Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, July 22, 2011


Pegasus Books: Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors by Conn Iggulden

From My Shelf

Liveright Publishing Corporation: Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

Tarcherperigee: Holiday Must-Haves!

Master of Her Domain

Over the weekend my husband and I went out for dim sum with dear friends who just returned from a cruise of the Mediterranean. Because they are book nerds like us, our conversation quickly turned from ruins to shipboard reading. I'd given them a copy of Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer and, they said, a dozen of their new acquaintances had scribbled down the title so they could buy the book when they got home (a few may even have downloaded it while still on the high seas).

Part of this sharefest is due surely to these friends' ebullient personalities, but it made me think about the place of reading in American society. We "treat" ourselves to books during vacations and breaks in the routine. Often airplane flights, train rides and hotel balconies are the places where people crack the spines of new books with the greatest abandon.

We feel somehow guilty when we read. Because it gives us pleasure? Because it is done largely in private? Because it can involve our imaginations? Hmmm. Sounds like a different familiar and historically reviled activity, especially on these Puritan-influenced shores. Despite our national penchant for individualism, we're suspicious of anything that involves too much silence, solitude and closed doors.

It's one thing to delay reading gratification because you're busy with work or family or something else essential. But to claim you have no time to read or can't waste time on a book, and then spend two hours watching television or playing poker online or buying things you don't need at Target? I think we need to reorder our priorities and proudly spend more time alone, between the covers... of a good book. --Bethanne Patrick


SFI Readerlink Dist: Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Bomber Command by Jason Fry, illustrated by Cyril Nouvel


Bookselling News


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Wanted by Robert Crais


Book Candy: HP Flash Mob, Pencil Carvings, Lemony Snicket's Picks

Brigham Young University's improv sketch group, Divine Comedy, proves in this video that Harry Potter has conquered that school's mostly Mormon student body. While one member of the group--with a fabulous voice--belts out "Firebolt," a catchy rewritten version of Katy Perry's "Firework," her cohorts run around parodying Pottermaniacs, culminating in a flash-mob party scene, complete with sparklers and a surprise.

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Designer Dalton Ghetti carves intricate sculptures...from the tips of pencils. This gallery from the London Daily Telegraph showcases some of his work. Ghetti said, "At school I would carve a friend's name into the wood of a pencil and then give it to them as a present. Later, when I got into sculpture, I would make these huge pieces from things like wood, but decided I wanted to challenge myself by trying to make things as small as possible. I experimented sculpting with different materials, such as chalk, but one day I had an eureka moment and decided to carve into the graphite of a pencil." Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this art is that Ghetti uses just three tools--a razor blade, a sewing needle and a sculpting knife--and no magnifying glass.

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The blog Dinner: A Love Story features books for summer reading recommended by Lemony Snicket (aka author Daniel Handler).



Bonhomie Press: The Murderer's Maid: A Lizzie Borden Novel by Erika Mallman


Cover Story: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

We're a little late picking this one up, but since it involves both a bikini and newborns, we don't think anyone will mind.

Several people (including this editor) had commented to author J. Courtney Sullivan that the photograph on the book jacket of her new novel Maine, from Knopf, didn't quite match the contents. The photo, of a beautiful woman wearing little besides a bikini, looking away from the camera toward an oceanic horizon, evokes "beach," but not the serious family drama set on the shores of Maine contained within the book's pages.

However, Allan Fallow of AARP The Magazine, saw something more when he looked at the picture: he was certain the shot had been taken at Huntington Beach in California. He was so certain of his hunch that he e-mailed the photographer to confirm.

Turns out Fallow was completely wrong--but also discovered a delightful love story. Ruggero Maramotti took the photo in 2004 of "a beautiful Swedish girl I met the week before," he wrote back. "Now she's the mom of my new born (sic) girls."

We think this story is totally awwww-some.


Crown Publishing Group: American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee


Happy Birthday, Winnie!

