some of the questions explored by Young (Psychiatry/Emory Univ.) and journalist Alexander (America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction, 2008). The authors argue that the causes are related to the potent, sometimes irresistible, chemical cocktails our bodies produce. In interviews with scientists of all stripes (psychiatrists, neuroscientists, researchers), Young and Alexander examine their ideas and how they pertain to us, often illuminating their explanations with funny, and sometimes raunchy, anecdotes. One researcher studying leeches described the male leech as “the icky guy in the bar hitting on every female,” while a neuroscientist studying the links between smell and sex in rats joked that a female rat became “the major party girl” during an experiment. Some animal lovers may be disturbed by the occasionally flippant tone describing some gruesome lab experiments—e.g., “it turned out shooting electricity into cat brains just gets you angry cats.” The authors’ analysis of the differences between male and female brains suffers from this glib attitude as well, but the book is sure to hook even casual science readers with its subject, because, as Young and Alexander point out, “the combination of erotic desire and the love it leads to may be the most powerful force on earth.” An entertaining overview of the science of physical attraction.

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

THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE by Aesop... p. 1632 BRAVE SQUISH RABBIT by Katherine Battersby...................... p. 1636 ALMOST HOME by Joan Bauer................................................... p. 1636 THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray..................................................... p. 1639

EVERY DAY by David Levithan..................................................p. 1668 THE ADVENTURES OF ACHILLES by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden; illus. by Carole Hénaff............................... p. 1670 CASTLE by David Macaulay and Sheila Keenan; illus. by David Macaulay..............................................................p. 1671 BE MY ENEMY by Ian McDonald............................................... p. 1675

CALL THE SHOTS by Don Calame.............................................. p. 1641

LULU AND THE DUCK IN THE PARK by Hilary McKay; illus. by Priscilla Lamont.............................................................. p. 1675

THE GREAT UNEXPECTED by Sharon Creech...........................p. 1644

ONE TIMES SQUARE by Joe McKendry..................................... p. 1676

NEVER TRUST A TIGER by Lari Don; illus. by Melanie Williamson........................................................p. 1648

DELIA’S DULL DAY by Andy Myer.............................................. p. 1679

OH, NO! by Candace Fleming; illus. by Eric Rohmann.............. p. 1652 THE BOSTON TEA PARTY by Russell Freedman; illus. by Peter Malone.....................................................................p. 1653 DRUMMER BOY OF JOHN JOHN by Mark Greenwood; illus. by Frané Lessac..................................................................... p. 1655 CAT TALE by Michael Hall.......................................................... p. 1657 LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL by Ben Hatke.................. p. 1658 A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY by Danette Haworth....................... p. 1658 BENNY AND PENNY IN LIGHTS OUT by Geoffrey Hayes........ p. 1659

THE SPINDLERS by Lauren Oliver; illus. by Iacopo Bruno.......p. 1680 BEYOND COURAGE by Doreen Rappaport................................ p. 1683 CREEPY CARROTS! by Aaron Reynolds; illus. by Peter Brown.....................................................................p. 1684 SONS OF THE 613 by Michael Rubens........................................p. 1686 THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS FLY SOUTH by Adam Rubin; illus. by Daniel Salmieri...............................................................p. 1686 BOMB by Steve Sheinkin..............................................................p. 1688 BINKY TAKES CHARGE by Ashley Spires...................................p. 1690

PENNY AND HER DOLL by Kevin Henkes................................. p. 1659

THE QUIET PLACE by Sarah Stewart; illus. by David Small....................................................................p. 1694

VALENTINE AND HIS VIOLIN by Philip Hopman.................... p. 1661

THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater....................................p. 1694

ONE YEAR IN COAL HARBOR by Polly Horvath..................... p. 1661

DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier.......................................................p. 1694

THE EMPTY CITY by Erin Hunter............................................... p. 1662

LET’S SING A LULLABY WITH THE BRAVE COWBOY by Jan Thomas.......................................p. 1694

YOU ARE STARDUST by Elin Kelsey; illus. by Soyeon Kim........p. 1664 FOURMILE by Watt Key............................................................... p. 1665

HALLOWEEN FOREST by Marion Dane Bauer; illus. by John Shelley.....................................................................p. 1699

STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff.................................................p. 1666

THE MONSTERS’ MONSTER by Patrick McDonnell..................p. 1703

A DOG CALLED HOMELESS by Sarah Lean.............................. p. 1667

BEDTIME FOR MONSTERS by Ed Vere....................................... p. 1704

MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL by Martine Leavitt................... p. 1667

A TALE OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD by Séverine Vidal; illus. by Claire Fauché; dev. by La Souris Qui Raconte................p. 1707

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THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE

means I love you, / a wave means hello, / a smile means I’m happy, / a tug means let’s go!”), although it stutters at one point and will require practice before reading aloud. Despite small flaws, the book is a solid introduction to a range of human expressions and the concept of nonverbal communication. (Picture book. 2-5)

Aesop Illus. by Ward, Helen Templar/Candlewick (48 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-7636-6098-7 In this splendid retelling of Aesop’s familiar fable, a country mouse leaves his bucolic existence to sample the glitz and glam of the city, only to discover there’s absolutely no place like home. Country mouse “live[s] a quiet life among the seasons.” He is perfectly content until his “fine, sleek” town cousin comes to visit, criticizes the mud and dangerous wildlife (a sleeping fawn, in the illustration), and boasts about the city’s “rich, exotic foods.” Urging his cousin to see the wonders of the city for himself, town mouse departs, leaving country mouse discontent and with “a longing for new sights and sounds.” Country mouse hitches a ride to the city, where he discovers electric lights and towers of glass and stone. His cousin’s apartment is indeed luxurious and the food delicious, but country mouse soon yearns for the simple pleasures of home. The elegant, simple text contrasts the natural beauty of the countryside with the artificiality of the city. Sumptuous watercolor illustrations enhance the rural/ urban juxtaposition with luminous close-ups of country mouse immersed in the seasonal flora and fauna of the English countryside and overwhelmed by the “noise and bustle and hum” of a 1930s-era city at Christmas. The richly detailed illustrations invite and reward close inspection. A visual stunner. (Picture book. 4-7)

A KISS MEANS I LOVE YOU

Allen, Kathryn Madeline Photos by Futran, Eric Whitman (24 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8075-4186-9 Color photographs of children expressing different emotions and enacting certain situations introduce the idea of “reading” body language to the youngest children. Humans communicate wants, needs and emotions through facial expressions and body language as well as orally. The book promotes the ability to decipher them as a critical skill for children to develop as they explore and have contact with a wide group of individuals. Through up-close photographs and rhyming text, tots see a multicultural cast of children their age smiling, laughing, pouting and expressing anger. One boy extends a toy as an invitation to share; another, finger to lips, requests quiet, illustrating the nuances of a gesture or hand motion. One odd omission is an example of the basic feeling of fear. Some entries are more successful than others, and this reflects the medium: It is difficult to represent shivering, for example, in a still photograph. The rhyme encourages page-turns (“A kiss 1632

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THE NO. 1 CAR SPOTTER AND THE FIREBIRD

Atinuke Illus. by Cadwell, Warwick Johnson Kane/Miller (112 pp.) $5.99 paperback | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-61067-052-4 Series: No. 1 Car Spotter, 2 In four connected short stories set in a tiny African village, No. 1 fulfills his dream of seeing a Pontiac Firebird up close and meeting its professor owner. Oluwalese Babatunde Benson is not No. 1 at slingshot or at school, but he is excellent at identifying cars and is full of bright ideas. He’s the one who dispatches the leopard with hot-chili-pepper soup, figures out a way to get stranded bus passengers across a flooded road and on their way, and finds a use for Mama Coca-Cola’s too-hot new house. Underlying these simple stories are some significant cultural ideas. These villagers cooperate with each other, sharing their furnishings and their work. It’s not necessary to be No. 1 at more than one thing, Grandfather says. “That way we need one another.” The sharp corners, white plaster and corrugated iron roof of Mama CocaCola’s modern new house turn out to be wrong for the climate; it may be unhealthy to live in, but it’s perfect for a restaurant serving both traditional and modern eaters. Cadwell’s grayscale cartoons add to the gentle humor of Nigerian-born Atinuke’s engaging, stand-alone sequel to The No. 1 Car Spotter (2011). A delightful immersion in an unfamiliar world for early chapter-book readers. (Fiction. 7-11)

THE CONFERENCE OF BIRDS

Attar, Farid al-Din Illus. by Demi Wisdom Tales (44 pp.) $19.95 | Sep. 16, 2012 978-1-937786-02-1

This laudable attempt to retell the gist of a 12th-century poem of over 4,000 verses may be of interest to religious educators and parents who want to expose young people to varied spiritual values. Attar’s Mantiq al-Tayr has been discussed throughout the centuries, and children and adults in Iran and other Muslim countries have been exposed to its ideas in many different versions. Here, the foreword by Seyyed Hossein Nasr provides

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background information on the poem, with its Sufi, Islamic and Zoroastrian elements. In the body of the text, rhyming couplets alternate with prose that summarizes the action cut from the original as the birds take on human personality traits. The hoopoe, resplendent in her red head feathers with black tips undertakes the role of leader and urges the birds to travel together to find their king. Along the way, different birds despair and try to leave the pilgrimage, but they find the strength to continue as the hoopoe helps each one to overcome its particular limitations. The duck is lazy, the parrot has too much finery weighing her down, and the finch is fearful, but all stay faithful to the search, which ultimately leads to great enlightenment. Demi’s delicate watercolor-and–mixed-media illustrations, each bordered with a frieze of multiple bird images in every position of flight, suit the text admirably. Soaring in some aspects, but limited in appeal. (Religious poetry. 8-12)

ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY

Avery, Lara Disney Hyperion (336 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-4231-6386-2

After 17-year-old Bryce strikes her head on a diving platform during a competition, she awakens from a coma five years later to a vastly changed world. Her parents’ marriage is failing, her sweet younger sister Sydney has turned into a hard-drinking goth, her boyfriend Greg is engaged to her best friend, and a cute medical student from the hospital, Carter, has seemingly fallen in love with her. It’s a lot to miss out on. Bryce recovers quickly, but now she’s subject to brief, painful flashes of foresight: She’s able to see tragic events before they occur, a paranormal twist that, arising infrequently, hardly seems to matter to the plot and feels like an afterthought. Melodrama abounds as shadowy stock extras—everyone but Bryce—encounter predictable steamy situations. Fortunately, third-person narration provides much-needed depth to Bryce’s character in this uneven debut. Readers in the know will remark that competitive divers do not wear goggles, as Bryce appears to do. A silly medical twist offers a look ahead to a gloomy future for the protagonist, and a strange literary contrivance featuring cicadas comes up from time to time but adds nothing but a bit of oddness. Still, readers who enjoy a dampened-Kleenex conclusion will probably beg for more. (Fiction. 12-16)

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SOPHIA’S WAR A Tale of the Revolution

Avi Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-1-4424-1441-9 During the American Revolution, Sophia becomes a spy for the patriots, but will she have the courage to relay vital information? Despite the threatening beginning— Sophia witnesses Nathan Hale’s hanging—readers never doubt Sophia’s success because she shares her story in retrospect, lessening the tension. Instead, her “war” is internal: The man she ultimately exposes is John André, a British officer she adores. Descriptions of the British occupation of New York City and the horrific conditions for prisoners of war are shocking. Children will be morally outraged on Sophia’s behalf when her rebel brother dies in prison. Thus, they may find it difficult to empathize with Sophia’s passion for André, and all but the most romantically inclined may find Part One: 1776 (September 1776-January 1777), during which 12-year-old Sophia’s love blooms, slow-moving. Although Sophia feels betrayed when André does not help her brother and later, when at age 15 she begins to spy on André, is incensed that he does not recognize her, her feelings remain conflicted. Part Two: 1780 focuses on these experiences. The action picks up when Sophia travels north alone in an effort to thwart André’s collusion with Benedict Arnold. However, while readers will appreciate Sophia’s reluctance to condemn anyone to death, her melodramatic wavering over André becomes tiresome. Recommend this to sentimental youngsters or as a supplemental text. (glossary of 18th-century words, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 9-13)

THE VANISHING GOURDS A Sukkot Mystery

Axe-Bronk, Susan Illus. by Monelli, Marta Kar-Ben (32 pp.) $17.95 | paper $7.95 | $13.95 e-book Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-7503-6 978-0-7613-7504-3 paperback 978-1-4677-0064-1 e-book The Jewish fall harvest festival celebrated in a temporary hut known as a sukkah is the focus of this slight story about sharing. Having carefully selected several gourds to hang from the sukkah roof as decorations, Sara and Avi are dismayed when the hardshelled vegetables begin to fall, split open and are ravaged by the squirrels in their yard. Sara’s anger inspires a dream she has that night in which the offending squirrel emerges to apologize and promises to bring new gourds the following year. Once awake, Sara imagines squirrels shopping for gourds at the local market and

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“Goblins, faeries, gnomes, elflike fay, sylphs, automatons and changelings, oh my!” from the peculiar

acknowledges their hunger with a pile of nuts carefully placed on the sukkah table. As the holiday ends, Sara makes sure the squirrels are well-fed throughout the year. When Sukkot rolls around again, Sara begins to clean up the patch of grass for the sukkah and is surprised to find a number of gourds growing there, sprouted from the seeds left by the squirrels the previous year. This contrivance—gourd vines are hard to miss, and does this family never mow?—fatally weakens the conclusion, with its implicit lesson of sharing. A more creative and endearing version of this theme can be found in Jamie Korngold’s Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast (2011). Acrylic and graphite sketches in earthy tones add mild amusement to Sara’s infuriating dilemma, though they do nothing to mitigate the implausibility of Sara’s discovery. Even given the paucity of books on Sukkot, this is one to skip. (Picture book. 3-5)

THE PECULIAR

Bachmann, Stefan Greenwillow/HarperCollins (256 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-06-219518-0 Goblins, faeries, gnomes, elf like fay, sylphs, automatons and changelings, oh my! In an alternate Victorian England where there are vertical cities, faery slums, gnome-driven taxis, and mechanical birds, changelings Bartholomew and his sister Hettie are labeled “peculiars” by the Church. Despised by both the Sidhe and the English upper-crust, they have been kept, confined and secret, in their house. When Bartholomew witnesses a boy changeling across the street being kidnapped by a mysterious woman in a frenzy of menacing black feathers, he becomes an unwitting pawn in a battle between the dark side and the humans. Tension mounts like a stack of teetering blocks as Bartholomew tries to rescue Hettie, who is in danger of becoming the 10th kidnapped changeling killed. Can he survive to save his sister? The open ending paves the way for sequels, and the intricately detailed descriptions of sinister scenes create palpable evil that will raise readers’ hackles. The author was only 16 in 2010, when he began writing this fantasy stemming from British folklore and infused with a Dickensian flair; it’s bound to be hyped like Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. Not to be confused with a new steampunk novel for teens with the title of The Peculiars, by Maureen McQuerry (2012). A promising, atmospheric fantasy debut. (Fantasy. 10-15)

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TOADS ON TOAST

Bailey, Linda Illus. by Jack, Colin Kids Can (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-55453-662-7

Toads are not a breakfast food. You’re an elementary school teacher. You hold up this picture book. Exactly half of your students say, “Ewwwww!” Exactly half look delighted. So half the class will be pleased to find out that no toads are eaten in the course of this book. Mamma Toad throws herself in front of the recipe book before Fox can cook anybody. “Wait!” she calls out. “There must be a better recipe.” Jack draws each ingredient as it goes into the pan: an egg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, bread and butter, no toads. Some of your students will want to start cooking before you’ve finished the book, and fortunately, Mamma Toad’s Secret Toad-in-a-Hole Recipe appears at the end of the story. The words “1 toad” are crossed out. A few students will be disappointed by this, but they’ll love the pictures of the swarming baby toads getting into food fights and jumping in the honey pot while Fox cooks dinner. And whether they’re for or against a toad diet, almost 100 percent of your students will want to hear the book again. When the author suggests that the recipe “can be a favorite in your family, too,” many people in the audience will be inclined to believe it. (Picture book. 3-7)

CAMPING

Baker, Keith Illus. by Baker, Keith Sandpiper (24 pp.) $12.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-547-74961-7 Series: Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventures A practical alligator and her more excitable husband plan a camping trip in this slightly reformatted chapter taken from Meet Mr. and Mrs. Green (2002). “We need food and water,” proposes Mrs. Green. “Like chocolate bars and marshmallows,” responds Mr. Green. “And soda pop!” Though Mr. Green’s enthusiasm flags when Mrs. Green mentions a map—“There could be dark, mysterious woods, strange, eerie sounds, spooky, glowing eyes, sharp, pointy teeth, and mosquitoes!”—he brightens again when the trek ends in their own backyard. Distinguished by a string of pearls (for her, unsurprisingly) and a necktie (for him, ditto), the otherwise identical bright green couple poses amid a clutter of comfy domestic details in Baker’s small but open-edged cartoon illustrations. Neither here nor in the likewise republished Cookies (from On the Go with Mr. and Mrs. Green, 2006) have either the art or the page design been significantly altered, but as single episodes, the stories may be less intimidating to newly independent readers than the original collections.

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“Baker’s debut, with genial black-and-white illustrations by Probert, is a gently sarcastic, multicultural tale.” from pickle

Engaging, sitcom-style humor based on personality differences and securely attuned to the intended audience. (Early reader. 4-6)

PICKLE The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School Baker, Kim Illus. by Probert, Tim Roaring Brook (240 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59643-765-4

Would you want to join the League of Pickle Makers? Sixth-grader Ben Diaz is not a troublemaker. (His best friend Hector’s grandmother is the persnickety principal of Fountain Point Middle School; troublemaking is inadvisable.) Ben does think harmless pranks enhance the school experience, though. So when he sees an ad for thousands of free ball-pit balls, he responds and fills his homeroom. It’s so much fun he starts a club of pranksters (by invitation only). The Prank and Trick Association (P.T.A.) masquerades as the League of Pickle Makers (’cause who would want to study veggie brining after school?). Several pranks later, the school’s abuzz, and the principal is cheesed off. Success! However, the exclusivity of the club jeopardizes Ben’s friendship with Hector, whose grandmother can get him to confess to anything. And then a rogue prank threatens to expose them all. Baker’s debut, with genial black-and-white illustrations by Probert, is a gently sarcastic, multicultural tale. The characters and conflicts are stock but no less entertaining for it. (The associated website with passwords and chat boards was not seen, but it sounds like a promising addition.) Sure to please anyone with a puckish sense of humor or a hankering for innocent prank ideas. (Fiction. 9-12)

BOY OR BEAST

Balaban, Bob Illus. by Rash, Andy Viking (256 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-0-670-01271-8 Series: Creature from the 7th Grade, 1 Charles is 12, unpopular, bullied, small and geeky—and to make matters worse, he’s turning into a giant reptile. Charles relates, with wit and pathos, his Kafka-esque metamorphosis from angst-ridden pubescent to dinosaur. As his skin turns green and a tail sprouts, Charles is utterly dismayed, “Forget about being popular. At this point I would happily settle for human.” His two best friends, Lucille and Sam, also outcasts, seem rather thrilled at Charles’ change. He grapples with the difficulties of being a huge reptile, finding |

clothing and sitting at a desk problematic. Bizarrely, though, not only can he still talk, he still has his own voice. At school, despite continued bullying from his nemesis, Craig, Charles begins to enjoy celebrity status, and Amy, the most popular girl in the school, starts fussing over him. Charles gets utterly swept up in this new sensation and in so doing loses perspective on where his loyalties lie. When he’s challenged to betray his best friends, Charles faces the monster inside himself. With occasional comic drawings and lots of humor regarding life as a dinosaur among humans (such as the scale of reptile farts), this romp is a balm for anyone who’s ever felt awkward in their own scales err, skin. Charles’ first-person narration reveals an anthropologist’s eye for the social strata of middle school. A wacky story of loyalty and self-discovery. (Fantasy. 8-12)

OH NO, JONAH!

Balsley, Tilda Illus. by Jago Kar-Ben (32 pp.) $17.95 | paper $7.95 | $13.95 e-book Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-5139-9 978-0-7613-5140-5 paperback 978-1-4677-0049-8 e-book The story of Jonah and God’s command to him to warn the misbehaving people of Ninevah is retold in a rhyming narrative that brings out the reluctant prophet’s continual noncompliance. In an introductory illustration depicting a biblical community of contentious men, Jonah looks on and disagrees with God’s request to warn them of impending consequences. “ ‘Preach,’ said Jonah. / ‘That’s not fun— / Ragging, nagging everyone.’ “Jonah decides to run away, claiming that no one will appreciate his moralizing. He boards a ship headed in the opposite direction from Ninevah, but God’s wrath stirs a huge storm that only subsides after Jonah realizes he must leave. He allows the sailors to throw him overboard and is promptly swallowed by a huge fish. Forced to rethink his original decision, he agrees to comply with God’s command, yet after the deed is done and the repentant Ninevites have changed their wicked ways, he fumes that God decided to forgive them rather than punish them. Jonah must accept God’s rationale after he loses his own comfort under the cooling shade of a tree. The rhyming verse ably encapsulates each of Jonah’s negative and contemptuous reactions, which are followed by the refrain, “Oh no, Jonah,” meant to be shouted aloud by listeners or readers. Acrylics on textured canvas of robed and bearded men with long hooked noses and a variety of complexions create a rather stereotypical illusion of the ancient world. A rousing rendition of the familiar tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

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LITTLE ELEPHANTS

Twitch writes a note in a paw-print script utterly indecipherable to Squish; their acorn and carrot snacks appear laughably gargantuan; and don’t even get started giggling about how chickens could possibly raise goose bumps! A little humor that goes a long way toward conquering big fears. (Picture book. 2-5)

Base, Graeme Illus. by Base, Graeme Abrams (40 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-4197-0463-5

A magical mouse helps young Jim save the family farm. It’s harvest time on the wheat farm, and Jim’s mother gently explains to him that he can’t keep the white mouse he’s found because it could attract others. The risk to the harvest is too great. Jim walks far from the farmhouse to let little Pipsqueak go. The next day in the field, Jim encounters a strange man wearing a jaunty hat who predicts that the wind will bring good fortune—but on the radio that night there’s news of a swarm of destructive locusts heading in their direction. Later, Jim gets a surprise: Pipsqueak has found his way back, and he has brought something special. Under the bed, Jim finds a herd of tiny elephants. He tries to keep them a secret, but one night they escape and wreak all kinds of lovingly illustrated havoc. At the very moment Jim’s mother notes the damage and figures they have a mouse problem, the locusts attack! Not to worry: The tiny and suddenly winged elephants drive the deadly locusts away and bring in the harvest to boot...“two ears at a time.” The minimal text wisely recedes for Base’s gorgeous paintings, and the story’s very implausibility is a large part of the delight. An offbeat and winning mix of earthiness and enchantment. (Picture book. 4-7)

BRAVE SQUISH RABBIT

Battersby, Katherine Illus. by Battersby, Katherine Viking (40 pp.) $12.99 | Sep. 27, 2012 978-0-670-01268-8

Squish, a tiny rabbit, lives with towering fears: of storms, chickens and the dark. Adorable, sensitive, and squish-ably vulnerable, this bunny cowers and covers his eyes when confronted by these worrisome scenarios. Nebulous, sometimes untraceable fears haunt little heads, and Battersby’s simple story of confrontation will help many young readers subdue their own anxieties. It takes a rescue mission (where’s Squish’s best buddy Twitch?) for Squish to muster the courage to face lightning, feathers and night. The critters’ rounded figures, rendered in thick, fluid black lines, bestow them with an irresistibly cuddly cuteness—even though they appear as flat as one-dimensional pancakes. Battersby incorporates surprising multimedia accents throughout (gold foil lightning bolts, chickens constructed entirely out of yellow feathers, textured papers, patterned fabrics) that give children the chance to hunt for the unexpected. Squish’s search for Twitch, however, and the subsequent systematic dismantling of each phobia, feel quite familiar. Luckily, notes of persistently sweet, quirky humor save this book from predictability. The animals sleep in socks pinned to a clothesline; 1636

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ALMOST HOME

Bauer, Joan Viking (240 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-0-670-01289-3 Through months of homelessness and her mother’s breakdown, sixth-grader Sugar Mae Cole and her puppy, Shush, demonstrate what it means to be sweet. Newbery Honor winner Bauer (Hope Was Here, 2000) has created one of her strongest young women yet in the character of Sugar, writer of thank-you notes and poetry, dog-walker, parent-educator and trust-trainer. Her chronological first-person narration works, with notes, emails and poems to document the pain of dealing with an unreliable father, the difficulty of leaving a familiar home and beloved teacher, and the conflicted feelings of a child in a good foster-care situation. Sugar’s mother, Reba, has trusted her gambling husband too many times. Can Reba develop the strength to resist him? Luckily, this resilient child has always had the support of other adults: first her grandfather, King Cole; then Mr. B., the sixth-grade teacher who encourages her writing and stays in touch; and, finally, Lexie and Mac, experienced foster parents who provide a safe haven but know when to let go. Sugar’s voice is convincing, both as storyteller and young writer; her natural good humor shines through what could be a sad story indeed. Quirky supporting characters— both human and dog—add to its appeal. Sugar, with her natural gift for rubbing down imperfections, will win readers’ hearts. (Fiction. 9-13)

THE INFECTS

Beaudoin, Sean Candlewick (384 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-7636-5947-9 A court-mandated hike becomes zombie flick, laden with 1980s pop-culture references. Seventeen-year-old Nick’s life could be better. Since his worthless father, the Dude, “Has Other Concerns” than buying groceries, Nick works at the chicken factory to earn food and medicine for his oddball baby sister. An accident at the factory leaves Nick jailed for...well, it’s not clear what he’s jailed for. Living in an unjust world, perhaps? Nick’s troupe of realistically

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“Make way for another endearing, odd-couple pair of friends in beginning-reader land.” from rabbit & robot

foulmouthed delinquents are soon fighting off chicken-gnawing, entrails-chomping zombies at the top of a mountain, calling one another “fag” every step of the way. In prose that consists of far too many one-sentence and even one-word paragraphs (“Had to see. / If it was. / Skoal. / Another step”), Nick has masturbatory fantasies about the hottest girl zombie, even while mooning over the object of his affections, Petal Gazes, a manic pixie punk-rock girl with anime eyes and a “Bauhaus” hoodie. Like Pete Hautman’s Rash (2006), this over-the-top boys’prison-camp adventure resembles a grown-up Holes (1998), but lacks the heart and ultimate optimism of either. The sexed-up face-eating may please dedicated fans of the shambling undead, despite self-aware sarcasm that explicitly mocks the commercialism of current zombie fandom. Gory horror that thinks nihilist incoherence is the same thing as edgy. It’s wrong. (Horror. 15-17)

MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT

Beck, W.H. Illus. by Lies, Brian Houghton Mifflin (272 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-547-68100-9

Malcolm is a small rat who is often mistaken for a mouse, which is both a blessing and a curse. As a fifth-grade “mouse” pet he has a comfortable cage, good food and a classroom full of interesting kids, and, amazingly, Malcolm discovers he can read! During nighttime explorations, he becomes part of the Midnight Academy, a group of varied creatures who are also classroom pets. They speak and have several sophisticated means of communication utilizing school bells, secret codes and even cellphones and computers. But there is a prowling, vicious rogue cat, and there have been thefts, disappearances and cases of vandalism. Malcolm is at the center of it all, always under suspicion but determined to use his rat abilities to act honorably. What follows is a breathless, exciting tale of adventure, danger, betrayal, twists and surprises. Beck unfolds the events in the form of an anonymous note to teacher Mr. Binney detailing Malcolm’s journey, with clever and sometimes hilarious asides in the form of footnotes. Meditations on the nature of power and friendship are subtly and seamlessly woven within the plot. Lies’ meticulously detailed illustrations in endless varieties of gray depict the highlights of Malcolm’s adventures and capture each creature’s individuality. Malcolm’s mouse/rat appearance underscores the confusion as to his real species. A rip-roaring tale; even rodent haters will have to like Malcolm. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

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ALPHABEST The Zany, Zanier, Zaniest Book about Comparatives and Superlatives Becker, Helaine Illus. by Whamond, Dave Kids Can (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-55453-715-0

An alphabetical romp through an amusement park strives to illuminate comparatives and superlatives. A bumbling klutz of a superhero chases a villain through an amusement park, the text consisting of 25 comparatives and superlatives describing their attacks on each other and the sights, sounds, textures and tastes of the park. (“Unique,” appropriately, stands alone.) “Clever” is the superhero following a footprint trail. The villain is “cleverer,” slipping onto a Ferris-wheel–like ride. But the superhero is “cleverest,” setting the ride to “hyper drive,” which sends the dizzy villain flying. The story may take readers a while to catch on to, and not all the comparatives and superlatives make the most sense, or are the best of examples (the “yummy” page is all junk food). Backmatter gives a downand-dirty version of the rules for forming comparatives and superlatives, but it is not a comprehensive guide; exceptions are not noted, and the rules given will lead to many incorrectly formed words. Whamond’s ink-and-watercolor cartoon illustrations are the true stars, his over-the-top scenes carrying the story with lots of humorous details that are sure to have kids chuckling. Expressive body language and facial expressions, especially popeyes, make the characters come to life. The imaginative twist at the end makes this more likely to be picked up for a repeat reading, but not necessarily for the grammar lesson. (Picture book. 4-8)

RABBIT & ROBOT The Sleepover Bell, Cece Illus. by Bell, Cece Candlewick (56 pp.) $14.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-7636-5475-7

Make way for another endearing, odd-couple pair of friends in beginningreader land. Rabbit takes a cue from forebear Toad and makes a list to plan his time with, not Frog, but Robot. According to his list, their sleepover includes plans to make pizza, watch television, play Go Fish and go to bed. Unlike Lobel’s heroes in Frog and Toad Together, these friends do not lose their list, but tension ensues when Robot tries to add additional items (games of Old Maid and Crazy Eights) to the list. Even when they follow through on making pizza, Robot wishes for unorthodox toppings (nuts, bolts and screws) and ends up finding them by dismantling Rabbit’s furniture. Rabbit is then reasonably worried

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about where they will eat their meal, but Robot has the good idea to spread a blanket on the floor and have a picnic. Similar scenarios ensue in subsequent chapters, with ample humor to augment the storytelling. The vocabulary, however, includes a few too many reaches for brand-new readers, and while the digital typeface used in parts of the text may evoke Robot’s voice, it may prove distracting to not-yet-fluent readers. A good choice for those ready to launch into more advanced texts. (Early reader. 6-8)

THE KITE PRINCESS

Bell, Juliet Clare Illus. by Chapman, Laura-Kate Barefoot (32 pp.) $16.99 | paper $9.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-84686-803-0 978-1-84686-830-6 paperback To pounding rhyme, Princess Cinnamon Stitch escapes from the confines of deportment into weeds, fleas and tree-climbing and then she transforms her parents. Cinnamon shucks off her fancy duds to explore the messy, muddy world, but she is brought back to the king and queen before she could play with a local boy. Her mother’s insistence on needlework gives her an idea, though, and she makes a colorful patchwork kite—and takes flight with it. The king and queen are astonished, but they immediately order kites for themselves. “They’re all happy now, and they’re less stuffy too. / With Cinnamon’s stitching, their world grew and grew. / With Cinnamon’s stitching, they took off and flew.” The rhyme is fairly dull, and the tale of a princess longing to escape the confines of grace and needlework to do what children do is not well served by the words. The pictures, done in a variety of media (pencil, felt-tip, collage, watercolor, etc.) and then scanned and arranged, are bright and rich in curlicues and stars, hearts and flowers, leaves and feathers. Often reminiscent of Eastern European folk art or batik patterns, the multiple images provide a lot to look at. Includes CD read by Imelda Staunton (not heard) and instructions for kite-making. Despite razzle-dazzle illustrations, this familiar tale does not take flight. (Picture book. 5-7)

DON’T LAUGH AT GIRAFFE

Bender, Rebecca Illus. by Bender, Rebecca Pajama Press (32 pp.) $19.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-986949-56-2

An unlikely duo seems to have little rapport with each other until an inordinate amount of teasing leads to some remorse on the part of one friend, while the other becomes less sensitive. Shy Giraffe and boisterous Bird have a tenuous relationship made all the more vexing by their continual annoyance 1638

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with each other. After one such exchange, in which each reacts negatively to the other’s obnoxious behavior, they both become quite thirsty and take a visit to the pond. While Bird drinks and plays in the water hole, he neglects to notice Giraffe’s difficulty in reaching the water without getting his hooves wet. And when the other savanna animals see the gentle, long-necked soul clumsily squat in order to reach the low pond, they howl and make merciless fun of his awkwardness. Upset and embarrassed, Giraffe leaves to quench his thirst in a nearby puddle. Bird’s momentary regret gives him an idea to help Giraffe recover, with some good-natured ribbing of the others as a bonus. In the end everyone, including Giraffe, is laughing together. Large, cartoonish, brightly hued acrylics on texturized board are integral to conveying the fun in the sparsely worded text, which is filled with onomatopoeia. Yet the story’s theme is ambiguous— children may not leave it understanding the difference between good-natured banter and mockery—and Giraffe’s sudden decision that he doesn’t mind getting his hooves wet is illogical. Ultimately unsatisfying. (Picture book. 4-6)

I’M BORED

Black, Michael Ian Illus. by Ohi, Debbie Ridpath Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-4424-1403-7 A kid and a tuber dispute what is and isn’t boring, to no particular avail. The beginning’s fun. A scowling, cartoon-style girl with a large head and sideways pigtails flops from one dramatic posture to another, complaining, “I’m bored. / Bored. Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. / I’m so BORED!” White space surrounds her. From nowhere, a potato appears. This girl must really live in white-space-land, because she’s initially thrilled: “Hey! A potato!” Then she rejects it and tosses it upwards. It falls, bonks her on the head and sits on the ground. “I’m bored,” announces the suddenly anthropomorphic potato in one of two genuinely funny moments. Previously unable to entertain herself, the girl labors to prove she’s interesting. She demonstrates cartwheels, ninja kicks and imagination games—lion taming; dragons and swords; forcing the potato to walk a pirate-ship plank—all of which Ohi sketches in pale blue. The surly potato stubbornly remains bored. Their argument ends without satisfaction or vindication; the girl yells, mouth wide and black like in Peanuts, and departs in frustration. There’s one more funny moment—not the appearance of a random flamingo (flamingos being, inexplicably, the potato’s only interest in life), but the flamingo’s closing complaint. Yep: “I’m bored.” Turnabout’s fair play, but the whole piece feels like a smarmy lesson about how annoying it is when someone insists on boredom. Ironically, boring. (Picture book. 3-5)

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“Though Bailey’s behavior is decidedly canine, none of the humans suggest by word or deed that having a dog in class is anything out of the ordinary.” from bailey at the museum

THE LAST FREE CAT

Blake, Jon Whitman (268 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8075-4364-1

In a future Britain, a stranglehold has been issued on cats after a human health epidemic is blamed on the feline population in this politically savvy, lightningpaced thriller. Jade and her mum are misfits in their working-class neighborhood, where they’ve made their home since the unexpected death of Jade’s wealthy father. When a lovely calico cat materializes in their garden one night, they impulsively decide to keep it, risking arrest. Jade quickly falls in love with her new pet, naming her Feela at her mother’s suggestion. When she reveals the animal’s existence to Kris, a boy in her class with whom she has a stormy relationship, it sets into motion a tragic series of events that result in the two of them fleeing with Feela into the countryside toward Ireland, where there’s a cat amnesty. Penned in a simple, almost sparse style in first-person from Jade’s perspective, this foray into an imagined dystopia is extremely plot-driven. The limited details that emerge about the restrictive nature of the society flow naturally, but may leave readers wanting a bit more. Earnest descriptions of Jade’s love for Feela and her burgeoning feelings for Kris—“It was if she sensed we were a pride now, a family, and our place was all together”— nicely balance the plentiful action. (Thriller. 12-16)

A Book, by Author, and Another Book, by Different Author; a classmate peruses The New Yorkshire. Readers who’ve already met the endearing Bailey will be glad to see he’s back and look forward to further exploits; new acquaintances will surely search for his wellreceived debut. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE DIVINERS

Bray, Libba Little, Brown (608 pp.) $19.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-316-12611-3 1920s New York thrums with giddy life in this gripping first in a new trilogy from Printz winner Bray. Irrepressible 17-year-old Evie delights in her banishment to her Uncle Will’s care in Manhattan after she drunkenly

The Gaia Wars

The

GaiaWars

by Kenneth G. Bennett

DEADLY SECRETS have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind.

