Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, April 22, 2016


Avery Publishing Group: The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains by Robert H. Lustig

From My Shelf

Lion Forge: Little Pierrot Vol 1: Get the Moon by Alberto Varanda

Charlesbridge Teen: Blood and Ink by Stephen Davis

Reading Up on Independent Bookstore Day

Imagine what it's like to be a bookseller. People seem to have that dream... a lot. It tends to lean heavily upon endless hours set aside for reading among book-lined shelves and sleeping cats, interrupted occasionally by fascinating conversations with well-read customers. Admit it. You've imagined yourself there, too. We all have.

Next Saturday, April 30, will be the second annual Independent Bookstore Day. The rapid evolution of California Bookstore Day into IBD (and, in Canada, Authors for Indies Day) is another indicator of the resilience and creativity indie booksellers continue to exhibit in their collaborative efforts on both a national and local scale. As a former longtime bookseller, I can't begin to tell you how happy this makes me.

I'll be celebrating next week at my local bookstore (And since you are reading this, I suspect you'll be celebrating at yours as well). To prepare for the big day, I am currently re-reading Penelope Fitzgerald's The Bookshop. I have always loved novels with deep bookstore connections, like May Sarton's The Education of Harriet Hatfield or Christoper Morley's classics The Haunted Bookshop and Parnassus on Wheels.

It is nice to know the theme continues with more recent offerings like Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Firmin by Sam Savage and A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé, among many others.

You have your own favorites, of course, and there's still plenty of time to revisit one of them before heading out to your favorite local bookseller on Independent Bookstore Day. Mark your calendar. Indies not only appreciate your support, they need you. As Florence Green tells the bank manager in Fitzgerald's The Bookshop: "I can't run my shop at a loss. Shakespeare was a professional!" --Robert Gray, contributing editor


Picador USA: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande


Book Candy

Celebrating Shakespeare

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death tomorrow, Signature featured an illustrated guide to phrases Shakespeare invented, "five things Shakespeare taught me about sex," 25 authors on Shakespeare's 400th, and even a quiz: Which Shakespeare character are you?

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The clock is ticking. Mental Floss issued a challenge to book lovers: "Can you pick the author of each of the 30 books in just 60 seconds?"

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Gentleman, start your engine! Bestselling YA author John Green will be the celebrity pace car driver at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month for the Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, IndyStar reported.

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For his Jacket Everyday project, designer Steve St. Pierre's "invited people to submit the title of their would-be life story for which he then designs a beautiful and clever book jacket," Buzzfeed noted.

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Bookshelf showcased Sigurður Guðmundsson's Mountain, depicting "a certain process from a natural foundation to the man who has created his cultural products: rocks, turf, man, shoes, bread and books."


Quirk Books: Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix


Great Reads

Rediscover: The Real Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II turned 90 yesterday. She became the oldest ever British monarch in 2007 and, as of September 2015, surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning British monarch. Elizabeth's family has a history of longevity (her mother was 101 when she died), promising many more years of her record-breaking reign, complete with her famous pack of Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

The Queen's public demeanor as a figurehead head of state has often been stoically dutiful. Her private life and personal political views are kept deliberately opaque—she almost never gives interviews. In 2012, the same year as the Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking 60 years of Elizabeth's reign, broadcast journalist Andrew Marr released The Real Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (published as The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People in the U.K.). In his book, Marr, best known for A History of Modern Britain and its tie-in BBC program, gives a history of Elizabeth and, more intriguingly, a look at the behind-the-scenes workings of the royal household and the queen's private personality. It was last published in 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin ($17.99, 9781250022844). --Tobias Mutter


http://media.shelf-awareness.com/readers/2017Ads/KNOPF.0915.B1.THEVIETNAMWAR.gif


The Writer's Life

Book Brahmin: Lynne Kutsukake

photo: Edmond Lee

Lynne Kutsukake is a third-generation Japanese Canadian. She earned a master's degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto and has lived and studied in Japan. For many years, she worked as a librarian at the University of Toronto, specializing in Japanese materials. Her short fiction has appeared in GrainPrairie Fire, the Dalhousie Review, the Windsor Review and Ricepaper. In 2010, she was a finalist for the Journey Prize, awarded for best Canadian short story by an emerging writer. Her debut novel, The Translation of Love, is published by Doubleday (April 5, 2016).

