Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, February 14, 2012


From My Shelf

Clarkson Potter Publishers: Exciting Games for Readers and Word Lovers

Quirk Books: Holiday Gift Guide

Writers Without Borders

Society likes to categorize its art. Why? Better to market it, I think. But how many people hate country music, yet love Patsy Cline? Find romantic comedies dreadful but adore When Harry Met Sally? Shun science fiction but are fascinated by Philip K. Dick?

Our culture has a hard time dealing with writers, musicians and filmmakers who exceed the limits of their genre, so we've come up with the "crossover artist" to explain such inconvenient breaking of barriers.

When I set out to write Point, Click, Love, a novel about love and relationships in the digital age, I knew it would be placed in the "chick lit" genre, and I'm perfectly happy to embrace that moniker. Readers of this genre are voracious, loyal and discerning. But I wanted to be one of the crossovers--someone who shatters the mold.

Maybe it's because I fancy myself a person of incongruous tastes. I've read every novel by Edith Wharton and have watched all 23 seasons of The Bachelor/Bachelorette. It's hard to say which I enjoy more, a gleaming red slab of toro tuna or a McDonald's Filet-o-Fish sandwich. And I can recite both the expansive field of Republican presidential candidates and the full cast of The Brady Bunch.

Writers love positive reviews no matter the source, but I particularly treasure those coming from the unlikeliest of fans. Like the D.C. policy wonk who tired of reading about the internal workings of the Chinese Communist Party so devoured Point, Click, Love in a single day and said he "loved it like a banana split." Or the cultural theorist who called it "a social critique of American society and a media analysis of the virtuality of online life." And, of course, the guy's guy who appreciated "getting a peek into the mind of women."

A writer who manages to build a loyal fan base is truly blessed. But I think all of us enjoy the moments when we defy people's expectations and make them like something they never thought they could. --Molly Shapiro, author of Point, Click, Love


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


Book Candy

Love Quiz; Bookish Love Scenes; Love Bookends

What do you know about love? The Guardian featured a love in literature quiz.

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Books and love on screen: the Huffington Post gathered video clips of "our favorite bookish love scenes from films."

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Armonia Decors showcased a pair of Love Bookends.

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"Valentine's Day jewelry for the literary lover" was a gift suggestion from PageViews, which reported that Terry Peikin has been making "earrings, tie clips and other custom-made pieces since 1992 when his wife, a former editor for the New York Post, received an ancient Underhill typewriter from an editor who was cleaning out his office."


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


Great Reads

Further Reading: Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day... 24 hours dedicated to love, lovers and loving. For some, it's a joy. For others, a dread. They say the key to your true love's heart is through the stomach, so why not take to the kitchen and whip up something scrumptious for--or even with--your amore, surprising the object of your affection today and long after the designated day of romance?

Jacques Pepin can help. In Essential Pepin, he delivers more than 700 recipes, with something for every palate, including his signature roast duck a l'orange and crepes Suzette. Pepin blends the pragmatic with elegant sophistication. The "old chef," as he refers to himself, has come to the conclusion that even seasoned home cooks need the option of seeking some packaged shortcuts to help them prepare dishes from scratch.

And for dessert? Reach for Choclatique by high-octane chef and chocolatier Ed Engoron. This luscious cookbook is complete with useful tips and guides for whipping up decadent chocolate sweets for your sweetheart--even those with special dietary needs. There are 150 recipes for candies, cookies, fudge, soufflé, ganache, even cocktails. Watching your sugar or weight? Then simply cuddle up with the one you love and drool over the mouth-watering photographs of each delectable, chocolate-inspired creation.

But what if you don't cook or would rather not be trapped in your kitchen? You could always splurge and be wined and dined at your favorite upscale restaurant.

Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch is part gritty exposé and part witty memoir, detailing the ascendant career of a restaurant captain at a high-end New York City eating establishment. The book is everything you've always wanted to know about the people who take and serve your order, including how a waiter navigates through elaborate menus and moves food from kitchen to table, as well as a waiter's interpretation of the dining foibles of notable clientele, critics and hand-holding couples. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines


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

Elizabeth Weil: Portrait of a Marriage

Elizabeth Weil is known for her candid article in the New York Times magazine, "Married (Happily) with Issues," detailing her marriage to writer Dan Duane and her attempts to improve it. If you found yourself wanting to know more, the wait is over. All is revealed in her intimate, warm new book, No Cheating, No Dying. I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried to Make it Better (Scribner; see review below).

In it, Weil opens the door and invites the reader into her world--messy, imperfect, frustrating, loving, caring and honest. Delving into many methods of marriage counseling, she searched for ways to deepen her relationship with her husband.

Several of your chapters are topics some people don't like to talk about: money, religion, sex, family relations. Should we talk about these things before getting married? If not, when?

It's important to talk about things early, to know what each other's expectations are. But Dan and I had a typical pattern. We knew each other only a year or so before we got married. We had a conversation about how we might feel about religion, and raising children, etc.--but you never know what you will do in a situation until you are there. So I think it's important to not say, "We had a conversation when we first got together and we're done, we're decided," because of course we all grow and change.

You have to stay alive to each other. I am more or less the same person I was when we got married, but 12 years have passed and I'd like to think I've matured a bit and I know Dan better.

You say that you and your husband both work from home on your writing and that he is your "first reader." How did that work out for you on this book, which is so much about him?

He read every word probably 20 times. On the one hand, he grew really tired of going over the really painful parts of our life. But on the other hand, the idea that I would publish it without him reading it is so beyond me. I love him and hope it comes through in the book. It's an honest portrait of our un-whitewashed marriage. I hope that his humanity is there, and not just his annoying traits.

You write about Dan's obsessions when it comes to construction, cooking, bodybuilding... has any of that changed since you wrote the book?

We've grown and mellowed--he is an extremely obsessive person, but he's moved beyond food--now it's triathlons! I'm less obsessive than he is--no contest. Dan has taught himself to be a master chef, he taught himself carpentry. I just go with the flow. I don't have that trait that he has--digging in and getting to the bottom of things.

No Cheating, No Dying refers to the promise you made to each other when you got married. The bar was kind of low! Do you still practice the communication techniques you learned, or do you feel like you've done it all?

Oh, there's no "done"! But there is a time to stop the degree of focus we had. Some day we might go back into therapy, but there won't be a big bar to jump over, and it won't be scary or intimidating. I feel it incredibly helpful to say, "You know what, it doesn't have to be so bad to make it better." On a scale of 1-10, never let it go below a 5 or 6. Just decide that's low enough.

Your New York Times article was intensely personal. How did people react to that level of honesty? And do you expect that with this book?

People had incredibly intense reactions to the article about my relationship with Dan. It's really emotional material. It presses buttons in people's minds and I didn't quite realize that was going to happen until I wrote the essay for the Times. But it became very clear very quickly. While it was not terribly comfortable personally, I felt as a writer that it was a positive.

I went into the project with a mantra: just be totally honest and everything will be okay. Speaking as a reader, if the writer is being honest, I almost don't even care how the book was put together. As a writer I felt it was important to not shy away from what was important. With marriage, it's so private, we really need to hear each others' stories in order get bearings on what is going on in our lives.

How does it feel having the book come out?

It's nice to have some emotional space between the writing and the publication. It's so gratifying hear people say they had a conversation with their partner (after reading the book) and they really connected. That's what I wanted. There's this funny thing with memoirs--a lot of people see it as how could you be so self-absorbed and write a book about yourself? But the whole point is to get people to think about their own lives. Of course my marriage is not hugely important to other people, but their own marriage is. Books give people a way to think and to see the world, so the fact that that seems to be happening a little bit is very gratifying. --Susan Weis-Bohlen, breathe books


Trellis Publishing: Gift from the Garden by Bernie DuBois


Literary Lists

Kisses in Literature; Romantic Poems and Books; Gift Guide

Flavorwire's "10 of the greatest kisses in literature" were offered as proof that "there's nothing more romantic than that most elemental of expressions of affection, and who could paint it better than the likes of Shakespeare, Nabokov and Byron?"

