Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

From My Shelf

The Splendor of Ancient Egypt

Early one May morning, my husband was walking near the Ship Canal that joins Lake Union and Puget Sound, when he did a double take. There seemed to be a giant statue of the Egyptian god Anubis moving slowly up the canal. He wasn't dreaming: the 28-foot-tall statue was being ferried to Seattle's King Street Station, to stand guard while the Tutankhamen exhibit runs at the Pacific Science Center. (The neon station sign has been amended to read King Tut Street Station.) It is quite magnificent.

One of my favorite Ancient Egypt books is the marvelous Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Mara is a brave and feisty slave who becomes a double spy during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut. Written in the '50s for a YA audience, not only is it a wonderful story--atmospheric, romantic, thrilling--but Mara is a fine feminist role model for girls. And for a better view of Hatshepsut, read Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge, splendid and lush.

Also excellent is Nick Drake's trilogy with detective Rai Rahotep of Thebes: Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead, Tutankamun: The Book of Shadows and Egypt: The Book of Chaos. Set in "a time of astonishing sophistication and beauty, but also of vanity and brutality," they are enthralling mysteries based on fact, with perfect sense of place (the Nile is a great black serpent of water, with perpetual glittering scales), and a policeman with a dry, ironic wit.

Howard Carter's account of his discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb is available from Dover, and is fascinating and eccentric, much like Carter himself. He appears in many of the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters (a pseudonym for renowned Egyptologist Barbara Mertz), and in The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips.

If you can't get to the Pacific Science Center exhibit (the last time for North America), or to Egypt, these books are a good second choice. --Marilyn Dahl, reviews editor, Shelf Awareness

The Writer's Life

Jay Caspian Kang: Against Asian Male Stereotype

Jay Caspian Kang's The Dead Do Not Improve (Hogarth, August 7) would be an edgy novel under any circumstances--one of its major themes is the complex reactions of young Korean-Americans to Cho Seung-Hui's role as the shooter in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. "We never talked about anything but Virginia Tech," Philip Kim, the narrator of much of the novel, recalls of one friendship, "and we never allowed ourselves to say anything about it that wasn't ironic or awful." Elements of Cho's own writings figure into the story, and though it's done in a way that's acknowledged as particularly dark, possibly even sick humor, these passages feed into a storyline that may feel even more disturbing to readers who encounter the novel so soon after the Aurora, Colo., shootings.

"I'm trying to show how Cho Seung-Hui and Virginia Tech felt personal to people within the Korean community," Kang explained during an interview at Hogarth's New York City office, recalling how the sorrow and grief over the shootings was combined with fear, driven by memories of the Los Angeles riots, that all Koreans might face a backlash against Cho's actions. In The Dead Do Not Improve, he also contrasted the media's speculation on the motives of the (white) shooters at Columbine--and now at Aurora--with the search for meaning after Virginia Tech, which seemed to begin and end with the fact of Cho being Asian. "People were saying things like his parents must have been really strict," Kang recalled. "You have no evidence of that, you know? You're just taking the most basic cultural stereotypes about what you project his family to be and then blaming it on that, which is the laziest type of thinking possible."

Philip Kim has several biographical details in common with Jay Caspian Kang, and with a first-person voice that frequently digresses from the main storyline into something more like a personal essay, it would be easy to confuse author and narrator. Too easy: "I don't ever identify with Philip. Even when I was writing it, I was consciously trying not to do that," Kang said. There's a real-life Philip Kim--a friend from Kang's MFA program--but he's not much like the fictional Kim, either. "I was trying to work against the idea that because your parents came from one place or you grew up in another place, that defines you," Kang explained. "It's a question I get all the time: 'Oh, you're an Asian and you grew up in the South; you must have grown up with an insane amount of racism piled on your head.' I understand it's well-intentioned, but what you're doing to me when you say that is just as awful.

"I just wanted to create a character who embodied something of the anger that I see in a lot of Asian-American males, who felt more alive and modern than the brooding, angry silent Asian male stereotype," he continued. "And because I wanted the biographical details to be inconsequential, I just substituted my own background."

After getting that MFA from Columbia, Kang spent the next six years writing a lot but not publishing anything. "I just had one of those attitudes where I couldn't quite get out in the world," he confesses. Then, as a joke, he wrote a statistical breakdown of the debate over who was a better diva, Whitney Houston or Aretha Franklin, which ran as a post at The Awl, where it was spotted by sportswriter Bill Simmons, who was putting together the sports/pop culture website Grantland and invited Kang to join the project as a writer and editor.

