Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, June 10, 2014


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

From My Shelf

W. W. Norton & Company: The Outrun: A Memoir by Amy Liptrot

Park Row Books: Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Waiting for Outlander

Since 1992, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series has been building the unlikely romance of Jamie, an 18th-century Scot, and Claire, a World War II-era British nurse. Those who haven't yet read the time-traveling romance will want to start the first volume, Outlander, now, as the Starz adaptation premieres this summer. For those caught up with the books, we have some suggestions to tide you over until the series airs--or until we can get our hands on the next Outlander volume, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, due June 10.

For more Scottish history: Like Outlander, Susanna Kearsley's The Winter Sea mixes two time periods, early 18th century and present day. Writer Carrie McClelland has moved from France to Scotland to write a novel about a 1708 Jacobite invasion of French and Scottish soldiers attempting to restore the exiled James Stuart to his crown. But as she writes, she finds her ties to her Scottish ancestry stronger than ever before--stronger even than one might think possible. The resulting story is part romance, part mystery, all steeped in historical detail.

For more time travel: Some of the questions raised in the Outlander series explore time travel's implications for changing the course of history and how it affects the people involved. Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife explores the same questions, but through a very different lens, as Henry DeTamble involuntarily travels back through the timeline of his wife, Clare Abshire, first meeting her in her childhood and embroiling them both in a romance neither can escape--or control.

For more historical romance: For those looking for romance, Sarah MacLean's Rules for Scoundrels series is a good place to start. The first, A Rogue by Any Other Name, presents a disgraced Marquess who attempts to marry his way back into the good graces of society by wedding a proper Lady--until he finds out she bring her own sense of sin to the marriage. Witty and seductive, and more books to follow... what's not to love? --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm


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


Book Candy

Beach Reads; Fault in Our Stars Tattoos and More

Even more beach reads: KQED's MindShift shared "25 books that diversify kids' reading lists this summer"; Mashable found "11 YA books with happy endings to read on the beach this summer"; and for the past 15 years, in addition to offering financial advice, J.P. Morgan Chase "has also been giving out a different kind of recommendation: a summer reading list," the New York Times noted.

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Flavorwire showcased "20 of the weirdest Fault in Our Stars-inspired merch items, while Buzzfeed's highlighted "31 incredible Etsy products for The Fault in Our Stars fans," as well as "15 incredible tattoos inspired by The Fault in Our Stars."

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Mental Floss highlighted "19 rare recordings of famous authors." And Andrew Motion shared his choices for the "10 best recordings of poets" in the Guardian.  

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Niall Williams, author of History of the Rain, picked his "top 10 bookworms' tales," noting characters worth watching to see "how their intelligence and sensitivity, (actually someone quite like you, Dear Reader) comes to terms with the world beyond the covers of a book."

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Cliff McNish, author of Going Home, chose his "top 10 dogs in children's books" for the Guardian.


Tor Books: Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian Staveley


The Writer's Life

Mark Lawrence: Charming, Immoral Heroes

Mark Lawrence is the author of Prince of Fools (Ace Books), the first in a new series (The Red Queen's War) that takes place in the same fantasy setting as his first trilogy, The Broken Empire. In this new novel, the foppish Prince Jalan of the Red Queen's court is trapped by fate into a long heroic journey with Norse warrior Snorri ver Snagason. The book follows the unlikely pair as they wrestle with monsters from the underworld, mysterious necromancers and a host of bad people out for their blood.

Lawrence is a research scientist in artificial intelligence by day, and cares for his family, which includes a daughter with severe disabilities and a wife with multiple sclerosis. He's held secret-level clearance with both the U.K. and U.S. governments.

Jorg, the protagonist in the Broken Empire novels, is described as "a charming, immoral boy" on your website. How similar is Prince Jal, from Prince of Fools, to Jorg? Was this a deliberate choice, a fan service?

