Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, April 18, 2014


Workman Publishing: Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades--Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too by Steven Raichlen

From My Shelf

Knopf Publishing Group: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Counterpoint: Grace by Natashia Deón

National Library Week

When I was quite young, my great-aunt and I walked to our tiny library every week, first stopping at the corner store to buy bananas. After we had picked out our books, we'd sit on the front steps, eat a banana, and consider what we had chosen. (A rosy memory, since weather in western Washington precludes most step-sitting occasions.) Later, a bookmobile came around; I recall the thrill of stepping up into a world of wonders. Later still, our little town got a larger library, attached to the fire station. I raced through the books to the extent that Mrs. Dawes, the librarian, called my mother to ask if I could check out adult books. I wanted then to be a librarian--specifically, a bookmobile librarian--and have never lost my love for libraries.

Robert Dawson also loves libraries and has spent 18 years photographing them. His photos and commentary have been combined with short pieces by Anne Lamott, Ann Patchett, Philip Levine and others to create The Public Library: A Photographic Essay (Princeton Architectural Press). The derelict Mark Twain branch library in Detroit, the ornate Milwaukee Central library, the architectural wonder of Seattle's Rem Koolhaas/Joshua Ramus-designed building, a California library built by ex-slaves, a Nevada bookmobile--Dawson's images run the gamut from abandoned libraries to grand edifices with gargoyles. They have grand hallways or single rooms, maybe coffee shops and post offices, and always people reading, learning, even borrowing tools.

As Bill Moyers points out in his foreword, libraries are not just bastions of book collections--they are gathering places, and sometimes literal ports in storms. Dawson says, "Public libraries help us define what we value and what we share... [they] are among the last free spaces we have left. Public libraries are worth fighting for, and this book is my way of fighting." April 13-19 is National Library Week--use your library and fight the good fight. --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers


Reedimagine: Zagzig Parenting: (Mis)Adventures of a Career-Driven Mom and a Stay-At-Home Dad by Kori Reed with Mike Becker


Book Candy

Bookish Easter Egg Decorating; Steinbeck Quiz

With the big holiday coming up Sunday, it's the perfect time to share Inhabitots's "7 creative ways to decorate Easter eggs," including "Book Print on Eggs," which "ingeniously upcycles old plastic Easter eggs into something new and beautiful using book print."

---

This seems to be the week for telling us which women authors to read next. Citing Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize for Fiction win for The Goldfinch, Time wrote: "These are the 21 female authors you should be reading." And Cosmopolitan celebrated National Poetry Month with "12 poetry collections every woman should read."

---

The Grapes of Wrath is 75 years old this week and Of Mice and Men is now on Broadway, so what better time could there be to take the Guardian's John Steinbeck quiz?

---

We'll keep this brief. Flavorwire recommended "50 incredible novels under 200 pages."

---

"Your stuffed animals come alive when you're not around." Buzzfeed collected "52 lies children's books told you growing up."

---

Apartment Therapy featured "5 ways to fit a home library into a small space."


Head of Zeus: Less Than a Treason (Kate Shugak Mysteries #21) by Dana Stabenow


The Writer's Life

Book Brahmin: Denise Kiernan

Denise Kiernan started her writing career as an intern at the Village Voice and has been working as a writer and journalist for nearly 20 years. She is the author of popular history titles Stuff Every American Should Know, Signing Their Lives Away and Signing Their Rights Away. She was head writer for ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire during its first season. Among other things, she was responsible for arranging the questions and briefing host Regis Philbin, which surely helped prepare her for "Book Brahmin." Her bestselling The Girls of Atomic City is now in paperback from Touchstone.

On your nightstand now:

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by the wonderful Ann Patchett. As someone who started out in journalism, I both admire her writing style and appreciate on a personal level her willingness to share the frustrations she experienced early in her career. Some of her stories take me back to my own days running around writing for magazines I'd never heard of, wondering how I'd ever make a living. Also on the nightstand: Breaking the Code, a play by Hugh Whitemore about British mathematician Alan Turing. The play was based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, and there is also a movie. I love reading books that end up as plays and then get made for television or film. I like to take in all the versions and see how the content held up across the platforms. I'm particularly interested in this process right now as The Girls of Atomic City is being developed for television. Also always on my nightstand: A large, stuffed Curious George (see below).

