Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, April 19, 2016


HarperCollins: Celebrating 200 Years of Great Books

From My Shelf

HarperCollins: 200th Anniversary Celebration - Why I Read Sweepstakes

Yen Press: Brave by Svetlana Chmakova

New-Generation African Poets

The third box set of chapbooks from the African Poetry Book Fund is simply titled New-Generation African Poets: Tatu (Akashic Books). As editor Kwame Dawes (Duppy Conqueror) admits, "Perhaps it was subconscious doubt that led us to name the first box set in a manner that did not suggest a series." Following the initial Seven New-Generation African Poets, and subsequent Eight New-Generation African Poets, Tatu (a Swahili word for three) confirms "our faith and confidence that this is truly a series," because there is quite certainly nothing to doubt about the quality of poems collected here.

The six lines of "Weathering," in Nyachiro Lydia Kasese's chapbook Paper Dolls, elegantly play upon the pluralistic nature of a single moment:

"Sometimes,
you look at me as if you are seeing thunder,
And I am not sure if this is a reflection
of the lightning in my eyes
or your father's voice playing in your head."

Meanwhile, Hope Wabuke (The Leaving) flips through the decades just as lucidly in "The Chronicles (of a Violence Foretold)"--from stones thrown through windows in 1977, "all the many tiny pieces of glass/ embedded into brown skin," to a sister in 2013, "phoning her boyfriend/ laughing that mine has said he will kill me."

Each poem has an edge that cuts deeply, and every surface of the set is adorned with Victor Ehikhamenor's vibrant artwork. These are brilliant collages of paints, figures, photos and etchings that aptly match the dexterous linguistics of Safia Elhillo's Asmarani and the boundless possibilities amplified by Kayombo Chingonyi's The Color of James Brown's Scream. Eight poets hailing from Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia, each lauded in introductions by Dawes, co-editor Chris Abani (Sanctificum) and a cohort of other poets, make New-Generation African Poets: Tatu a collection pulsing with fresh talent in a series that poetry lovers worldwide should be grateful for. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness


Harper: Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton


Book Candy

April Showers Bring... Books About Rain

April showers dept.: Author Melissa Harrison shared her picks for the "top 10 depictions of British rain" with the Guardian, noting that if April showers "are keeping you indoors, English literature from Shakespeare to Hilary Mantel provides a vivid idea of what you're missing--with no need to get wet."

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I read. I do. Bustle suggested "17 unconventional wedding readings from literature."

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"Life hacks for your library" were suggested by Quirk Books.

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Illustrator Nathan Gelgud highlighted "5 facts about Eudora Welty, the Jane Austen of Mississippi" at Signature.

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"Poring over the last illustration in each book to find the hidden clue about the next one." Buzzfeed shared "21 things only A Series of Unfortunate Events fans remember doing."


Other Press: Elle by Philippe Djian


Great Reads

Rediscover: Wetware

Craig Nova's 2002 novel Wetware is set in 2026, in an unnamed city, where biotech engineer Hal Briggs works in the bowels of industrial giant Galapagos Wetware. He has created animals that sing advertisements and programmed simplified humans to work undesirable jobs, but the business of genetic engineering is changing, and Briggs is ordered to code creatures with more complex abilities. Soon he is engulfed in a personal and forbidden obsession, to give his creations human traits like love and longing. Wetware echoes Frankenstein and Pygmalion in its exploration of what makes humans human and the dangers of tampering with that formula.

Nova is the author of 14 novels, including The Informer (2010) and The Good Son (1982). He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1997 and his work has appeared in, among other publications, the New York Times and Esquire. Director Jay Craven recently announced plans to adapt Wetware into a movie in cooperation with Marlboro College's Film & Video Studies department, which gives students the chance to work alongside professional filmmakers and actors. The film's tentative release date is July 2017. Wetware was last published by Vintage ($13, 9781400031177) in 2003. --Tobias Mutter


New Press: Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women by Susan Burton and Cari Lynn


The Writer's Life

Jim Lynch: Sail Away

photo: Shelby Payne

Jim Lynch is the author of the novels The Highest Tide, Border Songs and Truth Like the Sun, all of which have been performed on stage and won prizes, including an Indies Choice Honor Book Award, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and a Dashiell Hammett Prize finalist. As a newspaper reporter, Lynch has won national awards, including the Livingston Young Journalist Award. He lives in Olympia, Wash., with his wife and daughter.