On your nightstand now:

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. I am a devoted fan, and when I learned that Strout had a new novel, I rushed out to buy it. Janice Nimura's nonfiction work, Daughters of the Samurai, promises to be fascinating reading and covers a topic I am deeply interested in. It's about five young Japanese girls who were sent by the Japanese government in 1871 to study in America. Other books in the queue are A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin, City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg and There's Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter.

Favorite book when you were a child:

C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I really wanted a hidden door at the back of my own closet that would lead to a secret world.

Your top five authors:

For the beauty and precision of their sentences and for their remarkable ability to penetrate the human heart: Jhumpa Lahiri, Alice Munro, Kazuo Ishiguro, Virginia Woolf, Tanizaki Junichiro.

Book you've faked reading:

Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. There was a time in my life when it seemed that everyone around me had read it and loved it and couldn't stop talking about Jo and all the March sisters. But I just couldn't get into it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Laws of Evening by Mary Yukari Waters. The stories in this lovely collection are all set in Japan. Each one is a gem, filled with tenderness and quiet insight.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I love all the covers on the Haruki Murakami novels. They capture the quirky, off-kilter weirdness of the fictional worlds Murakami is so great at creating. 

Book you hid from your parents:

Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls. How embarrassing.

Book that changed your life:

Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. It made me realize that this was the literary world I had been seeking, one in which the people looked like me.

Favorite line from a book:

The final sentence in "The Dead" from James Joyce's Dubliners: "His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead." It's a perfect story, filled with perfect sentences. Whenever I read that last sentence, the whole world goes still.

Five books you'll never part with:

Only five? Impossible to choose, I want to keep them all! Anyway, here's a start: A Gesture Life by Chang-Rae Lee, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud.

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

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. From its magical opening sentence, this work cast a hypnotic spell over me. I would like to be held in its thrall once again, just like the first time.


Counterpoint: Gangster Nation by Tod Goldberg


Book Review

Fiction

Thirst

by Benjamin Warner


What would you do if all the water that wasn't bottled suddenly disappeared? In this tense debut thriller, Benjamin Warner, creative writing instructor at Towson University in Maryland, takes this premise and spins a fast-paced story about Eddie Chapman and his wife, Laura. After being stuck in a traffic jam for hours on his way home from work, Eddie can no longer wait for the police and ambulances to arrive. Having run track in college, Eddie thinks he has the stamina to run the eight or nine miles to his house, so he abandons his car and sets off. He encounters clusters of people along the way, on the highway and then on the town's streets. They are all experiencing the same problems: no cell service, no electricity and no responses from any of the powers that be--police, ambulances, the power company or the water company. Worse yet, there's no water in anyone's taps. Even the stream bed near Eddie's home is empty. The trees and bushes along the banks have turned to powdery ash, as if a great fire had ripped through the area, instantly incinerating everything in its path.

Warner gives us a beautiful portrayal of a couple desperate for water, or anything that might quench their thirst, as they fade in and out of consciousness due to dehydration. He does a stellar job of depicting the chaos that would ensue if water suddenly disappeared, with no explanations as to how or why it vanished or when it might return. Make sure a tall glass of something cold is nearby when before enjoying Thirst. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: When all water instantly disappears, a man and his wife confront the chaos that ensues.

Bloomsbury, $26, hardcover, 9781632862150

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover


The Obsession

by Nora Roberts


One night changes everything in The Obsession by Nora Roberts (The Liar), a romantic suspense novel that opens with a horrifying scene. Naomi Bowes, an innocent 12-year-old from West Virginia, awakens on a stormy summer night, unable to sleep. When she sees shadows in the woods and spies her father, she secretly follows him to a grisly crime scene: a girl--bound, tortured and raped--trapped in a root cellar. After her father departs, Naomi rescues the injured girl and brings her to safety--and discovers that her overbearing father, a church deacon, is actually a demented serial killer. Naomi is instrumental in her father being sent to prison for life.

