Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, January 4, 2013

Poisoned Pen Press: Cattle Kate by Jana Bommersbach

From My Shelf

New Leaf Time

We all know what the New Year means: diets, resolutions, promises to self. A better us. It's exhausting to contemplate. We could start big: keeping up the momentum on gun control. Smaller: good works, charitable contributions. Smallest: change one thing about ourselves. For any size change, books are here to help.

Begin with the soul: Spiritual Simplicity: Doing Less, Loving More by Chip Ingram (Howard, $19.99). Ingram says the remedy for driven lifestyles and shallow connections is to make sure love (as a verb, not a noun) is the #1 priority in our lives. Sonja Lyubomirsky takes on our beliefs in what constitutes being happy in The Myths of Happiness (Penguin Press, $27.95). Our culture's definitions of adult success block us from recognizing the upside of negative events and natural rites of passage. Lyubomirsky calls on us to regard our messy lives with a more open mind. For those who like to have a clear plan in hand, there is the NRSV Daily Bible (Harper, $25.99 paper). The entire Bible in 365 days--sounds doable, and perfect for those inclined to checking off markers.

Well-being is not all spirit, however; the body needs attention. This is where authors' claims start to sound too good to be true, but we have some personal experience to rely on. The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days by JJ Virgin (Harlequin, $25.95) works, as attested to by one of the Shelf staff. And while we deal with our weight--or not--we want to look good. Lois Joy Johnson has advice for that: The Wardrobe Wakeup: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age (Running Press, $23 paperback). The suggestions are straightforward, helpful and fun, even if the touted skinny black cropped pant is not (or ever will be) a staple in your closet. --Marilyn Dahl, book review editor, Shelf Awareness

Harper: The Good Dog, The Great Grisby, and Shake Puppies

Timber Press: Cultivating Garden Style by Rochelle Greayer

Chicago Review Press: Pandora's DNA by Lizzie Stark

Book Candy

Literary Resolutions; Books on Faith and the Apocalypse

Jacket Copy showcased "15 literary resolutions for 2013" by a selection of "smart bookish types."  

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Judging books by their covers. The New York Times asked people "in and around the world of graphic design to name one of their favorite book covers from 2012 and briefly describe its appeal."    

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We survived the Mayan apocalypse, but just in case you're in a post-apocalyptic reading mood, Ben H. Winters, author of The Last Policeman, recommended "3 books to read before the end of the world."

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"The American Sublime: 3 Books on Faith in the U.S." were recommended on NPR Books by Ayad Akhtar, author of American Dervish.

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The Huffington Post showcased the "best musicians' memoirs," noting that musicians "are artists after all, and their memoirs transcend the genre, becoming works of art in their own right."

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Cozy featured a large selection of room divider bookcase ideas

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Design Milk showcased designer Jens Praet's "furniture made from shredded Elle Decor magazines," including a Shredded Library bookcase made from approximately 66 pounds of magazine pages.

Workman: Really Important Stuff My Dog Has Taught Me by Cynthia L Copeland

The Writer's Life

Alain de Botton: Thinking About Sex

photo: Vincent Starr  

Alain de Botton writes books that make readers think in new and unusual ways, melding ideas, culture, class, philosophy and life laid out under a microscope. He has written about Proust, employment, the benefits of religion to atheists and his stint as "writer-in-residence" for a week at Heathrow Airport. His newest book, How to Think More About Sex (December 24, 2012), is a lead title in the new School of Life series coming from Picador. Among the ideas de Botton puts forth: that all married couples should have a weekly visit from a psychologist or counselor toward maintaining a healthy marriage, a sort of "new priesthood"; that we should perhaps pay gratitude for fidelity equal to the rage we would rain down on our partners should they stray, given the biological drive to do so; and that, maybe, sexiness could be profound, instead of base.

Let me play devil's advocate: I could foresee women sharpening their pitchforks at the idea of a book (with a pink cover, which could be viewed as code for "this is for women") that, on the face of it, looks to be the gift of choice from the surly husband who feels he isn't getting his due. Let's disabuse people of that notion--what's your aim with this book?