His latest novel is Before the Wind (Knopf), about the Johannssens, a sailing family from Seattle. The youngest son, Joshua, introduces his idiosyncratic, funny and ultimately tragic family: his intellectual mother who approaches sailing like a science; his father, an egoistic brute of a leader ("the flip side is that when you please him, your body temperature climbs a degree or two."); his sister, with a preternatural relationship with "the wind"; and his crazy world-traveling cavalier brother.

What was it like approaching this family's story through the lens of sailing?

Great fun. The way people sail provides ample personality insights to a fellow sailor like me. There are intense racers, ocean-going iconoclasts, happy-hour drifters, physics buffs and more. Getting to know the Johannssens by how each one of them dealt with their family obsession gave me the essence of each character from which I then extrapolated and improvised. Plus, sailing adventures provide engaging dramatic arcs. So this lens helped shape storylines, too.

You're from the Seattle/Puget Sound area. How much did your own childhood and sailing history factor into this story?

Well, in some ways, I feel like I've been preparing to write this novel for most of my life. I grew up the son of a fanatical sailor who moved to the Northwest specifically for this sailing wonderland. So family weekends and vacations were spent on boats exploring these waters. And I remain infatuated with it all. What I loved about researching and writing this book was that it was a mix of what I knew and what fascinated me. By the final draft, the Johannssens felt almost as real as my own family, yet entirely different. Perhaps my family squared.

There is a mysterious, special quality to growing up on water and on or around boats, don't you think? How would you describe it to someone who has never had that experience?

There is something about the dazzle of light on water and the absolute mystery of what lurks beneath the surface that can make you lightheaded. And boats, in turn, embody this mystique. The sight of a worn-out sailboat or a rundown marina feels rich with untold adventures. And then the act of boating itself, particularly sailing, simultaneously immerses you in nature and focuses your mind on a challenging task. When you raise your wing-like sails to catch an invisible breeze, you suddenly start coursing through the water in a fashion not unlike flying, and you get hooked on that intoxicating cocktail of serenity, fear and exhilaration.

You have a great section where you discuss the lingo of sailboating--boom, halyards, going about, pinching. About this you say, "Grumps speculated that all the lingo was part of a conspiracy to make the simple act of sailing seem daunting. But I think the nautical glossary was invented by inarticulate men and perpetrated by mumbling successors who clung to it like any tribe clutches a dying language." How do you think sailing looks and sounds to the uninitiated?

Many non-sailors see it as a snobby activity for the rich. Words like "yachting" conjure images of pompous millionaires in dorky outfits. Another faction of the uninitiated sees it as an overly complicated, scary or perhaps nauseating hobby. Others romanticize it, without ever actually sailing, and decorate their homes with soothing images of sailboats. What many non-sailors don't realize is that most sailors are ordinary, financially strapped people of all skill levels who simply can't resist sailing--even if it's on a cheap lousy boat or a nicer one that cost more than they could afford.

The Johannssens are a tight-knit bunch until an inexplicable event at a sailing race. What was it like writing the individual characters, once together, then suddenly alone, each on their own journey?

It was challenging for me to figure out the lives of all the family members when they were together and apart. I wish I had a mind that saw it all in advance. It would've saved me a lot of time. But no, I had to spend six years figuring it out on the page, rewrite after rewrite, until it all became clear. For example, I didn't know where Ruby's semi-magical qualities would take her when she left the family. So every step of hers--to Africa, Canada and her ultimate fate--surprised me. Josh, the narrator, was the only character I had almost entirely figured out before I began. The others evolved before my eyes.