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Poetic Valentine's Day. In the Guardian, authors, including A.S. Byatt, Seamus Heaney, Hilary Mantel and Jeanette Winterson, shared their choices for "the poems that stole their hearts. Plus Carol Ann Duffy writes a new poem for the occasion."

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Hot type: "Authors and others" shared their favorite reads in the Toronto Globe & Mail's "roundup of sexy and sensual books."

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What is love? This appropriate question du jour was addressed by Flavorwire in its suggestions for "books that will change the way you think about love."

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A Valentine's Day gift guide for book lovers was offered by the Oxford Patch.

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Valentine's Day warning: Flavorwire offered a cautionary list of "books you definitely shouldn't give to your valentine."


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


Book Review

Fiction

Girl Reading

by Katie Ward


Katie Ward's debut novel, Girl Reading, is better described as a collection of seven self-contained but intertwined stories drawn from nearly as many centuries and settings. Each story centers on the creation of a portrait of a girl, reading; each reveals a complex and profound relationship between reader, writer and artist.

The book begins in the 14th century and takes us to the year 2060. In between, a teenage orphan poses for Italian Renaissance master Simone Martini; a grieving countess commissions a portrait of her dead poetess lover; a man takes a picture of a young woman reading in a bar in modern London and adds it to his Flickr stream. The stories, though differing in character and circumstance, are threaded together by a deep sense of synchronicity and sparkling allusions to art and literature. In a testament to Ward's deft talent, every character is richly drawn, every chapter crisp with authenticity. When a cameo by Rembrandt and a reference to Flickr comfortably exist in the same book, you know the author has done her work.

Girl Reading's best quality, however, is also its flaw. Ward's tight control over seven centuries of vividly imagined stories is almost too good; the chapters often end too quickly and neatly, just short of satisfaction, lest they sprawl out into books of their own. But in a novel that celebrates the intimate, complicated bonds between women and their books--and each other--that is an easy fault to forgive. --Hannah Calkins, Unpunished Vice

Discover: An exquisitely rendered celebration of women and reading in seven portraits.

Scribner, $26, hardcover, 9781451655902

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


What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

by Nathan Englander


You don't have to read Yiddish to appreciate What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, the new story collection from Nathan Englander (For the Relief of Unbearable Urges)--but it helps. While Englander's stories range across time and geography, his characters nearly all live under the cloud of the Shoah and the long Jewish history of migration, argument, suffering, survival... and always stories.

Englander's stories here have a broad reach. "Sister Hills" encapsulates the history of Israel while exploring the nature of loyalty, contracts and family ties. "Camp Sundown" describes a Berkshires summer camp for the elderly where a few of the more orthodox bridge players soon begin to harass a fellow camper whom they imagine to be a former guard from the "real camps"--a feud that ends with slander and violence. Although most of the stories center on Englander's clear interest in the role religion and history play on his characters' lives, they also transcend these narrow themes to address the universal with humor and subtle observation.

Perhaps the story most endearing to book people will be "The Reader," where an aging novelist makes a bookstore tour promoting his long-delayed novel only to find that he no longer has an audience--except for one dedicated fan who trails him to each store and insists that the old writer read, even if he is the only one there to listen. The unnamed "Author," a slow writer, reflects: "A book every ten years, it's like being a cicada. You spend all those years underground, busy staying alive. And when you finally burrow your way back out, you never know what world you will find... still one must stand by one's story.... how much richer could a writing life be than finding, even for one night, one true reader?" --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: In his wide-ranging new collection, Englander masters the art of the short story with all its craft, humor and compassion.

Knopf, $24.95, hardcover, 9780307958709

Sounds True: Practice You: A Journal by Elena Brower


The Wolf Gift

by Anne Rice


Anne Rice made vampires cool, modern and downright sexy long before the likes of True Blood or Twilight. In The Wolf Gift, she turns her attention to another supernatural staple: the werewolf.