BAILEY AT THE MUSEUM

Bliss, Harry Illus. by Bliss, Harry Scholastic (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-545-23345-3

ISBN: 978-1466211971

In his second outing, Bailey, the totally typical early-elementary student who just happens to be a spotted dog, enjoys a field trip and finds a new friend. Bliss doesn’t break new ground in this low-key adventure, but his sly humor and smooth writing style make it an utterly enjoyable outing. Bailey eagerly anticipates the school trip and has no trouble finding a partner; following the rules, however, is more challenging. Whether taking a detour to drink from the decorative fountain, napping in a teepee or scampering up a dinosaur’s skeleton to gnaw on a bone, Bailey goes (mildly) rogue in most amusing fashion. The latter excursion brings him a new buddy—the museum guard who cheerfully ensures that none of his escapades end unpleasantly. One key to Bailey’s charm is Bliss’ utterly deadpan humor. Though Bailey’s behavior is decidedly canine, none of the humans suggest by word or deed that having a dog in class is anything out of the ordinary. Clever visual jokes enhance the appeal. Bailey’s partner, an obviously enthusiastic reader, has two books on the seat beside her: |

Until today…

Kenneth G. Bennett

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“A solid first entry of a promising, imaginative new young adult fantasy series featuring a well-crafted character.” — Kirkus Reviews

For information about publication rights email: Ken@kennethgbennett.com

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embarrasses a peer in her Ohio hometown. She envisions glamour, fun and flappers, but she gets a great deal more in the bargain. Her uncle, the curator of a museum of the occult, is soon tapped to help solve a string of grisly murders, and Evie, who has long concealed an ability to read people’s pasts while holding an object of their possession, is eager to assist. An impressively wide net is cast here, sprawling to include philosophical Uncle Will and his odd assistant, a numbers runner and poet who dreams of establishing himself among the stars of the Harlem Renaissance, a beautiful and mysterious dancer on the run from her past and her kind musician roommate, a slick-talking pickpocket, and Evie’s seemingly demure sidekick, Mabel. Added into the rotation of third-person narrators are the voices of those encountering a vicious, otherworldly serial killer; these are utterly terrifying. Not for the faint of heart due to both subject and length, but the intricate plot and magnificently imagined details of character, dialogue and setting take hold and don’t let go. Not to be missed. (Historical/paranormal thriller. 14 & up)

MOSSY

Brett, Jan Illus. by Brett, Jan Putnam (32 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-399-25782-7 A turtle with a garden on her shell? Mossy is an eastern box turtle who loves the pond so much that she spends all of her time there, and moss, plants and flowers begin to take root on her carapace. Dr. Carolina and her niece Tory are thrilled to find Mossy in the reeds, and they take her up to their museum, where she quickly becomes a great success. Covered with ferns, berries, mushrooms and flowers and depicted in Brett’s inimitable style, Mossy is a glorious sight to behold. What Dr. Carolina doesn’t realize, though, is that Mossy was very happy in the pond where she was and that Mossy had just fallen in love! Intricate borders replete with color and detail show the garden, Dr. Carolina’s museum and people in Edwardian dress, as Mossy’s fame grows to great heights. It’s young Tory who realizes that Mossy looks unhappy, and she gives her aunt an idea that saves the day and helps set Mossy free. Animal lovers and Brett fans will find much to savor in this winning blend of vivid colors, unusual heroine, strong female characters, period costume and accessible ideas about nature, living things and art. A quirky and very satisfying tale of nature and home. (Picture book. 5-9)

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KEL GILLIGAN’S DAREDEVIL STUNT SHOW

Buckley, Michael Illus. by Santat, Dan Abrams (40 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-4197-0379-9

Preschoolers everywhere can relate to the steely bravery, sheer willpower and steady determination it often takes to surmount the herculean obstacles a day can bring. Kel Gilligan is no ordinary boy. He is a daredevil. He is “the boy without fear.” He can do amazing things all by himself: eat broccoli, face “the Potty of Doom,” get dressed, keep busy while Mom “finishes her conversation… / UNINTERRUPTED!!,” take “a bath with one assistant,” and “go to bed without checking the room for monsters.” The pages are peppered with word bubbles bearing over-the-top declarations from Kel and equally humorous reactions from Kel’s family members. Grandma always claps, while the others exclaim in awed disbelief when the stunt is accomplished. Santat depicts these impressive feats with illustrations that have a retro comic-book look. Kel is portrayed most often with a manly face with an expressive brow. He talks tough and looks even tougher…except when his nerves are tested. Can he really get that shirt on? Will Mom ever get off the phone? Who knew going potty would take so long? Whether he is in underpants, in his caped stuntman outfit or bare-bottomed, young readers (and their grown-ups) cannot help but laugh out loud at the hilarious details of Kel’s silly adventures because they tackle them daily and know them too well. With true fearlessness and finely honed skills, this talented duo has created a most entertaining hero. (Picture book. 3-6)

HIT THE ROAD, JACK

Burleigh, Robert Illus. by MacDonald, Ross Abrams (48 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-4197-0399-7

What could have been straight nonfiction takes on a fanciful air when Jack Kerouac is rendered more jack rabbit than man. In an effort to make the life of Jack comprehensible to elementary-age children, Burleigh’s rhyming text does double duty as both biographical ode to a great writer and paean to the country he loved. “Hey, Jack! Skedaddle! Gotta hop! / Vamoose! Take off and go! / Nose is itching, ears are twitching, / Come on! Get with the flow!” Feeling the urge to travel, Jack sets off from New York City to the countryside, seeing people, enjoying the road and heading westward all the while. With a ubiquitous blue jay companion, this Jack is a swell sport fully capable of fueling readers’ desires to see the world as well. Only sometimes does the book’s internal logic go awry, as when the bunnified beat passes the very human heads of Mount Rushmore. While

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“Calame…does not disappoint, with grade-A gross-outs that include a colossal bird-crap bombing and a chorizo-and-chili projectile-vomiting incident.” from call the shots

Burleigh sells Jack’s wayward spirit, MacDonald works to capture 1950s America to a tee. And though these bunny characters seem to be human from the neck down, readers will not fault the artist this child-friendly touch. Appropriately for the audience, this charmer invokes the man’s spirit rather than his biography, effectively communicating the excitement of the road he held so dear. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

BLINK ONCE

Busby, Cylin Bloomsbury (304 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59990-818-2 A medical thriller offers a twist that will have readers questioning reality alongside its narrator. A young man wakes up strapped to a hospital bed, unable to speak or, initially, to move. As he drifts in and out of consciousness, the details of his former life are revealed in flashbacks, dreams and conversations (he blinks and writes on a board to communicate) with a fellow patient, Olivia. His name is West, and at age 17 he was a talented dirt-bike racer until an accident left him paralyzed. Through the excruciatingly long days of his recovery, West falls in love with the knowing, sarcastic Olivia even as he acknowledges the depths of her dark side and its root cause—her irreversible ill health. As West considers whether to participate in an experimental surgery that could either kill him or let him walk again, he finds himself at odds with Olivia, who has mysteriously strong feelings of her own about the risks. Although the first-person narration lags a bit in the middle, the last third of the novel is both briskly paced and increasingly eerie as West begins to realize that things are not as they seem. This outing is a marked departure from Busby’s Date Him or Dump Him series; the twists and turns of West’s relationship with Olivia provide a cloudier and more satisfying kind of suspense. (Thriller. 12-17)

THE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BIG DINOSAUR

Byrne, Richard Illus. by Byrne, Richard Tiger Tales (32 pp.) $12.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-58925-123-6

various feats of strength, each of which Jackson dismisses: “Everyone knows my friend can eat show-offs like you for breakfast.” This claim turns out to be (more or less) true, as the rolling green hills on which the confrontation has been taking place are revealed on the climactic spread to be the back of Jackson’s monstrous buddy after the “cave” into which the bully runs closes with a “SNAP!” Fortunately, the monster turns out to be a vegetarian and releases his chastened victim. The episode, illustrated with big, simple cartoons in jelly-bean colors and related in lines of variously sized large type, ends with all three dinosaurs amicably sharing the candy, “One for him…And one for you…AND ONE FOR ME!” A toothy, toothsome tale—if stronger on wish-fulfillment than feasible bully-fooling. (Picture book. 5-7)

CALL THE SHOTS

Calame, Don Candlewick (464 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-7636-5556-3

It’s nice guy Sean’s turn to shine in this hilarious follow-up to Swim the Fly (2009) and Beat the Band (2010). Sean isn’t initially swayed by his crazy friend Coop’s idea to make himself, Sean and their third amigo Matt into millionaires by shooting a low-budget horror film. But after his parents announce that they are having another baby and there is no money for a bigger house, Sean decides to sign on as screenwriter to avoid moving into his mean twin sister’s room. However, writing the movie is the least of his problems. Sean also finds himself embroiled in a terrifying romantic fourway with his new, Swiss-cheese–smelling, stalker girlfriend Evelyn, his drama crush Leyna and his sister’s best friend, the enigmatic Nessa. Sean’s well-intentioned attempts to juggle his relationships, school and the movie shoot result in the kind of outrageous mishaps that fans have come to expect from author Calame, who once again does not disappoint with grade-A gross-outs that include a colossal bird-crap bombing and a chorizo-and-chili projectile-vomiting incident. Fearlessly foul, this consistently comical series should be required reading for all teenage boys and anyone else with a strong stomach and highly sensitive funny bone. (Fiction. 14 & up)

In this pointed prehistoric episode, little Jackson, derisively dubbed a “tinysaur,” defends a jar of jelly beans from a dino-bully. Jackson’s warning that the jelly beans belong to his “really, really, really big friend” prompts only scoffing from his glowering assailant. Sarcastically declaring himself “really, really, really scared,” the increasingly angry bully demonstrates |

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FROZEN

Casanova, Mary Univ. of Minnesota (240 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8166-8056-6 Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose, mute since her mother’s murder 11 years ago, finds her voice again. After her prostitute mother’s body is found frozen in a snowbank, with her own not-quite-lifeless body nearby, little Sadie Rose is taken in by the mayor of Rainy Lake, Minn., a boisterous frontier town. When she recovers she is unable to speak. Casanova’s novel begins 11 years later, with Sadie Rose chafing under life with her foster parents, who, though wealthy and generous, hold themselves distant. Sadie Rose accidently finds photographs of a woman she recognizes as her mother, which sets off a cascade of memories that leads to her recovering her voice. She runs away to learn the truth about her past and discovers a sense of personal power. In the beginning, Sadie’s character is hard to understand—she seems immature and fretful rather than haunted. It’s not clear whether her muteness is physical or psychological, and the suddenness with which she returns to speech seems artificial. Her foster father is a caricature of selfimportance; some of the supporting characters, also, seem too quick to become intimate and spill their secrets. In effect, the puzzle is too easy to solve, but the story becomes more compelling and believable once Sadie Rose leaves home. Period and place are well-portrayed. A good effort, but not compelling enough to capture many teen readers. (Historical fiction. 13 & up)

GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE PEOPLE TAKER

Castro, Adam-Troy Illus. by Margiotta, Kristen Grosset & Dunlap (232 pp.) $12.99 | Aug. 16, 2012 978-0-448-45833-5 Series: Gustav Gloom, 1

In this promising series opener, a homicidal maniac stalks two children through a spooky old house that’s far larger inside than outside. Newly moved in across the street, 10-year-old Fernie chases her errant cat through the front door of the mist-wreathed mansion one night, quickly losing herself in a seemingly endless tangle of dark halls and dim rooms. There she meets Gustav, a pale and perpetually somber age-mate who explains that the house is home to millions of unattached shadows—and that she is in immediate danger from the People Taker, evil minion of the Dark Country’s would-be ruler Lord Obsidian. The ensuing flight takes the two young people through a library containing all the books never written, a room filled with the shadows of all 1642

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the dinosaurs that ever were and like repositories to a climactic struggle with the genial (as it turns out) villain at the lip of the Pit leading to the Dark Country. Along the way Fernie discovers that though shadows are a little more substantial within the house, even in the outside world they are not really attached to solid bodies and actually have volition and lives of their own. Who would have guessed? Margiotta opens each chapter with appropriately atmospheric scenes of big-eyed waifs against undulating backgrounds. The author leaves much to be explored and explained in future episodes, but fans of Unfortunate Events will be willing to wait. (Fantasy. 10-12)

SWEET SHADOWS

Childs, Tera Lynn Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-06-200183-2 This second book in a planned trilogy about three sisters descended from Medusa brings Greek mythological monsters to the modern world. Gretchen, Greer and Grace learn that they are the key generation that must either seal or unseal the portal to the abyss, perhaps unleashing upon the world monsters that have been kept in abeyance since the original Medusa’s death. Triplets who were adopted into wildly different families, at age 16 they have come into their powers. Gretchen has the most experience in fighting monsters and tries to train her sisters, but attacks from the underworld keep getting in the way. While much depends on knowledge from the previous installment (Sweet Venom, 2011), this sequel explains enough for new readers to follow the story, especially when the action picks up as Gretchen enters a mythological realm. Childs clearly has good fun with her monsters; she takes most from Greek mythology but throws in a few sympathetic beasts, such as Harold, the friendly, giant-spider school janitor. The three sisters share the narration in successive chapters, and although their personalities appear quite different, each speaks with a similar voice, so readers will need to note the names heading each chapter. The author finds plenty of material in the myths yet keeps her tone light enough and her main characters contemporary enough to please her target audience of teens just moving on from Percy Jackson. Entertaining. (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)

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“Bates uses delicate watercolors to depict her fairy world, with both full-page paintings and spot art creating an atmosphere of wonder and mystery.” from flying to neverland with peter pan

I HAVE A BROTHER

Coh, Smiljana Illus. by Coh, Smiljana Tiger Tales (24 pp.) $9.95Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-58925-124-3

Along with its simultaneously publishing counterpart, I Have a Sister, a fine way to imprint sex-role stereotypes on impressionable young minds. Sandwiched between a size comparison (“He is very small. I am much bigger”) and an expression of love, a big brother— old enough to sleep in a bed, but not to sit on the toilet without parental supervision—demonstrates ball kicking, bike riding and other things “big brothers can do” for an infant sibling. In the similarly structured …Sister, a girl’s demonstration of sisterly activities inclines toward dancing, skating, helping Mommy wash the baby, telling stories and (early soccer-mom training) pulling dolls and stuffed animals in a cart. Bound in, respectively, blue and pink covers, the sturdy pages in both feature very simply drawn figures with oversized heads and dots for eyes suspended against patterned pastel backdrops. “When he gets bigger, I will let him use my bicycle,” promises big bro. For little sister, the vaguer prospect that “we will do all my favorite things together” is exemplified on the facing page with a pirouette. It’s never too soon to start constricting a child’s options and expectations, is it. (Picture book. 3-5)

FLYING TO NEVERLAND WITH PETER PAN

Comden, Betty; Green, Adolph; Leigh, Carolyn Illus. by Bates, Amy Blue Apple (40 pp.) $18.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-60905-249-2

The Broadway production of Peter Pan has remained a great audience favorite in theaters and on television, and now two of its signature songs are celebrated in a storybook format. First staged in 1954, Peter Pan featured the brilliant performances of Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook, with music by Mark Charlap and lyrics by Leigh. In this book, the story opens as Peter, accompanied by Tinkerbell, returns to the home of the Darling children in search of his shadow. At this point in the show, producer Jerry Robbins had asked the legendary songwriting team of Comden and Green for an additional song. Their Never Never Land is Peter’s soaring ode to a “place where dreams are born.” He then invites Wendy and her brothers to “think wonderful, lovely thoughts” and fly home with him past the “second star to the right” in the exuberant I’m Flying. And so the book concludes. Bates uses delicate watercolors to depict her fairy world, with both full-page paintings and spot art creating an atmosphere of wonder and mystery. The music is not included, alas. Get a recording for maximum magic! |

(Phyllis Newman, Green’s wife and Tony Award winner in her own right, provides an introduction [not seen].) A lovely way to share a sprinkling of fairy dust. (Picture book. 3-8)

HEALTHY FOODS FROM A TO Z / COMIDA SANA DEL LA A AL LA Z Comida Sana de la A al la Z

Comet, Renée Moonstone Press LLC (32 pp.) $15.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-9834983-1-5

Recognition and identification are the goals of this bilingual alphabet book that combines emotional literacy with nutrition. Photographer Comet presents “faces” made of photo collaged fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, dairy and soy foods and key spices. The multidisciplinary approach encourages children to learn letters and food names in both languages while interpreting each edible expression. While many foods widely recognized across the United States are included, some newer varieties, such as the jícama root and kiwano, are also mentioned. On each page, photos of the food are isolated and identified, and they also form the constituent parts of a face. Foods identified by their English names (huckleberries, honeydew) appear on the left, and those identified by their Spanish names (higo, hierbabuena) are on the right; the appropriate translations appear beneath each word or phrase in parentheses. Some letters are combined on a page, as with Q R (quince, queso) and X Y Z (zucchini, xonocostle). The array of faces is followed by an activities section that encourages children to create their own food-centered faces through a selection of shapes fitted to a face template. A bilingual list of 10 additional projects such as an edible food bouquet and herb growing and healthy-food facts in both languages round out this educational guide. Readers may find themselves hungry when they finish. (Picture book. 4-7)

THE GREAT FAIRY TALE DISASTER

Conway, David Illus. by Williamson, Melanie Tiger Tales (32 pp.) $12.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-58925-111-3 Old Big Bad Wolf is tired and wants a more relaxing fairy tale to be in, so he leaves the pigs behind. The results are not good. The players are familiar if their young audience knows the classic tales: Cinderella, Jack and his beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks. The execution is clunky. The Big Bad Wolf blows off Cinderella’s fairy godmother because “Wolves don’t wear dresses!” and is revolted by the prince’s kiss when he replaces

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Sleeping Beauty. The Three Bears are entirely pissed off, and they chase the Big Bad Wolf past Rapunzel and over the troll’s bridge. All heck breaks loose then, as a princess kisses a Billy Goat Gruff instead of a frog, and Hansel and Gretel push Prince Charming into the oven. The Wolf gives up, goes back to the Three Little Pigs, the end. Williamson’s art is made in layered swathes of geometric pattern and color. Figures have huge heads and spindly arms and legs. The Big Bad Wolf himself is constructed with arms, legs and tail on an oversized body, his unusual head a long isosceles triangle set in many different pasted-on angles. Visual interest is heightened in tiny details: Baby Bear wears polka-dot headphones, the Big Bad Wolf himself wears a monocle that mostly tumbles out of his pocket. Children may get a giggle or two but may find the lackluster ending unsatisfying. (Picture book. 4-7)

STORIES OF THE WILD WEST GANG

Cowley, Joy Illus. by Pye, Trevor Gecko Press (368 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-8775-7921-9

Ten interrelated, longish stories, originally published individually, explore the relationship between only-child Michael’s family and his cousins who have moved to town. His mother and Auntie Rosie might be sisters, but they are living totally different lives. There is not a trace of dirt at Michael’s house—linen napkins and soft, gentlemanly tones are the order of the day. When the Wests blow into town, Michael learns how other families work. The Wests are in a constant state of hubbub and grime. Money is in short supply, but love is not. Michael is instantly welcomed into this warm house, and he spends many of his waking hours figuring out how to get his parents’ permission to become a member of the West gang. He takes it all in: the wheeling and dealing of his cousin Royce and his favorite word (“S-H-I-T-!”), baby Honey’s toileting escapades, a rotting dead rabbit, a stinking refrigerator and an amputated foot. Along the way, Michael learns to enjoy his own family, and his parents learn to relax a bit, too. The stories create a tidy arc that allows the reader to observe the changes in both families, but the overall length and repeated format (crazy incident plus humorous climax) might overwhelm the young chapter-book reader who tackles it in one go. Episodic enough to dip in and out, this New Zealand import charms in small bites. (Fiction. 9-12)

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THE GREAT UNEXPECTED

Creech, Sharon Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins (240 pp.) $15.99 | $8.99 e-book | PLB $16.89 Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-06-189232-5 978-0-06-219013-0 e-book 978-0-106-189233-2 PLB When Finn falls out of a tree and into the life of Naomi, he brings more than a touch of Ireland’s magic. Naomi and her friend, Lizzie Scatterding, are both foster children living in the quiet town of Blackbird Tree. Life takes on a mysterious air when Finn boy and the Dangle Doodle man show up in a town that’s already inhabited by such characters as Witch Wiggins and Crazy Cora. Naomi carries the terrible scars, internal and on her arm, of her father’s death and a dog’s attack. Her guardian parents each share their hearts; Nula remembers privation and her estranged family in Ireland, and Joe teaches Naomi to dream and fly high into the clouds for inner peace. In a parallel story across the sea in Ireland, two women talk of times past, lost families and setting things right. Creech, a Newbery Award–winning author, deftly weaves a multi-layered story in which past and present thread their way around Naomi the romantic and Lizzie the singer. With a Finn boy for each generation, there’s joy in the air and in the reading. An enchanting tale to treasure in which ordinary folk find fairies’ gold, run across crooked bridges and mend their broken hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

RIFT

Cremer, Andrea Philomel (464 pp.) $18.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-399-25613-4 Series: Nightshade This prequel to the popular Nightshade trilogy takes readers to Scotland in 1404, where the Searchers and Keepers conflict begins. Readers won’t find any hint of paranormal wolves here. Sixteen-year-old Ember, from a noble family, yearns to become a warrior instead of a wife. Her friend Alistair, who secretly has taught her swordplay, happily accompanies her when she joins Conatus, a successor group to the Knights Templar that protects the world from evil supernatural forces such as hobgoblins. Conatus accepts women as warriors, continuing the overall series’ theme of personal freedom, and Ember eagerly chooses that role. She falls for Barrow, her mentor, but Alistair also declares his love for her. Meanwhile, serious outbreaks of wraiths occur, and the group captures a sorcerer who leads one of Conatus’ leaders to Bosque Mar, a strange entity who offers the group revenge against the Abbot

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who has threatened Conatus. While Ember secretly yearns for Barrow and fights for Conatus, a staged wraith attack convinces some to join with Bosque Mar. Although she gets dates right, the author doesn’t bother too much with historical accuracy, using the setting mainly to provide a fantasy atmosphere. However, the highly readable prose style that captured so many fans for her trilogy is very much in evidence. The resolution leaves plenty of room for more entries. Exciting stuff, yet again. (Fantasy suspense. 12 & up)

SHIFT

Curran, Kim Strange Chemistry (320 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-908844-04-0 If you could remake any decision you have made, would you? British 16-year-old Scott Tyler’s showing off for the cool gang at school when he falls from an electricity pylon and inadvertently shifts reality before he hits the ground. In changing his decision to make the climb in the first place, he draws the attention of Aubrey Jones, herself a Shifter. Scott learns that there are hundreds of kids who can shift (while they’re young) and that use of the ability is governed by rules enforced by ARES, Agency for the Regulation and Evaluation of Shifters. Most Shifters present their ability long before they turn 16, and Aubrey, a Spotter, fears ARES will think Scott a rogue. When he accidentally shifts a decision from his past, he finds each decision has ripples that can remake a whole life. He thinks joining ARES will fix his problems; instead he finds a frightening and deadly conspiracy. Curran’s debut is a fast and funny mind-bending trip. The potentially confusing concept of shifting is nicely handled, and the mystery’s reveal is tantalizing. Realistic British teens and a couple of completely creepy villains make this sci-fi thriller a must for genre fans. One of the first from a new imprint dedicated to speculative fiction for teens; a promising beginning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

TROLL HUNTERS

Dahl, Michael Illus. by Kovar, Ben Stone Arch Books (320 pp.) $12.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-1-4342-4590-8

youngsters—Louise, Pablo, Zak and Thora—are saved by a three-armed man, Dr. Hoo, who predicts that they have magical powers that will save the world. The story mixes trolls from the Norse tradition with constellations from Greco-Roman mythology. Atmosphere builds with changing landscapes: Peaceful countryside morphs to menacing, while the trolls’ underground home is a terrifying inferno. The four kids chosen as heroes have distinct characters and magical powers; other people merely serve the plot. The climax provides surprises and a bittersweet ending. Black-and-white illustrations add to the horror and mood of the story. Compulsive plot, non-stop action and the battle between modern-day good and ancient evil attract boys and girls alike, and the fast-moving narrative, lots of suspense and cumulating violence will keep them reading. A page-turner. (Horror. 10-13)

THE QUILT WALK

Dallas, Sandra Sleeping Bear Press (166 pp.) $15.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-58536-800-6 When 10-year-old Emmy Blue Hatchett’s father announces that the family will be traveling from their home in Illinois to the frontier town of Golden, Colo., the reaction to the news is as varied as the colors in one of their beloved hand-pieced quilts. It is 1863, and the Colorado Gold Rush is in full swing. Even with the exciting journey in front of them, Emmy and her parents cannot help mourning what they are forced to leave behind: friends, family, pets—and markers in the cemetery for lost loved ones. However, Emmy’s mother is an example of courage and strength, encouraging everyone around her to see life as an adventure and an opportunity to help others. Indian sightings, deadly snakes, a stray dog, new friends and the dreaded quilting hour all keep Emmy busy as they make the long crossing in their overburdened wagons. Period details, engaging characters and clever plot twists will entice even the most discerning fans of historical fiction. Populated with brave and intelligent women, Dallas’ story is as much about Emmy’s journey toward womanhood as their journey toward the West. Solid writing and a close attention to details make this story more than the sum of its parts. Finely stitched. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

“Beneath the vast volcanic lakes / Beneath the fiery core, / An ancient, ageless Evil wakes / And starts to rise once more.” This poem sets the tone for a horror tale that offers middle-graders a fast, compelling read. On the night of the Draconid meteor shower, trolls hungry for human flesh invade the rural town of Zion Falls. Four |

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“For fans of the original books and of the genre as a whole, a must read.” from the kill order

SCORCH

before one of them, infected, goes insane….Blending past, present and future, this is a gritty and unnerving look at a post-apocalyptic world that both recalls early classics of the genre and looks forward to Dashner’s already-established trilogy. For fans of the original books and of the genre as a whole, a must read. (Science fiction/thriller 12 & up)

Damico, Gina Graphia (352 pp.) $8.99 paperback | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-547-62457-0 Series: Croak, 2 Teenage grim reaper Lex and the rest of the underworldly inclined residents of a magical upstate–New York town return for this entertaining follow-up to Croak (2012). Still reeling from the murder of her twin sister, Lex’s guilt and agony is assuaged too neatly when she’s able to visit Cordy in the Afterlife—a cleverly imagined ethereal space where a dour Edgar Allan Poe and his raven, Quoth, must endure practical jokes played on them by other historical figures. Zara, the rogue Culler of souls responsible for Cordy’s death, is still on the loose, looking to force Lex, her Uncle Mort and her boyfriend, Driggs, to reveal the location of a legendary book she needs. Along the way, there are dastardly plots carried out both by Zara and by others, resulting in the unpredictable deaths of major characters and the revelation of powers that will undoubtedly feature heavily in the clearly foreshadowed coming war. If this is a bit too convenient at times—Driggs’ pal Ferbus exclaims at one point, “Bullshit! Your stupid girlfriend Damns the everloving crap out of our collective grandfather, and you just so happen to be able to fix it?”—it also mostly succeeds in building a suspenseful setup for the next outing. An amusing blend of whimsy and humor with serious drama and blood. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

THE KILL ORDER

Dashner, James Delacorte (336 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $20.99 Aug. 14, 2012 978-0-385-74288-7 978-0-307-97911-7 e-book 978-0-375-99082-3 PLB A prequel to the series that began with The Maze Runner (2009) takes readers back to the moment when the sun flares devastate the Earth and tells the story of the birth of the killer virus that followed. Mark and Trina were riding the New York City subtrans system when the flares originally struck. Glad to have each other, they were very lucky to meet up with Alec and Lana, both ex-military and equipped with plenty of survival skills. It has taken them a year to get to relative safety in the Appalachian Mountains and to establish a settlement with other survivors. Life is beginning to resemble “normal,” when they are once again attacked from the sky, this time by soldiers. The situation worsens when survivors begin to sicken and die, but not before going mad. The small group makes its way back out into the forest, hunting for their attackers and looking for answers. It’s only a matter of time 1646

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I SWEAR

Davis, Lane Simon & Schuster (288 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-4424-3506-3 After persistent bullying leads to a high school senior’s suicide, her tormentors examine their behavior and culpability. This searing page turner explores the psyches and actions of a group of high school students whose merciless cruelty— and the group is shockingly vicious—drives fellow classmate Leslie Gatlin to commit suicide. What makes the rolling narration told from diverse points of view suspenseful is that Leslie’s parents commence a civil lawsuit, and the district attorney gets interested as well. Suddenly the bullies, who have secrets to protect and varying motivations for their behavior, are in the hot seat. Macie Merrick is the manipulative, Machiavellian queen of the bullies, and her character, though over-the-top demonic, is great fun to hate. Author Davis makes it clear that suicide was the victim’s choice—the theme of choice is central to the novel—and by the end of the story, readers understand that all the bullies, with the exception of the evil Macie, will now make better choices. Still, the damage is irreversible, and no amount of remorse or future compassion can negate the past, something at least one of the bullies must come to terms with. A riveting read on an important topic. (Fiction. 14 & up)

DISTRICT COMICS An Unconventional History of Washington, DC Dembicki, Matt--Ed. Fulcrum (256 pp.) $24.95 paperback | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-55591-751-7

Editor Dembicki’s (Trickster, 2010) latest collection is an anthology of illustrated stories and vignettes from Washington D.C.’s colorful past. Spanning the birth of the capital to 2009, this collection unearths vivid moments from the District’s history. These moments include anecdotes, such as one about James Hampton’s religious art made from garbage in Andrew Cohen’s “Dark Was the Night,” as well as deeper looks at specific moments in history. One such can be found in Rebecca Goldfield and Paul W. Zdepski’s “Taps,” an in-depth look at the bugle player from John F. Kennedy’s funeral and at the mourning of the nation.

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The storytelling and art styles vary greatly, with stand-out uses of the graphic form found in Michael Rhode and Kevin Rechin’s comical and cartoonish take on the Army Medical Museum (“Not Such a Collection as the Timid Would Care to Visit at Midnight”) and in Peter S. Conrad’s spy drama “Karat.” While there is the occasional misstep—stories with too much exposition or not enough context—weaker pieces are easily compensated for by the more successful, such as Grant Jeffrey Barrus and Jacob Warrenfeltz’s “Rolling Thunder,” a tribute to Vietnam veterans told in a past/present narrative with dual, monochromatic palettes and a huge emotional punch. This anthology is marked by style consistently well matched to substance in a vast range of topics. A well-rounded collection of stories with something for everyone, sure to inspire readers to research the full history of their favorites. (editor’s note, contributors) (Graphic historical fiction. 10 & up)

RED CAT BLUE CAT

Desmond, Jenni Illus. by Desmond, Jenni Blue Apple (40 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-60905-248-5

Feline enemies become firm friends in this predictable but potentially pleasing debut. Bright, blotchy, child-like pictures show a stripy red cat and a spotted blue cat that live on separate floors of a sketchily drawn house. The cause of friction between them isn’t clear, but readers are quickly informed that despite their scrapping, each is secretly envious of the other. Blue Cat wants to be “fast and bouncy like Red Cat,” while Red Cat “wishe[s] he were as smart as Blue Cat.” Each tries to change color, believing that will change their attributes. But eating appropriately colored food, rolling in paint and/or dressing up, although mildly amusing, doesn’t change anything. Working together to get clean and comfortable, however, does the trick (not entirely convincingly), and soon the two are sharing advice on how to be more active and/or clever. Like the text, Desmond’s playful illustrations are straightforward. Multiple vignettes on most pages appear to incorporate paint, ink and some printed papers with the two title colors dominating, but there’s plenty of white space as well. One small portrait shows the family that likely lives in the house too, but the focus remains firmly on the fractious cats. The plot is familiar, but energetic artwork and a comical twist at the end may make it feel fresh enough to entertain a new generation of feline fanciers. (Picture book. 4-7)

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TAP OUT

Devine, Eric Running Press Teens (304 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7624-4569-1 A boy who knows only grinding despair finds hope within the walls of a gym. Tony’s life is bleak and violent, as his drug-addict mother’s boyfriend regularly beats her up and gleefully includes Tony if he objects. At school, the boyfriend’s nephew further compounds the bullying. Until the principal, Mr. O, decides to help, Tony’s buddy Rob and the Vo-Tec automechanics class are the only things that lighten his load. Now, not only does Rob want Tony to join the gym where they can be coached in Mixed Martial Arts, but the principal is threatening to take away Vo-Tec if Tony doesn’t go. Tony sees himself as trailer trash, with no options and no hope for a better life. Tony finds the gym’s fight world, with its rules and demands for toughness, a place where he can receive rare praise. At the gym he finds some respect, guys he can trust and a chance. A mighty confrontation is inevitable and proves predictably brutal. Full of foul language and crude talk, the painful scenarios never let up, including a horrifying encounter in which Tony must listen to a prostitute be beaten, knowing that earlier an abusive father sent his unwilling daughter to the same fate. This is bound to have huge appeal to kids whose lives are being mirrored, and it may prompt luckier readers to take some positive action. (Fiction. 14 & up)

LLAMA LLAMA, TIME TO SHARE

Dewdney, Anna Illus. by Dewdney, Anna Viking (40 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-670-01233-6 Dewdney’s newest Llama Llama picture book delivers a lesson in social skills to its camelid protagonist and its young readers, too. When the brand-new (gnu) neighbors come to visit, Llama Llama’s mother prompts him to befriend Nelly Gnu while she serves up tea for Mrs. Gnu and her babe in arms. Seeming rather leery about his mother’s admonition, “…don’t forget to share,” Llama Llama leads his playmate over to his toys. All goes well enough until she starts playing with his prized Fuzzy Llama doll—without his permission. A tug of war ensues, and the doll ends up with a ripped-off appendage. Luckily, Mama Llama is not only a good hostess, she’s also handy with a needle and thread. Both mothers prompt their young ones to apologize to one another, and Fuzzy Llama is left on the step until they are ready to share. All’s well that ends well, and after playing happily with other toys, they do end up sharing Fuzzy Llama, and the visit ends with them as fast friends looking forward to their

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next play date. While the rhyming text comes across as rather forced or twee in places, bright, cheery illustrations match the positive, easy tone of the story with its easily resolved conflict. A solid addition to the popular series for toddlers and preschoolers. (Picture book. 2-4)

AUDITION & SUBTRACTION

Dominy, Amy Fellner Walker (240 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-8027-2374-1

Tatum is facing her stressful eighthgrade audition for a clarinet seat in the District Honor Band and must also cope with her best friend’s first romance. Tatum and Lori, BFF for years, are so close that their friends call them “TayLo.” Now Michael, a new clarinet player, has moved into the school. Not only is he cute and seemingly in love with Lori, but rumor has it that he’s a fine player—and only three clarinets can be selected for the prestigious band. Lori, on flute, has always accompanied Tatum during auditions, a lot less scary than playing solo, but now she wants to accompany Michael. She even suggests that Tatum deliberately fail so her boyfriend can make the band. As Tatum navigates these betrayals, she also must deal with the recent breakup of her parents’ marriage. Aaron, the clarinet player with whom she shares a music stand and friendship, now becomes a lot more supportive and even begins to gently evolve into a romantic interest in a nicely low-key portrayal of young love. Dominy’s characters and situations— shown through Tatum’s authentic voice—ring wholly true as newly developing boy/girl connections inevitably affect the lifedefining girl/girl friendships that preceded them. Tatum’s maturing recognition of her own self-worth and realistic outcomes—sadly not everything works out the way she would wish—make this a satisfying and believable read. (Fiction. 10-14)

THE TORTOISE’S GIFT

Don, Lari Illus. by Williamson, Melanie Barefoot (48 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-84686-774-3 Series: Animal Stories, 1 Is a tortoise too small and slow to be of any help? There’s a drought in Africa, and all of the animals are hungry, when old rabbit remembers a story about a tree. “When the rain stops falling,” he says, “this wonderful tree grows every animal’s favorite fruit.” Stylized, colorful acrylics portray the woeful animals as they seek out the tree, but once they find it, they can’t get it to 1648

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grow any fruit. After some experimentation, they come to the conclusion that they need to find out its name. Only the mountain is old enough to remember, so one by one, the animals journey to the mountain and try to find out. The lion, elephant and chimps all make an attempt, but by the time each of them returns to the tree, they’ve become too pleased with themselves and too distracted to remember the name. Now it’s up to the tortoise. The other animals have no faith he can do it—he’s too small and slow—but his steadiness and calm focus may just save them all. Simple vocabulary, straightforward text and plenty of repetition make this a good choice for somewhat experienced readers, while the gentle humor, accessible lesson and appealing illustrations make this a tale that children will savor. This Zambian tale adapts well to the early-reader format. (Folk tale/early reader. 5-7)

NEVER TRUST A TIGER

Don, Lari Illus. by Williamson, Melanie Barefoot (48 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-84686-776-7 Series: Animal Stories, 2

Does one good turn deserve another? A merchant stops to free a tiger stuck in a hole by lowering a tree trunk to it, and what does he get for his trouble? A growl and a show of sharp teeth from the hungry tiger, who is planning to make a meal of him! Taken aback, the merchant protests that this is not fair. At first, the tiger says, “I don’t want to be fair. I only want to be full!” But he finally agrees to a test, if only to quiet the merchant down so he can be eaten up. Colorful, energetic acrylics work together with the carefully selected vocabulary, lucid text and generous repetition to make this Korean folk tale a strong choice for early readers. In the end, the deciding vote is left to a hare, who seems confused by the quandary and asks that the two show him what happened, so the tiger gets back in the hole. The hare advises the merchant to leave immediately, and as to whether a good deed should follow a good deed, the hare says, “That all depends on who you help!” Young readers will be drawn in by the measured suspense and leave with a chuckle. An excellent addition to both the folk tale genre and the early-reader shelf. (Folk tale/early reader. 4-7)

BEAR DESPAIR

Dorémus, Gaëtan Illus. by Dorémus, Gaëtan Enchanted Lion Books (32 pp.) $14.95 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-59270-125-4 When Bear loses his beloved teddy bear, he will stop at nothing to get him back in this wordless romp.

