Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, July 4, 2017


From My Shelf

Clarkson Potter Publishers: Exciting Games for Readers and Word Lovers

Quirk Books: Holiday Gift Guide

Real Heroes

To my way of thinking, unearthing real-life heroes that the world knows little, if anything, about is always time well spent--and often involves a fascinating story, too. In her latest novel, The Alice Network (Morrow), Kate Quinn introduces readers to a ring of female spies that operated during World War I.

The year is 1947, and Charlotte "Charlie" St. Clair, a young, unmarried socialite with a baby on the way, sets out for Switzerland to have her "little problem" dealt with before her very proper parents punt her from the family. Charlie has other plans, though, and takes advantage of a quick stop in England to put them into play. Her beloved cousin Rose disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, and Charlie has the name and location of someone who might be able to find her. Enter Evelyn Gardiner, a woman who spent the war spying for the British--and for whom the past has taken a serious toll: "a tall gaunt woman in a faded print dress, her graying hair straggling around a time-raved face. She could have been fifty, or she could have been seventy. She had the Luger in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other.... 'I'm Eve Gardiner.... And I don't know anything about this cousin of yours.'" 

Despite their rocky beginning, Charlie and Eve join forces, setting out on a journey to discover truths they both desperately need but never would have searched for without the other. Shifting between Eve's time spying in 1915 and their present-day exploits via alternating chapters, Quinn expertly weaves the women's experiences together, tying two disparate individuals to each other in the most meaningful of ways. Smart, suspenseful and adventurous, The Alice Network is a worthy homage to the female spies of World War I of which Quinn should be proud. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers


Workman Publishing: Enter to Win a Library of Our Bestselling Holiday Gifts


Book Candy

Things Hardcore Bookworms Do

Lit Reactor considered "10 things only hardcore bookworms do."

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"What literary video game should you play?" asked Quirk Books.

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Condé Nast Traveler asked 22 foreign ambassadors to the U.S. "to pick the book they believe first-time visitors to their country should read before they arrive."

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"Tyrion would be pleased." Buzzfeed reported that "this Game of Thrones bar just opened and it looks pretty damn legit."

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"The Boston Public Library has a 'car wash' for books," Atlas Obscura reported.

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Brightly shared "fun word games to keep your kids learning this summer."


Storey Publishing: The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich


Great Reads

Rediscover: A People's History of the United States

Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States was a landmark of literal popular history--a ground-up view of the American experience focusing on the masses of downtrodden, oppressed, and often ignored groups over the powerful elite highlighted in traditional histories. From the first chapter, which chronicles the barbarity inflicted by Columbus on the indigenous Arawaks, Zinn paints a grim picture of events usually sanitized in American classrooms. His heroes are labor leaders, economic insurgents, slave rebels and anti-war activists, not the wealthy or jingoistic who propelled history in their own interests at the expense of others. Since its first publication in 1980, A People's History of the United States, a runner-up for the National Book Award, has sold more than two million copies and been revised and updated several times. It was last published in 2015 with a new introduction by Anthony Arnove (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, $19.99, 9780062397348).

Howard Zinn's death in 2010 marked the loss of a great historian and social activist. In a 2007 letter to the New York Times Book Review, responding to criticism of A Young People's History of the United States, Zinn wrote: "I want young people to understand that ours is a beautiful country, but it has been taken over by men who have no respect for human rights or constitutional liberties. Our people are basically decent and caring, and our highest ideals are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, which says that all of us have an equal right to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' The history of our country, I point out in my book, is a striving, against corporate robber barons and war makers, to make those ideals a reality." --Tobias Mutter


Avery Publishing Group: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams


The Writer's Life

Elaine M. Hayes: Discovering Sarah Vaughan

photo: Nick Kramer

Elaine M. Hayes, jazz historian, writer and editor, is recognized within the music history community as the expert on Sarah Vaughan. She earned her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, and lives in Seattle with her husband and son.