Nearly all of your novels are set in the Seattle area and Washington State. What is it about this special place that keeps producing fresh material for your stories?

Compared to the rest of the world, we Northwesterners don't have a whole lot of history or culture. What we have is a lush landscape that is so exotic--with its deep water and freakishly large trees and mountains--that people come from around the world to see it with their own eyes. And I think our spectacular landscape shapes our people as well as my fictional characters. All of which fascinates me and sends me back outside with a notebook. I couldn't imagine setting a western Washington novel indoors. Part of the thrill of writing Before the Wind was taking readers sailing in Puget Sound. --Jarret Middleton


Hawthorne Books: Narrow River, Wide Sky: A Memoir by Jenny Forrester


Book Review

Fiction

Fever at Dawn

by Péter Gárdos, trans. by Liz Szász


Péter Gárdos's Fever at Dawn is a novel based on the lives of his parents. It spans less than a year, beginning in July 1945. In that brief time, Gárdos evokes worlds of love and pain.

Miklós is a 25-year-old Hungarian Jew, an idealistic journalist and dreamy poet, just released from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the end of World War II. In the opening pages, he's aboard a ship that will take him and 223 other survivors to Stockholm, to convalesce. He requests from the Swedish Office of Refugees a list of women survivors who, like him, are being nursed in Sweden. He asks that they be from his region of Hungary and under 30. From his hospital bed in a "barracks-like wooden hut," he writes 117 identical letters to these women. He gets 18 replies, and gains several pen pals, but only Lili captures his heart.

Over the next several months, Miklós and Lili correspond, exchanging stories from their past lives and their respective hospital settings hundreds of kilometers apart. Gárdos draws this story in part from his parents' letters, which his mother presented to him after Miklós's death. Fever at Dawn, told in Gárdos's first-person voice, is a sweet love story framed by horror. Miklós is repeatedly reminded of his dwindling time, but, after all he's survived, he is determined to marry.

At once heartrending and lighthearted, this romance covers enormous ground in love and war, joy and tragedy, humor and pathos. Fever at Dawn, with its historical backdrop, will win over many readers. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: This historical novel of the hard-won love of two Holocaust survivors is based on the experience of the author's parents.

Houghton Mifflin, $24, hardcover, 9780544769793

Doubleday Books: Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child


Three-Martini Lunch

by Suzanne Rindell


It's 1958, New York City. Cliff Nelson is a Hemingway wannabe who feels destined to be a famous writer, if only his editor father would help him--and if he could get some ideas for great stories. Eden Katz, fresh from Indiana, wants desperately to be an editor, but encounters prejudices because of her gender and surname. Miles is a poor Harlem kid who attended Columbia on a scholarship. He has raw writing talent and gripping stories to tell, but struggles with personal crises that threaten to destroy him. These characters' paths collide in Suzanne Rindell's Three-Martini Lunch.

Rindell (The Other Typist) evocatively captures the city--and the publishing world--as the Beat Generation takes hold. Her descriptions and dialogue have realistic rhythms, and readers can almost hear jazz playing in the background. The distinctively voiced narrators are engaging, although Cliff becomes barely tolerable after he starts complaining about his (lack of) career while not doing the work. He enjoys his privileges and yet has the fewest accomplishments to show. But that's Rindell's point: stop whining and earn your success.

Eden is much more interesting, but unfortunately her chapters get shorter and shorter toward the end of the novel, as if her point of view becomes less valuable. Miles's story is heartrending, though that's expected because of the era's intolerance. Three-Martini Lunch is profoundly sad, while perhaps making readers glad society has changed since the 1950s. Or, considering the political and social climate of 2016, maybe the melancholia comes from wondering, has much progress been made? --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: Three people with vastly different backgrounds try to forge a career in New York publishing during the Beat Generation.