I couldn't agree with you more on the unfortunate cover. This said, the book has nothing to do with lonely husbands. My starting point is that it's rare to get through this life without feeling that we are somehow a bit odd about sex. It is an area in which most of us have a painful impression, in our heart of hearts, that we are quite unusual. Despite being one of the most private of activities, sex is nonetheless surrounded by ideas about how normal people are meant to feel about and deal with the matter. In truth, however, few of us are remotely normal sexually. We are almost all haunted by guilt and neuroses, by phobias and disruptive desires, by indifference and disgust. None of us approaches sex as we are meant to, with the cheerful, sporting, non-obsessive, constant, well-adjusted outlook that we torture ourselves by believing that other people are endowed with. We are universally deviant--but only in relation to some highly distorted ideals of normality. So my book argues it is time to accept the strangeness of sex with good humour and courage--and start to talk about it with honesty and compassion. This is what my book is about: an invitation to think more about a subject we mistakenly think we know all about already.

You end the second chapter with a statement that left me curious: "Getting turned on is a process that engages the whole self. Our arousal is an endorsement of a range of surprisingly articulate suggestions as to how we might live." Could you elaborate?

Finding someone attractive is often read as a "low" response--compared to finding them interesting or likable. The French novelist Stendhal offers us a way out of this dichotomy with the maxim "Beauty is the promise of happiness." This definition has the immediate advantage of stretching our understanding of why we might describe certain people as being attractive. It goes far beyond mere physical excitement: we bestow the word on individuals because we detect in their outer forms a range of inner traits that we intuit would be of some benefit in the establishment of a successful relationship with them.

Our wanting to sleep with certain people because we find them physically seductive doesn't have to mean that we are ignoring who they "really are." Rather, we may be aroused by, and feel eager to get closer to, an exciting kind of goodness--or, in Stendhal's formulation, a promise of happiness--that we have correctly discerned in their lips, skin, mouth and eyes.

What are the plans for the School of Life books?

The books are part of a series of six, already published in the U.K., that are slowly making their way into the U.S. market. They're part of an attempt to rethink the "self-help" book. Most self-help books are problematic. They promise their readers eternal life, untold riches and an escape from every grubby aspect of being human. No wonder the unstated assumption of the cultural elite is that really only stupid people read self-help books.

The elite assumption is that life doesn't need to be navigated with lessons. You can just do it intuitively. After all, you need only to achieve autonomy from your parents, find a moderately satisfying job, form a relationship, perhaps raise some children, watch the onset of mortality in your parents' generation and eventually in your own, until one day a fatal illness starts gnawing at your innards and you calmly go to the grave, shut the coffin and are done with the self-evident business of life.

However, most of us will probably privately admit that living isn't entirely as simple as that--and that it might be useful to have somewhere to turn. That's where these six books come in.

What are you planning to write next?

I'm working on a book about art as a therapeutic medium. --Matthew Tiffany, counselor, writer for Condalmo

Owlkids: Who's Next Door by Mayuko Kishira

Inklings

The Choice Is Yours

Steve Rizzo, a former stand-up comedian, is now a personal development expert and motivational speaker. He has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC and the Oprah and Friends Radio Network, as well as his own PBS special, Becoming a Humor Being. He is the author of Get Your SHIFT Together: How to Think, Laugh, and Enjoy Your Way to Success in Business and in Life (McGraw-Hill).

Life is a matter of perspective: an event can be experienced and interpreted in different ways by different people. There are those who view little mishaps as a major catastrophe, while others find the humor in them. Some people would have their day ruined if their car didn't start or if they had to wait on line at Starbucks for their triple shot, skinny, mocha, carmel, blah, blah, blah, latte!

We have created a mindset in our society where everyone wants what they want when they want it. And if we don't get what we want when we want it, we feel ripped off. To make matters worse, we intensify our problems by continuously rehashing our woe-is-me story to the entire world. Whatever it is that has the potential to keep you from enjoying the day, understand that it's not the situation itself that is causing you to be unhappy. It's your thoughts and how you allow them to control you. It's what you choose to focus on that fuels your emotions and defines your reality.