Want to feel old? Winnie-the-Pooh turns 90 on August 21. If you'd like to send him a birthday card, the New York Public Library will be celebrating his birthday at the Library's Children's Center at 42nd Street all month and is accepting cards on Pooh Bear's behalf. It's an appropriate destination, since Christopher Robin Milne's "original Winnie-the-Pooh doll set--including Winnie, of course!--is at the Library, on view in the Children's Center, in a special room surrounded by art of the 100 Acre Wood!"


Indiana University Press: UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens: What Science Says by Donald R. Prothero and Timothy D. Callahan


Great Reads

Further Reading: Then Came You

This week heralds the release of a new Jennifer Weiner novel, Then Came You (Atria). In this book, four women's lives are intertwined through issues surrounding fertility and parenthood.

That got us thinking about the "four women" device and how it's been used in other books. Weiner, of course, had four women characters in her novel Little Earthquakes. We threw the question out to Twitter, and here are the top three books mentioned:

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: This classic gets extra points because not only are the four "women" all quite different, they're also sisters. Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy March, along with their beloved "Marmee" confront different aspects of girlhood and womanhood in Civil War-era New England.

 

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan: The female quartet in McMillan's exuberant novel involves thirtysomething single African-American women who have great professional lives in their chosen city of Phoenix--but not one of them has yet found "Mr. Right." It's not for lack of trying, however; lots of sex involved!

 

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan: It's four times three in this book: four daughters, four mothers, four families. Tan not only showed a new side to Asian-American literature in this landmark novel--she also used the groups of four carefully and strategically to illuminate each other.

 

Others named, in no particular order: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, Commencement and Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares.


What You're Reading

Guest Review: Lisa Tucker on The Bird House

The Bird House by Kelly Simmons (Washington Square Press, trade paper, $14, 9781439160930)

Some novels are meant to be read slowly, savoring each word, while others push you to keep turning pages, teased on by the promise of secrets revealed. And then there are novels that are both, like The Bird House by Kelly Simmons. This book is so beautifully written that I felt guilty racing through it to discover what happens, and so I read it a second time, happy to spend another day under the spell of the story's brilliantly realized narrator, 73-year-old Ann Biddle Harris.

The flap copy tells us that Ann is experiencing early signs of dementia, but I found her a generally reliable, if not always forthcoming, narrator. Though she has some minor memory problems, she is whip-smart and keenly aware of what's going on around her. Listen to Ann discussing her marriage, when she admits that her late husband might have a different view: "Theo isn't here to refute me. There's a certain glory in that, I tell you. Widowhood means I'll always have the last damn word." Or Ann reacting to her eight-year-old granddaughter's homework: "Oral history?... The things these teachers think of! Nothing an assignment, everything a project. As if children were archeologists or journalists."

But in fact, little Ellie does turn out to be an archeologist of her family, unwittingly digging up truths of the past when she recruits Ann to help with her oral history project. Over her long life, Ann has kept many secrets: about her daughter's death, her troubled marriage, and her feelings about her parents, who had disturbing secrets of their own. Yet it is the developing relationship between Ann and her granddaughter that is at the heart of The Bird House: a relationship that is always honest, often tender and sometimes very funny. Tinsley, Ann's daughter-in-law and Ellie's mother, is wary of Ann's influence on the little girl--and no wonder. Ann dares to serve the child Coke--caffeine!--and takes her out for ice cream after school. When Ellie worries that she's going to ruin her dinner, Ann calmly asks what they're having. "Spinach lasagne," Ellie says. "No great loss," Ann concludes.

Wonderful small moments like these can be found throughout the novel, but this is not a quiet book; the story is filled with mysteries, both current and more than 40 years old. I don't think it's giving away too much to point out that three of the main characters turn out to share very similar secrets. Though this could be said to stretch plausibility, it works perfectly to underscore the questions of guilt, blame and innocence at the core of the novel. One of Ann's most poignant moments is when she realizes she made a terrible mistake; she judged someone harshly because she was looking at the adult world through her "childhood eyes." To be grown up, The Bird House suggests, is to recognize that the motives--and mistakes--of other people are as complicated and difficult to understand as our own. By novel's end, we know Ann will continue to grow and change and, with Ellie, continue to celebrate all the ways life can still surprise her. --Lisa Tucker

Tucker is the author of six novels, including The Winters in Bloom, coming in September from Simon & Schuster and Brilliance Audio.