Putnam, $27, hardcover, 9780399165481

University of California Press: In the Fields of the North / En Los Campos del Norte by David Bacon


Daredevils

by Shawn Vestal


Mix a rebellious teen fleeing her fundamentalist Mormon community, a love-struck admirer, 1970s devil-may-care bravura and wide-open Western highways. Add Evel Knievel, and you get Daredevils. In Shawn Vestal's (Godforsaken Idaho) debut novel, Loretta leaps from a polygamous marriage into a road trip of risk, danger and joy, daring the reader to keep up.

At 15, Loretta's luck runs out when her father catches her sneaking in after a typical night "out there, into the worldly world, and then back home, to reverence and boredom." With her "soul in peril," her father marries her to Brother Dean Harder, who lives with his wife and children in Short Creek, Ariz. Loretta tolerates her fate, comforted by a secret romance with persistent Bradshaw, a fringe community member who works for Dean. In Idaho, meanwhile, Brother Harder's nephew Jason and his grandpa share a clandestine fascination with daredevil cyclist Evel Knievel. When the Harders move to Idaho, Jason meets Loretta. His crush on her edges out his already wavering spirituality, and their friendship paves the way for a joint escape.

Short interjected chapters of "Evel Knievel Addresses an Adoring Nation" follow Jason's hero and add a quirky mythic perspective to the coming-of-age tale, until eventually the characters' paths intersect. Or do they? Would Evel, the daredevil himself, cavort with the teens? Wild as they are, Loretta, Jason and Jason's half-Native American friend, Boyd, are delightful, sympathetic escapees, and Vestal's novel thrums with excitement and hope. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

Discover: Runaway Mormon teenagers come of age in the wide-open West of the 1970s.

Penguin Press, $27, hardcover, 9781101979891

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Deadly Game  (Robert Finlay #2) by Matt Johnson


The Empress of Bright Moon

by Weina Dai Randel


Weina Dai Randel (The Moon in the Palace) brings her Empress Wu duology to a conclusion in a passionate drama that portrays Mei Wu's rise to power, but at terrible cost.

When the old emperor dies, all childless concubines receive orders to become Buddhist nuns and spend the rest of their lives praying for him, never to have contact with another man. Gaozong, the new emperor and Mei's lover, fights Mei's exile but gives up after his uncle, the Regent, feeds him false reports of her death. Despite dark days in the monastery, Mei perseveres and manages to reunite with her love, but his devotion to her puts Mei in danger from Gaozong's first wife, the cruel and powerful Empress Wang. Mei and Gaozong must pull together through profound grief and hardship, otherwise they will lose China to the machinations of the Regent and the Empress.

A fascinating vision of ancient China concludes far too soon in this suspenseful, romantic finale. Mei uses her formidable wits to defend her family and secure her country's future. Randel introduces new challenges for Mei, as well as new friends, including Princess Gaoyang, a female warrior-philosopher. The author also imagines the inspirations for Mei Wu's real-life passions, including equal access to education and support for the Buddhist monasteries, which in turn supported the poor. Published just one month after its predecessor, The Empress of Bright Moon provides gratifying closure to readers who fell in love with Mei's tenacious spirit the first time around. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: In this second of a two-part series, after a long journey, imperial concubine Mei becomes Empress Wu, the only woman to rule ancient China.

Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99, paperback, 9781492613596

Mystery & Thriller

Close Your Eyes

by Michael Robotham


At the start of Michael Robotham's return to his series character psychologist Joseph O'Loughlin (after the standalone Life or Death), Joe's estranged wife invites him to move back in with her and their daughters for the summer. Joe is happy--until Detective Chief Superintendent Veronica Cray asks him to consult on a double-murder case. Joe's involvement marks the beginning of yet another nightmare for him.

