Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, July 24, 2015


Doubleday Books: Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby

From My Shelf

Little Brown and Company: The Store by James Patterson

Vintage Books & Anchor Books: Reading Group Center Book Club Giveaway

More Summer Reading

My reliable fallback for summer reading--or any time I want already known pure pleasure--is anything by Elinor Lipman or Mary Stewart. Add to that the witty Edmund Crispin, Patricia Wentworth and Georgette Heyer mysteries, and I have my desert island library. Oh, and Dorothy Sayers and P.D. James. And... and....

Lately I've read a few books that not only are good vacation choices, but are novels I expect I'll be rereading. Last year one of my favorites was A Man Called Ove (Washington Square Press, $16) by Swedish author Fredrik Backman, about a curmudgeonly widower determined to kill himself and why he changes his mind. Grim? Not at all; it's warm and funny. Backman's second novel is My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry (Atria, $25), about a young girl and her best friend--her crazy and eccentric grandmother who spins fairy tales. When Elsa's grandmother dies, she leaves behind letters of apology Elsa is determined to deliver to their intended recipients. It's as funny and warm as Ove, and as surprising.

Patrick Ness artfully retells a famous Japanese fable in The Crane Wife (Penguin, $16). It opens with a man awakened in the dead of night by an eerie, mournful cry. He finds a wounded white crane in his garden, and his odyssey with an artist named Kumiko begins. Ethereal, romantic, witty--it glows with passion and magic.

Marry, Kiss, Kill (Prospect Park Books, $15) by Anne Flett-Giordano is absolutely hilarious, and worth re-reading if only to memorize some of the witty lines spoken by Santa Barbara police detective Nola MacIntire. With her randy partner, Tony Angellotti, she's involved in eco-terrorism, real estate scheming and murder. The rat-a-tat banter will delight you, as will Nola's takes on being a woman. --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers


Nation Books: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi


Book Candy

A Neuroscientist's Book Picks; Literary Tats

For Brain Pickings, "neuroscientist Sam Harris selects 12 books every intelligent person should read."

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Lit tattoo update: Wordables showcased "20 subtly tasteful tattoos only literature geeks will understand." And Buzzfeed unveiled "42 insane Harry Potter tattoos only muggles would hate."

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Ready to go on the road? Atlas Obscura featured an "obsessively detailed map of American literature's most epic road trips."

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"High literature: 24 mind-expanding drug novels" were recommended by Flavorwire.

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"Where did Colin Dexter's detectives Morse and Lewis get their names?" The Guardian featured a detective duos in fiction quiz.


Matchup by Gayle Lynds


Great Reads

New in Paper: July

Fiction

The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper Perennial, $15.99)
Jacqueline Winspear has crafted a novel of the Great War, told in a series of letters and recipes exchanged between newlyweds. 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.

The Visitors by Sally Beauman (Harper Paperbacks, $15.99)
Sally Beauman transports readers to Egypt in the 1920s, when explorers, archeologists and historians searched for uncovered tombs of Egyptian pharaohs and the riches they were thought to contain. The Visitors weaves together the imagined observations of Lucy, an 11-year-old girl traveling with her guardian, and two British men credited with the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb.

California by Edan Lepucki (Back Bay, $16)
In her debut, Edan Lepucki has imagined a disturbing vision of a nation devastated by natural disasters, whose people struggle to survive and compete in an increasingly segregated caste system. The result is lush--layered sensations that peel back in stark black and white until the novel reaches its Technicolor pinnacle.

Shirley by Susan Scarf Merrell (Plume, $16)
Shirley Jackson is brought back to life in a quietly disturbing tale worthy of its subject. Fred and Rose Nemser are newlyweds and move into the Jackson home when Fred becomes a graduate student and teaching assistant. Jackson's husband takes Fred under his wing, tutoring him in both their profession and in marriage, but Shirley's mentorship of the malleable Rose is more complex.

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead, $16)
Tiphanie Yanique constructs a wide and magical world spanning three generations on the island of St. Thomas. The story begins with Owen Arthur and his women, then follows his children's and his grandchildren's lives. Yanique's diverse characters' collective story is haunting and exquisite, told with grace, vibrancy and magic.

