Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Flatiron Books: Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

From My Shelf

Sourcebooks Landmark: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

Doubleday Books: The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher

Fat Fall Fiction

Are books getting fatter? In 1988, Elizabeth George began her fabulous Inspector Lynley series with A Great Deliverance at a somewhat outstanding 400+ pages; her latest, Just One Evil Act (Dutton, $29.95, October 15), with DS Barbara Havers in a starring role, weighs in at 2.3 lbs. and 736 pages.

Rivaling George's novel in length is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown, $30, October 22), at 784 pages. Twenty-one years after her smashing The Secret History, this highly anticipated book is "an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate."

Surpassing both of those in length is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Little, Brown, $27, October 15), at a hefty 848 pages. In 1866, Walter Moody, newly arrived in New Zealand, is drawn into a mystery involving unsolved crimes. More crimes appear in The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis (Atlantic Monthly Press, $28, September 3)--just 640 pages. His first novel in 10 years spans five decades, and ranges from World War II Dubrovnik to 1990s Haiti.

The Abominable by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown, $29, October 22) winds down at 672 pages. A tale of high-altitude death and survival set on the summit of Mount Everest in 1924, it's not just Everest that is the danger--three climbers (and a lady) are pursued by someone... or something.

One of Spain's most important contemporary novelists, Antonio Muñoz Molina, won the 2012 Prix Méditerranée Étranger for In the Night of Time (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, December 3), which clocks in at 656 pages. In October 1936, Spanish architect Ignacio Abel arrives at Penn Station, the final stop on his journey from war-torn Madrid.

Honorable mention must go to the almost-fat book that many have been waiting for: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Scribner, $30, September 24)--a mere 544 pages. What happened? --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers


Music Box Films: Memoir of War - From the life of Marguerite Duras, bestselling author of The Lover


Book Candy

Books Suitable for Wedding Gifts; Must-Read SFF for the Fall

To have and to read, from this day forward... Buzzfeed recommended "19 books that would make great wedding gifts."

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Reading in the near future: This fall's "must-read" science fiction and fantasy books were featured by i09, which noted: "If you want to read your eyeballs out this fall, you are in luck."

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Those awkward writing years. Buzzfeed unveiled "24 photos of famous authors when they were coming of age."

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The write tool for the job: "The writing tools of 20 famous authors" were featured by Flavorwire.

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Michael Arditti, author of The Breath of Night, chose his top 10 novels about priests for the Guardian, noting that "from Friar Tuck to Father Ted, clergy occupy a special place in popular culture. Even the most anticlerical reader is likely to have a favorite fictional priest, if only in childhood memories of Roald Dahl's Vicar of Nibbleswicke."

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Noting that "there are a lot of reasons to read other than intellectual elevation," Flavorwire suggested "40 trashy novels you must read before you die."


International Thriller Writers: William Morrow & Company: Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter


The Writer's Life

Mitchell Jackson: Called to Be a Writer

photo: John Ricard

Mitchell Jackson was born in Portland, Ore., the setting of his debut novel, The Residue Years (our review is below). It is largely based on his experience as a youth and young adult, and tells the story of a tight-knit family plagued by poverty and addiction. Though their options are extremely limited, the novel's characters never give up on one another. Jackson's first book, Oversoul (2012), is a collection of short stories and essays that focus on similar subject matter and shed insightful light on lower-class urban life. Jackson lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and teaches writing at the college level.

When did you start writing The Residue Years?

I started writing it in 1997 while I was in prison, but put it down when I got out in 1998. After finishing my undergrad, I picked it back up in 2000 when I started graduate school at Portland State University. It was my first thesis, and also my thesis in 2004 when I finished at New York University.

After writing this novel, you returned to the penitentiary where you served time to give a reading. What was the response?

When I drove up to the building, I saw this sign, and I remembered that the last time I'd seen that sign was when they were taking me there. We walked through the grounds, and the reaction initially was hostile. People just stopped and stared--it was like venom. Then I got in the rec room, and all the inmates started clapping. Over the course of 50 feet, I went from people who hated me to people who wanted to show me love.

