Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Poisoned Pen Press: That Night in the Library by Eva Jurczyk

From My Shelf

Read On, Romance

I recently read a trilogy out of order by accident: I picked up Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (Avon, $15.99 each) on a whim and fell head over heels in love with Hibbert's writing style and character development. On learning that there was a prequel (Get a Life, Chloe Brown) and a sequel (Act Your Age, Eve Brown), I practically squealed with delight. All three of the Brown sisters books are full of insight and wit, with diverse sets of characters who reflect candidly and openly on matters of mental health, neurodivergence, ability and love--with some steamy romance scenes to boot. (Added bonus for audiophiles: all three boast excellent narration in the audiobook format.)

Because I came to Hibbert's trilogy later than many avid romance readers, I was able to binge-read all three back-to-back. The same was not true of Cat Sebastian's Sedgwick series. I waited with great impatience for the 2020 release of Two Rogues Make a Right, which followed It Takes Two to Tumble and A Gentleman Never Keeps Score (Avon, $5.99 each). This trilogy also follows a trio of siblings, as Sebastian spins stories of each brother's search for love and belonging in a historical era not known for its kindness toward queer men.

Megan Frampton's Hazards of Dukes novels put me back in the same position: I've read the first three of the series and am now eagerly awaiting the fourth (due out this fall). As much as I hate the waiting, I'm confident it will be worth it. Never Kiss a Duke; Tall, Duke, and Dangerous; and A Wicked Bargain for the Duke (Avon, $7.99 each) have all proven to be delightful historical romance reads for those looking for something to pick up while, say, keenly anticipating the next season of Netflix's Bridgerton. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

The Writer's Life

Kaffe Fassett : A Life Lived in Color

photo: Debbie Patterson

Kaffe Fassett (Kaffe Fassett's Bold Blooms; Dreaming in Color) is an American-born artist, textile designer and writer who has made London his home for several decades. His book Kaffe Fassett in the Studio: Behind the Scenes with a Master Colorist (Abrams, reviewed below) is a lavish tribute to his home studio and creative process. He recently chatted with Shelf Awareness, offering insights into his daily routines, advice on achieving goals and inspiration for those wishing to live an exuberant life, rich in vibrance and color.

Your house is absolutely exquisite--so alive with colors and patterns. What prompted you to write this book now and to invite readers into your home and studio space?

I get addicted to writing books. For example, when I learned how to make mosaics, I immediately said, oh my God, I must do a book on this! I looked around my home one day and thought that, since people always want to come and see where I live, this would be a nice way to show them around without taking the time to entertain them all with a tea. I also thought it was a good subject that would allow me to talk about the way that I create.

You are a multi-faceted artist. You paint, work in textiles, create mosaics, collaborate with fashion houses and teach workshops. What does a typical workday--if you even have one--look like for you?

That's the real question: Do I have a typical workday? I would say that a sort of typical day would be waking up and heading to my studio, where I would pour myself a cup of hot water to start the day. And then I just sit down and start creating. Breakfast comes about an hour later and then I go straight back to working right through the day. Pre-Covid, I would usually take a walk and pick up a newspaper with a nice crossword puzzle and head over to my coffee shop to have a chai, do my puzzle and watch the world go by. Then I watch mindless television for the rest of the evening.

You mention that you love working on crosswords and puzzles. Do you get the same feeling piecing together the different patterns on your quilts and textiles?

It's funny you ask that because I've been making these patchworks of knitting lately. For example, the cover image of the book is a patchwork that is about to come together. Someone came in and looked at all the pieces I had stuck up on the wall and said, "Oh, here's another puzzle you're working on." So, yes, it is very much like a puzzle. I also love working on jigsaw puzzles because they can teach you about the artist's process--you can see all the brush strokes and how the painting was formed.

You try to instill the discipline of focus in your workshop students. As an artist who also runs a very prolific business, how do you find ways to focus on one task when there are probably hundreds of things competing for your attention?

Well, the first thing you should do is cultivate a really good team. My partner, Brandon, is just brilliant and shields me from the madness of the world's attention. So I'm able to go in, sit down and really concentrate on painting, designing fabric or whatever the task is at hand.