Young journalist Reuben Golding visits a spectacular mansion outside of San Francisco, where he meets a fascinating older woman, brimming with sexuality and old world charm. They bond over the house and the personal effects of her mysterious uncle, tragically disappeared of late. Later that same evening, the house is broken into, the woman is killed by robbers and Reuben is bitten and released by what he believes at first to be a large wolf-like animal. Rather than a curse, Reuben begins to see his transformation as a gift, giving him power and strength to seek out evil and right wrongs, a violent contrast to his writing as a reporter.

Anne Rice's take on werewolf mythology is written with a compelling modernity. While the dialogue at times feels archaic, The Wolf Gift is contemporary in a way that her Vampire Chronicles never was. This "man wolf," as Reuben dubs himself, is fully of the new world, using an iPhone, Twitter and Facebook with deftness and charm. Reuben's own perilous journey from a bewildered young adult to an increasingly self-assured man wolf is itself informed by our own common cultural knowledge of cinema and literature. The Wolf Gift is a strong--and welcome--return to the monster mythology that made Anne Rice famous in the first place. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A werewolf story that wins readers' attention with grace, charm, wit and hope for humanity.

Knopf, $25.95, hardcover, 9780307595119

Crown Publishing Group: Artemis by Andy Weir


Mystery & Thriller

Hanging Hill

by Mo Hayder


When a popular, beautiful local girl is found brutally murdered on a towpath in idyllic Bath, the investigation team pursues the recommendation of the forensic psychologist: search for a teenage boy, one of her peers. Naturally, Harley-riding bad-girl police detective Zoe Benedict has something else in mind. She follows a more sinister lead toward amateur porn, strip clubs and unsavory characters--and is astonished to encounter her estranged sister, Sally, the good girl, reduced by divorce to cleaning rich people’s houses to support her daughter, at the center of the case. One of Sally's clients is a successful (and appropriately sleazy) pornographer; her daughter shares a history with the murdered girl; and her boyfriend has some inside knowledge that makes him especially afraid for Sally's safety. A dirty secret from Zoe's own past threatens to reveal itself, while Sally, struggling to defend her loved ones from harm, discovers new strength no one thought she possessed. And the sisters' relationship gets a second chance.

Mo Hayder's (Skin; Gone) tightly plotted Hanging Hill keeps the suspense taut, and the characters are realistic and multifaceted as well as (in most cases) sympathetic. Hayder delights in exposing the dark side--of domestic life, of family, of childhood and growing up--and her gritty, gruesome bits are not for the faint of heart. But there are love affairs, too, sweetly relieving the grimness. Hanging Hill is finely put together and entirely satisfying--at least until the terrifying ending, which uproots the safe feeling of resolution into which the reader was lulled. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pages of julia

Discover: A suspenseful, fast-paced thriller that reunites estranged sisters amidst a series of grisly events.

Atlantic Monthly Press, $25, hardcover, 9780802120069

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


Biography & Memoir

No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried to Make it Better

by Elizabeth Weil


Elizabeth Weil opened her life up to millions of people in a New York Times Magazine cover story, "Married (Happily) with Issues," which she's expanded into No Cheating, No Dying. Since neither she nor her husband strayed or died in the first decade, Weil decides to use these monogamy and vitality milestones as a springboard from which to dive more deeply into what it means to be married. Marriage doesn't begin with the white dress and the party, she says; it happens over time.

Along with her brave husband, Dan Duane (also a writer), they meet with marriage counselors and attend self-help seminars and marriage education classes. Along the way, they tackle religion (she's Jewish, he's not); family (he's not crazy about hers); money (not much on either side); and food. Food turns out to be a biggie; Dan is obsessed with developing a culinary mastery of the obscure--think pig and lamb carcasses in the basement freezer.