I read the prologue of The Residue Years, and then we talked. One of the guys said to me, "What you wrote is exactly how I feel." I also made an appeal to them. I told them that though they didn't see writing as an option, they should... that it might be one way to obtain what so many of them want most: respect. Men in prison are all about respect. So when I think about who I want my audience to be, it includes inmates.

Your novel cites controversial issues such as the Len Bias law, which mandates sentences for crack cocaine possession at 1/100 the amount of powder cocaine. Do you ever intend to write more explicitly political work?

I'm not so interested in politics on a national level as I am on a community level. I like to ask, "What does the politics do to the people?" I think if you can humanize politics then that sends a stronger message. Talking about the federal drug laws being unfair is one thing. Talking about your homeboy getting 15 years for a fistful of crack is politics on a whole other level.

The neighborhood in your novel is tough, but there are bright points. What were the best parts of growing up in your community?

One of the best aspects of growing up was going to basketball camps in the summer. We had this nonprofit program that hosted a camp that would give away free shoes and coveted awards: Mr. Offense, Mr. Defense, Mr. Classroom, etc. Another great thing about Portland back then was the summer tournaments in the parks. Everyone would show up at those tournaments. You could hear guys' names called over the loudspeakers, hear the growing "ooh-ing" and "ah-ing" over a dunk or a long three-pointer. There would be music playing and grub to be had. It was a good time as long as nobody acted a fool.

Your characters have overt flaws and subtle virtues. What are their most redeeming qualities?

To me, the most redeeming quality of Champ is his fidelity to the idea of family cohesion and patriarchal responsibility. He wants to be the one who holds his family together. He's hell-bent on being the person who saves the day. His mother Rhonda's most redeeming quality is her hope. She has fallen, but she continues to think that each time will be the last time. She's also hopeful that she'll be the mother she wants to be.

The Residue Years forgoes all quotation marks and traditional conventions of dialogue. What was the reasoning behind this?

Initially it was because I like the style in Junot Diaz's Drown and also in John Edgar Wideman's short story "Weight." But as I moved through the process, there were other reasons. I realized how it makes it hard to tell whether the characters are thinking or speaking or dreaming. I wanted it to be a little dreamy. When the main character steps out of the narrative and starts talking, it adds another layer.

Few writers deal with your subject matter. Do you feel there's a need to tell these characters' stories?

I've always felt an obligation to tell this story, which is why I stuck with it. I remember reading about James Baldwin. He said of his autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, "It was a story I had to tell if I was going to tell any others." That's how I felt about this. Also I like Barry Hannah's advice: "Be a master such as you have." I came to realize early on that this experience is what I have and there was value in it. My experience doesn't produce writers. If they're writing, they want to be rappers.

Was there a particular moment where you felt truly called to be a writer?

I took a class from Gordon Lish, who has edited such writers as Raymond Carver and Barry Hannah. It was a sort of boot camp where you listened to him lecture for seven hours straight and then went home and wrote one sentence. If he liked your sentence, you got to write a second one. On the first day, I was the only person in the class who got to use my first sentence. This was years after both of my graduate degrees, but it was the first moment where I felt that I could truly be a writer.

What writing advice might you give to young men dealing with struggles similar to those you experienced?

The first thing I would say is to keep a journal. I would advise them to keep it handy all the time. Then I would tell them that if they were serious about being a writer, they should read deeply--and not just fiction--and also to learn the craft of writing. Unfortunately, in communities like the one I grew up in, there is not a dearth of stories like mine. To fight back against the critics saying, "Here's another of those stories," you have to learn the craft.

What will you work on next?

My next project is to take Oversoul and expand it into a collection of memoirs and fiction. --Annie Atherton


Tanglewood: The Kissing Hand 25th Anniversary Edition by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak


Book Review

Fiction

The Color Master: Stories

by Aimee Bender


Aimee Bender (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake) is back with a collection of stories filled with magical realism and imbued with the stuff of fairy tales.