Too many of us relinquish control of our lives and accept our circumstances for what they might seem to be. We don't know we have a choice and the know-how to confront our feats and challenges head-on. Guess what? You can adjust your attitude and make a conscious choice to enjoy yourself during the process of whatever you are trying to achieve. Making happiness a choice is what it's all about, no matter what your personal or professional circumstances.

Focus on hope, gratitude, and seeing the good during adverse times and you will discover a brighter day regardless of your situation. Remember: When shift happens, your life changes. This year, get your SHIFT together! As always, the choice is yours.

Speak: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Book Review

Fiction

The Missing Rose

by Serdar Özkan

Diana Oliveira is in deep mourning over her mother's recent death as Serdar Özkan's The Missing Rose begins. She has stopped going to her law school classes and turned her back on her upscale, trendy friends. Then her world is further shaken when she opens her mother's deathbed letter to discover she has a twin she never knew about. This twin, Mary, had written to their mother, describing an intense longing to know Diana. Mary also describes the journeys she took to learn how to hear roses speaking and the comfort that gave her in her motherless state.

At first, Diana dismisses her long-lost twin as crazy--after all, who can actually talk with flowers?--but a series of strange coincidences involving a friend of her mother, a street artist and a beggar lead Diana to undertake a journey from Brazil to Turkey to find out about the language of roses. Although she starts this quest intending only to find Mary, she ends up finding herself along the way.

Fans of The Alchemist or The Little Prince will appreciate the allegorical, metaphysical language of The Missing Rose. The people and flowers who influence Diana are often cryptic, forcing her to think deeply about the nature of reality, love, death and individuality. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: A metaphysical journey of love and discovery in the spirit of Paulo Coelho.

Tarcher, $14.95, paperback, 9780399162305

Gotham: Playing Big by Tara Mohr

Grind

by Mark Maynard

All eight of the stories in Reno native Mark Maynard's debut collection, Grind, are about his home town. As he tells us in the prologue: "This town will wear you down from the outside until all that remains is dust." In "Jackpot," a shy, homeless man wins millions at a slot machine that spoke to him ("Feed me, you dirty bum"); it affects his life in a tragic way. Other stories feature three young girls sunbathing on a building roof, watching a desert plane race go horribly wrong; a locomotive rushing toward a retired railway worker with dementia; and a young mother continuing to store her breast milk in her freezer after the early death of her child.

In one of the best stories, "Trading Up," a softhearted pawn shop owner, "proud that he had kept Reno's secrets all these years," does what he can for his "little city." The final story, "Penned," is an interesting look at prisoners who help exercise horses and what it means to them.

In Grind, Maynard reveals a world the Nevada tourism board would rather you didn't see, doing up Reno's sun and heat, the brothels, the truck stops along Interstate 80, the snow bums in the mountains and the big dreams, hopes and needs of its people in a dark, understated manner. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: A debut collection of stories that perfectly captures the seediness, desperation and sense of loss permeating the hot desert world of Reno.

Torrey House, $15.95, paperback, 9781937226039

Tarcher: Season of the Witch by Peter Bebergal

Everything Was Good-bye

by Gurjinder Basran

In this debut novel, Indo-Canadian novelist Gurjinder Basran depicts a young woman so suffocated by the gender expectations of her traditional Punjabi culture that only a drastic form of escape will save her soul. This is a darker and more dangerous take on the typical immigrant's tale--and it feels refreshingly blasphemous. The disavowal of tradition, combined with a breathlessly melodramatic story of fated tragic love, makes Everything Was Good-bye a passionate, unusual and breezy read.

Meena, the youngest of six daughters growing up in British Columbia with a widowed mother, chafes at both the taunts of her white high school peers and the ironclad conventions of the local Punjabi community. She falls for handsome outsider Liam, but he leaves town and, after some college experimentation, Meena falls into an arranged marriage. When Liam returns to her life, every version of her future seems impossible and she is forced to confront how much of what she needs she is willing to live without.