I always find that halfway through a creative process, since it is so unplanned, it can go into a very stale kind of area easily. And when that happens, I just switch. For example, if I'm working on a quilt but can't quite see how that quilt is meant to be solved, I'll just go and knit for a while. I do the same with everything I am working on, even a crossword puzzle. If you can't solve it, you put it away and the next day, you take it out and have a breakthrough.

I don't mind switching and changing, doing different things. However, my mother did drill into me that you must finish one thing at a time, so I think that it is very important to stick to things that are difficult and look like they're going on the rocks. Go ahead and finish it. Even if it is a disaster at the end, you have the satisfaction of actually following it through. And, very often, it goes from disaster to something absolutely brilliant, or at least very passable.

What advice would you give to people who are inspired by your book but are a little nervous about using prints and bold color.

That is a very, very discreet way of putting it. They are "a little nervous"--they are terrified! I would tell them that I know that color does frighten people, but it is probably more fabulous and interesting than they think, so don't be afraid!

A lot of my inspiration comes from the circus or the really cheap end of town, where everything is kind of gaudy and shrieking. I love all that and love to get that into my work. However, I also like to refine it so that it does not appear to be discordant. At the end of the day, I want my color combinations to uplift people, inspire them, and be harmonious. That is important.

Your bookshelves are enchanting! You state that, over the past few years, you have been drawn to visual books, in which the author conjures up colors and physicality of space. What are some examples of visual books that you have particularly enjoyed?

Well, I would say, right off the bat, the one that comes to mind is Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire series. How I love those! Oh my God, those velvet outfits! I started reading it in Venice, in St. Mark's cathedral, and felt that I was in the midst of it all. I just love reading somebody's story and how the author describes what they wore when they went to their first date or walked into a room to make a statement.

You've shared so much of your daily life within this book. How do you hope this will inspire your readers?

Well, first of all, I hope that people realize that they really could live in a chaotic mess! My house might be colorful, but it is chaotic and no one should be afraid of that. There was a wonderful English writer by the name of Quentin Crisp. He lived in a flat all by himself and would say [paraphrased], "I've never done housework. After four years, the dust doesn't get any worse." I loved that and thought, oh, there's hope for me!

In my talks, I often say that I know that I am not the best artist in the world. I am not the most refined; I haven't got the education; I didn't stick it out in school. However, I know that I'm better than a lot of people and I'm more courageous, with the tenacity to follow through even when something is going badly. I think that those qualities give you a depth of life. And that's what I hope will inspire the readers of this book.

Is there a particular craft that you haven't yet explored but want to try?

I've done mosaics, and I've done pretty big ones, but I would love to do tile panels--really big tile panels! I've done some smaller pieces, but it would be fun to do a really colorful, tiled, great, huge building in the middle of the city. That would be amazing. I hope there's an architect out there reading this! --Grace Rajendran, freelance reviewer and literary events producer

Book Candy

Subtitle Quiz

Pop quiz: "Can you guess the book based on its obscure subtitle?" Mental Floss challenged.


"On 'born' and 'borne': one vowel can mean a big difference," Merriam-Webster suggested.


The Library of Congress has launched a new blog: Guardians of Memory: Preserving the National Collection.


Atlas Obscura explored "how Soviet children's books became collectors' items in India."


"Someone please put these classic science fiction novel stamps on my wall," Mashable pleaded.

Great Reads

Rediscover: All Things Cease to Appear

Things Heard & Seen, a thriller film based on the novel All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, premieres on Netflix this Thursday, April 29. Amanda Seyfried and James Norton star as the Clares, a couple who move to Chosen, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley with their young daughter. Brundage's novel, first published in 2016, opens with George Clare seeking help from a neighbor after supposedly discovering Catherine dead from an ax wound. All Things Cease to Appear shifts back in time from there, following the Clares' attempts to milk new lives out of a defunct dairy farm--the site of a double suicide that left the previous tenant's three children orphans. Things Heard & Seen is written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the duo behind American Splendor (2003). The film also stars Natalia Dyer, Rhea Seehorn and F. Murray Abraham.