Favorite book when you were a child:

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg was and always will be a favorite book of mine. I loved the idea of hiding away somewhere that felt like a land of make-believe but that could be as nearby as a museum. What adventures lay right around the corner? I connected to the independence of it all, too--fishing money out of the fountains, dodging security guards. When I was much younger, I wore out Margret and H.A. Rey's Curious George Goes to the Hospital. That nutty little monkey really got me through a tough tonsillectomy. (Though I have to admit, I was quite disappointed that I did not have an equally goofy and revelatory encounter with the ether).

Your top five authors:

The pressure! The immediate regret after I turn this in! That said: William Faulkner, without a doubt. Margaret Atwood; her worlds always suck me in. Pat Conroy's style gets me every time, and he never sacrifices story in service of it. Jeanette Winterson never disappoints. Joan Didion has to be in there. Nora Ephron is a remarkable storyteller in so many different forms. Lately I've been into Lee Child. I've been a Tolkien nerd since I was a kid, compulsively dog-earing my tattered copy of The Hobbit. Okay, I went a little over....

Book you've faked reading:

I have certainly faked interest in books, but I have never faked reading a book. I have gone out of my way to dance around admitting publicly that I hadn't read a particular "important" book. Now is another one of those times.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Whatever my husband, author Joseph D'Agnese, has just published. His children's picture book, Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, is a brilliant and accessible story that seamlessly blends math, art and history in a way that is truly captivating and rescues a story that few people know.

Book you've bought for the cover:

While I have never bought a book for the cover, I have bought a wine for the label. Come to think of it, I would appreciate seeing more frogs on bicycles and vaudevillians with plungers attached to their heads on the covers of books.

Book that changed your life:

I recently placed my laptop on top of The Chicago Manual of Style. As a result, the ergonomics of my workstation have drastically improved and the setup has done wonders for my neck.

Favorite line from a book:

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head." This is the first line from John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Brilliant imagery to kick off what was of one of my all-time favorite reads.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

I get so depressed when I think about all of the books I'm never going to get to in my lifetime that the idea of having the time to reread one seems impossible. Still, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley would surely be in the running.

Book readers are most surprised to discover you wrote:

It is interesting how readers often see you as writing in one particular genre. It's almost similar to an actor who gets typecast as a cop. It can be hard for readers to see you in a different role, writing a different sort of book. I've always admired writers who have the ability to change it up, which is perhaps why people like Nora Ephron and Joan Didion have always been faves of mine. Oddly enough, in my case, folks often think there is another Denise Kiernan who wrote The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed. I really can't understand why that seems so out of character. I have been a freelancer for most of my adult life and it has had a tremendous impact on how I work. It's like a survival story.


ReedPop: BookCon Tickets & Information


Book Review

Fiction

Acts of God

by Ellen Gilchrist


In the Land of Dreamy Dreams, Ellen Gilchrist's first collection of short stories, was published in 1981 to wide critical acclaim; her next collection, Victory over Japan, won the National Book Award. Since then, she's gone on to publish several more collections, as well as novels, poetry and nonfiction. Now she's back with Acts of God, a collection of wistful, reflective and accomplished stories.

It's a book that comes "out of my later years," Gilchrist tells us, and the past features prominently in many of these stories. They are all set in the South, in places like Biloxi, Fayetteville and New Orleans; most of the main characters are women. In "Miracle in Adkins, Arkansas," a group of high school students drive to a small town devastated by a tornado. Searching the site, they part the branches of a fallen tree, and a baby, tossed there by the storm, begins to scream. It affects them greatly. Our narrator tells us, "I need to remember all this."

In "Jumping Off Bridges into Clean Water," a group of adults think about the time when they were young and jumped off a bridge into the roaring river, while in "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," three elderly ladies share stories about their pasts while they drink for free in an airlines' guest lounge.

All of these stories are classic narratives. There are no literary pyrotechnics here nor obscure experimentalism--simply heartfelt tales exquisitely told. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: Ellen Gilchrist's latest short stories confront death and disasters and other "acts of God."