There is something here for most every taste. If you prefer a straightforward story with a narrative arc and a conclusion, try "The Doctor and the Rabbi." The rabbi is a woman, teacherly and expressive; the doctor is a literalist by his own admission. Their conversation seems to be circular, going nowhere, but it most assuredly does. A discussion about prayer midway through this story is wonderful.

If you are willing to follow Bender into the mystical, there are several choices. "The Color Master" is a retelling of the first part of the Charles Perrault tale "Donkeyskin," which has echoes of "Cinderella." In this version, however, the king wants to marry his daughter. The tailors who create beautiful dresses for the princess finally encourage her to get away.

In "Tiger Mending," an expert seamstress is pressed into service to sew tigers back together when they appear bloodied and ragged; how they got that way is the crux of the story. "Lemonade" is a heartrending story about adolescent girls at a mall, set in Southern California at its bitchy best. "The Red Ribbon" has a wife negotiating a price with her husband for every sexual act and finding that she can't go back to an ordinary sex life.

In both style and content, Bender's stories are filled with fancy and mystery; some are fairy tales for grownups, some morality plays, all of them captivating and worth reading more than once. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

Discover: A collection of stories, some filled with magic and mystery and some prosaic and down to earth; all written with energy and imagination.

Doubleday, $25.95, hardcover, 9780385534895

Everafter Romance: Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid


The Crooked Maid

by Dan Vyleta


Dan Vyleta begins The Crooked Maid with two strangers who meet on a train: Anna Beer, a woman who has not seen her husband for nine years, and Robert Seidel, a boy returning home from boarding school. Both are headed to a Vienna largely destroyed  by World War II; both share far more than a hometown, though neither know it. Their story is not so much a single mystery as a collection of mysteries, each following from the last and leading onto the next. Who is the maid, Eva, who has made herself at home in the Seidel house? Why has Anna's husband not been seen in days--and why is his desk littered with fragments of letters to an orphanage? When three local boys stumble across a corpse, the event seems unconnected to the rest of the tale--so how does one of them end up in court with Robert's stepbrother?

The novel's postwar European setting conveys the sparse, foreboding mood of Poe or Dostoevsky. Now and then, a single moment stands out brightly against the gloom: a bottle of milk, a red hat, a damaged eye. Vyleta wraps such details into the novel's mysteries as tightly as his characters, revealing that the relationships that make up our world are as densely connected as they are obscure. --Dani Alexis Ryskamp, blogger at The Book Cricket

Discover: Vyleta (The Quiet Twin) masterfully weaves his characters together in the light and shadow of war-torn Vienna.

Bloomsbury, $26, hardcover, 9781608198092

Dial Books: Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken


The Fields

by Kevin Maher


It's Ireland in the 1980s. The Finnegans--Mam and Dad, five daughters and one son, Jim--are, unlike many of their fellow countrymen, not poverty-stricken. Fourteen-year-old Jim spends his days at school and riding his bike with his geeky friend Gary. Jim wants to spend time with the charismatic Mozzo and his posse, but his Mam forbids it. Mozzo's girlfriend is Saidhbh Donohue. Of course, Jim falls in love with her.

So far, it's an average coming-of-age tale, filled with Irish vernacular, good humor, and boyish shenanigans. Enter Father O'Culigeen. He tells Mrs. Finnegan that Jim needs to be an altar boy to sort him out, then forces him to commit heinous acts before every Mass. Jim goes from being a happy-go-lucky innocent to a withdrawn, confused adolescent.

O'Culigeen arranges a job for Mozzo's mother, neatly moving Mozzo out of town and out of the way. What he doesn't foresee is that Saidhgh and Jim become more than casual friends, which is hard for anyone to credit since Saidhbh is a regal 18-year-old beauty and Jim still wears Spider-Man pajamas. Saidhbh gets pregnant, and Jim has to figure out a way for her to have an abortion, which is illegal in Ireland.