Waiting for the Electricity by Christina Nichol (Overlook, $16.95)
Resourceful and optimistic, Slims Achmed Makashvili is everything a man in the Republic of Georgia is supposed to be. And everyone knows that Georgia is the finest country in the world. So why has it been months since Slims received a paycheck at his job? Why did he let the woman he was supposed to marry get away? Why won't the lights turn on?

Nonfiction

Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer by Matthew Gavin Frank (Liveright, $14.95)
Matthew Gavin Frank's exploration of the giant squid's shadow on the human psyche veers from fact to lore with both verve and authority. His blustery confidence and unabashed enthusiasm is infectious; he's as intrepid and exploratory as the people who first draped a squid over a shower rod in 1874, rendering it immortal with the click of the camera.

When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation by François Furstenberg (Penguin, $20)
In the 1790s, fledgling United States ally France was in revolutionary turmoil, while relations with England remained tense. Many French refugees ended up in Philadelphia, and the few years they spent there saw major shifts in American foreign policy--including the signing of the Jay Treaty and the Alien and Sedition Acts--and foreshadowed the coming Louisiana Purchase.

The Removers: A Memoir by Andrew Meredith (Scribner, $15)
When Andrew Meredith was 14, his father, a teacher, was fired after being accused of sexual misconduct. He later found work as a "remover"--someone who takes away the bodies of people who died in their own homes. Meredith's experiences working alongside his father become the central thread and metaphor for the dissolution of his family and his circuitous journey of self-discovery.

The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London by Judith Flanders (St. Martin's, $17.99)
In The Victorian City, social historian Judith Flanders reminds us that Charles Dickens was a journalist before he was a novelist. The London that stands at the hearts of his novels--so vibrant that it's almost a character in its own right--is not only a work of the imagination but the reportage of a great observer.

Tudors Versus Stewarts: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary, Queen of Scots by Linda Porter (St. Martin's, $19.99)
Although much ink has been spilled on the tense relationship between the royal Elizabeth Tudor and her first cousin Mary Stewart, few have tried to explain how this "perfect storm" of loyalty and rivalry developed. Linda Porter puts this infamous feud in context, beginning with the defeat of Richard III by Henry Tudor (Henry VII) at the Battle of Bosworth.

The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America's Coldest Cases by Deborah Halber (Simon & Schuster, $16)
The digital age has unleashed a new breed of amateur detectives: a dedicated group using the Internet to match missing people with unidentified human remains. These civilian volunteers comb vast databases for physical identifiers, dates and locations, hoping to match a body with a missing-persons report. Journalist Deborah Halber explores the people who spend so much time and effort seeking justice for strangers.


Melville House Publishing: The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer


Book Review

Fiction

The Woman Who Stole My Life

by Marian Keyes


In The Woman Who Stole My Life, Marian Keyes (The Mystery of Mercy Close) delivers a warm and positive--at times hilarious--read about the effects of serious illness.

The story is told by charming and chatty Stella Sweeney--"Age: forty-one and a quarter"--as an account of what happened when she was a 37-year-old beautician, the Irish wife of a "successful but creatively unfulfilled" bathroom designer and mother of two rebellious teenagers. Stella's life was humbly ordinary until a strange illness overtook her, making her paralyzed and mute. The diagnosis, Guillain-Barré syndrome--a rare, yet usually temporary, autoimmune disorder--attacks the nervous system. Though mentally attentive, Stella remained confined to an I.C.U. The only way she could communicate was via blinking, and the only person who understood her was her handsome neurologist, Dr. Mannix Taylor. During her long hospital stay, the two bond and share intimate details about their lives.

After her arduous recovery, an American tabloid publishes a photo of the vice president's wife reading a self-help book called One Blink at a Time--Stella's story, complete with clever, stoic aphorisms she spouted during her ordeal. Stella is surprised to learn it was self-published, behind her back, by dreamy Dr. Taylor. The exposure brings Stella instant international fame and fortune--and the possibility of new love. But at what price?