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C H I L DR E N’S

& TE E N

Get Your Hands on Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone Now B Y LEI LA ROY

The night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky.* So begins Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, a book that has recently inspired much gushing in the blogosphere. And for good reason, happily! For the most part, the writing is so lovely—flowery, moody, rhythmic and lyrical—that I’d like to just transcribe a list of examples and send you off to read the book for yourself. Alas, I’m realizing now that I dogeared so many pages and marked so many |

quotes that it would make more sense for me to reread the book than try to find my favorites. So, unless you walk away from your computer and head to your book source of choice, you’re stuck with me for now. Becca just graduated as her high school salutatorian. At the end of this summer, she’s leaving her small, stifling town—and her dropout boyfriend— behind, and headed to college, and from there, to law school. That’s the plan. That’s always been the plan. But the discovery of a dead girl on the side of the road—a dead girl no one in this everyone-knows-everyone-else’sbusiness town even recognizes—changes everything. It’s not a sudden change. People don’t immediately start looking at each other sideways. After all, her death probably has nothing to do with the locals. She had expensive highlights in her hair after all. It’s probably to do with the summer people. Probably. Kat Rosenfield alternates between Becca’s memories of that summer and the story of Amelia’s last few days to ultimately reveal the truth, and in so doing, shows the parallels between these two very different girls and their experiences. As I said, the writing is wonderful—the flowery aspects occasionally go a little overboard—and Becca’s voice usually successfully walks the line between Capital-L Literary and Small-Town Frank. If she’d been a male narrator, I rather suspect I’d have heard Richard Dreyfuss’ voice as I read. The specialness isn’t just in Rosenfield’s description, turns of phrase or how she captures the slow, heavy feel of summer. It’s about how she makes every single action, interaction, sometimes even the briefest of moments...feel like a turning point. There’s a constant sense of dread, inevitability and change. There’s a lot of crossover potential here— it reads more like adult crime fiction than YA**—I won’t be at all surprised to see Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone crossshelved in the Adult Mystery section. kirkusreviews.com

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AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE

Kat Rosenfield Penguin (304 pp.) July 5 | $17.99 9780525423898 And I certainly won’t be surprised to see it get nominated for an Edgar. Actually, I’d be surprised if it isn’t. * I pulled that quote from an advanced copy, so it’s subject to change. ** The only YA readalike I’m coming up with is Lauren Myracle’s Shine.

9 If she isn’t writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is most likely being tragically unproductive due to the shiny lure of Pinterest.

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When Wolf runs off with his beloved sleeping companion, Bear sets out in furious pursuit. Wolf flings Teddy away, and angry Bear swallows him whole. The scenario is repeated as Bear confronts Lion, who tosses Teddy off a cliff, and Eagle swoops down to claim him. Lion joins Wolf in Bear’s stomach. Bear, still in hot pursuit, climbs up to Eagle’s aerie. Eagle flies off, and Bear swallows two eggs. Still in dogged pursuit, he encounters Elephant. Same scenario. At long last, Octopus finally hands over Teddy. The enstomached animals and eggs escape, and Bear happily—and finally—goes back to sleep. In this wordless tale, the French illustrator uses a storyboard format of large and small encircled scenes on a white page to tell an energetic and emotional tale. Bear resembles the titular character from “I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly” as his tummy grows larger and larger, comfortably fitting all, who are often seen in cutaway views sitting and chatting with one another. Colorful drawings with overlays of swirling lines sweep by at a fast pace as the action grows increasingly frantic, mirroring Bear’s growing anxiety. A lesson to be learned: don’t mess with the teddy. An imaginative and well-designed chase. (Picture book. 2-6)

SURVIVING HIGH SCHOOL

Doty, M. Poppy/Little, Brown (272 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-316-22015-6

A flimsy, frothy and fraught chronicle of freshman year. Until her fatal car accident, Emily’s sister Sara was The Machine, known for her dedication to a punishing fitness regimen and her peerless skill as a swimmer. Emily worshiped Sara, and she’s continued her efforts to live up to her late sister’s legacy by embracing an 8,000-calorie daily diet, a strict sleep schedule and daily three-hour training sessions with her dad, the obsessive and demanding coach of her high school’s swim team. Emily’s schedule leaves no time for a social life outside of nightly instant messaging and a monthly sleepover with best friend Kimi. And romance, even with puckishly appealing senior Ben? Out of the question. Her intense rivalry—in and out of the water—with teammate Dominique soon prompts Emily to sneak out to attend Ben’s latest party, where romantic sparks fly. Cheating on her sleep schedule to spend time with Ben and happy for the first time, Emily questions her commitment to swimming and learns that Sara, too, had a secret love life. It all culminates in two clichéd confrontations with Coach Dad. The charms of Emily’s story—snappy dialogue, adorable chemistry—can’t buoy the soggy clichés of maniacal Coach Dad, too-perfect teachers and a thoroughly unbelievable final competition. Inessential. (Fiction. 12-16)

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ROOM FOR THE BABY

Edwards, Michelle Illus. by Christy, Jana Random House (32 pp.) $17.99 | PLB $20.99 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-375-87090-3 978-0-375-97090-0 PLB Everyone is thrilled that there’s going to be a new baby, but where will the child sleep? Mom’s sewing room would be perfect, but it is full to the brim with worn-out clothes, leftover yarn and boxes of odds and ends donated by neighbors who know Mom is a master at recycling and repurposing. As months pass, filled with weekly Sabbath celebrations and Jewish holiday traditions, Mom and all the neighbors are busy, happily sewing, knitting and crafting, making diapers, baby clothes and mittens for anyone who expresses a need. The whole family gets into the act; Dad makes a crib from a steamer trunk, and the young narrator organizes a giveaway of free stuff. The sewing room is gradually transformed into a beautiful room for the baby, who receives a joyous welcome. Edwards moves the events through the year, introducing a warm, loving, traditional Jewish family and a close-knit multicultural city community. Information about Jewish holidays, especially the food, is neatly and deliciously incorporated. Underlying themes focus on the processes and satisfaction of creative arts and crafts as well as the green concept of reusing found items for new purposes. Christy’s bright illustrations, as well as the endpapers, are filled with amusing details, patterns and textures, along with a sense of movement and busy endeavor. Warmth and comfort abound. (Picture book. 3-8)

KODOKU

Emery, William Illus. by Rivera, Hanae Heyday (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-59714-173-4 A poetically written and illustrated recreation of the voyage of Kenichi Horie, the first (recorded) sailor to cross the Pacific solo. “Kenichi the brave, Kenichi the adventurer, but first, Kenichi the little boy sat perched like a bird along Osaka harbor.” In strongly cadenced prose, Emery places the young mariner aboard a custom-built sailboat and sends him out for intense mid-ocean encounters with a typhoon, whales, sharks, jellyfish and a towering passenger ship before journey’s end beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. In Rivera’s artwork, Kenichi and his small boat float between tumultuous waves and skies, amid teeming masses of sea life—all depicted in long, flowing strokes of oil pastels. What prompted the dangerous voyage? The author offers only an oblique, evocative refrain in explanation: “The wind blows forever / across an ocean that never ends.” Lacking a closing note about that 1962 passage (or Horie’s several later ones) that would provide a historical anchor, this tribute seems intended to inspire rather than inform.

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It leaves readers the freedom not only to appreciate the scope of his achievement, but to ponder the courage required to undertake all such private journeys. (Picture book. 8-10)

HORTEN’S INCREDIBLE ILLUSIONS Magic, Mystery & Another Very Strange Adventure

Evans, Lissa Sterling (352 pp.) $14.95 | $7.99 e-book | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-4027-9870-2 978-1-4027-9871-9 e-book Stuart Horten, 10, is back for a second mysterious adventure. Previously, in Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms (2012), he discovered the hiding place of his Great-Uncle Tony’s magicmaking paraphernalia—stage equipment from his magic show. Now, with the help of intrepid reporter and next-door-neighbor triplet April, he intends to find out what the mechanisms do. There’s an added bit of pressure: Hidden somewhere in the magical contrivances is Tony’s will, which conveys ownership of all the tricks to whoever finds it. A mysterious elderly woman from Canada would like to be that person, so Stuart and April have to work hard and fast. Each mechanism, when successfully triggered, creates an intriguing and sometimes perilous trap for the pair to escape. April’s siblings, May and June, unwind a little from their previous aloof attitude and begin to help out as well. Other colorful characters, briefly sketched but neatly depicted, meander through the tale. Horten’s dad, known for his enthusiastic overuse of an extensive vocabulary, is joined by museum curator Rod Felton. They take turns throwing around bewildering (but funny) Latin terms, their incomprehensibility enhancing Horten’s and readers’ sense of living in a world separate from adults. While this outing lacks the notable magical impact of the first of the series, it’s still rollicking good fun and often engagingly suspenseful, perfect for a quick read or entertaining read-aloud. (Mystery. 9-14)

THE ASSAULT

Falkner, Brian Random House (304 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $20.99 Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-375-86946-4 978-0-375-98351-1 e-book 978-0-375-96946-1 PLB After the aliens take over, it’s up to the teenagers to save humanity. Earth has been taken over by an alien species, the Bzadians, who are determined to wipe out |

all humans as soon as possible. And it’s clear that they are plotting something big to help them succeed, a weapon that is kept shrouded in mystery in a secret installation deep in the Australian Outback. Six teens have been surgically altered to resemble the Bzadians; they are led by Lt. Ryan Chisnall, aka Lucky. He and his team of Angel infiltrators have been living as Bzadians for months just to accomplish this one mission: Determine the nature of this secret weapon and destroy it before it can be deployed. Only Chisnall knows there is another mission as well…to discover the identity of the spy who has already become a member of his own team. Falkner supplies a tight story that features a strong plot and believable characters; the third-person narration shifts focus from Chisnall and his team to Yozi, a member of the Bzadian Republican Guard. Within his science-fiction framework, the author effectively employs the tropes of both survival and war stories to great effect. While an entirely satisfying read on its own, readers can only hope there is a second installment in the works. (glossary) (Science fiction. 12 & up)

COUNTING ON FALL

Flatt, Lizann Illus. by Barron, Ashley Owlkids Books (32 pp.) $14.95 | $9.95 e-book | Sep. 15, 2012 978-1-926973-36-4 978-1-926973-48-7 e-book Series: Math in Nature, 1 First in the Math in Nature series, this prompts readers to imagine animals and plants using numbers to count and arrange themselves. “Would pronghorns pair up, / line up in a parade, / and prance across the prairie? // With toes like those, / do you suppose / raccoons can count on trouble?” The text attempts some rhythm and rhyme, but it is inconsistent and awkwardly forces the story to conform to the words. Each verse is followed by a separate text box that allows readers to practice a mathematical concept: Counting, ordinal numbers, groups of 10, skip counting, counting down from 10, and halves are among those addressed. Backmatter includes a brief paragraph of information about the featured flora and fauna, but it lacks an answer key. Barron’s artwork is lovely, each spread filled with natural colors, textures and 3-D scenery, but not all are particularly fall-ish. It can also be difficult to distinguish the items to be counted from the backgrounds and to put them into the correct groupings (don’t count across the gutter on the bat page, even though there’s no break in the line of bats!). Finally, Flatt’s conclusion—that nature does not “know” numbers—is just not scientifically accurate. Animals and plants may not count and arrange themselves by number, but that does not mean there is no math in nature. Gorgeous cut-paper collage illustrations cannot outweigh the absence of a story. (Math picture book. 4-7)

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“With text that begs to be read aloud and sumptuous illustrations made by a master printmaker, this picture book reads like an instant classic.” from oh, no!

THE CRIMSON SHARD

with dinner rather than rescue on his mind), falls into the hole on a prior spread, and after the elephant’s valiant rescue, they all cry “Oh, no!” when he cries for help. Oh, yes! This is a terrific new picture book. (Picture book. 2-6)

Flavin, Teresa Templar/Candlewick (288 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7636-6093-2 In the sequel to The Blackhope Enigma (2011), a villain abducts Sunni and Blaise to discover the secrets they learned while inside magical artist Fausto Corvo’s painting. Using an elixir to take them through a trompe l’oeil door, Throgmorton traps them in 1752 London. While the two faced dangers in their first ordeal, the tale was also suffused with whimsy and light. This time, they must cope with a situation much harsher than any they have ever known. To force them to talk, Throgmorton holds them captive in an art academy, producing forgeries. After a fellow apprentice who displeases Throgmorton is sold to anatomists, they quickly stop complaining about the gritty clothes, bad food and dim candlelight, as well as the disruptive habit of first and second sleep—a setting so well-described, readers will feel and breathe it. With the help of two colorful thieves and a set of aristocrats seeking diversion, Sunni and Blaise escape and search for a magician who can help them travel back to the future. Youngsters will easily follow the action, whether or not they read the first book. The characters are richly drawn and the pace brisk, for Sunni and Blaise’s window—or door, in this case—of opportunity is quickly closing. A gripping continuation. (Fantasy. 9-12)

OH, NO!

Fleming, Candace Illus. by Rohmann, Eric Schwartz & Wade/Random (40 pp.) $17.99 | PLB $20.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-375-84271-9 978-0-375-94557-1 PLB With text that begs to be read aloud and sumptuous illustrations made by a master printmaker, this picture book reads like an instant classic. Jacket art populated by several animals that appear in the story establishes the Asian jungle setting: A toothsome tiger lurks, while a loris, mouse and frog cower on front and back boards. The palette is rich with shades of brown, green, orange and bluish-gray, and the cover’s scene carries over on to endpapers that show Tiger stalking Frog. The chase continues across frontmatter pages until the first spread reads: “Frog fell into a deep, deep hole. Ribbit-oops! Ribbit-oops!” Dramatic visual perspective captures Frog’s fall, and the following spread shows Tiger settling in for his next move on his prey. As Tiger waits, a speech balloon heralds the titular cry, “Oh, no!” Clearly, Frog is in trouble, and on ensuing pages, several animals make rescue attempts, only to fall into the hole as well. Finally, a trumpeting, stomping elephant arrives and uses its trunk to save almost all of the trapped animals: Tiger (who had tried to get to the animals 1652

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UNDERGROUND

Fleming, Denise Illus. by Fleming, Denise Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-4424-5882-6 978-1-4424-5883-3 e-book The earth beneath children’s feet is teeming with activity if only they look. In this engaging backyard exploration, the art provides a narrative frame: A boy and his dog are planting a tree. Brief, rhythmic text invites youngsters to examine the labyrinth “[l]ow down. / Way down. / Under ground.” Fleming’s pulp-painting technique is used to best advantage to capture the textures of coarse dirt, pebbles, roots and tunnels, and every page-turn offers full-spread cutaway views. Perspectives shift from a robin gazing from a tree to the ground, the earth’s surface and then below. The bird pulls a worm from its hole, ants crawl, grubs lie snug, and carrots grow sturdy and straight. In turn, a rabbit munches contentedly while a mole passes underneath. Other spreads depict yellow jackets, chipmunks and the dog burying its bone. Inventive language introduces readers to “[s]quirmways / and worm-ways.” Children who look closely will also find those lost treasures that are always so much fun to dig up—a key, a coin, a toy car and more. In a satisfying conclusion, the tree has been planted, carrots picked, and the text circles back to where it began: “Low down. / Way down. / Under ground.” A spread entitled Creature Identification provides more information about each of the critters, completing the book. Validation for every kid who’s ever picked up a trowel to explore the wonders underground. (Picture book. 2-6)

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAY TODAY

Fox, Mem Illus. by Stringer, Lauren Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-4169-9006-2 978-1-4391-5723-7 e-book

A little boy loves to cuddle and chat with his stuffed-animal friends at bedtime. His bedtime ritual includes a good-night kiss, a story and a loving “good night” with his mother, but he most looks forward to his whispered conversations with beloved friends Greedy Goose, Blue Horse and Fat Rabbit. Each animal in turn discreetly calls for attention, respectively coughing a little cough, shaking a mane or twitching ears. The boy then asks the title

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“This slim volume brings to you-are-there life a historical episode often relegated to a sidebar.” from the boston tea party

question, followed by the animal telling him “the what, the who, the why, and the way…the whole wild thing…turned out okay.” The specifics are told wordlessly and in great detail in Stringer’s bright acrylic illustrations with just the right softly fuzzy surroundings. From Goose’s encounter with a pink umbrella to Horse’s deployment as an emergency picnic site (a blanket thrown over his back makes his rockers a fine tent) to Rabbit’s clothespin-pinched bottom, these adventures are charming and easy for little readers to follow. The boy’s version of his daytime activities is related in exactly the same manner and nicely meshes with the previously told tales. Bedroom scenes are more sharply defined, large-scale, full- and double-page spreads. Fox’s use of rhyme and repetition has a flowing cadence that moves briskly along while allowing time to savor the details of the innocent delight of a small child’s imagination. A lovely, gentle story for bedtime sharing. (Picture book. 3-7)

THE BOSTON TEA PARTY

Freedman, Russell Illus. by Malone, Peter Holiday House (40 pp.) $17.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-8234-2266-1 It might be said that the American Revolution began with the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. Crowds of protestors filled Boston’s Old South Church. “Boston Harbor a teapot tonight!” someone yelled. And sure enough, that evening, thousands of pounds of tea from three merchant ships were dumped into the harbor. A wide range of Boston society—well-known citizens, carpenters, printers, blacksmiths and shipwrights, young and old—dressed up to resemble Mohawk Indians, their faces smeared with grease and lampblack or soot, turned out to protest the British government’s tyranny. As always, Freedman demonstrates his skill at telling the story behind the facts, weaving a lively narrative out of the details and voices that shaped one episode of history. Drawing on primary resources as well as scholarly works, he smoothly melds quotations from eyewitnesses and other sources into a lively and engaging narrative. The volume has been lovingly designed, and Malone’s memorable watercolor illustrations are beautifully wrought, adding much to the telling. The Boston Tea Party is often just one of several names and events that students have to memorize in school; here’s a chance to read about it as an exciting story. This slim volume brings to you-are-there life a historical episode often relegated to a sidebar. (afterword, bibliographic essay, note on tea, timeline, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

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OLIVE AND THE BIG SECRET

Freeman, Tor Illus. by Freeman, Tor Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-7636-6149-6

A simple story of a secret that slips out. Olive hears the secret from Molly. Sorely tempted, Olive manages not to share the information immediately but can’t contain herself indefinitely. So she spills the beans to Joe. Joe tells Matt, and Matt tells Bea and Lola. Then Lola hurries off to share the news with her best friend, (wait for it) Molly. Miffed, Molly turns on Olive with a frown. So far readers have remained in the dark as to the exact nature of the secret, though some may have noticed a clue in the illustrations. Although the author coyly refuses to blab, Olive reveals all when she urges readers to peek at the final page. Freeman’s straightforward text sets a steady pace and leaves plenty of room for her pictures to expand the action. Each child is shown as a different animal in the carefully composed, mixed-media illustrations, but their pursuits and behavior are entirely human. Rounded bodies, large heads and small extremities emphasize the mild humor and allow emotions to be clearly conveyed. Though the story is slight, some young listeners may enjoy tracing the path the secret travels, while parents will appreciate the opportunity to talk about friendship and trust. (Picture book. 4-7)

GLASS HEART

Garvey, Amy HarperTeen (320 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-06-199624-5 Exploring new magical abilities that include the power to resurrect the dead is a game to Wren, but when she meets Fiona and Bay, suddenly magic turns deadly serious. Desperate to learn more about the power she began to use in series opener Cold Kiss (2011), Wren presses her mother for help. Unfortunately, secrecy, shame and pain keep her from teaching Wren or her younger sister, Robin, about the possibilities and responsibilities inherent in their newfound magic. Frustrated, Wren pushes everyone away, including Gabriel, the boy who knows everything about her. Looking to her new friends, who have abilities of their own, Wren begins leading a secret life full of spells and excitement. But while Fiona seems mostly fun and frivolous, Bay is dark and dangerous. Wren discovers just how bad it is when Bay begins threatening the ones she loves most. Tropes and clichés abound in this sequel. Readers will quickly grow tired of Robin’s temper tantrums and their mother’s ineffective parenting. The twin mysteries surrounding Wren’s and Gabriel’s fathers fail to pay

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off when revealed. The one saving grace is Wren. She manages to be at once a simple teenage girl in love and the wielder of immense magical power. Despite the overly familiar storylines, Wren is completely believable and endearing. A mixed bag of magic and romance. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

THE EDGE OF NOWHERE

George, Elizabeth Viking (448 pp.) $18.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-670-01296-1

The bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley crime novels turns to teens with this paranormal-series opener. Fourteen-year-old Becca King finds herself stranded on Whidbey Island in Washington state, without family, friends or funds, and with an angry, murderous stepfather on her trail. Becca has the power to hear snippets of other people’s thoughts, which is both a blessing and a curse. She finds a place to live, makes a few friends and starts high school, while waiting for her mother, gone to British Columbia to establish a safe home for them, to return to pick her up. Becca immediately connects with Derric, an adopted Ugandan boy who is a popular athlete and the son of the local undersheriff. Derric is injured in a fall and remains in a coma for much of the story; a police investigation into who might have pushed Derric off his hiking trail ensues. The mystery is slight and unlikely, with few clues, and the investigation and Derric’s stay in the hospital drag on for too long. Derric’s ethnicity is frankly exoticized, with far too many references to the “handsome black boy” and “eyes as dark as the nighttime of his skin.” Lacking vampires, werewolves and a compelling mystery, this will be of most interest to persistent readers of teen sagas set in the Pacific Northwest. (Paranormal mystery. 12 & up)

HUNTER MORAN SAVES THE UNIVERSE

Giff, Patricia Reilly Holiday House (128 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8234-1949-4

On the first day of vacation, when rising sixth-grader Hunter Moran intercepts a phone call he interprets as a bomb plot, he sets out with his twin brother, Zack, to save the town of Newfield. With imaginations fueled by TV shows, Hunter and Zack weave various bits of evidence into an elaborate hypothesis about the nefarious activities of the dentist down the street. As middle children in a large, active family, their investigations are hampered by the watchful eyes of an older brother 1654

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and sister and the constant attention of their tag-along 5-year-old brother, Steadman. Hunter’s brash first-person voice is convincing. He’s barely aware of the improbable trail of destruction he and his brothers leave behind. In the four days leading up to the Tinwitty Night celebration, they find themselves stranded next door on the slate roof of St. Ursula’s church, covered with the contents of Vinny Moochmore’s compost pile and trapped inside the great iron soup kettle in the town center. All this occurs before Hunter’s climactic balloon ride. Cell phones and laptops are part of their modern world, but the children’s freedom to investigate the mystery of Dr. Diglio’s buried box is reminiscent of earlier, less-supervised times and traditional small-town life. The boys’ exaggerated escapades make for an appealing read-aloud as well as a successful summer read. (Fiction. 9-12)

PROFESSOR GARGOYLE

Gilman, Charles Quirk Books (160 pp.) $13.99 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-1-59474-591-1 Series: Tales From Lovecraft Middle School, 1 Can unnameable forces of ancient evil be recycled? Eleven-year-old Robert Arthur has been redistricted. While his friends in Dunwich, Mass., attend Franklin Middle School, he has to attend Lovecraft Middle School. Lovecraft is brand new (though some fixtures and other building materials came from a demolished, possibly haunted local mansion), and everything in the school is state of the art, but Robert is totally alone…except for Glenn Torkells, who daily extorts a dweeb tax from Robert (just like he did all through elementary school). Strange occurrences start on day one, when every student finds a rat in their locker. A trip to the school library lands Robert in a strange, dusty attic, where he acquires a two-headed stowaway in his backpack. Pip and Squeak (the polycephalic rat) infuriates the science teacher, Professor Garfield Goyle, who turns out to be much more (scary) than he at first appears. Can Robert and his new friend Karina solve enough of the mysteries surrounding their school to survive? Gilman’s debut and series kick-off will be great fun for fans of light horror. The changing image on the cover will snag interest, and the spookily realistic black-and-white illustrations throughout complete this slick, scary, funny package. Delectable hints of age-appropriate, Lovecraftian Otherness…with none of the purple prose. (Humorous horror. 9-12)

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“Lessac’s gouache paintings pulsate with sun-drenched island colors and often resemble a folk-art quilt.” from drummer boy of john john

SPACE

Goldsmith, Mike Illus. by Quigley, Sebastian Kingfisher (32 pp.) $19.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7534-6848-7 Series: Legendary Journeys Aside from a design gimmick, there’s not much worth notice in this routine, scattershot history of space flight. Big, double slide-out panels are used to good advantage in presenting a 40-inch-long portrait of the Saturn V rocket and smaller but still eye-filling images of both a space shuttle and the spidery International Space Station. Elsewhere, though, said panels just function as added space for more of the selfcontained, interchangeable bite-sized picture-with–explanatory-caption units that are mechanically lined up on each spread. Following quick looks at rocketry and the solar system, Goldsmith presents Space Race highlights imbued with nationalistic fervor (Sputnik I “did nothing other than send out a constant radio signal”; Alan Shepard’s hop into space “did much to restore U.S. national pride”). He then goes on to sketchy surveys of satellites, space stations and space probes sent to other planets. His final spread, headed “Modern Missions,” contains no specific mention of developments in commercial space flight more recent than Dennis Tito’s 2001 jaunt. The digital paintings (a few of which feature cutaway views beneath flaps) are clear and sharply detailed—unlike the scanty assortment of murky photos mixed in. A one-trick pony, grounded by uneven production values and low octane content. (index) (Novelty nonfiction. 9-12)

SPEAK UP, TOMMY!

Greene, Jacqueline Dembar Illus. by Melmon, Deborah Kar-Ben (32 pp.) $17.95 | paper $7.95 | $13.95 e-book Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-7497-8 978-0-7613-7498-5 paperback 978-1-4677-0062-7 e-book There are no easy victories in life, but no one has told the author. Dogs talk all the time in children’s books, but they hardly ever speak a foreign language. Samson is a police dog who doesn’t obey. He was trained in Israel, where all the commands were given in Hebrew. In the United States, everyone talks to him in English—except for one boy named Tommy. “In Israel,” Greene writes, “his name was Tomer, which means ‘palm tree.’… Now it was easier to be Tommy.” Whenever he speaks up, the other students snicker and tell him he talks funny. You already know what will happen next: Samson will refuse to stop barking. Tommy will calm him down with a word or two of Hebrew. The other kids will stop laughing. The problem is that these things happen all at once. The instant the dog quiets down, a student |

is saying, “Maybe you could teach us Hebrew.” This story is, of course, a fable about being yourself, but it doesn’t need to move at the speed of a fable. Everything in the book is plausible—it’s based on a true story, according to the author’s note—but at this pace it feels about as real as a talking dog. The story ends on a perfect note of triumph, but it might be a better book if it were a touch less perfect. (English/Hebrew dog commands) (Picture book. 3-8)

CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO EXTRA CREDIT

Greenwald, Tommy Illus. by Coovert, J.P. Roaring Brook (272 pp.) $14.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-59643-692-3 Series: Charlie Joe Jackson, 2

Charlie Joe Jackson learns that “being a perfect student is just really, really hard.” Charlie Joe’s parents mean business: He must earn all A’s (he negotiates for one B) in his last quarter of school or he’s headed to Camp Rituhbukee for summer school. Charlie Joe has spent so much time avoiding schoolwork and causing problems that he now has to spend any free time earning extra credit. Luckily, he has great friends who are willing to help him learn to be a student. He still needs help, so he asks his art, drama and PE teachers for some extra credit. While it’s clear no one thinks Charlie Joe has what it takes, these three teachers come up with inventive ways to assist. In art, he poses for the art students (and meets future girlfriend Zoe). In drama, he uses his schmoozing abilities to land the lead role in the school musical. And in PE, he joins student government. But things do not always turn out as planned. Snappy, sarcastic middle-school humor lifts this overlong book, and the spot drawings and occasional very short pithy paragraphs are a pleasant surprise. No middle schooler wants to face a month at summer enrichment camp, but many will enjoy watching Charlie Joe work harder than he has ever worked before to avoid it… even if he fails. (Fiction. 8-12)

DRUMMER BOY OF JOHN JOHN

Greenwood, Mark Illus. by Lessac, Frané Lee & Low (40 pp.) $18.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-60060-652-6

Winston, a boy in Trinidad, wishes that he could play in a band and win free rotis, the delicious island specialty prepared by the Roti King and presented to the best performers at Carnival. In the weeks before Carnival, the people of the Caribbean island are busy sewing costumes, and bands are busy rehearsing with their gourds, bamboo sticks, bottles-and-spoons and

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drums. Winston hears the sounds that his mango pit makes when he chucks it into a junkyard. Inspired, he tries out different can and tins, listening carefully to their different notes. More experimentation follows, and soon, he is performing for his neighbors. Friends join him to form a band made up of “pots and pans, tins and cans in a rainbow of colors.” The sounds are winningly irresistible, and Winston and his fellow musicians soon enjoy their “folded pancakes filled with chicken and secret herbs and spices.” Greenwood’s story is based on the childhood of Winston Simon, the 20th-century musician credited with the invention of the steel drum. The text is filled with a cacophony of musical words that are fun and challenging to read aloud. Lessac’s gouache paintings pulsate with sun-drenched island colors and often resemble a folk-art quilt. A joy to read. Play calypso music and celebrate! (author’s note, glossary and pronunciation guide, author’s sources) (Picture book/biography. 3-8)

SILHOUETTE OF A SPARROW

Griffin, Molly Beth Milkweed (208 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-57131-701-8 A sweet, quiet coming-of-age story set in a Prohibition-era lakeside resort. Middle-class Garnet, 16, has been sent from St. Paul to spend the summer with a distant, wealthy relative to give her shellshocked World War I–veteran father space to heal. She misses him terribly; before the war they went birding together, and he protected her from her mother’s attempts to make her a lady. She has sublimated her love of the outdoors into an uncanny talent to cut the silhouettes of birds, which decorate and inform each chapter. Once in Excelsior, she finds herself bored by ladylike pursuits and both seeks employment with the milliner and falls in love with Isabella, a beautiful girl who performs in the forbidden dance hall. Race relations, class differences and “the love that dare not speak its name” intertwine thoughtfully in this meticulous novel. The Jazz Age resort-town setting and environs are beautifully evoked; the author’s afterword attests to her research. Garnet’s narration reveals a girl on the cusp of modernity, one whose desire for something more and something else feels both alluring and terrifying. A subplot in which Garnet attempts to convince her employer not to use feathers in her hats is consistent but feels superfluous in this otherwise tight and purposeful, if slightly overdetermined, novel. This slim tale is a positive breath of fresh air in a market bloated with opportunistic dystopian and paranormal romances. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

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CLAWS

Grinti, Mike; Grinti, Rachel Chicken House/Scholastic (256 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-545-43313-6 978-0-545-46967-8 e-book After a slow buildup, this middle-grade fantasy offers some intriguing elements as it hurtles toward an exciting, if abrupt, ending. Emma, a 12-year-old VietnameseAmerican, misses her older sister Helena, who has vanished mysteriously. Emma’s parents have spent all of their resources trying to find Helena, so readers first meet the family as they move into a trailer park populated by supernatural beings, aka “crags.” Neglected by her parents and taunted by her schoolmates, Emma’s vulnerability makes her easy prey for Jack, a talking cat who has holed up in their new home. Jack convinces her to take on an unexpected role that includes magical powers. Adventures ensue as Emma learns how to use her new abilities and seeks her lost sister. Each chapter begins with an entry from “CragWiki.org,” a device that offers the authors an additional, if occasionally awkward, method of worldbuilding. Unfortunately, Emma and her family are sketchily drawn, which makes it hard to care much about the outcome. On the other hand, the bad guys are quite compelling—the hag next door, for example, is deliciously creepy. Readers who persevere will find themselves caught up in the action and fascinated by the exquisitely imagined and decidedly different fairies. Clunky in spots, this nonetheless intriguing debut will likely appeal to fantasy fanatics; others may wish to wait for a more polished follow-up. (Fantasy. 10-12)

POPPOSITES An Opposites Pop-Up Book! Haines, Mike Illus. by Haines, Mike; Frohlich, Julia Kingfisher (40 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-7534-6624-7

This new opposite concept book is a clever feat of paper engineering. Combining elements of a pop-up book with pull tabs, this offering displays evidence of thinking outside the box. Reinforcing familiar antonym pairs while introducing new ones, the 18 opposites include beginning/end, ancient/modern, shallow/deep, empty/full, heavy/light, together/apart and near/far. On each page, pulling or sliding a labeled tab reveals the word’s opposite and changes the picture to match. Big/small is one of the standouts—the Earth is big, but a pull of the tab brings fingers closing down on it, suddenly small enough to fit in a hand. Another is tame/wild—the bush behind an orange cat conceals a ferocious tiger. Not all are as successful, however. Fast/slow utilizes the famous race between the tortoise and hare, but it is not clear which attribute belongs to which animal through the engineering.

