Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: A Short Walk Through a Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke

From My Shelf

Further Reading: The Age of Advertising

The tradition of Super Bowl advertising has grown to be almost as big as the game itself, with 30-second spots selling for nearly $4 million. Now that the game is over and this year's ads have been graded, here are a few books that take on life in advertising and the people and agencies who have created some of the most talked-about moments in television history:

John Kenney's debut novel, Truth in Advertising, centers on Finbar Dolan, a moderately successfully adman who has been forced, yet again, to cancel his vacation plans in order to meet an unexpected client deadline. Except this is not just any deadline: this is a last-minute request to write, produce and edit a Super Bowl spot for his agency's diaper client. Dolan recognizes the absurdity of his work, and when his father falls ill, he must re-evaluate how that absurdity is inherent in not only his work, but in his own life.

Then We Came to the End is another darkly comedic story, focused on a failing advertising agency. Joshua Ferris narrates his novel in first-person plural, an odd choice but one that ultimately works. The voice emphasizes the group mindset of the advertising world in particular and the business world overall, and, like Truth in Advertising, highlights the often absurd situations in which workers place themselves to meet expectations of both client and boss.

Mark Tungate's nonfiction work Adland offers a "global history of advertising," cataloguing the development of the industry in New York and London, its evolution as work moved to small shops across the globe, and ways in which the world of advertising will likely continue to change. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Sleeping Bear Press: When You Go Into Nature by Sheri M Bestor, Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

Book Candy

Books for Music Lovers; Diane Keaton's 'Artful Home Library'

Music to my eyes. Buzzfeed suggested "14 books from 2013 every music lover should read" and Bob Stanley, author of Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, chose his "10 best music histories" for the Guardian.


"They Came from Inner Space: Three Books About Solitude" were recommended by Rachel Louise Snyder, author of What We've Lost Is Nothing, for NPR Books.


"You've had several crushes on fictional characters." Buzzfeed revealed "16 signs you were an English major."


Norman Mailer and Adele Morales, for example. Mental Floss showcased "10 tempestuous writerly romances."


"Which American poet had a Great Aunt Sarah who practiced Saint Saens silently on a dummy piano?" The Guardian featured a "fiendishly difficult" poetry classics quiz.


At Remodelista, Diane Keaton examined the "artful home library," noting: "My library is alive.... That's the thing about a home library: it changes. Sometimes it's startling; sometimes it seems to be subdued by shadow and light; sometimes it's filled with a sublime beauty."


by M.D. Waters

An intriguing genre fusion, Archetype is mystery, science fiction and romance rolled into one, and signifies the start of a suspenseful new series by debut author M.D. Waters. When Emma awakens in a hospital, she has no memory of who she is. Her handsome and attentive husband, Declan Burke, is an ideal Prince Charming: a sensitive listener, seductive in the bedroom and fabulously wealthy. As Emma learns more about her husband and the world she lives in, she simultaneously experiences flashbacks that tell a very different story from the one Declan is telling her. Soon Emma finds herself struggling to make sense of her memories, of her past life, and whether she is actually married to someone else entirely--a man who is now intent upon killing her.

The setting of Archetype is a futuristic dystopia, a North America torn asunder in a bitter civil war between the totalitarian East and the rebellious West. Medical technologies have advanced to do what was once thought impossible, and teleportation is a mode of transport. Luxurious conveniences whisper and whisk about the rooms to make life effortlessly comfortable for the wealthy. Declan is even able to gift Emma with an artist's dream--a studio that uses holographic technology to take on the appearance of any setting in the world she might wish to paint.

It is, moreover, a world that echoes Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, resulting from the combined effects of a shortage of females and a decrease in women's fertility, turning fecund women into a prized commodity. Most women are infertile and therefore assigned jobs suited to their inferior status, and are destined to perpetual singlehood. Meanwhile, in order to exploit the value of fertile women, girls in the East are placed in "Women's Training Camps" (WTCs) to prepare them for marriage, obedience and childbearing; they are subsequently sold to the highest bidder. Birth control and abortion are illegal--a fact that looms threateningly over Emma even in the midst of her marital bliss. Some inner voice is whispering to her that having a baby with Declan would be a bad idea--that he is a bad idea.

