Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, July 8, 2014


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

From My Shelf

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

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

Beach Reading

"Beach reading" usually means paperback, possibly serious but not too, and above all, a page-turner. We have some suggestions for the beach, or wherever:

Eli Brown combines a swashbuckling piratical adventure with gourmet cooking in Cinnamon and Gunpowder (Picador, $15); his risk pays off--the two go together in a scrumptiously entertaining romp on the high seas in the year 1819.

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore (Vintage, $15) is a funny, tenderhearted debut novel about the enduring friendship of three women through life's great challenges, and the vividly drawn town in which their dramas take place.

With The Silver Star (Scribner, $16), Jeannette Walls shifts to fiction with a story of two sisters--12-year-old Bean is feisty and precocious; her older sister, Liz, is a prodigy who voraciously reads the classics--whose eccentric mother leaves them to fend for themselves.

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (Faber & Faber, $16) is set at an elite Dublin Catholic boys' school, where the boys slog through their days, usually through a hormonal haze, in a hilarious and harrowing novel.

Stieg Larsson and CSI meet Renaissance Italy in Michael Ennis's ambitious The Malice of Fortune (Anchor, $15.95), in which Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli team up to investigate a series of grisly murders.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (Penguin Books, $17) provides nail-biting suspense and detailed background to an Olympic triumph--a rare, thrilling you are there quality that epitomizes the best in sportswriting.

Josh Hanagarne, a 6' 7" gentle giant, tends to catch the eye (or ear) at his job at the Salt Lake City Public Library, even when his Tourette Syndrome is not acting up. His memoir, The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family (Gotham, $17), is a remarkable journey from idyllic childhood to painfully jerky young adulthood to a contented family and work life. --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers


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


Book Candy

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's YA Recommendations

Professional basketball legend and children's book author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recommended "5 contemporary young adult novels adults should read" for the Los Angeles Register.

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"Should I start a new book, even though I'm in the middle of five others?" This was one of Buzzfeed's "19 dilemmas every book lover has faced at least once."

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National treasures: PureWow shared "our favorite books from every U.S. state."

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The National Literacy Trust has scattered 50 book-shaped benches across London for the summer, "each dedicated to an iconic London-related author or character."

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Robert Allison, author of The Letter Bearer, chose his "top 10 novels of desert war" for the Guardian, noting that "the desert has always been fertile ground for novelists."

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"There's nothing quite like the feeling of having your heart metaphorically ripped out of your chest," the Huffington Post observed in featuring "the biggest heartbreakers in literature."


Wicked Deeds by Heather Graham


The Writer's Life

Rosie Thomas: Adventure and Illusion

Rosie Thomas is the author of 20 romantic novels, including The Kashmir Shawl. Her books are set in locations across Europe, Asia and as far as Antarctica, reflecting many of Thomas's real-life adventures (which include competing in the Peking-to-Paris classic car rally and hiking in the Himalayas). Her most recent book, The Illusionists (our review is below), tells the story of Devil Wix, an extraordinary illusionist who is determined (with the help of a talented dwarf, an enterprising young woman and a secretive old friend) to be a success in the Victorian theater world.

The Illusionists, unlike many of your other novels, is set in London, and the Victorian era theater world is striking. What made you choose an unusual subculture, rather than an exotic locale, for this book?

It chose me, in fact. It all began with a tiny bit of reading I did about stage magic to flesh out one of the characters in The Kashmir Shawl. I remember sitting in the London Library one day (itself a rather magically Victorian place) making notes about the inventions and devices of Robert-Houdin, the French illusionist who is thought of as the father of modern stage magicians (Houdini took his name from him). Suddenly I got that shiver up the spine that says idea. I knew at once that there was a complete novel waiting to be set in a music hall theater with a demonic anti-hero hero at the heart of it. There was absolutely no question from that moment: my next book was going to explore the art of illusion, and the best time to pick seemed to be the point when electricity and electromagnetism, among other new sciences, were ready to be harnessed to dramatic effect. Which meant the 1870s--which seemed as exotic as any of the other settings I have created.

