Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, July 14, 2015


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

Go Set a Watchman Is Here!

Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman was released worldwide today, and early reports indicate that customers have been flocking to stores to buy the book, many lured by midnight parties featuring discussions, read-a-thons of To Kill a Mockingbird and showings of the movie, among other events.

 
The carefully planned unveiling of the book was shaken up last Friday when several embargo-breaking reviews appeared. The biggest surprise from the reviews: in the new book, Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird's principled, wise, calm, inspired hero, is, as the New York Times put it, "an aging racist who has attended a Ku Klux Klan meeting, holds negative views about African-Americans and denounces desegregation efforts."

Reaction ranged from shock and disappointment to caution and reserved judgment to undiminished enthusiasm about getting to read another work by the author of a classic American novel--whatever the new book's approach--and a curiosity about comparing the two works and understanding how one led to the other. Some think the "new" Atticus is more realistic and might serve as a helpful springboard to discussions about race.

The reviews also led to renewed interest in the book's publication. As has been reported, when Lee submitted the manuscript of Go Set a Watchman, her editor, Tay Hohoff, suggested she rewrite the tale from Scout's point of view as a child. That rewrite became the iconic To Kill a Mockingbird. The original MS went unpublished, and it was only after Harper Lee's sister, Alice Lee--her literary guardian--died last year, that Go Set a Watchman's "discovery" and publication was announced. Harper Lee is 89 and in a nursing home--and many aren't convinced that she is capable of judging whether the book should be published or not.

Still, the book is out now, readers are excited, and the publication has become an international event that, at least, calls more attention to its deserving sibling. --John Mutter, editor-in-chief, Shelf Awareness


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


Book Candy

Drinks and Books; Cats and Books

Bustle served up "19 books to read based on your drink of choice--because there's more to pairings than wine and cheese."

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"When you have a good book and a lap full of cat, what more could you possibly need?" asks the Literary Cat blog, which is "devoted to photos of cats with books. For the librarian cat in all of us."

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For Tour de France fans, Jon Day recommends the "10 best books about cycling" in the Guardian.

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Who knew? Quirk Books found "6 books adapted into movies starring Sylvester Stallone."

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Electric Literature featured "books Hunter S. Thompson thinks you should read.... No fear or loathing here. These are the books that the good doctor personally suggested to his friends and family."


Wicked Deeds by Heather Graham


The Writer's Life

Brian Panowich: North Georgia Noir

photo: David Kernaghan

Brian Panowich was a touring musician for 12 years before settling in east Georgia, where he now works full-time as a firefighter. His first novel, Bull Mountain (reviewed below), is a blend of Southern family saga and crime thriller wrapped up in a well-executed literary style. Clayton Burroughs serves as the sheriff of McFalls County while his brother Halford runs a meth operation on Bull Mountain. All of that changes when special agent Simon Holly shows up, involving Clayton in a federal case against his brother and associates.

How did the story take shape?

I wrote two flash fiction pieces that appeared in Spinetingler online. One was from the point of view of Clayton, and the other was from the point of view of Simon Holly. I got a phone call one day from Nat Sobel, who is now my agent. He basically reached out and changed my life. He asked if I had anything longer and I told him no. He said when I did have something I should give him a call. Then I wrote the whole book based on those 2,000 words and set it in north Georgia.

I never set out to put the story in a particular genre. I liked a place and had a story idea, so I wrote about it. I didn't set out to write a mystery, and I certainly didn't set out to write a literary novel. My favorite author on this planet is Elmore Leonard. I didn't ever think I would be compared to him or someone like Daniel Woodrell. You can't read one of his books without stopping to think and re-read it again because it's that profound. I simply wrote a story and put it out there.

What is it about Georgia that drew you to set the novel there?

I'm a military brat, so I can't really relate to the concept of knowing people your entire life. My wife is from North Georgia, and she still knows people she was born next to in the hospital. When we got married, she introduced me to people who came up with her through their entire schooling, from kindergarten to college. That was shocking to me.

North Georgia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Most people don't realize that the Blue Ridge Mountains start in north Georgia. It's a wonderful place to be. I fell in love with it. We spend most of our time there when the kids aren't in school and we're not working. If we can get out of east Georgia, that's where we go.

