Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mariner Books: Briefly Perfectly Human: Making an Authentic Life by Getting Real about the End by Alua Arthur

From My Shelf

The Importance of Integrity

Recently, the New York Times ran an article about paid book reviews, which was, to put it politely, disheartening. It was not about reviewers getting paid, but getting paid to write raves, while often not even reading the books. And yesterday, I read about Twitterers paying people to follow them--1,000 followers not enough? Buy 9,000 more. Then I received an e-mail from someone asking about the honesty of Shelf Awareness reviews, saying we must be as vulnerable to this as Amazon or anyone else. Good question, and one that now, sadly, needs to be be answered.

We review good books, books we like, books we have discovered. Each week we publish 25 reviews of the best books just out, since we want to highlight books people will want to read. We aren't into lambasting and snark (although it can be tempting). So we have 70-plus reviewers--booksellers, librarians, bloggers, former publishers, a lawyer, a therapist.... They were chosen based on their discernment and writing ability; good humor, patience and flexibility are other attributes, because book reviewing does have its crazy moments.

We get galleys or ARCs, which are pre-publication editions of books. We send them to our reviewers well in advance of publication, according to the reviewers' subject preferences. The reviewers then decide which books they will cover, based on the quality of the book (or the phases of the moon--it's not an exact science). Sometimes I will suggest a book based on my personal inclination or on information they might not have yet, but that's it. They are also told to be critical when warranted, as long the bottom line tips toward the positive. We sometimes have a back-and-forth about decisions, usually ending with "Life's too short, move on to something else."

We provide honest book reviews, and have fun doing so. We value our integrity, because you expect and deserve nothing less than honest reviews, honest interviews, honest content.  That's our promise. --Marilyn Dahl

Sleeping Bear Press: A Kurta to Remember by Gauri Dalvi Pandya, Illustrated by Avani Dwivedi

The Writer's Life

Elinor Lipman: A Tweet a Day (with Dressage)

Novelist Elinor Lipman (Then She Found Me, The Inn at Lake Devine, The Family Man) has been called "a modern-day Jane Austen," for her witty social satire, but in her new project she leaps beyond the one-eyebrow-raised subtleties of her characters' antics, composing and sending a tweet a day until the November 6, 2012, election. In just 140 characters, Lipman's political position is clear. And the upside-down elephant icons in Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus (Beacon Press) only underscore her up-to-the-hour take on the news. Where else can you find a poem rhyming "Netanyahu" with "Mitt-view?" Follow Lipman on Twitter and Facebook.

How did you decide to start the tweet project?

On impulse! There's something like tweet pressure in the air when you're an author--with Twitter giants like Susan Orlean--so I thought it was time to get on the bus. After one newsy tweet to my zero followers, I thought, I know! One rhyming political tweet a day until the 2012 election! I'll enjoy that more than anything. I should've done the math and realized that meant 499 days....

Have you ever seriously regretted it?

No. Especially not now with Tweet Land of Liberty. After Beacon Press asked to publish the tweets, I walked around thinking, Too good to be true. Did I dream this? Though on many days I've regretted the seven-day-a-week pledge, mainly because of the weekend news vacuum.

How long does it take to write a tweet that rhymes, has perfect meter, relies on facts and is entertaining?

The shortest* took only a few minutes due to a dual gift of topic and rhymeability, but I've taken two-plus hours for some, and that's usually attributable to nothing much happening. Also, I don't want near-rhymes or tortured phrases or--truly unforgiveable--lines that don't scan. And then there's the 140-character limit, though, after 13 months, I seem to hit the right length without much pinching.

*Bit by penguin at a zoo/ What's a candidate to do?/ Soon the bird wrote in his blog/ "Newt tastes like an underdog."

Do you think you're preaching, er, tweeting to the choir, or possibly enlightening some voters? Perhaps drawing apolitical readers in to the political discussion?

Guilty as charged, tweeting to the choir. I do admit to being a Yellow-Dog Democrat, but hail to my favorite Republicans, without whom I'd have few subjects and no objects of derision. I'm not going to convert Rush Limbaugh, but maybe some fence-sitters can be won over with humor. Or with poetry.