Keyes depicts the realities of illness for the patient and all involved. Her comic take on Stella's journey--coupled with her distinctive brand of wit--showcases her imagination in top form. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: An Irish beautician is transformed by a mysterious illness, and a charismatic neurologist changes her life.

Viking, $27.95, hardcover, 9780525429258

Counterpoint Press: A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton


Secessia

by Kent Wascom


Set in Civil War-era New Orleans after it has been captured by Union troops, Secessia uses the frayed relationships of its main characters to illustrate the contradictions and lies that constitute the country's self-image. Kent Wascom (The Blood of Heaven) focuses on the gentry of the city, showing how its existence is slowly but surely upended by the new regime. But Secessia isn't interested in trumpeting the supposed racial progress of the North, or waxing nostalgic for Southern culture. Instead, it shows that one brutality was traded for another.

Northern brutality is personified by General Benjamin Butler, a real-life leader in the Union army with the fitting moniker "the beast." Butler comes to New Orleans on a mission to break the city, butting heads with the establishment and instituting draconian laws on the pretext of keeping the peace. The characters in Secessia must reposition themselves in the context of Butler's new rule, leading to dangerous and violent incidents. In the midst of this chaos, young Joseph Woolsack begins his journey into adulthood and finds the glimmers of first love.

Sometimes Wascomb tries too hard with metaphor ("Her lungs are the feet of a Chinese princess"); one wishes he'd scaled back. But his images are vibrant and detailed, as if he has personal experience with a place over a century in the past; his writing is lyrical, and he brings out the sights, smells and textures of the period with brilliance. --Noah Cruickshank, marketing manager, Open Books, Chicago, Ill.

Discover: A dark, lyrical novel set in New Orleans during the Civil War.

Grove Press, $26, hardcover, 9780802123619

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan


Oreo

by Fran Ross


In Fran Ross's novel Oreo, a multiracial girl who calls herself Oreo leaves her black maternal family to go in search of her white, Jewish father. The story, a modern version of the tale of Theseus, follows a meandering but hopeful thread, like the Greek hero famously did through the labyrinth to defeat the Minotaur.

First published in 1974, Oreo is a racially charged, feminist story. For this new edition, Danzy Senna writes in the introduction that Ross may have been ahead of her time, her dark comedy and complex characters overshadowed by the sensation that surrounded Alex Haley's publication of Roots. Revived now, when the racial, gender and political landscape is shifting, Oreo masterfully depicts how absurd it is to maintain traditional cultural beliefs.

Like the labyrinth in Greek myth, the novel's trajectory is not forward or backward, but instead is layered, dynamic and always self-referential. Like Theseus, readers are given a line to follow throughout: they can cling to Oreo's distinctive voice. When a gypsy reads Oreo's palm and predicts that she will have three kids with a basketball player, Oreo's reaction is sharp. "This was a stone lie," she thinks. "Amaze the Amazons, perhaps--but live happily ever after with some jive guard and three crumb snatchers? Foul!"

Theseus was promised rewards and glory for slaying the Minotaur. But Oreo's labyrinth is a tangle of gender, racial and social stereotypes. Her father, a deadbeat absentee dad, promises nothing. She makes her way through the labyrinth for herself, no one else. --Josh Potter

Discover: Published ahead of its time, this is a humorous and provocative take on an ancient myth.

New Directions, $14.95, paperback, 9780811223225

The Flying Circus

by Susan Crandall


In the 1920s, aviation was still a new and risky phenomenon. Daredevil pilots, many recently returned from World War I, drew huge crowds with their "barnstorming" stunts. In her novel The Flying Circus, Susan Crandall traces the journey of a war veteran, a young mechanic and a runaway society girl as they form their own "flying circus" and build an unconventional family.

The narrative centers on orphan Henry Schuler, who must flee his Indiana hometown after being accused of murder. His chance encounters with Charles "Gil" Gilchrist, a troubled aviator, and Cora Rose Haviland, a bold, restless young woman determined to escape her mother's clutches, will change their lives forever. As the trio crisscrosses the Midwest, performing dazzling stunts with Gil's plane and Cora's motorcycle, Henry works hard to keep his new family afloat--and keep his secret well hidden.