Book Review

Fiction

The Inverted Forest

by John Dalton


John Dalton's debut novel, Heaven Lake, won the Barnes & Noble 2004 Discover Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. With his second novel, Dalton proves that the praise was no fluke.

In The Inverted Forest, an assortment of last-minute replacement counselors arrive at Kindermann Forest Camp in rural Missouri, only to learn that the next several weeks will be spent taking care of a special group of campers: 104 severely developmentally disabled adults. Dalton writes with clear-sighted, simple humanity concerning the disabilities of the campers and the varying abilities of the unprepared counselors. Among the counselors is Wyatt Huddy, an often misjudged young man who is disfigured by a genetic disease known as Apert syndrome. The ambiguity of Wyatt’s proper designation--is he more like a camper than a counselor?--is purposeful and is a clever manifestation of one of the novel's central themes.

With a measured sense of dread, the narrative follows Wyatt's path to a fateful interaction that also involves an empathetic camp nurse, a vulnerable camper and a charming but untrustworthy counselor. Wyatt's actions are life-defining for all of those involved and, in the second part of the book, Dalton moves the reader 15 years into the future to explore the consequences of what happened at Kindermann Forest Camp. The Inverted Forest deserves a place on every must-read summer list, and it should be slowly savored until the very end. --Roni K. Devlin, owner of Literary Life Bookstore & More

Discover: An excellent novel set at a summer camp in Missouri, featuring well-cut characters and a storyline that pulls the reader toward a climactic interaction with perfectly measured suspense.

Scribner, $26, hardcover, 9781416596028

The Stronger Sex

by Hans Werner Kettenbach, trans. by Anthea Bell


The Stronger Sex is narrated by the young Dr. Alex Zabel, a lawyer saddled by his boss with the difficult task of defending an incorrigible elderly womanizer. He is immediately in over his head. The legal situation is thorny enough: Herr Klofft has fired his former mistress, an accomplished engineer, for taking sick time, and she has protested before the employment tribunal. Zabel's real challenge, however, is in human relations: he has to deal with Herr Klofft's ornery moods, ever-looming mortality and off-color humor; the surprisingly sexy and seductive Frau Klofft; and Zabel's own prickly girlfriend. The plot is quiet and unhurried, proceeding sedately toward a resolution that is less important than the journey, and Anthea Bell translates from the German with great skill.

This novel contemplates old age, sensuality and the relationship between the two. The advances (and retreats) between Zabel and Frau Klofft feel deathly serious in their implications. The young attorney is deeply embarrassed by Herr Klofft's vulgarity, as well as by his own attraction to the elderly Frau. He reacts almost as an adolescent to her worldly charms, struggling to fit the Kloffts' eccentricities into his conservative world.

While the events that move the action in this book are muted, the layered, potentially uncomfortable questions resonate. Kettenbach has succeeded in writing a novel that demands reflection. It's not a psychological thriller, but a psychological study with a legal background, filled with black humor to accompany Zabel's slightly bizarre relationships. This meditative novel is mildly disturbing but massively thought-provoking. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pages of julia

Discover: A quietly provocative novel that examines the psychology of sex and aging through the eyes of a nervous young lawyer in over his head.

Bitter Lemon Press/Consortium, $14.95, trade paper, 9781904738671

Mystery & Thriller

Shut Your Eyes Tight

by John Verdon


Retired NYPD Detective Dave Gurney lives in the Catskills with his wife, Madeleine, trying to adjust to their new life and learn to appreciate nature. Madeleine is content, but Gurney can't seem to halt his obsession with criminal investigations, so when a former colleague offers him the sensational case of a decapitated bride connected to a bevy of juvenile sex offenders and an international crime family, he can't resist. The seemingly impossible and horrifying details fascinate him. Gurney ends up endangering himself and threatening his relationship with Madeleine, who resents the gruesome menace he brings home.