Algonquin, $23.95, hardcover, 9781616201104

DK Publishing: Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia by Adam Bray, Cole Horton, and Tricia Barr


Mimi Malloy, At Last!

by Julia MacDonnell


Family is the cornerstone of Julia McDonnell's (A Year of Favor) Mimi Malloy, At Last!, a later-in-life, coming-of-age novel about the nature of memory. Maire "Mimi" Sheehan Malloy, age 68, sneaks cigarettes and Manhattans, worships Frank Sinatra and thought she was finally settling into her forced retirement. But when a leak springs in a closet ceiling of her modest apartment in Quincy, Mass., the divorcée--one of seven children in an Irish-Catholic family and herself a mother of six daughters--finds her quiet life upended. Dick Duffy, the building handyman with a "bum leg... and a big heart," addresses the leak, and Mimi discovers a striking silver pendant with an aquamarine stone. How did it get in her closet? Mimi, who's suffered mini-strokes that have left holes in her memory, cannot remember anything about the pendant or its history.

While Mimi and Dick, a World War II veteran and widower, begin a relationship, Mimi's grandnephew enlists her help for a genealogy study for school. Mimi's sisters and daughters press for details from the "glory days" of childhood, but what they find is a painful past, long repressed, featuring an abusive stepmother and a long-lost baby sister. Might the pendant somehow be connected?

MacDonnell's multifaceted novel unspools via flashbacks. Mimi's no-nonsense narrative voice and a cast of well-drawn characters take readers on a humbling journey that explores the past and present; the bonds between parents, children and sisters; the power of secrets; and heroic acts of love. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A 68-year-old Irish-Catholic woman with memory loss reconstructs her past--from the author of A Year of Favor.

Picador, $25, hardcover, 9781250041548

Henry Holt & Company: The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavenger #2) by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman


Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Word Exchange

by Alena Graedon


The Word Exchange, Alena Graedon's debut novel, introduces readers to a not-so-distant future in which the oft-predicted death of the book has come to pass. As people become more and more dependent on their "Memes"--devices similar to our current smartphones, but with more predictive functionality--books, newspapers and dictionaries have become increasingly obsolete. Perhaps it is because of the obscurity of his work that lexicographer Doug Johnson has started to become paranoid about his safety--but when he goes missing, his daughter, Anana, is forced to accept that his fears may not have been unfounded.

As Anana probes deeper and deeper into her father's disappearance, it becomes clear the missing lexicographer lies at the heart of a larger problem: a "word flu" that is threatening the world's ability to communicate.

The Word Exchange is a riot of a read, asking big questions about our present and our future; Anana's investigations force readers to consider the ever-increasing role technology plays in our day-to-day lives and the importance of language in shaping our identities and communicating with the world around us. Graedon's clever incorporation of obscure vocabulary will leave those reading on paper reaching for the nearest dictionary--while those reading on devices will think twice about clicking on the words to look up their definitions. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: In a not-so-distant future in which print books are dying, our dependence on technology threatens our ability to communicate.

Doubleday, $26.95, hardcover, 9780385537650

Delacorte Press: The Explorers: The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress


Graphic Books

The Undertaking of Lily Chen

by Danica Novgorodoff


Danica Novgorodoff (Refresh, Refresh) puts a romantically morbid spin on an ancient Chinese tradition in her lushly illustrated story of a second son trying to please his parents.

When Deshi Li's older brother, Wei, dies after the two squabble, their inconsolable parents charge Deshi with the task of finding his deceased brother a wife. In China, an old tradition allows families to marry a dead son to a dead single woman so they might spend eternity together. When the grave robber provides only a rotting corpse, Deshi grows desperate. He knows his parents will accept only a beautiful, unspoiled bride for their beloved eldest son. Gorgeous village girl Lily Chen appears with such perfect timing that she seems like the answer to Deshi's prayers. Unfortunately for his mission, smart and sassy Lily is still alive. Is Deshi desperate enough to turn to murder?