I think the word for Jorg was amoral. He didn't seek to be wicked, he just had no qualms about doing what was required for his goals. Jalan probably is closer to immoral, he enjoys misbehaving.

Jorg and Jalan are very different, so different in fact that I didn't have to rely on giving them very different names and circumstances to try to put space between them. Jorg is violent and fearless, Jalan is a lover, not a fighter, and distinctly cowardly. You could count on the two of them to do the opposite thing in most situations.

This novel is set in a world long after an apocalypse, with "Builder" artifacts populating the world, which has very recognizable peoples and races. How does this serve your story?

The two trilogies are set in the same world, at the same time, and in many of the same places. The setting is ostensibly medieval-esque, but it does become apparent that this is built on our own world, hundreds of years after an apocalypse. The leftover artifacts do give a lot of scope for fun and creativity--though this aspect features more significantly in the Broken Empire books.

Although fantasy is unlimited in scope and setting, I find that it works best when you only change a limited number of things, and with a purpose. It would be pointless, for example, to change the time units to "floorgs" and have 29 of them in a day. Introducing too many random pieces of world-building overloads the reader and takes the focus off the characters and story. By choosing a setting that is to some degree familiar and operates largely on rules we understand, I save the labour of educating the reader, and instead can delight them (or at least myself) with the things that have changed, and have plenty of room for character development and plot.

Prince Jal is a good man with questionable habits and a very flexible sense of morality when it comes to beautiful women. What about Jal interests you? Why write him this way? 

I was inspired to write Jorg Ancrath by Burgess's classic A Clockwork Orange (1962)--a violent, amoral killer, at the same time charming and intelligent. The inspiration for Jalan came from George MacDonald Fraser's book Flashman (1969) and subsequent series. MacDonald Fraser himself lifted Flashman from Tomas Hughes's Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857), so he is a new incarnation of a character who's been with us at least 150 years!

With Jorg in Prince of Thorns, I found the character compelling and wanted to unravel him. With Jalan, it's more a case of just being hugely entertained by his blundering and basic instincts.

Snorri is almost the opposite, though with his own down-to-earth sense of humor. What about the dichotomy between these two men do you find most compelling for you?

I guess the "odd couple" has been with us in various forms for even longer than Harry Flashman. It's a simple truth that if you force two interesting but very different people to keep each other's company, you get four times the fun. You might call the concept "well used" or if you were cruel, "over used," but really it's such a basic building block, that like romance or revenge it can be endlessly re-imagined to give us something new and enjoyable.

Do you still work a day job? How have things changed with success for your family? Do you have to go on book tours, and the like?

Life is remarkably similar. I do still work the day job--authors tend to have short careers and with my duties caring for a very disabled child it would be very hard to find a new research post if I gave up mine.

My daughter's health problems continue to be very challenging, my wife's health continues to deteriorate so, no, I don't do book tours or go to conventions, I just can't get away.

I see a lot of people busy writing and hoping to get published. Often it's clear that this is very important to them and that they really do think it will be the answer to their prayers/turn their lives around, etc. I never had any ambition to be an author--I just liked writing--and I certainly didn't expect to be one. So when it happened, I didn't have anything built up in my imagination about what it would be like. Also, even once published, I was fairly sure that like the vast majority of published authors I would make a rather small splash and vanish without trace.

So, the fact that being an author and selling hundreds of thousands of books around the world really hasn't changed my life much isn't a disappointment or surprise to me. The biggest change is simply that I spend more of my spare time writing than I used to--I've had to put on hold the various hobbies listed in my bio. And most of the time that I'm not writing, doing scientific research at the day job, or looking after my daughter, I spend interacting with readers and other authors on social media. That part's really quite fun. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor


Atria Books: Beartown by Fredrik Backman


Book Review

Fiction

China Dolls

by Lisa See


As in her previous eight novels (including Snowflower & the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls), Lisa See's strong women give readers a distinct perspective on a moment in history. This time, the setting is late-1930s San Francisco, with the Golden Gate International Exposition (a World's Fair) and the golden age of Chinese nightclubs.

