Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, October 7, 2014


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

From My Shelf

Tarcherperigee: Diaper Dude by Chris Pegula with Frank Meyer / The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner

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

Literary Self-deception

I always look forward to our Book Brahmin author questionnaire series, but I have to keep myself from skipping ahead to one question: Book you've faked reading. Some people claim they never do it, but I love the brazen responses the most. Moby-Dick gets cited often, as does Ulysses. I have read neither and haven't lied about it, but I suffer from a different (related) problem.

Good editors know a little about a lot of things. It helps us ferret out suspect spellings or facts. We're great at pub trivia. In my life, I've learned the plots and merits of many books I've never read, movies I've never seen--but sometimes that leads me astray.

Like many children, I owned a boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia. I held those books in my hands, read the backs, marveled at the illustrated covers. I never actually read them; I knew just enough about them to be useful, and years of proximity and vague familiarity led to tricking even myself. When I said I'd read them, I no longer realized I was lying. (Don't worry, I have since reconciled my imagined reality with actual reality.)

In high school, a friend's mother lent me her massive volume of the Deptford Trilogy by the great Robertson Davies. I read the first two novels, which was enough for me to laud the set as one of my favorite literary works. The other night, I read a summary of the series and only then did I realize that I'd never read the third book in the trilogy, World of Wonders, though over the decades I've persuaded myself I have.

I still have my friend's mother's copy (oops), so that's my meaty fall read. In my case, the question is more accurately "Book you convinced yourself you've read," and it's always worth actually turning the pages once I realize my mistake. --Heather Young, associate editor, Shelf Awareness


Doubleday Books: Unreliable by Lee Irby


Book Candy

Literary Halloween Costumes; Book Songs

You can't start preparing too soon: Buzzfeed showcased "17 awesome literary Halloween costumes.... Because you were Harry Potter last year. And the year before."

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Bill Murray said his "favorite book is a two-parter by Laurens Van Der Post, A Story Like the Wind and A Far Off Place. My favorite book used to be The Plague by Albert Camus." Flavorwire highlighted "50 cultural icons on their favorite books."

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Meike Ziervogel, author of Clara's Daughter, recommended her "top 10 stories of mothers and daughters" for the Guardian.

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Word fanatics alert: Mental Floss found "10 verbs with two past-tense forms that creeped (or crept) into English."

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Noting that this seems to be the books-to-film age of dystopia, Word & Film suggested "5 utopian sci-fi books perfect for adaptation."

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Shortlist.com composed a long list of "25 songs that reference books."


The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger


The Writer's Life

Book Brahmin: Andrew Grant

photo: Carrie Schechter

Born in Birmingham, England, in 1968, Andrew Grant studied English literature and drama at the University of Sheffield, then set up and ran a small independent theater company that showcased a range of original material to local, regional and national audiences. Following a critically successful but financially challenging appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Grant moved into the telecommunications industry as a "temporary" solution to a short-term cash crisis. He escaped corporate life 15 years later and published the David Trevellyan series of novels (Even, Die Twice and More Harm Than Good). Run (Ballantine Books, October 7, 2014) is a stand-alone thriller. Grant is married to novelist Tasha Alexander and lives in Chicago, Ill.

On your nightstand now:

Why We Build by Rowan Moore; Mies van der Rohe by Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst; The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen; Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder; and The Railway Man by Eric Lomax.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Watership Down by Richard Adams, the book I've reread more times than any other. My original copy from 1978 is still on my shelves, jammed between Douglas Adams and Isaac Asimov, coverless, and faded almost to the point of illegibility. Once I overcame my disappointment at the lack of the sunken ship that the title seemed to promise, I found it had everything I could possibly want from a story: a great cast of characters (okay--rabbits), a healthy disregard for established authority, courage, danger, camaraderie, self-sacrifice, cunning, refusal to surrender regardless of the consequences (an essential ingredient for anyone with Irish blood) and the heroes' ultimate triumph against overwhelming odds.