Do you think your tweets offer people frustrated by politics a satisfying way to feel less alone in their angst?

Yes! I'm going to adopt that as my slogan. Thank you. But seriously, when readers say that about my novels--that they make them feel less alone--I take it as the highest compliment.

Have you alienated any conservative acquaintances?

Probably. Sometimes Facebook friends write a rebuttal, but not as often as you'd think. A few took offense when I had a little fun with "dressage," but I remind myself before I post something a little edgier--using the words "douche" and "vaginas" come to mind--that it's the Twitterverse and I shouldn't be a sissy.

Your tweets seemed to be evenly divided among the Republican candidates during the primaries. Was that in fact true or did someone lead in tweet-ability?

Oh yes, tweet-ability was my guide. Plus ridiculousness. I tried not to write several tweets in a row about the same person, but who could resist Bachmann, Cain and Gingrich? Santorum was great, too, and surprisingly easy to rhyme. One of my most popular tweets rhymed Santorum with Purim. I miss them all.

How often do you tweet about a non-political news item? You occasionally digress ("Are You There, God? It's me, Tim Tebow" comes to mind.) Is this a conscious effort to take a break?

It's usually because a nonpolitical topic is in the headlines, and it would seem off the mark and clueless to ignore it. I wrote three in a row about the murders in Aurora.

How many have you written so far?

July 29th marked number 400. I took off only Yom Kippur.

What would be the dream political situation about which you would love to tweet?

A Romney affair.

Your readers know you as a wonderful fiction writer and essayist. As a writer, is tweeting more or less satisfying than writing books or newspaper pieces?

Thank you. I get instant responses and therefore instant gratification in tweeting. And it's even self-gratification when I hit on the right word or phrase that completes the day's rhyme. In fact, that's when I know a rhyme is ready to post, when I allow myself a smile. And to have them collected in a book, to be found worthy of that, not just for the amusement of political junkies, has been the most fun an author could have.

Is your next novel, The View from Penthouse B, due next May, at all political?

It's not political, but it's a little autobiographical--which I am surprised to hear myself admit. My agent calls it my "recession comedy" so it's certainly topical. Wait; make that topical-slash-romantic.

Are the upside-down elephant icons significant?

Yes, they appear after a GOP candidate quits the race. And a kicking donkey appears when there's good news from the other side--such as immigration, gay marriage, repeal of don't-ask-don't-tell. I think I'm tipping my hand here. My son says--fondly, I'm sure--that I'm a knee-jerk liberal.

Any chance you'll keep tweeting after you've fulfilled your pledge, November 6, 2012?

I'll definitely keep tweeting after the election; just not seven freaking days a week. Only a crazy person would do that....

Whom do you follow on Twitter? writers, MSNBC anchors, Washington Post and New York Times columnists, author friends, my son, my nephew, political sites, White House sites, candidates, comedians, Masterpiece Theatre and Callista Gingrich. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, bookseller

Book Candy

Children's Book Foods; Cool Book Covers; Letter Scarves

From Butterbeer to "Baked Green Eggs and Ham Crepes," the Huffington Post offered a select menu of "foods from children's books."


Check out ShortList magazine's choices for the "50 coolest book covers."


For Vogue's "The Custom of the Country" photo shoot at the Wharton estate in Lenox, Mass., Annie Leibovitz and creative director Grace Coddington "cast Natalia Vodianova as Edith Wharton along with ten leading actors and writers to play the parts of the members of her celebrated inner circle," including Jeffrey Eugenides, Juno Temple and Jonathan Safran Foer.


Letters to keep you warm. As autumn approaches, word-lovers might be inclined to wrap themselves in one of the laser-cut letter scarves from Little Factory, available in Helvetica, uppercase and lowercase.


Something Noble and Good

Lance Weller, a Washington native, has hiked and camped extensively in the landscape he describes in his debut novel, Wilderness (Bloomsbury), about a maimed Civil War veteran, Abel Truman, who, with his beloved dog, makes his home in a driftwood shack on the rugged coast of Washington State. Old and ailing, he makes a heroic final journey over the snowbound Olympic Mountains. See our review below.