Elizabeth Brundage is also the author of The Doctor's Wife, Somebody Else's Daughter and A Stranger Like You. Her next novel, The Vanishing Point, which follows two friendly photography students whose lives diverge with deadly results, comes out from Little, Brown on May 18. All Things Cease to Appear is available in paperback from Vintage ($17). --Tobias Mutter

Book Review



by Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri's beautifully refined, slender third novel, Whereabouts, immerses readers in the captivating orbit of an unnamed narrator as she wanders alone through the Italian city she calls home. Consisting of short, elegant vignettes, there is a hypnotic quality and melancholy hum to the flow of the character's days as she walks to her job in academia, eats at her favorite trattoria, swims at the public pool, bumps into an ex-lover at the bookstore and pays guilt-inducing visits to her mother.

The author's fascination with identity, alienation and belonging are recurring themes in her fiction (The Lowland; The Namesake; the Pulitzer-winning collection Interpreter of Maladies), and Whereabouts is no exception. Lahiri's graceful writing explores the protagonist's voyeuristic tendencies, her craving for solitude and her wistfulness over not attaining conventional standards of success. Along the way readers experience a vivid sense of her days and the people she encounters, whether strangers, friends or shopkeepers. She ruminates over a lonesome childhood and reveals her attraction to a married man with whom she shares a "chaste, fleeting bond."

Whereabouts gently concludes with a new beginning for the middle-aged narrator, a fresh chapter yet to be written and a farewell to her "urban cocoon." Originally published to critical acclaim in Italian, under the title Dove mi trovo (Where I Find Myself) and translated into English by Lahiri herself, the scenes in Whereabouts weave together to form a profoundly intimate story of the delicate interplay between one's exposed outer self, the person one reveals to others, and the shaded complexity of one's inner life. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Discover: A Pulitzer Prize-winning author's shimmering jewel of a novel features an enigmatic female academic and her intriguing relationship to her Italian hometown and its inhabitants.

Knopf, $24, hardcover, 176p., 9780593318317


by Angela Mi Young Hur

Korean American author Angela Mi Young Hur (The Queens of K-Town) takes readers on a soul-searching journey across the globe in Folklorn, a genre-blending novel that intricately mixes family drama and folklore.

Particle physicist and second-generation Korean American Elsa Park studies neutrinos at Amundsen Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, a "geeky Shangri-la on planet Hoth" a world away from her catatonic mother, angry father and schizophrenic brother. As she prepares to return to Stockholm, her invisible friend from childhood appears to her, reminding her that her mother believed the women of their family are cursed to remember and repeat the lives of their female ancestors as described in folktales.

Elsa worries she may have inherited her mother's mental health problems and questions the meaning behind her mother's stories. In Stockholm, sexy Korean Swedish professor Oskar answers her folklore questions and tries to work his way into her tightly guarded heart. When bad news draws her home to California, she must come to terms with her family and solve the mystery of whether she has a living sister.

Hur intertwines Korean folktales about sacrificed girls with meditations on science, generational trauma, the immigrant experience and life as a person of color in the U.S. Elsa is a sometimes frustrating, wholly human heroine, her quest impeded by emotional baggage and the increasing difficulty of compartmentalization. Her struggle to find answers feels realistically challenging and satisfying. Infused with logic, wonder and healing, Folklorn offers a multifaceted take on family histories. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: In an ambitious, multilayered story, a Korean American scientist tries to understand her family using the folktales her mother told her.

Erewhon, $26.95, hardcover, 416p., 9781645660163

Mystery & Thriller


by Carole Johnstone

Carole Johnstone melds intricate family dynamics into a gripping mystery with the undercurrent of a gothic novel in Mirrorland. A childhood filled with trauma, abuse and dark secrets created a strong bond between twin sisters Catriona "Cat" Morgan and Ellice "El" MacAuley. To escape, the girls created an imaginary world they called Mirrorland, filled with pirates, witches and clowns. But the stress of the past also led to their estrangement as adults.

The sisters' relationship drove Cat to move to California 12 years ago, where she established a career as a freelance writer, while El remained in Edinburgh, where she married Ross MacAuley, a clinical psychologist. Now Cat returns to Scotland because El hasn't returned from one of her regular solo sailings on the Firth of Forth. Creepiness quickly settles over Mirrorland as El and Ross have bought a house Cat has tried to forget. Even stranger, the couple has been restoring the residence and furnishings to resemble the way it used to be. "The house is both too quiet and too loud," thinks Cat. While the police and Ross want to give up the search, Cat believes that Ellice is still alive, which elevates the suspense.