Your top five authors:

A tough question to answer. If pressed, I'd say the five authors who have had the greatest impact on me personally and professionally would be Arnold Lobel, Alistair MacLean, George Orwell, William Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett.

Book you've faked reading:

None. I learned to read quite early, and when I started school in Birmingham, I quickly worked my way through nearly all the books in the (rather small) class library. When I was six, my family moved to a town much closer to London, and on my first day at my new school the teacher asked which of the books in that class's library I'd read. My answer: none. Her conclusion: that I was illiterate. Unable to conceive the possibility that a school 150 miles away may have had a different selection of books on its shelves--and unwilling to listen to my explanation--she tried to banish me to the year group below. Her attempt was unsuccessful, but it left me with a lifelong aversion to people who judge you based on what you haven't read, rather than what you have.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Miernik Dossier by Charles McCarry. I've always been fascinated by different ways of telling stories, and the way McCarry weaves an intricate, multilayered tale through a set of "documents" rather than a traditional narrative is nothing short of brilliant.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought John Dies at the End by David Wong for the title. Does that count?

Book that changed your life:

Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean. This is the book that marked my growing-up as a reader, and the one that's more responsible than any other for me wanting to become a thriller writer myself. One of my most prized possessions is a first edition that my wife bought me a couple of years ago, but I first read it in 1978 or '79, thanks to the grade-school teacher I had at the time. One day he caught me with a book under my desk--probably Watership Down--which I was using to distract myself from the mind-numbingly dull projects he used to waste the class's time with, and the sight of it set him off on a bizarre rant: "You think you're a good reader, do you, Grant? Well let me tell you: You're not. Not if that's all you can manage. That book's for babies. You're not a good reader unless you can go to any bookcase, anywhere, pick up any book, and read it without thinking." Read without thinking? A strange concept, you might say. But I wasn't concerned about that, back then because his words had struck me as a challenge. So that night I approached my father's bookshelves and took down the first book my hand fell upon. Somewhat nervously I looked at the title. "Sweet!" I thought, feeling relieved. "There are stations on the ice? And they have zebras at them? This is going to be fun!" And it was.

Favorite line from a book:

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." From George Orwell's Animal Farm. Even at a young age, I tended to view the world through the contradictory lenses of hopeless naivety and miserable cynicism, so this book--which so elegantly demonstrates how the best of intentions can lead to the worst of outcomes--made me feel like I wasn't totally out of touch with human nature after all.

Which character you most relate to:

Bernard Samson in the Game, Set & Match, Hook, Line & Sinker and Faith, Hope & Charity trilogies by Len Deighton.

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

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Near the beginning of the book, Harris unveils a perplexing crime scene through the eyes of FBI profiler Will Graham, and the moment it becomes clear why the killer arranged things the way he did literally sent a shiver down my spine.


Counterpoint: Grace by Natashia Deón


Book Review

Fiction

Lila

by Marilynne Robinson


Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson (Gilead) alights for the third time on Gilead, Iowa, fictional home of venerable country preacher John Ames. In Lila, she throws open the shutters on Lila Ames, John's much younger wife, giving readers a view of the hardscrabble life that led Lila to Gilead and unexpected love.

Lila's origins are a mystery, even to her. She barely recalls the shadowy time she spent starving with her family before a drifter named Doll took her in a mercy kidnapping. After Doll nursed Lila back to health, the two roamed the country with migrant workers in the days before the stock market crashed. Doll protected Lila as best she could, and years later, a toughened, mistrustful Lila came under the protection of John Ames, as gentle and learned as Doll was unschooled and coarse. In the in-between years lie a knife, a house filled with broken lives and the loss of any innocence Lila had remaining.