The case of the murdered bride expands and contorts to involve sexual psychology and sexual abuse, and is complicated by police forces so bent on thwarting one another that they seem willing to risk the case itself. The puzzle of the murder mystery, in which we participate alongside Gurney, is suspenseful and challenging, and as a psychological thriller keeps the reader breathlessly turning the pages.

Gurney is a likable character, tortured by his own past, and conflicted in his view of himself as a talented detective but an imperfect husband and father. He worries that he may be uncomfortably similar to the sociopaths he hunts: incapable of compassion and caring, more concerned with the chase than with his family. The reader sympathizes, however, as he grows into a fully developed man, battling an evil that increases as the story progresses, until the suspense and fear come together in a final heart-stopping crescendo. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pages of julia

Discover: A breathtaking thriller in which retired NYPD Detective Dave Gurney can't resist involving himself in the grisly case of a decapitated bride even as the case threatens his personal life.

Crown, $24, hardcover, 9780307717894

Hotwire: A Maggie O’Dell Novel

by Alex Kava


While visiting Denver to make a presentation at a conference, FBI Agent Maggie O'Dell takes a detour to western Nebraska to look into mysterious cattle mutilations but quickly finds herself responding to an emergency call. A group of teenagers are found in the nearby woods--most of them incoherent and two of them dead by apparent electrocution. Maggie soon learns that the teens were experimenting with salvia, and has to struggle to discern the facts from their eyewitness accounts of the deaths, which bear an unsettling resemblance to the mutilated cattle. Then, just as she starts to make progress, someone starts picking off the survivors. 

Meanwhile, Maggie's partner, R.J. Tully, and friend Colonel Benjamin Platt are called on to investigate food contamination at an elementary school in Virginia. More than 100 schoolchildren recover from their food poisoning, only to become ill again, making it clear to Platt that this is outbreak is not caused by a typical pathogen. Platt's fight to uncover the truth and save the children and Maggie's race to find a killer are soon tightly and inextricably woven together in Alex Kava's latest compelling thrill ride. Kava excels at bringing her characters to life and making the background jump off the page--sometimes with gruesome detail. Her treatment of fictional Washington politics is so authentic that it threatens to turn the healthiest skeptic into a conspiracy theorist. With characters so real and plots so disturbingly plausible, Hotwire is impossible to put down. --Sarah Borders, librarian, Houston Public Library

Discover: Bestselling author Alex Kava's latest explosive, heart-pounding Maggie O'Dell novel.

Doubleday, $25.95, hardcover, 9780385532013

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Rule 34

by Charles Stross


"Rule 34" is a popular online meme, which holds that "if you can imagine it, there's pornography about it on the Internet,” as author Charles Stross puts it. Stross uses that line as the inspiration for the "Rule 34 Squad" or, as it's officially known, the Innovative Crime Investigation Unit--a division of tomorrow's Edinburgh police department that tracks down pockets of this kind of imagination, as people try to replicate the disturbing things they find online in their own homes and neighborhoods.

The ICIU is run by 38-year-old detective inspector Liz Kavanagh, but it's not her only responsibility in the department--as Rule 34 begins she's assigned to a bizarre homicide case involving a former spammer and an enema machine once owned by Nicolae Ceausescu. Stross interweaves her story with that of Anwar Hussein, an ex-con who's been recruited to run the Scottish consulate for Issyk-Kulistan (a new nation splintering off from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan), and the Toymaker, a "neurodiverse" (i.e., sociopathic) foot soldier in an international criminal enterprise that's run like a venture capital fund. Stross does an excellent job of shifting among multiple second-person narrators as he maneuvers them into position, and when things start to unfurl, the premises are grounded in fascinating economic and technological speculations, but remain accessible to readers who don't consider themselves science fiction fans.

One of the novel's best aspects, though, is its look at a police force of the future. Although Liz's experience is overlaid by an "augmented-reality interface" known as CopSpace," it's about trying to fight crime while dealing with departmental bureaucracy and tense office politics. Even with the shiny techno-flourishes, it's an instantly recognizable work environment. --Ron Hogan

Discover: Rule 34 is set in the same future Edinburgh as Stross's 2007 novel Halting State, but you don't need to have read that book to enjoy this high-tech thriller on its own merits.

