Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, August 10, 2021

William Morrow & Company: End of Story by A.J. Finn

From My Shelf

Seattle: City of Literature

Seattle's 2017 designation as a City of Literature by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recognizes the remarkable diversity and vibrancy of the region's literary culture. Seattle shares this honor with Iowa City and 37 cities across the globe, including Odessa in Ukraine; Durban, South Africa; and the Pakistani city of Lahore.

As a 30-year resident of Seattle, I can attest to the dynamism of our literary community, with thriving bookstores, events and workshops dedicated to the written word and authors who make their home in the Emerald City.

The past few years alone have seen a marvelous proliferation of titles by Seattle authors, including the bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race (Seal Press, $16.99) by Ijeoma Oluo. Crowned one of the 50 most influential women in Seattle in 2018, Oluo has succeeded in crafting an intellectually courageous and compassionate guide to help readers engage in honest conversations about race and racism in the U.S.

A friend recently gave me a copy of Seattle author Stacy D. Flood's historical novella The Salt Fields (Lanternfish Press, $14). Flood, an accomplished playwright with a gift for storytelling, deploys his exceptional descriptive powers to tell the story of Minister Peters, a Black man whose name does not reflect his occupation, and his life-changing train journey from South Carolina to the promised land of the North.

A Seattleite born and raised in New York City, writer, poet, editor and educator Sharyn Skeeter says her novel Dancing with Langston (Green Place Books, $19.95) was inspired by her father's family connection to Langston Hughes. Skeeter skillfully examines the universal quest for a productive, happy life, assisted by a memorable cast of characters.

Consistently ranked one of the most well-read cities in the U.S., Seattle's growth as a tech city parallels its continued blossoming as a creative center of literary activity. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Jewish Book Council: 73rd National Jewish Book Award Winners

The Writer's Life

Reading with... Jessamyn Stanley

photo: Cornell Watson

Jessamyn Stanley is an international voice in wellness, known for her insights on 21st-century yoga and intersectional identity. She is the founder of The Underbelly, a streaming wellness app and community, co-host of the podcast Dear Jessamyn and co-founder of We Go High, a North Carolina cannabis justice initiative. She is a regular contributor to SELF magazine and has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue and Sports Illustrated. She is the author of Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get on the Mat. Love Your Body. Her latest book is the essay collection Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance (Workman, June 22, 2021).

On your nightstand now: 

No Jim Crow Church: The Origins of South Carolina's Bahá'í Community by Louis Venters.

I was drawn to read No Jim Crow Church because I am a third-generation Bahá'í and a descendent of South Carolina's Bahá'í community, and being able to look at my family's history has felt very important to me, to see a snapshot of my family through time. I've had a lot of conflict with my Bahá'í upbringing, and learning about my heritage has been deeply healing. 

Favorite book when you were a child:

Anything from the Baby-Sitters Club.

Your top five authors:

Jeffrey Eugenides
Marjane Satrapi
Jhumpa Lahiri
Maya Angelou
Anne Lamott

Book you've faked reading:

The Metamorphosis, but then again--I used to say anything to get laid.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Jeffrey Eugenides does such an incredible job of showcasing humanity and the power of the blood that we all carry within us. 

Book you've bought for the cover:

Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin.

Book you hid from your parents:

Wifey by Judy Blume. This was actually my mom's book--I took it without permission and read it. I found it is SCANDALOUS! I read it because it's Judy Blume, and I masturbated to it for years and took it with me to boarding school. But if they knew I was reading it, they would know why, so I had to hide it.

Book that changed your life:

The Odyssey by Homer. I have to be honest with you. I only read two or three of the books I was supposed to read during my freshman year of high school, and I pretty much read Sparknotes for everything else. This one, I read cover to cover. So powerful and so relevant, even though it's old as f**k.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The Fifth Agreement by Don Jose Ruiz, Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills.

Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom by B.K.S. Iyengar. He wrote a lot of books during his lifetime, and it is really interesting to read this one after having read his earlier books. His understanding of yoga and what it means to practice evolved so much throughout his life. I am grateful he took the time to record his practice because it is so relatable. I find it to be invaluable as I move through my own life.

The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

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

Sula by Toni Morrison. I read this my sophomore year of high school, and I loved it so much, but I don't remember what I loved about it, I just really remember connecting to the characters. I was so young, and so many of the themes would hit me very differently now.