The path through Lila's memory is hardly straight, but if linear plotting is the victim of its meandering, the final effect is worth the loss: a life taken down to scrambled pieces, which Robinson clicks together in an order that emphasizes meaning over chronology. This twisted time line clearly conveys that Lila has run a maze rather than lived a life, hitting dead end after dead end before emerging so suddenly into daylight that she cannot trust her own blind, brilliant luck. With this heartbreaking and glorious addition to her series, Robinson gives Lila the attention she deserves and continues to teach readers what it means to come home. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: Marilynne Robinson returns to the town of Gilead to unveil the life of Lila Ames.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26, hardcover, 9780374187613

Knopf Publishing Group: The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve


Sex World

by Ron Koertge


PEN Award-winning children's author and poet Ron Koertge (Coaltown Jesus) tried his hand at crafting flash-fiction pieces, and few might have guessed how witty and potently shocking his wry take on the dark underbelly of human nature would get. This collection of 57 ultra-short stories demonstrates that Koertge has mastered a format in which two pages must reveal as much vulnerability and pain as a full novel can.

The stories are varied: a troll's demise at the hands of a tough-to-break billy goat, a Valley girl's retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, Lois Lane's secret desire to temper Superman's libido. In "A Matter of Time," a young girl plays dress-up with her brutally murdered mother's clothing, only to receive strange phone calls in a deadly plot twist. In "The Willful Crayon," a series of sadistic scenarios unfold within the confines of a coloring book at the scribble of a choice crayon. Koertge also plays on mythology with two pieces dedicated to the Greek god Hades. A dead doctor hoping to return from the underworld and publish his research findings receives a rude awakening in "Full of Shadows, Without Sunlight or Hope" while Persephone tells the story of her imprisonment in in "Mothers and Daughters."

Sex World will simultaneously shock, tickle the funny bone, provoke grief and inspire hope with some clever asides and knowing winks to the reader. "Sex" may appear in the title, but the heart of the collection lies in uneasy alliances and human vices and vulnerabilities rendered poetic by a few choice words. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: Potent stories that explore the dark impulses of human nature from a PEN Award-winning author of teen fiction.

Red Hen Press, $14.95, paperback, 9781597095440

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire


The Zone of Interest

by Martin Amis


Golo Thomsen, a well-connected German officer and enthusiastic womanizer, falls for Hannah, who recently arrived to join her husband, Paul Doll, the commandant of a concentration camp. Golo and Paul take turns narrating with a Polish prisoner named Szmul. Forced into the role of camp undertaker in exchange for better rations, Szmul clings to the blind hope of delaying his own fate as he bears witness to the horrors surrounding him. In different ways, each narrator reveals the texture of everyday life in Nazi Germany while satirizing the profligate excesses among those in its highest ranks.

Alarmed by an impending military collapse and convinced his wife is having an affair, Paul becomes more paranoid and more misguided in his ambitions. He terrorizes Szmul and forces him into a scheme to exact revenge on Hannah, who cannot hide her horrified contempt. Golo plays the part of an impeccable Nazi officer and keeps his personal reactions publicly concealed, revealing them only through the sardonic bite of his observations and in small, revealing descriptions. Szmul's heartbreaking sections lack any satirical edge. He dreams of his wife and children. He accepts the moral compromises he's made to stay alive. He hopes that, at the end, he will not have lost his urge to kill.

In his afterword, Amis (Money) tackles the question of how to explain Nazi sympathizers--and whether explanation is even possible in the face of their incomprehensible hatred. The Zone of Interest is mordant and passionate, clearly conveying the irrationality of hate. It loses none of its art despite using art to drive an ethical argument. It is Amis at his finest. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Discover: Martin Amis revisits the setting of his Time's Arrow in this intricate and unforgettable look at life in a Nazi concentration camp.

Knopf, $26.95, hardcover, 9780385353496

A Different Bed Every Time

by Jac Jemc


Jac Jemc is a writer to be reckoned with. Poet, essayist and novelist (2013 Pen/Bingham Prize finalist for My Only Wife), she tests her readers with images and metaphors that dance about, distorting the narrative flow but also capturing the essence of a character, relationship or scene. A Different Bed Every Time is her first story collection, and it's naturally beautiful, like an unpolished gem. The collection doesn't center on a particular place or demographic, and with 42 pieces packed into 160 pages, it's not a novel masquerading as connected stories. Rather, Jemc offers up a little of the magical realism of Sophie Calle's conceptual pieces. These one- or two-page stories are like prose poems, almost fairy tales--as if Mother Goose were hanging out in the bars of Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.