Seventeen years later, Naomi lives in Sunrise Cove, a peaceful, tight-knit community in Washington State, and has reinvented herself as Naomi Carson. She is a successful fine art photographer who thinks she's finally found a place to call home, though she is a loner who has problems trusting others and chronic nightmares. She buys and begins a major renovation on a 10-bedroom house, makes friends, adopts a dog and even falls in love. But when a series of brutal killings plague the area, Naomi's past is suddenly resurrected--as are her fears.

This spellbinding, well-constructed story plunges deep into the nature of obsession--Naomi's brother, an FBI agent desperate to understand his imprisoned father's twisted mind; and a vicious serial killer intent on striking again--and damage to the soul and psyche of a haunted woman. Roberts creates a strong, determined protagonist with whom readers can identify and empathize. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A woman tries to reinvent her life after her father commits a notorious series of horrific sex crimes.

Berkley, $28, hardcover, 9780399175169

The Regional Office Is Under Attack!

by Manuel Gonzales


With a title like something from a B-movie, The Regional Office Is Under Attack! is a wild mashup of comics, sci-fi, fairy tales, thrillers and literary fiction. The Regional Office is a secret global organization located deep beneath the Midtown Manhattan skyscraper that houses its cover company, Morrison World Travel Concern. Directed by the administrator, Mr. Niles, and his co-founder, the mystic Oyemi, the Regional Office is a complex hierarchy of women oracles and operatives with a mission to save the world "from destruction, from self-annihilation, from the evil forces of darkness, from interdimensional war strikes, from alien forces." And so they do--until their recruiter and trainer, Henry, and top operative Emma turn against the organization and stage a dawn attack.

Manuel Gonzales's (The Miniature Wife) rambunctious storytelling reflects a youth of video games and Terry Brooks novels. But his spitfire first novel doesn't shy from the more prosaic themes of identity, love, loyalty and ambition. Its violence and bot-war shenanigans are interrupted by excerpts from a presumed scholarly study of the Regional Office's history, as if it were an organization with a trajectory of growth and decline, like some sort of posse comitatus.

The Regional Office Is Under Attack! may occasionally go a bit over the top, but Gonzales brings it down to earth. When laser bullets are flying and severed mechanical limbs are crawling along the halls, he reminds readers that above this underground New York City fantasy world are a "piss-poor Mets team and so-so Affleck movies." When push comes to shove (as it often literally does), Gonzales pulls off an amusing winner. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Gonzales's wild first novel is part fantasy, part sci-fi, part thriller--and wholly original.

Riverhead Books, $28, hardcover, 9781594632419

The Miner

by Natsume Sōseki, trans. by Jay Rubin


Natsume Sōseki (1867-1967) played a major part in establishing the modern Japanese novel with works such as Botchan and I Am Cat, published in the early 20th century. This new edition of The Miner reintroduces English-speaking audiences to one of the great Japanese novelist's least-appreciated novels. Published serially starting in 1908, The Miner received almost universal pans from Japanese critics. For years afterward, that initial appraisal was rarely reconsidered.

The Miner is prickly and difficult. Thankfully, the fantastic introduction by celebrated novelist Haruki Murakami and the lengthy afterword by translator Jay Rubin provide context and analysis to help the reader appreciate the stylistic and intellectual daring that make The Miner an engrossing read. The protagonist is a disaffected young man of middle- to upper-class provenance who meets a procurer--a man who earns a fee convincing desperate souls to work in the mine--and follows him to "the hole." There, he makes a hellish descent into the bowels of the mine and an equally treacherous trip back to the surface. That, essentially, is the entire plot.