Crandall (Whistling Past the Graveyard) brings the 1920s to life, touching on issues such as Prohibition, anti-German sentiment, equality for women and the role of stuntmen (and -women) in Hollywood films. But she has ultimately written a novel about relationships: the deep, complex bonds Henry, Gil and Cora share, and the tangled relationships each of them has left behind.

"Sometimes we're born where we belong and sometimes we have to search to find our place," Henry tells Cora. The Flying Circus is a compelling, big-hearted account of that search, in the air and on land. Readers will happily be swept along for the ride. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: A big-hearted novel of three outcasts who build a death-defying "barnstorming" show and form an unusual family.

Gallery Books, $26, hardcover, 9781476772141

At Hawthorn Time

by Melissa Harrison


At Hawthorn Time is a novel that builds slowly. The early chapters center on four strangers who share nothing but a common geography: the small town of Lodeshill in rural England. Howard and Kitty have just moved to the town after raising their family in London; Jamie, a local teenager, has lived there his entire life; and Jack, a migrant worker, has returned to the area to look for farm labor after being released from prison. Though many small-town stories revel in the unexpected ways the lives of strangers can merge and overlap, Melissa Harrison (Clay) takes a different approach: what is most astounding at the outset of her second novel is the sheer amount of time it takes for these characters to encounter each other, despite their living in close proximity.

By keeping these characters separate for so long--their stories do not appear on the same page until at least 100 pages in, and do not truly begin to overlap in any meaningful way for yet another hundred--Harrison brings to the forefront the extremely personal and private ways that we can live as individuals while simultaneously highlighting the impermanence of that individualism. Combined with graceful and delicate language about nature and the English countryside--which could in many ways be called a fifth, unnamed and ever-present character in the novel--At Hawthorn Time is a quiet meditation on the unexpected beauty of both the individual and the community, and the changing landscape in which the two exist. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: A quiet novel about the role of the individual and our place in nature, set against the landscape of rural England.

Bloomsbury, $26, hardcover, 9781620409947

Mystery & Thriller

Dexter Is Dead

by Jeff Lindsay


After seven books and a Showtime spinoff, Jeff Lindsay bids a fitting farewell to his beloved antihero, the witty, food-obsessed forensic blood spatter analyst and sociopathic vigilante, Dexter Morgan. While this last novel is less a nail-biter than a tidying of loose ends (the whodunit being solved midway through), it nevertheless provides fans with thought-provoking and interesting closure on a pop culture icon.

Dexter sits in solitary confinement, having been caught for a gruesome murder that he, ironically, did not commit. His actress-lover and ex-wife are both dead, and his stepdaughter is the victim of a pedophile actor, the true murderer. His coworkers on the force, including his sister Deborah, have turned against him; only fellow forensic analyst Vince Masuoka believes in his innocence. Coming to Dexter's rescue is his presumed dead brother, who hires a high-powered attorney with stolen drug money to defend Dexter against charges brought by crooked Detective Anderson. What follows is an entertaining and sinister cat-and-mouse game among pursuing drug lords, Detective Anderson and the Morgan brothers' killer instincts.

"The point was not to win; you never did," muses Dexter. "Nobody can win a game that ends with everybody dying--always, without exception. No, the real point was to fight back and enjoy the combat."

Like his protagonist's, Lindsay's final adieu isn't an emotional reveal that will leave fans wanting. Rather, the literary jousting stops only when Dexter's final thought has been punctuated with a blood bath worthy of the big screen. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: The satisfying and entertaining end to Jeff Lindsay's long-running series about sociopathic vigilante Dexter Morgan.

Doubleday, $24.95, hardcover, 9780385536530

Taking Pity

by David Mark


Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy of Humberside Police returns for David Mark's fourth book in his police procedural series. Despite being on sick leave and separated from his wife and infant daughter after a tragedy in the previous novel, Sorrow Bound, McAvoy is asked to fact-check a 50-year-old case that may finally come to trial.