Basran's greatest accomplishment is to depict a world of relatives and near-relatives that pin Meena in at every turn but also, importantly, represent the only means through which Meena can live as part of an interactive, meaningful society. Though she indulges the novel's cornier side with an emotionally amped-up climax, the mawkishness never completely drowns the candor and the reader is left pondering deep questions of submission and identity. --Cherie Ann Parker, freelance journalist and book critic

Discover: An unusual combination of frankness and melodrama combine in this novel of an Indo-Canadian woman balancing love and cultural fealty.

Pintail/Penguin, $16, paperback, 9780143186816

Romance

The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne

by Jayne Fresina

Jayne Fresina weaves her own interpretation of the classic bickering lovers plot in The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne. By day, Ellie is a free spirit skirting the edges of impropriety, but by night she masquerades as the rakish Count de Bonneville, fleecing the rich in order to support her family. Her charade comes to a grinding halt, however, when she acquires the spectacular family jewels of James Hartley, with whom she shares a particularly venomous and longstanding feud. Believing Ellie to be the Count's mistress, James focuses on her as his one chance to catch the scoundrel, and their forced proximity leads to sparks of all kinds.

Separately, James and Ellie are not exceptional, and Fresina doesn't devote much time to developing their individual stories. For example, the deception that initially brings them together, Ellie's masquerade as the gambling Count de Bonneville, is all but abandoned for a large chunk of the novel. Fresina's real talent is saved for her characters' frustrated battles of wit and rancor, which crackle with intelligence and personality, as well as their shared history of mutual, albeit denied, attraction. Fresina also has a keen eye for the absurd, rounding out her story with delightfully ridiculous characters like the precocious Lady Mercy Danforthe whose desperate passion for James Hartley belies her 10 years. While it may be a bit patchy in terms of plotting, The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne proves to be a highly entertaining romp. --Judie Evans, librarian 

Discover: The feisty charm of a wicked Regency wedding!

Sourcebooks Casablanca, $6.99, mass market paperbound, 9781402266003

Vanity Fare: A Novel of Lattes, Literature, and Love

by Megan Caldwell

Molly Hagan, the protagonist of Megan Caldwell's Vanity Fare, is a 40-year-old single mother who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. She suffers the sting of a husband who left her for a younger woman; a traumatized six-year-old son who asks too many questions and is begging for an exotic pet; a mother whose finances have collapsed and who now has nowhere to live; and well-meaning friends and a shrink who pressure Molly to make changes in her life. Molly's troubles grow even deeper when she learns that she's penniless and can't even pay the rent.

When an old friend offers Molly a copywriting job at a new bakery, Molly jumps at the chance for employment. The venue is located near the New York Public Library, and the owner wants to make the bakery "a destination point." Inspired by the challenge, Molly comes up with a "literary-food-is-delicious" schematic for what she envisions will become "Vanity Fare." In the midst of pulling together her presentation, Molly suddenly finds herself being wooed by both the sexy British pastry chef with an "upper-crust, devil-may-care Hugh Grant accent" and his aloof business partner (who becomes more emotionally attractive as he forms a bond with Molly's son).

Each chapter commences with blurbs that cleverly pair literary references and puns with bakery offerings, such as "Much Ado about Muffins," "A Room of One's Scone" and "Catcher in the Rye Bread." Caldwell has whipped up a delicious, well-plotted romance where a smart, self-deprecating heroine conquers real-world issues with good humor. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A copywriting job for a new bakery sweetens the life of a struggling single mother in this delicious romance.

Morrow, $14.99, paperback, 9780062188366

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen

by Syrie James

Samantha McDonough, frustrated scholar and Jane Austen fangirl, finds a letter written by Austen hinting at a lost manuscript hidden in a book of poetry. Convinced the manuscript might still be at the Devon manor house where it went missing, Sam travels to the estate and convinces Anthony, the house's young, handsome owner, to help her search. When they unearth the manuscript after a brief hunt, the two settle down to read it together.

Syrie James intrigues readers with the framing story of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen (what fan wouldn't love to discover an unpublished novel by Jane?), but the heart of the book is the lost manuscript itself. James expertly blends Austen archetypes--bumbling suitors, lady friends both silly and sympathetic, bemused fathers--with her own narrative wit, infusing the story of The Stanhopes with charm and depth.