You're sort of a jack-of-all-trades: a musician, a firefighter, an author.

I went to Georgia Southern for journalism. I wanted to write comic books, but they didn't have a program for that. So I figured I'd do a journalism degree. I was kind of a nerd, so I picked up a guitar because I couldn't throw a football. I joined a band, and that was basically what I did for 12–15 years. My first daughter was born, and all of a sudden music was over. Then I realized I had no skills. I didn't know what to do. I needed to support my family. When I moved to Georgia, I looked up all my old buddies who I used to play music with, and they were all firefighters.

I went back to school and became a firefighter. That life is a trip. When you sign on to be a firefighter you are not just fighting fires. You do it all--gunshot wounds, every car wreck and crime scene. You see some terrible things. You get used to it, in a sense. As an artist, though, I was losing myself. I didn't have an outlet for creativity, so I started writing out of a sheer need to do something. My early stories were based on bits and pieces of what I had witnessed as a firefighter and also some of the seedier things that I saw as a musician. I wouldn't have had the inspiration to create the characters I created for this book without those professions.

Drugs, alcohol, guns and crime have been part of the Burroughs clan for generations. What moral terrain does the clan operate on?

These characters only care about what is theirs. That worldview gets passed down from generation to generation, and it removes them from thinking that some of the horrible things they do are actually bad. They are born into it. By the time Clayton Burroughs came of age, the world had changed. Some of the things he grew up with were no longer true. Meeting his wife and wanting to be a different person caused a lot of grief in his family. It wasn't that he wanted to do something different with his life, or even that he wanted to be a cop. They don't have respect for law enforcement, anyway. They look at it as though he turned his back on his family.

How much of Bull Mountain is based on real events?

You could say I've heard a lot of stories. The real county where the book is set is Clayton County. In most of the bootlegging and Prohibition history, there is not a lot of mention of north Georgia. From moonshine to marijuana and now meth, Kentucky and West Virginia are a lot more famous. Georgia was just as thick in it as anyone, but they kept it under the radar. So, yes, there is some truth to it, but you're just not going to read it in any historical document.

Crime often gets painted as some purely evil element in the substratum of our society. You investigate the line where family and crime intersect.

That is the reason I set such a broad scope and told the story from so many perspectives in different time frames. If I had just told the story of Clayton versus Halford, it would have come out like a cartoon. Like I said, white hat and black hat. The family dynamic of what they go through is the same exact thing people go through in real life in New York City or South Carolina or anywhere else. The sins of the family and the history that gets passed down makes you who you are. --Jarret Middleton


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

You Don't Have to Live Like This

by Benjamin Markovits


Texas-born Benjamin Markovits left a checkered pro basketball career (chronicled in his forthcoming autobiographical novel, Playing Days) to write fiction. Living in London with five novels behind him (including a trilogy about the life of Lord Byron), he turns his focus to Detroit and its broken neighborhood grandeur. You Don't Have to Live Like This is told by Greg "Marny" Marnier, a 35-year-old disillusioned academic whose matter-of-fact narrative style lives up to his brother's childhood description of his storytelling skills as "this and then this and then this." At a Yale reunion, Marny reconnects with classmate Robert James, who has parlayed his preppie upbringing into a dot-com fortune. James decides to invest in Detroit real estate and create a "New Jamestown" of "settlers" who will rebuild homes and parks to establish a new community. He chooses Marny to join a cadre of young pioneers who are also tired of "working harder than they wanted to, making less money, living somewhere they didn't want to live."

Tentative but idealistic, Marny resurrects a large, boarded-up house, finds a substitute teaching job and forms a new romantic relationship. But neighbors on Marny's block who had struggled to keep their homes when the city was crumbling around them are not uniformly welcoming to the swarm of young colonizers. Anger festers, harsh words fly, and guns appear. Like the utopian comradery of Lord of the Flies, James's "Starting-from-Scratch-in-America" community comes undone. Fixing Detroit is not going to happen with a pot of money and a nucleus of idealistic youth, but Markovits's story is a half-court shot that comes up nothing but net. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: A novel in the manner of 19th-century "realism" about a well-funded community of young "creatives" attempting to revitalize Detroit.