McAvoy's assignment is meant to be a quiet, low-key job, confirming that evidence and witness statements are secure enough for a likely conviction. But when some details give McAvoy an uneasy feeling, he starts digging, pursuing the investigation further than instructed. What the determined detective uncovers drops him smack in the middle of a current war between two organized crime factions Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh is struggling to neutralize.

Taking Pity alternates among many different characters' perspectives, leaving the reader with only partial snapshots of each. In addition, Mark tends to keep information from his readers, even as the characters receive it, like writing only one side of a phone conversation, and not divulging the contents of letters received. These techniques all work to compound the novel's intense suspense.

There are threads that continue throughout the series, so readers familiar with all the books will likely have a firmer grasp on this novel, but Taking Pity can still be thoroughly enjoyed on its own. Fans of gritty, dark crime who are unfamiliar with this series should dive in immediately and be prepared to become addicted. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: Detective Aector McAvoy's need to know drives a simple desk assignment into the crosshairs of an organized crime war.

Blue Rider Press, $26.95, hardcover, 9780399168215

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Time Salvager

by Wesley Chu


James Griffin-Mars is a chronman, sent back in time from an ecologically ruined future Earth to salvage what technology he can to aid humanity's survival on the planet.

The job is so harrowing that few chronmen make it to old age--the past is full of dangers. James is a rarity, a time traveler past his prime. His experience makes him valuable; his alcoholism and burnout makes him a liability.

One final mission calls into question all his assumptions about the job, his employer and the corporations that foot the bill. The Time Laws, assumed to be for the safety of both chronmen and the timestream, may not be immutable laws of the physical universe after all, as James finds out when he breaks the cardinal rule and brings Elise Kim, a young environmental scientist from the past, into the present.

The pair end up collaborating with an undeveloped yet intelligent tribe of people who live in the wild lands outside of heavily guarded cities. The group hopes to build a better life and perhaps even find the key to restoring the Earth to its former unpolluted state, with the help of another woman from the past and the inventor of time travel, Grace Priestly.

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu (The Lives of Tao) is a gripping story set in an all-too-imaginable far future with time travel a mundane fact of human existence. It's a depiction of the haves, the have-nots and the soulless corporations who rule over them all from space habitats far above the doomed planet. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A brilliantly imagined novel of time travel in a dystopian future where Earth has suffered ecological collapse.

Tor, $25.99, hardcover, 9780765377180

History

Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

by Kathleen DuVal


In Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution, historian Kathleen DuVal (The Native Ground) reminds us that the revolution was part of a larger global conflict involving France and Spain, and that Britain had 13 other colonies in North America and the Caribbean that were also affected by the war.

West Florida, which included parts of what is now Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, had only recently become a British colony--part of the redistribution of imperial territories at the end of the Seven Years War--when the Continental Congress declared independence from Britain. Located on the border between the British and Spanish empires, and a distant frontier for both, it was home to former French and Spanish citizens, British loyalists fleeing the disruptions of the revolution and well-organized Indian nations with their own agendas. The possibility of a Spanish invasion was real.

DuVal considers how eight very different colonists--a second-generation African slave, a young Cajun with a deep-seated hatred of the British, leaders of the Creek and Chickasaw tribes and two British couples who chose different sides in the conflict--responded to the dangers and opportunities that the revolution brought to their doorsteps and the impact of those choices. While each of these characters stands in for a larger population, the complicated calculus of self-identity, self-interest and personal history that they use to make decisions about the world around them makes it clear that for them, revolution and politics were always personal. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Discover: The American Revolution from the perspective of one of Britain's other colonies.

Random House, $28, hardcover, 9781400068951

Psychology & Self-Help

Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much

by Tony Crabbe


"Busy is a terrible brand," advises business psychologist Tony Crabbe in his profoundly motivational first book. In a world where people are continually inundated with more information, more demands and more opportunities, Crabbe says, "We should be consciously and deliberately choosing not to do things, killing off options in our lives and work to allow a greater focus on fewer things. Instead of choosing more, we should choose less, instead of gray, we should choose color." Busy proposes a realistic guide to undertaking less in order achieve a calmer, slower, more vibrantly fulfilling life.