Hayes's meticulously researched biography, Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan (Ecco, $27.99), focuses on the voice of one of the most amazing vocalists of the 20th century. Hayes weaves in the story of Vaughan's life, along with racial, social, and gender history and issues.

You've said that Sarah Vaughan was your crossover moment.

I was trained as a classical musician and didn't discover Sarah until college. I immediately fell in love with her voice--the way she used her vibrato, the way she'd swoop from the bottom of a range up to the top; it was very exciting. In graduate school, when I took a seminar on women and jazz, I decided to write a paper on her and it grew from there.

There are many ways race impacted Sarah's life and career. Most of them need no explanation--after all, she toured in the South in the '40s, '50s and '60s. But one aspect is not so obvious: the way white critics discussed vocalists. Vaughan's tone was "full and rich like velvet or oozing honey, yet agile and supple, almost light as air." Yet, white female voices were considered beautiful, feminine, while black voices were not.

Since the music was heard on the radio, listeners had to be told what kind of person was singing. White critics were invested in reinforcing racial barriers, so they employed code words to maintain those boundaries, like "earthy," and used a very limited vocabulary for black voices. Black critics, black writers didn't have the same agenda. To them, black singers like Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington and other traditional blues shouters had very beautiful voices.

It was a way to keep white listeners from getting too emotionally invested in black performers. The one thing I love about Sarah is that her music is very emotionally intimate--she's talking about my life. Creating that kind of human connection between white listeners and a black person was frowned upon. So the way that the voices were talked about perpetuated beliefs.

Vaughan was typecast as a blues or jazz singer, while white vocalists had "the freedom of flexibility and the privilege of choice." However, Dave Garroway, in his radio broadcasts in the late '40s, did not "reduce Vaughan to her body." Can you describe what that meant?

When I listened to Garroway's radio broadcasts, he would talk about her voice using a lot of the vocabulary that had been used to describe white vocalists. This is not to say in any way that Vaughan was not an African-American vocalist, but he seemed less interested in maintaining the barriers we were talking about. He would tell people to close their eyes and relax their minds and just enjoy the sound. His approach to Vaughan blurred racial boundaries.

There is so much in your book about racial, social, gender issues as seen through the prism of Sarah Vaughan, but... her voice! "Vaughan... together with her fellow musicians, created a seamless progression of tone colors and timbres as each pairing came in and out of focus. Together, they crafted a distinct sonic world."

When I would interview the musicians she worked with, they would describe her as an instrumentalist. In the context of how jazz singers worked, that's the highest praise they could give. Actively responding to the musicians... that was just one of the things that made her artistry exceptional.

Her singing changed the outlooks of musicians and critics. She left them, especially vocalists, "gasping in amazement at her daring innovations and vocal dexterity."

What she did with her voice was technically very difficult, and her harmonic choices--she'd choose these notes that weren't obvious in the harmonic framework. A really great album that shows this is Sarah Vaughan Live at Town Hall (1947) with Lester Young. One of the things that makes this so great is you can hear how the audience responded to her singing. Listen to "I Cover the Waterfront," or "I Cried for You."

"Mean to Me" from the album is not available, but her recording from 1945, backed by Dizzy Gillespie's Septet (with Charlie Parker on alto sax and Max Roach on drums) is. I wish we had a live performance of this band!

When we listen to "Ave Maria" (1951), we can hear how Vaughan, with her four-octave contralto, could easily have become an opera singer.

It's my sense that that was one of her dreams. Marian Anderson was one of her idols. She had the voice, but she was black and came from a working-class home, and classical music required access to certain kinds of teachers, conservatories, learning foreign languages--there was a financial and class barrier.

In the '50s, some of her greatest supporters/critics accused her of selling out, of being too commercial. "Critics believed that musicians, especially black musicians, had a moral obligation to perform (and record) jazz, and that they should remain untarnished by crass commercialism." But as Nat King Cole said, why starve?