"When I was in college, we would wait for his columns to come out," Kang said. "I can't imagine having a better mentor for writing on the Internet." At the same time, Kang recognizes that, between Grantland and other freelance journalism assignments, he hasn't written much new fiction in recent years. "There are ways you can become a very popular Internet writer if you spend enough time writing about big topics that people are interested in like, say, Mad Men or something," he reflected. "You can track your Facebook likes, track your Twitter followers, and at times I get caught up in some of that.... If you spend a lot of time on the Internet, it can be hard to extricate yourself from the idea that that's important. Because ultimately it's not. The things that win out in the long term, even on the Internet, are the things that are really good." So once he's dealt with many of his current nonfiction obligations, Kang reported, "after I get my head back into fiction... I think I'll go back and write another novel." --Ron Hogan, founder of

Book Candy

Reading Nook; Trundle Bookcase; Elvis's Library Card

You know you want to go there. A "reading nook" designed by Christian Lacroix for l'Hotel du Petit Moulin in Paris was highlighted by Bookshelf Porn.


Art books on wheels: Apartment Therapy featured a DIY design idea for booklovers who also need to save space that "is perfect for sliding a stack of books under a coffee table or storing a pile of magazines near the bed without collecting dust the way they would on the floor."


Pop vampire quiz: Can you tell the difference between quotations from Bram Stoker's Dracula and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight? Mental Floss offered a literary blood test.


Booklicious showcased some "hip, 21st century, cool" paper-doll bookmarks from Cut & Tear and suggested that "with one of these gals sticking out of your book, odds are someone will be more entranced by her than by what you're reading (a good strategy to deflect attention from a certain current bestseller, perhaps?)."

Great Reads

Further Reading: Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child!

Julia Child was 49 years old when she co-published her first book, the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The 734-page cookbook simplified haute cuisine, making it accessible for the American home kitchen. The book became a bestseller and transformed Julia Child into a culinary and cultural icon.

Over the next four decades, as the French Chef, Child became a much-beloved television personality and she authored and co-authored stockpiles of books. She lived to the ripe old age of 92, defying the perils of indulging in butter, sugar and cream.

Blogger Julie Powell sought inspiration for her life by channeling Julia Child in her own home kitchen in Julie & Julia. The book documents Powell's year-long quest to cook all 524 recipes found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

August 15, 2012, marks the centennial of Julia Child's birth, and a host of titles continue to explore Julia's life and reinvigorate her indelible legacy:

Nancy Verde Barr, an executive chef who worked as Julia's Child personal assistant for 18 years, penned Backstage with Julia: My Years with Julia Child, a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of America's most revered chef.

Before she died, Child gave her blessing to author Bob Spitz to write Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, a comprehensive bio that delves into the years when the independent, rebellious late bloomer finally discovered her true calling in life.

The union of Paul and Julia Child is the cornerstone of Child's posthumously published memoir, My Life in France, and of A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS by Jennet Conant, which details the couple's turbulent years as members of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and how they became caught up in the McCarthy spy hunt of the 1950s.

Julia's Cats: Julia Child's Life in the Company of Cats by Patricia Barey and Therese Burson gives us an unusual montage of the chef via her feline companions. This compact, entertaining read is filled with personal photos and letters that document the role cats played in Julia's life as she moved from Paris to Provence, Cambridge to California.

And for kids ages four and up, Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Amy Bates, dramatizes Julia Child's culinary beginnings through the eyes of her very first feline, Minette. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines


Late-Summer Reading Recos; Top Underdogs; Funniest Essayists

In case you've run out of beach reads, the Critical Mob blog has more great recommendations for short stories and graphic novels.


And if the thrill has gone out of your summer reading during the dog days of August, perhaps you could use the Huffington Post's list of "11 amazing thrillers to read on the beach."


Paying tribute to children's author Jean Merrill (The Pushcart War), who died recently, Flavorwire showcased the "10 of the greatest underdogs in literature." In the same spirit, Flavorwire honored the memory of the late comic essayist David Rakoff by featuring "10 of the funniest American essayists of our time."


Must-miss adaptations: Under the heading "The Temptation of the Unfilmable," Word & Film suggested "7 books that should never hit the silver screen."