A book that inspired you as a writer: 

Reading stories by other Black women about the way they see the world has been very influential for me, and one of first books that gave me that experience was Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Sleeping Bear Press: Junia, the Book Mule of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, illustrated by David C. Gardner

Book Candy

An Animated History of Writing

Open Culture explored "an animated history of writing: from Ancient Egypt to modern writing systems."


Mental Floss shared "15 curious facts about books and authors in honor of National Book Lovers Day."


Pet words: Merriam-Webster explained "what to call that weird thing your pet does."


Author John Patrick McHugh chose his "top 10 stories about bored teenagers" for the Guardian.


Bookshelf highlighted the Reading Museum's lit-themed Huntley & Palmers biscuit tins.

Great Reads

Rediscover: Paulo Coelho

The collected works of Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho are getting new covers and boxed sets from publisher HarperOne. Coelho is best known for his internationally bestselling 1988 novel The Alchemist, about an Andalusian shepherd on a journey to the Egyptian pyramids spurred on by dreams of an awaiting treasure, which has sold 100 million copies worldwide and spent 427 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. His extensive backlist, including The Alchemist, has sold more than 320 million copies. The new covers were designed by Jim Tierney, who also created the 25th-anniversary edition of The Alchemist, published in 2014, all with a matching visual style.

Each individual title is available for purchase along with two boxed sets. The Essential Paulo Coelho boxed set ($49.99) includes six books: The Alchemist, The Pilgrimage, Warrior of the Light, The Valkyries, Veronika Decides to Die and Eleven Minutes. The Paulo Coelho Collection ($99.99) includes 13 titles: The Alchemist, The Pilgrimage, Warrior of the Light, The Valkyries, Veronika Decides to Die, Eleven Minutes, The Fifth Mountain, The Devil and Miss Prym, The Zahir, The Witch of Portobello, The Winner Stands Alone, Brida and By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. They are available now.

Book Review



by Christy Lefteri

With Songbirds, Christy Lefteri (The Beekeeper of Aleppo) shines a light on social issues through the story of one woman's disappearance: "One day, Nisha vanished and turned to gold." Nisha is a Sri Lankan immigrant to Cyprus, where she works in the capital city of Nicosia as maid to Petra, a widow, and her nine-year-old daughter, Aliki. Petra's upstairs tenant Yiannis is Nisha's secret lover (maids are not permitted lovers). This absorbing novel opens after Nisha has gone missing, and is told in chapters that alternate between Petra's and Yiannis's points of view as they mourn and search for Nisha.

Nisha is representative of numerous migrant worker women in Cyprus, largely from Vietnam, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Petra observes, "I had started to see the rhythm of these women with new eyes--how the whole neighborhood pulsed with their activity. They had been invisible to me before Nisha had gone missing."

Although her neighbors are quick to write off the disappearance as abandonment, with the assumptions of casual racism, Petra knows this is out of character. Nisha is devoted to Aliki, and besides she's left behind her passport and most precious possessions, relics of her late husband and her own daughter in Sri Lanka. The police won't help, so Petra mounts her own investigation.

Lefteri deftly weaves Yiannis's pain at the loss of his love with Petra's growing realizations about her own culture and Aliki's attachment to her missing caretaker. Songbirds is quietly urgent in its treatment of Nicosia's maids, thoughtful, compassionate and lyrical in its descriptions. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: Set in the old capital city of Cyprus, this is a beautiful, sad novel about human relationships and hard choices, who is seen and unseen.

Ballantine Books, $27, hardcover, 336p., 9780593238042

Yours Cheerfully

by AJ Pearce

After getting in a spot of trouble in Dear Mrs. Bird, young journalist and aspiring advice columnist Emmeline Lake is thriving at Woman's Friend magazine. AJ Pearce chronicles more of Emmy's personal and professional adventures in her warmhearted second novel, Yours Cheerfully. 

In the fall of 1941, Emmy and her colleagues at Woman's Friend are doing their bit to help win the war. This means providing recipes, dress patterns and sound advice for their readers, but Emmy thinks they need to do more. When the Ministry of Information asks journalists to help recruit women for war work, Emmy plunges into a series on women working in factories. Her research opens up a few cans of worms, including the lack of childcare for female employees, and sparks some surprising new friendships. As Emmy juggles her new project with other work responsibilities and a blossoming romance, it all becomes a bit much, but it's nothing Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, can't handle.