Weil is a skilled writer, easily sharing intimate details and heartfelt emotions in a compelling, sometimes self-deprecating, manner without sinking into victimhood or judgment. Some of her marriage trials are hysterical, others painful, but she relates them all in equally clear, compelling, honest language. Much like Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed: A Love Story, though, you pretty much know the outcome; what hooks the reader is the enjoyable exploration of the many possibilities on the way to that ending. --Susan Weis-Bohlen, breathe books

Discover: One woman's irresistibly sincere quest to make a happy marriage even better.

Scribner, $25, hardcover, 9781439168226

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


Panther Baby

by Jamal Joseph


A cocked beret over a tight Afro, a leather gloved fist held high, an M16 strapped across his back, Malcolm's or Mao's book in his back pocket and, oh, those cool shades... the Black Panther was the white man's nightmare for the 1960s. Eddie Joseph became one when he was 15, living in a Harlem apartment "surrounded by chicken bones, a wounded TV, and a poster of Che." In Panther Baby, he tells the story of how a light-skinned son of Cuban revolutionaries was handed off by his unwed black Latina mother to an older black couple who raised him in a North Bronx home equally comfortable with Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois and their local Baptist church. Joseph seemingly was born to fight.

In relatively short order, the 15-year-old, now renamed Jamal, set off on the rocky road of activism, crime, prison, drugs, politics and, finally, theater and the arts, to his present status as a family man, Oscar nominee and Columbia film school chair. Panther Baby dramatically marks the milestones of this journey. All the early Panther heavyweights are here--Huey, Rap, Stokely--as well as Joseph's childhood friends and, eventually, his godson Tupac, whom he tried to counsel and encourage in his last days.

As a former Black Liberation Army soldier intent on bringing "sixteen million armed black people... to disrupt the capitalist system," Joseph wisely concludes his autobiography on the steps of Columbia's Low Library with the words: "Maybe there's a future after all." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: An orphan's journey from the Black Panthers to the Academy Awards.

Algonquin, $23.95, hardcover, 9781565129504

History

Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life

by David Treuer


It's hard to live in the United States and not be within a few hundred miles of a Native American Indian reservation, harder still to live on land that wasn't promised to one tribe or another in one treaty or another at some point. Yet most American citizens rarely see more of the reservations than the highway signs announcing their presence, if that. David Treuer (The Translation of Dr Arpelles) spent five years researching tribal histories and interviewing tribe members in order to bring us Rez Life, an authoritative and vastly entertaining book.

Treuer's Minnesota-centered Ojibwe tribe is the largest in North America; its difficult language has given English such wonderful words as moccasin, toboggan and wigwam. With a novelist's sense of narrative and character (and a refreshing sense of humor), he proudly tells how the Ojibwe defeated the Sioux--not that it matters now. "The Sioux hunt buffalo from horseback and we Ojibwe go out on snowshoes to snare rabbits," Treuer reflects. "The Sioux have cornered the market on Indian cool."

His history of the convoluted treaties among diverse tribes and various local, state, and U.S. governments is sadly reminiscent of the history of agreements, boundary disputes and wars in the Middle East. It's through the stories of today's reservation life, however, that Treuer debunks the stereotypes and delivers insights into the Indian people, their languages and cultures and their future. There may be no more accurate, more engaging, more thought-provoking book on contemporary Native American Indian life than this. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: The history, complexity, rewards and struggles of Native American Indians and their lives on and off the reservations.

Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, hardcover, 9780802119711

Political Science

The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right

by Arthur Goldwag


For those unfamiliar with the history of right-wing extremism in the U.S., Arthur Goldwag's The New Hate provides a useful primer on the nation's "long-standing penchant for conspiratorial thinking, its never-ending quest for scapegoats." Goldwag's (Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies) wide-ranging narrative hits most of the low points of American bias; one of the more intriguing chapters examines Henry Ford's virulent anti-Semitism and its roots in the notorious forged blueprint for Jewish world domination, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Anti-Jewish prejudice is just one example of what Goldwag describes as a "toxic brew of racial, religious, gender, and nationalistic chauvinism" that has targeted Catholics, Freemasons, non-whites and many others throughout American history. These bubbles of intolerance seem to reside permanently in our national bloodstream, often springing to life in periods of economic insecurity.