The mystery in Close Your Eyes surrounds a mother and her teenage daughter who were killed in their farmhouse, but with remarkably different methods. The girl was suffocated and her body rearranged almost reverently after death, while the mother was mutilated by multiple stab wounds that indicate extreme rage. The community is demanding answers and an arrest. Complicating matters is a former student of Joe's, who's using Joe's name to insinuate himself into the investigation, releasing details to the media while anointing himself the Mindhunter--a new and improved version of Joe, the one who best knows the mind of the killer. Joe doesn't care about publicity--he just wants to solve the case, though he has no idea of the cost he'll have to pay.

The killer's motivation is well-trodden territory, and italicized chapters from the perp's point of view are a familiar M.O., but Robotham skillfully keeps the murderer's identity hidden until almost the very end. He writes with sharp insight into the tangled psychological webs formed from love and loathing and fear; the subplots involving Joe's family give Close Your Eyes emotional resonance and make this a series changer. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: Psychologist Joe O'Loughlin hunts a killer while grappling with a family crisis.

Mulholland Books, $26, hardcover, 9780316267946

Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Story of Kullervo

by J.R.R. Tolkien, Verlyn Flieger, editor


Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien's death in 1973, his estate has released his unfinished work in dribs and drabs, expanding his mythos with short stories, essays and unfinished novellas that deepen fans' understanding of the man and his genre-defining world of Middle-Earth. The Story of Kullervo shines light on an early obsession of Tolkien that led to one of his most famous incomplete works, The Children of Húrin.

Based on a collection of Finnish epics, The Story of Kullervo follows a traditional mythical plot. A young man, imbued with magical powers, sets out on a mission of revenge, only to betray his family while trying to reclaim their honor. But Tolkien, in his early 20s when he began Kullervo, is a deft author, turning a very old story into something with more gravitas and character depth than the original.

Although the text is incomplete, editor Verlyn Flieger provides ample illuminating endnotes, and grounds the work in Tolkien's career with two informative essays, one preceding the text and one at its end. She also provides two versions of a talk Tolkien gave around the time he became fascinated with Finnish sagas, "On 'The Kalevala,' or Land of Heroes," and it is the best part of the book. It's a reminder that Tolkien was first and foremost a strong academic, able expertly to convey tricky concepts and win over his listeners. The unfinished story of Kullervo is interesting, especially for Tolkien completists, but "On 'The Kalevala' " is worthwhile for any reader interested in myth, saga and how stories transcend boundaries. --Noah Cruickshank, marketing manager, Open Books, Chicago, Ill.

Discover: An unfinished early work by J.R.R. Tolkien illuminates the beauty of Finnish mythology.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, hardcover, 9780544706262

Biography & Memoir

The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial

by Maggie Nelson


Poet and critic Maggie Nelson's The Red Parts is the piercing story of the murder of Nelson's aunt and the trial of her accused killer 36 years after the event. Blending a poet's passion and a journalist's cool eye, Nelson (The Art of Cruelty) has produced a distinctive story of an otherwise ordinary family's encounter with unspeakable violence.

Jane Mixer was a first-year student at the University of Michigan Law School when she decided to accept a ride with a stranger to her home in Muskegon in March 1969. She never made it past a cemetery a few miles from Ann Arbor, where her body, shot twice in the head and strangled, was found. It wasn't until 2004, when an unrelated DNA test connected retired nurse Gary Earl Leiterman to the crime, that this cold case was cracked.

Maggie Nelson is too wise to attach a facile label like "closure" to the end of the experience she and her family endured over the course of more than three decades. As the jury files out after rendering its verdict, she observes, " 'Justice' may have been done, but at this moment the courtroom is simply a room full of broken people, each racked with his or her particular grief, and the air heavy with them all." Murder trials efficiently serve to assess guilt or innocence, Nelson understands, but they only incidentally heal the wounds these violent crimes inflict on those who live on in their aftermath. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Discover: Maggie Nelson's taut memoir explores the long-unsolved murder of her aunt.