One of the reasons I settled on the 1864 Battle of the Wilderness, the first clash between Grant and Lee, as the centerpiece of my novel, was because I didn't want to have to write about Gettysburg. That battle was too big for my ambition, too complex and too iconic. It was frightening to considering trying to do justice to the momentous events of those three days in July. It had been done before, better, and with far more insight than I could bring to the page by giants like Michael Shaara and MacKinlay Kantor.

And I couldn't write about Gettysburg because I had no idea how to do it, what approach to take. Besides, the Battle of the Wilderness suited my purposes far better for what I wanted the tone of the book to be--dark and wild and close.

If, at Gettysburg, the armies were arranged in dressed lines with flags snapping, then in the Wilderness they devolved into mobs and what wind there was served only to disturb the powder smoke. So, with reluctance and chagrin, I put away Gettysburg. And when I visited its battlefield on a research trip to the Wilderness, I tried not to be moved by what I saw there, by the ground itself and myself upon it.

But, as is the way of things sometimes, the character of Edward Poole found his way into my book. A Native American of the Makah Tribe, Edward is fascinated by Gettysburg because of his uncle's connection to General Pickett and, through the complex lens of his interest, I found myself writing about the battle and Abel Truman's part in it. Despite my best intentions not to write about that ground, I found myself telling what Gettysburg meant to Abel and what it meant to me: how I loved it not because it was the signature battle of the Civil War and in spite of all the violence, bloodshed and horror, but because there is something there, on those green grass fields and in those summery woods, that remains noble, heroic and good. --Lance Weller

Pols' Book Faves; Underrated Crime Writers; African Books

It's convention season, so why not kick back with one of "10 contemporary politicians' favorite books" highlighted by Flavorwire.


Otto Penzler, owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City and editor of The Great Detectives, recommended "5 underrated crime writers."


The "10 best contemporary African books" were noted in a Guardian slide show.


Artist and filmmaker Patrick Keiller selected his "10 favorite books with pictures" for the Guardian

Book Review


The Oxford Book of American Short Stories

by Joyce Carol Oates

Compiling a survey of American short stories is a balancing act between making selections based on well-reasoned personal preference and attempting to be inclusive of various schools of writing or regional or ethnic backgrounds (among other possible criteria). Happily The Oxford Book of American Short Stories editor Joyce Carol Oates, a prolific writer of novels and short stories, is a hybrid of fan, writer and academic and well-suited to the task. "Familiar names, unfamiliar titles" is her inspiration, and she's provided a roster of authors that is both inclusive and rooted in the desire to showcase some of the best stories Americans have to offer.

With some of her selections, the "unfamiliar titles" edict is not so easy--how do you choose a lesser-known excellent Edgar Allan Poe story?--and sometimes she bypasses the rare gemstones for the diamonds: Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants," for example, or Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery." The late 20th and early 21st centuries are well-represented, including contributions from Donald Barthelme, Philip Roth, Stephen King, Ha Jin, Lorrie Moore and David Foster Wallace. Oates provides introductions to each story with a brief biography, thoughts on why the writer's style is notable and details about the particular story was chosen for inclusion. While this book is most likely to wind up in the hands of students, there's a lot here to recommend to readers in general. --Matthew Tiffany, counselor, writer for Condalmo

Discover: Joyce Carol Oates selects 56 stories for this overview of two centuries of American short fiction.

Oxford University Press, $21.95, paperback, 9780199744398


by , Lance Weller

An old Civil War veteran's courageous struggle to rescue a faithful companion changes the lives of everyone he meets in Lance Weller's debut novel, Wilderness.

In 1864, at the Battle of the Wilderness Abel Truman lost the use of one arm, and the brutality and loss he witnessed hurt enough to send him fleeing to the Pacific Northwest, where he hoped to forget the war as well as the tragic loss of his wife and child. Thirty-five years later, living alone in a remote shack, Abel has achieved a measure of peace in his old age--until a pair of dangerous thugs beat him nearly to death and steal his beloved dog, Buster, for a dog-fighting circuit. Despite his wounds, Abel follows his attackers into the Olympic Mountains, unwilling to leave Buster to such a fate. Over the course of his travels, Abel relives his wartime experiences with his fallen comrades, saves a life and inadvertently drags an innocent couple into his conflict.