Book Review


Denting the Bosch: A Novel of Marriage, Friendship, and Expensive Household Appliances

by Teresa Link

Reminiscent of Anne Tyler, Denting the Bosch, Teresa Link's incisive debut novel, examines the trials and tribulations of three middle-aged married couples in San Diego. When their friend Sylvia's husband announces he's leaving her for his secretary, Adele and Maggie feel stirrings of doubt about the solidity of their own marriages. Even after many happy years with Paul, Maggie still wonders what became of her first love, the political activist she was rebounding from when she met her future husband. Adele and her husband are locking horns over making their home in San Diego; Drew sees it as paradise, while Adele pines for New York. During a fight, Adele throws a coffee cup at her husband and instead hits their expensive stainless steel dishwasher. "You dented the Bosch," Drew exclaims, creating a metaphor for the fragility of their carefully constructed relationship.

In each of the three marriages, truth will out, forcing difficult choices and straining the wives' camaraderie. In the end, all six spouses must decide which transgressions can and cannot be forgiven.

While she maintains a wry humor, Link's exploration of her characters' lives is no light and frothy experience. She takes a frank and realistic look at all-too-real problems such as marital infidelity, economic instability and the ennui that can set in after year upon year of a stable relationship. However, the warmth and resilience of her three heroines is a tribute to the power of the female spirit and will leave readers ultimately hopeful and satisfied. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger, Infinite Reads

Discover: A wry, incisive debut novel about what comes years after love, marriage and the baby carriage for three middle-aged married couples.

Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99, hardcover, 9780312643416

Renato, the Painter: An Account of His Youth & His 70th Year in His Own Words

by Eugene Mirabelli

When a baby appears on the doorstep of Bianca and Fidele Stilamore, they name him Renato--Italian for "reborn"--and he grows up to become an artist whose fine work has failed to receive the accolades it deserves. (The same might also be said of Mirabelli himself.)

This sequel to earlier Mirabelli novels The Passion of Teri Heart and The Goddess in Love with a Horse is a lusty, bawdy, hilarious romp through life as recounted by Renato in his old age. As a boy, Renato enjoyed reading one of the few books in the Italian immigrant family's home: Benvenuto Cellini's Autobiography. As he grows up, his love of girls, then women, then drawing and painting, grows stronger and stronger until he feels he must devote his life to all of them. He marries, but that doesn't go well. Still, he loves his wife deeply and they remain close to each other, on opposite sides of Boston's Charles River.

Later, a young woman, Avalon, the daughter of a close and dear friend, comes along with her son Kim. Renato just wants to help her out, but their relationship gradually evolves into something tender and beautiful.

"Looking back, I'm baffled that I haven't done better," Renato reflects. "I don't mean painting; I've done all right painting even if nobody knows it. But I could have given more time to my friends, could have listened more and complained less, could have been more generous to everyone." Renato has done well, has lived and loved, and has served his mentor Cellini very well indeed. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: Once you've read this lovely novel, you'll be hunting down the rest of Mirabelli's stories, which form an extended history of the fictional Cavallo clan.

McPherson, $25, hardcover, 9780929701967

A Foreign Country

by Charles Cumming

Thomas Kell, the protagonist of Charles Cumming's A Foreign Country, is no James Bond. Forced out of MI6, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, to protect his superiors from the embarrassment of his allegedly botched last mission, he gets a call when the organization is once again threatened with international scandal. They need his bulldog tenacity for an off-the-books assignment to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Amelia Levene, MI6's incoming (and first female) director. Kell is on the skids: "a forty-two-year-old man, estranged from his forty-three-year-old wife, with a hangover comparable in range and intensity to the reproduction Jackson Pollock hanging on the wall of his temporary bedroom." Nonetheless, he knows only one life--espionage--and so is happy to pack up his spy gear and get back to work.

Cumming, once a candidate for MI6 himself, has written well about the clandestine world of British espionage (most notably in 2011's The Trinity Six). His morally complex, "superannuated spook" Kell recruits "two borderline geriatric retreads who hadn't been in the game since the fall of the Berlin Wall" and leads them through the hot and shadowy streets of Tunis and Marseilles. They have to work difficult tag-team surveillance operations, hopping trains between France and England, as the investigation uncovers a shady French scheme to discredit the British and regain influence in North Africa. Of course, nothing and no one are as they seem. Cumming's finely developed characters and intricately tangled plot make for an entertaining return to a world that le Carré and Fleming left years ago. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: A tale of European intrigue and conspiracy from a novelist who knows how the espionage game is played.