But who is the mysterious woman in her thoughts? Why does "She"--as Emma calls her--keep showing Emma images of a beach, of combat, of a brutal murder in a WTC? As the book progresses and Emma witnesses more and more "memories" that come together like the pieces of a puzzle, she faces an increasingly urgent dilemma: whether to stay in a marriage that seems perfect, or risk all by attempting to find out the truth.

The title Archetype has a double meaning in this narrative: there is on the one hand the science fiction meaning of the term, which is revealed at the end, when Emma discovers the root of her identity. On the other hand, the title can also refer to the archetype that the sinister Dr. Travista, the technological wizard behind the mystery, is attempting to create in Emma--that of Virginia Woolf's "Angel in the House," the perfect wife. The Women's Training Camps begin the work that Dr. Travista attempts to complete in Emma, encouraging only "feminine" qualities such as domestic contentment, subservience, the desire for children and--above all--total reliance upon her husband. Anything that might make Emma independent is inherently threatening--she lives under what is essentially house arrest. Any time she shows signs of rebelling against these conditions, she is returned to the hospital for treatments and tests. That she has no idea what is being done to her, and at first has no memories of anything that took place months before, makes the situation all the more macabre.

In contrast, the "She" of Emma's flashbacks is an experienced fighter, ruthlessly independent even when in love, and given to biting irony. Thus Emma finds herself torn between the archetype she is being conditioned to become, and the compelling voice of a strong woman--and she has no idea which is real.

Elements of romance come into play early on, when Emma experiences all the bloom of first love with Declan, her husband, as she regains consciousness. The conflict between the two women within her--the obedient wife and the fighter--is exemplified in two men, Declan and Noah Tucker; she believes the latter might have been her true husband all along. A suspenseful plot drives Emma's emotional conflict and sexual tension with these two men, though it is not as simple as choosing between them: while Declan loves Emma and wishes to be married to her, Noah may never have been her husband at all. How can Emma give up a perfect life, married to a devoted and wealthy man, for the sake of a life that may have never been hers and is surely gone? --Ilana Teitelbaum

Dutton, $26.95, hardcover, 9780525954231

M.D. Waters: Romantic Conflict to Shred Your Heart

photo: Crystal Bingham

M.D. Waters lives with her family in Maryland. Archetype is her first novel. Its sequel, Prototype, will be published in July 2014. 

Tell us about the background of this novel. What inspired you?

First, I'm a total sucker for futuristic sci-fi movies, and it began with Star Wars. From the moment I saw The Empire Strikes Back as a child, I've always thought about Luke in that tank of water. I'm not sure why, but it fascinated me that to heal him, they put him in there. Later, I watched The Handmaid's Tale and never forgot the image of the women sleeping in cots inside a gym. I was too young to really understand the story, but that particular image stayed with me.

Those images, combined with multiple conversations with my dad, the conspiracy theorist, about how certain things perceived as good, or as improvements on our way of life, can turn bad. He told me about laws in modern China limiting the number of births due to overpopulation, and how fathers who want sons will go to terrible extremes when they end up with daughters instead.

When planning this world, I considered the overpopulation issue going worldwide and gave that fathers-wanting-sons scenario a "control the sex of your child in utero" possibility. I then added a few more what-ifs to make the situation really dire, combined my images from childhood, and added a few hundred years to show how the world might have evolved from that.

Archetype is an eclectic blend of science fiction and romance. Is it challenging to merge these different genre traditions?

You know, I never considered that a challenge. So many of the movies I love have that romance element. I especially love stories where the romance is the motivation, even if it's only a small part, behind the goal. Not necessarily the typical hero saving the heroine plots, but the stories where they're fighting to stay together while outside forces want to drive them apart. The more conflicted, the better. The more action, the better. I love it all, and it came very naturally to me.

On that topic, are there particular authors or books that provided an influence for Archetype?

The answer lies not in science fiction, but in fantasy. I've always idolized Karen Marie Moning's ability to build a world the way she did in her Fever series. And Richelle Mead's romantic plots have always kept me on my toes. She goes for gut-wrenching conflict, which I love. I strived to do both of these things in Archetype: build a world you can feel, and add in romantic conflict that will shred your heart, because when I piece it back together.... Well, that's the best part.