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“There’s lovely texture to clothing and architectural descriptions and vivid warmth to Miri’s friendships, her longing for home and her thirst to learn more and more.” from palace of stone

Past/present as represented by an arrow shot from a bow and a space shuttle may not effectively convey the meanings of these concepts to young readers. Bright colors and humorous details keep readers’ interest, as on the quiet/loud page, when a mouse causes an elephant to rear and trumpet loudly. Though the book itself is fragile (the tabs are on the flimsy side), the original take on some of the pairings breathes new life into some often-clichéd opposites. (Pop-up. 2-5)

PALACE OF STONE

Hale, Shannon Bloomsbury (336 pp.) $16.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-59990-873-1 Series: Princess Academy, 2 Miri leaves her mountain of linder stone for another year of study and finds ethics and rhetoric to be powerful tools in the making of a revolution. This sequel to Princess Academy (2005) returns Miri and several of the girls from Mount Eskel to Asland to prepare for the wedding of Miri’s best friend Britta to Prince Steffan. Times are dire: The people are destitute or starving, and the king, Steffan’s father, seems indifferent and distant. Miri meets Timon, a classmate, and Lady Sisela, who speak strongly of the oppression of “the shoeless.” The first half of the tale is a little slow and full of set-up, but the second half, when Miri takes action to prevent bloodshed, is powerful and deeply engaging. She uses not only rhetoric and ethics but the emotions of her people, which are held in the linder stone that comprises the palace, to hold the violence of the revolution in check. The politics echo the French Revolution (Hale notes this in the acknowledgments), but Miri’s clear voice keeps the story hers and her people’s. There’s lovely texture to clothing and architectural descriptions and vivid warmth to Miri’s friendships, her longing for home and her thirst to learn more and more. Not one but two boys help her find all the feelings kisses can engender. Miri’s story comes to a satisfying end; readers who have been waiting since 2005 will find their patience well rewarded. (Fantasy. 10-14)

CAT TALE

Hall, Michael Illus. by Hall, Michael Greenwillow/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-06-191516-1

sentence or scenario offers hints of what’s to come. Discerning compositions and a rhyming text further drive the momentum until, alas! The words’ many meanings confound these friendly felines. Humorous permutations ensue as the kitties try to untangle their tales. After they successfully “shoo a truly naughty gnu,” (it’s munching shoes—truly naughty indeed!), things go sadly awry. “They use their paws to rock a squashberry! Rock a squashberry?” Once back on track, they befriend a bear, sail a whale and ultimately find comfort and contentment in words. Digitally collaged illustrations with appealing characters pop from the page. The artwork, simple in its appearance yet interwoven with the text with utmost sophistication, playfully offers the easiest and funniest lesson on homophones possible, inviting repeat readings and likely inspiring continuing silliness. Smart and accessible, charming and witty, this is one for educators and adventurers alike. (Picture book. 3-5)

THE GEOMANCER’S COMPASS

Hardy, Melissa Tundra (256 pp.) $21.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-77049-292-9

Chinese-Canadian cousins must lay to rest the hungry ghost of an improperly buried ancestor in this debut for teens set in the very near future. The Lius are cursed: Miranda’s father has never really recovered from an unlucky lightning strike, her brothers are plagued with asthma and encroaching blindness, and her cousins are, respectively, dyslexic to the point of illiterate with a side of ADHD, agoraphobic and anorexic. But narrator Miranda, the normal one (aside from crippling anxiety about any number of things), has a breezy tone even when relaying terrible things, thanks to her boundless self-obsession. After The Grandfather dies, Miranda and Brian (dyslexic) are sent on a journey to recover the bones of The Grandfather’s twin brother, killed a century ago. Due to bad feng shui, he is not at rest, which is the reason for the family’s misfortunes. Conveniently, The Grandfather can take avatar form and appear in a virtual reality, accessible via I-Spex, to guide Miranda and Brian and fight Qianfu’s ghost. Indeed, The Grandfather and convenient technology (the virtual Google Maps–like system includes the ability to see underground, right when Miranda and Brian need to pinpoint the dead body) are the stars of this somewhat belabored and uneven but earnest novel. Notable for originality but limited by forced writing and shallow characters. (Science fiction. 11-14)

Hall cleverly plays with homophones in this diverting word adventure. Three curious cats, propelled by their imaginations, bring books to life as they traverse spacious, white spreads. Together they “flee a steer,” “steer a plane,” “plane a board” and “board a train.” Each |

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LOST AND FOUND

Harley, Bill Illus. by Gustavson, Adam Peachtree (32 pp.) $16.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-1-56145-628-4

Storyteller Harley embodies a child’s fears with humor and sympathy. Justin has lost his favorite hat, the one his grandmother made for him. His mother pesters him to find it before grandmother visits on the weekend. After an exhaustive search, the last place to look is the dreaded Lost and Found. Justin’s friend Devaun already lost his baseball jacket and was too afraid to go see Mr. Rumkowsky, the ancient custodian and keeper of the massive pile of lost belongings. With stifling tension, Harley has found the perfect emotional pitch to explore such universal childhood fears as visiting mysterious corners of the school or facing a terrifying adult. This story captures the essence of a brave child who confronts Authority. Not surprisingly, Mr. Rumkowsky is much kinder than he looks, but his gigantic box harbors much that is unsuspected. Harley’s view of the elementary-school world succeeds in making Justin’s fanciful experience palpably real. Gustavson enhances the dramatic mood with realistic double-page spreads that artfully use a child’s-eye perspective. The word “CAUTION” blazes from a cleaning bucket. There are endless locks on the janitor’s door. Leaves scatter everywhere, just like a young boy’s belongings. Within this child’s view of the world, full of questions and pressure and misunderstanding, wisdom comes— sometimes from the unlikeliest places. (Picture book. 5-9)

LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL

Hatke, Ben Illus. by Hatke, Ben First Second/Roaring Brook (224 pp.) $12.99 paperback | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59643-447-9 Lovable Zita returns in a charmingly dashing interplanetary adventure to save yet another doomed planet from impending peril.After saving both a planet and her best friend, Zita has achieved renown as an intergalactic hero and is greeted with adulation wherever she travels. In the midst of her fame, a lone, archaic Imprint-o-Tron—a robot that was built for companionship but took its “imprinting” too far—spies a Zita poster and immediately takes on her likeness. The bot’s mimicry is so exact that it quickly becomes difficult to tell the real Zita from the impostor. A sudden turn of events leads to the real Zita making a felonious—although necessary—decision, instantly transforming her public image from that of hero to outlaw. Faced with saving another planet, the real and fake Zitas must find a middle ground and work together, redefining what it really means to be a hero when they 1658

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set out to rescue the Lumponians from the cutely named but very deadly Star Hearts, villainous parasites capable of destroying entire planets. Hatke’s arrestingly vibrant art commands instant adoration of its reader. Zita’s moxie is positively contagious, and her adventures are un-put-downable. Readers would be hard-pressed to not find something to like in these tales; they’re a winning formula of eye-catching aesthetics, plot and creativity, adeptly executed. Imaginative and utterly bewitching. (Graphic science fiction. 9-12)

A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY

Haworth, Danette Walker (304 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-8027-2393-2 Winning the lottery does not turn out as sixth-grader Hailee Richardson had imagined. Yes, she does get the new bicycle and cellphone that were high on her list of needs, but she also gets sent to a different school, prestigious Magnolia Academy. New and nervous, Hailee becomes consumed with Facebook and is targeted by an older risk-taking classmate who threatens to get this previously good kid, who doesn’t even swear, into trouble. Soon she’s alienated a new friend and said something terrible to an old one. Dramatic and imaginative, Hailee is both quick-witted and quick to justify herself. In her first-person, present-tense narration, she promises to tell readers the truth, and she does, in her lights. But readers will see through this unreliable narrator, recognizing her jealous moments and her social insecurity. They may even be relieved by her father’s “intervention,” which curbs her cellphone addiction. Hailee’s love for the hard-to-control bougainvillea vines and the ever-changing swamp maple outside her Florida window reflect her own issues. Her parents’ sensible approach to their newly acquired wealth contrasts nicely with their daughter’s exaggerated dreams. Haworth effectively captures the self-consciousness, self-absorption and limited experience of a preteen, and the seductive charms of Facebook friendships for that age. Realistic, modern and still familiar, this is a middle school story both children and their parents should read. (Fiction. 9-12)

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“The familiarity of Henkes’ mouse world, as well as expertly paced and controlled storytelling for new readers, mark this as a new classic…” from penny and her doll

BENNY AND PENNY IN LIGHTS OUT

Hayes, Geoffrey Illus. by Hayes, Geoffrey TOON/Candlewick (32 pp.) $12.95 | Aug. 28, 2012 978-1-935179-20-7 Series: Benny and Penny It’s bedtime for the mouseling brother and sister—but not before plenty of horsing around and a deliciously scary expedi-

tion into the backyard. As little Penny quietly tries to wash up and pretend-read a story (“One day the princess was sent to her room for being bratty. But she had a secret door…”), her restless big brother interrupts obnoxiously with warnings about the Boogey Mouse, loud belches and other distractions. When Benny realizes that he’s left his prized pirate hat in the backyard, though, Penny braves the Boogey Mouse to follow him out of the window and prod him into reclaiming it from the spooky, dark playhouse. She also “reads” him to sleep after the two race, giggling at their fright, back indoors. Framed in sequential panels that occasionally expand to full-page or doublespread scenes, the art features a pair of big-eared, bright-eyed mites (plus the occasional fictive dinosaur) in cozy domestic settings atmospherically illuminated by the glow of lamps, Benny’s flashlight and the moon. As in this popular series’ earlier episodes, dialogue in unobtrusive balloons furnishes the only text, but the action is easy to follow, and Hayes provides plenty of finely drawn visual cues to the characters’ feelings. Another outing positively radiant with child appeal, featuring a pair of close siblings with complementary personalities. (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

NOISY POEMS FOR A BUSY DAY

Heidbreder, Robert Illus. by Smith, Lori Joy Kids Can (40 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-55453-706-8

Thirty poetic firecrackers chronicle a young child’s day. Combining themes that worked well in the popular Crocodiles Say… (2005) and Crocodiles Play! (2009, both illustrated by Rae Maté), here Heidbreder joins forces with illustrator Smith to capture children at their most active and carefree as they go about their routines from dawn to bedtime. Together, these Canadian creators paint a warm portrait of suburban daily life, with kids enjoying their friends, siblings, pets, sunshine—all the basic pleasures of the moment. Heidbreder’s five-line sonic bursts, such as “Now Back Down,” are generally not contemplative poems but employ tight trochaic dimeter and trimeter to underscore the joy to be had in getting out in the world and exploring: “Bummywiggle. / Slip-down…THUD! / Gurpy-slurpy. / Hello, mud! / Plop!” |

And Smith’s simple, retro illustrations, rendered in pencil and colored digitally, ably depict the action of various scenes, using bold colors and spare facial expressions to show children, pets and yard animals like rabbits and birds at play. Notably absent from these illustrations are adults, whose influence is only subtly felt, as providers of a picnic or dinnertime spread, or heard in reconciling a playground spat or lending behavioral suggestions (especially regarding table manners). While in no way pushing the creative envelope, this light-verse picture book still has much to offer pre-readers looking for affirmation of what constitutes a full day of fun. (Picture book/poetry. 3-7)

PENNY AND HER DOLL

Henkes, Kevin Illus. by Henkes, Kevin Greenwillow/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $12.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-06-208199-5 Series: Penny, 2 Following Penny and Her Song (2012), Henkes delivers an even stronger slice of anthropomorphic mouse life for begin-

ning readers. The story opens with Penny chatting amicably with her mother in the garden. Penny smells the roses while Mama weeds, and then the mailman delivers a package from Gram. Inside is a doll for Penny, with a note reading, “I saw this doll when I was shopping. I thought you would love her. I hope you will.” And, she does. The fly in the ointment is Penny’s struggle to name the doll. Her parents make suggestions, but none seem right, and they reassure her, “Try not to think too hard…Then maybe a name will come to you.” Sure enough, after taking her doll on a tour of the house and then into the garden, the perfect name arises: “[T]his is Rose!” she announces. Henkes always excels at choosing just-right names for his characters (see Chester, Wilson, Lilly, Sheila Rae and, of course, Chrysanthemum and her “absolutely perfect” moniker), so this story seems particularly at home in his oeuvre. The familiarity of Henkes’ mouse world, as well as expertly paced and controlled storytelling for new readers, mark this as a new classic, earning Penny a firm place alongside the not-so-creatively-named Frog, Toad, Little Bear and that celebrated Cat in the Hat. A doll of a beginning reader. (Early reader. 5-7)

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“Hood masterfully spins her story with lush language sprinkled with some French (which further impresses when read aloud).” from the tooth mouse

SECRETS OF SHAKESPEARE’S GRAVE

of her death, she relives the terrible ordeal. Determined to break the cycle and release Lexi’s ghost, Daniel finds the courage “to touch someone and then let them go” as the fatal hour approaches. Lexi’s appropriately quirky and enigmatic, while Daniel’s a vulnerable, likable (but unlikely) hero, whose confidence grows through his sympathetic, quasi-romantic encounter; his first-person narration adds immediacy and resonance. An intriguing ghost story. (Ghost story. 12 & up)

Hicks, Deron R. Illus. by Geyer, Mark E. Houghton Mifflin (304 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-547-84034-5 Series: Letterford Mysteries, 1

Twelve-year-old Colophon Letterford deciphers clues in an old portrait that lead her and her father’s oddball cousin Julian to a literary treasure. From the elegant family home in Georgia, Colophon travels to England, where she and Julian visit Shakespeare’s grave, are nearly trapped in a mausoleum and find a family strongbox in a private bank. At the same time, in the United States, her brother Case accompanies his father to a series of farcical meetings with peculiar and particular authors on whom the future of the family publishing company depends. The combination of humor and suspense works well to keep readers turning the pages of this modern-day mystery. Each chapter begins with a quotation from Shakespeare, and the atmosphere is posh. The action is fast-paced and cinematic, with sudden cuts from one scene to another. Colophon frankly enjoys books and school and the natural world; she’s contrasted with her obnoxious older brother, who appears to care only for his iPod but turns out to be both sympathetic and supportive of his father. This is Georgia inspector general Hicks’ first novel; a sequel continuing the tale of family treasure is promised for the fall of 2013. Readers who enjoy watching puzzles be solved will enjoy the entertaining revelations. (Mystery. 9-13)

DAYLIGHT SAVING

Hogan, Edward Candlewick (224 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-7636-5913-4

A teen spends a harrowing week at an English holiday sports complex, where he befriends the ghost of a young woman doomed to repeat the last brutal hours of her life. Since Daniel’s mother moved out, his father’s been drinking and depressed. Daniel feels responsible for the breakup because his father forced him to admit he accidentally saw his mother kissing another man. Daniel’s overweight, classmates bully him, and he hates sports, so when his father takes him to a sports center for a week, he expects the worst. While his father resorts to alcohol, Daniel meets a mysterious girl swimming in the lake. Wearing a watch that ticks backward, Lexi’s covered with cuts and bruises, invisible to everyone but Daniel and definitely peculiar. He discovers she’s a ghost, murdered during the hour the clocks turned back to end daylight saving time two years before. On the anniversary 1660

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THE VANISHING

Holt, Christopher Illus. by Call, Greg Little, Brown (384 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-316-20005-9 Series: The Last Dogs, 1 When the world goes to the dogs, one loyal canine tries to find his human family in this dystopian series starter. Max wakes up in a cage without food or water, plagued by nightmares of a spreading darkness. Clever though cowardly Rocky frees Max and reluctantly joins him on a hair-raising adventure, fleeing wolves, crazed communists and the “Corporation” and seeking their owners. Max, Rocky and Gizmo, a later addition to the team, soon fall into typical quest roles as the muscle, the brains and the heart, respectively. Their obstacles are also standard dystopian ones: finding food and transport, fighting off gangs and doggedly seeking remnants from their former lives. Where the humans went and why they abandoned their pets remain unanswered, so as to necessitate a sequel. The choice of a dog as a narrator distinguishes Holt’s debut from an increasingly crowded dystopian market but also introduces narrative weaknesses. Max and his companions comprehend electronics, improvise tools and begin rebuilding civilization, yet they also drink toilet water and enjoy a good chew toy. Resolving these incongruences may be easier for younger readers familiar with the Redwall and Warriors series, or the classic Homeward Bound. A post-apocalyptic Animal Farm for young readers. (Fantasy. 10-14)

THE TOOTH MOUSE

Hood, Susan Illus. by Nadeau, Janice Kids Can (32 pp.) $16.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-1-55453-565-1

In this beautifully executed title with a fairy-tale feel, an irrepressible mouseling named Sophie is determined to prove she should become the next Tooth Mouse. Some cultures have a tooth fairy; France has the Tooth Mouse. The current esteemed rodent is about to retire and announces a search for her replacement. Shrewdly elegant in all

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black with spectacles resting on her pronounced nose, she issues to the throngs of ambitious mice a series of three challenges: “bring … the whisker of a cat,” obtain “a silver coin by honest means,” and propose a plan for the countless baby teeth that are collected each day. Sophie proves brave and honest but struggles with her final task. That night she dreams of teeth: “Shiny teeth, tiny teeth. Munching teeth, crunching teeth. Chewing, chattering, gnawing, guffawing teeth!” When she wakes, she has an answer that is simple yet wise. Hood masterfully spins her story with lush language sprinkled with some French (which further impresses when read aloud). Nadeau dresses the fable in soft watercolor-and-pencil illustrations done in sage greens and dusty pinks. Readers will pore over the exquisitely drawn details on each page, from the vignettes highlighting the plucky competitors to the multitude of unique teeth that populate Sophie’s dream. With a nod to classic titles of years past, this provides a fresh, modern take on an itty-bitty heroine’s achievement of her seemingly impossible goal. (Picture book. 4-8)

TILT

Hopkins, Ellen McElderry (608 pp.) $18.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-4169-8330-9 Less artistically sharp than most of her oeuvre, this newest from Hopkins will nonetheless hook fans with its addictive pain and quick-turning pages. Mikayla, almost 18, sneaks out to have lots of sex with her boyfriend. Shane, 16, falls for his first boyfriend, who’s HIV-positive. Harley’s a 13-year-old late bloomer (for this community) striving not to be. How many real issues can one book hold before soapiness ensues? Alcohol, drugs, rape, infidelity, emotional disconnection, terminal illness, homophobia, teen pregnancy—etc. Threads among the three protagonists (Shane and Harley are cousins; Harley’s best friend is Mikayla’s sister) expand into a web of multiple narrators from greater Reno, which dilutes focus. Conversely, it supplies a potent variety of first-person perspectives, from Shane’s 4-year-old sister Shelby, unable to walk or speak because she has spinal muscular atrophy, to weed-seller Lucas, prowling for “virgin meat.” Hopkins’ fast-paced, free-verse poems, conveying bare shards of thought, work best for characters who are dissociated (Impulse, 2006; Identical, 2008); here, as in Perfect (2011), the characters are more bored, angry and struggling than dissociated, so the format’s a mismatch for—and gives mixed messages about—their level of emotional presence. Brimming with shoes about to drop (some do, some don’t) and the drama her fans devour, this will (and should) point them toward Triangles (2011), an adult-aimed version from the protagonists’ mothers’ perspective. Why not? (Verse fiction. 12-18)

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VALENTINE AND HIS VIOLIN

Hopman, Philip Illus. by Hopman, Philip Lemniscaat USA (32 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-935954-17-0 Valentine’s violin teacher says he’s doing very well, but the effect of his playing on others is dramatic in a different sense. Dutch illustrator Hopman, known for his collaborations (Tom the Tamer, written by Tjibbe Veldkamp, 2011), proves he can solo as well in this entertaining riff on the sounds of a beginning violinist, published here in lively, colloquial translation. In the text, the small boy tries out various well-known pieces such as Ode to Joy, Water Music and Marche Militaire. The pictures show the result: People scatter; horses leap; a constipated wolf produces an enormous poop; a dragon flees; an army retreats. Hopman’s engaging paintings are set with a narrow white border on double-page spreads. Loose-lined pen-and-ink drawings with pastel watercolor wash include intriguing details. There’s a high-ceilinged music studio full of art, a walled city with canals reminiscent of Venice and a castle besieged by an army that uses both elephants and Viking boats. This medieval fairy-tale world adds to the absurdity of the story, which seems to end well, as Valentine’s talent wins him the opportunity to perform in court. Or perhaps it doesn’t. The final endpapers show birds flying away from his concert for the king and queen. Delightful whether or not you’ve ever attempted to play a stringed instrument. (Picture book. 5-9)

ONE YEAR IN COAL HARBOR

Horvath, Polly Schwartz & Wade/Random (224 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-375-86970-9 978-0-375-98536-2 e-book 978-0-375-96970-6 PLB One year after the events of Newbery Honor–winning Everything on a Waffle (2001), Primrose Squarp returns, no longer orphaned but just as determined to make everything turn out right. Her parents back from their yearlong loss at sea, Primrose has turned her attentions to her real-estate–developer uncle Jack and the possibly burgeoning romance between him and restaurateur Miss Bowzer. She’s also concerned about her former foster parents’ new foster child, Ked, who becomes her first real peer-group friend and whom she badly wants Evie and Bert to adopt for good, for all their sakes. Further unsettling her is the threatened logging of the old-growth forest just outside of town. When Primrose isn’t plotting, she and Ked desultorily work on a cookbook (working title: Just Throw Some Melted

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Butter on It and Call It a Day), recipes for which end each chapter. While this title lacks the single-minded focus of Primrose’s earlier (mis)adventure, it has heaping helpings of Horvathian wit (Primrose practices dilating her pupils; “It makes you look innocent and doe-eyed,” she explains) and wisdom (“Maybe we live in a universe where all you have control over is your own kindness,” suggests Uncle Jack). Ever respectful of the capacity of her audience to comprehend the big words and concepts she deals in, the author delivers a gothic tragicomedy that is both a worthy sequel and as able as Primrose to stand on its own. (Fiction. 9-12)

THE EMPTY CITY

Hunter, Erin Harper/HarperCollins (280 pp.) $16.99 | PLB $17.89 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-06-210256-0 978-0-06-210257-7 PLB Series: Survivors, 1 In this dog-themed series opener from the team behind the Warriors franchise, dogs must learn to face not only the results of the devastating earthquake that has turned their world upside down, but their own feelings of loyalty and independence. With the earth swelling beneath them and their cages twisting around them, the dogs in the shelter are trapped and frightened. Familiar with the legend of the “Big Growl,” Lucky is able to quickly piece together what has happened. He and another dog, Sweet, manage to escape, only to find themselves in the middle of a city in ruin. With the humans (“longpaws”) gone, it is up to Lucky to try to find food and shelter. He is quickly joined by other dogs who are desperately hungry and unprepared for their new world. Lucky is a reluctant leader, eager for a life of solitude, but he feels a kinship and responsibility for this new pack. Weaving together the horrific yet all-too-familiar scenes of natural disaster with the mythical legends of the dogs, Hunter expertly explores the tensions between responsibility and freedom; risk and safety; and loyalty and acceptance. Viewing the unfolding adventure through Lucky’s eyes makes even the most mundane or familiar seem alive with magic. Wild and wonderful adventure for middle-graders. (Adventure. 8-12)

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THE BLESSED

Hurley, Tonya Simon & Schuster (400 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Aug. 28, 2012 978-1-4424-2951-2 978-1-4424-2953-6 e-book Brooklyn is the perfect setting for this dark, gritty thriller with heavy religious overtones and breathtaking violence. The story of three teenagers—a suicidal Catholic schoolgirl, a narcissistic socialite and a beautiful, street-smart musician—who find themselves thrown together by fate and forced into an epic battle against evil, it is just as likely to thrill some as it is to offend others. After a clever opening in which readers are introduced to Agnes, Cecilia and Lucy, who are in varying states of distress in the hospital emergency room, Hurley initially spends too much time focusing on the girls independently and too little time exploring their implied connection. While each of the characters is compelling in her own right (particularly the beautifully crafted Cecelia), it’s when their lives and destinies finally intersect that the story really takes off. Their struggles become far more compelling when Agnes, Cecilia and Lucy discover that they are the living avatars of three saints, each martyred when she was exceptionally young and after horrific suffering. Indeed, this creates a unique and powerful bond that emboldens them as they are thrust into a battle for their souls. Readers can rest assured that while these young women may be saints, they are definitely not angels. This first in a planned trilogy isn’t for the faint of heart, but readers with strong stomachs will find themselves swept up. (Paranormal thriller. 14 & up)

STORIES 1, 2, 3, 4

Ionesco, Eugène Translated by Delessert, Etienne Illus. by Delessert, Etienne McSweeney’s McMullens (112 pp.) $19.95 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-936365-51-7 Four affectionately playful fatherdaughter exchanges written by a mainstay of the Theatre of the Absurd, back in print (in a single volume, to boot) after decades as collectors’ items. Newly translated by Delessert from the 2009 French edition, this gathering also features the first appearance of his illustrations paired to any English version of Story 3 and Story 4. Each tale starts in the same way—little Josette coaxes an early morning flight of fancy from her father, who in three of the four is bleary from a long night on the town—but then veers off in increasingly elaborate directions. By the final one, he is repeatedly sending her to “look” for him in various rooms of the apartment while he shaves and dresses in the bathroom. Delessert’s crowded, detail-rich pictures add period elements

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(a dial telephone, a yellow submarine with visible Beatle) to surreal assemblages of toys, plush and fantasy animals, red-capped mushrooms, psychedelic flowers and cozy close-up scenes of Josette with Papa and (more occasionally, as she is generally elsewhere until the very end) Mama. Handsomely designed, more silly than existentially “absurd” and just the ticket for sharing on a parental lap. (jacketed in a fold-out poster) (Picture book. 6-8)

LEMONADE IN WINTER

Jenkins, Emily Illus. by Karas, G. Brian Schwartz & Wade/Random (40 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-375-85883-3 Why would anyone sell cold drinks on a blustery, winter day? No one will be on the streets! Don’t you hear the wind? Two young entrepreneurs, Pauline and JohnJohn, ignore the naysayers (their parents) and set up a lemonade stand smack dab on the snowy sidewalk. The lemonade, limeade—and lemon-limeade—are ready. But there are no customers to be seen. Pauline and John-John aren’t discouraged. Instead, they improvise by singing a catchy jingle, turning cartwheels to attract attention, decorating their stand and, finally, having a half-price sale. Nothing can dampen these two plucky kids’ spirits, and they do manage a few sales in the end. And the best thing about a lemonade stand, regardless of the weather? There is math slipped in! Under the guise of teaching her younger brother, Pauline teaches readers as well about counting quarters while shopping for supplies and figuring out profits. For visual learners, Karas includes helpful cues within the snowcapped scenes such as lined-up individual quarters under each purchase, plus a large sign at the end to break down each sale. Pauline and John-John don’t quite strike it rich, but their experience is priceless. Also included: Pauline’s secret ways to remember each coin. A tale of ingenuity, youthful determination and marvelous math. (Math picture book. 4-7)

IMMORTAL LYCANTHROPES

Johnson, Hal Clarion (304 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-547-75196-2

A dark, surreal adventure follows Myron, in the company of animal shapeshifters, as he seeks his true identity. Myron, a ninth-grader who appears to be about 8 years old, is “short, scrawny, and hideous.” Found, apparently abandoned and terribly disfigured, and adopted five years before, he has been the victim of relentless bullying. In the wake of a mammoth fight, he finds himself effectively kidnapped by human/animal |

shape-shifters called lycanthropes. He quickly discovers that he, too, is a lycanthrope, but no one, not even Myron, knows his true form. In this doom-laden tale it’s impossible to tell friend from foe. As Myron stumbles from one misadventure to another and witnesses numerous deaths, he encounters the few remaining lycanthropes in existence, and the lying, scheming lot of them want to use or kill him. He’s misguided by, among others, a gorilla, spends the winter in the woods with a moose mentor and is held prisoner in the Fortress of Id. Ultimately, Myron’s charged with transporting a “doomsday device,” and his goal becomes reaching the Rosicrucians in hopes of learning his purpose and animal identity. The tale is not for the faint of heart: There are scenes of torture and a reference to sexual excitement induced by violence. Drenched in nihilism, the story’s message, as voiced by the archly intrusive narrator (and one of the lycanthropes), is, “once you remove the possibility of being a good or bad individual, life becomes a series of meaningless incidents.” This quixotic, uber-intellectual debut, laced with literary and historical references, has some comedic elements, but is, perhaps, too smart for its own good. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

LOVABYE DRAGON

Joosse, Barbara Illus. by Cecil, Randy Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-7636-5408-5

When the tears of a young princess trickle onto a dragon, a sweet friendship is born. With lovely lilting words, Joosse creates a friendship born out of loneliness and tears between a young princess who longs for a dragon and a friendly dragon who dreams of a girl for a friend. The beginning half of the story builds up to their first meeting, as the girl weeps a stream of tears and the dragon follows it across the landscape to her room in the castle. “I am here!” roars Dragon. “You’re a dear!” whispers Girl. The dragon is big, the princess is little. Though great, their differences on the outside are no match for the bond of friendship that helps keep the monsters away. The remainder of the book is a love fest of happiness and togetherness, as the two friends find each other and find out about each other. Strong musicality in the text makes for a sing-along feel, almost like a nursery rhyme. “Snore-asleep was the dragon / dream-asleep was the dragon / but the trickle of tears / little tickle of tears / woke him up. / Gluk!” The oil-painting illustrations are muted and hazy, giving the tale a dreamlike quality full of nighttime blues, browns and purples. With on-the-darkside skin and stylized pigtails, the princess has enough ethnic ambiguity for refreshingly inclusive appeal. A strong and hopeful tale. (Picture book. 3-6)

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“Writing a sequel to such a beloved classic is almost as bold a move as Toad stealing a motor-car, but happily, Kelly’s results warrant accolades rather than a trip to gaol.” from return to the willows

AS THE CROW FLIES

Keenan, Sheila Illus. by Duggan, Kevin Feiwel & Friends (40 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-312-62156-8

Rhyming couplets celebrate the abilities and ubiquity of crows and the noisy crowds of a city winter roost. Observations of crows in Troy, N.Y., contributed to this story and pictures by a husband-and-wife team. In the first half of the narrative, Keenan describes individual crow behavior: stealing food from pigeons, dogs, and people; splatting on windshields; tracking dirt on clean laundry. In the second, she observes them in large winter groups: cavorting in the air and perching in large numbers. “We cause such / a mighty ruckus, / there’s no chance / you’ll overlook us.” The rhymes work, but the regular iambic beat may make this difficult to read aloud without sounding singsong. This is the first picture book for Duggan, an experienced nature painter. His realistic illustrations, which look like pastels and pencil, vary in size and perspective. Readers see crows close-up on the ground, in the air and, from above, flying high over the city across the double-page spread. Panels in series show a crow waiting for the green light to cross and peck at roadkill. In one particularly effective illustration, a close-up crow pokes his beak around a panel frame. “We’ve got our bird’s eye trained on you.” A helpful addition to the nature shelf, especially for its uncommon focus on urban birds. (Picture book. 4-7)

RETURN TO THE WILLOWS

Kelly, Jacqueline Illus. by Young, Clint Henry Holt (240 pp.) $19.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-8050-9413-8

Writing a sequel to such a beloved classic is almost as bold a move as Toad stealing a motor-car, but happily, Kelly’s results warrant accolades rather than a trip to gaol. The Mole, Water Rat, Toad and Badger are comfortingly recognizable in this charming pastoral with adventures. Mole and Rat adore their bucolic River, and wealthy Toad tools around in a hot-air balloon (a hilarious metaphor for his blustery boastfulness) until a head injury renders him an Oxfordand-Cambridge–courted genius. This new Toad studies “hard data” on the woodchuck-chucking question and publishes “Jam Side Down: A Discourse on the Physics of Falling Toast.” While Toad’s at Cambridge serving as Lumbago Endowed Chair of Extremely Abstruse Knowledge, his nephew Humphrey goes unsupervised at Toad Hall. Firecracker explosions, a kidnapping and a war with weasels and stoats—including a Trojan Horse–like birthday cake—supply action; the Mole’s dedication to his dear Ratty supplies heart. New bits include a savvy female character and footnotes that alternate in tone between 1664

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amusing and lecturing (and are hit or miss in their effectiveness). Lower-class bad guys and a gypsy costume are outdated stereotypes, if true to the period of the original. Literary references range delightfully from Shakespeare to Jane Austen to a tender closing page where Mole reads to Ratty’s child (imagine!) a book that’s clearly The Wind in the Willows. Funny and warm, this could tempt a new generation toward the raptures of “messing about in boats.” (Animal fantasy. 6-10)

YOU ARE STARDUST Kelsey, Elin Illus. by Kim, Soyeon Owlkids Books (32 pp.) $18.95 | Sep. 15, 2012 978-1-926973-35-7

We are made of earth and water and air and stardust, and we are more related to animals and plants than we ever imagined. Everything about us is found in the natural world. Our atoms are from ancient stardust, and the water and salt that flows within us is part of the unchanging cycle that goes back to the beginning of time. We breathe pollen that, when released, may actually create a plant. We grow at night and seasonally shed and grow hair, in similar fashion to animals. We are also a living planet for millions of microorganisms. Kelsey doesn’t lecture or overcomplicate the information. She speaks directly to readers in a way that opens minds to big ideas and paves the way for thoughtful questions of their own. The litany of facts comes alive in vivid, descriptive language, lending a philosophical, elegant and mystical aura to current scientific findings. Kim’s incredibly unusual illustrations are sublime. Employing varied painting techniques, vivid colors, multidimensional cutouts, unexpected materials and unusual textures, she creates a view of nature that is at once real and otherworldly. This is a work that demands to be read and reread, studied and examined, and thoroughly digested. It is perfect for sparking adult and child conversations about our place in the universe. A remarkable achievement. (Picture book. 5-12)

SPARK

Kemmerer, Brigid Kensington (360 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7582-7282-9 Series: The Elemental Series, 2 Enjoyable and as illogical as is dictated by paranormal-romance conventions, round two of The Elemental Series is set apart by its focus on the viewpoint of the guy. Following Becca and Chris’ showdown with the Guide sent to kill the Merrick brothers in the first of the series, Storm

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(2012), Gabriel Merrick, one of the twins, here explores his connection to fire, which is reflected in his quickness to act and to anger. Quite athletic, Gabriel has opted to let his twin Nick cover for him in math, a strategy that works until a new and more demanding teacher shows up. Layne is a quiet girl who tries to go unnoticed, but by observing Gabriel’s academic struggles, she connects with him, even as her father wants her to avoid boys completely; her deaf younger brother, Simon, is almost her only ally. Gradually, both Layne and Gabriel share the spotlight in this third-person tale. Clearly, fire is the unifying theme, and blazes appear with horrifying regularity as events reveal Gabriel’s need to control his power. A lively romance blossoms, despite the usual absurd misunderstandings and defenses of the protagonists. The plot is fairly predictable, but the characters have slightly more depth and are more interesting than many in the genre, as it takes more than special powers to face their internal challenges. For more discerning fans of the genre and those who enjoyed the previous title. (Paranormal romance. 11-15)

FOURMILE

Key, Watt Farrar, Straus and Giroux (240 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-374-35095-6 Key (Alabama Moon, 2006, etc.) has crafted another powerful, riveting coming-of-age tale that doesn’t stint on violence to advance the action. Middle schooler Foster and his mother have been barely getting by since his father’s death a year ago. The farm in Fourmile, Ala., is going to ruin around them without a man’s help, and now Mother has begun a relationship with dangerous, unpleasant Dax, a man she seems powerless to keep from abusing both Foster and his dog, Joe. Then Gary shows up, hiking along the rural road. He’s a young man with a secret past but is nevertheless kind, hardworking and ultimately heroic. Foster, desperate to find some steady ground in his life, connects to Gary immediately, even though in his heart he’s aware that whatever is in Gary’s past likely dooms the relationship. After Foster’s mom spurns him, Dax begins an escalating and tragic campaign of retaliation. Foster’s first-person voice is richly authentic as he gradually acquires the wisdom that will eventually lead him to a believable though heart-wrenching resolution to some of the crushing conflicts in his life. Confrontations between Dax and Gary are vivid and violent enough to disturb some readers, the violence expertly serving to define yet distinguish their characters. Deeply moving and fast-paced, this life-affirming effort is a worthy addition to the bookshelves of sturdy readers. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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ORIGIN

Khoury, Jessica Razorbill/Penguin $17.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59514-595-6 A surprising first novel set deep in the Amazonian rainforest. Inside the electric fence surrounding the secret compound known as Little Cam, scientists have labored for years to create one immortal person. Pia, now 16, has lightning-fast reflexes, inexhaustible stamina, and a body impervious to sickness or injury. She is the perfect creation of the current lead scientist, whom she calls Uncle Paolo, but she is also his pawn, and her still-human soul has begun to chafe at the restrictions and isolation that surround her. When a storm causes a break in the fence, Pia ventures into the jungle, meeting and becoming intrigued by Eio, a boy her age belonging to a nearby tribe, the Ai’oans. Eio speaks English and knows more about Little Cam than Pia does about the outside world. Then a female scientist comes to Little Cam and bolsters Pia’s growing sense of rebellion. Gradually she uncovers the secrets and tragedies that led to her immortality. Khoury’s debut captures the lush rhythms of the rainforest. Her characters, dialogue and pacing are clean and accomplished, and the plot moves at breakneck speed. As the book progresses toward its emotionally satisfying but logically puzzling ending, cracks start to show in the science of her dystopian world, but by then readers will hardly notice—and will certainly easily forgive. A teen thriller/romance without werewolves, wizards or vampires—utterly refreshing. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

RAPE GIRL

Klein, Alina Namelos (125 pp.) $18.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-60898-123-6 Valerie feels understandably guilty about what happened during and after the party. She drugged her little sister with Benadryl, drank too much and made out with her crush, Adam. When Adam comes by the next day and forces himself on her, says, “Don’t”—but he does. After pressing rape charges, Val waits in vain for her friends’ support. Instead, Adam texts her: “The fuck you smoking, bitch?” Klein’s first novel breaks no new ground with its familiar plotline of a girl presumed to have led a boy on while he’s perceived as blameless. While it creates a sense of immediacy, the meandering, limited first-person narration presents problems with characters’ motivations, particularly Val’s moody mother, who withholds information about the court case from Val. A barista named Wes serves advice along with a comforting drink. He’s the setup for Val’s acceptance of the Hispanic girl who befriends her. He offers unnecessary justification for diversity, describing his family as “the

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United Nations in miniature. Angie’s Dad’s Korean, mine’s Italian, and my brother’s sheer whitey.” Adam’s values don’t align with his professed Mormon faith, and by the unsatisfying ending, Val’s still apologizing for being a bitch, and Adam never gets beyond the lame “who can ever tell what a girl really wants?” Readers looking for insight into acquaintance rape would be better served by Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. (Fiction. 12 & up)

PERSONAL EFFECTS

Kokie, E.M. Candlewick (352 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-7636-5527-3

“Embrace the suck,” is Matt Foster’s older brother T.J.’s advice to him, and he’s got a whole lot of suck to embrace. Not only did T.J. leave Matt with their vicious, alcoholic father—their bipolar mother died years ago—when he enlisted and then deployed to the Middle East, now he is dead. Their father resolutely refuses to talk about T.J., and he’s hidden the small bag of stuff the “uniforms” brought the Fosters when they notified them of T.J’.s death. Under suspension for fighting—and threat of “so help me…” if he doesn’t get his ass back in gear—Matt finds an unexpected opportunity when more uniforms drop off his brother’s remaining personal effects: trunks containing photographs of a beautiful black woman and her family and often-steamy letters from “C.” With help from his lifelong friend Shauna, he plots an escape to Madison, Wisc., where he hopes to connect with his brother’s memory. Matt tells his tale in an almost excruciatingly deliberate presenttense narration; Kokie grounds readers so thoroughly in Matt’s misery that they will be as itchy to escape the brutal emptiness of life with his father as he is. Realistically, though the inevitable revelation and resolution bring peace to Matt, they do not heal his father; readers will just have to hope he can make it through. A fine addition to the literature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

