Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers: The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman

From My Shelf

William Morrow & Company: Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams / The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Mira Books: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Earlier this year, the many fans of Washington, D.C.'s famed Politics & Prose worried about the future of the bookstore, which was up for sale and is well known for its events. Ownership changed in May--and all should rest assured. Politics & Prose is going strong, and so are its events.

Just the other night, I broke with my usual stay-at-home evening routine and went to the store to see novelist J. Courtney Sullivan. She was personable and her reading from her new novel, Maine, entertaining--and the audience was engaged. It was a fine example of how a live event can connect readers more strongly with an author, as well as how that connection can translate into sales. One of the lasting mementos from the evening: a signed book.

An autograph can be a slight thing. There's a reason they call paper objects "ephemera." But when you feel an affiliation with a book and its author, that slip of pen across paper becomes significant. Firm advocates of paper books have made better arguments than I can about the pleasures and advantages of the tangible.

If I've made the effort to get up and go to events like this, it's because I am pretty excited about that author and that book and I want to remember that excitement by having a signed paper frontispiece. Even when digital signatures and such become commonplace, they're no substitute for face-to-face contact. Live, real-time events are one of the most wonderful benefits of local bookstores, a place where bricks-and-mortar bookselling really delivers the goods. Considering some of the amazing titles that are coming out this fall, I need to goad myself into getting out more. Won't you join me? --Bethanne Patrick 


Akashic Books: Me by Tomoyuki Hoshino


Bookselling News

Future Readers, Early Adapters?

Kids R E-books? The Boston Globe wrote about "an emergent class of consumers": children downloading e-books and reading them on their Kindles, iPads and mobile devices. One nine-year-old girl was quoted as saying, "It's easy.... If you want a book, you don't have to wait to go to the store.’’ Her mother thinks "it's great," and hopes that it's not "a novelty."

Factors influencing kids and families downloading digital books include that convenience, as well as digital titles' often lower price point. However, the article also includes perspectives from publishing experts who point out that the youngest "digital natives" were going to move to reading on devices no matter what. Wendy Bronfin, senior director of children's digital content at Barnes & Noble, said, "It's not so much how they read, but that they read." Keeping kids reading is something that publishers, educators and parents can all agree on, now and into the digital future.


Fabled Films: The Nocturnals by Tracey Hecht - 11 Fun summer boredom buster activities!


Agatha Christie, Surfer Dude?

This item give whole new meaning to the phrase "hang ten." Agatha Christie may have been one of the U.K.'s first "stand-up" surfers, according to researchers who discovered that the creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple "was something of a pioneering and diehard wave-rider. At a time when many of her contemporaries were chugging cocktails in Blighty, Agatha Christie was paddling out from beaches in Cape Town and Honolulu to earn her surfing stripes," the Guardian reported.


Akashic Books: Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Ricardo Cortes


Book Candy: The Littlest Library, BookBook for iPhone

Imagine finding a lending library in your local park, grocery store parking lot--or even at the end of your street. Little Free Libraries, the brainchild of two Wisconsin entrepreneurs, are tiny, freestanding containers that can hold a small number of books, anywhere from five to two dozen volumes.

Each Little Free Library can be slightly different. Todd Bol and Rick Brooks designed the first one to look like an old-fashioned one-room schoolhouse. Dedicated to Bol's mother, it is located just a few blocks from the Hudson, Wis., riverfront. But while the actual libraries are so cute they're almost twee, they have a very serious purpose behind them. The men want to help communities worldwide increase access to books, raise literacy--and surpass famed magnate Andrew Carnegie's record of building 2,509 free libraries. 

We haven't been so charmed by a project in years. We also want one of these for the Shelf Awareness neighborhood. Fortunately, that's entirely possible: on the site, Bol and Brooks not only sell plans so that you can build your own Little Free Library, but offer premade models and sponsorship opportunities, as well.

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You've probably seen the swank BookBook, which was originally designed for MacBook laptop computers, and expanded to iPad cases, too. BookBook cases are made of leather and crafted to resemble early modern book spines. 

Until now, the BookBook was not available for the smallest of Apple products, the iPhone--but designers Twelve South have just unveiled the perfect accessory to make your own portable device look just like an ancient one


Silver Dolphin Books: Kisses for Kindergarten by Livingstone Crouse, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan


Great Reads

Further Reading: French Lessons

French Lessons (Ballantine) by Ellen Sussman begins with three young French people in a café--they work as language tutors, and are about to meet with their respective students. Their three sessions form the three parts of this atmospheric novel. However, Sussman's book is not about the things readers might believe it to be on the surface. It's less about living abroad, speaking in a new tongue or having sex with strangers than it is about the essential loneliness that lives in many kinds of love.