Though his thoroughness in exploring this subject is impressive, Goldwag has one habit that detracts from the force of his narrative, especially in its latter stages: he's fond of quoting at length from the writings or speeches of his sometimes obscure subjects, and as their tirades take on a more extreme tinge, you may find yourself skimming to avoid spending too much time in their company. If there's any comfort in this dispiriting account, it's that the conspiracy-minded have (largely) been confined to the margins of American political and cultural life. That's small consolation, though, when balanced against the unavoidable conclusion that the haters will always be with us or, as Goldwag puts it, the realization that "the New Hate is the same as the Old Hate--only now it's hiding in plain sight." --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Discover: Arthur Goldwag presents a comprehensive, if at times depressing, history of right-wing extremism and its intermittent incursions into mainstream American political culture.

Pantheon, $27.95, hardcover, 9780307379696

Health & Medicine

Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir

by Doron Weber


Immortal Bird begins with a simple moment of parental unease: Doron Weber senses that his 12-year-old son, Damon, is overdue for a growth spurt. Weber cannot help being extra-vigilant about his firstborn, a "blue baby" whose heart lacked a second ventricle, requiring two open-heart surgeries by the age of four. His father's worry proves grounded: Damon has developed protein-losing enteropathy (PLE), a rare, poorly understood and life-threatening post-surgical condition that causes vital protein molecules to leak out of the digestive system.

Weber, a program director for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, intersperses family vignettes with doctor appointments and short, well-parsed explanations as he investigates Damon's options. Even as the urgency of Damon's PLE intensifies, Weber finds moments of family joy and admires his son's determination to keep the hospital part of his life in the background. Excerpts from Damon's blog bring the teenager's witty and tough-tender voice into the memoir, including notes on filming his cameo on Deadwood and musings on how his health challenges might limit his goals for high school.

Immortal Bird's momentum and the author's prose style peak in the last third of the memoir, as the Webers end up battling an overstretched hospital and a villainously cavalier doctor. In the dramatic and unforgettable debacle that ensues, Damon and his parents achieve moments of devastating grace. By writing Immortal Bird, Weber has transformed his family's experience of medical strife into a work of art that teaches us how to advocate, how to love and how to transcend the unthinkable. --Holloway McCandless, blogger at Litagogo: A Guide to Free Literary Podcasts

Discover: The compelling narrative of a father's quest to save his son; a memoir of family grace; and a profile of a teenager whose wit and stoicism transcend his illness.

Simon & Schuster, $25, hardcover, 9781451618068

Travel Literature

On an Irish Island

by Robert Kanigel


Ireland's Blasket Islands are an uninhabited tourist destination of crumbled-down stone cottages. Before emigration and attrition dwindled their population to a handful--until a final evacuation ordered by the Irish government in 1953--the Blaskets had been a vibrant, nearly self-contained settlement of around 150 hardy, Irish-speaking souls. The still-Celtic Blaskets had long been romanticized, yet the people of the islands made their most lasting cultural contributions in the last decades before their own culture's demise. During that period, as Robert Kanigel recounts in On an Irish Island, a steady procession of writers and intellectuals visited the island, encouraging residents to put pen to paper. In his clear-eyed yet admiring chronicle of that fertile time, Kanigel  charms us with visions of this disappeared world, while raising intriguing questions about how even the most loving, respectful visitor can forever alter a remote destination.

Did the visitors, who came seeking linguistic research or sometimes personal edification, take more from the Blaskets than they gave in return? Did their coaxing of literary works from the residents of the Blaskets preserve a remnant of an already dying culture--or rush it out of existence by broadcasting it to the wider world? Kanigel turns his admirable trove of research into a surprisingly jaunty read, entertaining all these complicated and sometimes troubling possibilities with wisdom and no small amount of warmth. Readers will wish they would have been able to visit the inhabited Blaskets--yet perhaps also wish that no one had. --Cherie Ann Parker, freelance journalist and book critic

Discover: A bewitching portrait of the last few decades of civilization on Ireland’s Blasket Islands.