Years of research into Civil War history show in Weller's confident use of period detail, from his characters' speech patterns to the atrocities of the battlefield. The intensely intimate narrative personalizes 19th-century America's darkest moments as Abel struggles with his conscience and prejudice as a young man and his guilt and trauma in his twilight years. Tender and resonant, Weller's debut is not an epic saga of war, but a skillful exploration of the interconnectedness of humanity and the endurance of compassion. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger, Infinite Reads

Discover: An aged, wounded Civil War veteran struggles to rescue his companion in Lance Weller's intensely intimate debut novel.

Bloomsbury, $25, hardcover, 9781608199372

Mystery & Thriller

The Beautiful Mystery

by Louise Penny

In The Beautiful Mystery, the eighth book in Canadian author Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his protégé Jean-Guy Beauvoir investigate the brutal murder of a prior within the isolated and mysterious monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups. Despite taking vows of silence, the Gilbertine monks have recently earned renown (and buckets of money) by releasing a low-quality recording of their astounding choir performing Gregorian chants, and the monastery is now divided between those who wish to court their new fame and those determined to remain faithful to the purity of their monastic vows. With the unexpected arrival of Superintendent Francoeur, Gamache's superior and acknowledged if undeclared enemy, the Inspector must attempt to unravel the murder while being undermined by one of his own.

Within the first few chapters, it becomes obvious why Penny has garnered consistent critical and popular acclaim for her series. She writes an elaborate and intricate mystery, weaving together various plots in a thematic tapestry that mirrors the complex chants she writes of so beautifully. With a wonderfully atmospheric setting and painfully realistic characterization, The Beautiful Mystery is an excellent story on its own, but is also firmly grounded in its series and would certainly be enriched by familiarity with the previous Gamache novels. It is sure to delight current fans and will no doubt gain Louise Penny many new ones as well. --Judie Evans, librarian

Discover: An acclaimed mystery series continues with a haunting tale of religious passion.

Minotaur, $25.99, hardcover, 9780312655464


The Memory Thief

by Emily Colin

Several chapters into Emily Colin's The Memory Thief, as you're reveling in the pleasure of an intriguing romance with interesting, genuine characters and a touch of the supernatural, you'll flip the book over to find out about her other titles. Surprisingly, though, this is Colin's first novel. She's just that good.

The story centers on Madeline and her recently deceased, mountain-climbing husband, Aiden. Aiden's spirit is caught somewhere in limbo; many miles away, a young man named Nicholas wakes up from a coma, retaining all of Aiden's memories.  Due to the influence of Aiden's spirit, Nick thinks he's in love with Madeline, whom he's never met before. To complicate matters, Aiden's best friend J.C. finally confesses his long-buried feelings for Madeline as well. The grieving widow is going through quite a lot, but she can't complain that a good man is hard to find. Things get complicated as everyone collides, but despite a touch of the whimsical, The Memory Thief is incredibly down-to-earth and insanely enjoyable to read.

Colin has a gift for storytelling that will keep you hanging on every word. She combines fascinating details with quirky little plot points. Even when Colin uses flashbacks, it doesn't take away from the momentum of the story. And there are a number of steamy scenes that keep the action moving right along to its surprising and satisfying conclusion. It will be a delight to see what Colin conjures up for her next novel. --Natalie Papailiou, author of blog MILF: Mother I'd Like to Friend

Discover: An intriguing debut romance with interesting, genuine characters and a touch of the supernatural that will keep you engaged from beginning to end.

Ballantine, $15, paperback, 9780345530394

Food & Wine

Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round

by Marisa McClellan

Marisa McClellan writes about canning, pickling and preserving at her "Food in Jars" blog, and readers have responded well to her no-nonsense, friendly tone and remarkable ability to make the canning process seem both easy and accessible--regardless of the size of the kitchen or the level of culinary expertise. Now, much of McClellan's wisdom has been gathered together in a neat little cookbook--also called Food in Jars--featuring more than 100 recipes, along with a collection of mouthwatering, full-color photographs and helpful tips.

