Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Workman Publishing: The Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic and New Approach to Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias by Gayatri Devi

From My Shelf

Crown Books for Young Readers: My Journey to the Stars by Scott Kelly, illustrated by Andre Ceolin

New World Library: Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart by Scott Stabile

A Penguin Classic

Today is the anniversary of Shakespeare's death, and our interview below is with a woman who teaches Shakespeare to convicts. A few days from now, it's World Penguin Day. Desperate for an angle, I realized that Shakespeare's plays are Penguin Classics. So: the Bard and endearing birds. (Besides, any excuse to talk about penguins is a good one.)

Penguins: Natural History and Conservation is edited by Pablo Garcia Borboroglu and P. Dee Boersma, and was just published by the University of Washington Press ($40). Penguins are delightful creatures, so charming and goofy that it's easy to forget that their population is one of the most vulnerable, due to the usual culprits. They are ancient (55 million years), remarkable seabirds. Emperor penguins breed in Antarctica, where they keep their eggs warm in temperatures as cold as -40˚ by holding them on their feet. In these conditions, male Emperors fast for four months. Magellanic penguins migrate more than 2,000 miles, from Argentina to Rio de Janeiro.

With maps, charts and 200 color photographs, the 18 species of penguins--Emperor, Adélie, Gentoo, Macaroni, Magellanic, etc.--are covered in detail: breeding, prey, predators, habitat, molt, main threats, current and recommended conservation efforts.


The photos will captivate and may often surprise people used to familiar tuxedo-clad birds--the Northern rockhoppers with their fright-wig crests and pink flippers are decidedly un-formal.

The editors hope their book will do more than just inform us about these winsome "environmental sentinels": "First we must know, then understand, and finally, we can act. We hope you will be moved to help penguins." April 25 is World Penguin Day. Save a penguin in Shakepeare's honor. --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


Book Candy

World's Bestselling Novel; Girl's Names Inspired by Book Characters

"Don Quixote is the best-selling novel of all time, with over 500 million copies sold," Buzzfeed noted as just one of "20 literary facts to impress your friends with."

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Mary Higgins Clark, author most recently of Daddy's Gone a Hunting, shared her personal reading choices for "favorite chilling thrillers" for the Daily Beast.

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The Huffington Post showcased 12 "baby girl names inspired by beloved book characters."

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Lynn Shepherd, author of A Treacherous Likeness, chose her "top 10 fictional drownings" from Ophelia to Captain Ahab for the Guardian.

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If you're in a drinking mood, maybe you'd like to sample Flavorwire's "10 delicious literary beers to drink while reading."

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"It's been awhile since we've posted some book porn... you know, drool worthy photos of the library you might one day have, the reading nooks you can only imagine in your mind," noted Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Wash., in unveiling some favorite "Bookshelves of Desire."


Wicked Deeds by Heather Graham


The Writer's Life

Laura Bates: Saving Lives Through Shakespeare

Laura Bates, a Chicago native, has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago with a focus on Shakespearean studies. She has taught Shakespeare at Indiana State University for more than 15 years. Concurrently, she has also worked in prisons, first as a volunteer and later as a professor. She is the creator of a program called Shakespeare in Shackles (you can watch her TED Talk about it here), which introduces Shakespeare's works to prisoners in both the general population and in supermax (the long-term solitary confinement unit). Bates, and her work with Shakespeare in Shackles, has been featured in local and national media, including MSNBC-TV's Lock Up. Bates is the author of Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard, just published by Sourcebooks (see our review below).

You mention in your book that you grew up poor in an inner-city ghetto, and that criminal activity was common among your adolescent peers. Many prisoners report similar circumstances. Why do you think you were able to take a different path into adulthood than the prisoners you've taught?

I was lucky enough to be unpopular. What I mean by that is, while criminal activity was common in my neighborhood and among my peers, I was more of an observer than a participant. In addition to keeping me out of prison, that had another happy result: I was already honing my powers of observation, an important skill for an author.

You first read Shakespeare at age 10. Do you remember how you became passionate about him, and when you realized that teaching Shakespeare to others would be your life's work?