We recommend Sussman's book, and if you are looking for more of one of its elements, we've got some ideas. If you enjoy reading about:

 

The expatriate experience: Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen deserves a wider audience. Protagonist Jonathan Brand is a graduate student headed to Denmark's North Atlantic Faroe Islands for his fieldwork and naturally, the people he thinks of as "primitive" are anything but... meanwhile, readers see inside a very different culture through both this newbie's eyes and the author's wry omniscience.

 

Learning a new language: In Maeve Binchy's Evening Class, like in so many of her novels, a group of working- and middle-class Dubliners comes together in a seemingly random way, then ties, bonds and obligations emerge and the group changes. Here, the mysterious "Signora" signs up to teach an evening class in Italian, and the gentle ups and downs of conjugation are in contrast to real life's challenges.

 

Overseas adultery: Le Divorce and Le Mariage and L'Affaire (yes, that's the correct order) by Diane Johnson provide such finely nuanced views of French manners and how difficult Americans find them to navigate that it's easy to miss how seamlessly and elegantly these novels are written (the first was a National Book Award nominee). Hmmmm, nuanced, seamless, elegant: how very French!


Crown Publishing Group: The Little French Bistro by Nina George


Literary Lists

10 Books You Really Should Have Read in High School

The Today Show offers a list of books--"in no particular order, and omitting a lot of astonishing books"--that everyone should have read in high school. What, no Ethan Frome? Oh, well, at least they've included classic teen-torment texts like The Scarlet Letter, Lord of the Flies and The Fountainhead.


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: The Lake House by Kate Morton


Rainn Wilson's Reading List

Actor Rainn Wilson (The Office; Super) shared "10 favorites from my sci-fi and fantasy bookshelf" on the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex blog, where he observed: "When I was growing up in the '70s in suburban Seattle, I had a secret obsession. I was a science fiction and fantasy nerd. This was waaaay before it was ever halfway cool to be one.... I have many fond memories of poring over the outlandish sci-fi and fantasy book covers at the University Book Store in Seattle and choosing a stack to bring home with me to devour. I have managed to, over the many decades since the late '70s, hold on to a good deal of my collection and I'm proud to share with you now some of my favorite authors and their covers from my bookshelf."


Book Review

Fiction

Things We Didn't Say

by Kristina Riggle


Fyodor Dostoyevsky's comment that "much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid" applies to Kristina Riggle's new novel, Things We Didn't Say. The book is centered on a young woman named Casey, who is engaged to Michael, a divorced father of three kids. Though she clearly loves him, Casey is considering leaving Michael as she struggles for acceptance with his children, for tolerance of his mentally disturbed ex-wife, and for continued concealment of her alcoholic past. When Michael's teenage son goes missing, the interactions among Casey, Michael, his ex-wife and the other children become increasingly problematic as the tension escalates.

It is the consequences of things left unsaid that nearly destroy this family in the making, and Casey must decide if she is willing to initiate the honest communication that will keep the relationships intact. Unfortunately, there are all sorts of miscommunications that stand in the way, including Casey's own journal, which she leaves in her bedroom--and which Michael's daughter finds, reads and uses to Casey's detriment.

Riggle is the author of two other novels, Real Life & Liars and The Life You've Imagined. She is gifted in her ability to vary the narrative voice of each chapter among her primary characters, and she writes realistically about their strengths and weaknesses. Given the themes of the dysfunctional modern family, the consequences of secrets, and the difficulties of addiction, Things We Didn't Say will make an excellent book club selection. --Roni K. Devlin, owner, Literary Life Bookstore & More

Discover: A novel of a modern dysfunctional family, the consequences of secrets left untold and the damages of addiction.

Morrow, $14.99, trade paper, 9780062003041

The Devil All the Time

by Donald Ray Pollock


The Devil All the Time is about seeing the face of God--two seconds too late. Set in rural Ohio and West Virginia over the span of the mid-1940s to 1960s, Donald Ray Pollock's debut novel (Knockemstiff, his 2008 short story collection, won the 2009 PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship) traces the lives of several interconnected characters, all working their ways toward a hot home in hell.