The parallels between reality and the sisters' childhood world add heft to the plot; Cat finds the house even more foreboding as her memories threaten to overwhelm her. Johnstone keeps Mirrorland character-driven as she explores the complicated connection between the sisters and Ross, whom they have known since they were kids, all of their personalities forged by trauma. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer

Discover: A young woman revisits childhood fantasies that were forged by trauma to uncover clues about her missing twin in a gripping mystery enhanced by a gothic approach.

Scribner, $27, hardcover, 320p., 9781982136352

Northern Spy

by Flynn Berry

Slicing apples for a pie, Tessa Ryan tenses, realizing the fruit's variety--Northern Spy--has a double meaning. Apple or counterterrorist? In Flynn Berry's suspenseful third novel (following Under the Harrow and A Double Life), Tessa and her family live an outwardly normal life in Northern Ireland, knowing violence can erupt at any moment, and people are not always who they seem to be.

Sisters Tessa and Marian have always been close. Born near Belfast as "the Troubles" were ending, they live a bus ride apart, Tessa with her infant in a bucolic coastal village and Marian in the city. Years after the Good Friday Agreement declaring peace, Northern Ireland is still divided: "We were living in a tinderbox," Tessa says. They consider themselves Irish, not British, but are pointedly apolitical. So, when TV footage shows Marian in an IRA robbery, Tessa is incredulous. Was she kidnapped? Is she IRA? Tessa's first-person point of view heightens the sense of anxiety as she grapples with questions, then truth, then choices. She joins shop customers scrambling at the sound of a car accident that sounds like a bomb; eventually, she learns of a co-worker's double life.

A BBC television journalist, she is well aware of politics, but her priority is baby Finn. Marian pressures Tessa to take an active role, and Tessa wonders if she is "standing in the way of the rebellion." Pulled deeper into the conflict, the sisters remain loyal to each other, as the juxtaposition of deadly strife and ordinary life propels this tense, simmering thriller to its unexpected conclusion. --Cheryl McKeon, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y.

Discover: In this immersive thriller, set in Northern Ireland after "the Troubles," one family's grappling with the political divide leads to danger for two sisters.

Viking, $26, hardcover, 288p., 9780735224995

Death of a Showman

by Mariah Fredericks

She might be "just" a maid, but Jane Prescott is often the smartest person in the room. Death of a Showman, the lively and arresting fourth book in Mariah Fredericks's Gilded Age series, takes Jane to the tumultuous set of a Broadway play in 1914, where her employer, the wealthy Mrs. Louise Tyler, has found an exciting new calling as a patron. Complicating matters, the show is written and directed by Jane's former dancing partner, Leo Hirschfeld, who recently married one of the musical's chorus girls. Jane is less than thrilled to have Leo's wife on set--as are the other stars, who view Mrs. Hirschfeld as a threat. When the play's abusive and hot-tempered producer, Sidney Warburton, is murdered, everyone in the cast becomes a suspect, morphing the story into a fast-paced whodunit that puts Jane at the center of the investigation--and of at least one love triangle.

As the book's amiable narrator, Jane is clever, thoughtful and surprisingly streetwise. She is also obsessively dedicated to her work--in one amusing scene, she admonishes another servant for incorrectly arranging Mrs. Tyler's shoes. This devotion and absolute loyalty to the Tyler family make her even more charming. But as she watches Mrs. Tyler find purpose through her position at the theater, Jane realizes she also harbors a deep desire to do something more than tend to Mrs. Tyler's wardrobe. Her curiosity fuels her scrutiny of Warburton's murder, as well as her understandable wish to be loved and remembered when she's gone. --Angela Lutz, freelance reviewer

Discover: This lively mystery takes Jane Prescott to the tumultuous set of a Broadway play in 1914, where she gets caught up in a murder investigation.

Minotaur Books, $26.99, hardcover, 288p., 9781250210906

Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers (Record of a Spaceborn Few) plumbs new emotional and philosophical depths in The Galaxy, and the Ground Below, the illuminating and uplifting fourth installment in her Wayfarers series.