To be honest, I can't say that I "read" Shakespeare at age 10, but I did buy a copy of Macbeth from our local bookstore just because I was so intrigued by this classic literature that seemed so out of reach. Somehow even at that age, I knew it was worth reaching for. Like most students, I learned to read Shakespeare in high school, starting with Julius Caesar. But the passion didn't really develop until I started to write plays myself. Forty-five years after I bought that first book, I am still reading Macbeth, and finding something new in it every year.

You went back to school to finish your B.A. (and continued on to a Ph.D.) as an older student. Do you think that your work experience allowed you additional insight into the writings of Shakespeare as you returned to the classroom?

I was 30 years old, with two stepchildren attending Columbia College, when I returned to finish the B.A. that I had abandoned 10 years earlier to begin working full time in publishing. For three years I was the theater editor for Chicago magazine; during that time I attended many Shakespeare plays. That experience as a spectator, coupled with my own experience as a playwright, provided additional insight that traditional college students did not have, and it did make me appreciate Shakespeare more.

Though this is mentioned briefly in your book, would you expand on your decision to start teaching Shakespeare to prisoners and why the work of the Bard might be so important to that particular population?

My work in prison began as a result of an argument with a friend of my husband who was doing theater work with maximum-security prisoners. At the time, I felt that these hardcore criminals were beyond rehabilitation, that such efforts should be directed to first-time offenders. To test out my own theory, I started to do theater work with inmates. My decision to bring Shakespeare to these prisoners was the result of another argument, this time with an internationally respected Shakespeare scholar who claimed that Macbeth represented "the ipso facto valorization of transgression." I wondered if real-life transgressors would agree, and I went into supermax to find out. The more insight that prisoners get into Shakespeare's characters, the more insight they get into their own character. At the same time, the prisoners' interpretations of the plays are unique and fresh, and that is valuable for scholars--or anyone who is interested in a new way of looking at Shakespeare.

Despite the very different settings of the college classroom and solitary confinement, you were able to merge your teaching experiences to some extent. What was it like to teach students in such divergent circumstances at the same time?

Schizophrenic! What they had in common was Shakespeare, and my basic approach, which was to encourage students to make personal connections to the text. But the connections they made were very different. Where prisoners related to Macbeth's murder, campus students related to his nagging wife. Where prisoners understood the gang violence that leads Romeo to a revenge killing, campus students were more familiar with teenage love.

Bates with inmates in the solitary confinement unit.

In your book, the descriptions and images of you sitting in the hallway, teaching Shakespeare to prisoners in solitary confinement, are striking. You could only glimpse their faces or hands through the handcuff portals during your sessions. Did you find the teaching experience different without the ability to use body language as feedback?

Different, but not necessarily more difficult. In a way, it was even more engaged precisely because the body language was so intensely focused. Eyes can speak volumes. So can a hand waving wildly to capture my attention or smacking the cuff port to punctuate a comment.

Your book is essentially a combined memoir since it tells your story in parallel to that of an incarcerated student, Larry Newton. When did you realize that this book would need to be about both of you?

The book started with Larry's story, and I added the chapters in which my life parallels Larry's later. I collected hundreds of hours of our conversations on audio and video recordings during the 10 years that we worked together, writing handbooks to 13 of Shakespeare's plays. I told him then that I wanted to write a book about his transformative journey through Shakespeare. He trusted me to tell his story--and he provided the title for the book. When I asked him what Shakespeare had done for him, he replied, "Shakespeare saved my life." --Roni K. Devlin, owner, Literary Life Bookstore


University of California Press: A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore


Book Review

Fiction

The Night Rainbow

by Claire King


The aftermath of catastrophe forms the backdrop of Claire King's debut novel, The Night Rainbow. In a village in southern France, five-year-old Pea's pregnant mother, already reeling from the loss of an earlier baby, is grieving the recent loss of her husband. Pea and her younger sister, Margot, alternate between trying to hold the house together and playing games for hours in the nearby meadow. There they meet Claude, a neighbor with a mysterious past.