Were you inspired by any real historical performers in creating the characters for The Illusionists

Very much so. I read volumes of material about the real-life acrobats and tenors, performing dwarves and creators of fantastic automata who performed in the music halls of the day. Most usefully of all I discovered the Maskelynes, three generations of real-life magicians and inventors who operated from their own theater of illusions, the Egyptian Hall in London's Strand. The grandson of the dynasty, Jasper Maskelyne, famously became the leader of Churchill's company of war magicians, whose task was to deploy camouflage and other concealment techniques (drawing directly on conjuring skills) during World War II.

The Palmyra theater in my book is based partly on the Egyptian Hall (now gone) and partly on the wonderful old Wilton's Music Hall in London's East End, which is still in use.

Your characters are involved in a complicated romantic situation. Eliza, the only major female character, has tricky waters to navigate, with many of her colleagues in love with, even obsessed with, her. Were you attempting to showcase different types of love? Or just enjoying making Eliza's life difficult?

I was just having fun and telling a story and letting my imagination run free, really. Nothing more structured than that--to begin with, anyway. I wanted to make the world of the Palmyra seem both exotic and claustrophobic, and so to have all the threads of passion tangled within it seemed natural. I also wanted to make Eliza stand out as a vivid and fascinating creature with whom any man would fall in love... and so to be a female who could not only match up to Devil Wix but also make her own way in a world where most women were still wholly dependent on matrimony.

In real life you've navigated tricky waters, too. Is it possible to narrow down your favorite adventure so far?

Oh, definitely! I went on an expedition to South Georgia a couple of years back. Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer, has always been one of my heroes, and when I was offered the opportunity to retrace the route he and two companions took across the island to bring help to their stranded companions, I grabbed it with two hands. In 1916 the island was unmapped and uninhabited except for a couple of whaling stations. Shackleton stormed nonstop across high mountains, glaciers, crevasses, and made it to the whaling station in 36 hours, even though he and the others were starving and exhausted after 18 days in an open boat. As a result, he brought his entire crew of 29 men safely home.

We had maps, GPS, tents, skis, sledges, down clothing and all the food we could eat. It took us five days, and it still wasn't any picnic! Interested readers might enjoy reading more on southbyeight--start from the bottom up!

What's on the horizon? More adventures? More historical fiction?

More adventures, I hope! Although I'm getting on a bit now, so it isn't going to be K2. And I am halfway through the sequel to The Illusionists, which takes us (I think) up to 1944. After that, who knows? --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm


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


Book Review

Fiction

God Is an Astronaut

by Alyson Foster


In her first novel, God Is an Astronaut, Alyson Foster tells a story entirely in juicy, funny, self-deprecating e-mails from botany professor Jessica Frobisher to her colleague Arthur, a former lover and confidant who is on a field sabbatical in Canada. We don't see Arthur's responses, yet Foster skillfully presents a full picture of him and a dozen other well-developed characters strictly through Jess's observations and distinctive voice. Jess is born to write e-mail, tapping out missives during airport layovers as if they were uninhibited postcoital pillow talk--frank, loving, smart, vulnerable.

Surprisingly, Jess's one-way e-mail narration builds a solid plot filled with digressions, drama and anticipation. Jess, her aerospace engineer/entrepreneur husband, Liam, and their two preschool children are caught in the wash of intrusive media attention after the tragic explosion of a shuttle launched by Liam's private space-travel company, Spaceco, dooming its four "one-percenter" passengers. Though Jess becomes further estranged from Liam, she reluctantly agrees to support Liam's company by riding the next Spaceco shuttle. Only her candid e-mails to Arthur provide her with a platform to sort things out and share her ambivalence.

God Is an Astronaut covers a lot of ground: science, family, love, media, horticulture, rocketry. Foster also gets in plenty of shots at modern pretension, like the angst of privileged academics, selfish Evangelicals like Jess's occasional babysitting neighbor, global-warming fanatics and overzealous lawn-care professionals. However, when Jess is finally circling Earth from 200 kilometers with a God's-eye view of its geography and weather, her troubles, like bad storm days, are given perspective: "It's always lightning on Earth somewhere." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: An epistolary novel for the modern age, about family, science and the search for stability in an unsettled world.