KAYTEK THE WIZARD

Korczak, Janusz Translated by Lloyd-Jones, Antonia Illus. by Katz, Avi Penlight Publications (272 pp.) $17.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-983868-50-7 A boy growing up in 1930s Warsaw determines to become a wizard and succeeds—but at a price. Korczak is memorialized as the Jewish pediatrician, progressive child psychologist and author who accompanied the children in his Warsaw ghetto orphanage to 1666

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their deaths in a concentration camp. The Polish government declared 2012 the year of Janusz Korczak, marking the 70th anniversary of his death, and now his 1933 children’s book has been translated into English for the first time. The story is riveting, complex and thought-provoking. Young Kaytek, filled with the fairy tales his mother and grandmother tell him, wants to take control of his life and begins to study wizardry. His magic soon turns his streets, his school and all of Warsaw topsy-turvy and even draws the attention of the League of Nations. After an ocean voyage, a brief film career in Hollywood, imprisonment and transformation into a dog, Kaytek returns home a wiser, more responsible and more humane person. The translation is excellent, and notes are provided to help readers understand local customs and geography. Unfortunately, the book suffers from mid-20th-century European racism, particularly in its attitude toward Africa and Africans. Students of children’s literature will find the book and the afterword illuminating. Children will need to place it in historical perspective. Illustrated with full-page black-and-white art. Fascinating but flawed. (translator’s afterword, references) (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

STORMDANCER

Kristoff, Jay Dunne/St. Martin’s (336 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-250-00140-5 978-1-250-01791-8 e-book Series: The Lotus War, 1 Debut author Kristoff’s steampunk adventure whisks readers to a Japanese dystopia where some mythological beings still exist, a few people have fantastical gifts, and all people live under tyranny. Yukiko, 16, has an ability the shogun’s guild would punish with death: She can commune with animals. In a unique society woven from Japanese culture and history and the author’s ingenuity of mechanical invention and disease, living standards are rough; pollution and drug addiction proliferate under the rule of a corrupt shogun who seeks to win an admittedly nebulous war. When he commissions Yukiko’s father to catch an elusive arashitora, a creature part-eagle and part-tiger, Yukiko’s quest to survive becomes more challenging. Failure to find the arashitora means the end for Yukiko and her father. Indeed, death looms around every corner in this third-person adventure, as Yukiko meets defectors, rebels and others too scared to oppose the shogun. The book takes off in earnest when Yukiko meets an arashitora. She can communicate with it, and girl and beast grow through the bond they form in surprising and thoroughly convincing ways. Ultimately the fearsome pair takes on the regime, but not before Yukiko forays into the wilds of love. Soars higher than the arashitora Kristoff writes about; superb. (Steampunk. 12 & up)

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“An astonishing, wrenching achievement.” from my book of life by angel

FALSE MEMORY

Krokos, Dan Hyperion (304 pp.) $17.99 | Aug. 14, 2012 978-1-4231-4976-7 Teens with mysterious abilities and the possibly sinister people who seek to control them are the ingredients for this end-of-summer thriller. For 17-year-old Miranda North, waking up in Cleveland with the memory of nothing beyond her name and age is a bit disconcerting. But when she makes a crowded mall panic with nothing more than the power of her mind, she’s left wondering exactly what she is. Peter, immune to her psychic ability, offers his help, both in understanding who she is and what she can do. Back at a secret bunker, Miranda learns that there are others with special abilities, but an attack on the base forces Miranda to confront the Beta team, a city in chaos and the unknown people who created her. Miranda and her fellow Roses are a rather generic mashup of common superheroes: not space aliens, but orphans with strange powers and questions about their origins. The action is non-stop, and Miranda is a refreshingly kick-ass heroine, with a focus on accomplishing her mission instead of snagging a man. Fans of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse series will find many elements quite familiar, but Krokos adds twists to make it his own. Nothing new here, but readers more interested in plot than depth will find it an appealing segue from summer into school. (Action. 10-14)

GRAVEDIGGERS Mountain of Bones

Krovatin, Christopher Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-06-207740-0 978-0-06-207742-4 e-book SAT words and occult trappings characterize this middle-grade zombie adventure from teen author Krovatin (Venomous, 2008). On an electronics-free school trip to the Montana wilderness, sixth graders Ian Buckley, PJ Wilson and Kendra Wright quickly break the first rule, straying off the path and into the forest. Separated from their classmates, the trio is relieved to stumble across a cabin in the woods, until they discover a skull in the basement and a mysterious journal that tells of shadows in the forest—and, of course, zombies start beating on the front door. With the journal in hand, the three kids begin hunting for the witch they believe controls the creatures and their fate. Though the story is told from the three kids’ alternating points of view, the voices all have the same flavor and would be unidentifiable if not for the chapter headings. There’s simply not enough personality behind the three 11-year-old protagonists to make a distinction. Describing a wall as “infected” and introducing |

words like “ideating” and “sigil” (Kendra is building her vocabulary) jar just enough to break the otherwise compelling pace. Indistinct voices and questionable word choices aside, the author does manage to keep the pages turning all the way through the end. Toning down the edgy side for a young market, Krovatin stills provides moments of gross-out gore in this reluctantreader pleaser. (Adventure. 10-12)

A DOG CALLED HOMELESS

Lean, Sarah Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (208 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-06-212220-9 978-0-06-21222-3 e-book In this British import, a girl grieving for her dead mother gives up talking when she becomes convinced that what she says doesn’t matter. Cally’s father never mentions her mom, which seems to deny her existence. Then Cally begins to see her mother—a ghost or wishful imagining?—dressed in a red raincoat and sometimes accompanied by a very large dog that’s assuredly not a ghost since he turns up independently at school, in the park and especially with a homeless man, Jed. Cally also meets Mrs. Cooper, a neighbor in their new apartment building who lovingly cares for her blind, nearly deaf 11-year-old son, Sam. Mrs. Cooper, Sam and a psychiatrist all reach out to Cally, each offering wise support, but it’s Cally herself, perhaps with the quiet help of her mom, who finds a believable—if a bit miraculous—and highly satisfying resolution. Fifth-grader Cally’s first-person voice effectively captures both her suffering and her bewilderment as friends and her father all fail to understand her pain. When she tells Sam she sometimes thinks her mother became a star after she died, he astutely asks, “Why would she go so far away?” giving Cally a comforting new way to think of her mother, much closer to her heart. Ever so gently, this fine debut effort explores the power of human kindness as Cally and her father find effective ways to cope with their loss. (Fiction. 8-12)

MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL

Leavitt, Martine Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux (256 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-374-35123-6 The tragedy of discarded children is skillfully explored in this stunning novel in verse. Angel, 16, pretends she lives at the mall, helping herself to shoes on display. She falls prey to a pimp named Call, who

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“Crashed planes, government cover-ups and smart teens unexpectedly mixed up in big things: science fiction for today’s cynical readers indeed.” from adaptation

watches her shoplift, buys her meals and gives her “candy” (crack). Knowing that “it’s the ones from good homes / who follow orders best,” Call persuades Angel to do him a favor with chilling ease. Turning tricks on a street corner in Vancouver, she meets Serena, who teaches her to fend for herself with “dates” and encourages her to write her life. When Serena goes missing, Angel vows to clean up her act. Dope sick, she slowly wakes up to Call’s evil, weathering the torments of her captive life with courage. The deliberate use of spacing emphasizes the grim choice confronting Angel when Call brings home a new girl, 11-year-old Melli. Leavitt’s mastery of form builds on the subtle interplay between plot and theme. “John the john” is a divorced professor who makes Angel read Book 9 from Milton’s Paradise Lost, inadvertently teaching her the power that words, expression and creativity have to effect change. Passages from Milton frame the chapters, as Angel, in her own writing, grasps her future. Based on the factual disappearance of dozens of Vancouver women, this novel of innocence compromised is bleak, but not without hope or humor. An astonishing, wrenching achievement. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

EVERY DAY

Levithan, David Knopf (304 pp.) $16.99 | Aug. 28, 2012 978-0-307-93188-7 Imagine waking up in a different body every day. A is a 16-year-old genderless being who drifts from body to body each day, living the life of a new human host of the same age and similar geographic radius for 24 hours. One morning, A wakes up a girl with a splitting hangover; another day he/she wakes up as a teenage boy so overweight he can barely fit into his car. Straight boys, gay girls, teens of different races, body shapes, sizes and genders make up the catalog of A’s outward appearances, but ultimately A’s spirit—or soul—remains the same. One downside of A’s life is that he/she doesn’t have a family, nor is he/she able to make friends. A tries to interfere as little as possible with the lives of the teenagers until the day he/she meets and falls head over heels in love with Rhiannon, an ethereal girl with a jackass boyfriend. A pursues Rhiannon each day in whatever form he/she wakes up in, and Rhiannon learns to recognize A—not by appearance, but by the way he/she looks at her across the room. The two have much to overcome, and A’s shifting physical appearance is only the beginning. Levithan’s self-conscious, analytical style marries perfectly with the plot. His musings on love, longing and human nature knit seamlessly with A’s journey. Readers will devour his trademark poetic wordplay and cadences that feel as fresh as they were when he wrote Boy Meets Boy (2003). An awe-inspiring, thought-provoking reminder that love reaches beyond physical appearances or gender. (Fiction. 14 & up) 1668

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MOMENTUM

Lloyd, Saci Holiday House (224 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 15, 2012 978-0-8234-2414-6 In a near-future dystopia, a rich boy and a wrong-side-of-the-tracks girl find love while fighting the corrupt system. Hunter is bored with luxury. He’s not just a Citizen (a coveted status in an energy-strapped London where most either scrabble for coveted permanent IDs or rebel as illegal Outsiders), he’s also one of the wealthy 2 percent. While his friends entertain themselves in virtual-reality boxing matches, Hunter braves roof jumping in the favelas, the city’s multiethnic slums. He has no desire to risk his life of privilege, but he crosses paths with the Kossaks, the brutal police force, as they casually murder a fleeing Outsider. Now Hunter’s running with Uma, the Outsider girl who’s hiding the linchpin of the whole rebellion. Hunter and Uma are defending the key to the Dreamline, the semi-magical underground Internet. The Dreamline is used globally by those illegally rebuilding Outside society into a model of green energy, peace and love, and the Kossaks want it gone. As the pair flee through the multilingual alleys, rebels educate Hunter with unsubtle polemic about “ordinary people...united under a common cause”: anarchy, togetherness and energy independence. Political choices—and all choices in this world are political—spring more from mythic overtones or contemporary-world parallels than from consistent worldbuilding. Fun, roof-jumping adventure that could benefit from subtler Occupy ideology. (Science fiction. 13-16)

ADAPTATION

Lo, Malinda Little, Brown (400 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-316-19796-0 Crashed planes, government coverups and smart teens unexpectedly mixed up in big things: science fiction for today’s cynical readers indeed. After multiple horrific plane crashes caused by bird strikes, all flights are grounded. Riots break out. Reese and David, traveling home after a disastrous debate tournament, are in a near-fatal car accident near a mysterious government facility. The tension is relentless until the teens make it safely back to San Francisco, at which point romantic entanglements (Reese falls for Amber, but maybe she likes David too) detract from the strange abilities Reese and David are developing and the conspiracies they begin to unravel (with lots of men in black after them). And then things get crazier. Lo’s dialogue rings true, and smart-butsometimes-dumb Reese, from whose perspective the action unfolds, is an appealing main character aside from her romantic

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dithering. Too-good-to-be-true love interest Amber satisfyingly proves to indeed be too good to be true, although stalwart David, compared at one point to Captain America, remains ridiculously heroic and together throughout. Lo manages a diverse cast (Asian-American smart stud; gay conspiracy nut; debate nerd) without ever falling into stereotypes, but unfortunately, the same is not always true of the plot. Despite the weaker second half, slot this on the shelf between Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and The X-Files. (Science fiction/thriller. 13 & up)

HERE COMES DOCTOR HIPPO

London, Jonathan Illus. by Eduar, Gilles Boyds Mills (32 pp.) $15.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-59078-851-6 Series: Little Hippo, 1

London’s newest character, Little Hippo, is big on imagination, even if he is a pint-sized pretend doctor. Who knew that a day of visiting patients could be so difficult? Big Hippo has powerfully bad breath, a check of Very Tall Giraffe’s tongue leads to a sticky licking and Little Hippo must make do with a visual inspection of Giant Crocodile’s skin. His last three patients prove no better. In fact, Lion, who apparently does not want an eye exam, roars so loudly that he frightens poor Little Hippo, who runs back to Mama Hippo for a checkup of his own. The final scenes show readers just where Little Hippo learned how to be such a good doctor and will have them wondering if Little Hippo’s adventure really happened. The characters in Eduar’s retro-feeling gouache artwork are reminiscent of those in the Babar stories, but his landscape is rather Seuss-ian, with imaginatively colored trees and grasses. Simple backgrounds and details keep readers’ focus on the characters, especially Little Hippo and his expressive face. Small charm aside, this slight tale can’t hold a candle to Andrea Beaty’s Doctor Ted (2008), and Little Hippo lacks the charm and easy language of London’s morefamous Froggy, to whom readers can relate. Sweet but not filling. (Picture book. 3-5)

CHARLY’S EPIC FIASCOS

London, Kelli Kensington (288 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Aug. 28, 2012 978-0-7582-6358-2

Then she discovers her mother has taken the cash she’s stashed in her room, and it’s the last straw. One bus ticket later, Charly and one week’s wages are headed to New York City, where she hopes to stay with her aunt and audition for the cast of a new reality TV show. Charly’s adventures range from harrowing (near-homelessness in Chicago) to heartwarming (rescuing and keeping a puppy) to scatological (an incident with a laxative tea). Her friends and chosen family serve as a strong and warm support network, even from afar. Charly’s naiveté often lands her in dangerous situations, but her determination and her willingness to take risks propel her onward. A lengthy introductory section before the road trip begins may deter some readers, but those who stick it out will be rewarded. Just enough realism to be believable—and plenty of wish fulfillment, too. (Fiction. 12-16)

THE POWER OF POPPY PENDLE

Lowe, Natasha Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster (272 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-4424-4679-3 Can 10-year-old Poppy convince her parents she wants to be a baker and not a witch in yet another fantasy that blends magic and baking? Poppy Pendle has inherited her magic from her Great-Granny Mabel, but her passion is baking. Her Dursley-like parents send her to the Ruthersfield Academy for young ladies with magic. She excels there, but she hates flying on her broomstick, using her wand and the teasing of the other girls. She runs away to the only place where she is happy, Patisserie Marie Claire, where she can create her own cookies and cakes. When this solution does not pan out, Poppy turns to the dark side of being a witch, hiding in a forsaken cottage and turning animals, her parents, police, birds and squirrels to stone. Her friend Charlie (a girl) and Marie Claire try various “sweet-tempting” plans to bring her back and finally succeed. Poppy and Marie Claire rehab the cottage and open a bakery. Numerous unexplained gaps in the fantasy logic crinkle the storyline, beginning with the “magic” of Poppy’s being born in the Patisserie (thus her passion) and ending with her turnedto-stone parents taking two years to thaw. The belabored parental conflict, sugarcoated emotions and convenient plot details are cloying. The 12 recipes at the end are the best part; the rest is just half-baked. (Fantasy. 8-11)

A rough-around-the-edges road-trip story with a heart of gold.Charly lives in the small town of Belvidere, Ill., with her younger sister and a mother who regularly insults her, yells at her and steals the money Charly is saving to pay the household bills. With her job at a neighborhood diner, Charly has saved almost enough to buy a phone she’s been wanting for years. |

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PEACE AND QUIET

Luciani, Brigitte Illus. by Tharlet, Eve Graphic Universe (32 pp.) $6.95 paperback | $18.95 e-book | PLB $25.26 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8225-9163-4 978-1-4677-0331-4 e-book 978-0-7613-8520-2 PLB Series: Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox, 4 A blended family of badgers and foxes make the best of close quarters in this wintertime story. Mr. Badger and his three kits, Bristle, Berry and Grub, along with Mrs. Fox and her pup, Ginger, are hunkering down for a long winter together in this early-reader book that makes great use of comic conventions. Panel illustrations show the family gathering materials to make their shared den nice and cozy, while also discussing their differing wintertime behaviors: The badgers don’t hibernate, but they do sleep an awful lot to preserve their energy, and they rely on fat reserves to stay warm throughout the season, while the foxes grow thick winter coats and plan to hunt in the snowy forest. At first, the little ones have a hard time understanding these differences, and a dose of cabin fever makes the living situation rather fraught. Happily, the parents step in to ease tensions and to help their children make the most of the season and of their relationships with one another. Speech balloons, endearing illustrations of the characters, well-paced panels and lots of action from scene to scene will keep young readers invested in this story, particularly if they are already familiar with the previous titles in the series. A welcome addition to shelves of graphic novels for new readers. (Graphic early reader. 6-8)

TRUE LEGEND

Lupica, Mike Philomel (304 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-399-25227-3 In a didactic but well-crafted sports story, a teen basketball phenomenon learns not to take his own superstar future for granted. Not yet 16, Drew “True” Robinson has been treated like a star since some of his first forays onto the basketball court. When he spots a talented, solitary older player on his neighborhood court late one night, Drew thinks he’s seen a ghost. What he’s met is a cautionary tale: The man, who tells Drew to call him Donald, is a former basketball legend who lost everything when he became too invested in the hype surrounding him. When Drew too begins to make mistakes on the court, he seeks out Donald, haunted by the man’s story. Like Donald, most characters function equally well as symbols and as people: Mr. Gilbert, the rich benefactor who treats Drew like a luxury commodity; Drew’s teammate 1670

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and best friend, Lee, content to pick up Drew’s off-the-court slack for the good of the game. The clear message here is that young athletes should not let fame go to their heads, a case made so well by the story that Drew’s continued arrogance and poor decision-making is sometimes difficult to believe. A solid mix of character-driven realism and basketball action. (Fiction. 12-18)

THE ADVENTURES OF ACHILLES

Lupton, Hugh & Morden, Daniel Illus. by Hénaff, Carole Barefoot (128 pp.) $23.99 | paper $12.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-84686-420-9 978-1-84686-800-9 paperback Two veteran storytellers give one of mythology’s greatest warriors his due in a narrative rich in drama, tragedy, intense emotion and heroic feats of arms. Thoroughly recast from an award-winning audio version (2004; included with the hardcover edition), this companion to the authors’ Adventures of Odysseus (illustrated by Christina Balit, 2006) retells the classic tale of Achilles’ meteoric career in staccato, muscular prose. “He was fed on the marrow of bears to make him strong, the guts of lions to make him fierce, and the milk of deer to make him swift.” Stylized border and panel paintings of gods and mortals seen in profile or posed groups are reminiscent of figures on ancient Greek vases. The profound attachment between Achilles and Patroclus (begun during the former’s five-year stint disguised as a woman and ending with their ashes mingled in the same funerary urn) forms the emotional centerpiece of the tale. Otherwise, veiled behind lines like “they took their delight of one another,” the sex among the large cast of gods and mortals is less explicit than the battle action before and within Troy’s walls. Echoes of Homeric language can be found in references to Zeus, the “Cloud Compeller,” “ox-eyed Hera” and the like. Despite its particular focus on Achilles, this compelling narrative delivers a reasonably complete picture of the Trojan War’s causes, course and violent end. Epic in deed and scope and a-bustle with larger-thanlife characters, this retelling of the Iliad will rivet both readers and listening audiences. (bibliography) (Folktale/ mythology. 11-14)

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“The length of the book—32 pages, including glossary—seems thoughtfully calculated to bestow a sense of accomplishment.” from castle

THRONE OF GLASS

Maas, Sarah J. Bloomsbury (384 pp.) $17.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-59990-695-9

A teenage assassin, a rebel princess, menacing gargoyles, supernatural portals and a glass castle prove to be as thrilling as they sound. Being the most feared assassin in Adarlan is a notoriety 17-year-old Celaena considers an honor, even though it has landed her in a slave-labor prison no one has ever survived. A year into her sentence, the Crown Prince offers to sponsor Celaena in a competition with 23 other criminals and murderers that, should she win, will result in her freedom. The only catch? She’ll become the king’s personal assassin for four years, the same dark-hearted king who sentenced her to imprisonment. Woven in the vein of a Tolkien fantasy, Celaena’s world is one where magic is outlawed and power is snatched through greed and genocide. The third-person narrative allows frequent insight into multiple characters (heroes and villains alike) but never fully shifts its focus from the confident yet conflicted Celaena. And though violent combat and whispers of the occult surround her, Celaena is still just a teenager trying to forge her way, giving the story timelessness. She might be in the throes of a bloodthirsty competition, but that doesn’t mean she’s not in turmoil over which tall, dark and handsomely titled man of the royal court should be her boyfriend—and which fancy gown she should wear to a costume party. This commingling of comedy, brutality and fantasy evokes a rich alternate universe with a spitfire young woman as its brightest star. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

FLESH & BONE

Maberry, Jonathan Simon & Schuster (480 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-4424-3989-4 Series: Rot & Ruin, 3 The third time’s the charm with even more adventure—and gore—as the series continues (Dust & Decay, 2011, etc.). With their beloved trainer Tom now dead, Benny, Nix, Chong, and Lilah carry on their search in the Rot and Ruin for the still-elusive jet. Just when the teens didn’t think anything could be stranger in a zombie-infested world, they cross paths with Mother Rose and Saint John of the Knife, rival leaders of the Night Church, a death cult seeking the extinction of the human race. Separated from one another early on in the story, the teens battle nonstop with various factions of the Night Church and their zombie minions. As Mother Rose and Saint John secretly try to double-cross one another, the battles turn deadlier. The blood bath is tempered by each teen’s personal struggle with grief and realization of his or her “Warrior Smart” training. Short chapters, punctuated by |

suspenseful, cliffhanger endings, heighten the tension throughout. Of course, zombies still play a large role, and Maberry keeps each zombie chase terrifying as more evolved and cross-species zombies enter this already dangerous environment. While the teens learn more about the genesis of the zombie plague and the history of the nation (or what’s left of it) since First Night, many more questions remain unanswered. Good thing there will be another sequel. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

CASTLE How It Works

Macaulay, David with Keenan, Sheila Illus. by Macaulay, David David Macaulay Studio/Roaring Brook (32 pp.) $15.99 | paper $3.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-59643-744-9 978-1-59643-766-1 paperback Hooray for the launch of a new nonfiction series for newly fledged readers! Macaulay’s compact, clear and engagingly illustrated explanation of how a castle is built to thwart potential intruders (you, the reader, in this case) is the right length and depth for readers who have progressed beyond beginner books. His trademark penand-ink lines reveal the structural purpose of each part of the medieval stone fortress, while color wash adds appeal. Clearly among the first of a series, this title is labeled “Level 4,” and the sentences are just complex enough: “Beneath the ground floor is the dark, damp dungeon.” The narrative is well supported by the illustration—and vice versa: An intriguing drawing has the essential details mentioned in the accompanying passage. Readers will encounter new challenges with text set against dark backgrounds on a few pages, but the font size and line spacing are just right. The length of the book—32 pages, including glossary—seems thoughtfully calculated to bestow a sense of accomplishment. The basics get covered here in fascinating detail: the guard who stops to use the toilet; a cross section of a battering ram. Added riches: a glossary, an index and a list of resources for further study, in small type but nicely focused. And will a young scholar read it again and look for more? You bet—it’s great fuel for the imagination. (Nonfiction early reader. 4-8)

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“Proper fantasy, balanced between epic and personal; this promises to be an engrossing series, with intimations of bigger things ahead.” from shadowfell

LITTLE ONE, WHERE ARE YOU?

way.” Interest in the classic Boxcar Children Mysteries remains strong, and this prequel should find eager readers. An approachable lead-in that serves to fill in the background both for confirmed fans and readers new to the series. (finished illustrations, afterword and resource list not seen) (Historical fiction. 8-10)

Mack Illus. by Mack Clavis (14 pp.) $10.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-60537-131-3

Animal parents call for their babies in a repetitive questionand-answer format. Various mothers and fathers inquire after their little ones. “Little giraffe, where are you?” On the following page, four individual babies hide under flaps placed against solid backgrounds. Declarative statements label easily recognizable photographs. “I am not little giraffe, / I am a duck.” The parents’ actual tot confirms its identity energetically; baby giraffe gleefully responds, “Here I am, Daddy! I am little giraffe!” Originally published in Dutch, English phrases remain fairly seamless in their translation for a toddler audience, though the reference to dromedary may cause a few children to scratch their heads. In the final example, the king of the jungle arrives, and the regal papa lion finds four of his cubs ready to greet him. Overall, clear placement of text and images make for a developmentally appropriate picture. The book relies heavily on the cuddliness of the featured critters. Many of the tykes strike adorable poses; particularly charming, little panda playfully covers one eye. With plenty of opportunities for child participation, it’s a happy reunion as loving caregivers search for their young. (Board book. 1-3)

THE BOXCAR CHILDREN BEGINNING The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm

MacLachlan, Patricia Illus. by Jessell, Tim Whitman (144 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8075-6616-9 Series: Boxcar Children Mysteries This prelude slips neatly into the classic series with a rural idyll that comes to a sudden, tragic end. Spring brings not only fresh rounds of games and chores (“Chores are fun,” says Meg) for the four Alden children, but new friends too after the Clark family—fleeing frequently mentioned “hard times” in the city—arrives in a storm to stay until their car can be repaired. Indulging occasionally in foreshadowing and artfully incorporating details that will figure in later events, MacLachlan chronicles encounters and minor adventures on the farm in simple, straightforward language. The season changes, the children put on a summer circus, and the Clarks depart at last with a fond “[n]ot good-bye.” Then comes an offstage auto accident that orphans Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny and forces them to flee the farm even before the funeral lest they be separated. “The four lambs were on their 1672

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HEART ON FIRE Susan B. Anthony Votes for President

Malaspina, Ann Illus. by James, Steve Whitman (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8075-3188-4

In spare and elegant free verse, Malaspina shares a vivid act of civil disobedience. Susan B. Anthony registered to vote in Rochester, N.Y., on November 1, 1872. She and 15 other women cast their ballots four days later, hoping that the new 14th Amendment, which stated that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States,” would permit all women the right to vote. Instead, she was arrested and brought to trial, found guilty because women were not permitted the vote, and fined $100, which she never paid. James fills the pages with strongly modeled images and many close-ups of Susan’s face and the faces of judge, jury, police officers and followers. He makes their faces mobile and intense, so children can feel the force of these ideas as well as hear the words. The refrain, set in larger and alternate type, is “Outrageous. / Unbelievable. / True,” carrying the emotion and idea forward in an accessible and powerful way. The book opens with the text of the 14th and 19th Amendments and closes with facsimiles of a newspaper cartoon, a photograph and Susan B. Anthony’s letter to her close friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton: “Well I have been & gone & done it!!—positively voted.…” Inspiring fodder for an electoral—or any other—year. (afterword, bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)

SHADOWFELL

Marillier, Juliet Knopf (416 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-375-86954-9 978-0-375-98366-5 e-book 978-0-375-96954-6 PLB In an alternate ancient British Isles, an intrepid heroine may save the kingdom from its wicked ruler. Marillier’s deep knowledge of folklore and the early-medieval period shine through, but never overwhelm, her latest. In Alban, the Good Folk (widely varied, magical creatures) have

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occasionally intermingled with humans, and as a result, some humans are “canny.” Canny Neryn can see the Good Folk, which may only be the beginning. But tyrannical King Keldec has turned Alban into a realm of fear and hatred where canny folk are killed or used as weapons. Neryn and her father have fled the king’s Enforcers for years, haunted by their village’s massacre. When a mysterious stranger saves Neryn from her father’s drunken gambling and an Enforcer raid, Neryn finds herself journeying towards Shadowfell, the secret rebel enclave she hopes exists. Neryn’s struggles—to exist day to day, to make peace with the tragedies of her past and the uncertainties of her present and, above all, to grasp and even use her own terrible power—ground this tale. The slightest thread of a blossoming relationship winds throughout, while magic imbues everything but feels real; the Good Folk are other, but not, in this carefully detailed world, fantastic. Proper fantasy, balanced between epic and personal; this promises to be an engrossing series, with intimations of bigger things ahead. (Historical fantasy. 13 & up)

CARNIVAL OF SOULS

Marr, Melissa Harper/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-06-165928-7 Festive title notwithstanding, traversing the complicated, shallowly rendered world of this exposition-heavy fantasy is a dreary slog, like reading a gaming manual cover to cover. Years after the Witch Wars exiled witches to the human world, daimons remain in possession of The City. (Daimon attributes include retractable talons, fangs and, under stress, berserker temperament.) Encroaching on the overcrowded, brutal City is a beast-ridden wilderness, a parting gift of the witches, power-hungry, magically gifted humanoids. For City residents outside the ruling caste, career options are limited: assassin, thief, con artist, prostitute or, once a generation, combatant in deadly gladiatorial games. For entertainment, there’s the eponymous Carnival and the Night Market (see career options). As heirs of daimon rulers rarely survive childhood, Mallory, daughter of City ruler Marchosias, has been hidden in the human world, raised by her adoptive witch dad. Kaleb, the daimon sent to kill her, is smitten instead. Drably generic Mallory is ignorant of her heritage, but it’s revealed early to readers, leaching the story of suspense. Characters frequently pause the action to muse on what they and readers already know. Vaguely orgiastic, sadomasochistic sex and violence stand in for genuine emotion. Only the violence, delineated in bloody detail, is graphic. Marr fans will be happy to learn this is a series opener. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

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THE MITZVAH MAGICIAN

Marshall, Linda Elovitz Illus. by Engel, Christiane Kar-Ben (32 pp.) $17.95 | paper $7.95 | $13.95 e-book Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-5655-4 978-0-7613-5656-1 paperback 978-1-4677-0063-4 e-book Whenever Gabriel the great magician commands “Presto Magico,” a small disaster occurs. His magic wand is his tool of choice to empty a glass and make his sister disappear. But to achieve these ends, he knocks over the glass and pokes his sister. Mom gives him a time out and sets him to thinking about using his magic to do mitzvot, or good deeds. He decides that his magic needs some “Jewish words,” so he comes up with “One-wish! Two-wish! Jew-wish!” as his new mantra. He carefully cleans the mess in the kitchen, puts his toys away and sets the table for snack time. With waves of his wand and his new magic words, he astonishes his mother with the amazing transformation and a new purpose for his magic. Marshall evokes gentle humor in this tale of a very believable little boy whose infatuation with a new toy leads to overzealous enthusiasm followed by remorse and creative atonement. The introduction of key Yiddish words (in both singular and plural) is accomplished seamlessly and serves to stress the universality of this family’s experiences rather than emphasizing any cultural differences. (Though it’s too bad the text does not correctly cite the language as Yiddish, instead of “Jewish.”) Engel’s brightly hued, delightfully detailed illustrations ably capture the action while maintaining a slightly skewed playfulness that is enhanced by the casual typeface, coloring and spacing of the text. Abracadabra! Lovely magic indeed. (Picture book. 3-8)

YESTERDAY

Martin, C.K. Kelly Random House (368 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-375-86650-0 978-0-375-89644-6 e-book 978-0-375-96650-7 PLB

A vivid infusion of 1980s culture gives this near-future dystopia an offbeat, Philip K. Dick aura. Her father’s recent death and the move from New Zealand to Toronto with her mother and sister in 1985 have left Freya Kallas seriously disoriented and plagued by headaches. Worse, her memories have puzzling gaps. She can’t recall her best friend Alison’s taste in music or how it felt to kiss her old boyfriend, Shane. Some events feel unreal, while others (like the guys who hit on her at parties, something she’s sure never happened before) don’t engage her. What do Freya’s dreams of living another life mean? Something is seriously out of joint,

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“… they’ve got rhythm, they’ve got music, they’ve got the legions of the undead—who could ask for anything more?” from necromancing the stone

and Freya is sure the boy she spots on a school field trip has the answers she needs. Though she doesn’t know his name and he doesn’t recognize her, Freya, increasingly desperate, can’t let him go. A thicket of exposition slows the narrative briefly, but the pace picks up, and the action accelerates to a gripping climax. Sympathetic, well-drawn characters compensate for a rather flimsy instant dystopia and rubber science. The cultural homage is nostalgic fun, from Care Bears to MacGyver. But for delivering that uniquely ’80s flavor, nothing beats music. Fans of the Smiths, Depeche Mode, Scritti Politti—this one’s for you. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)

A BEAUTIFUL LIE

Master, Irfan Whitman (304 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8075-0597-7

It’s a done deal—partition will soon divide India into two countries mainly along religious lines, India for Hindus and Sikhs, Pakistan for Muslims—but Bilal’s dying father remains serenely confident that his beloved India will take another path and Bilal, 13, can’t bear for him to die disillusioned. With three loyal friends—Chota, Saleem and Manjeet— Bilal hatches a plan to convince his widowed father that India will remain whole. Bilal’s father is highly respected in their Gujarati town, and his friends refuse to be left out of the loop: doctor, schoolmaster, printer and more; but Rafeeq, Bilal’s Muslim-activist older brother, opposes the endeavor. Rising tensions among groups that have mingled peacefully for centuries spill over, shaping the futures of adults and children. Bilal and his friends can’t avert the coming violence and losses; their path has been set. More historical and cultural context would have been helpful, but the vivid setting, appealing characters, humor and pathos largely offset this debut’s weaknesses. Master declines to shape his tale to fit the triumphalist hero’s journey template; his heroes—stubbornly holding onto their ideals and high aspirations, even after they’ve been superseded by a shabbier reality—are on a different journey, every bit as riveting. A provocative exploration of a historical moment that resonates today. (historical note, maps) (Historical fiction. 11 & up)

NECROMANCING THE STONE

McBride, Lish Henry Holt (352 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-8050-9099-4

A slacker wrangles zombies, werewolves, gnomes and gods in this amiable second entry in a humor-horror mashup series (Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, 2010). Life is looking up for Samhain LaCroix, college dropout, oldies aficionado and former fry-cook. After accidentally killing the evil necromancer Douglas, Sam has inherited his powers, fortune, minions and seat on the Seattle Council of magical beings. On the downside, Sam’s new servants hate him, one of his best friends is now a ghost and another a were-bear, his girlfriend’s father has just been murdered, and her werewolf pack blames him…and, oh yeah, apparently Douglas isn’t completely dead after all. Fans will be happy to revisit the likable characters and learn more about paranormal politics, but those expecting the first book’s manic action, grisly violence and sexy romance will be disappointed by the leisurely pace and wistful, almost melancholic tone. Indeed, the plot consists almost entirely of endless and repetitive meetings, leading up to a climactic confab with his erstwhile enemy. While the story stops dead when a few chapters slip into the viewpoints of secondary characters, only important for setting up the (just barely plausible) denouement, Sam’s marvelously witty, self-deprecating narration carries readers along effortlessly to the very end. With most loose plot threads neatly tied off, there is still room for further adventures with Sam and his merry band. After all, they’ve got rhythm, they’ve got music, they’ve got the legions of the undead—who could ask for anything more? (Urban fantasy. 14 & up)

OUT OF THE COLD

McClintock, Norah Darby Creek (232 pp.) $8.95 paperback | $20.95 e-book PLB $27.93 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-9396-2 978-1-4677-0032-0 e-book 978-0-7613-8314-7 PLB Series: Robyn Hunter Mysteries, 4 Another easy-reading mystery from McClintock. Robyn reluctantly agrees to volunteer at a homeless shelter, where a mentally disabled man knocks her down. Excluded from the shelter for a time as punishment, the man freezes to death on the streets. Feeling guilty, Robyn decides to try to discover who he was. She enlists friends to interview people in the neighborhood and other shelter residents, uncovering clues. Meanwhile, a sinister-looking man chases her, and shortly thereafter, someone mugs her, taking her best evidence. She continues following clues, however, until she cracks the case, learning that

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the homeless man didn’t start out that way. McClintock uses a just-the-facts-ma’am style that fits the mystery genre and keeps the text uncomplicated for reluctant readers. She relies on plenty of happy coincidences, such as meeting exactly the right people at just the right time to uncover major clues. Robyn also enjoys a bit of romance and copes with a delicate family situation with her divorced parents. She comes across as an attractive character, good in school and compassionate toward all. Yet she also demonstrates a toughness and determination that allow her to solve the case. This title publishes simultaneously with Book 5, Shadow of Doubt. This series presents readers with nice, tidy mysteries and work as an excellent introduction to the genre, besides being plenty of fun. (Mystery. 11-16)