We first meet Arvin Russell--the protagonist in this melée of antagonism--when he watches his father beat another man to a bloody pulp. The novel flows in a gory river from there. Arvin's father, Willard, sacrifices animals in an effort to heal Arvin's dying mother. Carl and Sandy are serial killers who troll the country for hitchhiking "models." Roy is a deluded preacher who eats spiders. The list goes on....

The Devil plays a lead role. He lingers around the corners of every page, while God is vacant--except in moments of death. There's no literal appearance of a horned beast, but Satan's slight touch is regularly evident. "It seems like the Devil don't ever let up," says one character. Not in the world of Don Pollock, he doesn't.

Devil will make you shiver. Pollock murders cats and dogs, and everyone in southern Ohio is homicidal. You may have trouble liking any of the characters. The fascination, though, is in following the lives of these people for several years and seeing how monsters become monsters. --Sara Dobie, blogger at Wordpress

Discover: A horrific romp through backwoods Ohio where God is dead, but there's something beautiful in wandering down Pollock's path to damnation.

Doubleday, $26.95, hardcover, 9780385535045

Repeat It Today with Tears

by Anne Peile


Long-listed for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction in the U.K., the controversial Repeat It Today with Tears by Anne Peile is just now being released in the U.S. Though decidedly English in its geography (and its language), this debut novel will likely elicit much discussion among its American readers, as well.

The narrator is Susanna, a rather chubby and insecure preteen who evolves into an attractive, self-assured adolescent during the first part of the book. From the opening line, it is clear that she will embark on an adventure that will hold the reader's attention: "The first time I kissed my father on the mouth it was the Easter holiday."

As Susanna becomes increasingly isolated from her mother and sister, she dreams of establishing a connection with the father she's never known; indeed, she purposely does just that, initiating an intimate relationship with him while neglecting to share her true identity. Though incest is obviously a difficult topic to address, Peile writes with such sensitivity that the relationship seems plausible. Such an affair is bound to cause complications, however, and the latter part of the novel addresses the disasters that befall both Susanna and her father as he is confronted with the truth and she is ultimately committed to a mental institution.

While some readers might hesitate at a book dealing with such a difficult subject, Repeat It Today with Tears is well-written, sympathetic in its handling of delicate material and notable for its astute observations of the time. This short novel is clearly worth a look, and would make for an intriguing book club selection. --Roni K. Devlin, owner, Literary Life Bookstore & More

Discover: An English novel that explores the evolution of an adolescent as she purposefully pursues an incestuous relationship with her estranged father.

Serpent's Tail, $14.95, trade paper, 9781846687471

Plain Fear: Forsaken

by Leanna Ellis


Forsaken, the first in the Plain Fear series, is not just another vampire book. It's a murder mystery with a moral dilemma, set on the dangerous streets of New Orleans and in an Amish community in Pennsylvania.

Amish 18-year-old Hannah mourns the loss of her beloved, Jacob, who died under mysterious circumstances two years earlier. Jacob's brother, Levi, in love with Hannah, watches over her as she visits Jacob's grave every night. In New Orleans, ex-cop Roc Girouard mourns the murder of his wife; when an Amish woman is murdered in a similar fashion, he heads to Pennsylvania to investigate.

With Roc's arrival, another stranger appears: Akiva. Hannah finds herself attracted to him, but even she doesn't recognize Akiva is actually Jacob--turned vampire. Now, she must choose not only between two brothers but between salvation and damnation.

Leanna Ellis, who won the National Readers Choice Award, handles the details of Amish faith well, but she never takes the genre too seriously, often making jokes about "other" vampire books. What sets this title apart from the current bandwagon of bloodsuckers is the Amish setting. It's interesting to see how the "plain people" live, what they think of the outside world and the doubts teenagers stumble over, regardless of creed.

Ellis creates characters with depth. Will Hannah's love for Jacob override her moral impasse; will she end up a vampire? The story keeps you enthralled from page one. There is always another mystery to be solved, another scripture to be quoted and, yes, a sequel to be written. --Sara Dobie, blogger at Wordpress

Discover: Not just another vampire book--this one explores the Pennsylvania Amish and a devout young woman who must choose between love and damnation.

Sourcebooks Landmark, $14.99, Paperback, 9781402255403

Mystery & Thriller

The Traitor’s Emblem

by Juan Gomez-Jurado, trans. by Daniel Hahn


Like so many novels of intrigue and suspense, The Traitor's Emblem begins with the inexplicable: in 1940, Captain González rescues a group of German castaways and receives a jewel-encrusted golden cross as thanks. Decades later, when an interested buyer makes an offer on the cross, the captain's son finally learns the true story of the cross's origins.