Grace, Ruby and Helen meet by chance in California and, despite their diverse backgrounds, become fast friends. Grace, the only Chinese girl in her Ohio farm town, has fled an abusive father; Helen endures a regimented existence in Chinatown with her wealthy family; Ruby left Hawaii to seek her own independence. They share a hunger for adventure and pledge solidarity, although competiveness and jealousy sometimes buffet their loyalty.

The chapters alternate perspective, with each girl taking turns narrating. While their talents vary, all three gain spots in the glamorous Forbidden City Nightclub, and their stars are on the rise when news of the attack on Pearl Harbor hits. See's skill in weaving historic details into a fresh story shines: secrets are exposed, and the effects of the war, including the racism endemic to the West Coast, force the three to struggle to maintain their careers as showgirls.

For a novel as rich in history and characters as China Dolls, one hopes the story extends beyond the war. See satisfies our curiosity with a lengthy denouement that takes the trio into retirement yet doesn't feel contrived, assuring Grace, Ruby and Helen are heroines we'll remember. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

Discover: Three young women rising as nightclub performers in San Francisco on the cusp of the U.S. entry into World War II.

Random House, $27, hardcover, 9780812992892

Roaring Brook Press: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick


The One & Only

by Emily Giffin


The One and Only, by contemporary-fiction superstar Emily Giffin (Where We Belong), isn't short on surprises. Though it revolves around football, it touches on domestic violence and features a rather duplicitous woman who is secretly in love with her best friend Lucy's much-older dad. Giffin isn't a stranger to imperfect heroines, but the nature of the unfolding May-December romance is a solid departure for one of the reigning queens of chick lit.

Protagonist Shea, a young woman in her early 30s, is crazy about two things: football and her best friend's father, a dead ringer for George Clooney. He's married to Shea's mother's best friend; the family connections run deep. Shea fondly remembers playing on the floor of Coach Carr's office as a child and then, in another passage, dreams of making out with him. Her obsession with Coach Carr remains unrequited until his wife passes away, at which time all bets are off.

Giffin raises some uncomfortable questions about propriety, adulthood and what any of us would be willing to accept or forgive in the name of love. Unfortunately, she doesn't thoroughly explore her intriguing secondary plotline that involves an abusive boyfriend. Altogether this is serious stuff, clearly illustrating Giffin's evolution from "Will she get the guy?" scenarios to more thought-provoking themes. Regardless of the shift, The One & Only should resonate with longtime fans and newcomers alike, as Giffin's sharp writing is as wonderfully descriptive and refreshingly modern as ever. --Natalie Papailiou, author of blog MILF: Mother I'd Like to Friend

Discover: The sixth novel from a chick-lit super star raises loaded questions about friendship and love.

Ballantine Books, $28, hardcover, 9780345546883

St. Martin's Press: No Easy Target by Iris Johansen


O, Africa!

by Andrew Lewis Conn


Andrew Lewis Conn (P) sculpts a seriocomic view of American racism and anti-Semitism against the background of the nascent late-1920s film industry. Brooklyn-born twins Micah and Izzy Grand (originally Grombotz) share a life passion: filmmaking. Otherwise, they couldn't be more different. Big-mouthed Micah goes through life zestfully, indulging in all the gambling, drinking and women his heart desires while introverted Izzy, a gay man who refuses to indulge his urges, is more comfortable in the editing room than with other people.

Their studio president's new moneymaking scheme--making stock footage of foreign locations--sends Micah and Izzy to Africa. While neither initially wants to go, Micah's enormous gambling debts to a black gangster happen to come due at the same time. Packing up their crew, the brothers head off intending to return with stock footage, a new silent film for the studio--and a secret. In place of repayment, the gangsters have ordered Micah to make a picture about the history of the slave trade. What the crew ultimately discovers and endures will forever change the way they see film, humanity and themselves.