McClellan has a self-professed love for jam, but she clearly knows how to use spices creatively--and she's also not afraid to offer more savory recipes for those who want to go beyond the sweeter canning options. Most importantly, perhaps, she realizes that many of us would prefer to can in small batches due to time and space restraints.

Though some of McClellan's fresh fruit jam recipes would be best tried in the spring and summer (such as cantaloupe jam with vanilla), readers will be surprised by the diversity of food that can be canned year round. Come autumn, consider the recipes for apple-pumpkin butter, mulled cider jelly or spiced applesauce. Fall vegetables can also be used to make pickled Brussels sprouts and gingery pickled beets--and who wouldn't like a jar of cranberry orange granola for the holidays? --Roni K. Devlin, owner of Literary Life Bookstore

Discover: Blogger Marisa McClellan shares her joy in preserving food in jars, so even novices can easily learn how to can in small batches.

Running Press, $23, hardcover, 9780762441433

Essays & Criticism

Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up

by Leah Odze Epstein, Caren Osten Gerszberg

Born out of a popular blog of the same name, Drinking Diaries is a multifarious collection of essays by women about their relationships with alcohol. Leah Odze Epstein and Caren Osten Gerszberg have created a diverse, intimate and nonjudgmental anthology that is by turns funny, illuminating and often heartbreakingly honest.

The essays are organized into themed sections--including "Girlhood," "Culture" and "Revelations"--from an admirable crop of writers who range from active alcoholics to stern teetotalers. Elissa Schappell measures her marriage in drinks; Asra Nomani finds balance between her Muslim upbringing and adult independence; Ann Hood writes a loving tribute to her father and their bond over beer. Others navigate parenting and drinking, share stories of recovery (and relapse) and rhapsodize about the freedom and release of lowered inhibition.

But Drinking Diaries does not idealize its subject. Nearly every contributor mentions the profound impact of a parent's drinking on their own lives; many essays are devoted to it. The sobering specter of shame and addiction lurks throughout. "We secretly love to smash things we create, including ourselves," Jane Friedman writes. "I admit to having used alcohol with this intention--to give myself permission to delve into the darkness and come out with the dawn holding a fresh view."

Drinking Diaries may give you a satisfying sense of solidarity rather than an entirely "fresh view," but it certainly will provide a reflection on the potent duality of alcohol's seductive and destructive powers. --Hannah Calkins, blogger at Unpunished Vice

Discover: These essays about women and their relationships to alcohol will have you nodding in recognition from first sip to last call.

Seal Press, $16, paperback, 9781580054119

Nature & Environment

Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail

by Suzanne Roberts

In 1993, Suzanne Roberts was a college graduate lacking a firm plan for the future when she agreed to hike the John Muir Trail with two other women. Almost Somewhere is a travelogue of that month-long hike, but it's also a woman's foray into the male-dominated worlds of hiking and nature writing and a contemplation of the cattiness and competition that limits women's attempts to connect with one another. Roberts is not gentle to herself or her companions as she describes their flaws and failures to support one another; she is frank about the bounds of their friendship. But she has a triumphant story to tell, because despite swollen joints, bugs, infighting and the doubts of fellow trail users, these three women hiked the John Muir Trail in its entirety and lived to tell about it.

Roberts writes plainly about gender issues, as the women ("we had gone through puberty a long time ago and, really, we were no longer girls") consult a guidebook written by a man filled with language of "conquering" or "assaulting" mountains. She seeks not only meaningful relationships with other women, but also a feminine understanding of nature, having read nature writing only by men (Muir, Thoreau, Edward Abbey) up until this point. Her understanding of her experience is clear-headed and self-aware in retrospect, and she is considerate of her companions even in her criticism. Almost Somewhere is a contribution to the growing body of women's nature writing, and a worthwhile, entertaining and occasionally funny story of the California wilderness. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at Pages of Julia

Discover: A contemplation of women relating to one another in nature, nestled within the tale of a backpacking trip.