Bloomsbury, $26, hardcover, 9781620403563

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


Our Happy Time

by Gong Ji-Young, trans. by Sora Kim-Russell


Mun Yu-Jung lies in a hospital bed after her third failed suicide attempt. Once a famous pop star lauded for her single hit, she is now an angry, impulsive young woman. When her religious aunt offers an alternative to therapy, Yu-Jung grudgingly agrees to accompany her on visits to a death-row inmate for a month.

Both Yu-Jung and Jeong Yun-Soo, the prisoner, believe themselves beyond redemption; they've heard from others that they are garbage and a waste of space for so long that those voices of hate have become their own. When the two meet, though their lives have been very different, they recognize they've both come from a similar place of pain.

Gong Ji-young (a major South Korean author, infrequently translated into English) alternates between Yu-Jung's point of view and Yun-Soo's story, told in letter form. Yu-Jung's initial disgust for the death-row inmate slowly evolves into compassion as Yun-Soo shares his past, and in these moments of compassion, Yu-Jung finds a way to heal from her own traumas. The closer these two become, the more the specter of Yun-Soo's execution haunts their every conversation.

In Our Happy Time, Gong examines the role society plays in creating criminals and explores the price paid when people vilify and dehumanize others. She does not shy from hard truths, revealing her character's inner conflict and humanity with a deft and practiced hand. This is an emotionally difficult story told gently, but does not leave readers unscathed. --Justus Joseph, bookseller, Elliott Bay Book Company

Discover: A stunning story of loss and redemption by a South Korean novelist, translated into English for the first time.

Marble Arch Press, $16, paperback, 9781476730455

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


The Illusionists

by Rosie Thomas


The day that Devil Wix, illusionist extraordinaire, meets Carlo Boldoni, a bad-tempered but magnificently theatrical dwarf, is a lucky one for both of them. They soon cobble together a spectacular illusion, and the team of Boldoni & Wix is born. Victorian London is eager for such amusements, and as the duo's reputation grows, their company soon expands. They're joined by Devil's childhood friend Jasper, a talented artist, along with Heinrich, a bizarre performer who is in love with the automated woman he created. But their strange little group isn't complete until a young model named Eliza joins it. Both Jasper and Carlo love Eliza, but Eliza has eyes only for Devil.

The Illusionists follows the unlikely quintet over many years, as their fortunes wax and wane. Attempting to balance their respective affections for each other and their individual desperation for the limelight creates ever-growing tensions, which ultimately lead to violence, brilliance, love and even death.

Rosie Thomas (The Kashmir Shawl; The Potter's House) ably captures the magic of Victorian London--including its spectacular advancements in technology, such as the phonograph, electric lighting and automata--yet she does not neglect the seamy, hardscrabble life so prevalent among theatrical performers. The descriptions of the illusionists' struggles to survive are gripping, providing an insider's peek into a rare world. Much like Water for Elephants or The Night Circus, The Illusionists quite literally pulls back the curtain, revealing the mundane reality behind the magic. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: The intrigue and relationships behind the scenes in a company of Victorian magicians.

Overlook Press, $27.95, hardcover, 9781468309904

Last Night at the Blue Angel

by Rebecca Rotert


In early 1960s Chicago, 10-year-old Sophia has no friends her own age. Her society is Jim, a photographer in love with her mother; Rita and Sister Eye, her mother's former roommates; and, occasionally, her mother, Naomi, a lounge singer aspiring to fame. "Mother's feelings are the curb I walk, trying to keep my balance... when she notices me, all the times she doesn't notice me get erased." Rebecca Rotert's debut novel, Last Night at the Blue Angel, alternates between Sophia's perspective and that of a younger Naomi, discovering herself and escaping Kansas.

The city's colorful '60s jazz scene is a playground for a woman as beautiful and talented as Naomi, and its architecture provides focus for Jim's photography (when he's not focused on Naomi), set against the background of segregation and the Cold War. Sophia is precocious, wise beyond her years and profoundly nervous. She keeps lists: of her mother's conquests, of the many practicalities she'll need to reinvent after the bomb is dropped. But routine is disrupted when a man resurfaces from Naomi's past just as she gets her shot at stardom after 10 years of hope and effort. Her final performance at the once-proud jazz club the Blue Angel holds promise, but will come at immense cost for both mother and daughter.