Just for fun: the protagonist, Emma, is torn by her love of two very different men. Do you have a preference?

It depends on the day. I can't tell you how many times I sighed over Declan while writing him, but then I'd reach a scene with Noah and flip sides. And I love them for very different reasons. I adore how kind Declan is. How thoughtful and protective. And Noah? He's so darn sexy when he's angry! I love how he puts up a tough exterior, but under it all he's incredibly passionate. Humble, even.

Marriage and feminism, and how they may sometimes conflict, seems like a central theme.

That wasn't my intent, but I understand where some might think that. I liked the idea of taking a strong female character, turning her inside out, and placing her in a situation where she had only a semblance of control. I wanted her marriage to be a direct conflict with who she really is and see how she handled it. As things unraveled, would she succumb and accept the status quo, or find her independence and fight for her freedom? It could have gone either way, and believe me, I considered both equally, because in either version she'd have her conflict, but she'd also find a way to be happy.

In Archetype you've created a rich world of futuristic technology, sexual oppression and a country at war. Will the sequel explore another part of this world?

When setting out to write the sequel, Prototype, I couldn't wait to expand on those droplets of world-building I planted in Archetype. As you can imagine, writing in a single point of view, not to mention one with little to no memory, sets up some pretty huge road blocks. Anything I already knew about the world had to come up in natural conversation. It still does in the sequel, but was made easier by the fact that I had so many new settings to explore. I was able to take the small world in Archetype and really blow it out in Prototype. And not just the world, the technology, too.

Emma's travels include Mexico, Las Vegas and San Francisco, so you'll see how the other side lives. Some of the new details were a surprise even to me, so I'm pretty excited about it. I've also dug more into the resistance and brought in new characters that show a different point of view to everything Emma's dealing with. It's quite a ride. --Ilana Teitelbaum

Shelf vetted, publisher supported.

Book Review


Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma

by Kerry Hudson

Janie Ryan is born with all the elements of a tough life: poverty, an absent father, a home in the roughest part of Aberdeen, Scotland, and a young, rebellious mother who runs from one dangerous person to another. Eventually, one of these people sticks around Janie's life for too long, threatening to weaken the tight bond between fiery mother and hyper-observant daughter. So begins Kerry Hudson's first novel, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma.

Despite their bleak circumstances, the Ryans' lives are never without crass jokes and heated opinions. Iris is a mother readers will gawk at and root for as she trudges repeatedly through abusive relationships, drug use, drug selling and squandered state support. What ultimately makes her likable is her refusal to be pitied. Even her vicious temper can be strangely uplifting, as though her willingness to fight is the one thing that assures us she will somehow make it as a mother. On the day of her daughter's birth, she snaps at a nurse: "My lassie can cry as long as she wants tae, anyway, it was probably yer ugly mug that set her off!"

Hudson was born in Aberdeen, and the detail with which she describes the region and its people breathes familiarity into every landlord or chip shop owner. To those unfamiliar with Scottish slang, the quips and expressions add a punchiness to even the most serious dialogue. --Annie Atherton

Discover: With hope and a biting sense of humor, a young mother struggles to raise her daughter in a tough corner of Scotland.

Penguin, $15, paperback, 9780143124641

The Consequences

by Colette Freedman

In The Consequences, the sequel to 2013's The Affair, Colette Freedman picks through the bloody aftermath of a discovered liaison. There are three players--the wife, the husband and the mistress--and each has a chance to tell his or her side of the story.

When we last left this dysfunctional trio, they were reeling from a humiliating confrontation as Kathy affirmed her love for her cheating husband, Robert; he insisted he wanted her back; and the devastated mistress, Stephanie, took the high road, agreeing to give Robert up. For many readers, the story could simply end there, but Freedman takes it a step further.

As Richard and Kathy struggle to rebuild a marriage where there is no trust, Stephanie learns she is pregnant. This proves to be the making (and undoing) of all of them. Freedman fleshes out her characters thoroughly, giving readers a chance to identify with each one. There are no villains here... and no angels, either.