While Deshi lives under the shadow of his parents' focus on tradition, Lily longs for modern life in the big city. Although both youngsters are naive, their opposite worldviews encourage them to reach out to each other and find a middle ground between a past rooted in the afterlife and a future too bright to come true. Novgorodoff's sunlight-drenched watercolor landscapes provide a gorgeous backdrop for the line-art characters as they travel the winding mountain roads of northern China. While plot points can be morbid, gritty or violent by turns, Deshi and Lily have plenty of opportunities to find and enjoy the hope of escape and redemption. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: Exquisite watercolors illustrate this novel about an ancient tradition in the modern world.

First Second, $29.99, paperback, 9781596435865

Chronicle Books: Happiness Is... 200 Things I Love about Mom/Dad by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar


Food & Wine

Low and Slow: The Art and Technique of Braising, BBQ, and Slow Roasting

by The Culinary Institute of America, Robert Briggs


Part of a cookbook series by the Culinary Institute of America, Low and Slow is full of recipes for delicious slow-cooked foods and helpful tips about how methods like braising and barbecuing can develop flavors that faster cooking methods can't.

The slow-cooking method lends itself most obviously to meat-heavy recipes like Korean-Style Braised Short Ribs and Moroccan Chicken Tagine, since a long roast of cheaper cuts of meat can achieve perfectly tender results. However, Low and Slow contains a surprising number of vegetable dishes, too, like Roasted Corn and Jicama Salad and Brussels Sprouts Slaw, as well as sauces and rubs to augment your final product, like Apple-Horseradish Cream or Lentil Ragout.

The instructions are clear and easy to follow, though there are no exact cooking times (just estimates like "6 to 8 hours"). Helpful sidebars ("Chef's Notes") offer variations--like cooking lamb shanks in a slow-cooker instead of a Dutch oven, or adding blue cheese or lobster to a basic macaroni and cheese. Ideal for both novice cooks and those who want to hone their skills, Low and Slow gives guidance on the proper equipment, formulas for creating a perfect brine, guidelines on regional variations in barbecuing methodologies and tips on which cuts of meat work best with which cooking strategy. Best of all, it has many illustrated step-by-step procedures for different techniques, making it easy to re-create a recipe exactly as shown. Those aspiring to improve their slow-cooking will appreciate having the Culinary Institute of America's expertise in their home kitchens. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: A step-by-step guide to mastering the art of slow-cooking styles from a culinary authority.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99, hardcover, 9781118105917

Land and Wine: The French Terroir

by Charles Frankel


France is justifiably famous for its wines, and in Land and Wine Charles Frankel takes the reader on a geological journey to discover why the French landscape is perfect for growing grapes. Frankel focuses on the terroir--a word without an exact English translation that means the combination of geography, geology and microclimate of a specific small region. Terroir can change rapidly; even grapes grown a few dozen yards apart can produce very different wines.

Frankel explores the wine-making regions of France in order of geological age, starting with Savennières, which sits atop an ancient Hercynian massif in Brittany, and ending with the Rhône Valley. Much of the information is technical, offering detailed descriptions of the soil and rock in each terroir, but the academic tone of these sections is spiked with interesting information about the history of wine making and famous wine-lovers.

For example, on the hill of Corton in Burgundy, 25 wines are produced in an area one-third the size of Central Park. Frankel explains why Corton's terroir has made it ideal for producing so many superior wines--favored by luminaries such as Voltaire and John F. Kennedy--despite being such a tiny area.

Part geology textbook, part history of France, part wine-tasting guide, Land and Wine, while perhaps a bit esoteric for the average layman, is nevertheless fascinating. Wine experts and geologists will both profit from the intriguing information it contains. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: A detailed geological guide to the French terroir and the wine it produces.

University of Chicago Press, $27.50, hardcover, 9780226014692

Biography & Memoir

Living with a Wild God

by Barbara Ehrenreich


Barbara Ehrenreich earned a Ph.D. in chemistry before achieving recognition for her writing on contemporary social issues (Nickel and Dimed; Bright-Sided). Her work has always reflected the rigors of science combined with her own empirical experience. Those qualities inform Living with a Wild God, a breathtaking and unsettling account of her lifelong search for meaning.