BE MY ENEMY

McDonald, Ian Pyr/Prometheus Books (280 pp.) $16.95 paperback | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-61614-678-8 Series: Everness, 2 In this exciting first sequel to outstanding series opener Planesrunner (2011), 14-year-old science whiz Everett Singh continues to outthink his enemies while navigating the multiverse searching for his dad, lost in a parallel universe. Everett’s enemies multiply in this installment. There’s still the marvelously imagined villain Charlotte Villiers, with her impeccable 1940s style and the confidence of genius, but now Everett’s “alter,” Everett M, his double from another paralleluniverse Earth, has been made into a cyborg instructed to eliminate Everett. Add to those a new threat: sentient advanced technology gone bad. The quirky crewmates on their rogue airship, especially Sen, the wonderfully original Airish girl with her enjoyably distinctive dialect, keep the conversations lively as they dodge death at every turn. McDonald roots Everett’s heroism in his intelligence. Everett knows mathematics, physics and Punjabi cooking. He wins because he outthinks his rivals, not because he’s faster or stronger, like his alter. Stuffed with science, this series has the potential to fascinate young readers as William Sleator’s books did, tackling concepts on the slippery edge of current understanding. Science causes danger, but it’s also the weapon that combats those terrors. Smart, clever and abundantly original, with suspense that grabs your eyeballs, this is real science fiction for all ages. More! More! (Science fiction. 12 & up)

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PUSHING THE LIMITS

McGarry, Katie Harlequin Teen (410 pp.) $17.99 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-373-21049-7

This intense and intriguing debut delves into the psychological difficulties of two teens who fall in love. Echo can’t remember the night her mother apparently tried to kill her. She wears long sleeves and gloves to hide the awful scars left on her arms from that night. Noah lost his parents in a fire but saved his two younger brothers. Now all are in foster care, but Noah has been separated from his brothers and is determined to gain custody of them when he turns 18. Meanwhile, Echo and Noah meet and are instantly but secretly attracted to each other, even though Noah has developed a “bad boy” image. Both see Mrs. Collins, an experienced psychologist, as their school counselor, and neither wants to trust her. McGarry follows the teens as they interact, fall in love, fight and work through their difficulties. Told in alternating chapters for both Echo and Noah, the story slowly uncovers the teens’ secrets and builds to resolutions for both. While the romance will attract many readers, it serves mainly as the framework for a psychological examination of the two as they work through their problems. Although a bit overlong, the story remains interesting and sometimes compulsively readable throughout. Outwardly different but inwardly similar, Echo and Noah just might make it. A probing, captivating story. (Romance. 12 & up)

LULU AND THE DUCK IN THE PARK

McKay, Hilary Illus. by Lamont, Priscilla Whitman (104 pp.) $13.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8075-4808-0 Series: Lulu, 1

A warmhearted beginning to a new chapter-book series delights from the first few sentences. “Lulu was famous for animals. Her famousness for animals was known throughout the whole neighborhood.” So it begins, revealing its bouncy language and its theme, illustrated by a cheery image of Lulu with bunnies at her feet, a parrot on her shoulder and a mouse in her hair. Lulu’s best friend is her cousin Mellie, who is famous for several things but most notably losing sweaters, pencils and everything else. Her teacher in Class Three is Mrs. Holiday, who endures the class guinea pig but does not think it needs animal companions, not even Lulu’s dog. When the class goes to Tuesday swimming at the pool by the park, however, and Lulu finds a duck egg, which she takes back to class—that is not an animal, right? Well, not yet. What Lulu and Mellie do to protect the egg, get through class and not

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outrage Mrs. Holiday is told so simply and rhythmically, and so true to the girls’ perfectly-logical-for-third-graders’ thinking, that it will beguile young readers completely. The inclusion of the kid who always gets a bloody nose and a math lesson on perimeter only adds to the verisimilitude and the fun. Lulu’s classroom is full of children of all colors, and Lulu and Mellie are the color of strong tea with cream, judging from the cover. Utterly winning. (Fiction. 7-9)

UNDEAD

McKay, Kirsty Chicken House/Scholastic (272 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-545-38188-8 978-0-545-47346-0 e-book There’s no better place to begin the zombie apocalypse: a Scottish roadside convenience stop called the Cheery Chomper. Narrator Bobby doesn’t actually see it happen; just returned to Britain after several years in the United States, she has holed up in the school bus for some peace and quiet while the rest of her classmates on the school ski trip pile out. But she notices it pretty darn quick in the pools of blood on the snow, the panic of her two classmates who have escaped and the shambling form of their former teacher. Loner Bobby, wiseass Smitty and popular-girl Alice are soon joined by annoying-nerd Pete and a couple of local kids, an older girl and her little brother. Together they bicker, defend their bus, bicker, try to figure out what happened, bicker and take shelter in a seemingly abandoned old stately home. Although Bobby has (mostly unplumbed) emotional depths, McKay plays her tale for maximum snark: As Bobby reflects, “you’d think that, when faced with an Undead army, random human survivors would find a really good reason to get along, but that certainly hasn’t happened in our own little test group.” Although humor and action keep the pages turning, readers may still find the plot dragging toward the end—which (gasp!) may not really be the end…. Blood spurts; entrails drag; body parts shed; hearts (living ones) throb—it’s all good, gory, formulaic fun. (Horror. 14-18)

ONE TIMES SQUARE A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World McKendry, Joe Illus. by McKendry, Joe Godine (64 pp.) $19.95 | Sep. 6, 2012 978-1-56792-364-3

An unexpected history of a very famous intersection. Millions of people begin each new year mesmerized by the 1676

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ball drop atop One Times Square. But before all the glitz and flashing lights, Times Square was filled with carriages, livery stables and coal yards. It is a stark contrast that’s difficult to imagine. McKendry (Beneath the Streets of Boston: Building America’s First Subway, 2005) takes readers on a journey through 100 years of shifts and changes to this well-known New York City landscape. Beginning in 1904 when the New York Times headquarters was built and forever changed the name of this small plot of land, McKendry accompanies the text with a spectacular painting of the Square from a specific point of view. This same perspective is used repeatedly throughout the narrative, simultaneously grounding readers and letting them watch in awe as buildings and technology sprout and change. Interspersed with the Square’s history—during both thriving years and sordid ones—are fascinating tidbits such as the inner workings of billboards, the arrival of the Motograph News Bulletin (or the “Zipper”) and, of course, the exact number of light bulbs found in the 2000 Millennium ball. Cross sections, diagrams and stunning double-page spreads show how these few tiny streets have changed in very large ways. Just like Times Square itself, the pages are filled to the brim. (sources) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

ISLAND OF SILENCE

McMann, Lisa Aladdin (416 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-4424-0771-8 Series: Unwanteds, 2

This Unwanteds (2011) sequel lacks the magic of the first book in more ways than one. Now that both Artimé and Quill are free states and their rulers continue to work toward mutual peace, Artimé’s leader, mage Marcus Today, who’s worked every day for the last 50 years, wants to take a holiday. He taps former Unwanted Alex to train to serve in his place. Instead of focusing on the students’ creativity and burgeoning magical abilities, this second novel delves into leadership and gives readers plenty to think about concerning qualities and motivation. The third-person narration alternates between Alex and his doubts in his ability to lead and his vengeful twin brother, Aaron, who, after getting kicked out of Quill’s university and losing his Wanted status, plots to become the new high priest of Quill. With the help of secret agents, Aaron hopes to start another war with Artimé and take over their land as well—even if it means defeating his brother. Aaron’s schemes take so long to materialize, however, that there’s little action for stretches of the story. Despite the occasional slow pacing, the discovery of surrounding islands, including one that renders its captives mute in a horrific manner, lends enough adventure to keep fans satisfied. A cliffhanger ending with plenty of unsolved mysteries ensures the return of readers in the next installment. (Fantasy. 9-13)

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“…the melding of myth and modern-day high school life works well, usually striking an appropriately unsettling tone but at times even resulting in some wickedly funny passages…” from envy

BEYOND A Ghost Story

McNamee, Graham Wendy Lamb/Random (240 pp.) $15.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $18.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-385-73775-3 978-0-375-89759-7 e-book 978-0-385-90687-6 PLB Jane’s shadow having its own spirit is odd enough. Now it has a death wish. Born without a pulse, Jane is no stranger to near-death experiences. Her shadow has forced her to drink drain cleaner and held her down on a train track as a speeding train approached. After a recent nail-gun “accident” to the skull causes her to flat-line, Jane returns to the living with her shadow even more determined to kill her. The first-person narration makes the teen’s fear immediate, as she begins sleepwalking along dangerous roads and dreaming of being buried alive. The atmospheric setting—the dark, wet, small town of Edgewood, along Canada’s Rain Coast—adds another layer of terror to this intriguing ghost story. When Jane discovers a human skeleton after a landslide, she starts to realize the true nature of her shadow. Certain her constable father and florist mother wouldn’t believe her shadow stories, she entrusts best friend and “Creep Sister” Lexi, a budding cinematographer with an interest in film noir, to help her solve the mystery. As in Acceleration (2003) and Bonechiller (2008), McNamee delivers another taut, spine-tingling page turner. A return to the true ghost story without any supernatural romance to ruin it. (Ghost story. 13 & up)

TEN

McNeil, Gretchen Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (304 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-06-211878-3 978-0-06-211880-6 e-book A scary gorefest of murder and mayhem, not for the faint of heart. High school best friends Meg and Minnie join a weekend-long, alcoholinfused party on a small island off the coast of Washington. Their parents think they’re elsewhere; in fact no one knows they’re there except the ferry crew and the other eight attendees. A fierce storm is battering the island, and the power fails, plunging them into darkness and complete isolation from the rest of the world. Then teens start to turn up dead in rather gruesome, vividly depicted ways: hanged, impaled by driftwood (really!), electrocuted, etc. At first, it appears that the deaths could be caused by a bizarre combination of suicide and accident, but as the body count soars, the teens have to choose: Is one of them a serial killer, or is the murderer stalking them from beyond the group? Clues are just amorphous enough to |

sustain the mystery, and since mistakes are lethal, the suspense is high. Meanwhile, it also becomes obvious that some of the stereotypical teens share relationships that weren’t apparent at first, i.e., Meg’s far-overworked yearning to pair off with T.J., the handsome guy that unstable Minnie lusts for. For murder-mystery fans, there’s more than enough horror and gore to sustain this effort (and several more), making for a breathless read. (Mystery/horror. 14 & up)

FIELD OF PEACE

Meyer, Joyce Illus. by Sullivan, Mary Zonderkidz (40 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-310-72318-9 An egotistical giraffe pitcher ultimately strikes out when his competitive spirit places his own self-interest above his teammate. Boyd dominates baseball games with his athletic pitches, but his supportive teammate Arnold Armadillo’s natural instinct to retreat for cover whenever the ball draws near starts a losing streak. Boyd faces a moral and spiritual dilemma after he scares the skunk groundskeeper (causing quite the stink) and fails to communicate the change in practice location to his uncoordinated friend. Boyd’s ego initially overrides his conscience, but Coach’s biblical lecture quickly sets him straight. Boyd welcomes Arnold back to the fold, and the armadillo clinches the score, though whether by chance or God’s intercession remains unclear. The narrative’s unlikely outcome, in which winning remains the reward, seems to stunt the characters’ growing humility. The bland illustrations seek to project humor in the details. Boyd wears a clothespin to stifle the skunk’s fumes, for instance. Unbelievable, earnest dialogue expresses Boyd’s beliefs: “Thank you, God, for a great game!” Coach’s redirection fails in both subtlety and developmental appropriateness in one fell swoop. “Well, I know a great umpire that will help you make good decisions in life. That umpire’s name is PEACE.” Boyd’s immediate change of heart fails to address the realistic complexities of Christians’ walk in faith. The heavy-hoofed message stomps any legitimate sense of serenity. (Picture book. 4-7)

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ENVY

Miles, Elizabeth Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (400 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-4424-2221-6 Series: Fury, 2 The Furies from Greek mythology return to terrorize high school students in this heart-pounding follow-up to 2011’s Fury. Skylar is new to the small town of Ascension, Maine. She’s moved from |

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Alabama to stay with her aunt and harbors a guilty secret that makes her a prime target for the Furies. Manifesting as three eerily beautiful sisters, one of their lot, Meg, easily fools Skylar into thinking she is her friend and begins to engineer the girl’s downfall. Meanwhile, deeply sympathetic Em, who made a desperate bargain with the Furies to save the life of her friend/ love interest, JD, frantically searches for a way to destroy them, even as she undergoes disturbing changes. This metamorphosis is seemingly one of the central mysteries of the novel, but it will be clear to readers long before it is actually revealed—some plot tightening might have served to better preserve the suspense. However, the melding of myth and modern-day high school life works well, usually striking an appropriately unsettling tone but at times even resulting in some wickedly funny passages— “That’s all it took...Boy sees girl attempting sacrifice in graveyard, boy falls back in love. Why didn’t I think of that before?” The Furies make pleasingly vicious villains; horror fans won’t want to miss this second in a planned trilogy. (Horror. 12-18)

THE BROKEN LANDS

Milford, Kate Clarion (464 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-547-73966-3

Two teens race against time to thwart the forces of evil in this prequel to The Boneshaker (2010). The Broken Land is a hotel where much crucial action takes place, but it is also an apt description of the United States in 1877. The Civil War has scarred the country, and Reconstruction has ended. “Folks are angry, still,” orphan Sam is told. “Folks are scared and folks feel like punishing each other, and I don’t think many of ‘em are clear about what they’re mad for.” It is also a time of technological marvels like the Brooklyn Bridge, although this particular wonder has come with a price for young Sam. After losing his father to illness brought on by work on the bridge, Sam finds himself working as a cardsharp in Coney Island. He becomes the unlikely ally of Jin, a Chinese girl working with a team to provide fireworks at Broken Land, as they find themselves resisting a figure seeking to establish his own Hell. This seamless blend of fantasy and historical fiction is ripe with rich, gritty detail. Best of all, it is populated by a vast array of unusual characters: Along with Sam and Jin, there’s Tom, a former member of the U.S. Colored Troops, and Susannah, a biracial woman who may hold the key to victory. Readers will be captivated. (Steampunk. 12 & up)

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MIMI’S VILLAGE And How Basic Health Care Transformed It Milway, Katie Smith Illus. by Fernandes, Eugenie Kids Can (32 pp.) $18.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-1-55453-722-8 Series: CitizenKid

This entry in the CitizenKid series successfully conveys to readers both the importance of health care/disease prevention and the limited availability of these in the third world. The fortunate good health of Mimi’s family is threatened after a forbidden sip of stream water sickens her little sister. An hour-long walk to the clinic in the next village brings improved health to Nakkissi, vaccinations to all three children and a dream to Mimi of building a clinic in their own village. Determination and cooperation pay off three months later when Nurse Tela makes the first of her bi-weekly visits to dispense health care and instruction in hygiene, nutrition and the use of bed nets to prevent malaria. Backmatter introduces readers to a real “Nurse Tela” working in Zambia, details why basic health care is so important, and gives readers ideas on how they can make a difference. Fernandes’ folk-art–style acrylic artwork is rich in patterns and beautifully portrays both village life and the Kenyan landscape. She skillfully uses the juxtaposition of foreground and background to match the illustrations with the extensive text, as when a leopard and hyena menacingly wait outside the hut where the family gathers around the ill child. Readers will take much away from this, including an appreciation for their health-care resources and a desire to make a difference in the world. (map, glossary) (Picture book. 6-10)

DISCOVERING WES MOORE

Moore, Wes Delacorte (160 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-385-74167-5

This story, an adaptation for young people of the adult memoir The Other Wes Moore (2008), explores the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up impoverished on the same inner-city streets but wound up taking completely different paths. Author Moore grew up with a devoted mother and extended family. After receiving poor grades and falling in with a bad crowd, his family pooled their limited finances to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he found positive role models and became a Corps commander and star athlete. After earning an undergraduate degree, Wes attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. When the author read about the conviction of another

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“...the appealing pictures, familiar animals, predictable descriptions and satisfying ending will entertain young listeners just beginning to identify zoo animals and their characteristics.” from i want a pet!

Wes Moore for armed robbery and killing a police officer, he wanted to find out how two youths growing up at the same time in the same place could take such divergent paths. The author learns that the other Wes never had the extensive family support, the influential mentors or the lucky breaks he enjoyed. Unfortunately, the other Wes Moore is not introduced until over twothirds of the way through the narrative. The story of the other Wes is heavily truncated and rushed, as is the author’s conclusion, in which he argues earnestly and convincingly that young people can overcome the obstacles in their lives when they make the right choices and accept the support of caring adults. Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story. (Memoir. 12 & up)

I WANT A PET!

Morrison, Cathy Illus. by Morrison, Cathy Tiger Tales (32 pp.) $12.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-58925-113-7 How do you find the perfect pet? A boy wants a pet, but “[n]ot just any pet will do,” and, naturally, to find an animal, one would go and visit…the zoo. Colorful illustrations with just the right amount of action show the boy, complete with wagon and net, arriving at the zoo to peruse the selection. He doesn’t notice the very appealing pup who lingers in the background as he travels around and crosses animals off his mental list; the giraffe is “[t]oo high,” the meerkats “[t]oo low,” the cheetah “[t]oo fast,” and the tortoise “[t]oo slow.” The short, rhymed phrases continue through other animals, until the boy discovers just the pet he is searching for, right in front of his eyes. Will he bring the pup home? You bet! While the scenario is somewhat thin and forced—a toddler on his own in the zoo searching for a pet?—the story’s gentle humor carries through, and the appealing pictures, familiar animals, predictable descriptions and satisfying ending will entertain young listeners just beginning to identify zoo animals and their characteristics. The easy-to-interpret interaction between text and illustrations combine with the rhyme to make this book work well for beginning readers as well as lapsitters. Good fun for very young animal lovers. (Picture book. 2-4)

DELIA’S DULL DAY

Myer, Andy Illus. by Myer, Andy Sleeping Bear Press (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-58536-804-4 An amusing visual riff on the frequent refrain “nothing ever happens to me.” Delia recounts the details of her incredibly dull yesterday. While her words describe a pedestrian day from breakfast to bedtime, the illustrations tell a |

completely different story. While Delia’s eyes are either trained down on her cereal or a handheld device or looking straight ahead, lots of interesting things are happening around her. Delia complains, “NOTHING happened during my breakfast, except I spilled some milk.” As she struggles with the milk, two elephants parade unseen down her hallway. Later, wildly shaped hot-air balloons float by while she checks her phone and waits for the bus. A pirate rides to school with her, and an astronaut floats by her math-class window while Delia doodles. The droll, first-person point of view carries the sarcastic, bored tone to its humorous extreme. The message could not be clearer: Look up and see the interesting world around you! This lesson is delivered in such a winning, funny package that it hardly seems like a lesson at all. Closer to Where’s Waldo in their invitation to look closely than a pat lesson on awareness, these lively, cartoony illustrations offer many chortles per page and invite amused readers to return to find more “boring” details in Delia’s life. Young readers will chuckle at Delia’s cluelessness—and maybe think twice about their own assumptions. (Picture book. 4-9)

THE HIGH-SKIES ADVENTURES OF BLUE JAY THE PIRATE

Nash, Scott Illus. by Nash, Scott Candlewick (368 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7636-3264-9

A corvid catastrophe threatens swashbuckling Blue Jay and his mixed avian crew after a treetop shipwreck leaves them to the tender mercies of a murder of crows. Reputed to be “generally the most bloodthirsty and fearsome pirate to sail the high skies” (but not really that bad), Blue Jay flies the Jolly Robin from his ship the Grosbeak. Aside, however, from occasional harmless plundering, he much prefers sailing grandly through the clouds. Still, after falling into the clutches of his more viciously piratical cousin Teach and getting their flight feathers clipped, he and his scrappy crew—particularly Gabriel, a recent hatchling who grows in the tale from an oversized and ungainly bumbler into a magnificent Branta goose—must act. They rise to defeat the crows in a pair of savage battles with help from flocks of sparrows and an intrepid mole. In his debut as a novelist, Nash’s dialogue comes off as stilted (“This evening… I managed to successfully facilitate a visit between our unwitting weasels and a she wolf,” reports the mole), and his efforts to inject mystical notes with repeated references to geese as gods or godlings seem labored. Otherwise, he crafts a merry romp that is much enhanced by frequent formally drawn ink-and-color scenes of an airborne galleon and full-body portraits of birds posing in 17th-century costume. An imaginative premise, fledged in showy if sometimes overdecorated finery. (Fantasy. 10-12)

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THE RELUCTANT JOURNAL OF HENRY K. LARSEN

the illustrations in mastery; Nytra ends his odyssey with an abrupt return to a spacious bedroom and then a handsome but anticlimactic pull back to view the children’s country estate at sunrise. Not much here for plot, but fans of the art of Tenniel and his modern descendants (Maurice Sendak, Charles Vess) will find much to admire in this U.S. debut. (Graphic fantasy. 8-11)

Nielsen, Susin Tundra (224 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-77049-372-8

A young teen reveals through journal entries how he and his family piece their lives back together after a tragedy in this dark but humorous story. Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy life abruptly ends when his older brother kills the boy who bullied him in school and then takes his own life. Henry refers to this tragedy as “IT.” He moves to a new city with his family for a fresh start. To help him cope with IT, Henry’s therapist recommends he keep a journal. Henry hates the suggestion but soon finds himself recording his thoughts and feelings constantly, even updating it multiple times per day. He tries to be a loner in his new school but eventually befriends a circle of eccentric outsiders. Though Henry reveals nothing to them about his dark secret, they help him come to terms with his pain. Henry is a likable, sympathetic protagonist, as are the supporting characters in the story. Nielsen injects enough humor into the story to sustain the drama of Henry’s ordeal without making it too maudlin or morose, and the honesty with which he confronts his feelings in his journal is both disarming and endearing. A realistic, poignant portrait of one teen who overcomes nearly unbearable feelings of grief and guilt. (Fiction. 12 & up)

THE SECRET OF THE STONE FROG

Nytra, David Illus. by Nytra, David TOON/Candlewick (80 pp.) $14.95 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-935179-18-4 Nytra doesn’t stray far from overt Carrollian influences in his graphically presented adventures of two temporarily lost children. Waking beneath a tree and shrunk to thumb size, Leah and her easily distracted little brother Alan follow the directions of several stone frogs to get back home. Their path isn’t as direct as it might be, though. Along the way they anger a Bee Lady—depicted Red Queen–style with a large head and stubby, neckless body—exchange courtesies with a group of refined teddy bears (or maybe lions?) in elaborate 18th-century dress, ride atop giant rabbits, and take a subway ride in a train filled with stiffly silent sea life clad in Victorianera garb. In an eerie climax, they race through cobblestone streets lined with buildings that abruptly warp into towering, glowering faces. Looking small and wearing traditional nightclothes in the white-bordered black-and-white panels, the two children make their way through oversized woods and urban scenes depicted in marvelous, finely drawn detail. The storytelling does not match 1680

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MOLLY, BY GOLLY! The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter

Ochiltree, Dianne Illus. by Kemly, Kathleen Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-59078-721-2

The first American female firefighter was an African-American cook in the first quarter of the 19th century in New York City. Ochiltree and Kemly tell Molly Williams’ story in lively prose and richly modeled watercolors. Molly cooked for Mr. Aymar, who was also a volunteer firefighter for the Oceanus Engine Company No. 11. A heavy snowstorm and a wave of influenza laid many of the volunteers low, so Molly took herself out of the kitchen and alerted runners—the boys who spread the alarm—and then put on a leather helmet and gloves and worked beside the men pumping water from the river, passing buckets of water hand to hand, until finally the blaze was out. All the pages are double-spread, full-bleed images, showing much period detail along with the flames and falling snow and Molly’s signature bright blue calico dress and checkered apron. Faces are broad and full of emotion, with Molly’s strong brown face showing every nuance of determination and courage. The bibliography includes titles for children and for adults, as well as websites and other links. There is also a FAQ that clearly explains many of the historical details. A pleasing historical tidbit. (author’s note, acknowledgments) (Picture book. 5-9)

THE SPINDLERS

Oliver, Lauren Illus. by Bruno, Iacopo Harper/HarperCollins (256 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-06-197808-1 Liza must venture Below to rescue her little brother’s soul, stolen by evil, power-hungry spider people called spindlers, in this refreshingly creepy, intricately woven tale. A concealed hole in the wall behind a narrow bookcase in her family’s basement is her entry, and amid loud scratching noises, Liza trips, falling down into the darkness Below. Mirabella, a giant rat who wears newspaper for a skirt, becomes her

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“A tale dark, deep and strong, like the sea.” from fathomless

trusted guide to the spindlers’ nests, which Liza must reach before the Feast of the Souls. But things are never what they seem in Oliver’s vividly imagined world....An arduous, dangerous and fantastical journey ensues. As in the author’s first terrific book for middle-grade readers, Liesl & Po (2011), there is a smorgasbord of literary references, including strong echoes of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It is laced with humor and engaging wordplay, as well as riddles and death-defying tests and enchantments. Wholly original creatures populate the tale, some reassuring and wise, like the nocturni and lumer-lumpen, others wonderfully macabre (and ferocious), like the queen of the spindlers and the shape-shifting scawgs. In the course of her episodic quest, Liza discovers she is resourceful and brave; she sees things differently than before. Richly detailed, at times poetic, ultimately moving; a book to be puzzled over, enjoyed and, ideally, read aloud. (Final illustrations not seen.) (Fantasy. 8-12)

THE CHICKEN PROBLEM

Oxley, Jennifer;Aronson, Billy Illus. by Oxley, Jennifer Random House (32 pp.) $16.99 | PLB $19.99 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-375-86989-1 978-0-375-96989-8 PLB Oxley and Aronson present a work based on their new PBS show, Peg + Cat. It’s a good thing that Peg and Cat are problem-solvers. Their picnic has been laid, and everyone has a piece of pie just the right size for them—but there are three picnickers and four pieces of pie. While Peg melts down about the lonely piece of pie, Cat goes to the coop and gets a chick, solving the problem. But by leaving the coop unlatched, he has created a bigger problem—100 times larger, to be exact. When collecting the adorable chicks by hand only garners 10, the duo latch onto the MacGuffin of using “wheely things” to lure the chicks back, because “[c]hickens really love going for a ride.” While the story is not all that strong, the pictures are a riot, math subtly woven into both the text and layout—the clouds are infinity signs, and the page numbers are all +1 math problems. There are places where the text comes up to the level of the artwork, particularly the spreads that depict the chicks running amok, the text describing their actions so readers can search the chicken-crowded scenes to find them. Standouts include “chickens doing the chicken dance” and “chickens bending over and wiggling their bottoms in the air.” Cute, but one can’t help but wish for a separation of screen and text. (Picture book. 4-8)

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CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT

Patterson, James; Paetro, Maxine Little, Brown (384 pp.) $18.99 | Sep. 24, 2012 978-0-316-20698-3 When a wealthy and powerful New York couple is discovered dead in their bed, the prime suspects are their four overachieving children. Fifteen-year-old Tandy Angel, likely the last person to see her parents alive, is determined to use her analytical mind to find the perpetrators, even if she herself is the criminal. Tandy begins to investigate the possible leads. Could it be her hot-tempered older brother, her artistic twin or her overly aggressive younger brother? Police investigators seem to think that it is Tandy who is emerging as the most likely suspect. Unfortunately the more she digs, the more confusing everything becomes. Fans of Patterson’s fast-paced style and surprising plot twists will embrace the beginning of another series. They may, however, be disappointed at the lack of suspense and true mystery that are hallmarks of his work for adults. Tandy, addressing readers directly, questions her own judgment, but she never manages to be the unreliable narrator that she insists she is. The ultimate reveal will likely leave readers feeling as though they were led on a wild goose chase through the disturbing world of a very twisted family. An unsatisfying ending and an unlikable cast make this thriller anything but. (Mystery. 12 & up)

FATHOMLESS

Pearce, Jackson Little, Brown (304 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-316-20778-2 Even when surrounded by sisters, Celia and Lo feel alone, until a seaside encounter brings them together in this brooding paranormal romance. Lo is a relatively young “ocean girl”— she lives underwater and sings, but is never labeled a mermaid or siren—still anchored to her former human life and drawn to the surface world. Unlike her older “sisters,” who drift on the current and ascend to meet their allegedly angelic maker, Lo aims to be cured of her condition by drowning a mortal lover. On land, unlike her seemingly shallow, identical and manipulative triplet sisters, Anne and Jane, Celia Reynolds prefers to ignore her psychic powers and mope along the boardwalk. After Lo and Celia save the hapless, handsome guitarist Jude Wallace from drowning, Celia helps Lo remember her life as Naida Kelly—to everyone’s peril. Parents are conveniently dead or absent, but real-life concerns of rent, school and transportation lend the story an Alice Hoffman–like air of magical realism rather than typical teen paranormal lightness.

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“Beth’s coming-of-age…rises to poetry in its loving affection for London’s filth and scars.” from the city ’s son

Ruminations on individuality, identity and memory as well as constant narrative shifts among Celia, Lo and Naida hamper plot progress but impart a dreamy quality. Not a retelling of, but distantly related to Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.” A tale dark, deep and strong, like the sea. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

DEAD IS A KILLER TUNE

Perez, Marlene Graphia (192 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-547-60834-1 Series: Dead Is…, 7

A Battle of the Bands brings a magical music menace to Nightshade, and Jessica and her friends must stop it. Jessica’s romance with Dominic hasn’t exactly progressed smoothly since Dead Is a Battlefield (2012). Everyone swears he’s still head over heels for her, and she definitely is still into him, but Dominic’s reserved treatment leaves Jessica baffled and boyfriendless. While Jessica and friends peruse a music collector’s estate sale, a mysterious thief absconds with a not-for-sale flute rumored to have belonged to the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The peppy prose pushes on to the main show, Nightshade’s first Battle of the Bands. Dominic’s band, Side Effects May Vary, finds competition in an out-of-town act followed by a large entourage of obsessed fans—Hamlin, fronted by Brett Piper. When the most competitive bands start losing members to recklessness and bizarre accidents, Jessica must not only get to the bottom of the mystery, but also step into the spotlight as a musician herself. The guest judges act as additional suspects, partially countering predictability in the mystery. With Jessica and Dominic back in a will-they-won’t-they holding pattern, female friendships are free to develop. A solid continuation with an ending that promises further growth in characters and overarching storylines. (Paranormal suspense. 10-16)

BULLY

Polacco, Patricia Illus. by Polacco, Patricia Putnam (48 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-0-399-25704-9 Despite good intentions, Polacco’s current take on this particular hot topic falls short. First and foremost, it seems unlikely that the message will ever reach its intended audience. Extensive text and challenging vocabulary make it clear that although the story is told in Polacco’s typical picture-book format, it’s really aimed at older children. Lyla and her friends (and enemies) appear to be in middle school, but the simplistic plot won’t keep kids that age 1682

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engaged. New at school, Lyla first finds a good friend in fellow newcomer Jamie. When her cheerleading talents are revealed, Lyla is adopted by the in crowd. Savvy readers won’t be surprised when she struggles to balance her friendships or by her eventual decision to stand up for Jamie. That decision leads to an accusation of cheating and an all-out campaign of cyberbullying. While Polacco gets quite a few things just right—the three mean girls’ body language perfectly expresses their snotty attitude, and Lyla’s pleasure in being part of the popular group is entirely believable—overall, the plot is predictable. Ending with a question for readers emphasizes the bibliotherapeutic goal and further weakens the potential impact. Unlike Polacco’s Thank You, Mr. Falker (1998)—an affecting, personal look at the pain cruel kids can inflict on those they perceive as different—this contemporary effort won’t move readers to better understand themselves or others. (Picture book. 8-12)

THE CITY’S SON

Pollock, Tom Flux (480 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 8, 2012 978-0-7387-3430-9 Series: Skyscraper Throne, 1 A graffiti artist finds purpose in this most urban of urban fantasies. Beth, 16, flees expulsion, a broken friendship and a dysfunctionally grieving father straight into the arms of a ragged warrior. Filius Viae is the Son of the Streets, the only child of the goddess London. Filius was born into an eternal battle between the spirits of the city and their nemesis, the god of ceaseless growth. Beth joins the battle out of restlessness, but she stays for herself and her growing love for this strange other London of weevils and cockroaches, Pylon Spiders and feuding Lampfolk. The richly drawn setting evokes China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun (2007); though Beth isn’t as richly drawn as UnLondon’s Deeba, she has her own scruffy charm. Her victories come through cocksure bravado, boldfaced cheek and the assurance that she’s got nothing to lose. Beth’s coming-of-age is presented in uneven, symbolic prose that sometimes overreaches, littering her tale with overwrought metaphor, but it also rises to poetry in its loving affection for London’s filth and scars. A slow and dragging buildup is redeemed not just by the well-paced climax, but by the emerging heroism of the most unexpected characters. Ultimately, the density of this series opener pays off; the countless little details culminate in a satisfying resolution with no destined heroes, only individuals struggling along the best they can. (Fantasy. 13-16)

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THE TURNING

Prose, Francine HarperTeen (144 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-06-199966-6 978-0-06-219028-4 e-book Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw is the inspiration for this epistolary novel by Francine Prose. High school senior Jack has been hired as a professional playmate for two orphaned children who live on their wealthy family’s remote island for the summer. But the isolated place has no Internet or phone service, so Jack must write old-fashioned letters to communicate. Very quickly the strangely polite siblings and their vast spooky mansion begin freaking Jack out, and his letters to his girlfriend grow more and more paranoid. He writes about seeing the ghosts of a former teacher and the previous groundskeeper, who both died under mysterious circumstances, and he becomes obsessed with their stories. Are they real? Or is Jack losing his mind? If readers can suspend disbelief that a teenage boy would recount lengthy, word-for-word conversations in letters, then they might be susceptible to the novel’s moderately creepy tone. But the bad things are telegraphed so early and often and Jack’s voice is so nondescript, that the fear never really takes root. Whether or not the ghosts are real is left up to readers, but due to the lackluster prose and obvious foreshadowing, the question is ultimately not that frightening. Teens looking for a more elegantly executed retelling should turn to Tighter by Adele Griffin (2011). Not enough scare there. (Fiction. 12 & up)

STEVE JOBS Genius by Design

Quinn, Jason Illus. by Tayal, Amit Campfire (108 pp.) $12.99 paperback | Sep. 4, 2012 978-93-80028-76-7 An unsparing yet also very human graphic depiction of Steve Jobs’ life. It is no secret that Jobs was a hard case, but Quinn’s work displays him in all his tempestuousness: as extreme and antagonistic as he was meticulous and inspired. Tayal’s smartly paced, round-edged, clean panels convey the tension and urgency Jobs brought to his projects, his brash and abrasive exterior balanced by thought bubbles that reveal even rawer emotions and a drive that feels combustible. What is particularly effective here is the creation of the Apple world, one in which Jobs would be pivotal, but with other significant players, many of whom get the fullflesh treatment from Quinn, such as uber-geek Steve Wozniak and design whiz Jony Ive, and the business guys Mike Scott and John Sculley. Jobs’ family is gradually brought into the fold, as are his fascinations with diet and Zen Buddhism and the unfortunate notion he held that he didn’t have to bathe but once a week |

thanks to his mucusless eating habits. By the end of the story, it is clear where Jobs fit into the Apple picture, with all his imperfections amid the perfectionism. Jobs was a difficult character, but it was his very restlessness, which Quinn plays like a fiddle, that helped change how we live in the world. (Graphic novel. 10 & up)

BEYOND COURAGE The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust Rappaport, Doreen Candlewick (240 pp.) $22.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7636-2976-2

In a book that is the very model of excellence in nonfiction, Rappaport dispels the old canard that the Jews entered the houses of death as lambs led to the slaughter. Although “[t]he scope and extent of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust cannot possibly be contained in one book,” Rappaport offers an astonishing and inspiring survey. By shining a spotlight on individuals and their involvement in given situations—Kristallnacht, deportations, guerrilla resistance, among others—throughout Europe, she creates intimate personal snapshots of the years of the Nazi occupation. She tells of people who committed acts of destruction as well as those whose resistance was in the simple act of celebrating and maintaining their faith in impossible conditions. Well-known events—the escape from Sobibor, the battle for Warsaw—share space with less-familiar ones. Short biographies introduce readers to those involved, some of whom the author has interviewed. Archival images of people and places help readers envision the people and places that are mentioned: partisan forest hideaways, concentration camps, the ovens, barracks, groups of people on their way to death, diagrams of camps and more. Thorough, deeply researched and stylistically clear, this is a necessary, exemplary book. (pronunciation guide, chronology, notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

UNSPOKEN

Rees Brennan, Sarah Random House (384 pp.) $18.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $21.99 Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-375-87041-5 978-0-375-98918-6 e-book 978-0-375-97041-2 PLB Series: The Lynburn Legacy, 1 Sassy girl detective meets overwrought gothic romance, and it goes about as well

as you’d expect. Kami Glass knows that she could be a great reporter, if there were only something worth investigating in her sleepy Cotswolds village. But now the aristocratic, secretive Lynburns

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are coming home to their sinister ancestral mansion, and Kami is determined that her high school newspaper will get the scoop. Soon, two gorgeous, near-identical Lynburn cousins, princely Ash and bad-boy Jared, join her journalistic team—not to mention Kami’s imaginary best friend since babyhood, who turns out to be not quite so imaginary after all. And that’s when the grisly murders start….From the abandoned abbey to the veiled villain, no gothic trope is forgotten while creating the doom-drenched atmosphere. Unfortunately, when an admirably intrepid 21stcentury heroine with supportive family and friends replaces the traditional isolated innocent, and when every character banters with the same witty genre-savvy repartee even under the direst of circumstances, any suspension of disbelief is stretched to the snapping point. The abrupt tonal shift at the climax, when the magic previously hinted at is revealed as both deadly and heartbreaking, makes the final cliffhanger even more devastating. Far too self-consciously clever to be truly emotionally absorbing, this is nonetheless an enjoyable tribute for established fans of the gothic, as well as an enticing introduction for new ones. (Fantasy. 11-17)

CREEPY CARROTS!