What's so refreshing about The Consequences is that Freedman doesn't pigeonhole Kathy as a pampered ice queen or Stephanie as a calculating slut. Both are fine women who've made mistakes; both are portrayed sympathetically (though the lonely, anxiety-ridden Robert gets shorter shrift as he struggles to do what's right). Just deserts will be served before the tale's shocking conclusion, leaving readers in suspense as they puzzle over which woman Robert will ultimately choose. --Natalie Papailiou, author of blog MILF: Mother I'd Like to Friend

Discover: Freedman's insightful and honest sequel to The Affair addresses what happens after the truth comes out... and new complications arise.

Kensington, $15, paperback, 9780758281029

This Is Not an Accident

by April Wilder

In the first story of April Wilder's This Is Not an Accident, a nervous young woman doesn't have an accident. In fact, she's so preoccupied by the fact that she hasn't had a car accident that she finds herself compulsively driving four hours to Iowa just to be sure she didn't have an accident on her first trip. She blacks out, then comes to hours later, combing the shoulder of the highway for evidence of the accident she's almost sure she didn't have.

Other stories in this collection feature a man in the midst of a divorce who, stood up by his soon-to-be-ex-wife, ends the evening triumphantly devouring a raw steak in front of an angry, horrified master chef, and a woman who wins an argument and loses her boyfriend at a tailgate party as a giant roast pig looks on. At first, Wilder's stories seem to have a dystopian edge. The remedial driver's education that compels the first character to endless commuting, for example, hints at Orwellian doublespeak and Kafkaesque bureaucracy. Nevertheless, it quickly becomes clear This Is Not an Accident is far from futuristic. Wilder's characters are on the edge of everyday breakdowns, fighting the eternal absurdity of marriage, traffic and other familiar hells. Almost all of them are appealingly sympathetic, making Wilder's view of the world amused rather than bitter. These are odd stories that resist the urge to become fantastical, because Wilder understands that life is strange enough as it is. --Emma Page, bookseller at Island Books, Mercer Island, Wash.

Discover: A debut collection of funny, strange short stories that embrace everyday absurdity.

Viking, $26.95, hardcover, 9780670026043

The Swiss Affair

by Emylia Hall

Emylia Hall's The Swiss Affair is part romance, part coming-of-age tale. Hadley Dunn hasn't had a very exciting life, but that all changes when the 19-year-old literature student decides to study abroad in Lausanne, Switzerland, for a year. Hadley is amazed by all she sees in Lausanne, and quickly comes to love the city for its physical beauty and its stories evocative of Hemingway's novels. She becomes close friends with Kristina, a Danish girl who lives next to her in the student housing, and thinks she might be falling in love with her tutor, Joel Wilson.

Hall's (The Book of Summers) central themes of love and connection are grounded by the novel's strong sense of place. Lausanne is more than just the setting; it's like another character. Hadley's relationships with Kristina, Joel and Lausanne change and grow as the months go by.
Life in Lausanne is fresh and exciting for Hadley--until an unimaginable tragedy occurs.

Hadley's determination to find the answers--both in her own life, and in Kristina's life--make her doggedly likable. She refuses to give up and is unafraid to seek out the truth, even at the cost of her own happiness. The Swiss Affair is an appealing love story with an even more alluring setting. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: British novelist Emylia Hall (The Book of Summers) tells a young American woman's story of love and coming-of-age in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mira/Harlequin, $14.95, paperback, 9780778314653

Still Life with Bread Crumbs

by Anna Quindlen

Still Life with Breadcrumbs, Anna Quindlen's seventh novel, is an enjoyable read that explores the themes of aging, the capricious nature of fame and the relationship between art and identity--all in the guise of a romance.

At 60, Rebecca Winter, once famous for a series of black-and-white photos that captured quotidian domesticity, is facing a stark reversal of fortune. She is now divorced, with a negligible bank account balance and all-but-vanished art sales, while still supporting an aging mother. She sublets her sprawling pre-war Manhattan apartment and rents a run-down cabin in the country. When she calls local roofer Jim Bates with an emergency, she becomes drawn into the town and its characters, and the stage for romance is set.

Of course, there are obstacles: Jim is 20 years her junior and responsible for his manic-depressive sister. The two have profound cultural differences, as well, including Jim's belief that Rebecca's new series of photographs of locally found objects is exploitative.