Billy Eckstine, another black crooner, said, "Would you feel better if I died from a drug overdose and couldn't feed my family?" The critics created an idea of how black artistry should work.

Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie--all jazz musicians who definitely had jazz cred--they wanted to be successful as possible, and they understood that was related to financial and commercial success.

That would also give them power, more control over their art.

Exactly. Sarah became a pretty popular singer in the '50s, and as she made the transition from jazz and bepop to pop, critics got really angry with her. But she wanted the freedom to sing what she wanted. In the '50s, she was fine-tuning her style, so she could kind of sneak in a lot of jazz elements into pop songs. She became quite good at singing for a pop audience while remaining interesting to a jazz fan.

Then she widened her audience and moved into what you call her third stage, when she emerged as a "symphonic diva."

In the 1960s, jazz (and pop) had a really hard time as rock became huge, so musicians had to figure out how to make a living. Sarah had a number of very difficult years, but in the process, she found a new opportunity--she started singing with symphony orchestras. It allowed her to first of all find beautiful venues where she was treated with respect and appreciated, but also allowed her to explore her operatic side.

Vaughan insisted on being considered a "singer," rather than being pigeonholed. When she made music, she "became a human being instead of an African-American. It released her from social and cultural limitations." But she wasn't free from the limitations of being a woman at her particular time in the world. She was only free on the stage.

I think so. Near the end of her life, she wrote an op-ed for USA Today. She talked about the special meaning music had for her. Going into the recording studio, differences in age, in musical style, in race, gender--they all disappeared in the moment of making music. Singing, communicating who she was through her voice, expressing herself... but once she stepped off the stage, there was still the real world. --Marilyn Dahl


Trellis Publishing: Gift from the Garden by Bernie DuBois


Book Review

Fiction

Once, in Lourdes

by Sharon Solwitz


Lourdes, Mich., in 1968 is home to high school seniors Kay, Saint, CJ and Vera. The insular foursome hangs out in a park where they play bridge, listen to music and rail about matters both timeless and of the '60s: Vietnam, God, sexuality, drugs, race relations and the eternal black hole of teenage angst. One day, magnetic Vera, who wields a physical deformity like a weapon, challenges the friends to reveal their ugliest secrets. The dare leads to a pact so defining the group agrees to wait 14 days to carry it out, in order to ensure each member's dedication to the others.

Once, in Lourdes is Sharon Solwitz's deeply disconcerting portrait of four troubled teens bonding on the verge of adulthood, struggling to keep afloat amidst the problems that threaten to consume them. Through the perspective of overweight, sensitive Kay, Solwitz explores the pressures endured, risks taken and prices paid by each teen over the two-week period of their pact, culminating in the night of its deadline.

Solwitz (Blood and Milk), English professor at Purdue University and National Jewish Book Award finalist, flays each character wide and exposes every soft corner of their cores. The story never loses its power or focus under her steady hand, despite the wide swath of emotions and multitude of dysfunctions working on her characters. A powerful portrait of friendship, pain, anger, self-control and identity, Once, in Lourdes is a coming-of-age story unlike any other. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: Four best friends grappling with difficult problems make a pact that will change their lives forever.

Spiegel & Grau, $27, hardcover, 320p., 9780812989236

Legend Press: Lose yourself in a legendary classic - Click to win a copy


Becoming Bonnie

by Jenni L. Walsh


Jenni L. Walsh imagines the story of the quintessential good girl turned gangster's moll in her debut novel, Becoming Bonnie. Bonnelyn Parker has always been a straight-A student and a straight-arrow girl. Since her daddy died, she's toiled extra hard to help her mama around the house while working nights and weekends at a local diner. But times are tight in Prohibition-era Dallas, and when Bonnelyn loses her diner job, she's not sure how her family will make ends meet. Her rebellious best friend Blanche drags her along to Doc's, a local speakeasy that might have jobs for them both, and Bonnelyn starts down a different path--one that will change both her life and name.