Told entirely from Pea's perspective, The Night Rainbow is dominated by her imaginative and precocious voice--and limited by her narrow understanding of events. This approach compels the reader to work to understand the story, especially as it gradually becomes clear that Pea's presentation is severely distorted--both by her age and by her own grief. Pea constantly describes a "darkness" filling her, which the reader can recognize as her feelings of abandonment and need for attentive parenting. It is this need that draws Pea to Claude, whom she seeks to make her new Papa.

The children's powerful imagination and cleverness define the narrative, as in Margot's description of death: "Then you stop talking and then you are a skeleton and then there is a big party with sandwiches, but not as much cake as at Christmas."

King's story of a young child's quest for a light in the profound darkness of her life reaches deep into the complexities of human consciousness. --Ilana Teitelbaum, book reviewer at the Huffington Post

Discover: A story of profound grief told in poetic language, through the eyes of a child in a small village in southern France.

Bloomsbury, $16, paperback, 9781608199440

Andrews McMeel Publishing: Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm (Phoebe and Her Unicorn #6) by Dana Simpson


The Shelter Cycle

by Peter Rock


Peter Rock's previous fiction has always been a bit strange, like the story of a medical test subject (The Ambidextrist) or the one about a father and daughter who secretly live in a huge park in Portland, Oregon (My Abandoment). The Shelter Cycle continues the trend.

It's about a real-life religious cult, the Church Universal and Triumphant, whose adherents believed the world was going to end in the 1980s. Before writing the novel, Rock talked with some of the church's members, strengthening his ability to make us believe in their world of Ascended Masters, the Messenger, Elementals, Undines and Sylphs.

In one narrative thread, "letters" written by young Francine describe her life in the church and what she and others believe. Francine lives with her family and close friend Colville in a Montana fort/shelter established by church members, now honeycombed with underground houses. "People would live inside them," she writes, "once the world all around us was no longer there."

The novel's other story is set near Boise, Idaho, and concerns a missing nine-year old girl. Wells Davidson and Francine, now married and pregnant, have been helping look for her. Colville's surprise appearance complicates everything. Rock does an excellent job of letting the two "stories" feed off each other, revealing more and more about these characters, their relationships and their beliefs--then and now. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: A beautifully lyrical, brooding and haunting tale of faith and faithfulness on the edge of civilization as we know it.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, hardcover, 9780547859088

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Lilac Lane by Sheryl Woods


The Ashford Affair

by Lauren Willig


It's 1999, and after working nonstop for seven years, Clementine Evans is finally about to make partner at her New York law firm. Clemmie's been so focused on her job she hasn't spent much time with her family; at her Granny Addie's 99th birthday party, Clemmie is shocked to realize how frail her grandmother has become. She's even more confused when Addie mistakes Clemmie for a woman named Bea--a woman Clemmie has never heard of, but whose name distresses both her mother and aunt.

Lauren Willig's The Ashford Affair sends Clemmie on a voyage of discovery back to her grandmother's life as a Kenyan coffee farmer in the 1920s and 1930s, then even further back to her grandmother's childhood at Ashford Park, home of the Earls of Gillecote. The stories of Addie's upbringing, and her complicated relationship with her cousin Bea, are all new to Clemmie, who is staggered to realize that her beloved grandmother has been hiding secrets for 70 years.

Willig (the Pink Carnation series) skillfully intertwines three separate story lines--New York at the end of the 20th century, London during the Great War and Kenya in the 1920s--as she tells the stories of Addie, Bea and Clemmie. Clemmie's modern stresses interweave seamlessly with Addie's wartime worries to create a fascinating, yet believable, Bridget Jones meets Downton Abbey atmosphere. Fans of Willig's other books or of Kate Morton's family sagas will enjoy The Ashford Affair. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: In Willig's first novel outside the popular Pink Carnation series, secrets from a family's past come to light 70 years and several continents later.