Rotert, an accomplished singer herself, beautifully evokes the vibrancy of this setting. But her true artistry lies in the complex mother-daughter relationship at the center of this story, and the deeply sympathetic, nuanced, heartbreaking character of Sophia, a child in an adult world on the brink of enormous change. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: The vivid jazz scene in '60s Chicago, an unconventional family and an utterly heart-stealing child.

Morrow, $25.99, hardcover, 9780062315281

The Amado Women

by Desiree Zamorano


The women of the Amado family are tough. Disparate as their lives are, when trouble comes to any one of them, the others circle the wagons. "Don't Mess with the Amado Women" might make a more descriptive title for Désirée Zamorano's novel about three generations of a Southern Californian Latina family. Grade-school teacher and matriarch Mercy was left with three toddler daughters and a bucketful of credit-card debt when her alcoholic, philandering husband abandoned her. Now in her 60s, she still frets over her grown daughters. Divorced Celeste runs a successful financial-investment firm. Sylvia has her own daughters, a spendthrift Anglo husband and a big house in Pasadena. Unmarried Nataly, the free spirit, waits tables to pay the rent, has many sexual liaisons and makes textile art on her hand loom.

Zamorano, director of Occidental College's Community Literacy Center, eschews the stereotypical storyline of long-suffering Latina women keeping house for the rich. Instead, her protagonists are middle-class women with contemporary problems developing in the years straddling the turn of the 21st century. Celeste's business takes a hit as her clients retreat from the stock market. Sylvia's husband loses his job and runs off on a sexual adventure with another man just as their youngest daughter develops a serious medical issue. Nataly's potential big gallery break in New York vanishes with the city's post-9/11 paralysis. Yet amid all this, Mercy shares her stoic optimism with Celeste: "You lose your little girl every day... the one little girl you thought you knew and loved is replaced by another one. A little older, a little smarter, a little more independent." Life goes on, especially when one has a family of strong women for support. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: A finely rendered story of a multigenerational Latina family overcoming individual setbacks and tragedies.

Cinco Puntos Press, $16.95, paperback, 9781935955733

Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Rhesus Chart

by Charles Stross


Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, but in Charles Stross's Laundry Files series--about the British secret agency that deals with all the supernatural horrors that really exist--the theories are true.

Laundry agent Bob Howard is an apprentice necromancer who spends his time protecting the normals of the world from very real Lovecraftian horrors that lurk just beyond human perception. Demons exist, and the way to connect with them is to solve abstract mathematical formulas. A group of financial wizards have discovered a way to turn themselves into vampires via complex market-modeling algorithms. These humans now have a hankering for human blood and a sensitivity to sunlight. They don't seem to be deterred by wooden stakes or Christian imagery, though. In fact, the freshly created monsters use agile project management (a favorite among software coders) to test all permutations of the vampire myth and find out what they can and can't get away with.

Once Bob accidentally discovers the existence of these bloodsuckers while on a side project at work, he must find a way to save his marriage, his co-workers, the vampires themselves and (not incidentally) the entire world.

As the fifth full novel in the Laundry Files (which started with The Atrocity Archives), The Rhesus Chart maintains the same breezy humor and confident intelligence of the first four books while ratcheting up the stakes for the protagonist. Stross continues to show his mastery of the form, mixing solid character development and engaging action with smart social commentary and a compelling cliff-hanger ending that promises more to come. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: Magic, mathematics, bureaucracy and human relationships in a smart, hilarious novel about vampires running amok in England.

Ace, $26.95, hardcover, 9780425256862

Romance

The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War

by Jacqueline Winspear


Jacqueline Winspear, author of the popular between-the-wars Maisie Dobbs mystery series (Leaving Everything Most Loved; Elegy for Eddie), steps back a few years with a standalone novel set in the first few months of World War I. Written in gentle, elegiac prose, The Care and Management of Lies focuses on the lives of three people: brother and sister Tom and Thea Brissenden, and Kezia Marchant, best friend of Thea and new wife of Tom.

Tom and Kezia are slightly worried by Thea's suffragette ways, but life is mostly quiet and content for the Brissendens until the war breaks out. Tom enlists, leaving Kezia struggling to run the farm alone as Thea heads off to France as an ambulance driver. At the core of the story are the letters that Tom and Kezia exchange. Kezia writes up lavish meals that she pretends she's serving to Tom (although he doesn't know that there are food shortages back home, and that Kezia's cooking is imaginary). In return, Tom writes about how he misses Kezia, and what he'd change about her cooking, rather than about the rats in the trenches and the sergeant who has it in for him.