Bonnelyn's first-person voice is distinctive and charming: she's bookish, plainspoken and fiercely loyal to her family and to Roy Thornton, the boy she's loved since they were little. But she has dreams of her own, and they include more than scraping by. "This here is the twenties," she says. "Women can vote; women are equals, wanting to make a name for themselves." Bonnelyn is unsettled but seduced by the free-and-easy atmosphere of Doc's and the tip money that begins to ease her family's financial burdens. As her new life (complete with an appealing new boy, Clyde) barrels toward her old one on a collision course, Bonnelyn must decide what name she wants to make for herself. Walsh's rollicking narrative will have readers rooting for Bonnelyn-turned-Bonnie every (dance) step of the way. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Jenni L. Walsh's debut novel brings to life the woman who became one half of gunslinging duo Bonnie and Clyde.

Forge, $25.99, hardcover, 304p., 9780765390189

Prospect Park Books: Addicted to Americana: Celebrating Classic & Kitschy American Life & Style by Charles Phoenix


A French Wedding

by Hannah Tunnicliffe


In Hannah Tunnicliffe's A French Wedding, a former Parisian restaurateur serves as private chef for six college friends--and their significant others--who gather in a small French coastal town to eat, drink and be merry. Their celebration marks the 40th birthday of Max Dresner, a party boy and rogue rock star who's reassessing his life.

Juliette is a workaholic French chef who faces the breakup of a meaningful romantic relationship and tries to manage Delphine, her Paris eatery. When Juliette chooses to give up ownership of the café and care for her parents, she fears her dreams are forever shattered. Hired by Max as a housekeeper, she tends to his guests. The group includes Nina and Lars, college sweethearts, and their 15-year-old daughter, Sophie; Rosie and her surgeon husband, Hugo, an outsider to the clique; Eddie, who used to date Rosie in college, and his current girlfriend, Beth, an American hairdresser, younger than Eddie and the rest; and Helen, a free spirit and avant-garde art gallery owner, to whom Max finally intends to propose marriage over the weekend.

While throughout the reunion the guests savor Juliette's gourmet food and the wine flows, spirits ultimately sour. Add percolating secrets, old resentments and an unexpected illness, and it looks like Max's birthday party--and his sincere intent to profess publicly his love for Helen--may fall flat.

Tunnicliffe's well-drawn characters are forced to reconcile the past and face up to emotional midlife struggles. This is a bittersweet with a deeply satisfying conclusion. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines.

Discover: Close-knit college friends with a long, sordid past reunite in the French countryside to celebrate the 40th birthday of one of their own.

Doubleday, $26.95, hardcover, 320p., 9780385541848

Sounds True: Practice You: A Journal by Elena Brower


Mystery & Thriller

Magpie Murders

by Anthony Horowitz


Anthony Horowitz (the Alex Rider series, Moriarty) has created an inventive and layered mystery in Magpie Murders. The story begins as editor Susan Ryeland reads the latest manuscript from Alan Conway, one of Britain's most popular mystery writers. Conway's novel, Magpie Murders, clearly influenced by Agatha Christie, stars a tidy German detective named Atticus Pünd, and is set in a small, 1950s English village. But after almost 200 pages, Atticus Pünd has nearly solved the crime and is about to announce his conclusions when the manuscript stops, leaving Susan to bemusedly wonder how it ends.

The next day, Alan Conway is found dead, having apparently jumped from the roof of his own house. Setting off from London to Alan's countryside estate, Susan begins to recognize that the characters and locations in Magpie Murders were borrowed from Alan's life, and she wonders if the incomplete manuscript is a message from the author.

The novel-within-a-novel and sly references to the editing and writing worlds engage readers in a smart story. With a mix of classic whodunit and modern detection, Horowitz adeptly combines several mystery subgenres. Atticus Pünd's didactic precision and Susan Ryeland's breezy curiosity contrast nicely as each tries to solve their own mystery. The alternating narrators--Susan, Atticus Pünd and his loyal secretary, Alan Conway and Alan's sister--keep the plot churning. Its clever writing and unusual premise make Magpie Murders irresistible. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: An editor must solve the mystery of an author's death in this clever novel within a novel.