St. Martin's Press, $24.99, hardcover, 9781250014498

A Nearly Perfect Copy

by Allison Amend


As Allison Amend's A Nearly Perfect Copy opens in 2007, the art market is on fire, and Elmira "Elm" Howells is the pre-20th-century acquisitions and authentication expert at Tinsley, a small New York auction house founded by her great-grandfather. Her boss (who is also her cousin) is unhappy with her division's sales, though; two years after the death of her son, Ronan, in the South Asian tsunami, Elm is still reeling. Meanwhile, Gabriel Connois, the great-great-grandson of a critically admired minor impressionist artist, is living in a Paris hostel. His original artwork finds no market, but an antiquities broker pays cash for his accomplished sketches, on period-appropriate paper, in the manner of his ancestor's studio.

When Elm contracts with a French human cloning firm in hopes of a successful embryo implant of Ronan's DNA, her need for financial resources leads her to the Paris broker peddling Gabriel's forgeries. She knows they are suspect, but her need trumps her professional integrity. In the convergent paths of these two troubled lives, Amend builds a story of international intrigue and personal dissolution set against the shaky infrastructure of the frenzied, often opaque, pre-Great Recession art market.

Even as an art insider, Amend (author of the story collection Things That Pass for Love and the novel Stations West), notes, "Elm often felt like she was working inside a burlap sack--light filtered in, but not enough to see by." Though it's driven by a somewhat farfetched plot, A Nearly Perfect Copy adeptly explores the ways in which deception often masks the authentic in desperate pursuit of personal ambition--whether financial, artistic or familial. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: A novel of personal moral decisions set in the frenzied international art market of 2007.

Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $25.95, hardcover, 9780385536691

Mystery & Thriller

Fear in the Sunlight

by Nicola Upson


Josephine Tey, one of the leading authors of Britain's Golden Age of crime writing, stars in Fear in the Sunlight. It's the fourth in Nicola Upson's series of novels (starting with An Expert in Murder) featuring Tey and Scotland Yard inspector Archie Penrose, whose feelings for the novelist may not be completely unrequited.

This time around, Upson pairs Tey with another great Brit--Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock arrives in the resort village of Portmeirion, Wales, where Tey is celebrating her 40th birthday with friends, hoping to convince her to allow him to make a movie of her novel A Shilling for Candles. Upson introduces a gaggle of supporting characters, each with a huge load of baggage. The story includes family estrangements, sibling hatred, the disappearance of a three-year-old child, Tey's love for her friend Marta (who is already involved with another woman), Penrose's rediscovery of a past love--and more.

Hitch has arranged this weekend, complete with his trademark pranks and practical jokes, but the joke is on him, when there are suddenly two murders and a suicide to contend with. Penrose is bruited about by Portmeirion's local constabulary and leaves the town unsatisfied with the quick disposition of the case. Several years later, when another murder is tied to a Hitchcock movie, Penrose returns to the scene of the original crimes to sort it all out.

Upson has written an atmospheric and taut tale about lies, betrayals and revenge. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

Discover: A stately old pile of a house, a pet cemetery, a sun-washed resort in Wales and a cast of characters capable of anything combine in this twisty, atmospheric tale.

Harper, $14.99, paperback, 9780062195432

Food & Wine

Gordon Ramsay's Home Cooking: Everything You Need to Know to Make Fabulous Food

by Gordon Ramsay


Gordon Ramsay is known for profanity, explosive anger, arrogance--and Michelin-starred restaurants. In Home Cooking, he proclaims "the best thing you can have in a kitchen is confidence... that's what separates good cooks from the mediocre ones." At the same time, he believes cooking is a craft that requires a certain set of rules to be mastered before experimentation and creativity can be successful and, he states, "I'm going to show you how to cook yourself into a better cook."

Ramsay believes preparation is 90% of the battle toward becoming a better cook and requires much less than most think--a good set of knives and pans are sufficient. Otherwise, he recommends buying tools as needed to ensure everything will be used at least once.