Travel back then to 1920s Germany, where a young Paul Reiner finds his family in ruin, but not before discovering that his father was murdered, not lost at sea as he had always believed. He soon finds himself on the streets, struggling to find work while following a trail of weak but persistent clues in the story of his father's death. Reiner ultimately follows these clues back to his own family, where he must face once and for all his cold-hearted cousin, a rising star among the Nazi party.

With The Traitor's Emblem, Juan Gomez-Jurado (The Moses Expedition) has woven a tale of murder, family, romance, revenge and hate. He sets all of this against the turbulent era of Weimar Germany, a fitting setting for a story of vengeance and suffering.

In his author's note, Gomez-Jurado claims a true story as the seed for his novel and Alexandre Dumas as one of his inspirations; though The Traitor's Emblem is no Count of Monte Cristo, it is a telling novel that explores the power of family, revenge and politics in shaping lives and countries and histories. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: A suspenseful novel of revenge and romance in pre-World War II Germany.

Atria, $24.99, hardcover, 9781439198780

The Gentlemen's Hour

by Don Winslow


In this sequel to The Dawn Patrol, surfer PI Boone Daniels takes on a case that threatens to destroy his friendship with his beach buddies. He's hired to help defend the confessed killer of Kelly Kuhio, a surfing legend and saint-like leader in the Pacific Beach community. Everyone wants the perp's head on a stick, but Boone thinks something's fishy with the eyewitness testimonies and the confession attained by Boone's cop friend, Johnny Banzai. Boone also agrees to spy on the wife of an acquaintance from the gentlemen's hour--the shift after the dawn patrol on the daily surf clock--to see whether or not she's cheating. Turns out, the cases may be related, and much deadlier than Boone anticipated.

Readers should dive in even if they're not surfing fans. Don Winslow is so skilled a writer, he could do a dissertation on dirt and make it entertaining. His style is conversational, like having someone in your living room tell you a really good story. His prose is as rhythmic as music, his dialogue crackles like fireworks, his characters are as real as your best friends. Winslow tackles serious subjects but makes you laugh before you realize you've been kicked in the heart.

And Boone's not a stereotypical, loner PI; he has great friends. Their bond is deep, making its fracture all the more painful. But that's why we root for Boone. Anyone can do the right thing when it's easy, but only a gentleman can do it when it's nearly impossible. --Elyse Dinh-McCrilllis, chief nerd and blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: A memorable cast of characters in a deceptively breezy PI novel that tackles serious topics with humor and style.

Simon & Schuster, $25, hardcover, 9781439183397

Jane Was Here

by Sarah Kernochan


Jane Was Here, by Oscar-winning filmmaker Sarah Kernochan, is an eerie mystery with an emphasis on reincarnation and karma. The eponymous Jane travels to the tiny New England town of Graynier to uncover who murdered her in a past life. But Jane has never been to Graynier, and the murder she is convinced was her own took place in 1853.

Jane was institutionalized for most of her present life, even though she claims sanity. She waited until she was 21 to leave the institution to discover the secrets of her past life and how they relate to her present--and to the present lives of everyone in Graynier.

Kernochan is best known as a screenwriter for the movies 9½ Weeks and What Lies Beneath. This is only her second novel; her first, Dry Hustle, was published in 1977. Like her films, Jane Was Here relies on a pervasive sense of foreboding, inspired by masterful descriptions of setting and character. The current occupants of Graynier lived there during their past lives as well--but who murdered past-life Jane? Figuring it out is the riveting fun of Jane Was Here.

Religion, particularly a sect known as "Gabriel Nation," plays a big part in Jane's past life, and the religious discussions and related romance lend a touch of softness to this otherwise dark and vicious tale. The graphic sexual content is shocking, but Kernochan uses it as a character development tool. The acts themselves are not portrayed, but inference illuminates characters' internal demons. Kernochan does not pull punches. She tosses us amid the Graynier wolves in order to solve Jane's murder before anyone else ends up dead. In her inventive and artful brutality, Kernochan evokes horror genius in this backwoods karmic thriller. --Sara Dobie, blogger at Wordpress

Discover: A brutal, beautiful puzzle of past lives, karma and the devastation wrought by both.