With an irresistible, beautifully written combination of poignancy, deep sadness and good humor, Kevin Maher's debut novel explores and explains an Ireland firmly in the grip of the Catholic Church and still feeling the effects of the "Troubles," as well as a young man's leap into adulthood. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

Discover: A wondrous debut novel set in Ireland in the 1980s.

Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown, $26, hardcover, 9780316223560

Abrams Appleseed: Super Pooper and Whizz Kid (Hello!lucky) by Eunice and Sabrina Moyle


Rose Harbor in Bloom

by Debbie Macomber


The inn has always fascinated writers as a setting in which strangers cross paths and guests shuffle rooms. Rose Harbor in Bloom, the second installment in Debbie Macomber's Rose Harbor Inn series, follows innkeeper Jo Marie as she welcomes a host of new guests who are all, in some capacity, at crossroads in their lives. The young, idealistic Annie is planning a party for her grandparents' anniversary while privately coping with her own failing engagement; a disgruntled gardener lurks about the inn while refusing to reveal any personal details. Jo Marie herself struggles to accept the loss of her husband, whose body is somewhere in Afghanistan.

The most painful story is that of Mary Smith, a successful businesswoman returning to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 20 years. Mary has built her career by sacrificing all else, including a devoted man in Seattle who proposed to her when they were young. Her heartbreaks lie deeply buried until she is diagnosed with cancer and compelled to reevaluate her choices. Returning to the only place she felt in love, she must decide how far to reopen old wounds.

With more than 150 novels to her credit, Macomber is an institution in women's fiction. Her principal talent lies in creating characters with a humble, familiar charm. They possess complex personalities, but it is their kinder qualities that are emphasized in the warm world of her novels--a world much like Rose Harbor Inn, in which one wants to curl up and stay. --Annie Atherton, intern at Shelf Awareness

Discover: At a quaint Pacific Northwest inn, old lovers reunite, while an innkeeper grapples with the strange disappearance of her husband.

Ballantine, $26, hardcover, 9780345528933

Shelf Awareness Giveaway: Central Avenue Publishing: [Dis]connected: Poems & Stories of Connection and Otherwise edited by Michelle Halket


The Residue Years

by Mitchell Jackson


"But what if it ain't who you end up, but who you were or could've been?" That's the question Champ, a painfully hopeful undergraduate, asks himself on a typical night of dealing drugs in Portland. Champ narrates one half of The Residue Years, the debut novel from Oregon native Mitchell Jackson. The other half is devoted to Champ's mother, Grace, who has just been released from prison and is fighting hard to avoid a relapse of her drug addiction.

Their community is a seemingly inescapable web of addiction and crime: "One up, one down," as a man recites in the courtroom during his arrest. Despite her past, Grace has the infallible dignity of a mother who cherishes her sons above all else. Champ, her eldest, vies for responsibility by visiting his younger brothers at school and diverting all of his earnings to his mother. When he realizes he might have the funds to reclaim his childhood home, he becomes fixated on this dream. All of their hope lies in the hands of a strangely generous real estate agent and the prospect that Champ will continue to avoid arrest--a premise that makes Jackson's story relentlessly tense. Still, the real core of The Residue Years isn't the plot, but the depth of the iron-strong bond between mother and son. --Annie Atherton

Discover: In his debut novel (after the essay and story collection Oversoul), Jackson shows how crime and love become tangled for one lower-class urban family.

Bloomsbury, $26, hardcover, 9781620400289

Archangel

by Andrea Barrett


Andrea Barrett, a National Book Award winner for the story collection Ship Fever, once again navigates the wonders of science in Archangel--a magnificent book that explores five decisive moments in the lives of her characters that have an impact not only on them but also on the advancement of human knowledge.

"The Eclipse" is set during the summer of 1908, when 12-year-old Constantine Boyd is sent to live with an uncle who is an experimenter--with crops, motorized bicycles and an early aeroplane.