After discussing the "absolute basics" of mise-en-place, he addresses classic dishes, believing the best way to develop skills is to build on the familiar, introducing new ingredients and trusting our palates because cooking is intuitive and "often comes down to building up layers of the five basic tastes--sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami." Then he moves on to spices, preparing fish and meat, cooking for one or for many, baking and much more. Tempting recipes abound, representing a wide range of cuisines and cultural influences; examples include miso salmon; a bacon, pea and goat cheese frittata; and coconut pancakes with mango slices and lime syrup. With Ramsay's help, novice cooks will learn to love Home Cooking. --Kristen Galles, blogger at Book Club Classics

Discover: Ramsay sets aside vitriol for succor in a book designed to "show you how to cook yourself into a better cook."

Grand Central, $29.99, hardcover, 9781455525256

I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes

by Daniel Humm, Will Guidara


I Love New York grew out of an ongoing conversation between Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (the team behind Manhattan's famed Eleven Madison Park restaurant) as they tried to identify New York City's cuisine. Their struggle, they recount, stemmed from New York's status as an edible melting pot; with so many international options to choose from, the city often loses sight of the food available right in its backyard. Their attempt to answer the question of New York's culinary culture proves a tribute to the city's rich agricultural past--and present.

The recipes are organized alphabetically by key ingredient, a list that includes every local-to-New York ingredient one could imagine--from apples and berries to beef and venison to beer and cheese. Each chapter starts with a profile of a local New York farm before diving into recipes featuring the farm's main offerings. These recipes are simple to follow (if not always simple to execute), and there are even recommendations for how to use and store leftover components of some of the more complicated dishes. From a breakfast of baked eggs to New York Sour cocktails and beef tartare to maple sundaes for dessert, Humm and Guidara shy away from no dish. Stunning photography of farms and New York City punctuate each chapter, and the striking contrast between the rural environments that give us these ingredients and urban surroundings in which Humm and Guidara celebrate them proves a lasting tribute to oft-overlooked--but incredibly rich--local cuisine of New York City. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: A collection of recipes celebrating the local cuisine of New York City from the culinary duo behind Eleven Madison Park.

Ten Speed, $50, hardcover, 9781607744405

Biography & Memoir

Defiant Brides: The Untold Story of Two Revolutionary-Era Women and the Radical Men They Married

by Nancy Rubin Stuart


Margaret "Peggy" Shippen Arnold and Lucy Flucker Knox have traditionally been treated as historical footnotes in relation to their more famous husbands, Benedict Arnold and Henry Knox. Nancy Rubin Stuart (The Muse of the Revolution) remedies this neglect in Defiant Brides, a double biography that examines these two women as individuals as well as influential players in the American Revolution.

Peggy was a beautiful blonde belle of Philadelphia society, from a family that favored the British. Lucy was from a well-to-do, firmly Loyalist Boston family. The Shippens reluctantly admitted the political expediency of Peggy's marriage to military hero Benedict Arnold; the Fluckers disowned Lucy for the sin of matrimony with patriot Henry Knox. Lucy supported her husband's military and political careers in relative poverty and socialized with George and Martha Washington, even as she fretted over Knox's long absences and missed the opulence of her youth. Peggy staunchly championed her husband through his treason and banishment and their subsequent financial difficulties in England and Canada; her part in Arnold's betrayal at West Point, and her own possible role as a spy, remain controversial.

Stuart's thoughtful research and consideration brings each woman forward into her own spotlight, reflecting on the flaws and strengths that Peggy and Lucy brought to their marriages and to the events of their time. Defiant Brides is an effortless read and a fresh perspective on the American Revolution, featuring two women who defied their parents to marry into a conflict that shaped a nation. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: Parallel profiles of two wives on opposite sides of the American Revolution.

Beacon Press, $26.95, hardcover, 9780807001172

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard

by Laura Bates


Laura Bates's Shakespeare Saved My Life touches on the search for meaning in life, the struggles that complicate the path to triumph and the salvation that can be found in literature's great works. Bates, a professor at Indiana State, is the creator of a program that introduces Shakespeare's works to prisoners, specifically those in long-term solitary confinement (known as supermax). Larry Newton, sentenced at the age of 17 to life with no possibility of parole, has spent 10 years in isolation.