Alternating between insight and slapstick, Conn delivers a serious historical commentary disguised as a cinematic romp. In 1928, political correctness did not exist, and he pulls no punches when accurately depicting the casual acceptance of prejudice, including racial slurs and hate crimes. As Izzy Grand says, "Point a camera at something, you change it." Readers who watch through the lens of Conn's brazen yet thoughtful sophomore novel won't look at film the same way again. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: Comedy, tragedy and sly meditations on the history of American prejudice and the power of film to change perception.

Hogarth, $25, hardcover, 9780804138284

Doubleday Books: Unreliable by Lee Irby


I'll Be Right There

by Kyung-Sook Shin, trans. by Sora Kim-Russell


When Jung Yoon's ex-boyfriend contacts her for the first time in eight years, she assumes it's to deliver bad news. Jung, currently mourning her mother's recent death, is unprepared to learn that their former professor, with whom they both once shared a strong bond, is now dying. The news causes a host of memories to resurface--of college life, of young love and of the fragile world they once shared. This wave of introspection is the driving force behind I'll Be Right There, by South Korean author Kyung-sook Shin.

Though the story unfolds within the tumultuous political climate of 1980s South Korea, Jung's recollections of college life often seem indistinguishable from a contemporary American student's. Recalling her art school, she laments, "The male students were more interested in protesting and drinking than in going to class, and the female students were busy preening or being dramatically depressed." The narrative feels so familiar to Western readers that it is easy to forget the protests she refers to hold tremendous political significance, and were met with violent backlash from police.

Still, Jung's deepest struggles are not bound to time or place. Shin's skill lies in her ability to transmute the specific into the universal: loneliness, loss and the sweet anxiety of first love are experiences made broadly familiar through Jung's keen self-awareness. It is no doubt due to Shin's poignant yet accessible style that her bestselling Please Look After Mom has been translated into more than 30 languages worldwide. --Annie Atherton

Discover: An emotionally complex novel about a young woman coming of age amid the political instability of 1980s South Korea.

Other Press, $15.95, paperback, 9781590516737

Mira Books: Any Day Now (Sullivan's Crossing #2) by Robyn Carr


Mystery & Thriller

Those Who Wish Me Dead

by Michael Koryta


At the start of Michael Koryta's Those Who Wish Me Dead, 13-year-old Jace Wilson tries to conquer his fear of heights by jumping into an abandoned quarry lake. Just as he thinks the drop wasn't so bad, he encounters a dead body in the water. Then two men dressed like cops approach the edge above, escorting a third man under a hood, and, as Jace hides beneath a rock, he witnesses the murder of the hooded man.

Ethan Serbin runs a program in Montana that teaches people how to survive the wilderness. One night, a former student and current U.S. marshal asks Ethan to take a young murder witness into his next group of students to help hide the boy in the mountains in case the killers come looking for him. His parents don't trust law enforcement, and Jace needs to be kept safe until he can testify in court. Ethan is reluctant but can't say no to protecting a child. His decision brings hell to his front door and forces him to use every skill he's ever taught to stay alive and protect those he loves.

The throat-clutching suspense in the novel's opening is maintained throughout. The protagonists are well defined and sympathetic, regular folk who discover their own incredible strength in extraordinary circumstances. And readers may well wish the strikingly creepy villains dead. Much of the novel takes place over rough terrain, but Koryta (Edgar Award finalist for Tonight I Said Goodbye) is a sure-footed guide who takes readers on a harrowing adventure they won't soon forget. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: A young murder witness hides in the wilderness to elude vengeful killers.

Little, Brown, $26, hardcover, 9780316122559

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Poorcraft: The Funnybook Fundamentals of Living Well on Less (Poorcraft #1) by C. Spike Trotman


The Murder Farm

by Andrea Maria Schenkel, trans. by Anthea Bell


Andrea Maria Schenkel (Bunker; Ice Cold) has taken the real history of a brutal, remote murder and twisted it into something even more unnerving for this, her first novel (originally titled Tannod and now being published for the first time in the U.S.).