In "The Ether of Space," in 1920, a popular science writer and young widow struggles with the new theory of relativity. In "The Particles," several young men study genetics by observing fruit flies. A famous biologist struggles to keep his reputation intact in the eyes of his students as he fights against Darwin's theory of evolution in "The Island." In the last story, "Archangel," Constantine Boyd, a decade older, is now a young U.S. soldier in Russia, wondering about his government's intentions. A bomb blast drives a bone from his friend's body into his leg. What he does to get help is dangerous, foolhardy--and just might work.

Barrett combines fact and fiction in scenarios that bring the reader to a better understanding of the high cost, both personal and public, of scientific advances. For all that is gained, a great deal is lost: reputations, long-held beliefs, years of research. Her own scientific knowledge illuminates these complex questions and discoveries without sacrificing character or story. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

Discover: Andrea Barrett puts a human face on scientific discovery and monumental changes for individuals and society.

W.W. Norton, $24.95, hardcover, 9780393240009

Onward Toward What We're Going Toward

by Ryan Bartelmay


Death, grief and forgiveness are themes that coalesce like a raging storm then settle into a quiet, transformative whisper in Ryan Bartelmay's Onward Toward What We're Going Toward, a haunting novel about two brothers and their wives, lost and lonely individuals searching for connection and meaning in small-town America.

Scarred emotionally by the suicide of their father, Chic and Buddy Waldbeeser each carry this pain into their adult relationships--Buddy as a coin-collecting, self-absorbed hermit who talks to the ghost of his father, Chic as the temperate, aw-shucks type who lusts after Buddy's wife, Lijy, while playing the role of dutiful husband and father. Scandal befalls one brother while the other suffers a tragedy that shakes his faith and belief to the core. One must find it in himself to forgive the other; the other must find it within himself to survive beyond simply existing and satisfying mere appetites.

Yet just as readers expect to suffer through more bitterness and heartbreak, Bartelmay provides Chic and Buddy with a defining moment that absolves them of their despair and self-loathing. His crisp writing reveals the longing we feel for something within our power to experience that nevertheless skirts beyond our grasp--until time takes its final, defiant toll. Onward Toward What We're Going Toward aches for the warmth of a loving embrace, begging us for the forgiveness each character so desperately desires. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: Two brothers confront and conquer their personal demons in Ryan Bartelmay's debut novel.

Ig Publishing, $16.95, paperback, 9781935439776

The Boy Who Could See Demons

by Carolyn Jess-Cooke


The Boy Who Could See Demons is Alex, aged 10. He began seeing his own particular demon, named Ruen, when he was five, on the day his father was declared "gone." Anya is the new child psychiatrist in town, having returned to her home in Belfast hoping to help patch up children and families damaged by Northern Ireland's "Troubles." Perhaps she should be more concerned about troubles of her own: the day she gets the call about Alex is the four-year anniversary of her daughter's death. Now she sees her daughter, Poppy, in Alex, who may have the same sickness, and she is clearly in danger of getting too close to this case. Worse, the boundaries begin to blur between what is real and what is not, as Anya wonders if Ruen may have a place in the tangible world.

Carolyn-Jess Cooke (The Guardian Angel's Journal) creates in Alex and Anya sympathetic characters, and the traumatized Belfast she evokes comes alive on the page. Child psychology plays an important role, with its questions of medication and whether and when to separate a family. With a suicidal mother, a suicidal child, delusions and possible schizophrenia all jumbled up together, it's no wonder Anya becomes a little unglued. The reader will have as much trouble as Anya does discerning fact from mirage as the story unfolds. The Boy Who Could See Demons is riveting and increasingly fast-paced, as it forces the reader to question everything that seemed secure from page one. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: A haunting haze between reality and apparition with a troubled child psychiatrist at the center.

Delacorte, $26, hardcover, 9780345536532

Science

The Happy Atheist

by PZ Myers


PZ Myers is serious and unapologetically funny at the same time--and, despite 15 churches in his immediate neighborhood and their fellows worldwide, he is indeed a happy atheist.

The Happy Atheist is irreverent in every sense of the word, experimentally seeking creative acts of sacrilege and poking fun at religion from diverse angles. Short chapters make for quick, easy reading: "The Great Desecration" relates Myers's project of desecrating communion wafers, which inflamed the public to a degree that flabbergasted him.