Ace, $25.95, hardcover, 9780441020348

Nonfiction

Kicking Ass and Saving Souls: A True Story of a Life Over the Line

by David Matthews


This is the biography of a man you've never heard of--and won't ever forget. Stefan Templeton is the childhood friend of author David Matthews (Ace of Spades), and though they haven't seen much of each other since they were teenagers in West Baltimore, in 2007 they catch up while Templeton packs for a trip to Sudan. When Matthews finds surveillance gear and gemstones in Templeton's luggage, he starts asking questions, and the story that emerges is so unbelievable that I kept flipping to the page that says, "This is a work of nonfiction."

From his unusual origins (born to an African-American philosopher/martial artist and a Norwegian psychotherapist) to his adolescence of world travel (including summers in a French castle), Templeton grew up to be a multilingual fighter whose good looks turned girls into puddles. His journey from Colombian villages to a deep-sea diving academy, from the Gibraltar mafia to a Thai boxing camp, added to his discipline, courage and compassion, ultimately leading Templeton from criminal thrill-seeking to high-stakes disaster management--distributing antibiotics in Burma, airlifting children out of Indonesia after a tsunami, mapping water sources in Sudan.

But how Matthews tells Templeton's story is as incredible as the story itself. Suspenseful scenes yield images so sharp they'll poke your eye out. Think Hitchcock plus Dumas, Stieg Larsson and the Coen brothers. A bona fide storyteller, Matthews throws himself into the story wholeheartedly, with empathy and finesse. --Claire Fuqua Anderson, fiction writer

Discover: A biography that reads like a literary spy novel, about a world-traveling, thrill-seeking criminal turned humanitarian.

Penguin Press, $25.95, hardcover, 9781594202964

One Day I Will Write About This Place

by Binyavanga Wainaina


Wainaina's memoir of his life in Africa begins with his childhood in Kenya, follows him through university in South Africa, to a family reunion in Uganda, and on to his travels throughout Kenya, to land him finally in New York State as a writer and professor. His tale, however, is far from simply a recounting of one man's life. At its heart, the book is the story of an artist, his struggles as a child to adjust to his view of the world and his discovery of writing as an outlet. His perspective as a child verges on the fantastical as he confuses colors with shapes and objects with sounds. The lyrical, imaginative writing throughout the book reflects this unusual vision. Wainaina paints pictures with words; his writing is reflective and playful and worth lingering over. Music, too, plays a role--almost as another character--as he describes his intense reactions to the music of Kenya, of Africa and of the world.

Another worthwhile aspect of this book is its intelligent and informed study of the politics of the African continent and the diversity of Kenyan perceptions. Wainaina tells of the battle between tribalism and a united Kenya, and the richness of linguistic and cultural perspectives there. Politics, however, is never the main subject; it is merely a background to his personal story. The Africa evoked is captivating and will be exotic and new to many readers.

Wainaina's memoir is by turns funny, sad, hopeful and occasionally cynical, but always engaging. Fanciful abstractions of his environment and instructive tales of African politics combine to give us a fascinating vision of his world. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pages of julia

Discover: Binyavanga Wainaina's memoir, with details of various African backgrounds and his sensitive artist's perspective, paints a poignant and lively picture.

Graywolf Press, $24, hardcover, 9781555975913

David Bowie: Starman

by Paul Trynka


It seems fitting that the "real" David Bowie, long a master of chameleon-like ch-ch-changes, has remained an enigma despite a slew of biographies. Paul Trynka's new book--unauthorized by Bowie and containing no new interviews with him--does not solve the mystery or provide anecdotes of the "never before revealed" variety, but it offers a thoughtful and meticulously researched study of one of rock's few supernovas and his era.

A former editor of MOJO magazine, Trynka packs a great deal about particulars of songs into this book (e.g., how Robert Fripp got that haunting guitar sound on "Heroes"). But there are also plenty of gossipy (albeit restrained) tidbits from the 250 new interviews with Bowie's friends and family that Trynka conducted.