Following the accidental destruction of communication satellites, five aliens are marooned together on the layover planet of Gora. Ooulu and her son Tupo of the Laru species, with limbs and necks "like animated noodles, their stubby torsos thick and bumbling," run the multispecies establishment Five-Hop One-Stop, where travelers make brief stopovers. Roveg, an insect-like Quelin, is jovial, enjoys art and is an exile from his home planet for spreading progressive ideologies. Pei, an Aeluon whose species communicates through color, is a ship captain who delivers supplies behind enemy lines in her species' ongoing war. Speaker, a diminutive Akarak that leaves her shuttle only in the protection of a mech suit, is a mystery to all but her own kind. From this forced proximity comes an unusual opportunity, and slowly the four species begin to bond, sharing food and music as well as opening up to each other's ethical dilemmas and personal histories as they face the unknown future and their own internal dramas.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within dazzles with a seamless combination of intricate worldbuilding, compassion, humor, intellectual discourse and hard science. Arguably the highlight of an already groundbreaking series, Chambers's character-driven world is refreshing in its insights into prejudice and feelings of "otherness," demonstrating dexterity in the dissection of polarizing situations. Newcomers to the Galactic Commons will have little difficulty navigating Chambers's highly realized worlds, while existing fans are sure to delight in the continued development of her masterfully crafted universe. --Jennifer Oleinik, freelance writer and editor

Discover: Five marooned aliens search for commonality and understanding in the exceptional fourth book in Becky Chambers's Wayfarers series.

Harper Voyager, $27.99, hardcover, 336p., 9780062936035

Business & Economics

What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society

by Minouche Shafik

There might be a paradigm of individualism and independence in the contemporary world, but as London School of Economics director Minouche Shafik points out, moments of crisis such as the global Covid-19 pandemic make apparent how societies are still very much intertwined and interdependent. These crises also present distinct opportunities to remake the world.

In What We Owe Each Other, Shafik presents a compelling argument to reemphasize the idea of the social contract, as was done with the New Deal after the Great Depression, and reinvent it to fit modern challenges. She begins by defining the "social contract" as a way of spreading risk more evenly across society to lead to better opportunities for all, and offering statistics that demonstrate how care for all actually leads to better GDP, anticipating and countering arguments against the expansion of the so-called welfare state. Shafik examines how remaking the social contract with regards to children, education, health, work, old age and generations can lead to a rebalancing of resources, focusing on economic arguments. By doing so, she offers her version of a new social contract, one that rests on the idea of "guaranteed basics for a decent life to which everyone is entitled" and provides the roadmap to execute such an idea. What We Owe Each Other is a persuasive look at current fiscal policies and practices, and how they might be altered to meet the needs of a changing society. --Michelle Anya Anjirbag, freelance reviewer

Discover: Economist Minouche Shafik presents a persuasive argument for a new social contract to address modern inequalities and dissatisfaction.

Princeton University Press, $24.95, hardcover, 256p., 9780691204451

Parenting & Family

Second Thoughts: On Having and Being a Second Child

by Lynn Berger

Lynn Berger began working on the illuminating Second Thoughts while pregnant with her second child. "What did it mean," she wondered, "to have a child for the second time? Why did we want a second child at all? Our first had been nothing less than a miracle, an event without precedent, but what did that make our second? A repetition? A perpetuation? A trip down memory lane?" Unable to answer these questions for herself without tripping into one assumption after another, Dutch journalist Berger went looking for writing about second children. In the overfull world of parenting books, however, she found very little that spoke to the transition from a family with one child to a family with two (or more) children--and so Second Thoughts was born.

What impact does birth order have on personality? Are children with siblings better off than only children? Are second children disadvantaged by never having their parents' full attention, or do they benefit because their parents have some sense of what they're doing by the second time around? Berger suggests that much of what we think we know about these (and other) topics is pure myth, and not borne out in scientific study. In addition to providing easy-to-understand summaries of complex research studies, she draws on her own experience as a mother of one (and then two) across the pages of Second Thoughts, which is peppered with touching anecdotes from her own family life. The result is a welcome invitation for self-reflection and contemplation about the complex emotions that surround every aspect of parenting, be it of one child or many. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: A mother of two combines her own personal experience with research and analysis to examine what it means to transition from a family with one child to a family with two--or more.