Ehrenreich, with dysfunctional alcoholic parents and boasting a precocious intellect, began keeping a journal at 14. She wrote to understand "the point of our brief existence here" but also to make sense of the dissociative episodes she had begun to experience, which culminated in an inexplicable encounter that challenged her atheism. Years later, she returned to those adolescent brushes with the mystical and her existential query.

The result is not quite autobiography and not quite rigorous philosophical inquiry, though it borrows from both. She examines the role of experience in whom we become; the line between routine dissociation and mental illness; and the insights of poets, spiritual leaders and other thinkers on alternate ways of understanding. She is fearlessly willing to reveal intimate observations; anger and grief over the inhumanity of her childhood infuse her narrative, as does her complicated love for her father. But the routine details of autobiography--romances, marriages, accomplishments--are missing in deference to the more personal story of her quest.

Ehrenreich doesn't give up her atheism but gradually allows for the possibility of experiences that defy science. Her conclusion will surprise and unsettle many of her readers, and it is a testament to her unsparing honesty that she makes it unapologetically. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Discover: A scientist's surprising, uncompromising inquiry into meaning and the possibility of the mystical.

Twelve, $26, hardcover, 9781455501762

A Farm Dies Once a Year: A Memoir

by Arlo Crawford


Arlo Crawford's memoir of a summer spent on his parents' farm in south-central Pennsylvania is redolent with rhythms: of the seasons and of the plant-pick-water-weed cycle on an organic produce farm. Searching for new directions in his early 30s, Crawford returned to the land of his childhood and joined the crew of apprentices and farm managers who oversaw the production of fruits and vegetables on the 95 acres. He quickly fell into the swirl of sunup-to-sundown tasks--setting up irrigation lines; searching for bug damage; picking, boxing and selling the produce--that generated income not only for his parents but for the many seasonal workers who buzzed like so many bees around the central core of the farm, the house and barn.

Uneasy with sleeping in his childhood room, Crawford built a tent platform tucked among the trees, far from the hubbub of controlled chaos that had reigned on the land for more than 40 years. Here, he learned to listen to the silence. He gained respect for his father's tenacity in the face of crop disasters and he questioned and challenged his fears surrounding the murder of a neighbor, an event that had haunted him for 20 years. Poetic, colorful details--"The rows of vegetables stretched across the rise beside the road, black on black under the faint moon, and the early-summer air smelled liked dust and chlorophyll"--bring life on this farm to the forefront, providing readers with a wistful contemplation on the purpose and drive behind every person's labors. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: A season of hard work on an organic produce farm leaves a man questioning his life choices.

Holt, $25, hardcover, 9780805098167

History

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis

by Thomas Goetz


Thomas Goetz's The Remedy achieves a rare feat: serious, accurate scientific writing that is also engaging and entertaining.

In the mid-1800s, the practice of medicine largely resembled groping in the dark. Patients came to doctors "with the hope of a cure but never the expectation of one." The final decades of that century, however, were marked by extraordinary advances in science, technology and medicine: "germ theory" was developed, infectious diseases were better understood, and more-modern notions of hygiene and sanitation began to catch on. Robert Koch, a provincial German doctor, pioneered experiment design and research standards, and in 1882 he identified the bacterial cause of tuberculosis--the most deadly disease in human history.

Koch attempted to develop a cure for TB, which he presented in Berlin. Despite meticulous empirical methods he had established, Koch's zeal for his remedy led to his downfall, as his treatment was unprovable. An obscure British doctor and sometime writer, also provincial, was the first to pen an appropriately skeptical response. Despite his criticism, Arthur Conan Doyle was a great admirer of Koch and appreciated his scrupulous observations; in fact, Goetz asserts that without Koch, "there may never have been a Sherlock Holmes as we know him."

The intersection of Koch and Doyle brought the spirit of scientific discovery to crime detection, and the spirit of investigation to scientific research. Goetz's exploration of their lives and their impact on the world as we know it is both historically significant and enthralling. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: The compelling connection between Sherlock Holmes and the search for a tuberculosis cure.