Harper, $27.99, hardcover, 9780062376602

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


The Love She Left Behind

by Amanda Coe


A dead woman is the central character of The Love She Left Behind by British author Amanda Coe (What They Do in the Dark). The deceased is Sara, who, 35 years before her death from stomach cancer, deserted her husband and children--Nigel, then age 13, and Louise, age 10--and gave up everything to live with Patrick, a playwright for whom she was muse. Patrick never had any fondness for his stepchildren. After Sara uprooted her life for him, he paid for Nigel to attend boarding school and Louise was shipped off to live with an aunt after their birth father remarried and rejected them.

The book opens in Cornwall, in the now-dilapidated house Sara and Patrick shared. Nigel--a married, type-A lawyer and father--has little care or respect for Louise, a divorced, overweight, working-class mother of two rebellious teenagers over whom she has little control. They are faced with Patrick's irritability, drunkenness and writer's block. As the three go over details and assimilate the contents of Sara's will, it is revealed that the couple's house and the dramatic rights to Bloody Empire--a popular play Patrick wrote in the 1980s--were put in Sara's name for tax purposes. Patrick battles Nigel and Louise over the transfer of ownership, and brother and sister also lock horns.

Coe employs dark comedy to piece together and acutely observe emotional issues dealing with abandonment, loss, death and grief. The idea that we do not truly know the ones we love serves to solidify the cracked fault lines in the foundation of this thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking family saga. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A torn-apart British family is forced back together to settle the affairs of its deceased matriarch.

W.W. Norton, $25.95, hardcover, 9780393245493

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


Mystery & Thriller

Bull Mountain

by Brian Panowich


Rising out of northeast Georgia's Appalachian Highlands, fictional Bull Mountain stands near Atlanta, the self-proclaimed capital of the New South, and Augusta. In Brian Panowich's arresting first novel, Bull Mountain is home to the Burroughs family, a six-generation clan of outlaws whose attachment to the land passes father to son, along with a violent distrust of outsiders. McFalls County Sheriff Clayton Burroughs, though, is the first of his family to try to go straight.

Whatever governments forbid, outlaws provide--be it poached meat and fur, moonshine, marijuana or, in the 21st century, methamphetamine. Clayton's father, Gareth, burned up in a crank cookhouse fire, his brother Buckley was ambushed and killed by the feds, and his last brother, Hal, now runs the mountain with sociopathic violence and bootleg assault rifles from a Jacksonville, Fla., biker gang. Bull Mountain is a Cain-and-Abel story of Clayton and Hal, good and evil, law and outlaws--but it is also the story of family and its tenacious hold on generations.

A road-weary singer-songwriter and professional firefighter in east Georgia, Panowich plants his Bull Mountain squarely within the niche genre of "country noir." As in the best of this lot, his minor lowlife characters are often the most entertaining. There are few women on the mountain (in the roles of either mother or whore--or both) except Clayton's wife, Kate, who serves as an anchor in his conflicted life. After Panowich's plot follows its twisting path to a surprising ending, it is clear that this is but the first of what could be a Bull Mountain run of fine cracker crime fiction. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: A worthy addition to the growing canon of dope and deadbeat Southern "country noir."

Putnam, $26.95, hardcover, 9780399173967

As Night Falls

by Jenny Milchman


Convicted murderer Nick Muncey plans for his perfect opportunity. He toes the line to earn an outside duty assignment. And when the day arrives, after months of postponement, Nick and his cellmate Harlan execute their getaway without a hitch.

Harlan is mentally slow, but his enormous size and willingness to follow Nick's directions make him more than an ideal partner; he's Nick's lethal weapon. Once free of their prison guard, the two escapees head for a place to lie low, collect supplies and ultimately head to Canada. At least that's what Harlan thinks; Nick, however, has a little more in mind for this jailbreak.

The Tremont family just moved into their ideal home in a remote area of the Adirondacks. Ben, his wife, Sandy, and their teenage daughter, Ivy, are going about their lives when Nick and Harlan stroll through the front door and turn their dream into a nightmare.