Bison Books, $19.95, paperback, 9780803240124

Health & Medicine

The Omega-3 Effect: Everything You Need to Know About the Super Nutrient for Living Longer, Happier, and Healthier

by William Sears, James M. Sears

Imagine a pill that could alleviate "atherosclerosis, thrombosis, arrhythmia, heart attacks, immune-inflammatory disorders, asthma, arthritis, psychiatric disorders, depression, suicide, oppositional behavior, unproductive workplace behaviors, cancer proliferation, and length of stay in hospitals." Pediatric doctor William Sears (The Baby Book) believes he has found this miracle medicine. After surviving colon cancer in 1997, Sears made "a project of his problem" and soon discovered that cultures that eat seafood suffer remarkably less often from cancer, among other illnesses, than those who follow a standard American diet. The key, he believes, is the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.

In The Omega-3 Effect, Sears hopes to "reach the most readers with the best science in the simplest way," using clear, concrete metaphors to accomplish this goal. Sears (writing with his son, Dr. James Sears) begins by explaining what everyone needs to know about Omega-3s--what they are, why they are important and why fish oil is the best of all available sources. He proceeds to outline their healing effects thoroughly and convincingly, then guides consumers toward the safest, most sustainable sources of fish for children and adults, adding dosage recommendations based on individual goals or existing health conditions.

Throughout, Sears anticipates frequently asked questions (What about vegetarians? What if I don't like fish? How can I avoid the "fishy" aftertaste of fish oil supplements?). Overall, The Omega-3 Effect is a well-documented, accessible guide that will make even hardened skeptics take notice. --Kristen Galles from Book Club Classics

Discover: Though there is still debate over the extent of fish oil's health benefits, Sears convincingly defends Omega-3 as a miracle remedy.

Little, Brown, $10.99, paperback, 9780316196840



by Gary Lemons

Gary Lemons' Snake is a brave and beautiful book--a trippy, visionary ride to the end of the world, where all is in flames except for Snake, who remains as a repository of all Earth's memories and shared consciousness.

Lemons' poetry is disarmingly simple, like a folk or blues lyric: "Time keeps on passin--til it's not / recognizable as time but feels more like / Dreamin in a tide pool beside a warmin / Sea where blood sacks couple in the waves." But there are hidden depths and meanderings, musicality where you'd least expect it. For a reptile, Snake is a surprisingly compassionate bearer of memory. He longs to be loved and remembered as were others who went before him: "Snake knows the dead be happier cause they got / One another for company and if he could / Only die, which he can't, he never be alone again."

While Snake is a long, rambling, apocalyptic dream that plays out in the head of a slithering everyman, it is also a tear-filled lament for wildlife and traditions we are on the verge of losing now--and a meditation on the push and pull of shared and specific consciousness as Snake fights to maintain his identity while almost literally carrying the weight of the world.

Snake is a wonderful fable, a trickster tale, a vision of a world set to fire by a vengeful mother earth, and some fine, chiseled poetry, direct and wisdom-filled. --Donald Powell, freelance writer

Discover: An apocalyptic tale of wonder where Snake is the world's sole survivor, bearing the memories of all before him.

Red Hen Press, $19.95, paperback, 9781597092357

Children's & Young Adult

Splendors and Glooms

by Laura Amy Schlitz

Laura Amy Schlitz turns from the airy Medieval town of her Newbery Medal–winning Good Masters, Sweet Ladies to a hauntingly claustrophobic tale set in an 1860 London enveloped in thick fog and a dilapidated estate in England's lake district.