The protagonists are mostly women: young, brash, antsy for love and adventure but also harboring a touch of self-doubt ("remember that time your ex-boyfriend called you masochistic and how it made you feel accomplished"). They have quirky lovers, difficult parents and conspiring siblings. Circumstances toss them about "like tumbleweeds rolling until a truck sweeps us up and pitches us out again." Sex is ever present. The longest story, "The Tackiness of Souls," begins with a boring office party flirtation and ends at 4 a.m. in a Golden Nugget diner where "Minnie is arranging silverware into architecture [and] Daniel talks about Hegel." This is a collection best tasted slowly to savor its rich tangy variety, like late-night grazing at a Madrid tapas bar. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kansas.

Discover: A challenging collection of very short stories filled with sparkling language about self-conscious characters trying to balance on the edges.

Dzanc Books, $14.95, paperback, 9781936873531

Mystery & Thriller

The Chocolate Debacle

by Karen Winters Schwartz


Rich, strong characterizations and stream-of-consciousness flashbacks permeate The Chocolate Debacle, an intriguing, psychologically astute mystery by Karen Winters Schwartz (Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?). Told in short, compact chapters, the story centers on Trey Barkley, a 26-year-old professional dog walker. A straight-A student at Brown University before he mentally unraveled, he now lives with his affluent parents in the small town of Skaneateles, N.Y. Trey, a self-conscious young man plagued by schizophrenia, caters to 15 dog clients and their owners, though some folks in the close-knit community consider him an unstable outsider and keep their distance.

He finds a friend in Florence Loughton, a lonely, 58-year-old widow who dotes on Hector, her fluffy little white dog. While under Trey's charge, however, Hector is accosted outside the town grocery store by a rambunctious child indulging in a messy chocolate bar that sullies the little dog's fur, and Trey's carefully controlled daily routine is suddenly upended. Matters grow more complicated when Florence is found murdered and Trey becomes the prime suspect in her homicide investigation.

As in her other novels, Winters Schwartz (president of the Syracuse affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness) continues to explore, with skillful and insightful authority, psychological disorders and the far-reaching impact mental illnesses and their stigma have on patients, families and entire communities. This thought-provoking narrative hinges on elements reflecting "misperceptions of reality," as well as on the fragile psyches of those struggling to make personal sense of life and its challenges. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A young man struggling with schizophrenia becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation in his hometown.

Goodman Beck Publishing, $14.95, paperback, 9781936636136

Food & Wine

Naturally Healthy Mexican Cooking

by Jim Peyton


Mexican cuisine sparks many appealing adjectives--savory, spicy, comforting--but "healthy" rarely comes to mind. Fortunately, Jim Peyton (Jim Peyton's The Very Best of Tex-Mex Cooking), who admits to struggling with his weight when indulging in Mexican food, has added a fifth cookbook to his repertoire focused on how to make this beloved fare healthy.

Peyton believes that for any diet to work, the food must be delicious, and he understands that we hate abandoning our favorite foods: "Food should make you happy, you should look forward to each meal, and you should enjoy eating the kinds and amounts of it that allow you to meet your goals." His goal with the 200 recipes here (most have fewer than 450 calories per serving) is to provide highly nutritious dishes that still provide a pleasurable dining experience, even when eaten in small amounts. His offerings represent not only Mexican favorites, but Mexican-American selections from the Southwest; Peyton also includes a history of Mexican cooking, from the original Indian tribes to the influences of the Spanish conquest, Mexican revolution and immigration to the U.S. during the Depression.