Through a recounting of Bowie's early years, Trynka offers evidence that, although capable, Bowie was not himself a particularly gifted musician. His brilliance was in extracting and combining the musical gifts of others. Of course, the timing had to be right as well, and it was: Trynka does a terrific job describing the scene in London, New York and Los Angeles in the 1970s, including drugs, debauchery and the shift of the music industry into big business. Following a major heart attack and surgery in 2004, Bowie all but disappeared from public view. Trynka speculates on why but doesn't spend much time discussing this (nor much of what many fans consider Bowie's subpar post-Scary Monsters work). What he does do--admirably--with this fine biography is to foster an appreciation of an artist who inspired countless others. --Debra Ginsberg

Discover: A thorough and thoughtful biography of superstar chameleon David Bowie, which also sheds light on the era in which he became famous.

Little, Brown, $25.99, hardcover, 9780316032254

Children's & Young Adult

It's the First Day of School Forever!

by R.L. Stine


The first day of middle school as a new student is bad enough. But what if you had to relive it over and over again? That's the premise of R.L. Stine's (Goosebumps) latest horror novel. He packs in plenty of humor, too, with poor 11-year-old Artie Howard besieged by his ravenous pooch and five-year-old brother Eddy, who can do no wrong in their mother's eyes. Artie falls out of bed with his alarm, struggles to pick out just the right outfit, only to have Eddy squeeze syrup into his hair with not a spare moment to shower. A truck plows into a puddle, soaking Artie in just the right places to make it look as though he's peed in his jeans. Could it get any worse? In a word: yes. Artie makes an enemy of the most popular guy in school (a football star, naturally), and other subthemes involve an African scorpion, a psycho principal and the book room monitor, Mr. Blister, who may be homicidal (Mr. Blister's face had "so many chins, it looked like a candle melting onto his shirt").

Stine milks the worst-case scenarios, and the replays of Day One turn out even more agonizing for Artie's attempts to avoid the events from the previous time around. Just when you thought middle school couldn't get any worse, Artie finds a way to prove you wrong. This back-to-school caper will make tweens feel that they just don't have it that bad. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A first-day-of-school tale of humor and horror by a master in the genre.

Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, $15.99, hardcover, ages 8-12, 9780312649548

Substitute Creacher

by Chris Gall


What could be more fun than a substitute teacher? A green, one-eyed, seven-tentacled substitute Creacher in a brown cardigan and bow tie. Chris Gall's (Dinotrux) exuberant illustrations capture the children's penchant for high jinks. As redheaded Peyton stands on a desk and announces, "Substitute teacher today!," a bespectacled boy balances a teetering tower of books on one hand. Meanwhile, a green limb snakes through the door. "Good morning to all!/ My name's Mr. Creacher./ Ms. Jenkins has asked me/ to step in as teacher." The sub's rhyming speech balloons glow with green slime. As the kids pull pranks, he warns, "Please don't even try;/ in the back of my head, you'll find more than one eye!" How can he anticipate their every move? He's been observing kids' antics for 49 years. "I've collected some tales/ whose lessons are grave/ about boys and girls/ who didn't behave."

Each "case file" unfolds in pixilated panel images that recall Sunday comics. Mr. Creacher tells of Keith, "a hungry young lad" who snacks on glue: "Soon no one could find the boy underneath/ all of the objects that stuck to poor Keith." Sara (case #724C) piles so much in her desk that it blows itself into bits (like Peyton's overstuffed backpack). But the worst fate befalls a boy who steals candy from a "magical gnome." Who might that be? With that story, Mr. Creacher finally gets through to the students, and the ending will stir up much discussion. Doubling as an ideal back-to-school and Halloween tale, Mr. Creacher's story delivers both humor and wisdom. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A back-to-school and Halloween story led by a green one-eyed substitute with a sense of humor and wise counsel to offer his students.

Little, Brown, $16.99, Hardcover, 40p., ages 3-6, 9780316089159

Ripple

by Mandy Hubbard


Mermaids seem to be the new vampires of the young adult paranormal world. Several books now entering the fray are about sirens, the mermaids known for luring sailors into the water with their haunting songs. Author/agent Mandy Hubbard plays with this dark story line in her new novel, Ripple.