Some of the novel's secondary characters are limited in their emotional range and can seem one-dimensional, but Quindlen tells her story with warmth, humor and particularly close social observations. Still Life with Bread Crumbs adds the comfort of a popular story line to a consideration of the arbitrary material value of fame and art--and the importance of a deeply lived life. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Discover: Pulitzer Prize-winning Quindlen's seventh novel is a life-affirming and often very funny love story.

Random House, $26, hardcover, 9781400065752

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Red Rising

by Pierce Brown

Any contemporary dystopian science fiction novel will inevitably draw comparisons to The Hunger Games or Divergent, but Pierce Brown's Red Rising fully deserves to stand beside them. It's a bone-crunching story of revenge, full of clever plot twists and characters worth rooting for.

Darrow is a young miner on a terraformed Mars, married to the beautiful and ethereal Eo. Life as a miner is brutal and short; the mines are worked by the Reds, who are ruled by the Golds--genetically and socially engineered brutes who kill those beneath them for the slightest infraction. Darrow and Eo end up on the wrong side of this equation with tragic results, setting off a labyrinthine journey of revenge.

Each scene comes alive as Brown captures the emotions of lost love and the yearning for something greater. The scenes of Darrow's genetic manipulation as he is transformed into a Gold are harrowing, and his constant struggle for survival--during which he seems in as much danger of losing pieces of his soul as his life--is reminiscent of the Battle School in Ender's Game. Like Hunger Games, Brown's vision of a criminally stratified future society offers a commentary on our contemporary excesses of materialism and youth worship. Red Rising is the rare book that delivers everything it promises; it deserves all the hype. --Donald Powell, freelance writer

Discover: A debut novelist gives Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth stiff competition with his gripping tale of revenge and class warfare in a dystopian future.

Del Rey, $25, hardcover, 9780345539786

Biography & Memoir

Gene Everlasting: A Contrary Farmer's Thoughts on Living Forever

by Gene Logsdon

As anyone who has lived on a farm can attest, one is closer to life and death when dealing with nature and animals on a daily basis. The poetic prose of Gene Logsdon's Gene Everlasting, a reflection on life as an Ohio farmer, brings readers into that close connection of beginnings and endings, the inner, always-turning circle of chores, natural discoveries and seasonal work.

Logsdon (A Sanctuary of Trees) blends careful observations of the natural world with sometimes humorous, often melancholic contemplations that gently lead the reader to ponder such topics as the death of a beloved pet, the mysterious nature of cemeteries, the number of suicides in any given year, butchering hogs, buzzards in the backyard and the sudden uptick in backyard farms and gardens. He expertly intertwines these seemingly disconnected subjects with the cyclic qualities of nature and the overall sense that life and death are forever paired--that one cannot and should not exist without the other, thereby removing the fear of death.

Logsdon also eloquently reveals early childhood memories and his fears of the meaning of everlasting hell, his acceptance of his mother's untimely death and his own need to confront death when diagnosed with cancer. The culminating effect is not morbid, but philosophical and absorbing, like a musical fugue that builds and recedes, gracefully moving toward an acceptance and understanding of what living and dying truly mean. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: Ruminations on nature, life and dying from the creator of the "Contrary Farmer" blog.

Chelsea Green, $24.95, hardcover, 9781603585392


Samurai: The Last Warrior

by John Man

John Man combines travelogue, history and social commentary in Samurai: The Last Warrior, using the story of Saigo Takamori, popularly known as the "last samurai," as a central focus. In 1877, Saigo led a hopeless rebellion against the Japanese government. Armed with traditional sword and bow, 600 samurai fought the newly trained Japanese army in an effort to reverse the Westernizing changes of the Meiji Restoration. When all was lost, Saigo committed ritual suicide; the institution of the samurai died with him. Three years after Saigo's death, the government against which he rebelled erected a monument honoring him as a great patriot.

Man (Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior) uses Saigo's story to consider the history of the samurai, Japan's rapid transformation from a feudal society to a modern one and the ways in which samurai culture continues to color Japanese society. He offers detailed explanations of both familiar elements of samurai culture, such as ritual suicide, and less familiar subjects, such as formalized sexual relationships between men. Man himself is never far from the page, whether comparing traditional samurai education with that of a British public schoolboy, visiting a class where a toned-down version of samurai-style sword fighting is taught, discussing the samurai in the context of other cultural ideals of honor or explaining Darth Vader's samurai roots.