Austen devotees will recognize familiar plot threads and locations, and enjoy meeting characters reminiscent of the Bennets, the Woodhouses and their friends. Periodically, Sam and Anthony reappear, first discussing the manuscript and then disagreeing on what to do with it. Despite the friction caused by their differing opinions, readers will spot the budding romance before Sam does.

While both the framing story and the ending are a bit predictable, the story of Rebecca Stanhope, her family and her search for love make James's novel a sweet, enjoyable read for any Austen fan. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: An Austen scholar unearths a lost manuscript in an English manor house, with the help of the house's handsome owner.

Berkley, $15, paperback, 9780425253366

History

Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants

by Alison Maloney

In the wake of Downton Abbey's wild success, Alison Maloney's Life Below Stairs offers an in-depth look at the lives of the serving class in the era of King Edward VII (1901-1910) and the Great War. She examines all aspects of servants' place in society and relationships to their masters and one another, including social backgrounds, the responsibilities of each servant in households large and small--from the lowly house or hall boy and the maid-of-all-work to the butler and housekeeper--and their working conditions. She also provides details on fine dining, complete with table service instructions and menus that boggle the mind. Finally, she describes servants' opportunities for retirement or marriage out of service, giving the modern reader an idea of exactly how limited their lives could be. Many poor children and teens would feel lucky to get a position in a "good house," and not feel dishonored by such a post--in contrast, a contemporary source relates, "service [was] considered rather degrading in America."

Although comprehensive in its survey of staff's lives, options, and conditions, Life Below Stairs is a surprisingly easy read. Short chapters and accompanying tables, contemporary newspaper clippings and illustrations make this an accessible and charming way to study the lives of Edwardian servants. As a companion to Downton Abbey or simply a dip into another time, Maloney's study satisfies. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at Pages of Julia

Discover: A simple but thorough glimpse into the lives of British house servants in the early 1900s.

Thomas Dunne, $23.99, hardcover, 9781250017659

Encountering America: Humanistic Psychology, Sixties Culture, and the Shaping of the Modern Self

by Jessica Grogan

Cultural historian Jessica Grogan offers an intellectually stimulating examination of 1960s humanistic psychology in Encountering America. The discipline of humanistic psychology began as a more humane, less pathology-centered approach to healing, serving as a corrective to both traditional psychotherapy and the soul-denying behaviorism in vogue during post-World War II America. Grogan skillfully paints a picture of its founders--men like Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Rollo May--noting the internal and external conflicts that arose and threatened to undermine the movement. She also incisively examines how the streak of self-indulgence in the 1960s commandeered and corrupted humanistic psychology, which had bravely tackled the challenges of race and feminism, in the name of drugs and the guru model of leadership. Grogan's portrait of Abraham Maslow, a charismatic charmer with a true revolutionary's zeal for human and societal transformation, is worth the read alone. Maslow dealt with crippling heart problems during the last decade of his life; his struggle to maintain his vision and pass it in perpetuity to others before his demise is poignant and gripping.

Encountering America weaves together a tapestry and history of a humane ideal for living that continues to define our societal world view. It is a work of deep cultural understanding that breaks down complex issues in a coherent manner, bursting with oversized personalities and thought-provoking ideas. --Donald Powell, freelance writer

Discover: An entertaining study of 1960s humanistic psychology and how its beliefs continue to inspire our world view.

Harper Perennial, $14.99, paperback, 9780061834769

Social Science

The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?

by Jared Diamond

For many decades, Pulitzer Prize-winner Jared Diamond (Collapse; Guns, Germs and Steel) has split his time between his native United States and the traditional societies of New Guinea. In The World Until Yesterday, he compares traditional ways of life with "WEIRD" ("Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic") methods of problem-solving. Recognizing the daunting breadth of such a subject, he selects a few areas for examination, including dispute resolution, child-rearing, elder care, religion and the connection between lifestyle and non-communicable diseases like Type II diabetes. In each area, he compares traditional practices with modern ones, considering the evidence from angles both strictly scientific and personal.