He offers other reasons for the religious to be offended as he describes "the proper fate for a holy book" and instructs us to "take pride in the example of Eve--she is the author of a real promise of a great humanity." But even in making fun--and he assures us that laughter is the greatest weapon we can wield against religion--Myers is loving and compassionate, and it is clear that he aims to increase everyone's happiness by converting the wayward to atheism. Trusting in his expertise as a biology professor, he moves from more lighthearted larks toward a more serious scientific examination of the shortcomings of religion, especially by comparison. "Science," he quotes Richard Feynman, "is what we do to keep from lying to ourselves."

The Happy Atheist finishes with a heartfelt discussion of The Epic of Gilgamesh on a hopeful and inclusive note. Far from being out simply to insult, Myers genuinely wishes to improve humankind and our lot here on earth. But some hilarity along the way can't hurt. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: The creator of the popular Pharyngula blog makes a funny, impertinent and highly intelligent argument for atheism and happiness.

Pantheon, $24, hardcover, 9780307379344

Audio

Fin & Lady

by Cathleen Schine, read by Anne Twomey


Fin first becomes aware of Lady, his half-sister, when he overhears his parents discussing her in hushed voices. Child that he is, he is convinced that she is literally one half of a sister (the bottom half) and is unreasonably surprised when he meets her and realizes she is, in fact, an entire person--a beautiful, interesting, fascinating person. Following his parents' death, Lady takes Fin from his family's quiet Connecticut farm to her house in Greenwich Village. Surrounded by Lady and her lovers and the culture of 1960s New York, Fin begins to grow up, but as he does so, he realizes Lady needs as much looking after as he does.

Fin & Lady, Cathleen Schine's ninth novel, is a perfect pick for audiophiles: though the narrator seems to be an uninvolved third party at first blush, subtle clues reveal that she is, in fact, a confidante of Fin's, relaying the story to listeners after hearing it from him directly. This person, brought to life by Anne Twomey's gentle voice, succeeds in capturing at once the innocence of Fin's youth, his loss of innocence as a teenager and his growth into adulthood--all while breathing life into a striking era of New York City history. Ultimately, both unnamed narrator and listener become invested in Fin and Lady and their growth--both as a family and as individuals--as they fight to be free and happy in their lives. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: An engaging coming-of-age novel set in 1960s New York, featuring an unlikely duo of half-siblings.

Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 8 CDs, 9 hours, 9781427231543

Children's & Young Adult

Ah Ha!

by Jeff Mack


With just four letters (well, actually two letters, repeated: "A" and "H") Jeff Mack (Good News, Bad News) tells an entire story in this clever picture book about a frog's adventures.

Before the book even begins, the frog reclines in a pond, exclaiming "AAHH!" in a purple speech balloon. Children may not even realize they've hit the title page because Mack uses the title in another purple speech balloon as the frog hero discovers a brown sphere protruding from the pond and says, "AH HA!" The frog climbs up, only to be snatched in a glass jar by two child-size hands, and a dog spectator nearby. The dog, lunging for the frog ("AH HA!" thinks the pooch), accidentally knocks the cap off and frees the captive. A turtle, crocodile and flamingo all make appearances, with narrow escapes and alternating exclamations of "AAHH" and "AH HA."

Mack varies the colorful backdrops and depicts the frog's pursuers working up a froth to contrast with the pond's glasslike surface each time the frog (often wrongly) believes it's reached safety. Initially, the author-artist shows readers only what the frog would see (what appears to be a log, for instance), then widens the view to let children get the full picture before the frog does (it's really a crocodile's back). Youngsters will love the sole use of "HA HA!" by the frog as he escapes the predators. Terrific for children just learning their letters, and a stellar read-aloud. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: An ingenious tale of a frog narrowly escaping its predators, using only four letters and a variety of pond scenes.

Chronicle, $16.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 3-5, 9781452112657

Thumpy Feet

by Betsy Lewin


Betsy Lewin's story of a cat who zealously eats a meal and plays with a toy mouse before settling down for a nap, works beautifully when read aloud--preferably to preschoolers.