St. Martin's Press, $24.99, hardcover, 9780312591335

Mystery & Thriller

Bad Little Falls

by Paul Doiron

Bad Little Falls, Paul Doiron's third Mike Bowditch mystery (after The Poacher's Son and Trespasser), is chilling in multiple ways. Having stepped on too many toes, Mike finds himself packed off to a new game warden assignment in eastern Maine's Washington County, a rural area where his supervisors believe he won't make trouble. Unfortunately, trouble has a way of finding Mike, in the form of resentful locals and coworkers familiar with his reputation; a beautiful but damaged recovering addict named Jamie; and a murdered man found buried during a blizzard--who happens to be Jamie's ex-lover and her brother's partner in drug dealing.

Law enforcement believes Jamie's brother committed the crime, but Mike's not so sure. Jamie swears her brother would never hurt his friend. Her jealous ex-husband has more motive. Driven by stubborn curiosity and a growing attraction to Jamie, Mike begins his own investigation. Instead of a simple crime of passion, he finds a twisted trail leading back to the fatal overdose of a college student, a suspect list that includes one of his few friends in Washington County and a shocking revelation about Jamie's brilliant but troubled young son.

Filled with frigid winter scenes, dark deeds and tightly constructed character dynamics, Bad Little Falls sees Mike struggling to choose between desire and his better judgment in a labyrinth of dark small-town secrets. The ease with which readers will relate to this headstrong sleuth may prove an even bigger draw than the high stakes of the plot. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger, Infinite Reads

Discover: Doiron's popular series continues, as a persistent game warden hunts for a killer at the peak of a Maine blizzard.

Minotaur Books, $24.99, hardcover, 9780312558482

Biography & Memoir

Charles Dickens and the Great Theater of the World

by Simon Callow

In Charles Dickens and the Great Theater of the World, Simon Callow explores Charles Dickens's life not just as a novelist but as a storyteller in a much larger sense of the word. From reading tours and theatrical productions to his innate talent for mimicry, Dickens led a life full of performance. The primary focus of Callow's biography is on the symbiotic relationship between novelist and performer, beautifully underscoring the myriad of ways in which Dickens's writing was informed by his instinctive sense of drama and delivery. Excerpts from the novels (and from personal correspondence) appear frequently, giving us brilliant flashes of truly Dickensian wit.

Callow--an actor and director who has also written biographies of Charles Laughton and Orson Welles, as well as the memoir My Life in Pieces--is unusually qualified to tackle this topic, having played the role of Dickens on several occasions. He also brings to bear an obvious appreciation for the complexity and extravagance of his subject, both as a person and as an artist. While Callow is well equipped with enthusiasm, however, he cannot be called overly scholarly in his execution. There are no footnotes and very little citation, and only cursory introductions given to quotations. Yet this intimate, informal style, coupled with Callow's obvious familiarity with and affection for Dickens, infects the reader. --Judie Evans, librarian

Discover: An intimate portrait of one of the world's most beloved literary figures by an actor who knows his subject inside and out.

Vintage, $16, paperback, 9780345803238


Terrible Swift Sword: The Life of General Philip H. Sheridan

by Joseph Wheelan

Generals Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman and Philip Sheridan are considered the triumphant triumvirate of the Civil War, Union army leaders whose radical tactics and bold action hastened the Confederacy's defeat. Yet Sheridan is often overlooked by biographers and historians--thanks in large part to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed all of his wartime documents--but Joseph Wheelan (Jefferson's War) has reconstructed the general's life in Terrible Swift Sword.

Much of the book is dedicated to Sheridan's meteoric rise from West Point graduate to general. The battlefield prose is a whirlwind of corps numbers, troop formations and officer names, yet Wheelan never loses focus on Sheridan, his men and their personal struggles. Sheridan's unusual place in military history comes from his role as cavalry commander. Wheelan describes Sheridan's use of cavalry with infantry support, an early--and very successful--type of combined arms warfare. He was also a practitioner of "total war," burning much of the Shenandoah Valley and holding local civilians partially responsible for guerrilla attacks. (After the war, during a visit to Prussia, he would discuss both of these tactical strategies with Otto von Bismarck.)

Sheridan's military career continued through Reconstruction and several Indian Wars, ending, somewhat surprisingly, with his role as an advocate for Yellowstone National Park. Wheelan's greatest success is in chronicling the complexity of postwar Sheridan, a man who endorsed the extermination of all buffalo (to deprive rogue Indian warriors of sustenance) while using military troops to defend the wildlife in Yellowstone. History buffs, biography aficionados and even readers without vast Civil War knowledge will appreciate this book. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

Discover: The fascinating life of an oft-forgotten Union Army general and innovative cavalry commander.