When Bates brought her Shakespeare in Shackles program to Newton's supermax prison, his unexpected interest and understanding of the plays quickly became evident. In his initial assignment, in which he was asked to comment on a speech from Richard II, Newton expressed a sophisticated awareness of the play's philosophical themes and multiple interpretations--not bad for a fifth-grade drop-out who didn't know who Shakespeare was when the program started. Moving through each of the plays, Newton continued to show extraordinary insight--and made changes in his own personal outlook and behavior. Bates, meanwhile, found surprising satisfaction in working with students who, in solitary confinement, had great stretches of time available for reading and subsequent interpretation.

Shakespeare Saved My Life traces Newton's advancements into the world of Shakespeare while documenting Bates's stalled path to tenure despite her groundbreaking prison work. In the end, though, the book's title holds true for both Newton and Bates--just as it might for the reader, too. --Roni K. Devlin, owner, Literary Life Bookstore

Discover: An inspiring account of a professor who brought Shakespeare to a supermax prison and a convict who found meaning and salvation in the plays.

Sourcebooks, $14.99, paperback, 9781402273148

History

The Art of Controversy: Poltical Cartoons and Their Enduring Power

by Victor S. Navasky


Caricatures have long been looked down upon by cultured journalists and practitioners of the "high arts." They inspire fear in politicians, provoke death threats from religious fundamentalists and can change public policy with their emotionally charged, voiceless rhetoric. Former Nation editor Victor Navasky's The Art of Controversy is a thought-provoking and intriguing discussion of how the "low art" of caricature got its bite.

Navasky takes a professorial approach in delineating the significance of the caricature and exploring how political content and imagery merge metaphorically in the brain to trigger a primal, emotional response. He cites the works of great artists from Thomas Nast to Ralph Steadman while advancing his own philosophical discernment of caricature's enduring power: "Perhaps the distortions and leanness with which most caricatures are rendered," he writes, "combine to form a hyper-charged, streamlined delivery vehicle for the ideas, arguments, narratives and associations they contain."

The delivery can be so effective that a Danish caricaturist who drew the prophet Muhammed was subject to mass condemnation and calls for censorship, even though most of his attackers had not seen the actual drawings. From this case, Navasky  (Naming Names) argues eloquently and convincingly as to why censorship of caricature artists amounts to an assault on individual free speech.

The Art of Controversy is an amazing historical document from a political journalist all too familiar with caricature's intuitive and divisive power. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: A well-researched, philosophically inspiring and witty celebration of the power of caricature from a National Book Award-winning political journalist and historian.

Knopf, $27.95, hardcover, 9780307957207

Children's & Young Adult

Yes, Let's

by Galen Goodwin Longstreth, illus. by Maris Wicks


In Longstreth's joyful debut picture book for the entire family, the children wake up their parents at daybreak to recruit them for a day outdoors. In the lightly rhyming narrative, they make a plan and carry it out.

"Let's wake up extra early" say the children as they tiptoe into their parents' room. A turn of the page completes their motive: "before the day gets hot." The dog gets excited as the children tug at the covers to rouse the adults. "Let's pack a picnic, hurry up--ready or not." Wicks (Primates) depicts one child making trail mix while another assembles sandwiches; the mother slices apples as the father fills reusable water bottles. Just right for spring, this picture book emits a can-do spirit, suggesting a trip al fresco can happen anywhere. This family heads for the woods, "trade our shoes for boots," pauses for a family photo, then begins to hike. The pairs of lines don't always rhyme; the appeal of the book stems from the pleasures of engaging in activities that require nothing outside of the woods, trails and ponds they experience. "Let's gather rocks and build a dam and make a little boat./ Let's try with leaves and bark and grass until it finally floats."

From the children's creative ideas and Wicks's illustrations of their inventiveness, children and families everywhere will be inspired to head outside to make memories together. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: An exuberant picture book starring a family that seizes a glorious day to hike, swim and make memories together.