Gotham, $27, hardcover, 9781592407514

Children's & Young Adult

Bears in the Bath

by Shirley Parenteau, illus. by David Walker


Big Brown Bear wants to entice four "grimy" but stubborn cubs into the bath, and finds a wonderful way to accomplish his mission in this fresh twist on bathtime tales.

An inviting tub awaits: "Water, soap, and/ sponge are there./ The bath is ready./ Where are the bears?" A gentle rhyme introduces the cast: cobwebby Floppy Bear; mud-spattered Fuzzy Bear; Calico, whose fur is sweaty "from playing hard"; and Yellow Bear--"He's stinky and/ he doesn't care." The four cubs see the tub and "Big Brown Bear/ waiting to scrub," and they back away. " 'We don't want a bath,' they say." Sound familiar? David Walker uses acrylics like pastels, as he depicts an irresistible parade of toddler stand-ins tracking muddy paw prints hither and yon. Big Brown Bear "scoops up one/ and then two more./ He grabs the last./ He's got all four!" The cubs and their caretaker erupt in a giggly embrace then wriggle away, leaving Big Brown Bear all "smudges and smears." So what does he do? He "jumps in the tub... and starts to scrub." Walker portrays the big bear's infectious enthusiasm, and the cubs, one at a time, want to join in the fun, their rear paws flailing as they climb over the side of the tub.

Parenteau and Walker close with a simple math lesson: "Now all five bears/ are clean again," as Big Brown Bear lovingly wraps each of his charges in a fluffy towel. Guaranteed to break down resistance to bathtime. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A fresh take on the bathtime tale, in which Big Brown Bear models fun in the tub for his four resistant cubs.

Candlewick, $15.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 2-5, 9780763664183

Salvage

by Alexandra Duncan


Debut author Alexandra Duncan portrays a patriarchal civilization eerily reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

The Earth is tainted--if a woman were to step onto its surface, its filth would contaminate her spirit and body. The people of the merchant ship Parastrata left the planet 1,000 years ago, and only the men periodically return to Earth to trade. Even as the eldest daughter of the ship's captain, 16-year-old Ava lives a life of subservience and duty. But after she learns a few "Fixes" from her friend Soli on the ship Æther, she realizes she'd rather expand her mind than tend to livestock and laundry. Her intellect is well-suited to problem-solving, but her father forbids it. "It's only a step from fixing to flying," he tells her. "You can't nurse a baby and run a navigation program at the same time." An arranged marriage to seal a connection with Æther gives Ava hope for change. Perhaps on this more enlightened ship she can learn to read and work on Fixes. But a premarital act of intimacy threatens Ava's safety and future. Her aunt takes drastic measures to dispatch Ava to Earth, and sets in motion a journey of self-discovery. Ava must confront long-held secrets in order to discover the truth behind her family and civilization, and then to figure out what she really wants.

Duncan's fast-paced narrative and original settings--from the Parastrata to the Gyre (a floating garbage mass in the Pacific) to Mumbai--will keep readers riveted. --Jessica Bushore, former public librarian and freelance writer

Discover: Ava's journey from the stars to Earth takes her from a place of weakness to a place of personal strength.

Greenwillow/HarperCollins, $17.99, hardcover, 528p., ages 14-up, 9780062220141

What We Hide

by Marthe Jocelyn


Martha Jocelyn (How It Happened in Peach Hill) threads together the perspectives of eight 16-year-olds in an engrossing exploration of truth and lying--as acts of omission and commission. Her novel takes place during the Vietnam War at a British boarding school.

The narrative moves among the points of view of--among others--Jenny, an American whose brother is dodging the draft by attending college in Britain; Brenda, a day student on scholarship who at times offers greater insight than her wealthier classmates; Nico, with a perverse wish to live out his infamous author mother's sexual escapades; Penelope, the perceptive yet often misguided class "slag"; and Kirsten, whose brother discovers he's gay when he meets up with Robbie, a townie who "knew before [Luke] did that he was queer." Robbie is viciously attacked, and Luke works at keeping his own sexuality secret. Jenny's fabrication of a sexual relationship with her brother's African-American best friend, Matt, who's serving in Vietnam, plumbs the complicated feelings around her brother's avoidance of the draft, her unrequited love for Matt and her wish to seem as exotic as her British peers. She poses the book's central question: "Were we all hiding all the time, camouflaged by what other people expected to see?"