Grey Swan Press, $24.95, hardcover, 9780980037722

Romance

Only Mine

by Susan Mallery


Anyone with siblings knows they can be a blessing or a curse. For Dakota Hendrix, her two sisters provide comfort when she learns she's incapable of bearing a child. For Finn Anderssen, his young twin brothers are a pain in the neck, especially when they both leave college for a reality dating show. Finn has raised the twins and operated the family aviation business since their parents' death, and he's not about to let them throw away their futures for a slim chance at fame. He follows them to Fool's Gold, Calif., determined to drag them back to Alaska with him. He's unprepared to meet a caring, beautiful woman like Dakota, unprepared for their passionate affair, and definitely unprepared to fall in love.

Happily-ever-afters spring up everywhere in Mallery's first Fool's Gold novel. A secondary romance between one of Finn's brothers and his older match on the reality program provides a satisfying bonus, leaving the reader admiring how Mallery so gracefully works two love stories into one novel. Finn and Dakota's connection is tender and instant, despite their insistence that it's only a casual fling. While he wants to avoid responsibilities and she wants to avoid heartbreak, the duo have such obvious chemistry that the reader will instantly know they're made for each other. Still, knowing they'll resolve their differences takes none of the fun out of the journey. Spicy love scenes and heart-tugging plot twists will keep the pages turning and leave readers ready for two future Fool's Gold novels starring Dakota's sisters. --Jaclyn Fulwood, graduate assistant, University of Oklahoma Libraries

Discover: A sweet-hot romance about the power of family ties.

HQN Books, $7.99, mass market, 9780373775880

Nonfiction

Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal, and the Music of New Orleans

by Keith Spera


Make sure you read this one with a good Internet radio account or perhaps an iTunes gift card--you'll want to listen to the songs as you read through the book. Keith Spera, reporter for the Times-Picayune, brings us several significant stories of New Orleans music in a post-Katrina world.

From Aaron Neville to Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino and Terrence Blanchard to rocker Alex Chilton and hardcore rapper Juvenile, Groove Interrupted paints personal portraits of both famous and infamous musicians from a city full of musical treasure. Spend time with Phil Anselmo, lead singer for the heavy metal band Pantera. Sit in a recording session with Jeremy Davenport, hotel crooner with big dreams. Follow Pete Fountain down the Mardi Gras streets through his last gig at the New Orleans Hilton, where he's been playing for the past 26 years. Hoist a Heineken with Fats Domino, as he battles stage fright and agoraphobia.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 affected each of these artists--homes were destroyed, loved ones lost and found, neighborhoods ruined, careers sidetracked and regained. It was a national tragedy in perhaps the most influential music community in the U.S. today. Spera tells each story with love and attention to the human beings within the legends, never allowing the ever-present Katrina become an all-too-easy scapegoat for personal or professional tragedies. This is a highly recommended read. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A fantastic, personal, heartfelt glimpse into past and current New Orleans music culture by a man who has written about it for decades.

St. Martin's Press, $26.99, hardcover, 9780312552251

Missing: A Memoir

by Lindsay Harrison


When she was 20 years old and a sophomore at Brown University, Harrison received a call from her brother Brad, telling her that their mother, Michele, was missing. Three months earlier, Lindsay and Michele had had an argument, and Michele tossed her out of the house to live with her father, Richard. She and Brad, and their brother Chris, meet at their mother's apartment to wait for her return.

Waiting becomes a roller-coaster of hope and despair, with flyers posted on telephone poles, tips followed, endless conversations with the police, pilgrimages to all the places Michele Harrison loved to visit, daily check-ins with friends--until, 40 days later, her body is found in the ocean.

Michele Harrison had been through a painful divorce, leaving her embittered and angry. There was no other woman; the marriage was simply over for both Harrisons, and only Richard was able to admit it. Despite a generous financial settlement, Michele continued to use the children, especially Lindsay, to punish their father. After Michelle's death, Richard, remarried and the father of another daughter, tried again to forge a bond with Lindsay, but she was unable to forgive what he did to her mother and "best friend."

Lindsay goes through pills, drugs, a feeble attempt at suicide, alternately lashing out at her brothers and her father and ignoring them. Finally, a bereavement group starts her on the long road out of guilt and grief. Lindsay Harrison does not spare herself in this poignant memoir of a young woman's passage through loss. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

Discover: A young woman's difficult passage through loss after the death of her mother, poignant and unsparing.

Scribner, $25, hardcover, 9781451611939

The Moro War: How America Battled a Muslim Insurgency in the Philippine Jungle, 1902-1913

by James R. Arnold


In The Moro War, James R. Arnold, author of Jungle of Snakes: A Century of Counterinsurgency Warfare from the Philippines to Iraq, tells of a little-known war that the U.S. fought for more than a decade. The Moro province of the Philippines was a group of southern islands nominally under Spanish rule for 300 years, but de facto power was wielded by tribal Muslim datus.