Holt, $25.99, hardcover, 208p., 9781250787866


How Y'all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived

by Leslie Jordan

One of the few bright spots to come out of the 2020 pandemic was Leslie Jordan's discovery of Instagram as a new venue for his warmly hilarious stories. How Y'all Doing? gives the diminutive Emmy-winning actor and comedian a chance to share more endearing, funny and uplifting tales from his life. Growing up flamboyantly gay in Chattanooga, Tenn., in the early 1960s wasn't easy. "I had fallen out of the womb into my mother's high heels," he writes. But being able to make others laugh earned him protection from bullies.

Although Jordan briefly touches on his earlier drug and alcohol addictions (and the 12-step program that saved him), most of these tales are upbeat, outrageous and very funny. "My mind is like a bad neighborhood," he writes. "Honey, you do not want to go up there alone." For his drag debut, he chose the name Miss Baby Wipes. All of his high school crushes were on straight guys. "And this went on for forty years," he writes. "FORTY YEARS. Kinda painful in retrospect." There's not a lot of Will & Grace stories (those were in his first book, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet) but there's plenty of show biz tales. He recalls his spontaneous cartwheel in the movie The Help; recording a gospel song with his idol Dolly Parton; playing Truman Capote in a Broadway-bound play; and how meeting Carrie Fisher won his mother a phone call from Debbie Reynolds.

Jordan is a national treasure and How Y'all Doing? is the feel-good read of the year. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: Jordan's autobiographical tales of growing up gay and finding success in show biz are riotously funny--and the feel-good book of the year.

Morrow, $26.99, hardcover, 272p., 9780063076198

Art & Photography

Kaffe Fassett in the Studio: Behind the Scenes with a Master Colorist

by Kaffe Fassett

In this lush and stunning coffee-table book, artist, textile designer and author Kaffe Fassett (Kaffe Fassett's Bold Blooms and Dreaming in Color) takes readers on a rare, intimate tour of his London studio home

Kaffe Fassett in the Studio: Behind the Scenes with a Master Colorist is divided into three parts, and the vibrant patterns and colors leap out from almost every one of its 240 pages. Part one describes his studio and home life, including glimpses into his living space, creative team, daily life and routines, and the sources of his inspiration.

Part two features his creations and offers insights on the many artforms he works with, such as patchwork, knitting and painting. Fassett's versatility and skill are apparent throughout, and everything he does is imbued with the passion and joy that is his signature--from the textile designs that he is most famous for to mosaics, needlepoint and styling his own home. Finally, part three provides detailed project instructions, as well as quilting and needlepoint templates and basics.

Fassett's writing is as welcoming as the décor in his home. The undone artistry of quilts draped over well-loved furniture, vintage crockery, treasured bolts of fabric and volumes of cherished books all serve to elevate and inspire. As he writes, "Color is such a giant enigma, changing and revealing different possibilities each time one concentrates on it for more than a moment." Kaffe Fassett in the Studio, itself a tapestry of prints and hues, will likewise offer these different possibilities with each reading. --Grace Rajendran, freelance reviewer and literary events producer

Discover: An uplifting celebration of creativity from an iconic textile designer, filled with 224 vibrant, color photographs.

Abrams, $40, hardcover, 224p., 9781419746260

Children's & Young Adult

Hello, Rain!

by Kyo Maclear, illus. by Chris Turnham

In Hello, Rain!, Kyo Maclear (The Liszts; Bloom; Operatic) builds a delightful meditation on a theme by following a child and their dog through anticipating a storm to the sunlight at the end.

As the drops begin to fall, child and dog don their rain gear--matching yellow and orange raincoats--and venture out to explore. The companions launch makeshift watercrafts down a flooded street, examine sticky snails and seedlings, and "whisper-talk" under a tree until thunder and lightning send them inside to play in a cozy fort. (Because "naps and secrets are both better--when it rains.") As their soggy trip continues, the child finds optimism in each situation despite the fickle nature of the weather, resulting in a joyous romp dictated by the sky's unpredictability. The adults around them "dash, dart" and "skitter, skatter" to avoid getting wet while the pair revels in the weather: "Why hurry when the sky is an adventure?"