Jocelyn creates a complex mosaic of varied life experiences, deftly moving from first-person to third-person narratives and establishing distinct characters, against the backdrop of a controversial war at a time when everyone grew up quickly. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Eight very different 16-year-olds come of age at a British boarding school during the Vietnam War.

Wendy Lamb/Random House, $16.99, hardcover, 288p., ages 14-up, 9780385738477

Poetry

And Short the Season

by Maxine Kumin


Maxine Kumin, the former poet laureate who died February 6, was the last of a great generation of woman poets that included Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Her 17th collection, And Short the Season, is her last.

The poems are filled with joy, sorrow, anger, mortality, politics and horses--lots of references to her cherished horses. When she was 73, she fell off one and broke her neck; though she recovered, pain was with her the rest of her life (as one poem here explores). Some poems deal with other artists, like her imagined version of a visit by Walt Whitman to a dear friend in Dublin just before he died. Others are about Hardy, Ginsberg, Van Gogh, even Michael Jackson.

There are harsh political poems about rendition and torture, as well as pieces about global warming, like "Just Deserts" ("For however long it takes it will serve us right"). Others touch on her own poetry and writing,
"slumped at my desk
over unborn poems
...mostly deleting, deleting, deleting
in an ecstasy of failure."

The longest poem, the stubbornly feminist "Sonnets Uncorseted," confronts the "almost all-male enclave of poetry" in the 1950s, while the last poem, "Allow Me," offers a prescient vision of her death at her beloved New Hampshire farm:
"Sudden and quiet, surrounded by friends
--John Milton's way--
But who gets to choose this ordered end
Trim and untattered, loved ones at hand?
--Allow me that day."
               --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: The final book by one of our most respected and beloved poets, whose poems had, in her own words, "real manure and real rain" in them.

Norton, $24.95, hardcover, 9780393241006

--- SPECIAL ADVERTORIAL OFFERINGS ---

Kids Buzz

Proof of Lies
by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Dear Reader,

How far you would go to save the only person you have left?

PROOF OF LIES is an adrenaline rush that transports the reader from clam chowder in Boston to a boat chase through the dark canals of Venice. My goal was to capture the places I’ve traveled so vividly fans would research airfare to Tuscany. I also wanted to create a family drama so emotional fans would cry and cheer for Anastasia Phoenix.

Even if your world isn’t full of superspies and clandestine organizations, by the time you reach the dramatic ending you’ll be wondering—who would you risk your life for?

For a chance to win a signed copy, email diana.wallach@yahoo.com.

Bookishly yours,

Diana Rodriguez Wallach

 

Buy this book

KidsBuzz: Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

PUBLISHER: Entangled Publishing

PUB DATE: March 2017

AGE RANGE: 12 and up

TYPE OF BOOK: YA Thriller

ISBN: 9781633756083

PRICE: $9.99

 

Spirit Quest
by Jennifer Frick-Ruppert

Dear Reader,

What if you found a book that combined adventure and history—a way to bring the past to life? Spirit Quest is the story of an Algonquin boy as he grows from child to young adult.

I got the idea to write Spirit Quest while studying the history of the North Carolina coast. I conducted historical research into the lost colonists and native peoples of the Southeast. This book follows the Native American people who met the first English explorers of America. It is the coming-of-age story of Skyco who must learn not only the practical skills of hunting, fishing, and starting a fire, but also the importance of community, connection to ancestry, and the natural linkages in the web of life.

Email me at jfrickruppert@gmail.com to enter to win one of five signed copies!

 

Jennifer Frick-Ruppert

 

Buy this book

KidsBuzz: Spirit Quest by Jennifer Frick-Ruppert

PUBLISHER: Amberjack Publishing

PUB DATE: April 18, 2017

AGE RANGE: 9 - 12

TYPE OF BOOK: Middle Grade Fiction

ISBN: 9781944995119

PRICE: $15.99

 

Powered by: Xtenit