Harper, $27.99, hardcover, 496p., 9780062645227

Crown Publishing Group: Artemis by Andy Weir


Romance

Dating You / Hating You

by Christina Lauren


This first standalone from Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) mixes business with pleasure as two colleagues fall for each other before a work conflict implodes their bond.

Evie Abbey wants to slink away in mortification when she arrives at her married friends' costume party as the only person without a plus-one. That is, until the delectably hot and equally unattached Carter Aaron arrives. In a whimsical coincidence, both singles have on costumes from Harry Potter. Banter and immediate chemistry ensue, although Evie wonders if their busy careers as talent agents in fast-paced Los Angeles will make a relationship tough. After one steamy date, they seem fated for couplehood, but an overdose of reality hits when they learn their talent agencies have merged and they must compete for a single job. Their passion warps into mistrust, animosity and childish pranks. If Evie and Carter can't learn to work together, their budding love is doomed.

While easily compared with Sally Thorne's The Hating Game, this office romance relies on different thematic elements such as sexism, double standards in the workplace and the destructive power of competition in relationships. Evie works harder than anyone in her office, yet Carter gets preferential treatment from the supervisor by virtue of his gender. Despite their hilariously immature handling of their situation, Evie and Carter's infatuation carries the story. Each feels the other will win because attraction clouds their perception. Smart, sexy and feminist, Dating You Hating You will delight contemporary romance fans. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: Sexy singles Evie and Carter go from potential lovers to fierce competitors when their talent agencies merge the morning after their first date.

Gallery, $16, paperback, 368p., 9781501165818

Portable Press: Uncle John's Old Faithful 30th Anniversary by Bathroom Readers' Institute


Biography & Memoir

Not So Good a Gay Man

by Frank M. Robinson


Frank M. Robinson's (1926-2014) posthumous memoir, Not So Good a Gay Man, offers an incisive, fascinating and candid look at the award-winning sci-fi novelist's rocky writing career and life as a closeted gay man. His writing career got off to a sputtering start, interrupted by two stints in the navy, before he sold his first story to Astounding magazine. His first novel, The Power, was published in 1956--but it would be nearly two decades before he wrote his second. For eight years, he edited and wrote for Rogue and Cavalier, two men's magazines and their porn book imprints. He finally started making money when Playboy hired him to write an anonymous monthly advice column.

Robinson found financial security when he moved to San Francisco and sold the screen rights to his (co-authored) second novel to director Irwin Allen, for $400,000 and a percentage of the film's profits. The Towering Inferno was a massive hit, and Robinson's publishing career soared. At the same time, he befriended Harvey Milk, dove into gay politics and started writing Milk's campaign speeches. Robinson gives powerful and haunting eyewitness accounts of the Summer of Love (and its abrupt end), the assassination of Milk, and living in one of the epicenters at the start of the AIDS pandemic.

Robinson's colorful encounters with Robert Heinlein, Hugh Hefner, Lenny Bruce, William Shatner, Francis Ford Coppola, James Franco and Sean Penn are fresh and entertaining. His memoir offers an enlightening view of gay history, the shame that keeps people closeted and their struggle to escape. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: Frank M. Robinson's powerful and haunting posthumous memoir recalls his life as a closeted gay man at the height of the 20th century.

Tor, $26.99, hardcover, 320p., 9780765382092

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron


History

Be Free or Die: The Amazing Story of Robert Smalls' Escape from Slavery to Union Hero

by Cate Lineberry


Journalist Cate Lineberry explores the life of a man who's faded from the notable stories of the American Civil War. Despite his extraordinary contributions to the Union forces, the anti-slavery movement and South Carolina politics, Robert Smalls doesn't immediately jump to mind when people think of the War Between the States. Yet, during his lifetime, he achieved hero status throughout the country.