To accommodate various diets and lifestyles, a nutritional analysis of calories, protein, carbs, fat, cholesterol, fiber, sugar and sodium accompanies each recipe. Here you'll find drinks (cactus smoothies, chocolate atole), tortillas, chorizo and spicy chicken stews, salsas, rice-and-bean dishes, vegetarian options, desserts (hibiscus petal sorbet) and quite a few salads (like the Tequila Maker's Salad, which is a complete meal). Health-conscious home cooks have much to celebrate with Peyton's testament to Mexican food. --Kristen Galles from Book Club Classics

Discover: Accessible and creative ways to incorporate Mexican cuisine into a healthy diet.

University of Texas Press, $24.95, paperback, 9780292745490

Political Science

All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid

by Matt Bai


In 1987, Senator Gary Hart enjoyed a substantial lead for the Democratic nomination for President and was favored to win the 1988 election. Then an unprecedented journalistic earthquake shattered his bid for the nation's highest office--and forever changed the landscape of American politics. Matt Bai (The Argument) examines Hart's campaign and the world of journalism to illuminate why this promising presidential hopeful ended up disgraced unlike any before him and any since.

In All the Truth Is Out, Bai details the impact Nixon and Watergate had on the news world. Journalists vowed never to be embarrassed by a politician's deceit to that degree again, and were tantalized by the celebrity Woodward and Bernstein achieved by breaking the story. When Tom Fiedler of the Miami Herald received an anonymous tip Hart was having an illicit affair, he set out to catch Hart in the act and uncover a scandal.

Bai suggests that the story, which may be familiar to Americans over the age of 40, hasn't been recorded quite the way it happened. He lays out a time line that contradicts the widely held course of events and questions the rationale reporters used to justify their unprecedented behavior. Bai says, "The cardinal objective of all political journalism had shifted, from a focus on agendas to a focus on narrow notions of character, from illuminating worldviews to exposing falsehoods." This haunting new perspective will leave readers wondering just how much would be different today if Hart's alleged infidelity hadn't made it into the papers. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: A critical analysis of how the media's response to Gary Hart's personal life forever changed the face of political journalism.

Knopf, $26.95, hardcover, 9780307273383

Social Science

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America

by Linda Tirado


When Linda Tirado responded to an online forum question--"Why do poor people do things that seem so self-destructive?"--she had no idea her explanation would go viral and result in her first book, Hand to Mouth. This wry, frank depiction of life as a member of the working poor is a frightening reality from which many Americans are just one misfortune away.

Tirado says, "Being poor is something like always being followed around by violins making 'tense' movie music... and they're playing the shower scene from Psycho." Life is a constant source of exhaustion: working multiple low-wage jobs, taking care of children and a home, in some cases attending school (as Tirado is), all while fighting to pay the bills and praying no disaster strikes.

In her intelligent, articulate narrative, Tirado addresses many stereotypes, illustrating their hypocrisy and irrationality. For example, she discusses service work: "I think the sorts of people who honestly think that service workers should be more smiley and gracious just don't get it. They don't get it because they can take so much for granted in their own lives--things like respect, consideration, and basic fairness on the job. Benefits. Insurance."

By telling her personal story, Tirado shows the futility of the theory that the poor are lazy and should just work harder to improve their station in life. She also shows the desperate need for change in a society that mistreats the poor. If readers approach Hand to Mouth with an open mind, they'll likely finish it with a wealth of compassion. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: One woman's impassioned story of her life as a member of the working poor in the U.S.

Putnam, $25.95, hardcover, 9780399171987

Psychology & Self-Help

Your Life Isn't for You: A Selfish Person's Guide to Being Selfless

by Seth Adam Smith


Blogger Seth Adam Smith's post "Marriage Isn't for You" garnered more than 30 million hits and was translated into more than 20 languages. This nearly pocket-sized inspirational book may make a similar splash. Smith begins by detailing an action that many might construe as selfish: he writes with candor about his suicide attempt. The discussion of his problems with anxiety and years of depression is jarring at first, but it's hard to discount his courageous frankness and the subsequent deluge of blessings that forever changed his view of the world.