Tanglewood, $15.95, hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9781933718873

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

by Meg Medina


Amid an explosion of bully books, Meg Medina's (The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind) novel stands out for its honesty about girl-on-girl violence and its intelligent, insightful narrator.

The title message is delivered to 15-year-old Piddy in the novel's opening line, by one of Yaqui's lackeys. Piddy, new to the school and the neighborhood, doesn't even know who Yaqui Delgado is. Someone who purports to be Piddy's friend, drama-loving Darlene, sits with Piddy at lunch and fills in the details with relish: "Yaqui Delgado hates you.... She wants to know who the hell you think you are, shaking your ass the way you do." Medina tackles the issue of envy between girls, when one develops faster than another. Piddy was a late bloomer ("planchadita--ironed out and hipless"), but suddenly her derriere "seems to have a mind of its own."

Medina brilliantly captures the sense of foreboding that envelops bully victims. We see little of Yaqui except for one brutal attack, yet she is omnipresent. Piddy's academic work plummets. She alienates the few people she felt close to, and skips school. When several events spur her to fess up and face her life, Piddy realizes that only she can answer the challenge posed by her mother, "The important question now is: Who are you going to be?" Medina does not force a neat ending but rather demonstrates that Piddy has the tools to stand up for herself. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A book about girl-on-girl bullying in which the narrator finds the strength to stand up for herself.

Candlewick, $16.99, hardcover, 272p., ages 14-up, 9780763658595

Wicked Deeds
by Heather Graham
ISBN-13: 9780778331063
Mira Books
09/19/2017


an exclusive interview with bestselling author Heather Graham
 

This novel, WICKED DEED, takes on the riddle of the death of Edgar Allan Poe, among other things. Why do you think his fate exerts such a pull on you?

“To this day, we can only speculate on what did happen to Poe. There are hints and clues, but no definitive answers. That is something I would want to know. He was discovered in a delirious state and never did become coherent. Many believe he was taken in a voting fraud. He was wearing clothing that wasn’t his own. Others believe that, even though the trip was to bring his deceased wife’s mom (his aunt) to Virginia to live with him and his new wife, the proposed new wife’s sons went after Poe. All speculation! If I could, I’d want to smack him, of course. And then not. I, as so many people today, have loved ones who have been addicts. I’ve seen the struggle, and what torture it can be. I would want to help him—and convince him that a genius such as himself should have guarded his health and been around to create more and more fantastic stories for readers—such as me!”

 Read the rest of the interview here.

 

ALSO FEATURED ON THE the big THRILL…

A CASUALTY OF WAR by CHARLES TODD: In the latest in Todd’s World War I nurse mystery series, an English captain’s claim that he was shot on the battlefield by his own relation is disbelieved by everyone but Bess Crawford, and she sets out to learn the truth of his injury, even when her persistent questions draw danger. Read more at The Big Thrill.

THE NAMES OF DEAD GIRLS by ERIC RICKSTAD: Best-selling author Rickstad delivers a story of detectives Frank Rath and Sonja Test’s tracking a depraved killer through rural Vermont, one who killed a couple years ago and is now freed from prison and seems to be out to get their college-student daughter. Find out more here.

KEEP HER SAFE by SOPHIE HANNAH: In this domestic thriller, an English wife and mother desperate for time for herself checks into an Arizona resort, only to stumble across a girl who all of America thinks is dead in a famous true-crime scandal, but seeing her alive and with an older man causes chaos. Learn more at The Big Thrill.

THE NINJA’S ILLUSION by GIGI PANDIAN: In the fifth outing for spunky historian Jaya Jones, Jaya flies from her native San Francisco to Kyoto, Japan and comes across a master illusionist and a ninja whose murderous intentions in present-day Japan connect the deeds of a long-dead trader who was much more than he seemed. Visit The Big Thrill for more. 

BOOK OF JUDAS by LINDA STASI: When her infant son is placed in mortal danger, New York City reporter Alessandra Russo is forced to save him by tracking down the missing pages of the Gospel of Judas, a heretical manuscript unearthed in Egypt that says Judas was the beloved, not the betrayer, of Jesus. Read more here.

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