There are delicious sounds to say together ("Licky licky lick" and "Looky look! Mousy mouse!"). There are actions to try out (children will want to thump their feet and smack their mouths, just like the feline hero). There are body parts to identify such as Thumpy Feet's tongue, tail and active paws). There is even some detective work kids can do (is Thumpy Feet sleepy? Wide awake? How do you know?). Perfectly timed page-turns allow children to progress, with Thumpy Feet, from yawning to nodding to snoozing--before they, like the feline hero, wake up for the next toy (in Thumpy Feet's case, a ball of yarn that begs to be batted about).

Lewin's simple, repetitive text pairs well with her vivid, loose watercolors. The marmalade cat appears on a white background, which throws Thumpy Feet's orange-tinted wigglyness into sharp relief and allows young eyes to focus easily on key spots: Thumpy Feet's flickering tail, scrambling feet and myriad expressions. A lively and fun book for the younger set and their grown-ups to share. --Allie Jane Bruce, children's librarian, Bank Street College of Education

Discover: A lively, fun story of a cat who zealously eats a meal and plays with a toy mouse before naptime.

Holiday House, $16.95, hardcover, 32p., ages 3-6, 9780823429011

Pieces of Her
by Karin Slaughter
ISBN-13: 9780062430274
William Morrow & Co.
August 21, 2018


an exclusive interview with bestselling author Karin Slaughter 
 

In your thriller PIECES OF HER, a young woman, in your words, realizes “the person she’s known her entire life is basically a stranger to her.” What drew you to this dynamic?

Karin Slaughter: “Our parents are not who we think they are. Nobody really wants to know about their parents’ sexual mistakes or the things that basically make them human…I thought that would be really interesting to play on. I wanted to talk about the differences between generations of women, and there’s no better way to do that than with a mother-daughter story because you have two distinct, different generations. And I thought about the fact that, when I was growing up, women had very few choices about what they could do with their lives. It just wasn’t presented to young women that they could be doctors or lawyers. The goal was still to meet a nice guy, settle down, have a family. That’s very much the sort of message Laura grew up with. You can juxtapose that against Andy’s experience—a young woman who has so many choices that she’s stymied by it. I thought it would be really interesting to use this kind of thriller rubric to talk about those differences.”

 Read the rest of the interview here.

 

ALSO FEATURED ON THE the big THRILL…

UNDER A DARK SKY by LORI RADER-DAY: In the new psychological thriller from award winner Rader-Day, a young widow strangled by grief decides to shed her fears, including her paralyzing phobia of the dark, and spend a week at a dark sky park, but when a fellow guest is murdered, everyone becomes a suspect. Read more at The Big Thrill.

THE GETAWAY LIST by FRANK ZAFIRO & ERIC BEETNER: In the latest Bricks and Cam mystery, the two hit men plan a new life on the West Coast, but while stopping in a small town they are plunged into trouble, as an intervention between an abusive boyfriend and his girlfriend quickly escalates into a blood feud with backwoods royalty. Find out more here.

TIFFANY BLUES by M. J. ROSE: The new atmospheric and romantic historical mystery from best-seller M.J. Rose takes readers to New York in 1924 and Tiffany’s prestigious art colony, where a young artist’s dreams of winning a coveted place at a gallery are darkened by the actions of someone who knows the secret of her past. Learn more at The Big Thrill.

SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER by DAVID BELL: In this novel of psychological suspense from the bestselling author of Bring Her, a man is visited by his ex-wife who tells him that he is the father of her 10-year-old daughter, now missing, and in the course of one night, lies that span a decade come to the surface. Visit The Big Thrill for more. 

PULL & PRAY by ANGEL LUIS COLON: The author of acclaimed crime fiction novels and short stories brings readers the story of Fantine Park, who after surviving a heist is lured back to the United States by a lead on the identity of her mother’s killer--and the possibility of an irresistible score. Read more here.

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