The world has changed dramatically since the Industrial Age, but people's strategies for coping and succeeding have not. Busy functions as a personal workbook, encouraging the necessary adaptations for the Information Age. Crabbe advocates focusing on attention, core values, innovation and reconnecting while he discourages popular ideas such as time management and multitasking.

Presented in three sections--Mastery, Differentiation and Engagement--Busy offers wisdom from recognized studies, highly successful organizations and other research, as well as Crabbe's own experiences and anecdotes. In addition to self-examination exercises throughout, including identifying core values and formulating a personal brand, each chapter ends with a summation of the big messages as well as constructive activities readers can do and experiment with in order to practice the concepts in their own lives.

Anyone who claims, "I'm too busy," can benefit from Crabbe's insights. Practical, concise and accessible, Busy is a book well worth making time for. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: A psychological examination of busyness and how individuals can learn to focus on what matters.

Grand Central, $28, hardcover, 9781455532988

Children's & Young Adult

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

by Jacqueline Kelly


This follow-up to the Newbery Honor book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate may just top Jacqueline Kelly's debut.

Here narrator Callie Vee turns 13, and her fans will happily fall back into the turn-of-the-20th-century Texas landscape and quickly recognize Kelly's exploration of gender roles and sibling relationships. Smart, strong-willed Callie questions why being a girl should dictate her interests, her worth and her goals in life. She knows that her brothers are valued more just for being boys (literally--they get $10 gold pieces; she gets $5). But thanks to Granddaddy's mentorship, her focus on scientific discovery and a few big events, Callie continues to explore who she is and the world around her. When she notices changing patterns in nature, she builds a barometer that predicts a hurricane. Callie's younger brother, Travis, rescues strays of all kinds, providing a constant stream of animals (including an armadillo and a half dog–half coyote) for them to care for secretly (their mother would not approve). Some new relationships help her figure out where she fits in as a person and a scientist: Aggie, a cousin who barely talks to her but now shares Callie's room as a result of the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, and Dr. Pritzker, the town's new veterinarian, to whom Callie becomes assistant.

Callie's delightful voice tells a multilayered story with humor and insight. The book moves at a steady pace, as readers watch Callie grow confident and mature through her adventures with science and society. --Susannah Richards, associate professor, Eastern Connecticut State University

Discover: Calpurnia Tate, now 13, pursues her curiosities and adventures with science and society at the turn of the 20th century.

Holt, $16.99, hardcover, 320p., ages 9-12, 9780805097443

Little Miss, Big Sis

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illus. by Peter H. Reynolds


A girl in pig tails and beige-and-yellow striped pants is happy (mostly) to have a baby sibling in this book that makes a great baby gift for an older sibling.

With a minimal rhyming text and a limited palette, the team behind Plant a Kiss zeroes in on a big sister's reaction to learning about a baby coming, and then her embrace of the new addition. "The big news is this:/ Little Miss/ will be a big sis." Reynolds shows Little Miss actively listening to her mother (who points to her stomach) as a thought balloon depicting a baby appears over her head. When the infant comes home, the big sister helps, carting a wagon full of bottles, diapers, book and Teddy bear. She stays near the baby's crib and helps at mealtime (Reynolds shows the baby flicking food at Little Miss: "Help with bib. (What a sib!)"). As the pages progress, the baby (who's never assigned a gender and wears yellow) grows. The older sister uses a puppet to entertain the baby, who can now sit up. A four-part vignette depicts the baby's first steps ("Crawling, crawling. Falling, falling"), then running through the house, a tad older, a few pages later. Even when her younger sibling "sometimes takes toys. And sometimes annoys," the bond between the two remains constant.

Rosenthal and Reynolds anchor the activities in everyday life so all children can see themselves, on a swing, making forts, playing clapping games and tag. The story ends at bedtime, with the two siblings sharing a room and a bunk bed. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A charming tale that would make a great baby gift for an older sibling.