Reynolds, Aaron Illus. by Brown, Peter Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $16.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-4424-0297-3 Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field. Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach. Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

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THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME

Rivers, Karen Levine/Scholastic (256 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-545-31028-4 978-0-545-46951-7 e-book Cleverly woven through the titular encyclopedia—with entries as seemingly mundane as “Apple” and “Oxen”—is the touchingly real and often humorous story of a preteen’s struggles with family, friendship and first love. Isadora “Tink” Aaron-Martin, nearly 13, means to make the most of her recent grounding by using her time on house arrest to write an encyclopedia, heavily annotated with footnotes. Frustrated by her reputation as the peacemaker, Tink’s entries about life with an autistic brother are fresh and painfully honest. Rivers doesn’t tiptoe around the destructive impact the syndrome can have on a family. Rather, through Tink, she explores what it’s like to grow up in a house where everyone is constantly walking on eggshells, waiting for the next violent outburst. But family isn’t the only place where Tink feels invisible. She also walks in the shadow of her “best friend,” Freddie Blue Anderson, who seems to care more about being “pops” (popular) than about Tink. It isn’t until a blue-haired skateboarder named Kai moves in next door that she gradually finds the strength to put herself first, both at home and at school. Though the footnotes feel gimmicky and distracting, readers will likely be able to look past them (or just skip over them) and cheer for Tink as she comes into her own. (Fiction. 12-14)

RAGE WITHIN

Roberts, Jeyn Simon & Schuster (368 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-4424-2354-1 Galloping suspense dominates this riveting sequel to post-apocalyptic Dark Inside (2011). Those new to the series should begin with the first book, as this one picks up where it left off. After worldwide devastating earthquakes, a large part of humanity has succumbed to the dark side and are united in savagery to kill those unaffected people who remain. Called “Baggers” by Aries and her friends, they’re identified by the black veins in their eyes. Aries still leads the teens in her group after they have successfully made their way to Vancouver, where they have found a safe house. Tensions develop within the group as they make forays into the city, attempting to rescue others. Michael and Clementine scour the campus of the University of British Columbia, searching for her brother Heath. The Baggers have captured Mason and Daniel, the strange boy Aries secretly loves. Much of the action arises when the group tries to free them, assisted

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“The Schmutzy family, appropriately named for their carefree exploration of all things messy, cleans up perfectly at the end of each week for a proper Sabbath celebration.” from the schmutzy family

by an appealing new character, Raj, a chemistry student whose knowledge proves valuable. Roberts amps the tension in nearly every chapter, leaving cliffhangers throughout and returning to resolve them with yet more drama. Narration alternates chapter by chapter among the characters, shifting focus constantly and finally weaving several threads of the plotline together. Pulse-pounding tension. (Post-apocalyptic suspense. 12 & up)

LIGHTING OUR WORLD

Rondina, Catherine Illus. by Oakley, Jacqui Kids Can (32 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-55453-594-1

Lights, bonfires, fireworks and candles: All are used throughout the world to celebrate a great range of holidays. As the book moves through the year, a child introduces himself or herself and then provides information on such celebrations as Chinese New Year; St. Joseph’s Day in Valencia, Spain, when Las Fallas is celebrated with the burning of large puppets; Nowruz, a pre-Islamic New Year festival in Iran when people jump over bonfires to bring good luck in the coming year; and Inti Raymi, the Peruvian sun festival. The spread for July brings together Independence Day celebrations from several countries, including Canada, the United States, Argentina, the Bahamas, France and Belgium. Although light is mentioned in some of these short descriptions, it’s not necessarily a focal point. The information provided about the holidays is accurate but limited, and there are no sources, maps or related activities. The acrylic and ink illustrations are garishly intense, and although digital techniques are also used, they have an unattractively retro look. The red circles on many people’s cheeks are a very artificial device. This book will be useful as a starting point for teachers, librarians and students who want to search out some interesting festivals to compare and contrast, but it’s not as enlightening as it could be. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

THE SCHMUTZY FAMILY

Rosenberg, Madelyn Illus. by Meisel, Paul Holiday House (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8234-2371-2

The Schmutzy family, appropriately named for their carefree exploration of all things messy, cleans up perfectly at the end of each week for a proper Sabbath celebration. From Sunday until Thursday, Mama and Papa Schmutzy’s brood of five play, create, and discover. They wade in “the malodorous Feldman Swamp” and bring an assortment of flora and fauna back. At home, they decorate their clothes with tomato sauce, enjoy their “blue period” with blueberries, gather earthworms in the vegetable garden and paint additional fruits on |

their pineapple wallpaper. Through it all, this modern Jewish Mama is unfazed, going about her motherly chores without a “tsk or tut.” But on Friday morning, her Yiddish persona comes out as she exclaims, “Oy! Look at this dirt! You’re FARSHTUNKEN, all of you! And it’s nearly SHABBOS. We can’t bring in the Sabbath smelling like COWS!” And so the clean-up begins, culminating in a wonderfully full Friday-night Shabbos dinner with an extended family of 12, followed by an earlymorning Saturday walk to services. A combination of India ink, watercolor, acrylic, pencil and pastel artwork depicts the humorous chaos of a family that balances a live-and-let-live attitude with a weekly ritual and routine. Delightful and unpretentious in its approach to welcoming the Sabbath. (Picture book. 3-5)

SAMMY SPIDER’S NEW FRIEND

Rouss, Sylvia A. Illus. by Kahn, Katherine Janus Kar-Ben (32 pp.) $16.95 | paper $7.95 | $13.95 e-book Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-6663-8 978-0-7613-6664-5 paperback 978-1-4677-0061-0 e-book Series: Sammy Spider Sammy Spider is perfectly safe. Maybe you’re a parent. Your child is asleep in the next room, and you’re watching the news. War has broken out in the Middle East. Senators are screaming about the budget. There’s a pile of picture books nearby. You want to give your child a story with no conflict at all. You open up this latest in the Sammy Spider series. A boy is crying. He has no friends at his new house. But two pages later, the boy next door brings him cake. They play baseball. They take turns on the swing. Sammy spins a web to keep them entertained. You think: No one could object to this book. It even teaches vocabulary, like the Hebrew word akavish, which means spider, and the English word “hospitality.” And you think: Did I really make friends that quickly when I was a child? Maybe you did. But you start thinking about the books you loved back then. Max had to tame monsters. The Cat in the Hat nearly destroyed a house. And suddenly, the boys on their swing seem a little dull. You look for a book about pirates, in case your child wakes up in the middle of the night. This is a book without conflict, and that’s the last thing a child needs. (Picture book. 2-8)

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“Everyone should read it the moment he becomes a man.” from sons of the 613

BLOOD BROTHERS IN LOUISBOURG

Roy, Philip Cape Breton University Press (146 pp.) $14.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-897009-72-7 In 1744, two brothers, unbeknownst to each other, arrive at the French fortress of Louisbourg in what is now Nova Scotia and find themselves swept up in what is destined to be an important battle between the French and English. Jacques, a scholar and musician at heart whose mother resides in France, has been forced by his officer father into the French army and required to accompany him to Louisbourg to help defend the fortress. Jacque’s half brother, Two-Feathers, the son of a Mi’kmaq woman, begins sneaking around the stronghold in hopes of identifying and perhaps meeting the father he has never known. Chapters alternate between the third-person perspective of Two-Feathers and the first-person narration of Jacques, a narrative strategy presumably designed to shed light on the Mi’kmaq and French cultures as well as on their perceptions of each other. In the closest thing to an interesting plot twist, Jacques finds happiness only when he teaches a young French woman to play the violoncello, while Two-Feathers spends his time finding food for, and falling in love with, this same young woman. This rather dry offering may find a place in a history classroom; however, the lack of an absorbing story and truly compelling characters will cause most casual readers to soon abandon the tale, if they pick it up in the first place. (Historical fiction. 12-17)

SONS OF THE 613

Rubens, Michael Clarion (320 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-547-61216-4

This is a book every bar-mitzvah boy will want to steal. “What’s the first thing you say up there onstage during your bar mitzvah?” asks Josh. Josh is holding his brother Isaac over his head. Josh is taking a break from his wrestling scholarship at NYU and taking care of Isaac while their parents are in Italy. Isaac is supposed to say, “Today, I am a man.” They both think that’s pretty stupid. “Are you a man?” Josh asks. Isaac: “Um...no?” Josh: “No, you’re not. You’re still a boy.” This may be the least interesting statement in the book, because every bar-mitzvah boy already knows it. But no parent will ever give this book as a bar-mitzvah gift because of the bar fights, the strippers and the vomit. Josh has decided to turn his brother into a man, and he’s decided to do it in the three weeks before Isaac turns 13. Isaac will meet Josh’s friends: strippers, an 1686

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African-American pool player in a porkpie hat and Patrick the Meth-Dealing Punk. Parents will expect a bar-mitzvah book to inspire their child, teach him something and make him proud to be Jewish. Surprisingly, this novel accomplishes two out of three. This book won’t make readers proud to be Jewish. It will make them proud to be a pool player in a porkpie hat, a tattooed punk or anyone who survives all the way to 13. Everyone should read it the moment he becomes a man. (Fiction. 13-17)

THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS FLY SOUTH

Rubin, Adam Illus. by Salmieri, Daniel Clarion (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-547-67823-8

Birds of a feather (along with a cantankerous gentleman and his pesky squirrels) flock together at this tropical destination. Old Man Fookwire dips into a depression when his beloved feathered companions fly south. His impish squirrels take to the sky in makeshift machines (utilizing, in part, a pine cone and soda bottle) and follow the birds. After the squirrels call collect, Fookwire putters down the highway (at 12 mph) to join the birds and the pests. Once in Santa Vaca, he discovers the fiery coco, kiki and caramba birds and starts to paint them. Forgetting sunscreen and forgoing water, Mr. Fookwire turns tomato-red and suffers from heatstroke. The squirrels perform triage, fanning him with palm branches and dumping fluids into his parched mouth, before piling him into his sports car and driving him back north at record speeds. Fookwire’s “Thooooooose daaaaaaarn squirrrrrels!” says it all about their love-hate relationship. Visual slapstick and a deadpan text combine with trademark Fookwire expressions (“great googly-moogly!”) to make this third Darn Squirrels outing a winner. Watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil spreads pepper the beach with individual grains of sand. The birds’ flamboyance (one a bird-sized replica of the ornery old man) is the perfect complement to the sweltering heat. Hysterical—again. (Picture book. 5-9)

FROM THE GOOD MOUNTAIN How Gutenberg Changed the World

Rumford, James Illus. by Rumford, James Neal Porter/Flash Point/ Roaring Brook (40 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-59643-542-1

Ironically, this book honors the inventor of the printing press more through illustrations than words. Sumptuously illustrated in the style of medieval manuscripts, this title offers fascinating descriptions of the steps and

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materials involved in 15th-century bookmaking. Children will savor the explanations and detailed, jewellike illustrations that clearly convey the procedures, substances and skill that went into the preparation of what the text calls a “mysterious thing.” Each process and component is discussed on a page that ends in a riddle, answered on a facing page. When Gutenberg (German for from the good mountain) enters, it’s almost anticlimactic. Still, his printing press’s success and the illumination and binding of his first efforts are lucidly related, and a sample page is illustrated. Only on the final page of the story does the author confirm what the press actually produced. Overall, adults will likely be more captivated than children, having greater perspective on and appreciation for what Gutenberg brought forth; no explanation for how Gutenberg’s innovation changed the world is presented for youngsters. However, even adults will be frustrated by the lack of glossary and sources. Young readers desiring further information are given a list of terms to search for on the Internet, though this seems a frail substitute. An homage that is ultimately more a testament to the author-illustrator’s own bookmaking skills than paean to the inventor of movable type. (epilogue, key search terms) (Picture books/biography. 7-10)

NERVE

Ryan, Jeanne Dial (304 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-0-8037-3832-4 A girl who’s always stage crew, never the star, finds herself in the limelight when she’s chosen as a finalist in a disturbing Internet-based reality game. As Vee explains it, NERVE “is basically truth or dare, without the truth part,” in which players are Watched by those who pay a fee to observe and a premium to record the game. Tired of always playing it safe, she performs an audition dare: Dumping cold water on herself in a coffee shop. Taped and uploaded to the NERVE site by her friend Tommy, the subsequent wet-T-shirt effect garners enough online attention that she is selected for a set of escalating dares that take her to the grand finals. With each dare, a commensurate prize inferred from her ThisIsMe profile is dangled in front of her. Between momentum and cupidity, she finds herself partnered with Ian, “a smokin’-hot guy who’s eyeing me like candy,” in a secret room in a Seattle nightclub along with five other players, who must simultaneously cooperate and compete in ever-more humiliating and dangerous stunts to win extravagant, personalized grand prizes. The commentary on today’s life-as-public-spectacle society is both unsubtle and sound; the plot’s nearer-future similarities to The Hunger Games are equally inescapable. If characterization and theme are obvious, the pacing is nevertheless relentless, and readers will find themselves flipping madly to the very last page. (Thriller. 14-18)

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HENRY FRANKS

Salomon, Peter Adam Flux (288 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Sep. 8, 2012 978-0-7387-3336-4 Loner sophomore Henry Franks desperately wants to regain his memory so he can find out if he is who his father says he is. Henry’s body is a road map of scars thanks to the auto accident that supposedly killed his mother. He has no memory of the accident or of life before waking up on St. Simons Island in Georgia. He regularly sees a psychiatrist, but she just repeats that recovery of his memory is a process that may take time. His only friend at school is Justine, his beautiful neighbor, who doesn’t care about his scars. Henry’s disturbed by dreams of a little girl who calls him daddy and tells him his name is Victor. When he finds a box of mysterious photographs in the cellar, he and Justine begin investigating his past. Meanwhile, a hurricane bears down on the coast of Georgia, and a serial killer is on the loose. When Henry and Justine discover the truth, it’s more amazing and terrifying than either expected. Salomon’s debut stumbles out of the gate, and then, when it finally picks up steam, it is hobbled by an annoying grammatical quirk of rendering several short, sequential lines of dialogue with no attribution. At times, this tendency renders it nearly unreadable; neither intriguing characters nor its interesting riff on the Frankenstein story can save it. A tertiary purchase for those who seek creepy science fiction. (Horror. 14 & up)

WHAT CAME FROM THE STARS

Schmidt, Gary D. Clarion (304 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-547-61213-3

On a distant planet, the besieged Valorim send a necklace containing their planet to Earth in a last-ditch effort to save their civilization. Tommy Pepper, a sixth-grader living in Plymouth, Mass., finds the necklace, wears it and is gradually changed by it. He doesn’t acquire the otherworldly powers of a Superman, as the story’s premise might suggest, but he does begin to utter unusual words and imagine a strange world with two suns. He begins to remember his recently deceased mother in fond detail that eases his loss. His uncanny drawings and paintings actually have movement and new kinetic powers help him silence bully Cheryl Lynn Lumpkin on the school bus. He even creates a living creature out of sand, reminiscent of the Golem of Jewish lore or David Almond’s Clay (2006). Meanwhile, there’s a behind-the-scenes intergalactic battle going on for the necklace, which fans of the movie Men in Black may

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find pleasantly familiar. Italicized scenes from the planet of the Valorim alternate with Tommy’s narrative in Plymouth, though readers will be challenged by Schmidt’s obvious delight in creating an Anglo-Saxon planet, which has a corresponding Old English vocabulary requiring a seven-page glossary. Spielberg, get ready for this boldly imagined outer-space offering. (Science fiction. 10-14)

THE THREE NINJA PIGS

Schwartz, Corey Rosen Illus. by Santat, Dan Putnam (40 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 27, 2012 978-0-399-25514-4

“Dedication and practice pay off,” is the message these three pigs painlessly deliver. “Once upon a dangerous time,” a wolf plagued a town with his huffing and puffing, so three pigs—two hogs and a sow—attend Ninja School to learn how to face him. Each studies a different martial art, but the two brothers quickly lose interest; the third pig alone earns all her belts. So when the wolf comes calling, it’s no surprise when the brothers’ skills are not equal to the task. “The chase carried on to their sister’s. / Pig Three was outside in her gi. / ‘I’m a certified weapon, / so watch where you’re steppin’. / You don’t want to start up with me!’ ” A demonstration of her prowess is enough to send the wolf packing and the brothers back to their training. Schwartz’s sophomore outing is a standout among fractured fairy tales, masterfully combining rollicking limerick verse with a solid story, neither a slave to the other. The one quibble is the “Ninja” of the title—these pigs study the martial arts of aikido, jujitsu and karate. Santat’s illustrations are done with Sumi brush on rice paper and finished in Photoshop. The colors, patterns and themes nicely incorporate those of Japanese art, and the setting, with its background mountains, cherry blossoms and traditional rooftops, is firmly Japanese. Have the contact info for the local dojo handy—readers will want to try out these martial-arts styles for themselves. (glossary) (Fractured fairy tale. 5-8)

BOMB The Race to Build—and Steal— the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon Sheinkin, Steve Roaring Brook (272 pp.) $19.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59643-487-5

designs and how the Americans tried to keep the Germans from building a bomb. It was the eve of World War II, and the fate of the world was at stake, “[b]ut how was a theoretical physicist supposed to save the world?” It’s a true spy thriller, ranging from the football stadium at the University of Chicago to the mountains of Norway, from the deserts of New Mexico to laboratories in East Tennessee, and all along the way spies in the United States were feeding sensitive information to the KGB. Groups of photographs are sprinkled throughout the volume, offering just enough visual support for the splendid character development in the writing, and thorough documentation is provided in the backmatter. It takes a lot of work to make a complicated subject clear and exciting, and from his prodigious research and storytelling skill, Sheinkin has created a nonfiction story young people will want to read. A superb tale of an era and an effort that forever changed our world. (source notes, quotation notes, acknowledgments, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

ENTICE

Shirvington, Jessica Sourcebooks Fire (384 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-4022-6843-4 Series: Embrace, 2 Shirvington strikes again with the second in the Embrace series, picking up only a month after Embrace (2012) left off. Violet is still struggling to come to terms with her powers, her profound yet forbidden feelings for her partner, Lincoln, and the powerful connection that still ties her to the dark and dangerous exile, Phoenix. There’s little time for her to reflect, however, as she and her Grigori brethren race to locate the Scriptures and protect the identity of all Grigori before the exiles use them to gain the upper hand in their bloody quest for supremacy. The brethren now includes members of “the God Squad,” a fantastic new cast of characters from the Grigori training center in New York. Things are further complicated by the real possibility that a traitor lurks in their midst and by Violet and Lincoln’s desperation to understand whether the love they feel for each other will save them or ultimately destroy them. Strong, compelling and wonderfully flawed, Violet is the kind of heroine that will keep readers enthralled and rooting for her until the final page is turned. They will even forgive the numerous skips of her heartbeat every time she sees Lincoln. This is one emotional thrill ride, filled with passion and suspense, ending with a cliffhanger that will leave readers panting for the next book. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

In late December 1938, German chemist Otto Hahn discovered that uranium atoms could be split, and just a few months later the race to build an atomic bomb was on. The story unfolds in three parts, covering American attempts to build the bomb, how the Soviets tried to steal American 1688

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WILD ABOUT YOU!

Sierra, Judy Illus. by Brown, Marc Knopf (40 pp.) $17.99 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-307-93178-8

In lively rhyming couplets that beg to be read aloud, Sierra’s zoo animals are back, this time proving that it takes a village zoo to raise children…especially when those children are adopted. The new batch of zoo babies finds the tree kangaroo and the panda couple bemoaning their lack of offspring. But while the crocodiles list all the reasons why babies are awful (“mountains of poo” are mentioned), they simply cannot give their children to the pandas, since they “LOVE THEM COMPLETELY.” The tree kangaroo jumps at the opportunity to tuck a mystery egg into her pouch to hatch. Her penguin chick, while not what she expected or dreamed of, is just perfect. Meanwhile, the stillchildless pandas get a surprise of their own in the form of a stray kitten. Both of the new little families are tenderly watched over by the other zoo inhabitants. The “pandacat” and “pengaroo” are each the answer to their parents’ wishes, as is more than evident from both the text and Brown’s watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil illustrations. Bright colors and bold patterns fill the pages, but the true stars are the animals, whose mutual affection shines through on every page. While human adoptions may never be this random and unexpected (and have been covered by the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis and Rose Lewis), this nicely captures the crossspecies bonds animals sometimes form. (Picture book. 4-8)

A STRANGE PLACE TO CALL HOME The World’s Most Dangerous Habitats, and the Animals That Call Them Home Singer, Marilyn Illus. by Young, Ed Chronicle (44 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-4521-0120-0

Poems in varied forms urge readers to marvel at animals living in surprising environments. The prolific poet (Fireflies at Midnight, 2003) again celebrates the natural world, here describing 14 creatures surviving in unlikely places. From Humboldt penguins on arid South American coasts to foxes in cities, Singer points out the contrast between our expectations and their lives. Worms in ice, flies in oil, swimming songbirds and fish in the air…her choices range widely. Though the focus is their odd surroundings, she weaves in information about some of their interesting adaptations as well. Her poetry features judicious use of rhyme and |

alliteration. Some is free verse; others are written in traditional forms, described in an author’s note in the back. They’re set directly on double-page illustrations, collages of painted and textured papers, cut and torn, which, though reminiscent of Eric Carle and Steve Jenkins, have Young’s irregular lines, distinctive brushwork and soft colors. This is a book for enjoyment rather than information. An additional paragraph about each creature appears in the endnotes, but these don’t always answer the basic question of where it might be found. The author acknowledges some expert help but provides no source or index. A felicitous pairing of two children’s literature pros to encourage our sense of wonder. (Picture book/poetry. 5-12)

KEVIN’S BIG BOOK OF THE FIVE SENSES

Slegers, Liesbet Illus. by Slegers, Liesbet Clavis (56 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-60537-124-5

This exploration of the five senses flattens rather than elevates its subject. Perky text encourages reader involvement as a young boy examines his body’s abilities. “Kevin hears with his two ears. / You hear with your ears, too! / Listen very carefully. What can you hear? / And what does Kevin hear? / Let’s listen!” The examples vary tremendously in their effectiveness. The section on sight captures a toddler’s perspective; Kevin sees his mommy, a book and even nothing at all (when he plays peek-a-boo). The section on touch, on the other hand, offers the “fluffy wool” of sheep, a tactile experience not available to many modern children. Translated from Dutch, some vocabulary flat-out misleads; the glass of water reads “no taste!” Language often confuses rather than explains. “[S]our” describes the odor from a garbage can and the taste of a lemon; “spicy” refers to both soap (smell) and soup (taste). Visually, the book is more successful. Thick lines and a bright color palette are eminently toddler-friendly. Kevin’s Peanuts-proportioned head, with constant smile, sits directly on his rounded shoulders; his belly protrudes underneath his shirt. Some activities require greater coordination than the young audience’s capabilities. The heavy focus on bodily functions (ranging from “stinky dog doo” to cat “pee-pee”) may turn off some adults, though probably not their children. Better offerings on the senses abound. (Board book. 1-3)

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“A purrrfect mix of slapstick, deadpan and catpan.” from binky takes charge

PIE IN THE SKY

Smiley, Jane Knopf (272 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-375-86968-6 978-0-375-98532-4 e-book 978-0-375-96968-3 PLB Smiley continues the equine adventures of Abby Lovett (True Blue, 2011, etc.). When Abby, now 14 and a high school freshman, takes her beloved horse True Blue to a local horse show, she’s shocked by how poorly they perform over fences. A clinic immediately following, with a nationally known rider, goes no better: While he seems to like Abby’s riding, he has nothing nice to say about Blue and is, in fact, so rude toward Abby’s group that one girl, Sophia, gets off her horse and refuses to ride again. Period. Abby gets a chance to school Sophia’s lovely horse Pie in the Sky, which helps her understand why Blue is having trouble. A completely different sort of clinic, with a “natural horseman” (à la Buck Brannaman, the inspiration for The Horse Whisperer), gets Abby, Sophia and Blue back on the road to success. Smiley’s writing is, as always, nearly flawless. Her evocation of the horse world of northern California in the 1960s is pitch-perfect, and Abby remains a complex and sympathetic character. But this story carries less weight than its three predecessors. Readers will believe from the start that Abby will sort out Blue’s issues, and Sophia’s problems are not particularly compelling. Without a strong problem, the story lacks tension and the resolution, force. Despite this shortcoming, another interesting read for horse lovers and Abby Lovett fans. (Fiction. 10-14)

THIRD GRADE ANGELS

Spinelli, Jerry Illus. by Bell, Jennifer A. Levine/Scholastic (160 pp.) $15.99 | $15.99 e-book | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-545-38772-9 978-0-545-46960-9 e-book

and total rejection by the girl he adores. Spinelli doesn’t miss a beat in recreating the characters from the earlier work and never reveals any hint of Suds’ fourth-grade future. He lets readers into Suds’ 8-year-old mind without condescension. His problems and concerns are treated comically but with genuine kindness. Suds is innocent, gullible and trusting; he is also entirely good-hearted. Young readers will recognize Suds as one of their own and will gladly follow him to fourth grade. Sweet and funny. (Fiction. 7-10)

BINKY TAKES CHARGE

Spires, Ashley Illus. by Spires, Ashley Kids Can (64 pp.) $16.95 | paper $8.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-55453-703-7 978-1-55453-768-6 paperback Space cat Lt. Binky has been tapped for a new assignment: recruit trainer! Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel (F.U.R.S.T.) and Captain Gracie are pleased to announce that Lt. Binky is about to get his first recruit to train. Since Binky had to train himself, he knows the importance of a mentor and a wellthought-out training plan. Those aliens (read: flies) won’t fight themselves! But when the recruit arrives… Horrors! There’s a new diversity program at F.U.R.S.T., and Gordon, a dog, has been assigned to Binky. Binky decides to give it his all. As expected, Gordon falls short. Then Binky discovers the unthinkable: Gordon seems to be leaving coded messages in outer space (that’s outside, to humans) for the aliens in his… well, what flies like. He’s also disabling alien-zappers and stealing human technology. If they are to prove Gordon is a double agent, Gracie and Binky will need incontrovertible proof! Spires’ fourth Binky graphic adventure is as fresh and hysterical as the first. The watercolor graphic panels are as visually appealing as the narration is clever, offering up a little potty humor, a bit of over-the-top adventuretale parody and a few nifty surprises. Great entertainment for readers big and little whether they are fans already or not. A purrrfect mix of slapstick, deadpan and catpan. (Graphic novel. 8-12)

Suds Morton is not yet a “Fourth Grade Rat.” In this prequel to Spinelli’s 1991 standby, he is a year younger and, according to his school’s traditional chant, he aspires to the sobriquet of “Third Grade Angel.” When his teacher announces her intention of rewarding angelic behavior with a halo, Suds decides he wants to be the first angel. Between his cool new friend Joey, his wise mom and a little conclusion-jumping, he comes up with a plan. But, of course, his results are just a little off-kilter. Suds, nicknamed for his preference for calming soaks in bubble baths when he gets “chipmunky,” needs all the help he can get to deal with the various disasters and tribulations that threaten to overwhelm him. Along with the angel chase there’s a pesky little sister, a fifth-grade bully 1690

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“…Stead’s compositions exude an ineffable, less-is-more charm.” from bear has a story to tell

OUTCASTS UNITED The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town

St. John, Warren Delacorte (240 pp.) $16.99 | $13.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-385-74194-1 978-0-375-98880-6 e-book 978-0-375-99033-5 PLB

An inspiring account of a young Jordanian immigrant who created Fugees, a soccer program for refugees from war-torn nations. Adapted from an adult book of the same title, St. John tells the story of how Luma Mufleh formed a soccer team composed of young refugees from all over the world, rescued by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and living together in a crimeridden settlement in suburban Atlanta. After seeing refugee children playing soccer in vacant lots around town, Mufleh persuaded the local YMCA to fund a free soccer program and signed on as its unpaid coach. The children she recruited came from such war-ravaged countries as Liberia, Sudan, Zaire, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The team offered youngsters traumatized by civil war and genocide the chance to enjoy a familiar recreation and an alternative to gangs. In addition to coaching, Mufleh often acted as counselor and surrogate parent to children whose own parents worked long hours. Though insightful about immigration and the challenges of assimilation, the fastpaced account lacks sufficient detail about the experiences that forced the players to leave their home countries. An uplifting underdog story that will appeal to readers interested in the immigrant experience and the surprising role sports can play in people’s lives. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL

Stead, Philip C. Illus. by Stead, Erin E. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59643-745-6 Within a gentle tale of hibernation and renewal, the Steads’ second collaboration (after Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee) explores a second, internal theme: the nature of the storytelling narrative itself. Increasingly sleepy, Bear pads through the fall landscape with “a story to tell” before winter’s sleep. Mouse, Duck, Frog and Mole are well into their own winter preparations and cannot listen. Months later, when the reunited friends gather beneath a full moon, Bear can’t remember his story. Helpfully, his friends suggest a protagonist (“Maybe your story is about a bear”), a plot (“Maybe your story is about the busy time just before winter”), and supporting characters (themselves). Thus, Bear begins his story as this one ends: The first line of his story |

is both the last line of the book and its first. Erin Stead’s pictures quietly appeal: Pencil line and shading define basic features of animals and trees, while washes and smudges of paint suggest seasonal colors, Bear’s rotund mass, and the brushy cobalt expanse of starlit skies. Sharing an affinity with Jerry Pinkney yet evoking the sparer 1960s work of Evaline Ness and Nonny Hogrogian, Stead’s compositions exude an ineffable, less-is-more charm. The Steads’ work adopts a folkloric approach to cooperative relationships; the affectionately rendered animals that stand in for humans convey a nurturing respect for child readers. (Picture book. 3-7)

FIND A COW NOW!

Stevens, Janet; Crummel, Susan Stevens Illus. by Stevens, Janet Holiday House (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8234-2218-0 When Bird sends restless Dog to the country to find a cow to herd, the result is a comical series of misidentifications and an exhausting trip. The Stevens sisters (Help Me, Mr. Mutt, 2008, etc.) return with another appealing animal adventure. After Dog mistakenly tries to herd a chicken, a pig and an ill-tempered donkey, he’s rescued by a large brown-and-white animal who takes him back to the city. Only after surprised city dwellers send them back out to the country does Dog discover that the helpful creature is called Cow. The enthusiastic but slightly dim-witted Australian cattle dog and exasperated budgie are generically named but realistically depicted in Stevens’ illustrations, rendered in soft acrylic washes over pencil combined with collage. From vignettes to double-page spreads, they tell the story as unmistakably as the simple text. The animals’ postures express their emotions, while sounds—from “Cluck cluck! Peck peck!” to “Yip! Yip! Yee-haw!” and “Eee-eee-kkk!!”—add read-aloud interest to the pictures. Even the direction of Dog’s travel is clear: from left to right as he goes from city to country, and right to left returning. The circular narrative, which opens with Dog napping, ends with the dog-tired traveler asleep again. Skillfully told and satisfying, this is sure to delight young listeners in on the joke. (Picture book. 3-7)

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THE QUIET PLACE

Stewart, Sarah Illus. by Small, David Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (40 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-374-32565-7 As in Stewart and Small’s previous The Gardener (1997) and The Journey (2001), letters to a loved one become the vehicle for a girl to explore what she sees, feels and comes to understand upon leaving home for the first time. In this title, a family of four is moving from Mexico to America in 1957. Their poignant, pre-dawn departure starts on the endpapers. Small’s imaginative use of color and masterful variation of line combine to focus attention on Isabel’s expressive face while developing other characters and creating a convincing period with Formica countertops and big-finned cars. Silent spreads allow readers time to ponder her predicament and imagine their own reactions. As the epistles to Auntie Lupita chronicle Isabel’s encounter with snow, feelings about her new teacher and time spent at the children’s parties her mother caters, they also indirectly portray a family sensitive to a child’s well-being. When Isabel requests the big boxes left over from the parties, her family supports her special sanctuary as needed; decorated with paint, origami and cardboard rainspouts reminiscent of the clay gutters back home, her quiet place turns into a panorama of festivities on her birthday, when a double gatefold reveals many new friends. A warm, gentle portrait of an immigrant’s isolation and the ways that creativity and a loving family can offer both a safe haven and a bridge. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE RAVEN BOYS

Stiefvater, Maggie Scholastic (416 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-545-42492-9 978-0-545-46979-1 e-book Series: The Raven Cycle, 1 An ancient Welsh king may be buried in the Virginia countryside; three privileged boys hope to disinter him. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Blue Sargent, daughter of a smalltown psychic, has lived her whole life under a prophecy: If she kisses her true love, he will die. Not that she plans on kissing anyone. Blue isn’t psychic, but she enhances the extrasensory power of anyone she’s near; while helping her aunt visualize the souls of people soon to die, she sees a vision of a dying Raven boy named Gansey. The Raven Boys—students at Aglionby, a nearby prep school, so-called because of the ravens on their school crest—soon encounter Blue in person. From then on, the point of view shifts among Blue; Gansey, a trust-fund kid obsessed with finding King Glendower buried on a ley-line in 1692

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Virginia; and Adam, a scholarship student obsessed with his own self-sufficiency. Add Ronan, whose violent insouciance comes from seeing his father die, and Noah, whose first words in the book are, “I’ve been dead for seven years,” and you’ve got a story very few writers could dream up and only Stiefvater could make so palpably real. Simultaneously complex and simple, compulsively readable, marvelously wrought. The only flaw is that this is Book 1; it may be months yet before Book 2 comes out. The magic is entirely pragmatic; the impossible, extraordinarily true. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

REGINE’S BOOK A Teen Girl’s Last Words Stokke, Regine Translated by Larsen, Henriette Zest Books (336 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 24, 2012 978-1-936976-20-1

“My ultimate dream for this blog is that it will be published as a book after my death,” wrote Norwegian teenager Stokke, who blogged about her experience living with leukemia. Regine’s blog, which became popular in Norway, was first published as a book by a Norwegian press in 2009 and is here translated into English. In direct, emotionally open prose, Regine describes the details of cancer treatment, her optimism and frustrations, her excitement about rock music, and her relationships with friends and family. Regine’s photographs, from self-portraits to nature shots to pictures of rock stars, are printed in full color, sometimes overlaid with song lyrics or original poetry. Her blog posts begin in fall 2008 and end with “The Last Autumn” of 2009, with concluding remarks from friends and loved ones in the final “After Regine” section. Regine’s voice is matter-of-fact and honest, with a tone that is occasionally raw (“I wish someone other than me had gotten this cancer instead”). Selections from the blog’s many comments, which appear after some of the posts, sometimes become repetitious, but the posts themselves are brief and varied enough to stay engaging. Short, accessible footnotes provide context for readers unfamiliar with cancer treatment or Norwegian culture. A heartfelt and visually appealing window into Regine’s last year. (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

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ABOUT A BEAR

Surplice, Holly Illus. by Surplice, Holly Tiger Tales (32 pp.) $9.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-58925-112-0 Just like a child, a bear has many moods, and he often needs a good hug. “A bear can be happy,” the story begins, as the brown bear lifts his pointed nose into the air, full of brightly colored butterflies. “A bear can be sad” when all the butterflies drift away, and the bear, sitting on the ground, looks longingly up into the sky. Surplice’s text is a simple 20-line poem, spread out over a dozen two-page illustrations. Readers watch the brown bear frolic in the falling leaves, examine and ultimately play with a turtle, climb a tree to get to a beehive and lie on his back in the water like a raft. This is so that his pals, the skunk, the rabbit and the squirrel, can ride on his tummy. And at the end of the day, just like a young reader, the bear gets very tired and hugs all his friends before going to bed. All the animals, big and small, curl up in the same way to sleep. Surplice’s illustrations surprise with unusual colors—leaves and butterflies of hot pink and purple as well as oranges and browns and yellows, and a variety of background colors as well. Young readers should identify with the bear, though the simple, essentially story-free text needn’t be so bland. Sweet but undistinguished. (Picture book. 3-5)