In As Night Falls, her third novel, Jenny Milchman (Ruin Falls) mixes psychological thrills with adventure sports--Ben Tremont's obsession--to shoot her readers with an extreme jolt of adrenaline. The oscillating point of view flashes a glimpse of terror while hiding enough to intensify the fear of the unknown. Meanwhile, Milchman's talent for building atmosphere will have readers wondering if they're shivering from the story's excitement or northern New York's winter cold.

The major plot twist is obvious before it's officially revealed, but that doesn't diminish the novel's electric tension and chilling grip. Lock all the doors and settle in for Milchman's frighteningly good entertainment. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: After a heart-pounding prison escape, a sociopath and his giant cellmate turn a family's quiet winter evening into a deadly nightmare.

Ballantine Books, $26, hardcover, 9780553394818

White Crocodile

by K.T. Medina


The most chilling aspect of K.T. Medina's debut novel, White Crocodile, is the way she blends reality and myth to create an atmospheric and disquieting crime thriller. Set in the former killing fields of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, a group of philanthropic Western landmine-clearers are hiding a secret, and as more and more villagers go missing, more and more volunteers turn up dead.

After her ex-husband died--blown to bits by a supposedly deactivated mine--Tess traveled to the killing fields to dig up both a horrific Cambodian past and her own ghosts. She's been asked to clear a particular field, when the nearby villagers whisper to her about the White Crocodile, a mythic creature stalking the Cambodian countryside like ghosts of the Khmer Rouge's victims. It's been taking their women and girls and wants the Westerners gone. Tess soon realizes that a frightening reality lurks behind the stories.

The novel's greatest strength comes in the way its accurate portrayal of mine-clearing works to supplement a much creepier undercurrent of Cambodian mythology and superstition. One is forced to wonder, when paired with such an authentic setting, whether the more unearthly happenings in the novel are equally true.

Medina spent five years in the U.K. Territorial Army working for the Royal Engineers. Her knowledge of her subject matter is exhaustive and nuanced. As a mine expert, she writes scenes built on a hair-trigger, each packed with energy and tension. Medina's writing radiates with adrenaline and to read it is to step boldly through the book's own booby-traps. --Josh Potter

Discover: A moody thriller that is both supernaturally sinister and convincingly gripping.

Mulholland Books, $26, hardcover, 9780316374002

What Doesn't Kill Her

by Carla Norton


It's been seven years since Reeve LeClaire, the heroine in Carla Norton's What Doesn't Kill Her, was rescued after being held prisoner as a teen by Daryl Wayne Flint, who's serving time at a psychiatric hospital in Washington State. Reeve is now a student at UC Berkeley and feeling that her life "has finally bloomed and ripened."

But a wrench is thrown into her newly idyllic world when Flint escapes and commits murder on his way to reclaim Reeve, his greatest obsession. Instead of running scared, she decides to confront the monster by teaming up with former FBI agent Milo Bender--the man who helped rescue her--to track down Flint. After spending four years in close proximity with her kidnapper, who else but Reeve would know best the inner workings of Flint's twisted mind?

Norton keeps the pacing swift in this second series installment, after The Edge of Normal. Reeve is based on a real woman the author covered as a true crime writer, and Norton compassionately details the survivor mindset--what it takes for someone to withstand years of torture in captivity and the lingering psychological effects after release. Norton also shows how the ordeal can derail the lives of survivors' loved ones.

The dialogue is stilted and expository at times, and Reeve oddly seems to be the only person among seasoned FBI agents and therapists to see the obvious when it comes to clues and Flint's intentions, but Reeve's voice and fragile courage are welcomed in crime fiction, representing those who refuse to be victims. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: A young woman helps the FBI track down her former kidnapper when he escapes from a psychiatric hospital.

Minotaur Books, $25.99, hardcover, 9781250032805

Signal

by Patrick Lee


At the start of Patrick Lee's Signal, an FBI agent arrives at a burned-out trailer in the Mojave Desert to find the charred bodies of four little girls in a cage.

Cut to four hours earlier, when Sam Dryden, the returning hero from Patrick Lee's Runner, is asked by a former black ops colleague to accompany her on a rush mission that commences immediately. Dryden says yes without knowing any details, other than that Claire wouldn't ask unless it was urgent.