The Spanish never understood the internecine warfare being waged by the tribes, and so the Americans didn't realize how complex the situation was when they acquired the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. Their initial attempts at diplomacy failed miserably when they mistakenly used a datu hated by other tribes as their emissary, creating distrust against the Christian intruders. So the Americans went to war, fighting several brutal battles against the fierce Lake Moros of the interior. Stark b&W photographs of these battles, amazing for the era, are included in the book.

Initially the Americans seemed to be winning, and in May 1903, Captain John J. "Jack" Pershing was sent home after "conquering" Moroland. The Moros began to rebel again, however, and the Americans disagreed among themselves about the best way to handle the province, creating further confusion. Thus began nearly a decade of insurgency.

Arnold repeatedly mentions the Muslim beliefs of the Moros, heavy-handedly reinforcing the similarities between U.S. military action now and then, but in fact the story of this relatively unknown epoch in American history has long echoes. --Jessica Howard, bookseller, Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

Discover: The American army waging war with the fierce Muslim Moro tribes of the southern Philippines in the early 1900s.

Bloomsbury, $28, hardcover, 9781608190249

Children's & Young Adult

Cleopatra's Moon

by Vicky Shecter


Vicky Alvear Shecter plunges us into the captivating world of Cleopatra Selene, the only one of Queen Cleopatra's four children to survive into adulthood. Shecter anchors this work of fiction (her first) with fascinating facts (accrued for nonfiction books such as Cleopatra Rules!). We meet 16-year-old narrator Cleopatra Selene as she sails on a Roman ship bound for Africa. Her twin brother, Alexandros Helios, has died during the voyage. "I stared at the sea," Cleopatra says, "trying to understand how I came to be here.... How was it that I went from a Princess of Egypt... to a prisoner of Rome?" The author thus brilliantly sets up the framework of the novel, as the teen reflects on her past, and fears what lies ahead.

Her memory of a ceremony at age seven in Alexandria, Egypt, exposes the conflict between Cleopatra Selene's father, Marcus Antonius, and Octavianus, chosen by Julius Caesar (Queen Cleopatra's first husband) as his successor. Another defining moment involves a trip to the Jewish Quarter with her tutor. The heroine meets a rabbi who introduces her to the concept of "free will." Even after her parents' deaths and her forced move to the house of her enemy, Octavianus, in Rome, Cleopatra Selene realizes she has choices. She falls in love and finds herself weighing whether to marry for love or for power. This riveting story serves as a powerful reminder of how the questions so central to becoming an adult cross every line of class, era and culture. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

For more on Cleopatra's Moon, check out our Maximum Shelf.

Discover: A tantalizing coming-of-age story with real-life heroine Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Queen Cleopatra.

Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $18.99, Hardcover, ages 13-up, 9780545221306

Lost! A Dog Called Bear

by Wendy Orr, illus. by Susan Boase


Wendy Orr's (Nim's Island) first entry in the Rainbow Street Shelter series proves there are many ways to love animals, whether or not you have a pet of your own.

Logan likes his life on the farm, but "[w]hat he liked best of all, more than anything else in the world, was Bear--because Bear was his dog." And Bear likes Logan best of all "because Logan was his boy." But when Logan's mom and dad split up, everything changes. Logan, his mom and Bear move to a new house in the city. Along the way, they stop for lunch, and Bear gets loose. Logan and his mom search everywhere, but Bear is gone.

Hannah lives in the city. What she wants, "more than absolutely anything else in the world," is a dog of her own. When her father comes home from work with a strange dog in the back of his pickup truck, she thinks her dream has come true. But Hannah's parents are not dog lovers, and they say the stray must go to the Rainbow Street Shelter. Logan searches for days and posts signs, hoping that someone has found Bear. Meanwhile, Hannah learns to care for all of the animals at the shelter. Even her mother volunteers there. (Who knows, she might just learn to love dogs!)

Simple vocabulary and plentiful illustrations make this an ideal format for children just graduating into chapter books. This is a charming story about wanting something so badly, you are willing to do what it takes to make your dream come true. --Lynn Becker, host of the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI, Book Talk.

Discover: A heartwarming chapter book about losing a dog, finding a dog, and making new friends.

Henry Holt & Company, $15.99, hardcover, 112p., ages 7-10, 9780805089318

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