The letters are engaging, connecting the reader to Tom and Kezia through meals that they aren't actually eating. And somehow, the beauty of their carefully managed lies transcends the inevitable tragedy that war brings to the Brissendens. Maisie Dobbs fans won't be the only ones to enjoy this quiet novel; the centenary of the Great War is honored in truly fitting fashion by The Care and Management of Lies. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: A novel of the Great War, told in a series of letters and recipes exchanged between newlyweds.

Harper, $26.99, hardcover, 9780062220509

Biography & Memoir

Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time

by Rachel Bertsche


We follow their diets, read their lifestyle tips and pore over their designer outfits in magazines. But can we really model our lives after our favorite celebrities? And will we be happier if we do? Stuck in a personal slump, Rachel Bertsche (MWF Seeking BFF) decided to find out.

Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me chronicles Bertsche's attempt to make over her life by following the wisdom of various celebrity role models. She starts with Jennifer Aniston's workouts, and moves on to Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, Jennifer Garner's marriage and Julia Roberts's brand of Zen (for starters). As Bertsche sweats to workout videos, whips up gag-inducing green smoothies and even wears a purple tutu in public, she muses on the lure of celebrity culture and the recent shift toward treating movie stars as lifestyle experts. She also shares another, deeply personal struggle: the long, nerve-racking journey toward pregnancy and motherhood.

Of course, Bertsche can't emulate her favorite stars exactly: many celebrity indulgences aren't accessible on a middle-class budget. And while trying Gwyneth's recipes and Julia's meditation routine is fun for a few weeks, it's impossible to maintain multiple celebrity regimens in the long run. But Bertsche's project does yield a few nuggets of wisdom, plus some workout and fashion tips, which she's happy to share with fellow celebrity wannabes.

Funny, engaging and wise, Bertsche's journey reflects both the cultural obsession with our favorite stars and the real-life quest of every woman to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: A witty, engaging memoir of one woman's quest to transform her life according to the wisdom of various celebrities.

Ballantine, $15, paperback, 9780345543226

Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman

by Robert L. O'Connell


His fellow soldiers called him "Uncle Billy." To them, William Tecumseh Sherman was a general who cared deeply about them and who understood that war was a dirty but necessary job--as he famously said, "War is hell." Eschewing a chronological approach, Robert L. O'Connell (The Ghosts of Cannae) breaks Sherman's life down into three parts, each revealing different aspects of his personality: the military strategist, the general and the human being.

Sherman seemed to possess a "warlike wizardry," with an innate sense of geography; he could instantly memorize any piece of land and knew where to fight and where not to. After graduating from West Point as a second lieutenant, he got his first taste of combat fighting in Florida's Second Seminole War. He pored over available maps better to understand the local topography and thus employed his troops more efficiently; he did his job well and was promoted to first lieutenant. Thereafter he was posted to a variety of places around the country, and then the Civil War broke out. He took Secession personally and fought fiercely, relentlessly driving the Confederates back in Mississippi, Georgia, the Carolinas, leaving scorched land behind.

As an officer, he demonstrated how to adapt and how to command a mostly ragged army of volunteers. As a man, he loved crowds and ceremonies, the theater, talk and women. Unlike his friend Ulysses S. Grant, Sherman hated politics; he preferred soldiering. O'Connell's lively narrative shows us Sherman as a brilliant and flawed man, a professional solder and no saint. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: A great, sardonic Civil War general's life on and off the battlefield.

Random House, $28, hardcover, 9781400069729

Social Science

Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know It's True?

by Charles Seife


The ability to disseminate digital information on a global scale (i.e., the Internet) has transformed human civilization as fundamentally as did the invention of writing or the printing press. Yet, as Charles Seife (Zero; Proofiness) shows in Virtual Unreality, this revolution has also turned communication into a quagmire of falsehoods and predatory behavior. It should come as no surprise that the Web is riddled with hoaxes and scams, but the true breadth of this unreality is terrifying (if sometimes also amusing). Take, for example, the desperate men duped into pursuing months-long online relationships with "women" who are actually chat programs. Less humorous are the barrages of financial scams and media manipulation cluttering our daily Internet use.