Diamond supplements his extensive fieldwork with substantial research to draw credible conclusions and posit plausible theories. But he writes conversationally, using the first person liberally as he meanders across disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, geography, statistics and evolutionary biology. This disarmingly personal tone is one of the greatest strengths of the book. Diamond also discusses preconceived notions that he and the reader may have, then moves on to new theoretical ground. While acknowledging aspects of traditional societies to which we do not wish to return--cyclical violence, infanticide, frequent starvation--he identifies certain strengths as well, like  negligible rates of heart disease and restorative justice systems. "What can we learn from traditional societies?" Diamond asks in his subtitle; his plan to discover the wisdom and experimentation of more than 10,000 years of human society is well-executed. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at Pages of Julia

Discover: An ambitious but effective--and charming--exploration of the salutary lessons offered by traditional societies.

Viking, $36, hardcover, 9780670024810

On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks

by Simon Garfield

In On the Map, which tells the history of cartography from the Great Library at Alexandria to Google Earth, Simon Garfield once again takes a subject that seems the province of a small group of enthusiasts and opens it for a larger audience. Along the way, he links the development of maps to the larger history of human progress--from the theory that the first maps, drawn in the dust of Africa's Rift Valley, may have encouraged the development of the human brain to modern efforts to map the brain itself.

Written in the breezy style of Garfield's bestselling Just My Type, On the Map is structured as a series of engaging stories told in more or less chronological order. Each chapter uses a specific map, person or idea to explore a bigger issue. Interspersed with the main chapters are smaller, more eccentric stories Garfield calls Pocket Maps: detours that shed light on the origins of "here be dragons," the different ways man and women read maps or the difficulties of refolding a paper map. Whether dealing with familiar topics, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, or introducing the reader to lesser-known subjects like the legendary (and imaginary) Mountains of Kong, Garfield consistently delivers "aha!" moments.

On the Map will appeal to mapheads, history buffs, the terminally curious and anyone who enjoys a well-told story. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Discover: A witty account of the unfolding relationship between humans and maps that does for cartography what Just My Type did for typography.

Gotham, $27.50, hardcover, 9781592407798

Children's & Young Adult

Lincoln's Grave Robbers

by Steve Sheinkin

National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin (Bomb) starts his latest nonfiction odyssey with Pete McCartney's great train escape in 1864 western Pennsylvania. A counterfeiter who'd bribed his way out of many a jam, McCartney thought it might be harder to buy his way out of Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C., and instead decided to leap from a moving train.

McCartney's brother-in-law, Benjamin Boyd, was an even more gifted counterfeiter. Boyd was so good that the guys in his ring plotted to steal President Lincoln's corpse and hold it for ransom: Boyd's freedom from prison in exchange for the 16th president's body restored to his sarcophagus. Sheinkin begins with a true crime set-up, then fills in details about the logistics of counterfeiting and the original mission of the Secret Service (to catch the counterfeiters). He spices up the account with delicious slang. "Shovers" moved the "coney" (counterfeit money) around; "ropers" informed on their pals; and "body snatchers" or "ghouls" plucked newly buried corpses from the graves, often for good pay from the medical profession. The author sticks to the facts and never speculates.

For budding history buffs and fans of detective stories, this tale of a thieving crew will keep readers riveted from start to finish. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A true tale of a plot to steal Lincoln's corpse to spring a skilled counterfeiter from jail.

Scholastic, $16.99, hardcover, 224p., ages 10-14, 9780545405720

Altered

by Jennifer Rush

Jennifer Rush's thrilling debut takes a memorable foursome of male amnesiacs on a journey to rediscover who they are--with a girl whose past is equally mysterious.

A clandestine company, the Branch, built a lab beneath a farmhouse in Treger Creek, N.Y., for an experiment involving four genetically altered boys. Anna Mason has been helping her father observe them and record data for the boys' treatments for the past eight months. She's also been sneaking down to see the boys, specifically Sam, for the past five years. The four suffer from amnesia, an "unplanned side effect" of "alterations" that have made them stronger, their senses sharper. Anna suspects they're being prepped to be superheroes. She discovers she isn't far off when they resist the Branch's agents, who try to bring the teens back to headquarters, before fleeing the lab with Anna.