Interspersed throughout the book are excerpts from Oscar Wilde's short story "The Selfish Giant," and Smith draws a parallel between that parable and his own journey from being completely self-focused to the realization that it's only through service to others that true happiness can be achieved. In his irreverent voice, he details his time as a missionary in Russia, from initially detesting everything about it to his growing love and appreciation of his Russian friends. Smith comes to accept his role in his own unhappiness and makes a vow to give himself to others as a way to maintain a healthy and contented life.

In one particularly poignant section, Smith volunteers at a wilderness program for troubled teens and connects with a sullen, suffering girl. As he writes of her transformation from a damaged shell into a glowing young woman, readers will see the beauty of having a positive impact on other people. --Natalie Papailiou, author of blog MILF: Mother I'd Like to Friend

Discover: A short but meaningful book on the importance of connecting with others.

Berrett-Koehler, $12.95, paperback, 9781626560956

Sports

Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard

by John Branch


On the surface, Derek Boogaard's life is a tragic story of a young man from a small town who found fame in the NHL but then died from an addiction. In the hands of journalist John Branch, Boogaard's rise and fall reveals much more: a young man with a traumatic brain injury and a sports industry with no interest in the welfare of its players.

The gentle young Boogaard lacked grace and speed, and he was even more awkward on ice skates. But his towering body fit the profile of a fighter, and scouts saw in him an animal to be shaped into a goon. From his stint in the minor leagues to playing for the New York Rangers, Boogaard learned he was disposable unless he fulfilled his role as an enforcer; violent acts were considered guardianship of your teammates. The worst penalty for the brutal attacks he gave (and received) was a temporary suspension.

The NHL had not yet officially associated this kind of violent play with a degenerative brain disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a condition caused by successive concussions. However, Boogaard's personality began to change over time. He became moody and violent off the ice. Eventually, at age 28, alcohol abuse and the drugs prescribed to him by hockey league doctors (despite Boogaard's previous issues with addiction) led to his death in 2011.

Branch's emotionally charged, empathetic portrait allows readers to see past Boogaard's thug persona cultivated by the NHL to reveal a boy who just wanted to play hockey and be liked by his friends. --Justus Joseph, bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company

Discover: A compelling portrait of a young hockey player whose death reveals an uncaring industry built on spectacle and violence.

W.W. Norton, $26.95, hardcover, 9780393239393

Children's & Young Adult

Afterworlds

by Scott Westerfeld


In an extraordinary feat, Scott Westerfeld (Uglies; Leviathan) devises a complete novel within a novel: his tale about 18-year-old Darcy Patel, who's publishing her first young adult novel, as well as the paranormal romance--in its entirety--that Darcy is writing, called Afterworlds. They alternate chapter by chapter, and both will grip readers.

Darcy's story unfolds in the third person from her point of view, and opens with "the most important email [she] ever wrote," to a literary agency, resulting in a two-book deal "for an astonishing amount of money." Readers first meet her heroine, narrator 18-year-old Lizzie Scofield, when she survives a terrorist attack in an airport and emerges with the ability to travel between the real world and what comes after, on the River Vaitarna. We learn the rules of this fictional world: how the river works, the importance of names, Lizzie's romance with Yama ("a smoldering Vedic psychopomp"), what keeps ghosts "alive" and what destroys them. Although we are reading the finished version of Lizzie's story, in Darcy's chapters we learn about how others' responses to her early drafts affect the revision process.

Westerfeld masterfully sets up the parallels between Darcy's love interest and Lizzie's romance, as well as Darcy's relationship to Lizzie, in such a way that a rippling in any of them affects all of them. He offers an experience of the creative process that allows many entry points for his fans, for writers and for teachers of writing and literature. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Scott Westerfeld crafts two books in one: a novel about an 18-year-old YA novelist and the paranormal romance that she's writing.

Simon Pulse, $19.99, hardcover, 608p., ages 14-up, 9781481422345

Blackbird

by Anna Carey


In the first of a duology, Anna Carey (the Eve trilogy) immediately drops readers into the initial of many thrills when an amnesiac girl--who adopts the name Sunny--wakes up on train tracks in Los Angeles. Sunny narrowly escapes being hit by a train, but the pursuits of assailants and police won't be as easy.