Based on an unsolved Bavarian crime committed in 1922, The Murder Farm is set in the wake of World War II, told by an unnamed narrator. It includes excerpts from interviews with friends and colleagues of the murder victims, and diatribes from various villagers who felt that the family had it coming. At first, it's unclear precisely what has transpired, or if anyone actually is dead--the interviewees make grave, vague reference to "the day before it happened" and so on, leaving the reader in suspense. But as the interviews continue and it's revealed that the entire Danner family was killed, everyone from the eight-year-old friend of the little dead girl to the elderly village gossip agrees that there was something wrong with the peculiar Danners. As the narrator delves into the family's history and how their remote "murder farm" got its nickname, he--or she--reveals the villagers' isolation, ignorance and superstitions.

The novel's short length belies its cleverness. The Murder Farm is not precisely a mystery; it's more an introspective look at a small town and the dark secrets that it hides. Comparisons to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood are obvious, and this compelling novel will likely appeal to fans of literary fiction and true crime as well as lovers of more typical mysteries. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: A chilling novel, based on an actual murder case from 1920s Bavaria.

Quercus, $22.99, hardcover, 9781623651671

Science Fiction & Fantasy

On the Steel Breeze

by Alastair Reynolds


On the Steel Breeze tells a sweeping, epic tale that spans galaxies, focusing on three cloned aspects of Chiku Akinya (a third-generation space explorer from a famous family), each destined to affect human history in different yet important ways.

This second Poseidon's Children novel continues the story started in Blue Remembered Earth, with a much-evolved human populace heading to the stars in ark-like interstellar "holoships" made of human technology and spare asteroids. The artificial intelligence that Earth's population accesses via augmented brain interfaces (akin to a future Internet) has discovered evidence of alien technology on a world far out among the stars. It's this information that spurs humanity to send millions of people to the newly discovered planet, Crucible.

The version of Chiku sent on the holoship Zanzibar (a delightful nod to the seminal sci-fi classic by John Brunner) discovers conspiracies within other half-truths imparted by the AI system named Arachne, while the Chiku who remains on Earth discovers similar falsehoods when she forges an alliance with the post-human merfolk living in Earth's oceans.

There are even more alien artifacts than originally reported by the AI, including some incomprehensibly powerful spaceships, waiting for one of the three Chiku clones on Crucible, as well as a splinter personality of the original Arachne.

On the Steel Breeze's plot threads are carefully, complexly woven together from the first page through the final satisfying epilogue. Reynolds continues to display his mastery of both hard physical and biological speculative fiction while deftly drawing truly flawed heroic characters across many years and a vast expanse of space. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: This second installment of a deep and thought-provoking space opera is full of surprises.

Ace Books, $26.95, hardcover, 9780425256787

Romance

The Lemon Grove

by Helen Walsh


British author Helen Walsh's The Lemon Grove is a steamy novel about age-inappropriate vacation lust that inverts the usual genders. Instead of a dapper roué chasing a filly in a bikini, Walsh presents Jenn Harding, a stacked, 40ish nursing-home manager, driven to infraction by a 17-year-old man-boy in blue swim trunks. Although current cultural mores tend to be more lenient toward Mrs. Robinson-type lechery, The Lemon Grove must still (ahem) surmount Jenn's flimsy scruples about adultery and finesse a far more verboten impediment: Nathan-of-the-blue-trunks is the first love of Jenn's stepdaughter, Emma.

The entire novel is set in picturesque Mallorca, where the Hardings have been renting a villa in the titular lemon grove for years. Jenn, who had previously seen her daughter's beau only fully clothed and slumped in the backseat of a car, arranged for Nathan's accompaniment without any lascivious forethought. Walsh establishes the status quo between Jenn and her devoted but preoccupied husband, Greg, before unleashing Nathan's discombobulating swim-trunked presence, serving up an expat's view of Deià's local color. Sticking close to Jenn's present-tense point of view, The Lemon Grove luxuriates in atmosphere, which, if occasionally overwritten, effectively conveys Jenn's appetite for stimulation. The novel's reliably frequent sex scenes--explicit, adventurous and a tad breathless--achieve their aim without provoking an excess of squirms.