Graywolf Press, $16, paperback, 9781555977368

Business & Economics

Why Save the Bankers?: And Other Essays on Our Economic and Political Crisis

by Thomas Piketty, trans. by Seth Ackerman


Thomas Piketty may be the most important economist of the era. His Capital in the 21st Century robustly argued for a return to progressive taxation across borders in the face of the ever-growing wealth of the very rich. Piketty is known for his lucid, effective writing, and delivers more of it in Why Save the Bankers?, a collection of essays he wrote for the French newspaper Libération.

The essays date from 2008 to 2015, and mainly focus on the increasingly chaotic dealings within the Eurozone. Anyone with an interest in politics, monetary policy or international diplomacy will get a kick out of Piketty's clear discussion of choices that figures like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy made. Piketty also examines the United States' recovery from the Great Recession, the Syrian refugee crisis and the particular tax acrobatics that France's wealthiest perform to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars to the government.

While Why Save the Bankers? may be criticized by some as leftist, careful readers will easily see that Piketty is critical of all politicians (for example, he's ruthless toward both Sarkozy and François Hollande, his Socialist successor). Why Save the Bankers? is not a work of ideology, but a series of short, sometimes very funny, calls to common sense. --Noah Cruickshank, marketing manager, Open Books, Chicago, Ill.

Discover: Why Save the Bankers? distills economist Thomas Piketty's convincing arguments about inequality into easily digestible essays on modern social and political issues.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, hardcover, 9780544663329

Nature & Environment

Animal Internet: Nature and the Digital Revolution

by Alexander Pschera, trans. by Elisabeth Lauffer


Digitalization is often considered one cause for people's diminishing connection with the natural world, but in Animal Internet, Alexander Pschera proposes that the time we spend online has the ability to change our relationship to the wild for the better. At a time when animals and plants are going extinct at shocking rates--in rain forests alone, there is an estimated one extinction every six minutes--the natural world seems disconnected from modern human life. According to Pschera, most people know exceptionally little about how animals live and, in order to help them, he believes we need to understand more about them. This education can come through technology he calls the Animal Internet, a hyper-real way to experience the natural world.

Pschera discusses how animal reintroduction programs take data from transmitters embedded in animals and present the information on Facebook pages, creating a live-stream blog. Through social media, people can "friend" the animals and support initiatives that directly benefit them. This collaborative data sharing makes the animals part of the conversation for at least some humans and sensitizes people to the plights animals face. Just as social media has helped reveal the diversity of people and dismantle stereotypes, Pschera suggests that it can similarly increase our understanding of animals. He envisions a world where digital technology will allow for a new image of nature to emerge, one that is sensory, concrete and accurate. Animal Internet proposes this image will help save animals and preserve nature more effectively than any campaign or habitat ever will. --Justus Joseph, bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company

Discover: Alexander Pschera suggests that sharing wildlife data on the Internet will allow people to connect on a meaningful level with animals in the wild.

New Vessel Press, $14.95, paperback, 9781939931337

Children's & Young Adult

The Darkest Corners

by Kara Thomas


A young woman learns that truth and simplicity aren't always companions in this mystery-thriller filled with hairpin turns from Kara Thomas (Prep School Confidential as Kara Taylor).

Ten years ago, Tessa Lowell and her friend Callie were key witnesses in the murder trial of Wyatt Stokes, the suspect in the Ohio River Monster serial killer case. The Monster had murdered three young women and dumped their bodies on I-70 outside Tessa's hometown of Fayette, Pa. After Callie's cousin became the fourth victim one night when they were all together, Tessa and Callie's testimony put Stokes away for life. Now 18, Tessa has returned to Fayette after her lowlife father dies in jail. Callie's mother is happy to see Tessa, but 10 years apart has destroyed the girls' friendship. Callie parties to forget that horrible year, but Tessa can't forget, especially with Stokes's appeal coming up. When another teen girl turns up dead, the killer's m.o. matches the Monster's, and Tessa begins to wonder if she and Callie helped convict a serial killer or a scapegoat. As the girls dig for the truth, they come ever closer to the killer now stalking their town.