Lexi suffers from a curse, handed down for generations, that turns her into a siren on her 16th birthday. Unaware of the power of her voice, she accidentally kills someone and ends up shunned by all her former friends. Things start to change when a new boy shows up at school, and one of her old friends reaches out to her. Soon Lexi is torn between keeping her secret and walking away from love.

This is Hubbard's third novel for the YA market and her strongest to date. Leaving behind the charming antics of Prada & Prejudice and You Wish, Hubbard has crafted a moodier novel with Ripple. Deftly combining an empathetic main character with an engaging plot, she also manages to add a deadly twist to the teenage love triangle. While some questions go unanswered and a few situations seem a bit far-fetched, the tight pacing of the story will keep readers turning the pages. Ripple is a satisfying contribution to the burgeoning ranks of mermaid lore. --Sherrie Petersen, reviewer and blogger

Discover: A modern take on what it means to be a siren--mermaid mythology goes to high school.

Razorbill, $16.99, hardcover, ages 12-up, 9781595144232

The Wanted
by Robert Crais
ISBN-13: 9780399161506
G.P. Putnam's Sons
12/26/2017


an exclusive interview with bestselling author Robert Crais
 

In your long-running Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series, your characters are pulled into a dark underworld of high-stakes robbery, double-crosses, and murder.  What was the moment of inspiration for THE WANTED?

“It’s always about a character moment. In this book, I think it was the notion of Elvis realizing that he’s at a point in his life where personally all he has to show for himself is his cat. Now that in and of itself doesn’t lead to any kind of a story, but I think about these characters a lot. I mean, Elvis and Joe, the first book, was published in 1987. They’re sort of like roommates; they’re shadow figures behind the plant in my office. I guess I was seeing Elvis being in a very thoughtful, introspective mood. And his cat, who’s a main character in the book, walks in and one line came to me in that moment. And it’s Elvis saying, ‘I don’t have kids, I have a cat.’ Here’s this man, Elvis Cole, alone in his A-frame one night, and that just moved me so deeply and in that moment my heart almost broke. It’s emotional hooks like that that really go in deep for me and drive me to chase stories.”

 Read the rest of the interview here.

 

ALSO FEATURED ON THE the big THRILL…

A-LIST by D. P. LYLE: In this witty suspense novel, PI Jake Longly and Nicole Jamison head to New Orleans at the behest of Nicole's uncle, movie producer Charles Balfour, when his megastar, A-list actor Kirk Ford, awakens in his hotel bed with the body of Kristi Guidry, a local college coed, and remembers nothing of the night before. Read more at The Big Thrill.

STRONG TO THE BONE by JON LAND: In the latest in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series, the Texas Ranger finds herself pursuing the killer her father never caught in the most personal case of her career—a conspiracy stretching from a Nazi POW camp in 1944 Texas to a modern-day neo-Nazi gang. Find out more here.

SEEDS OF REVENGE by WENDY TYSON: In a holiday whodunit, Megan Sawyer, determined to farm year-round, braves a December snowstorm to pitch her fresh greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs, but reuniting with an old friend leads Megan on a cryptic trail of clues, and sends her into danger from a killer who’s getting too close. Learn more at The Big Thrill.

BLOOD RUN by JAMIE FREVELETTI: In the new novel from international bestseller Freveletti, biochemist Emma Caldridge joins Jackson Rand, pharmaceutical CEO, on a humanitarian mission to deliver vaccines to remote villages in Africa. But after narrowly escaping a crew of trained assassins, Emma realizes that there is more to this mission than she anticipated. Visit The Big Thrill for more. 

THE ETERNA SOLUTION by Leanna RENEE HIEBER: In the conclusion of her gaslamp fantasy series, Hieber brings Victorian London and New York to life and fills both cities with ghosts and monsters. Two groups of paranormally talented investigators discover that the Eterna compound—thought to be the key to immortality—is, instead, a powerful protective charm. Read more here.

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