The suspense of The Lemon Grove is derived from the spectacle of watching Walsh insinuate enough misunderstandings, yearnings, resentments and physical collisions into the narrative to sell the reader on the inevitability of a holiday attraction between a woman and her teenage stepdaughter's first major crush. --Holloway McCandless, blogger at Litagogo: A Guide to Free Literary Podcasts

Discover: A hot-and-bothered novel of inverted May-December romance set in Mallorca.

Doubleday, $24.95, hardcover, 9780385538534

Food & Wine

Josey Baker Bread

by Josey Baker


For prospective bread bakers intimidated by the mysteries of yeast, here's the ultimate empowering book: just look at Josey Baker (his real name!) beaming at his floury hands, then follow his urgings: "All right y'all, let's get started. Don't be a weenie; you have everything you need to do this." Josey Baker Bread is a photo-packed primer collecting wisdom from the author's famed San Francisco bread-baking business.

Josey talks aspiring do-it-yourselfers through basic recipes ("We're calling them lessons") and moves through eight chapters of variations. Each "lesson" opens with two short lists: Foodstuffs, like yeast--"the kind in little packets is just fine"--and Tools. Even a novice is set for success.

Basic bread is followed by sourdough secrets, "Adding Stuff to Bread" (including seeds, cheese and peanut butter cups), mouth-watering entrees like fig-gorgonzola-rosemary pizza, and four seasons of crumbles starring fruit from each quarter. Too busy to bake? Josey thought of that, and includes a chart of "PBBS"--Possible Bread-Baking Schedules--that are difficult to challenge, since they include such options as shaping the dough into a loaf "whenever you want." Tucked among the lessons is enough memoir to confirm Josey's credibility, told with an endearing aw-shucks modesty.

Josey endeavors to prove he really is there for the home cook. If a crumble recipe should fail, he advises, "Quickly discard it and tell everyone the dog ate it. Then write to me personally; I will coach you through it." --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

Discover: Virtually foolproof ways to bake a variety of bread from a San Francisco baker famous for his delicious and unusual goods.

Chronicle, $27.50, hardcover, 9781452113685

Body, Mind & Spirit

Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals

by Linda Bender


Near the beginning of Animal Wisdom a quotation from Gandhi appears: "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Linda Bender, a veterinarian whose work has included rescue, rehabilitation and protection of wildlife in Europe, Asia and Africa, wants to help all nations "learn from the spiritual lives of animals." She begins by exploring how humans' relationship with the natural world became disconnected and explaining that the relationship is actually reciprocal: by saving an animal, we save ourselves; when we eat an animal that has been pumped full of hormones and subjected to stress, those toxins become a part of our body; when we destroy an animal's habitat, we destroy our own habitat.

But Animal Wisdom is neither merely a fervent plea nor a strident diatribe. Bender presents a variety of lessons on how we can learn from animals, devoting a chapter to each. Examples include how to accept and recognize unconditional love, how to trust ourselves and the world and how to accept suffering and mortality. After the convincing and compassionate lessons, Bender provides a list of concrete, manageable steps we can take toward reestablishing our connection with the natural world--from refusing to use plastic bags and packaging to using fewer pesticides and herbicides. Bender believes the destiny of humankind is inextricably linked with all species and depends on our ability to "renegotiate our relationship with Mother Nature." Animal Wisdom is a fine tool for this renegotiation. --Kristen Galles from Book Club Classics

Discover: A compelling reminder of our responsibility to the natural world.

North Atlantic Books, $18.95, paperback, 9781583947739

Children's & Young Adult

Graduation Day: The Testing, Book 3

by Joelle Charbonneau


Just when you thought Cia's journey couldn't get any better, it does, in this finale to the Testing trilogy, which recounts the culmination of Cia's studies and battles in the dystopian United Commonwealth.