Tessa's complicated relationship with her absent mother and elder sister brings heart to a cerebral mystery wrapped in heart-pounding suspense. Thomas keeps it real with a jaded heroine from the have-nots societal segment who holds onto her humanity, and a frank illustration of failure in the justice system. Hand this one to older teens who love dark mysteries or fans of Netflix's Making a Murderer. --Jaclyn Fulwood, lead librarian at Del City Public Library, Okla.

Discover: In this gritty mystery, a teen girl realizes her testimony years ago may have put the wrong man behind bars.

Delacorte, $17.99, hardcover, 336p., ages 14-up, 9780553521450

The Big Book of Bugs

by Yuval Zommer


Even the squeamish will be attracted to The Big Book of Bugs like a bee to a flower, a moth to flame, a dung fly to "animal poo."

Laypeople often use "bug" to describe all the creepy-crawly things that fly, wriggle and sting. But "[t]o a scientist," states the opening spread, "a bug is a particular kind of insect with sharp mouthparts to stab and suck up food." British author-illustrator Yuval Zommer (The Big Blue Thing on the Hill), along with "bug expert" Barbara Taylor, employ the more inclusive definition of "bug" that allows for this gorgeously illustrated explosion of beetles, ladybugs, ants, bees, termites, dragonflies, pond bugs, spiders and more. Bugs have never looked better than in Zommer's colorful, often comical little portraits and glorious natural backdrops, from gardens to ponds.

Each artfully composed, oversized spread teems with life and mini-bug dramas, and the brief text is fun and accessible, a handful of catchy headlines with very short descriptions: "How does a beetle beetle along? A beetle scuttles on six legs. It has a hard shell, like a suit of armor, to keep its wings safe." "How does a butterfly flutter by?" "Does a centipede really have 100 legs?" Along the way, readers will be asked to find "two insects that look like leaves" or a funny blue fly that buzzes through all the pages. (There's a key to all the "Did You Finds...") By the end, two-legged whippersnappers will be convinced that bugs are not only intriguing and marvelous, but useful and deserving of respect. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: This giant, splendidly illustrated book of bugs will have children reaching for a magnifying glass instead of that fly swatter.

Thames & Hudson, $19.95, hardcover, 64p., ages 4-up, 9780500650677

Humor

The Bitchy Waiter: Tales, Tips & Trials From a Life in Food Service

by Darron Cardosa


Darron Cardosa did not aspire to be a waiter; what he really wanted to do was act or write. At the age of 13, while babysitting two younger brothers, Cardosa prepared their lunches and decided to act out the role of waiter. Thus, the bitchy waiter was born, and Cardosa has since parlayed every nasty encounter into a popular blog, now gathered into The Bitchy Waiter.

Cardosa dishes about customers who think they know more than bartenders, and those who launch full-out assaults on servers. He mocks those looking for pub grub at a fine dining restaurant and waxes vitriolic about those who want to split the check umpteen ways ("I had one nerve when I got to work today, and the group of people has found it--and they are riding it like a pony"). Cardosa's descriptions are on-point and scathing; he spares no one in his ranting and raving, particularly diners who leave a less-than-desired tip ("as long as I give good service and get a 20% tip (and not crabs), I'm good"). Occasionally the softer side of the bitchy waiter shows up, such as when he witnesses a doting husband sharing a moment with his Alzheimer's-stricken wife that leaves him feeling warm and fuzzy.

Cardosa does for wait staff what Anthony Bourdain did for kitchens: he exposes the ugly side of food service from the perspective of those working on the front lines. And he puts the potential restaurant customer on notice that someone is watching and recording their bad behavior. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: The Bitchy Waiter (aka Darron Cardosa) parlays his experiences with customers behaving badly into a biting collection of essays.

Sterling, $14.95, paperback, 9781454917243

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Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pub Date: 05/23/2017

ISBN:9781476755212

List Price: $25.00

 

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