On May 13, 1862, Smalls, a 23-year-old slave, orchestrated an escape aboard the Confederate steamer the Planter. What makes his feat so unusual is the fact that he piloted the steamer, with a crew of fellow slaves and his family, out of the Charleston Harbor--under the noses of Confederate forces--and into the hands of the Union fleet. He risked everything to secure freedom for his family; the result exceeded his greatest expectations.

Smalls continued as pilot of the Planter for the Union forces--the first black captain of an navy vessel--winning the respect of white and black alike and challenging the belief that African Americans weren't smart enough or dedicated enough to play such vital roles.

Lineberry paints the portrait of a man who overcame remarkable obstacles. In his pursuit of a better life for his family he helped improve an entire country. Lineberry's thorough research reanimates this crucial identity, flushing out a long-forgotten chapter in the United States' annals and acquainting readers with an exceptional patriot. Be Free or Die is a perfect companion to stories about Frederick Douglass or Harriet Tubman, and it deserves to be well remembered. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Discover: During the Civil War, a little-known South Carolina slave risked everything to steal a Confederate steamer and sail it to freedom.

St. Martin's Press, $25.99, hardcover, 288p., 9781250101860

Essays & Criticism

How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays

by Mandy Len Catron


How do we fall in love? What are the ingredients for a lasting relationship? Is love purely chemical, mainly psychological, a deliberate choice or all of the above? These questions had plagued Mandy Len Catron since childhood, as she listened to her parents' and grandparents' love stories (told and retold until they took on the quality of myth) and then tried to navigate the messy world of love on her own.

In 2015, Catron published the Modern Love essay "To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This" in the New York Times, and it went viral. Both the essay and her first book, How to Fall in Love with Anyone, are inspired by a study from psychologist Arthur Aron: a series of 36 questions designed to foster increasing intimacy between two people. Catron's memoir gives context and weight to the events described in the essay and the man whom she still loves. She also examines the cultural ethos (and baggage) surrounding romantic love, explores the family lore that shaped her views on love, and details her own decade-long relationship (which eventually buckled under the weight of uncertainty). Combining psychology, cultural criticism and literature with personal insights, Catron creates an engaging, thought-provoking mosaic of essays on love's challenges, risks and quotidian joys.

"What to do about the problem of love? These are the revisions of my life," Catron admits near the end. Her love stories may not fit neatly into the Hollywood fairy-tale mold, but they, and her memoir, are rich and satisfying in their complexity. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Mandy Len Catron offers an engaging, thought-provoking collection of essays on the risks, joys and complications of falling--and staying--in love.

Simon & Schuster, $26, hardcover, 256p., 9781501137440

Science

4th Rock from the Sun: The Story of Mars

by Nicky Jenner


"We've been observing the planet for ages," writes Nicky Jenner in her fascinating debut, 4th Rock from the Sun. "Mars has never been one to blend in." Mars mystified early astronomers with its odd trajectory across the sky, Jenner explains, and its ruddy hue has long earned the Red Planet an association with violence, aggression and sexual passion. More than any other celestial body in our Solar System, Mars has influenced our culture: "It's everywhere you look and has been for years: astrology, myth and legend, some of the most iconic songs, Hollywood films and older cult classics, childhood cartoons, science fiction, and more."

4th Rock from the Sun is both a popular history of humanity's fascination with Mars and an enthralling work of science writing. Among Jenner's curious insights is an explanation for why humans held for more than a century a belief in intelligent life on Mars. It stems from a translation mistake: the Italian astronomer who discovered a starburst of gouges on the planet's surface described them as "canali," an Italian word for "channels." The word was translated into English as "canals," which connotes structures made by hand instead of natural phenomena. Earthlings thereafter became convinced of the existence of "little green men."

Jenner also looks at modern scientific discoveries made by Mars rovers (including the possible existence of microbial life) and ponders a future wherein humans colonize the planet. 4th Rock from the Sun is an engaging and comprehensive guide to the red dot in the night sky. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor

Discover: Jenner's debut nimbly explores humanity's scientific fascination with Mars and the planet's cultural influence.