A DIFFERENT MIRROR FOR YOUNG PEOPLE A History of Multicultural America Takaki, Ronald Seven Stories (368 pp.) $18.95 | Aug. 28, 2012 978-1-60980-416-9

A classic framing of this country’s history from a multicultural perspective, clumsily cut and recast into more simplified language for young readers. Veering away from the standard “Master Narrative” to tell “the story of a nation peopled by the world,” the violence- and injustice-laden account focuses on minorities, from AfricanAmericans (“the central minority throughout our country’s history”), Mexicans and Native Americans to Japanese, Vietnamese, Sikh, Russian Jewish and Muslim immigrants. Stefoff reduces Takaki’s scholarly but fluid narrative (1993, revised 2008) to choppy sentences and sound-bite quotes. She also adds debatable generalizations, such as a sweeping claim that Native Americans “lived outside of white society’s borders,” and an incorrect one that the Emancipation Proclamation “freed the slaves.” Readers may take a stronger interest in their own cultural heritage from this broad picture of the United States as, historically, a tapestry of ethnic identities that are “separate but also shared”—but being more readable and, by page count at least, only about a |

third longer, the original version won’t be out of reach of much of the intended audience, despite its denser prose. In either iteration, a provocative counter to conventional, blinkered views of our national story. (endnotes, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15)

IT’S ALL ABOUT ME-OW

Talbott, Hudson Illus. by Talbott, Hudson Nancy Paulsen Books (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-0-399-25403-1

Cat lovers will recognize their favorite feline attributes (as well as those they’re less fond of) in this amusing “cat”-alog. Presented as advice to a trio of new (kitten) residents from Buddy, a charming marmalade cat, the first-person narration pokes fun at peoples’ foibles and extols the virtues of cats large and small. One double-page spread contrasts the abilities and physiology of cats and humans; another shows the history of cats from their first appearance through the glories of Egypt and the bad times of the Dark Ages to the present day; a third showcases cats of all kinds from domesticated breeds to a lion, tiger, lynx and other big cats. Buddy also explains the mysteries of cat communication, from body language through the power of purrs, and provides a list of ways to keep caretakers on their toes (don’t miss the vignette that pays homage to Ezra Jack Keats’ Kitten for a Day). Talbott’s cartoon-style illustrations feature round-eyed kittens and a sly, smugly smiling Buddy. They lack detailed backgrounds, keeping the pages feeling clean. His human characters, a (stereo)typical family, are over-the-top in their admiration for Buddy, which adds to the humor and, along with the faux-instructional tone, creates continuity. Ailurophobes won’t be swayed, but feline fanciers will lap this up and look forward to repeat servings. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

TEN TINY TOES

Tarpley, Todd Illus. by Brown, Marc Little, Brown (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-316-12921-3 Tarpley pays homage to babies and the miraculous ways in which they inspire love. When they first enter the world, their toes are wriggly and nibbly and kissable. They begin to crawl and take those first steps of exploration. Now they learn to be masters of their world as those toes take them running, hopping, skipping and jumping, not to mention skating and pedaling into all the experiences of a happy childhood. The verses move as quickly as the babies, bouncing along in quatrains in ABCB rhyme, in a somewhat singsong meter that is pleasing to young ears. Brown’s tender illustrations, rendered in cut paper, gouache and colored

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“From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.” from drama

paper, are textured and colorful. They call forth love and joy in their expressive depiction of babies and young children in all their glory and in all manner of action, instantly recognizable and universal. This is a work obviously designed to be read aloud to the littlest of listeners. The final verses are also a call to grown-ups to remember and pass along the kisses and for all children to have a loving and carefree childhood. It’s a worthy and noble idea, but tiny listeners may not be able to make that leap of understanding. Nevertheless, a cozy, sweet cuddle that is just right for bedtime. (Picture book. 1-4)

DRAMA

Telgemeier, Raina Illus. by Telgemeier, Raina Graphix/Scholastic (240 pp.) $23.99 | paper $10.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-545-32698-8 978-0-545-32699-5 paperback From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage. Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie’s just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie’s healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, “Don’t worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He’s the dork.” With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer. Brava! (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

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LET’S SING A LULLABY WITH THE BRAVE COWBOY

Thomas, Jan Illus. by Thomas, Jan Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $12.99 | $12.95 e-book | Sep. 25, 2012 978-1-4424-4276-4 978-1-4424-4277-1 e-book Silliness abounds as a not-very-bright, not-very-brave cowboy croons his cows to sleep. Once again, Thomas, a master at working nonsensical mayhem with her characters, succeeds in this variation of a goodnight story. A guitar-strumming cowboy has the best of intentions when he begins his lullaby to two sleepy cows. Alas, he is too easily frightened by visions of spiders, snakes and bears, but the cows reassure him. When real danger approaches in the shape of a wolf, the clueless cowboy thinks it is just a bunny rabbit. The cows know better—or do they? Thomas uses her signature style of digitally rendered comic art to create a passel of endearing characters. Their very expressive faces, outlined in bold strokes of black, stand out against the intense blues and purples of the desert background. Speech bubbles with exploding type add to the bedlam. Don’t save this for bedtime to share. A terrific story to read and sing, with a most satisfying finale. (Picture book. 2-6)

IN THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY

Thomas, Joyce Carol Illus. by Cooper, Floyd Amistad/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-06-025383-7 Based on her family’s move from Oklahoma to California in 1948 when she was 10, Thomas tells of the train trip and her subsequent love for the “Golden State” in poetic language distinguished by strong verbs and striking images. It was a time soon after World War II, when many people of color relocated. She relates the long train ride to the “Land of Milk and Honey” and describes the state in its varied landscapes, from deserts to the agricultural richness of the Central Valley and the people who work the crops to “the city / where the ships sit / anchored in the coastal waters / like iron mountains / docked in the bay.” Cooper’s art, in textured sepia with bits of color to highlight action, shows the people—all of whom are African-American—as a young person might have experienced what she saw, reinforcing the text’s homey details: The narrator chases her sandwich “with Grapette soda pop / the bottle streaked with marbles of cold.” His paintings expand over full openings and carry the eye with portraits of people and places from Southern California to the Golden Gate Bridge. But both text and illustration concentrate on the people who found the “Land of Milk and Honey”—and remained.

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Thomas and Cooper have given us, especially Californians, a moving love song. (Picture book. 5-8)

THE MAGICAL LIFE OF MR. RENNY

Timmers, Leo Translated by Nagelkerke, Bill Illus. by Timmers, Leo Gecko Press (36 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-8775-7920-2 What painter wouldn’t be thrilled if everything he painted became real? Say hello to Mr. Renny, a likable, bug-eyed, floppy-eared dog artist, wearing a one-button yellow jacket over a red-andwhite striped tunic. When no one buys his paintings at the market, a strange man tells him to eat the apple in his painting; it turns real, and suddenly all of Mr. Renny’s paintings spring to life. With his new magical touch, he paints all of the things he’s ever wanted: hot dogs, desserts, a car, a ship, etc. However, when his friend Rose wants to buy a real painting, he explains that she can’t. How to fix his dilemma? Aha, he paints the man who began the whole thing to reverse the charm. Everything vanishes, and Rose gets a special painting (a rose). Whimsical illustrations bring the story to life. All of the characters are bug-eyed animals except for the mysterious, bowler-topped man. Scenes are dotted with such clever details as an alligator with a baby buggy holding two watermelons, an elephant with a Burberry plaid wheeled cart and a giraffe driving a speedboat. The appealing cover of Mr. Renny with paintbrush and palette, flying in an airplane will draw attention. Kids won’t recognize the homage to René Magritte or the elements of King Midas and “The Fisherman and His Wife,” they’ll just be busy giggling over the animated images. (Picture book. 5-7)

WHERE DO PRESIDENTS COME FROM? And Other Presidential Stuff of Super-Great Importance Townsend, Michael Illus. by Townsend, Michael Dial (160 pp.) $14.99 | Sep. 13, 2012 978-0-8037-3748-8

Townsend brings his high spirits and hijinks to bear, in comic-book format, on the life and responsibilities of the United States president. Despite all the corny, at times plain bizarre, jokes that saturate this story of the presidency, Townsend manages to cover considerable ground. The information imparted doesn’t run particularly deep, but in simple, mostly jocose language, he manages to explain the Electoral College, the dangers of being president and |

the countermeasures that have been established, the roles of the president in foreign policy and as commander in chief, and how a presidential pardon works (including pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey), as well as a history of the White House and a vestpocket biography of George Washington. Peppering the larger themes are scads of factoids, from George Bush tossing his lunch at a state dinner to Calvin Coolidge’s pygmy hippo to the July 4th deaths of Adams, Jefferson and Monroe. The sheer density of material on the page can occasionally be overwhelming, with panels of text—lots of text—and drawings in a great chromatic swarm, though the rhythm and direction of the story is never in doubt. Now and then Townsend will throw in a nonsense panel, as much to keep readers on their toes as a stab at levity. A selective but revealing collection of presidential thises and thats, which puts an appealingly human face on the executive branch. (Graphic nonfiction. 8-12)

FLYING TO SEE JANET A Fun Guide to the Airport Experience

Vickers, Laura Illus. by Wargelin, Peggy Jessica Kingsley Publishers (40 pp.) $16.95 paperback | Aug. 1, 2012 978-1-84905-913-8 What is it like to fly in a plane? From starting-off point to final destination, this descriptive tale provides a well-thought-out, gently humorous depiction of an airplane trip. When Janet asks her Aunt Laura what it was like to fly up for a visit, Aunt Laura answers in great detail, going through each step of the process, from packing and security to bathroom breaks and landing, giving particular attention to the smells, sounds, sights and little surprises she encountered on her journey. Simplified, digital illustrations replete with relevant detail work closely with the text to show what the experience is like; general descriptions appear atop the pages, while speech bubbles reveal Aunt Laura’s and Uncle Mark’s thoughts and comments. The humorous detail and in-depth description will fascinate any child interested in airports and planes. Initially created for the author’s niece and illustrator’s daughter, who has Asperger’s syndrome and is anxious, this was intended to help prepare children for an unfamiliar experience and focuses on sensory issues that may come up, always in a positive manner. Though the story skews younger, older children with similar disabilities or anxieties may find it helpful as well. Endnotes contain suggestions for helping a child become less apprehensive and more acclimated to the experience of flying. Elucidating, descriptive and full of details to fascinate, if it lacks the artistry of such other flights as Airport, by Byron Barton. (Picture book. 3-7)

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A TRIP TO THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD WITH MOUSE

at a time. Though the world building is thin at times, there are some moments of genuine pathos and terror, with the final climactic fight scene leaving plenty of room for sequels. Great geeky fun. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Viva, Frank Illus. by Viva, Frank TOON/Candlewick (32 pp.) $12.95 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-1-935179-19-1

A LONG WAY FROM HOME

Strong graphic illustrations give this quick visit to the Antarctic plenty of appeal, though readers may want to strangle one of the visitors. Loosely based on the author’s actual voyage, the tour features both large waves and still waters, glimpses of a killer whale and penguins of various identified sorts, and a dip in waters warmed by a half-sunken volcano. It’s all in the company of a querulous mouse whose initial “Are we there yet?” and eight-times-repeated “Can we go home now?” inevitably turns to “Can we go back there soon?” by the end. The mouse queries a human traveler who responds to his diminutive companion’s importunate comments with uncommon patience. Using a pale palette and varying the sizes of his sequential panels, Viva (Along a Long Road, one of the New York Times 10 Best Illustrated for 2011) shapes his figures simply with minimal detailing. He effectively creates both visual rhythm and a sense of size for landscapes and spaces with looping white masses of shoreline ice that separate flat monochrome skies from, usually, darker waters. The art gives this southerly outing a distinctive look, and the interplay between the two tourists may strike some readers as comical. (Graphic easy reader. 5-7)

THE OTHER NORMALS

Vizzini, Ned Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-06-207990-9 978-0-06-207992-3 e-book A shy role-playing-game aficionado finds slaying monsters easier than kissing a girl in this appealing adventure by the author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2006). In a desperate attempt to make him socialize, 15-year-old Perry’s parents take away his RPG books and send him to Camp Washiska Lake for the summer. Perry mopes until he accidentally discovers a portal to the World of the Other Normals, where each creature there corresponds to one on Earth. He falls in with a group of quirky characters (including a sexy blue-haired elf) and learns that they need him to kiss a girl back at camp in order to set in motion a chain of events that will end up freeing her correspondent, the kidnapped princess of their world. Perry’s game, but the real and imagined obstacles in both dimensions will put all his nerd skillz to the test. With a deft sense of humor and a keen ear for funny and realistic teen dialogue, Vizzini explores one teen everyman’s quest to become a hero, one roll of the six-sided die 1696

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Walsh, Alice Second Story Press (176 pp.) $11.95 paperback | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-926920-79-5

Stranded for several days in Gander, Newfoundland, after American airspace was closed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Rabia, a 14-year-old Afghan girl, and 11-year-old New Yorker Colin unexpectedly connect. Walsh has used facts of the extraordinary welcome some 6,000 grounded air passengers received as unexpected guests of the surprised islanders as background for the stories of two young people: the Afghan refugee, escaping with what remains of her family, and the American sixth-grader, worried about the possible dissolution of his. It is the open friendliness of Canadian sixth-grader Leah that connects the two. As many Americans did, Colin reacts first with hostility, mindlessly connecting Rabia’s Afghan nationality and Muslim faith with the acts of Osama bin Laden’s followers. Learning her story makes him more sympathetic. And, though somewhat confusingly told from different points of view, this is essentially Rabia’s story. There are flashbacks to earlier, happier times before she lost a foot to a land mine, her father was arrested, her oldest brother died, and her second brother was sent away. When her mother has a heart attack in Gander, Rabia rightly feels overwhelmed. Happily, responsible adults step in. Part refugee story, part 9/11 remembrance, this is a welcome addition to a small shelf. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

BEAUTIFUL LIES

Warman, Jessica Walker (468 pp.) $17.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-0-8027-2338-3

Alice and Rachel are even closer than most identical twins, having shared a single amniotic sac in utero and a psychic bond ever since. After their parents’ death in a car accident, the twins were raised by their mother’s twin sister and her husband, but lately they have taken very different paths while remaining deeply intertwined. Cautious, responsible Rachel, a good student, looks out for reckless, out-of-control Alice, who shares their mother’s artistic and perhaps other gifts. When Alice vanishes, Rachel is overcome with a sense of dread and menace; she knows something bad

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“Willems’ trademark cartoon-style illustrations include sly eyebrows, sardonic glances and a fabulous picture of Goldilocks inside a pudding bowl.” from goldilocks and the three dinosaurs

has happened to her twin, but family, police and friends are less certain. But all is not as it seems in this claustrophobic, corkscrew-plotted world. As the title makes clear, readers are in unreliable-narrator territory. The twins, whose genetic legacy includes profound mental illness, trade places and keep secrets from each other. While failing to draw all loose threads into a neat bundle, the ending mostly makes sense and readers willing to be kept in the dark, even manipulated, in the service of a dynamic plot will enjoy the twists and turns. It’s the twins’ culturally barren, dreary yet violent world—a realm of broken dreams—that resonates most in this haunting, moody, character-driven thriller. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)

THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA

Weiner, Ellis Illus. by Holmes, Jeremy Chronicle (232 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-8118-6679-8 Series: The Templeton Twins, 1 The scene-hogging narrator steals the show in this clever series opener. Since the mother of 12-year-old twins Abigail and John recently died, their father, professor Elton Templeton, has decided to take his knack for inventing to Tickeridge-Baltock Institute of Technology (aka Tick-Tock Tech). At the professor’s opening lecture, disgruntled former student Dean D. Dean accuses him of stealing his idea for the Personal One-Man Helicopter. When the professor denies Dean’s involvement in his invention, Dean (with the help of his own twin brother, Dan) kidnaps the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog, hoping to retrieve the device as ransom. How this caper, accompanied by mechanical-like illustrations, will end matters less than how the narrator will report it. Nearly a character himself, the selfimportant, over-the-top narrator takes pleasure in admonishing his readers (“If you don’t remember me saying that, I urge you to turn back to Chapter 2 (the first Chapter 2) and refresh your memory, because I distinctly remember saying it, and I remember you reading it”). Occasionally tedious, his end-of-chapter “Questions for Review” emphasize humor—and his ego. Also adding to the fun, particularly for word buffs, is Abigail’s use of cryptic crossword puzzles. A tender ending to this otherwise comical story acknowledges the family’s grief. Templeton Twins hidden in integrand function (5, 3). Read it to solve it! (Fiction. 9-13)

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FOLLOWING GRANDFATHER

Wells, Rosemary Illus. by Denise, Christopher Candlewick (64 pp.) $14.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-7636-5069-8

When her beloved grandfather dies, a grieving little mouse imagines she sees him in their favorite Boston haunts in this gentle story of intergenerational love and loss. Jenny’s enterprising grandfather arrives in mid-20th-century Boston’s North End as a steamship stowaway and settles in the attic of Salvadore’s Spaghetti House, where he operates his own successful Italian restaurant. By the time Jenny’s born, Grandfather has retired and takes care of her, spooning warm milk over her pudding, teaching her to button her buttons and letting her fall asleep to the ticking of his pocket watch. Later, Grandfather escorts Jenny through the North End to meet his friends and to Revere Beach to search for shells. When she’s older, Grandfather encourages Jenny to be proud of her humble origins and never look at the snobbish “Lodges, Lowells, or Cabots with envy or shame.” Jenny follows Grandfather everywhere, until one day he’s gone, “never to come back,” leaving her desolate and diminished until she discovers his enduring legacy in a seashell. Writing with tenderness and humor, Wells creates an authentic, parallel, mouse-sized world within Boston while introducing readers to human-sized devotion and grief in the fully developed relationship between Jenny and Grandfather. Softly anthropomorphic black-and-white illustrations expressively convey the bond between a mouse and her inspiring grandfather. Poignant and sweet. (Animal fantasy. 6-9)

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS

Willems, Mo Illus. by Willems, Mo Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-06-210418-2 A hilariously fractured fairy tale. The structure’s well-known, so the endpapers list myriad permutations, almost all crossed out: Goldilocks and the Three Clams? Three Ostriches? Three Glasses of Milk? Nope, it’s Dinosaurs: Papa, Mama and one Dinosaur “who happened to be visiting from Norway.” Details are tasty—chocolate pudding instead of porridge; a different furniture riff (“The first chair was too tall. The second chair was too tall. But the third chair— [page turn] —WAS TOO TALL”). Even funnier are the obviously fraudulent protestations. Child-friendly irony lets readers giggle knowingly as Mama Dinosaur muses, “I SURE HOPE NO INNOCENT LITTLE SUCCULENT CHILD HAPPENS BY OUR UNLOCKED HOME WHILE WE ARE…uhhh…SOMEPLACE ELSE!” They’re “definitely not hiding in the woods waiting for an unsuspecting kid”; pudding sits

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unattended to enable the creation of “delicious chocolate-filledlittle-girl-bonbons (which, by the way, are totally not the favorite things in the whole world for hungry Dinosaurs).” Winking, the text places readers gleefully in the know—and Goldilocks is no patsy either. Willems’ trademark cartoon-style illustrations include sly eyebrows, sardonic glances and a fabulous picture of Goldilocks inside a pudding bowl. When she’s beyond satiated, her pupils dilate—enormous, then tiny—subtly nodding to the old tale’s “too big, too small” theme. Top-notch for group storytime, for a project on revising classics or just for enjoyment; funniest for kids who know the original. (Fractured fairy tale. 5-9)

THE DROWNED VAULT

Wilson, N.D. Random House (464 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-375-96440-4 978-0-375-89573-9 e-book 978-0-375-96440-4 PLB Series: The Ashtown Burials, 2 Cyrus and Antigone continue the adventures begun in The Dragon’s Tooth (2011), as the Order of Brendan and its fearless leader, Rupert Greeves, experience a rebellion that threatens the future of the world. One year after the events of the first book, the children find themselves desperately seeking the Dragon’s Tooth they had lost, encountering perils aplenty. Like many second books in a series, this is definitely for those who have read the first—and even they may find themselves disappointed. The discoveries that engaged readers as they uncovered the world of Ashtown in the first book grow old as the plot perpetually bombards the two children with ever-greater foes and danger. The children’s cutesy nicknames, Rus-rus and Tigs, seem irritatingly inappropriate and jarring under the circumstances. Some of the more engaging characters from the previous book are less integral to the plot this time around, and the presence of historical figures such as Captain John Smith and Ponce de León are not as convincing, though the mythological references still succeed. Wilson feels as though he’s trying to keep the stakes high and to top what has come before, which can be tedious for readers who are not attached to the outcome. Fearful evil survives to threaten the world, promising further adventures in a future volume. For die-hard fans only. (Fantasy. 10-14)

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BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD

Zevin, Gabrielle Farrar, Straus and Giroux (368 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-374-38074-8 In this sequel to All These Things I’ve Done (2011), 17-year-old Anya Balanchine, heir apparent to the illegal chocolate trade in 2083 New York City, attempts to leave her criminal past behind with mixed results. After doing time for shooting her cousin after his attempt on her ex-boyfriend Win’s life, Anya tries to distance herself from her deceased father’s black-market business. But when her fragile relationship with Win threatens the campaign of the incumbent district attorney, who also happens to be Win’s father, Anya finds herself fleeing the country to escape further imprisonment. She hides out on a Mexican cacao farm, where she discovers the roots of Balanchine Chocolate and gathers the strength to go back and face the remaining members of her treacherous family. After a sluggish start, the last third of the novel takes off when Anya is confronted with several surprising betrayals and confessions. Zevin’s stilted, formal dialogue and arid prose doesn’t do her hot-blooded mafia story any favors. Still, fans of the first will enjoy the author’s inventive combination of chocolate, crime and politics, as well as finding out Anya’s post-prison fate. Casual browsers should be warned that this is a true sequel that entails a read of the initial installment to make all the necessary connections. Required reading if you own the first title. (Thriller. 12 & up)

WHAT’S LEFT OF ME

Zhang, Kat Harper/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-06-211487-7 Series: The Hybrid Chronicles, 1 An unsettling dystopian adventure of two souls trapped in a single body. Like all children, Addie and Eva were born as two souls in the same body. As young children, the two personalities were both loved and indulged by their parents, but, unlike all the other children, Addie and Eva didn’t “settle.” In settling, the dominant soul takes over the single body and the recessive soul fades away. Children who don’t settle are labeled hybrids and institutionalized. At age 6, Addie and Eva started seeing specialists to hasten the settling process, but the years of treatments have been unsuccessful. To hide their shame, Addie takes the dominant role and Eva becomes invisible to the outside world, thereby convincing society that they are not a hybrid. However, when an experiment with their classmates goes wrong, Addie/ Eva find themselves institutionalized and wrestling with what it means to have a voice. Brackets within the text differentiate

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“Elegantly designed, this collaboration shows a great respect for children’s sensibilities regarding the fine lines between fear, fun and bravery.” from halloween forest

Addie’s external communication and Eva’s internal dialogue with Addie, helping to clarify who is speaking when. Worldbuilding is a little on the thin side, but Addie and Eva’s emotions are more than enough to carry readers along. A thought-provoking first installment in a series that unflinchingly takes on ethically challenging topics. (Dystopia. 13 & up)

halloween picture book roundup TEN CREEPY MONSTERS

Armstrong-Ellis, Carey F. Illus. by Armstrong-Ellis, Carey F. Abrams (32 pp.) $14.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-4197-0433-8

This countdown romp begins with a front-cover portrait of 10 smiling and grimacing monsters before they set forth on their perilous adventure. “Ten creepy monsters met ’neath a gnarled pine. / One [a ghost] blew away, and then there were nine.” So continues the predictable rhyme, with the various creatures meeting mostly unfortunate ends: The zombie loses his foot, the mummy snags his wrappings, and the vampire glances at the sunrise. Some do not perish but are only distracted; the werewolf cannot resist howling at a shocked full moon, and the sea monster, in one of the funnier (though incongruous) spreads, “found his love,” who is a startled woman in a bathing suit and cat’s-eye glasses near the shore. As the numbers dwindle, only a squat, goblin-green monster remains, until this “one creepy monster rushed home at a run.” The page turn reveals a green mask hanging from a bedpost, Halloween candy spilling out from a sack underneath the bed and a contented boy, who “pulled up his blanket, and then there were none.” Armstrong-Ellis injects just the right amount of humor into her portrayals of the ghoulish bunch, keeping the tone appropriately light, despite the body count. Best for younger readers who prefer thrills and chills with an occasional giggle. (Picture book. 3-5)

THAT ONE SPOOKY NIGHT

Bar-el, Dan Illus. by Huyck, David Kids Can (80 pp.) $16.95 | paper $8.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-55453-751-8 978-1-55453-752-5 paperback

The title refers to Halloween, when the trio of stories within supposedly |

occurred. This graphic-novel look at seemingly disparate happenings is likely to have readers giggling more than shivering. Bar-el builds light suspense as he warns readers about the slightly scary spoofs on classic horror stories found in the pages that follow. The first tale, “Broom with a View,” shows a bratty girl’s comeuppance after she bumps into a real witch and is taken on a wild ride with the good-hearted green gal, learning in the process that kindness can be cool. The second story, “10,000 Tentacles Under the Tub,” depicts the over-the-top antics of two boys in costume as Aqua-Ranger and Aqua-Ninja who, after an evening of rambunctious and disrespectful behavior, find themselves in a battle for their lives when cunning mermaids beckon them into the horrific depths beneath their very own bathtub. The final yarn features a quartet of full-of-themselves girls who enjoy terrorizing fellow trick-or-treaters. Then they meet another foursome of equally frightening girls, who turn out to be vampires eager to drink their blood. Huyck illustrates the rapidly paced action in classic comic-book style, making sure to skillfully depict every shock, scare and look of relief. A good choice for readers new to the format and those looking for a quick hit of Halloween silliness. (Graphic novel. 7-9)

HALLOWEEN FOREST

Bauer, Marion Dane Illus. by Shelley, John Holiday House (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-8234-2324-8

Veteran Bauer sends an intrepid trickor-treater into a deliciously creepy forest full of fantastical frights and rattling menaces. Any child with a sense of adventure, keen eye and touch of courage will eagerly follow the unmetered rhyming text that takes this black-caped child deep into a forest of bones on Halloween. The verse propels both the character and readers forward through each taunting spread. “Bat bones, / cat bones, / rat bones and all are / looking at / YOU.” “Take care! / Beware! / Despair! / You can bet / you’ve just met / your worst nightmare!” But the observant explorer carefully sidesteps such scariness and instead shouts “ ‘BOO!’ / or ‘POOH!’ / or even ‘WAHOO!’ ” and then dramatically reveals a skeleton costume underneath the cloak. Now the skeletal creatures turn from frightening to welcoming as the child raises a bright orange sack declaring, “Trick or treat! / Smell my feet! / Give me something / good to eat!” Shelley’s superbly detailed illustrations in pen, India ink and watercolor help build suspense as the child goes from the city into the intricately twining bony landscape. A dusky palette dominated by grays and muted pastels turns brighter when the child’s spunky confidence is revealed. Elegantly designed, this collaboration shows a great respect for children’s sensibilities regarding the fine lines between fear, fun and bravery. This title should be at the top of the book pile come autumn. (Picture book. 3-6)

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“Krall matches Crow’s energetic text with a palette of contrasting graveyard-emerald greens and bright, urban pinky reds set against jet black backgrounds.” from skeleton cat

THE DEAD FAMILY DIAZ

Bracegirdle, P.J. Illus. by Bernatene, Poly Dial (40 pp.) $16.99 | Aug. 2, 2012 978-0-8037-3326-8

Angelito is not looking forward to the Day of the Dead. Even though he will be with his family when they arrive at the Land of the Living, his anxieties mount as the elevator door opens onto the raucous party atmosphere of El Día de los Muertos. Bracegirdle crafts a colorful story about facing fears and accepting differences while seamlessly integrating Spanish words and phrases and information about the holiday’s traditions. Angelito’s older sister, Estrellita, teases him about how frightening and strange the Living are. While everyone in his family is excited about the upcoming festivities, Angelito is afraid of what he will encounter. When he gets separated from his family in the Land of the Living, he finds a friend in Pablo— wearing a skeleton mask—who Angelito believes is just like himself. They have fun together, but at one point both boys realize exactly what the other is. Here Bernatene departs from his lush and vibrantly hued full-bleed spreads to reveal a double-page close-up of both boys, set against ample white space, facing each other with shocked surprise. After running away, Angelito experiences a range of emotions conveyed through spot illustrations. Conveniently, the boys meet up to not only forgive each other, but to also play a trick on Estrellita. Although a bit pat, the ending satisfies, and the story as a whole addresses many issues pertinent to primary-grade children. (note) (Picture book. 5-8)

HUBBLE BUBBLE GRANNY TROUBLE

Corderoy, Tracey Illus. by Berger, Joe Nosy Crow (32 pp.) $14.99 | Jul. 10, 2012 978-0-7636-5904-2

As they say, be careful what you wish for… No one wants a relative to stand out too much, especially for the wrong reasons. A young girl hopes her beloved grandmother—who just happens to be a witch—would learn to be more conventional. Corderoy sets a conversational pace to help readers sympathize with the main character’s plight: “My granny’s kind of different…” What follows are spreads dominated by pinks and purples that capture the peculiar occurrences that whirl around Granny wherever she goes. The rhyming text describes Granny cooking “icky soup” full of “slime and sludge and bits of froggy-poop” and driving a “crazy car” with “no roof or seats or wheels…most bizarre!” But often the text only hints at a situation gone awry, and it is Berger’s hilarious digital illustrations that will have readers giggling here and squealing there. At one point the girl convinces Granny to 1700

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give being “normalish” a try. The makeover initially seems a success, “but something wasn’t right. She seemed like someone else’s granny, strolling home that night.” When Granny ends up in bed bored and sad, the girl soon realizes that grandmother’s witchy ways should be celebrated instead of changed. Nestled among the burping bats and mischievous frogs, a lesson on appreciating differences is charmingly presented. Let this tale work its magic throughout the year. (Picture book. 3-6)

SKELETON CAT

Crow, Kristyn Illus. by Krall, Dan Scholastic (32 pp.) $6.99 paperback | Jul. 1, 2012 978-0-545-15385-0 Rhyming verse unfolds in hip-hop rhythm to describe the humorous antics of a most likable, bony feline in this tale of pursuing a dream no matter what. A dramatic zap of lightning opens the story and magically awakens a cat from the grave. When the wind blows in a notice about a drumming audition, the cat rattles and rollicks out of the cemetery and through the city—alarming adults and impressing school kids along the way. When he arrives, the motley band is skeptical at first: “…they called him nuts. / ’Cause ‘You’re not gonna make it / if you ain’t got guts!’ ” Skeleton Cat responds with his refrain, “He went: / Rattle, rattle. Clink, clink. / Rattle, rattle, clink. / Tip tap. Clickety-clack. / Ka-plink, / ka-plink, / ka-plink.” Krall matches Crow’s energetic text with a palette of contrasting graveyard-emerald greens and bright, urban pinky reds set against jet black backgrounds. Just this side of garish, the vibrant palette perfectly focuses readers on the cool white skeleton of the aspiring drummer. The digitally rendered, cartoony art coupled with the “undercat” theme is sure to inspire an entertaining and highly interactive storytime. A warning for those reading this aloud: really practice that finale jam. Applause for this very silly and slightly spooky cool cat that follows his own beat! (Picture book. 4-6)

THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN

Haber, Tiffany Strelitz Illus. by Edmunds, Kirstie Henry Holt (40 pp.) $16.99 | Jul. 17, 2012 978-0-8050-9375-9

Although there are many stories about the perils and rewards of a monster’s turning nice, this one goes a little further, touching upon being rejected by peers, being bullied and eventually being at ease with who one is. Supposedly each letter in the word “monster” stands for a valuable character trait that all these creatures share: M is for

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mean, O is for Observant, N is for Noisy, S is for Super Strong, T is for Tough-to-Please, E is for Envious and R is for Remarkable. Sadly, the lime green, rectangular protagonist loses his “M” and his ability to be truly mean. Now he is “just The Onster.” Without his “mean,” he becomes the target of teasing and feels embarrassed when he is caught by the monster pack doing good deeds and fitting in with the more kindhearted and accepting young humans. Even when he purposely tries to do something bad, such as pulling “the flowers out of Mrs. Power’s yard,” he “just can’t bear to harm them, so he waters them instead.” The rhyming text proceeds at a steady clip, and Edmunds digitally renders scenes that aptly depict the monster’s back-and-forth feelings about becoming a nonthreatening, thoughtful and friendly Onster. Readers will chime in with the “hip, hip hooray” this cuddly-looking creature earns when he finally embraces and celebrates his differences. (Picture book. 4-7)

WAGA’S BIG SCARE

Hiti, Samuel Illus. by Hiti, Samuel Carolrhoda (32 pp.) $16.95 | $12.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-7613-5622-6 978-1-4677-0418-2 e-book Waga is a monster that is mean, tricky and possesses the “biggest scare.” But when Waga loses that scare, the monster’s very existence is in jeopardy. It is evident Hiti comes from the comic-book world. The text is pared down to essential declarations, exclamations and gleeful sound effects in this rapidly paced title. In settings of mostly teal, deep red, white, black and gray, Waga stands out as a brilliantly orange phenom outlined in black that appears to be a combination of a golem, troll and mischievous elf. The first few pages boast of Waga’s terrifying reputation in the monster world, but a page turn early on abruptly reveals an instantly saddened creature. The scare is gone, and if Waga fails to recover it by morning, “Waga will disappear for good.” The remainder of the book follows Waga on a search through the “creepy woods,” “the dark, dank cave” and the graveyard, eventually leading to the sudden, surprising revelation of where the biggest scare is. “Waga had left the scare / …IN YOUR ROOM!!! BOOOO HAHAH-HA-HA-HAH-HAAA…” Waga has overcome his wildly swinging emotions and is now presented as most threatening and scary on the final page, with his many sharp, pointy teeth bared and hands poised to grab. The ending may leave younger or more sensitive readers unsettled, so save this slim, adrenaline-fueled tale for those who crave a true, if ephemeral, fright. (Picture book. 5-8)

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JUST SAY BOO!

Hood, Susan Illus. by Henry, Jed Harper/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $12.99 | PLB $13.89 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-06-201029-2 978-0-06-201030-8 PLB

Rhyming call-and-response text propels this light trick-ortreating adventure to its pleasant end, where even the youngest child learns how to say “boo!” Hood establishes a predictable, interactive rhythm from the get-go: “If the ghosts in the trees / wibble-wobble your knees, / what do you say? // BOO!” After this pattern is repeated a few times, the answers begin to vary, presumably in an attempt to further engage young readers. When wet leaves tug on sleeves, the children say, “Eww!” Or when an adult dressed as a skeleton offers candy to the costumed characters, they say, “Thank you!” Henry’s rather pedestrian illustrations, many of which have a washed-out sepia effect with muted oranges, yellows and browns, lack the vibrancy reflected in the text. The main trio of children—a vampire bat, witch and shark—are cute enough, though, particularly the pudgy little shark. This wholesome, well-intentioned effort may result in an enthusiastic response even if the plot is a bit thin and the pictures fail to truly inspire. (Picture book. 2-5)

WORKING MUMMIES

Horton, Joan Illus. by Kozjan, Drazen Farrar, Straus and Giroux (32 pp.) $12.99 | Jul. 17, 2012 978-0-374-38524-8 In this ode to hardworking mummy mothers, an impressive collection of careers is introduced with deliciously icky details sure to elicit appreciative “eww’s.” With a palette dominated by saturated purples, greens, oranges and reds, a detailed, fantastical monster city comes to life. Alongside dragons, ghosts and one-eyed monsters, female mummies contribute their various talents to serve their bustling community. Readers meet a diverse cast, including a brave manicurist who specializes in sharpening claws, a doctor who prescribes “coffin syrup” to cure raspy moans, a waitress who serves frightening bowls of “Scream of Wheat,” a realtor who sells haunted dwellings and a dentist who expertly files vampires’ fangs. Each mummy expertly tackles the challenges of her profession whether it be working the graveyard shift or taming a classroom of rambunctious goblins. But in the end, “no matter where the mummies work— / In diners, stores, or schools— / They can’t unwind until they’re home… // To hug their boys and ghouls.” Kozjan obviously had fun creating the full-bleed spreads that successfully extend the humor in Horton’s well-paced, rhyming text. Readers will not mind the message delivered amid the amusing wordplay and clever, elaborate illustrations.

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children ’s

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teen

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1 august 2012

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1701