Seife shows how the digital age has eviscerated not only traditional journalism, but even basic journalistic standards. Plagiarism is easier than ever, and even borderline plagiarism is acceptable for "news aggregators," sites that rely chiefly on external content instead of original reporting (like Google News or the Huffington Post). The Internet is even shaping news itself. "Search engine optimization," the strategic use of keywords (among other techniques) to achieve high ranking in Google results, means content is created to appease algorithms instead of people. Seife also analyzes Amazon's self-publishing push, with examples that might be funny if they didn't involve fraud and plummeting editorial standards.

Virtual Unreality should appeal to readers with any level of technological literacy, though avid Internet users will more easily relate to the issues Seife explores. He even includes tips for avoiding scams and dubious sources of information. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

Discover: How the Internet and digital information has transformed communication--with mixed results.

Viking, $26.95, hardcover, 9780670026081

Children's & Young Adult

Uncaged: The Singular Menace, Book 1

by John Sandford, Michele Cook


In this first YA thriller in a planned series, adult author John Sandford and his wife, Michelle Cook, deliver an edge-of-the-seat thriller starring characters we can root for, set in a slightly futuristic world with a chilling premise.

Odin, a genius hacker and animal rights activist, helps break into Singular, a bio-medical research lab, and is horrified to find experiments on live animals and possibly on humans. He narrowly escapes capture, steals some thumb drives and rescues a post-operative dog near death. Odin's 16-year-old sister, Shay, searches for Odin in Los Angeles. She lands in a hostel run by a well-known artist and political provocateur--and finds that she fits right in with the bunch of misfits and former runaways. Shay enlists the help of her new friends to rescue Odin and to expose the dangerous and well-funded Singular.

The authors deliver a fast-paced contemporary action thriller. They populate the story with diverse, well-crafted characters, and reveal them through thoughtful dialogue. Uncaged may be plot-driven, but it is also concerned with activism and animal rights, and gives readers an authentic portrait of vulnerable teens. From a car chase through Malibu to the iconic Hollywood sign, Sandford and Cook offer a realistic and exciting Los Angeles fraught with high-stakes peril. --Nan Shipley, literary scout

Discover: John Sandford's first foray into young adult literature (with Michelle Cook) is a high-stakes thriller set in Los Angeles.

Knopf, $21.99, library binding, 416p., ages 12-up, 9780385753074

What's New? The Zoo!

by Kathleen Krull, illus. by Marcellus Hall


In this factual, playfully illustrated picture book, children who visit the zoo will be surprised and delighted to discover that they're in good company--thousands of years' worth of company.
 
"The world's first known zoo" was in the Sumerian City of Ur, in present-day Iraq, 4,400 years ago. The king of Ur roared at the lion he kept in his zoo, which made him feel "like the ruler of all nature." Krull skips around the globe to identify other zoos and the purposes they served: Queen Hatshepsut showed off her zoo of "expensive" animals in Ethiopia 3,500 years ago; 3,000 years ago in China, a "vast zoo" called "The Garden of Intelligence" was a sacred space for Emperor Wen-Wang. Marcellus Hall's (Everyone Sleeps) animals are the only things that are not exotic. Young readers will pick out the cheetahs, goats, yaks and turtles in the pictures, and if an animal here or there does not make it into the illustration, kids can easily look it up in Kathleen Krull's (the Lives Of series) abundant hard-copy and online sources. Krull also ties in the inspirations these zoos served, such as Aristotle's The History of Animals and System of Nature by Carl Linnaeus, in which he classified animals into species. Animal lovers will be especially pleased that the U.S. National Zoo was the first to claim a mission to protect animals under threat of extinction in 1889.

Zoo fans will love learning they're part of a continuum of children that stretches back longer than eyes can see. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: The factual, playfully illustrated history of a favorite destination.

Levine/Scholastic, $17.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 5-8, 9780545135719

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


an exclusive interview with bestselling author Heather Graham
 

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

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

 Read the rest of the interview here.

 

ALSO FEATURED ON THE the big THRILL…

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

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

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

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

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

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