The mission involves heading to the Mojave to save girls imprisoned in a trailer. The children disappeared years earlier without a trace but Claire suddenly knows exactly where to find them. When the mission is over, Claire explains how she knew, blowing Dryden's mind, and likely the reader's.

Claire and Dryden then find themselves hunted by a mysterious syndicate called the Group, which will kill to obtain the invention Claire used to track down the girls. The Group wants the device for an endgame that would have devastating global repercussions.

Like Runner, Signal maintains a blistering pace, but Dryden does slow down at times to watch and analyze situations before taking action. In these scenes, he resembles the creation of another author named Lee--Lee Child, that is. Dryden is like a younger Jack Reacher but his adventures have a sci-fi twist. The science can become a bit mind-bending but seems realistic and doesn't get in the plot's way. Fans of smart thrillers should tune in to this strong Signal. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: Sam Dryden from Runner blazes through another adventure, this time to prevent a powerful invention from falling into the wrong hands.

Minotaur Books, $25.99, hardcover, 9781250030788

The Tide Watchers

by Lisa Chaplin


In the fall of 1802, Napoleon plots an invasion of Britain in defiance of the Treaty of Amiens. A network of English spies, including an agent known as Tidewatcher, is combing Channel ports for evidence of Bonaparte's plans. As tensions escalate, a young Englishwoman becomes the key element in the cat-and-mouse game played by both sides. Lisa Chaplin (who writes romances under the name Melissa James) weaves a complicated account of espionage, romance and adventure in The Tide Watchers.

Swept off her feet by handsome Frenchman Alain Delacorte, Lisbeth Sunderland has endured months of abuse, and eventually abandonment, at the hands of her new husband. When Duncan Aylsham (aka Tidewatcher) finds Lisbeth working in a tavern in Abbeville, he proposes an unusual bargain. Lisbeth will pose as housekeeper to the brilliant American inventor Robert Fulton, whose new submersible ship and torpedo technology could prove vital to either Britain or France. In return, Duncan promises to see Lisbeth and her infant son safely back to England.

Chaplin blends fact and fiction to create a richly layered portrait of Napoleon's France, including appearances by several historical figures: politicians, spies and Bonaparte himself. But Chaplin's fictional characters, including Lisbeth, Duncan and his brothers Alec and Cal, are far more complex and intriguing. The large cast of characters grows unwieldy at times, and one or two subplots are left dangling. But The Tide Watchers is still an ambitious, fast-paced exploration of family honor, political intrigue, love and sacrifice in a rapidly changing world. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: A complex, satisfying story of romance, adventure and political intrigue set in Napoleon's France.

Morrow, $15.99, paperback, 9780062379122

Biography & Memoir

French Riviera and Its Artists: Art, Literature, Love, and Life on the Cote d'Azur

by John Baxter


In French Riviera and Its Artists, part of a historical guide series from Museyon, writer and filmmaker John Baxter (Five Nights in Paris) describes the rapid development of the French Riveria from a quiet aristocratic resort area into a glittering international hotspot known for natural beauty, manmade luxury and sexual freedom. First the experimental artists came, attracted by the light and color of the region and, as always, the beautiful people followed soon after. Short chapters summarize the lives--or in many cases the declining years--of artists who lived and worked on the Riviera, beginning with Cézanne, Renoir and Matisse, and continuing with many of the most famous painters, writers, filmmakers, dancers and actors of the 20th century. A few chapters cover subjects such as the "Blue Train," crime, the Hôtel du Cap, and the casino and film industries. Each chapter has an "epilogue" with stray facts, sites of interest and relevant artworks and films.

This is a pretty little book, with a timeline, a good index and a two-page map of the region, and heavily illustrated with period photographs and small reproductions of paintings and posters.

As a guidebook, it falls short: the map is too simple for navigation, and most of the sites of interest listed don't include contact information or even exact locations. But it's an excellent resource for planning a trip or fantasizing about one, full of enticing descriptions, glamorous people and gossipy anecdotes. --Sara Catterall

Discover: An entertaining historical guide to the lives, homes and work of artists, aristocrats and celebrities on the French Riviera.