After conquering the Testing process to become a student at Tosu City University in the capital, Cia realizes that the life of a citizen is not one of rebuilding a damaged nation and society. Rather, the true nature of citizenship revolves around death, deceit and control of the unsuspecting. Cia joins rebels intent on destroying the Testing process--but even rebellion is not straightforward. Dr. Barnes, the Testing designer, mounts an attempt to wrest control of the government from President Collinder, Cia's internship mentor. Cia believes the Testing must be stopped. But can she trust the motives of President Collinder when she orders Cia to act against her core beliefs? This moral dilemma forms the heart of the final volume of the trilogy. "This is the most important test I have faced thus far in my life," Cia thinks. "Too much is riding on the correct answer. I cannot fail."

Joelle Charbonneau ends her first young adult series on a high note. Cia's love story with Tomas takes a back seat to the hero's journey. Much of Cia's role in the revolt involves a mechanical and technical knowledge that allows her to build devices out of scrap to aid the revolt. It's this attention to detail in Charbonneau's writing that engages readers in the action and draws them into Cia's world. --Jessica Bushore, former public librarian and freelance writer

Discover: The final volume in Charbonneau's trilogy reveals the end to Cia's Testing, with her beliefs challenged, as the fate of a nation hangs in the balance.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99, hardcover, 304p., ages 12-up, 9780547959214

The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister

by Stefan Bachmann et al., illus. by Alexander Jansson


Readers will become addicted to these 36 short stories the way horrible Henry Higginbotham (in "The Cake Made Out of Teeth") is addicted to the confection made in his likeness, the way twins Edie and Tom are addicted to Luck ("The Tin Man's Price"), the way the whales are addicted to the man brought aboard the Misselkree ("Johnny Knockers").

With eight drawers--the themes tucked within the Cabinet of Curiosities--and four curators (authors), this collection of 36 goosepimply tales flows smoothly, one into the next, and will offer plenty for boys and girls to keep them up at night, around the campfire or in a tent by flashlight. Graveyards and whaling ships, parks and houses provide the settings. Like Stephen King, these four curators know that the most haunting themes hit closest to home. Alexander Jansson's half-tone drawings give just a hint of the quiet chill lurking within the tale. Larger themes emerge across the collection: pairs, mirror images, bullies and victims, negligent parents, suffocating parents.

The book is thick, but the tales fly by. It makes a great read-aloud in bits and snatches for a family road trip, or straight through on a rainy afternoon. Give this to fans of Adam Gidwitz's Tales Dark and Grimm and Candace Fleming's On the Day I Died. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A variety of goosepimply tales flow effortlessly among the four authors and eight themes.

Greenwillow Books, $16.99, hardcover, 496p., ages 8-12, 9780062331052

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AuthorBuzz: The Standard Grand by Jay Baron Nicorvo

Dear Reader,

My former sister-in-law deployed to Iraq during the Surge. When she returned stateside, she severed all communication. In that absence, I imagined what might’ve happened to her. THE STANDARD GRAND is the result.

Dennis Lehane thinks it’s “bracingly original.” Booklist, in a starred review, calls it “an important and deeply human contribution to the national conversation.” Kirkus says it’s a “seamless blend of road-trip saga, love story, and critique of military contractors.” Library Journal named it the “spiritual heir to Robert Stone's Vietnam-era classic Dog Soldiers,” and booksellers say, simply, it’s “a book I’ve been awaiting.”

Write me at jay@nicorvo.net for the chance to win 1 of 5 copies!

 

Yours,

Jay

www.nicorvo.net

 

Buy this book

AuthorBuzz: The Standard Grand by Jay Baron Nicorvo

Publisher: St. Martin's

Pub Date: 04/25/2017

ISBN:9781250108944

List Price: $26.99

 

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