Maclear's poetic text cascades down each page in rivulets and short bursts, requiring the eye to jump around and follow the path of each phrase like a rain droplet. Illustrator Chris Turnham (The Wish Tree) carefully constructs each digitally rendered scene and plays with perspective: on some pages, readers look at the subject through a curtain of rain; on others, the viewpoint is from above as the child and dog walk through rows of lush garden or beneath the spiderwebbed branches of a tree. Maclear and Turnham use Hello, Rain! to magnify the magic and beauty revealed by rain and to remind readers to stop and take in the magic and brilliance all around. --Kieran Slattery, freelance reviewer, teacher, and co-creator, Gender Inclusive Classrooms

Discover: In a fresh, holistic take on a classic theme, a child and their dog explore the sounds, mysteries and beauty unleashed before, during and after a rainstorm.

Chronicle Books, $16.99, hardcover, 44p., ages 3-5, 9781452138190

Notes from a Young Black Chef (Adapted for Young Adults)

by Kwame Onwuachi, Joshua David Stein

Kwame Onwuachi was only 26 when he opened his first restaurant. That this restaurant failed within three months is part of what makes his autobiography a valuable read for young adults. Notes from a Young Black Chef (Adapted for Young Adults) is an anti-racist, inspirational and true story that ends not with our YA protagonist getting everything he wanted, but with a real person experiencing loss and continuing to persevere.

The young adult adaptation of Notes reads as a straightforward autobiography in which the author baldly displays his truth: "I have grown up in the knock-about projects. In the Bronx, I've been the kid on the corner, but I have also spent time in Nigeria with my grandfather... where there were no projects, no blocks, no corners." Even in this quick history, though, Onwuachi clarifies, "Not everyone from the Bronx comes from the streets"--he lived on a "tree-lined and quiet" street and "grew up" in the projects through his friendships. His autobiography brings the reader what feels like an extremely authentic account of his life: an abusive father, drug dealing, life in Nigeria, working in kitchens, going to the Culinary Institute, appearing on Top Chef. This is not a "rags to riches" story--and Onwuachi wants readers to know that.

Joshua David Stein works with Onwuachi to build an open, honest and deeply interesting autobiography of someone who is still very young. "I'm standing on stories," Onwuachi says of the lives of his ancestors, "and this is my own." What better book to give a youth than one that shows the world as it is--institutionalized racism, beating the odds and all? --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor

Discover: In this young adult adaptation, chef Kwame Onwuachi (with the help of Joshua David Stein) courageously tells the engrossing story of his life.

Delacorte Press, $17.99, hardcover, 272p., ages 12-up, 9780593176009


Author Buzz

The Rom-Commers

by Katherine Center

Dear Reader,

Famous screenwriter Charlie Yates wrote a romantic comedy screenplay--and it’s terrible. Aspiring writer Emma Wheeler just got hired to fix it. But Charlie doesn't want anyone rewriting his work--least of all a "failed nobody," and Emma can't support a guy who doesn't even like rom-coms, adding another bad one to the pantheon. So what choice does Emma have but to stand up for herself, and rom-coms, and love in general--and, in the process, to show her nemesis-slash-writing-hero exactly how to fall stupidly, crazily, perfectly in love?

Email with the subject line "The Rom-Commers sweepstakes" for a chance to win one of five copies.

Katherine Center

Buy now and support your local indie bookstore>

AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: The Rom-Commers by Katherine Center

St. Martin's Press

Pub Date: 
June 11, 2024


List Price: 
$29.00 Hardcover

Blue Moon
(A Smoke and Mirrors Novella)

by Skye Warren

Dear Reader,

When I started writing Ringmaster Emerson Durand in the Smoke and Mirrors series, I knew he would get his own story. Insouciant. Charming. And he's actually the villain of that book. So can he be redeemed? It's the question I'm always working to answer in my books.

If he's going to deserve his own happily ever after, it's going to be a journey. A scorching hot journey!

That's what BLUE MOON illuminates. A dangerous ringmaster claims his rebellious acrobat for a sensual show you cannot miss.

Skye Warren

Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Blue Moon (A Smoke and Mirrors Novella) by Skye Warren

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
March 12, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

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