What Sōseki hangs upon that skeleton of a plot, however, is astonishing. Mirroring the protagonist's journey into the mine, Sōseki burrows into every thought that the character has, documenting the perambulations of each in exhausting detail. While there is not much in The Miner that might be described as entertaining in the classical, novelistic sense, the story nevertheless possesses great value for the fantastic advances it makes in describing human consciousness. A must for Sōseki fans and those fascinated by the complexities of the mind. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Discover: This revised translation of The Miner presents an underappreciated gem from one of Japan's greatest novelists.

Gallic Books/Aardvark Bureau, $15.95, paperback, 9781910709023

Mon Amie Américaine

by Michèle Halberstadt, trans. by Bruce Benderson


Parisian Michèle and New Yorker Molly have been friends for many years. As colleagues in the film industry, they travel together, and talk on the phone nearly daily--until, at 40, Molly collapses in her office and becomes comatose. Michèle Halberstadt's (The Pianist in the Dark) novel Mon Amie Américaine takes the form of a long letter Michèle writes to Molly, in lieu of speaking, because "The words I can't share with you are choking me." As Molly remains unresponsive, uncomfortable truths are revealed behind a presumably lifelong friendship.

Michèle's letter acts as a diary, an account of her experience of Molly's near death: getting the news; tracking her friend's progress (or lack thereof); being forbidden to visit; and finally, after Molly awakens several months later, discovering a different person from the one she's missed. The new Molly is hesitant, frightened and languid where the old one was a high-powered businesswoman, vibrant and fun. Meanwhile, Michèle suffers injuries in her own life, with no Molly to turn to.

Bruce Benderson's translation from the French is melodic and evokes fluent but accented English, exactly as the reader expects Michèle to sound. Her tone ranges from elegiac to loving to frustrated ("How many times in the last ten years have I repeated you ought to see a specialist") to self-pitying and to resigned. This love letter to friendship ends by considering what we are willing to do for those we love, and what obstacles even friendship may be unable to overcome. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: In a long letter to a friend in a coma, a Parisian woman meditates on friendship.

Other Press, $14.95, paperback, 9781590517598

Food & Wine

Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for Contemporary Kitchens

by Pati Jinich


Like the verb derived from the noun salsa--salsear, meaning making "something better, adding an extra layer of life, of seasoning, of joy"--Pati Jinich's passion is to share the food of her native Mexico while enhancing it with her multi-ethnic heritage. Host of the PBS series Pati's Mexican Table and official chef of the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., Jinich offers easy-to-follow recipes in Mexican Today, alongside tips, history and stories.

"Mexican cuisine has become borderless," she writes, noting that "Tex-Mex" has expanded to Cal-Mex, Baja Fresh, Chicago-Mex, Fusion Mex and more. Among more than 100 recipes (from soups to desserts) are Mexican Pizza and other "Mexicanized" favorites, including a burger made with chipotle-spiked pork and chorizo instead of beef, and a gravlax sandwich with salmon cured in tequila rather than the traditional Scandinavian aquavit. A "Med-Mex" salad includes olives, feta, avocados and jalapenos.

Jinich's maternal family came to Mexico from Austria after World War II; her great-aunt became a renowned pastry chef. Her paternal grandmother escaped Eastern European pogroms. Matzo ball soup with jalapenos, and grandmother's French classic Floating Island, with the twist of Mexican eggnog replacing the custard, reflect Jinich's roots. Traditionalists need not worry that Mexican "standards" are neglected: the chef includes chapters dedicated to tacos and enchiladas.

Every recipe has an English and a Spanish name, and sidebars such as "Shopping for and Using Dried Chiles" enlighten the uninitiated. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

Discover: This Mexican cookbook crosses borders and offers new spins on traditional recipes.

Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, hardcover, 9780544557246

History

The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece

by Laura Cumming


British art critic and author Laura Cumming (A Face to the World) is an expert in art history and theory, but cares most about how art affects people. In The Vanishing Velázquez, she tells the story of Victorian printer, bookseller and art collector John Snare. At an auction in 1845, he lucked into a grimy portrait of Charles I that he recognized as a painting by Diego Velázquez. He researched and wrote a pamphlet to accompany his London exhibition of the portrait, which stirred up much interest and controversy: Was it genuine? If so, how could a mere bookseller have acquired it? Cumming writes that the pamphlet is "a biography of the picture, but it is also a hymn of praise. He is an evangelist for his Velázquez: ...he wants the world to see and love it as he does." The painting was taken from Snare twice, and he suffered through a dramatic legal trial to establish its ownership and provenance. He then immigrated with it to New York City, where he lived the rest of his life, exhibiting it, refusing to sell it and eventually dying alone in poverty. The portrait vanished in 1898, and it is still missing.

Cumming writes with deep feeling, critical expertise and lovely prose, alternating between the career and thinly documented life of Diego Velázquez, a brilliant and humane artist who she believes can be intimately known through his art, and the story of an equally mysterious art lover who sacrificed everything to live with one great work. --Sara Catterall 

Discover: The story of a man's self-destructive devotion to an extraordinary portrait, and of the artist who created it.

Scribner, $28, hardcover, 9781476762159

Essays & Criticism

The House That Made Me: Writers Reflect on the Places and People That Defined Them

by Grant Jarrett, editor


The House That Made Me collects essays by 19 writers reflecting on their childhood homes (or whichever home each writer has found most influential). Editor Grant Jarrett developed the idea for this anthology while contemplating his own first address via Google Earth, and he directs the contributors to that software. While the majority of essays hew close to Jarrett's initial notion, some also riff on the concept: Roy Kesey considers those who view our homes from above, including birds, spies, angels, gods, astronauts and children climbing on roofs, as he once did.

The resulting assembly of voices offers a range of approaches and backgrounds: Kris Radish's nostalgia for an idyllic rural community; Patricia Jabbeh Wesley's attempts at home-building in Liberia just before civil war erupted; and the juxtaposition of Pamela Erens's privileged upbringing on the lake in Chicago and Jeffery Renard Allen's difficult one in that same city's Southside. Justine Musk writes of the possibility that "a person has two homes: the place where you were born (literally, not metaphorically), and the place that fits your soul." As she works to leave her small Canadian hometown for Los Angeles: "It's that sense of not-belonging that can become, slowly and over time, its own kind of belonging." While each essay is a worthy and thought-provoking piece of craft, the true achievement is in the sum of these parts, a chorus of diverse experiences that work together to define "home" in all of its possibilities. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: Carefully curated essays take on the concept of home from varied points of view.

Spark Press, $17, paperback, 9781940716312

Religion

The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World's Oldest Bible

by Chanan Tigay


In 1883, a Jerusalem antiquities merchant named Moses Wilhelm Shapira offered to sell the British Museum what he claimed was an ancient copy of Deuteronomy for the breathtaking sum of £1 million (about £110 million, or $160 million, today). After initial popular and scholarly excitement, the scrolls were dismissed as frauds. Shapira committed suicide soon after, and his scrolls disappeared.

Israeli journalist Chanan Tigay first heard the story of Shapira's scrolls in 2010. The tale caught his imagination, especially when he learned that Shapira's manuscripts were strikingly similar in form and reputed provenance to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the discovery of which six decades later had fundamentally changed Biblical scholarship. A small group of scholars had come to believe that Shapira's scrolls might have been authentic. But without the scrolls themselves, no one could know.

The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World's Oldest Bible tells the story of Tigay's attempt to locate Shapira's missing scrolls, a four-continent, 15-year trail of red herrings, unexpected leads and repeated dead ends that led him to academic archives, antiquarian booksellers, museum storerooms, a hotel attic and a surprising number of Anglican church services. Tigay places his search against the background of not only Shapira's life, but also the broader context of the economic revival of Ottoman Jerusalem in the 19th century, venomous rivalries in the developing fields of Middle Eastern archeology and biblical textual criticism, and the art of faking antiquities.