The author entwines the fates of a 70-year-old witch named Cassandra; a girl named Clara Wintermute, who's the only surviving child of a rich physician and his wife; and the wizard Grisini, who doubles as a gifted puppeteer. Grisini keeps his two orphaned assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, on a string as tight as those of his extraordinary marionettes. Clara catches sight of Grisini's puppet show in Hyde Park and decides that this should be the entertainment at her 12th birthday party. Schlitz weaves together the individual chapters, which move smoothly among the third-person viewpoints of each character, into an edge-of-your-seat tale. Young Lizzie Rose is the first to suspect Grisini after Clara Wintermute disappears the night of her birthday party, and the police come to search Grisini's flat. But Parsefall, who's spent more years under Grisini's influence, knows the evils of which the man is capable and tells Lizzie Rose to keep mum--though he, too, thinks Grisini may have engineered Clara's disappearance.

As the author unravels the mystery, she explores the many levels on which the characters themselves serve as puppets. Schlitz proves herself a master storyteller as she skillfully maneuvers the strings of this gothic tale right up to the astonishing climax. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: The latest from a Newbery Medalist who, like a master puppeteer, manipulates her characters with agility and skill to a thrilling climax.

Candlewick, $17.99, hardcover, 400p., ages 9-13, 9780763653804

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

by Claire Legrand, illus. by Sarah Watts

Claire Legrand sets her terrific debut in a society where being a bit odd can land you in an orphanage with missing children.

Twelve-year-old Victoria Wright's only friend is Lawrence Prewitt. Lawrence's hair began going gray when he was nine, making him look like a skunk; he cannot tuck his shirt in properly; and he loves playing his "wretched piano," which Victoria thinks is a waste of time. She takes on Lawrence as "her personal project" and a gift to the Belleville community--until he goes missing. Strange things begin happening in Belleville, including an infestation of indeterminable black bugs and the disappearance of a class clown and her rival's twin. Some people forget about them completely, while others behave as if nothing's happening. With the help of a brave neighbor, Victoria tracks the disappearances to the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. She must hurry to rescue them, however, because in Cavendish, nobody stays past their 13th birthday, and Lawrence's is just two weeks away.

Miss Cavendish is a villain reminiscent of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda, with her sense of duty to improve unruly children and her mechanisms for punishing them. Legrand's third-person narrative adopts a proper, know-it-all attitude for Victoria's story, which makes for a hilarious read-aloud. Watching the heroine grow throughout the novel may well inspire readers to accept others, despite their oddities; it's a theme sounded in an entertaining fashion. Readers will anticipate Claire Legrand's next flight of fancy. --Adam Silvera, reviewer and former bookseller

Discover: Know-it-all Victoria reels from a backfired attempt to infiltrate an orphanage of missing children.

Simon & Schuster, $16.99, hardcover, 352p., ages 10-up, 9781442442917


Author Buzz

The Wild Card
(A Rivers Wilde Novella)

by Dylan Allen

Dear Reader,

"What if…?" is my favorite question to ask myself when I start writing a book. The answers that Cassie and Leo's story delivered were unexpected and heartwarming. Adding a heist and serendipitous reunion into the mix took my tried and true favorite trope, second chance, to a whole new level. Theirs is a classic case of right person/wrong time. Whether you're a Rivers Wilde newbie or expert, watching them overcome some pretty steep hurdles is a wild, thrilling, feel good ride.

I hope you love every word. xo,

Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: The Wild Card (A Rivers Wilde Novella) by Dylan Allen

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
January 16, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book


Kids Buzz

Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night

by Steven J. Simmons and Clifford R. Simmons
illus. by Ruth E. Harper

Dear Reader,

My newest and latest in a three-book series, Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night?, came from seeing the fascination so many kids have with the ocean and ocean creatures. How do a whale, octopus, dolphin, clownfish, great white shark and so many other undersea animals get their rest?

After all, they need to get their rest and sleep, just like all of us. So dive into this rhyming STEM picture book to encourage a love of nature and the environment--and under the covers for a great bedtime story.

"What do animals do when children are sleeping? Featuring creatures young children are likely to know, this book has the answers....[and] unusual nighttime facts are a plus." --Kirkus

Steve Simmons

KidsBuzz: Charlesbridge: Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night? by Steven J. Simmons and Clifford R. Simmons, illus. by Ruth E. Harper


Pub Date: 
April 16, 2024


Type of Book:
Picture Book

Age Range: 

List Price: 
$17.99 Hardcover

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