Bloomsbury Sigma, $27, hardcover, 272p., 9781472922496

Children's & Young Adult

The Song from Somewhere Else

by A.F. Harrold, illus. by Levi Pinfold


Frank Patel's summer holidays are lonely--her best friend is traveling, her brother is too young to be any fun and her pet cat is missing. Unfortunately, not all of the kids are gone for the holidays. She doesn't know why Neil Noble chose her, but Neil and his cronies viciously taunt and sometimes even physically assault her. On Monday, Neil bullies her almost to the point of tears and throws her bag into a patch of stinging nettles.

Then Nicholas shows up. Nicholas was in her class but he "smelled weird.... No one liked him." Nick wades into the stinging nettles to get the bag for her just as Neil returns. Mortified to be associated with Nick, Frank nonetheless runs with him to his home and takes the offered sanctuary. Using the bathroom before Nick's dad drives her home, she hears a "music of a sort she'd never heard before. She was suddenly filled with shoals of fish... hundreds and hundreds of silver fish all moving as if they shared one brain."

This music is a game changer for Frank--she must hear it again. The next time she visits, she follows the sound down into the basement to the source: beautiful, terrifying, strange. What Frank finds in that basement alters the course of her summer--and could possibly alter the path of the world.

A.F. Harrold's work is masterfully paced and stunningly crafted; the story unwinds at a deliberate clip, the characters moving through a world that is at first dark, then mesmerizing, then coolly terrifying. Levi Pinfold's striking black-and-white illustrations add mood, creating a reading experience similar to Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls with the chills and growing terror of Neil Gaiman's Coraline. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Francesca Patel beats her bullies, conquers monsters and befriends an outcast in A.F. Harrold and Levi Pinfold's spine-chilling tale for middle grade readers.

Bloomsbury, $16.99, hardcover, 240p., ages 8-12, 9781681194011

Quiet!

by Kate Alizadeh, illus. by Kate Alizadeh


"Sssh! Listen, what's that noise?" A young child opens a door to the kitchen ("Creeeeaak") and learns that the noise has multiple sources: "It's the bubbling of the pan and the humming of the fridge." There's also a microwave pinging and water sloshing in the sink. Soon the soundscape includes "me tapping on the table" and "my dad laughing away" ("Hee Hee Hee/ Ha Ha Ha") and the interjections of the baby ("Burp"; "Bang").

The refrain "Sssh! Listen, what's that noise?" introduces two more of the house's pleasantly clattery rooms, until the toddler-narrator climbs into bed ("Squeak"; "Rustle"; "Shuffle"), takes in a story and a lullaby from Dad (either a single parent or a primary caregiver) and finally hears the strangest thing of all: "[i]t's so quiet."

Kate Alizadeh's look at a day in the rackety life of a young child is a gentle reminder to toddlers--such reliable noise makers--that listening has its own rewards (the title is a cheer, not an imperative). Quiet! features fine-lined art in commanding colors; the onomatopoeic words printed alongside household objects call to mind dialogue quips: "Brrmm" sits by a toy truck, "Hmmmm" by a laptop, "Babble" by a television. Any caregiver of a young child will be able to see Quiet!'s value: beyond being a fun book to read aloud, it may further open toddlers' already wide-open eyes by prompting them to open their ears. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Discover: Kate Alizadeh's inspired Quiet! invites toddlers--experts at making noise--to keep their ears open for a household's daily sound effects.

Child's Play, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 2-7, 9781846438875

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Pub Date:
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ISBN:
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Archeologist Nick Randall searches for the lost city of Vilcabamba. Hidden deep in the Amazon, he believes it holds proof that his controversial theories are true. When he disappears, his daughter Samantha must set aside her own career to search for him. But someone else seeks him as well. Francis Dumond, a shadowy man with unlimited resources, will stop at nothing to find him first. 

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