Da Capo Press, $26, hardcover, 9780306820274

Travel Literature

Yankee Come Home: On the Road from San Juan Hill to Guantánamo

by William Craig

More than a century after the Spanish-American War, the U.S. military has not left Cuba. As most Americans know, day-to-day life at Guantánamo Bay carries unsettling implications for both Cuba and the United States. William Craig, whose great-grandfather fought the Spanish in 1898, travels to Cuba to unravel the complicated history of the U.S. presence there, and to determine whether his ancestor, famous for outsized lies, was telling the truth about his triumphant charge up San Juan Hill.

Craig evokes the chaotic, crowded, sweaty yet seductive ethos of Cuba, from extortion at the airport to cups of strong, sweet coffee at a friend's casa. He walks the streets of Havana and Santiago de Cuba, weaving his journey into the larger story of Cuba's long struggle for true independence. American readers will find dozens of unfamiliar names, anecdotes and facts, but Craig is a patient narrator, introducing a paean of cubano heroes while emphasizing his main point: most Americans are dangerously uninformed about their neighbor to the south. While the U.S. government clings to its small piece of Cuba, American citizens view the island with fear and distrust, if they consider it at all. As Craig approaches Guantánamo, he wonders what lies ahead for the two countries locked in a twisted, often toxic relationship.

From beisbol games to scarred war monuments, from intoxicating contrabajista music to a tense interrogation at Guantánamo, Yankee Come Home provides a complex but fascinating look at a vibrant country often overlooked by Americans. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: A richly detailed history of the American presence in Cuba, told through the eyes of a journalist with personal connections to the island.

Walker & Co., $28, hardcover, 9780802710932


Little Boy Blue: A Puppy's Rescue from Death Row and His Owner's Journey for Truth

by Kim Kavin

When Kim Kavin's beloved dog Floyd passed away after 15 years of devoted companionship, she grieved. Then, when she realized how lonely her other dog, Stella, seemed without Floyd, Kavin logged on to An adorable brindled puppy with floppy ears and soulful eyes captured Kavin's heart. Although his location was given as close to Kavin's home in New Jersey, she learned that he was actually a shelter dog from North Carolina. One five-page application, one half-hour interview and $400 later, Kavin brought home her puppy, named him Blue, and expected to live happily ever after with him. Still she wondered: Why would such an adorable and loving puppy have to cross several state lines to find a home?

After researching some of Blue's health problems, she discovered that he came from a place with a 92% kill rate for dogs, where they were euthanized via gas chamber. Spurred on by journalistic curiosity, Kavin went to the Carolinas to piece together Blue's history. What she saw shocked her, from shelters that kill nearly all of the dogs to citizens who allow their dogs to breed continuously.

While sometimes heartrending, Kavin's story also contains unexpected moments of joy and clarity. She finds rays of light in people who devote themselves to saving dogs and educating the public about spaying and neutering; in a no-kill Massachusetts shelter that models what shelters could be; and in herself, as she joins a rescue network as a foster home, where rescued dogs can stay in safety. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger, Infinite Reads

Discover: The adoption of a puppy leads a journalist to investigate the shocking conditions in shelters and tell the inspiring story of those who try to rescue these animals.

Barron's, $22.99, hardcover, 9780764165269

Reference & Writing

Several Short Sentences About Writing

by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Verlyn Klinkenborg's Several Short Sentences About Writing goes against the grain of conventional classroom theory to embrace the simultaneity of creativity, thought, structure and grammar in shaping the writer's craft. "Part of the struggle in learning to write is learning to ignore what isn't useful to you and pay attention to what is," Klinkenborg advises. Learning to write involves learning to form sentences--trusting instinct and personal reflection to develop a style and cadence that reflects the personal wisdom within.

Orthodoxy and dogma, he argues, have stunted the growth of creativity and poetic mastery of the language. Returning to a purity of sentence structure requires forsaking what one has learned, ditching the mix of "half-truths, myths and assumptions" of the classroom for experiential learning from the world around writers. Writing also requires a mastery of all aspects of language, such that one can converse with authority to the reader and trust the reader to follow. Writing is work that demands persistent practice, clarity of meaning and development of style, a chore best understood when considered from the point of view of a reader, who must interpret the author's prose to derive his or her own meaning. "Prose is the residue, the consequence, of the writer's choices," Klinkenborg says, "choices about the shape of each sentence. And how each sentence shapes the others."

Klinkenborg's book is meant to be read, savored and digested until thought and process become one--and from this, he says, successful writing will come from saying what one means and meaning what one says. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer

Discover: A fresh perspective on writing that goes against conventional classroom theory to urge experiential learning as a means to perfection of expression.