Knopf, $26.95, Hardcover, 9780307269591

Children's & Young Adult

The Butterfly Clues

by Kate Ellison


This debut novel probes a haunting mystery with an unforgettable protagonist.

Seventeen-year-old Penelope "Lo" Marin has collected beautiful things all her life, treasures from each town she's lived in (11 total). But since her brother, Oren, died, her hobby has evolved into an obsession. While wandering through a "sad, strange part of Cleveland"--Neverland, the city of lost children--Lo barely escapes gunfire intended for a stripper named Sapphire. The next day, Lo visits a flea market and comes across a butterfly pendant that had been among Sapphire's things and, with that, a commitment to find Sapphire's murderer takes hold.

Lo's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder distinguishes her narrative from other crime-solving protagonists. She's ruled by superstition about numbers ("The year I turned eight I wouldn't let Mom put eight candles on the birthday cake. Eight candles would have made it inedible"), and she's a kleptomaniac hoarder, trying to hold onto things forever, unlike Oren. Oren was Lo's only friend until Flynt, a street artist in a bear-eared hat, introduces himself and quickly becomes her tour guide in Neverland--friend, love interest and suspect in the very crime Lo has set out to solve.

Kate Ellison not only masterfully allows readers insight into the sufferings of OCD, but she explores the lives of Neverland's lost children, such as runaways and strippers, while remaining mindful of her teen audience. With bold storytelling, gritty characters and otherworldly locales, The Butterfly Clues marks a magnificent debut. --Adam Silvera, events assistant, Books of Wonder, New York City

Discover: A teenager with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who chases down a murderer in Cleveland's underworld.

EgmontUSA, $17.99, hardcover, 336p., ages 14-up, 9781606842638

Plant a Kiss

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


"Spread the love" could easily be an alternate title to this clever book that's ideal for Valentines of all ages.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Duck? Rabbit!) and Peter H. Reynolds (The Dot) each boast a long list of titles that demonstrate their fresh way of looking at the world. Here they combine their talents in a new twist on how affection takes root and spreads like tiger lilies. A young gardener heads out with her spade and watering can, stamped with a pink heart: "It goes like this./ Little Miss/ planted a kiss." As if anticipating young readers' reaction, the author restates it as a question, "Planted a kiss?" The girl hero faces front as if listening to her audience. She answers with a confident smile in a declarative: "Planted a kiss." Reynolds's trademark hand lettering gives the book the feeling of a hand-me-down recipe, as the gardener explains her next steps: "Sunshine. Water. Greet. Repeat." Deceptively simple rhymes chronicle her shifting moods: "Doubt. Pout" when no shoots show, then when she spies a "sprout,... Shout! Shout!" In Reynolds's visual equivalent, she does a jig in the air, sunlike rays emanating from her, and her neighbors soon "gather about."

The sprout grows into a bubbling airborne confetti, raised from the pages in pinks, yellows and oranges. As the heroine's friends tell her to hold onto her blossoming tendril ("It's far too rare"), she shares it anyway and, like Annabelle's wool in Extra Yarn, the supply is endless. Love, like generosity, reaps more than what's sown. A wonderful Valentine for youngest booklovers up through the most seasoned readers. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A new twist on how affection takes root as a Valentine for youngest booklovers up through the most seasoned readers.

HarperCollins, $14.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 4-up, 9780061986758

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St. Martin's Press 

Pub Date:
Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN:
9781250085290

List Price: $26.99

 

Dear Reader,

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. 

THE RUINS, is a 2015 Adventure Writers Competition semi-finalist. Readers Favorite says, “Robert Rapoza has constructed an elder statesman/action hero worthy of Pierce Brosnan or Liam Neeson.”

Email authorrobertrapoza@gmail.com with the subject line "The Ruins Giveaway" to win one of five signed copies. 

Robert Rapoza
www.robertrapoza.com

 

Buy this book

Publisher:
Ravenswood Publishing  

Pub Date:
Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN:
9781975898755

List Price: $13.99

 

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