All Sunny has at the beginning is a bloody T-shirt, a fresh tattoo on her wrist of a blackbird, and a code she can't decipher, plus a backpack containing a pocketknife, food and a tiny black notepad with a message instructing her not to contact the police. She soon meets Ben, who offers her a place to hide after a woman tries to kill her. The few memories that return to Sunny feel foreign, such as one of a poorly attended funeral, and another of a boy promising, "I won't let them hurt you." But when Sunny asks the police for help, they discover a warrant for her arrest in San Francisco for arson. Is Sunny as innocent as readers and Ben are led to believe?

Sunny's identity may be a mystery, but readers will easily identify with her frustration and determination through the immersive second-person point-of-view Carey employs. Ben tempts her to begin anew with him, but Sunny remains focused on discovering who she is and why she's being hunted. Blackbird will have readers' heart rates accelerating with the romantic possibilities and exciting chases. Readers are in for an unstoppable thrill ride in this game of trust. --Adam Silvera, children's bookseller

Discover: The mystery of an amnesiac girl pursued by assailants unfolds in an effective second-person narrative.

HarperTeen, $17.99, hardcover, 256p., ages 14-up, 9780062299734

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger
The Red Hunter
by Lisa Unger
ISBN-13: 978-1501101670
Touchstone
04/25/2017


an exclusive interview with bestselling author Lisa Unger
The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger
 

To develop the characters in The Red Hunter, you studied a book about cases of children very different from their parents. How hard was it to write that relationship?

“Claudia’s relationship with her daughter evolved naturally for me,” Unger says, admitting she drew from her own experiences to authenticate the mother/child bond. While her daughter, Ocean, is younger than Raven, the bond is forged by a deep understanding. “So much of the person you are as a parent has to do with the child. With Ocean, I trust her. She’s honest and smart and spunky. Which makes it easier for me to be less the over-protective, semi-paranoid parent I thought I would be. She’s fully aware of the darkness in the world . . . The part of my brain I use for writing is not the same part that helps my daughter with homework. I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing. My husband likes to joke that he’s number four—after Ocean, the dog, and the writer, but that’s not quite true. As a writer, I’m engaged, always striving to do better and be authentic as I can be. And I have those same goals as a wife and a mom.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

 

ALSO FEATURED ON THE the big THRILL…
 The Lost Order by Steve Berry The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles Elementary She Read by Vicki Delany

Dangerous Ends by Alex Segura

THE LOST ORDER by STEVE BERRY: In the latest thriller in his New York Times-bestselling series, Berry’s creation, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, takes on the Knights of the Golden Circle, a clandestine—and dangerous--organization that amassed billions in gold and silver, little of which has ever been found. Read more at The Big Thrill.

THE DAY I DIED by LORI RADER-DAY: The award-winning author of PRETTY LITTLE THINGS tells the story of a handwriting expert who, when called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son recently moved to, finds her life ripped open. Find out more here.

MISSISSIPPI BLOOD by GREG ILES: In the final installment in the award-winning Natchez Burning trilogy, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him when his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Learn more at The Big Thrill.

ELEMENTARY SHE READ by VICKI DELANY:  In the first in a delightful new series, Gemma Doyle is the owner of a bookstore in Cape Cod that specializes in all things Sherlock Holmes. Like the great fictional detective, Gemma, a transplanted Englishwoman, uses heightened powers of deduction to root out evil intentions and solve murders. Visit The Big Thrill for more. 

DANGEROUS ENDS by ALEX SEGURA: When Florida P.I. Pete Fernandez wades into a case that no one wants, exonerating a police officer convicted for murdering his wife, Pete finds himself in the crosshairs of Los Enfermos, a bloodthirsty gang of pro-Castro killers and drug dealers looking to wipe Pete off the Miami map. Read more here.

  

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