Knopf, $22, hardcover, 9780307266347

Children's & Young Adult

The Kill Order

by James Dashner

James Dashner's illuminating prequel will thrill fans of his Maze Runner Trilogy and prove just as exciting for readers new to the series.

It begins with trilogy main characters Teresa and her best friend Thomas, as Thomas is about to receive the Swipe. The implant will erase Thomas's memories and send him into the Maze that the two of them have helped construct to save the world. Teresa laments her own upcoming Swipe, which beautifully sets up the parallel of this book's haunted protagonist, who'd do anything to forget the apocalyptic nightmare he lived.

Thirteen years earlier, survivors of the "worst natural disaster in known human history" camp out in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina—including Mark and Trina, the stars of this novel. A flashback reveals the pair on a New York City subtran the moment the sun flares hit, powering down electronics and fatally burning many above the surface. Now a Berg (an aircraft) appears for the first time since that disaster, and unleashes flying darts and a new sense of chaos. The darts inject a highly contagious virus that manifests symptoms with puzzling inconsistencies. The impact on the characters plays out like an Agatha Christie thriller.

Dashner's macabre architecture throws up many obstacles for his characters' survival. The group must decide whether or not to risk saving an orphan who may be infected, and also confronts a cult headed by a disfigured man who believes the sun flare is a demon plague. A must-read. --Adam Silvera, reviewer and former bookseller

Discover: The haunting and provocative prequel to the Maze Runner Trilogy, which answers many questions readers may not have thought to ask.

Delacorte, $17.99, hardcover, 12-upp., ages 336, 9780385742887

The Magician's Apprentice

by Kate Banks, illus. by Peter Sís

The Magician's Apprentice reads like a tale from The Arabian Nights, in which wise men wander desert sands that conceal wonders and villainy alike.

Baz's turn had finally come. He'd watch his brothers go off one by one to learn a trade and see the world, and now, as the stranger approached across the desert--seemingly out of nowhere--Baz knew someone had finally come for him. "[T]he promise became a sort of roaming vision to Baz, a mysterious open door, imbued with the power to propel him into the future, to see himself as something more than he was." For all his anticipation, 16-year-old Baz soon sees that there is more to life than work. His fate becomes entwined with that of a traveling magician, and he begins to probe the mysteries of life and to cut through illusion, to discover his true self.

This is not a story of action, however, so do not expect any spell-flinging showdowns. Rather, it is a meditative novel that draws readers in with its Zen-like, hypnotic quality. It is as much an inner journey as a physical one, and will appeal to reflective readers who enjoy tackling life's "big questions." Throughout, Kate Banks's (The Baby) language is simple and luscious--and at times enigmatic--as she paints her landscape of desert and mountains, and show us the people who reside there. Peter Sís's (The Wall; Tibet Through the Red Box) illustrations further add to the pages' beauty and deepen the mystical quality of the tale. --Julia Smith, blogger and children's bookseller emerita

Discover: One young man's journey into magic and self-discovery.

Francis Foster/FSG, $16.99, hardcover, 224p., ages 10-14, 9780374347161


Author Buzz

Every Time We Say Goodbye

by Natalie Jenner

Dear Reader,

EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE was the hardest book I will ever write, and the most rewarding. I packed everything I could into this book: love and conflict, faith and religion, censorship and resistance, art and moviemaking, fashion and food, cameos by favorite actresses and characters from my earlier books, and above all Rome, my favorite city in the world. I hope that my novel gives you the entertainment and inspiration that nourished me throughout its writing.

Email with the subject line "Every Time Was Say Goodbye Sweeps" for a chance to win one of five copies.

Gratefully yours,
Natalie Jenner

Buy now and support your local indie bookstore>

AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner

St. Martin's Press

Pub Date: 
May 14, 2024


List Price: 
$29.00 Hardcover

Happily Ever Maybe
(A Montgomery Ink Legacy Novella)

by Carrie Ann Ryan

Dear Reader,

What happens in a bodyguard romance when both characters are a bodyguard?

All the heat and action!

I love writing workplace romances because things get tricky. And when a one night stand ends up burning up the pages, things get... explosive.

Gus and Jennifer are fiery, kick-butt characters that made me so happy to write.

I hope you love them!

Carrie Ann Ryan

Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Happily Ever Maybe (A Montgomery Ink Legacy Novella) by Carrie Ann Ryan

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
February 13, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

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