Pearce sensitively explores issues facing women in the workplace, which feel timely despite the 70-year gap between Emmy's story and the present. She also draws a winning picture of wartime romance, but the real stars of Yours Cheerfully are Emmy's female friends: the factory workers trying to support their children, the female staff at Woman's Friend, and Bunty, who despite her own grief is the model of a stalwart best friend.

Witty, charming and full of very British pluck, Yours Cheerfully entertains readers while living up to its name. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: AJ Pearce's second novel is a witty, warmhearted story of wartime friendship and the fight for women's equality in the workplace.

Scribner, $26, hardcover, 304p., 9781501170096

The King of Infinite Space

by Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye (The Paragon Hotel) reimagines Shakespeare's Hamlet in The King of Infinite Space, a mind-bending update on the classic tragedy that cleverly keeps its spirit intact while modernizing relationships and plot points. 

Lia Brahms would have an easier time getting over Ben Dane if he would stop pulling her into his dreams. Specifically, Ben dreams them into the burned-out remains of the World's Stage Theatre in New York City, where he and Lia practically lived as children, his father its owner and hers the manager. In one such dream, they learn Ben's father has died. Back in the real world, Ben finds the dream failed to mention that his mother, Trudy, has hastily married Claude, his uncle. Ben summons his best friend and constant "empathy factory," Horatio Ramesh Patel, from London to his Manhattan apartment, insisting something is rotten in his father's death despite the official ruling of suicide. When they uncover a video of Ben's father claiming Claude wanted him dead, Ben insists on investigating a murder that may not have even happened, while older mysteries lurk in the margins. Meanwhile, Lia copes with the loss of her relationship with Ben under the watchful eyes of three enigmatic, powerful women in Louisiana, and their puckish antagonist Robin makes plans for the Danes. 

Faye drops the Bard's best beats into a deliriously fun blender. However, readers unfamiliar with the source material should have no trouble following the plot or investing in the emotional stakes. An intriguing mix of the mystical and rational, The King of Infinite Space wears its heart on its sleeve down to its explosive and sentimental conclusion. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: Set in New York City, this retelling of Hamlet is a dazzling mesh of wit, philosophy and romance.

Putnam, $27, hardcover, 384p., 9780525535898

Mystery & Thriller

Then She Vanishes

by Claire Douglas

Thirty-two-year-old Heather Powell walks into a house and shoots two people dead in cold blood. So begins Claire Douglas's engrossing mystery Then She Vanishes.

Heather's sister, Flora, disappeared in the summer of 1994. In March 2012, an enraged Heather kills 58-year-old Clive Wilson and his 76-year-old mother, Deidre. Police go to arrest Heather, but find her unconscious and bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest. She's rushed to the hospital, where she slips into a coma and can't be charged or interrogated until she awakens.

Heather's mother Margot's house is surrounded by reporters clamoring for a statement. Among them is Jessica Fox, a childhood friend of Heather, sent by her editor to exploit her relationship with the Powell family. Margot holds a grudge against Jessica for ghosting Heather right after Flora went missing, but Jessica convinces Margot to grant an exclusive interview to control Heather's story and make the other reporters back off. Jessica and Margot work together to find out why Heather committed murder. What they don't realize is that only Heather knows the truth about Flora's disappearance.

Douglas (The Sisters) explores how easily a happy family can fracture by failing to communicate with one another. Lies become bitterly held truths and everyone suffers in Then She Vanishes. Douglas slowly oozes out the plot by giving her main characters individual chapters to tell their own version of events. This Rashomon-esque technique can feel slightly repetitive, but this tantalizing story has so many plot twists that readers will be awestruck when they learn the dark motivations behind these characters' actions. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer

Discover: Many years after a teenage girl's disappearance, an elderly woman and her son are shot dead, causing secrets, lies and misunderstandings to resurface in this cleverly crafted mystery.

Harper, $26.99, hardcover, 432p., 9780063092730

The Coldest Case

by Martin Walker

The Coldest Case, the 16th immersive, charming installment in British journalist Martin Walker's detective series, brings to light new evidence in a seemingly unsolvable murder case. Bruno Courrèges serves as police chief in an idyllic French town. When he visits an archeological exhibit at a local museum, he has a revelatory thought: What if the same artistic skill that brings ancient faces to life could help fellow police officer J-J learn the identity of a long-dead murder victim? While trying to crack this 30-year-old cold case, Bruno discovers possible connections to the East German Stasi and threats to national security that complicate the investigation. As always, Bruno proves to be a level-headed and competent investigator, making him a trustworthy character to follow on this journey.