The Lost Book of Moses is half treasure hunt, half research project, and wholly engaging. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Discover: A journalist's quest to untangle a historical mystery.

Ecco, $27.99, hardcover, 9780062206411

Children's & Young Adult

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood

by Liesl Shurtliff


In Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood, Liesl Shurtliff returns to the fairy-tale world she first explored in the award-winning Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. Now Rump's pal, the strong-minded 12-year-old Red, is on her own quest. Yes, there's a wolf, a huntsman and a granny who needs saving, but the charm of Shurtliff's retelling is how she imbues the storybook tropes with vibrant humanity.

Red's granny, a powerful witch, taught her magic early on, but after growing roses from her nose and other disastrous mistakes, Red has sworn off spell-casting as "unpredictable, finicky, and dangerous." When Granny falls ill, Red gathers her courage and decides to give magic one last try, setting off into the perilous woods to fetch the ingredients for a potion to cure her. Saddled early on with the annoyingly cheerful Goldie (who, not surprisingly, loves porridge), Red can barely contain her exasperation: "Every word she spoke, every little movement she made, was like an itchy bite, and her curls made me dizzy." But the two forge a friendship that carries them through adventures with pixies, dwarves, a mysterious enchantress and more than one intriguing beast. Shurtliff offers up delights like an enchanted path that opens for Red alone as she travels through the woods, and a certain ruby-hued cloak that turns out to be more than just a fashion accessory. The ending is moving and filled with hope, as Red learns that only fear can make magic go awry. --Ann Shaffer, freelance writer and editor

Discover: On the heels of Liesl Shurtliff's Rump and Jack, Red retells the story of the strong-minded girl in the red riding hood as a quest for friendship and self-knowledge.

Knopf, $16.99, hardcover, 288p., ages 9-12, 9780385755832

This Land Is Our Land: A History of American Immigration

by Linda Barrett Osborne


The United States is a melting pot, and immigration is a hot topic.

All eight of author Linda Barrett Osborne's grandparents were born in Italy, and all of them came through New York's Ellis Island in the late 1800s. As Osborne points out, "The ancestors of everyone who lives here, except for the Native Americans 'discovered' in North America by Europeans in the early sixteenth century, came from somewhere else." The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of hope around the world, welcomes "Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." And sometimes not. This Land Is Your Land shows, for better or for worse, just how similar immigration policy has sounded since the time of Benjamin Franklin--a perpetual wavering between openness and restriction.

Osborne (Traveling the Freedom Road; Miles to Go for Freedom) tells the story of American immigration with dozens of personal anecdotes that make the statistics live and breathe, giving essential, often eye-opening context to today's debates. Abundant high-quality historical photographs and illustrations--and a time line of immigration history--further invigorate the author's engaging, pithy text that covers "Germans, Irish and Nativists"; "Italians, Jews, and Eastern Europeans"; "Immigrants from Asia"; "Latin American Immigrants"; "Refugees"; and immigration from "World War II into the Twenty-First Century." The handsome two-column design, illustrated with so many wonderful faces of newcomers from around the world, goes a long way to help clarify and enliven this tragic and triumphant, ever-evolving global story. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: This illuminating, generously illustrated book about the history of American immigration provides a valuable context to today's debates for young readers.

Abrams, $24.95, hardcover, 128p., ages 11-14, 9781419716607

Absolutely One Thing: Featuring Charlie and Lola

by Lauren Child


Math is not a scary, abstracted monolith, it's folded into everyday life in countless ways. Leave it to British author-illustrator Lauren Child's (I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato) ever-charming Charlie and his little sister Lola to make this point with panache.