Museyon, $19.95, paperback, 9781940842059

Current Events & Issues

Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Readers familiar with Ta-Nehisi Coates from his thorough, insightful reporting for the Atlantic may not be fully prepared for the uncategorizable tour-de-force that is Between the World and Me. The slender volume of 176 pages is structured as a letter to Coates's teenage son and, while it benefits from the same keen mix of history, sociology and rhetoric that produced Coates's masterful piece "The Case for Reparations," Between the World and Me feels as personal as a published work can. Sprawling, discursive, angry, relevant, lyrical, Between the World and Me uses prose that recalls David Bradley's The Chaneysville Incident in its ferocious beauty.

Between the World and Me speaks to issues of race at a time when young black men continue to die at the hands of police officers with disturbing regularity. In this sense, Coates's book is quite timely. Moreover, his central thesis is deeply disturbing: "There is nothing uniquely evil in these destroyers or even in this moment. The destroyers are merely men enforcing the whims of our country, correctly interpreting its heritage and legacy." Some readers may shrink from such language, but his argument is as rhetorically sound as it is passionately delivered. "I cannot hide the world from you," Coates explains to his young son. Between the World and Me is an unrelentingly frank work expressed so perfectly that the truth of it resonates with every word. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Discover: A furious, successful stab at the heart of racial injustice in America.

Spiegel & Grau, $24, hardcover, 9780812993547

Children's & Young Adult

Seen and Not Heard

by Katie May Green


In Katie May Green's imaginative and accomplished debut picture book, a black cat leads readers into an ancient house in which the children in the portraits come alive.

"In a big old house, up creaky stairs,/ in a silent little nursery full of dolls/ and teddy bears, you'll find the children of Shiverhawk Hall./ They're children in pictures on the wall--/ seen and not heard," begins the gently rhyming narrative. The opening double-page spread shows a quintet of portraits of angelic-looking children in Victorian attire, then close up in the next spread ("Don't they look so sweet and good,/ so well behaved,/ as children should?"). Yet the children, frozen in time in these portraits, are anything but "sweet and good." They break out of their frames and raid the kitchen, spilling whipped cream, truffles and jam on their formal attire. Green's palette of raspberry, blueberry, plum and honey tones makes the illustrations look good enough to eat. On their sugar-induced high, the children next raid the adult portraits, drawing mustaches and eyeglasses on the men's and women's faces; only the identical DeVille child twins sit serenely on a bench with perfect white bows in their hair. At sunrise, all goes back to the way it was... almost.

Children will return to this tale over and over, searching for all eight children during their nighttime adventure, watching the progress of three white mice in nearly every illustration, and seeing what's altered at sunrise in the pictures that line Shiverhawk Hall. Green is an author-artist to watch. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: An imaginative and accomplished picture book debut in which children trapped inside old portraits come alive by moonlight.

Candlewick, $15.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 5-8, 9780763676124

Nooks & Crannies

by Jessica Lawson, illus. by Natalie Andrewson


In 1906, 11-year-old Tabitha Crum keeps her head down, reading her beloved Inspector Pensive mysteries to avoid the miseries of her daily life. Friendless other than a pet mouse, Pemberly, she is horribly mistreated at home and outcast at school. "Oh, Pemberly... if only life were like a book, and I could choose precisely what part I played," says Tabitha. But when she comes home from school with one of six coveted invitations to the philanthropist Countess of Windemere's house, Tabitha is thrust into the biggest mystery gripping London society. Upon arrival, Tabitha discovers that the mission of the weekend is to find the Countess's lost grandchild. It's a perfect occasion for Tabitha to employ all the detective skills she has learned from Inspector Pensive. But the weekend turns dangerous as the Countess is revealed to have an unstable, possibly homicidal personality, triggered by the occurrence of a death (how they dispose of the body may make some readers squeamish). Tabitha and the other children must work together to survive while solving the mystery. The stakes for gaining an inheritance could cost them their lives.

Jessica Lawson follows up her The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher with another charming period piece. The writing style has the flavor of a classic English manor house mystery adapted for middle grade readers. Avid mystery fans will enjoy Tabitha's use of the investigative method. --Jessica Bushore, reviewer

Discover: An English manor house murder mystery aimed at middle-grade readers.

Simon & Schuster, $16.99, hardcover, 336p., ages 8-12, 9781481419215

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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