But Bruno also has a softer side. In addition to his gritty career investigating homicides, he enjoys the finer things in life--expensive red wine, exquisitely prepared meals, long walks in the woods with his beloved basset hound. Parts of the book read like a diary of leisure rather than a crime drama, such as when Bruno and his companions go horseback riding past a vineyard on a summer evening and Bruno's "mood eased at the knowledge that these grapes were now being farmed organically." At times, the sprawling, mouthwatering descriptions of Bruno's meals are more intriguing than the murder investigation--but with historical surprises and engaging prose, this police procedural offers poolside escapism for the dog days of summer. --Angela Lutz, freelance reviewer

Discover: In this absorbing installment of the Bruno, Chief of Police detective series, new evidence comes to light in a seemingly unsolvable 30-year-old murder case.

Knopf, $27, hardcover, 336p., 9780525656678

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Spirits Abroad

by Zen Cho

Ordinary life is touched by the supernatural, and supernatural creatures have surprisingly ordinary concerns, in this expanded edition of Spirits Abroad. Nine new stories (including Hugo Award winner "If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again") combine with the original 10 included in Zen Cho's (Sorcerer to the Crown) enchanting debut short story collection, first published in 2014.

Vivian returns to Malaysia after the death of her grandmother, who may have been a witch, to find the old woman visiting her in her dreams. Odette, raised and emotionally abused by her uncle, takes desperate measures to secure his house for herself. Ah Lee, who prefers the term vampire instead of what she really is, worries about the boy that she likes and how to keep him from noticing that she eats people.

Cho makes Malaysian folklore and British colonialism frequent themes, which are sometimes strange and gothic but more frequently charming. Love is a recurring subject--such as the case of a dragon who falls for a very ordinary woman named Prudence. Diaspora is another: in "The Four Generations of Chang E," an age-old story about the ways immigrants and the next generations of their families relate to the culture around them plays out on the moon. Characters struggle to achieve their ambitions in ways to which readers can easily empathize, even if those characters are an imugi struggling to transform into a dragon or an earth spirit digging a first hole of its own.

Fans of Cho's novels will find just as much wit and warmth to savor in her short works. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library

Discover: The magical and the everyday mix in these 19 charming fantasy stories with Malaysian roots.

Small Beer Press, $17, paperback, 288p., 9781618731869


So We Meet Again

by Suzanne Park

Suzanne Park (Loathe at First Sight) crafts another engaging enemies-to-lovers romance in So We Meet Again. Back in junior high, Jessie Kim and Daniel Choi were pitted against each other by their competitive Korean American parents as beacons of near-perfection. Both eventually escaped: Jess landed on Wall Street, Daniel in Silicon Valley. Now almost 30, both unexpectedly return home to Nashville: Jess was dismissed by her high-power investment firm ("you're not a leader"); the rumor mill insists elite corporate lawyer Daniel is fleeing a painful mismatch.

Two 50-pound rice bags (hey, they're on sale!) and a runaway grocery cart reunite the nemeses. Jess bitterly recalls the ways Daniel wronged her, but she also can't help noticing he's lost his chipmunk cheeks and his bowl cut--and that he's ridiculously hot. He's also "Confident. Cocky. Smug." No, thank you; Jess is too busy orchestrating her comeback: elevating premade food kits into easily enhanced Korean feasts. Her first live broadcast gets interrupted by her mother, but viewers are instantly enthralled by charming (on-screen, anyway) "Umma to the rescue!" Daniel even temporarily manages to make himself useful, but that quickly turns to distraction--and maybe even betrayal. Can Jess win this time?

Park might be adapting a tried-and-true formula, but she also ensures her rom-com has plenty of bite. Folded into the toothsome pairing are less appetizing reminders of corporate glass ceilings for women and minorities, blatant boardroom sexism, unchecked white male privilege and casual racism. After confronting and overcoming such challenges, success feels that much sweeter. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Discover: Sparks fly in Suzanne Park's engaging second rom-com when a pair of junior high nemeses reunite at almost-30, seeking refuge in their hometown from their high-power careers elsewhere.