The boys are constantly running from the Branch, with occasional well-detailed fight scenes, while trying to make sense of the letter-scars on their bodies. Rush creates a fantastic dynamic for the altered boys as they struggle to remember who they are, while also suspecting their memories may be better left buried. The author also equips the boys with their own quirks, to distinguish them from one another, and their haunting flashbacks will win readers' sympathy.

Plenty of codes to decipher and adrenaline-packed scenes make Altered a good match for False Memory fans, and Rush's memorable ending teases to the second installment in her trilogy. --Adam Silvera, reviewer and former bookseller

Discover: A debut thriller about four genetically altered boys who can't trust themselves after their minds are wiped.

Little, Brown, $17.99, hardcover, 336p., ages 12-up, 9780316197083

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America's First Black Paratroopers

by Tanya Lee Stone

As with the women stars of her Almost Astronauts, Tanya Lee Stone here offers another penetrating and illuminating look at a courageous, boundary-breaking group with plenty of guts and little glory: the Triple Nickles.

During World War II, 20 African-Americans trained for combat to become members of the first all-black paratrooper unit, called the Triple Nickles. Their journey takes many surprising twists and turns--an odyssey of spiritual, physical and mental strengthening unlike that of their white counterparts. The main thread follows Walter Morris, first sergeant of the Service Company of the Parachute School at Fort Benning, Ga. To keep up the morale of his men, whose job was to safeguard the facility, Morris began putting them through the exercises he'd watched the white jumpers practice. At the same time, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt averted a 1941 march being planned by A. Philip Randolph by signing the Fair Employment Act, a nod to integrating the armed forces without actually requiring it, and General Gaither, who had observed Morris and his men, drafted them into the first all-black unit of paratroopers: the 555th Parachute Infantry Company.

Stone shows how the Triple Nickles made an impact in the war in the Pacific, and shares a little-known story of balloon bombs sent by Japan to the West Coast and kept secret by U.S. intelligence. The author's endnotes about her research make this an invaluable book for young people starting to embark on research projects of their own. A fascinating, thorough and inspiring account. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: The story of 20 brave African-American men who break all kinds of ground, including the color barrier in World War II.

Candlewick, $24.99, hardcover, 160p., ages 10-up, 9780763651176
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AuthorBuzz: After Auschwitz by Brenda Webster

Dear Reader,

My new novel, my fifth, AFTER AUSCHWITZ: A LOVE STORY, takes on the most difficult subject I’ve had so far. It is narrated by an eight-eight year old man suffering from early dementia and investigates the way enduring love strives against loss, aging and immanent death. Finally, I feel in command of my tools and can fully use with what a lifetime has taught me about my subjects and my craft. Of course there is always more to learn.” But trying to get it right and getting closer, is what makes writing so compelling.

I’m giving away five books, please email milligan@wingspress.com and put WEBSTER CONTEST  in the subject line.

Thanks for reading,
Brenda Webster

 

Buy this book

AuthorBuzz: After Auschwitz by Brenda Webster

Publisher:
Wings Press

Pub Date: 3/1/2014

ISBN: 9781609403591

List Price: $16.95

 

AuthorBuzz: Dead Drop by Jesse Miles

Dear Reader,

Jack Salvo teaches philosophy, but he pays his bills by working as an L.A. private detective. An aerospace company hires him to investigate an embezzlement. It looks easy–a direct route to the embezzler and a client with deep pockets. Then he’s pulled into a labyrinth of espionage, kidnapping and murder. Lives are at stake, as are secrets that could impact national security.

Write jessemilesbooks@verizon.net to win one of five free books.

jessemilesbooks.com

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/dead-drop-3

AuthorBuzz: Dead Drop by Jesse Miles

Publisher:
Jesse Miles Books

Pub Date: 9/15/2014

ISBN: 9780990474012

List Price: $3.99

 

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