Harper, $17.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780062302038

Bear and Hare Go Fishing

by Emily Gravett


Like any great picture book, the words do not tell the whole story in Emily Gravett's (Orange Pear Apple Bear) portrait of a friendship.

"Bear and Hare are going fishing," the story begins. The words appear on a pond-colored backdrop on the left, as Bear places a fishing hat on Hare's head on the right-hand page, with its white background. "Bear loves fishing!" and no wonder! Hare does all the work, lugging an umbrella, fishing net, tackle basket and cooler while Bear carries only the fishing pole. When Bear throws his line, he's often surprised. He hooks Hare's hat, nets a frog and lands a roller skate in the middle of the picnic Hare has set out so carefully. Gravett accentuates the humor through Hare's expressions. Hare looks so content with the formidable picnic spread, with a slight smile and ears straight up, then registers shock as the roller skate lands in the layer cake. Gravette uses the pond-colored page to excellent effect: Bear crosses the book's gutter--leaning out from a white background--to hold his fishing net over the pond, and Gravett fades out the portion that would be underwater. She also gives a hint of what's waiting as the finale. Something lurks in the deep. (Hare catches a fish, but not in any usual way.)

Bear's golden fur makes a nice complement to the teal-tinted pond, and Hare's cream-colored fur underscores a second-fiddle role--until Hare saves the day. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A humorous picture-book tale of fishing and friendship.

Simon & Schuster, $15.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9781481422895

The Boy Who Saw
by Simon Toyne
ISBN-13: 978-0062329752
William Morrow
07/04/2017


an exclusive interview with bestselling author Simon Toyne
 

In THE BOY WHO SAW and your other thrillers, there is a richness to the atmosphere, to your descriptive passages. Is that a priority in your writing? 

“I do work very hard on the language because I think it’s as much part of the enjoyment of reading as following the story and a key part of the storytelling. Writing for TV, which I did for nearly 20 years, is all about structure and dialogue so you never get to exercise your descriptive muscles as far as languages goes, which was one of the reasons I wanted to try writing novels. But whenever I describe things in my books, I always try and do it in the most efficient way possible so as not to get in the way of the story or the pace, which are paramount in thrillers. For setting, I normally make a place up so that I can have free license with it.  For this book though I felt I needed to anchor it in reality as much as possible because of the theme of learning the lessons of history, so I used a town in France called Cordes-sur-Ciel, which I know very well as I live there for some of the year.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

 

ALSO FEATURED ON THE the big THRILL…
 

DEADFALL by LINDA FAIRSTEIN: In the 19th in the Alexandra Cooper series, the assistant DA teams up with two police officers after the shocking killing of a major public figure, but her investigation takes her deep into the dangerous predator spheres of the city, from civic zoos to the highest offices in city government. Read more at The Big Thrill.

EXILE by JAMES SWALLOW: The bestselling author returns with his protagonist Marc Dane in an action thriller that takes readers from vicious Serbian gangs to disgraced Russian generals and vengeful Somali warlords, as Dane sees a disaster coming and struggles to be the one who can stop it in time. Find out more here.

SEEING RED by SANDRA BROWN: New York Times bestseller Brown tells a story of a TV journalist on the trail of a big story, an exclusive interview with a shadowy hero who led survivors to safety out of a bombed hotel. But getting the story puts her in greater danger than she ever thought possible. Learn more at The Big Thrill.

THE GOOD DAUGHTER By KARIN SLAUGHTER: In her new novel of psychological suspense, Slaughter delivers a cold-case file story sure to grip readers: 28 years after her mother was killed and her father left devastated in a small town, a lawyer faces violence in her town again, and memories of a shocking truth. Visit The Big Thrill for more. 

DARK LIGHT DAWN by JON LAND & FABRIZIO BOCCARDI: In this supernatural thriller about a global epidemic, a man who built a life for himself as a Navy SEAL finds himself in the middle of a rogue rescue operation leading to a sinister apocalyptic plot. Read more here.

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