Avon, $15.99, paperback, 368p., 9780062990716

Biography & Memoir

Everything I Have Is Yours: A Marriage

by Eleanor Henderson

Anyone who has read Ten Thousand Saints, Eleanor Henderson's first novel, may recognize her husband, Aaron, in her enthralling and devastating memoir, Everything I Have Is Yours: A Marriage. In it, Henderson says of writing Ten Thousand Saints, "For nine years I had been building a fictional universe out of the scraps of [Aaron's] childhood"; the story she crafted was "the one I wished for him." Everything I Have Is Yours contains Aaron's true story, and no one would wish it on anybody.

Throughout the 20-plus years bridging Henderson and Aaron's courtship and the Covid-19 pandemic, the vast majority of their time seems to have been spent seeking diagnoses and remedies for Aaron's medical problems. "Aaron describes his symptoms, a song he's long ago memorized. Anemic. Disoriented. Falling. Can't concentrate. Can't sleep. The flare every two weeks. The skin crawling. The stuff coming out of his hands." To introduce themselves at a Recovering Couples Anonymous retreat, Henderson and Aaron recap "the drugs, the suicide attempts, the childhood abuse, separation, recovery." Understandably, Aaron is often unable to hold a job, so he and Henderson get by, sometimes barely, with family money and her income, ultimately as a teacher at Ithaca College.

Perhaps particularly unsettling, and certainly humbling, Everything I Have Is Yours may prompt readers to consider whether they would have Henderson's fortitude to stick with her unceasingly difficult marriage. Her memoir has aspects of medical mystery and horror story, but most readers will leave it with the impression of having taken in a love story as blisteringly beautiful as it is truthful. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Discover: This wrenching, immersive memoir centered on novelist Henderson's efforts to help her chronically ill husband is a love story with elements of medical mystery and real-life horror show.

Flatiron, $27.99, hardcover, 400p., 9781250787941


Forever Free: A True Story of Hope in the Fight for Child Literacy

by Tracy Swinton Bailey

The axiom that knowledge is power takes on new urgency in Forever Free: A True Story of Hope in the Fight for Child Literacy by Tracy Swinton Bailey, a Ph.D. in education and former high school English teacher. Part memoir, part call to action, Forever Free is an appeal to educators, organizers and parents who believe in the power of literacy to change lives. Recounting her earliest encounters with reading ("books have always been some of my most powerful and influential teachers"), Bailey pays homage to those who inspired her academic and philanthropic journey championing literacy skills in low-income communities. Frederick Douglass is her lodestar, whose own story of learning to read made him "forever free," leaving the shackles of slavery behind.

Mixing personal anecdotes and episodes from her years as both a student and an educator, Bailey shares sobering statistics from her research into the state of literacy in the U.S. today ("forty-three million adults are functionally illiterate and two-thirds of fourth graders read below grade level"). She also highlights the need for "radical care" of children in low-income areas. In 2010, Bailey eschewed the passive words of many educational colleagues in favor of action, founding the Freedom Readers after-school and summer literacy program. The winning formula of Freedom Readers (one-to-one tutoring, free books and a nurturing environment), is an approach Bailey believes can be replicated across the U.S. Forever Free is an inspiring appeal to make literacy among at-risk children a national priority. --Peggy Kurkowski, book reviewer and copywriter in Denver, Colo.

Discover: Tracy Swinton Bailey pens a call to action and a moving tribute to the power of reading to improve the lives of children most neglected by the public education system.

Other Press, $25.99, hardcover, 192p., 9781635420807

Learning in Public: Lessons for a Racially Divided America from My Daughter's School

by Courtney E. Martin

In Learning in Public, Courtney E. Martin (Do It Anyway) grapples with questions of parenting, education and racial divides in the United States through the lens of her daughter's school: first selecting it, then attending it.

Martin and her two daughters had walked past Emerson Elementary in their Oakland, Calif., neighborhood nearly every day. But when it came time to enroll Maya, her eldest daughter, in elementary school, Martin and her partner were faced with school choice: place Maya in Emerson, a racially diverse school with poor test scores; enter the Oakland Public Schools lottery for a more highly rated, predominantly white school nearby; or flee the public school system altogether in favor of private school. Determined to live her values, which include not just eschewing racism but working to be anti-racist, Martin ultimately chose to send her daughter to Emerson--a decision informed by dozens of conversations with other parents, families, educators, school board members, neighbors.