Absolutely One Thing refers to how many treats Charlie and Lola get to choose when they go to the store with Mom: "One thing EACH," says Charlie, "which means TWO actual things." The delightfully mish-mashed spread--in Child's trademark scratchy line drawings with hodge-podge collage elements--shows Lola on her stomach on the floor, a supernaturally giant green apple in the middle, and Charlie holding one apple in each hand. "ONE for me, ONE for you," and a big "2÷2=1" looms above them, for good measure. Mom says they have to be ready to leave in 10 minutes, which, for Charlie, is the sum total of three minutes of tooth-brushing, one minute of remembering he forgot to eat breakfast, four minutes to eat "puffa pops," three minutes to brush his teeth again, and "EIGHT minutes to find Lola's left shoe." (That makes them 19 minus 10 minutes late.) Then, Lola needs to count the dots on her dress, but isn't sure what comes after 12. (She has no trouble, however, counting "twenty-seventeen" ladybugs on the way to the store, though she does puzzle over how many shoes the leggy bugs would wear.)

What really matters is that once they get to the store Lola pronounces, "Two things" and Mom says "Absolutely ONE thing," which is math that never ever changes. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Lauren Child (with the help of Charlie and Lola) introduces math as a part of every busy day in this fresh, funny picture book.

Candlewick, $17.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9780763687281

Poetry

Receipt: Poems

by Karen Leona Anderson


Like Prufrock's coffee spoons, an existence can be measured by its detritus, or so attests Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate Karen Leona Anderson, whose Receipt: Poems mines recipes and receipts for their larger context. Under Anderson's pen, these scraps metamorphose into records of a life lived, from doubts to squabbles to celebrations, measuring cups of sugar and teaspoons of vanilla much like the passage of time.

Receipt's range allows readers to feel as if they're shadowing Anderson's every footstep, from the drugstore to the kitchen, the dressing room to the online shopping cart. In "SKIRT ($26.96 T.J. Maxx)," a constricting piece of cloth becomes a metaphor for the pressures of womanhood. She writes, "I can't/ pin up a whole half/ of the species. I can't stop./ I guess a good skirt/ would help... I guess the force with which/ I pleat myself back to myself." These glimpses at the psyche pepper every poem like a condiment, the ingredient that gives them their heft. Where lesser poets might stop at the gimmick, Anderson unravels each garment until we're left with the barest, most essential questions: What does it mean to be a human (woman) in this world?

Receipt doesn't contain a definitive answer, but its vital, probing questions get the reader one step closer. It's a celebration of the banal: the scraps we often throw away, the mall stores of our youth, TV dinners and vintage Betty Crocker, the artifacts that form a life entire. --Linnie Greene, freelance writer

Discover: Receipt mines recipes and receipts for their larger context, unraveling what we make and consume to discover the narratives they form.

Milkweed Editions, $16, paperback, 9781571314727

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Buy this book

Publisher:
St. Martin's Press

Pub Date:
September 12, 2017

ISBN:
9781250093424

List Price: $26.99

 

Dear Reader,

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF IVAN ISAENKO brings to life something that we’ve all experienced on some level—that transformation that can only come from being connected with another human being. 

Ivan is a lifelong resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. Life has left him snarky, yet endearing, and totally riddled with defense mechanisms. He curates a very detached and carefully managed life for himself to avoid feeling too much. But when Polina arrives, he wants something for the first time in his life. He wants her to live.

Ultimately, Ivan’s story is about choosing life over fear and embracing the richness held inside of lives we sometimes write off. This makes it a perfect choice for those book club discussions that you can’t stop thinking about for days.

Write me at sstambac@gmail.com for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies! 

Warmly,
Scott Stambach

http://www.scottstambach.com

 

Buy this book 

Publisher:
Wednesday Books

Pub Date:
September 19, 2017

ISBN:
9781250081872

List Price: $15.99

 

Dear Reader,

I love that our PBS Victoria series is so popular in the U.S., and it was great fun writing the novel. I pored through Victoria's diaries, and I think the events of her younger years make for a captivating story. So excited it's coming out in paperback, and I hope you love it. 

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250045478

 
  

Buy this book

Publisher:
St. Martin's Press

Pub Date:
September 26, 2017

ISBN:
9781250045478

List Price: $16.99

 

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