In the opening chapter of Learning in Public, Martin writes about the making of this book, including the feedback from anti-racist educators and education experts. Martin brings to her perspective on her daughter's education a self-reflection that goes well beyond her one daughter and their one family, or even their one school, placing instead the story of her white family in the racial history of the U.S. and the gross disparities seen in the American public education system. This reflection, combined with Martin's willingness to admit her own mistakes and acknowledge where her actions may have harmed others, is what allows Learning in Public to live up to its title. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: In this earnest and reflective account, a white mother sends her daughter to a racially diverse school, and confronts the many questions about race and education engendered by that decision.

Little, Brown, $28, hardcover, 400p., 9780316428262

Children's & Young Adult

Dead Wednesday

by Jerry Spinelli

Newbery Medal-winner Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee; The Warden's Daughter) delivers an affecting story about a shy, insecure boy and the dead girl who's supposed to be guiding him.

Every second Wednesday in June, the eighth-graders in Amber Springs don black shirts and "die"--each one representing "some kid from Pennsylvania" who had a "preventable" death from "drugs. Alcohol. DAT (driving and texting).... Recklessness," etc. While most kids use the day to goof off, attention-hating Robbie "Worm" Tarnauer is looking forward to being invisible. Then the unexpected happens: his dead teen's ghost appears. Becca, a 17-year-old car crash victim, follows Worm around for the day, convinced that she's returned to show Worm the life he's missing. But as the self-dubbed "spectral maiden" tries to fix Worm, more and more of her own story comes out, making it less clear who is supposed to be helping whom.

Becca and Worm are complete opposites but also perfect complements. While Becca says whatever pops in her head, Worm often sees his words "percolate up to his mind, into his mouth, where, more often than not, they stay." While Worm is a spectator to life, Becca is its centerpiece--loud, impulsive and like a "riptide." The pair, coupled with Spinelli's colorfully descriptive language ("She's got his head looped like a funnel cake") draw readers into a compelling story that takes place over the course of a day (time stamps indicate the passage of the hours). This fever dream of a story about self-acceptance and forgiveness is unforgettable. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

Discover: In this compelling novel, a somber middle-school tradition becomes a life-changing experience for 14-year-old Worm when a dead girl shows up.

Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17.99, hardcover, 240p., ages 10-up, 9780593306673

Zion Unmatched

by Zion Clark, James S. Hirsch

Elite athlete and motivational speaker Zion Clark, with the help of author and former New York Times journalist James S. Hirsch, displays his incredible agility and spirit in this lively, beautifully formatted middle-grade photographic essay.

Zion was born without legs, "a rare medical condition known as caudal regression syndrome." His incarcerated mother placed him in Ohio's foster care system as a newborn where, as an "African American, he faced the dual stigma of Blackness and disability." Even though he experienced "abuse or neglect in several homes," Zion became a "state champion in the 100-meter and 400-meter seated racing competitions." Photographs of Zion participating in various sports and activities--rock climbing, wrestling, swimming, competing in adaptive sports and working out--display his strength and will. "Tell me something I can't do," he writes in his author's note, "and I will do it or die trying." Wrestling without legs, he writes, "was like driving a car without back tires. I had to find a new way of doing it."

Throughout the essay, quotes from Zion's coaches, past foster parents, present adoptive parent and Zion himself show that the athlete is someone who changes the lives of those with whom he comes in contact. Zion aspires to continue to prove people wrong and inspire others to do the same, no matter their talents, strengths or abilities: "You just have to follow your dreams and be the best you can be," Zion's last quote in the book emphasizes. "If I can do it, so can you." --Kharissa Kenner, children's librarian, Bank Street School for Children

Discover: Zion Clark, an athlete born without legs, encourages and uplifts in this awe-inspiring photographic essay.

Candlewick, $17.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 8-12, 9781536224184


Author Buzz

Visions of Flesh and Blood:
A Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium

by Jennifer L. Armentrout with Rayvn Salvador

Dear Reader,

Today is the release of VISIONS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, the Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium, and I am so excited that you finally get to see and read it!

I saw the love you had for Miss Willa, watched how following along with all the series twists and turns brought you joy, and thought... wouldn't it be nice to have a book to help with that, yet give even more new stuff?

So, my publisher and I came up with a plan. It included loads of stunning art commissions, strategic disclosures, and brand-new material. When it all came together, it was even better than I imagined.

VISIONS OF FLESH AND BLOOD is so much more than a series bible. It's a journey and a work of art. A collector's item for sure!


Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: Visions of Flesh and Blood: A Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium by Jennifer L. Armentrout with Rayvn Salvador

Blue Box Press

Pub Date: 
February 20, 2024


List Price: 
$7.99 e-book

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