Samurai is an engaging look at the final days of a military elite. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Discover: Man tells The Last Samurai--without Tom Cruise--and reveals the deep influences these warriors had on Japanese culture.

Morrow, $16.99, paperback, 9780062202673

Without Mercy: The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime and Corruption in the Deep South

by David Beasley

Georgia was so desperate to dig its way out of poverty and destitution in the 1930s that it elected E.D. Rivers as governor because he supported FDR's New Deal. What the state got, however, was a Klansman whose corruption and racism knew no bounds. David Beasley's fastidiously researched Without Mercy tells the story of a justice system that was anything but just.

Georgia set a record on December 9, 1938, when it executed six black men in 81 minutes; for some of them, the entire process from arrest to electric chair took less than three months. As Beasley recounts their crimes, he also provides details of the murder convictions of white men during the same period. The stark contrast between their trials, appeals and sentences is fodder for a horror story. Beasley also highlights additional levels of corruption in Rivers's Georgia by examining the prisons and chain gangs, the Ku Klux Klan's infiltration of the state government and the buying and selling of pardons.

Beasley provides a "Cast of Characters" at the onset, but his meticulous treatment of each person makes Without Mercy easy to follow. Much like a nightmare or a heart-pounding action movie, this is a story one doesn't easily forget. Without Mercy is history, but its shadows and echoes are still very much alive today in the unsettling and eye-opening reality of capital punishment. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: A terrifying study of how lopsided the justice system can be while still technically maintaining the letter of the law.

St. Martin's Press, $26.99, hardcover, 9781250014665

Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World--from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief

by Tom Zoellner

Tom Zoellner has written an eclectic mix of books on topics ranging from diamonds and uranium to the shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In Train, he tackles the history and allure of locomotives, what he considers to be the world's first "true machine ever put on wide public display."

"America is a nation of lost train dreams," Zoellner writes. "Some perceive them as nostalgic playthings," but he fervently believes that trains also serve "unromantic needs and unyielding economies." He documents the impact of the locomotive as an "underappreciated marvel" that has modernized societies across the globe, offering solutions to issues of trade, traffic and energy.

Zoellner shares his personal train experiences (mostly riding long-distance rail lines) and offers fascinating stories of people he meets in his travels. He's journeyed through Britain, the birthplace of the steam engine, crossing from the north of Scotland to the southwestern corner in Cornwall; from New Delhi to Varanasi in India; New York to Los Angeles, including passage on the Amtrak Southwest Chief; the longest train route, the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia; the highest railway, on the Tibetan Plateau in China; and "a corkscrewing path through the Andes" in Peru. His adventures conclude in Spain, riding its remarkably efficient high-speed rail line. Along the way, there are also discussions on an array of topics from environmental benefits to the enduring symbolism of railroads. By blending train history and heritage with memoir elements, Zoellner builds a case for the resurgence of trains in the future. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: An entertaining exploration of trains--past, present and future--and their technological innovations that continue to change the world.

Viking, $27.95, hardcover, 9780670025282

Children's & Young Adult

Cress: The Lunar Chronicles #3

by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer continues her brilliant bending of classic fairytales with this riff on Rapunzel.

Cress lives imprisoned in a satellite, rather than in a tower. She is a shell--with none of the powers of most Lunars--but is also a skilled hacker and tech wiz. In Cinder, Cress warned of the intent of Levana, Queen of Luna, to marry Emperor Kai, kill him and, as heir to the Eastern Commonwealth, take over Earth. Thanks to Cress, the Lunars have a complete surveillance system to track the emperor's comings and goings. But that also means Cress knows how to dismantle the system.

As she did with Scarlet, Meyer crafts a self-contained story in this third volume, while building on the overarching tale of Cinder. If it is possible to ramp up the suspense, Meyer does so here, beginning with a failed attempt by Cinder and Captain Thorne to rescue Cress from her satellite. As with Rapunzel, the witch (here Levana's chief thaumaturge, Sybil) lies in wait. Meyer takes the discussion of earth's inhabitants, cyborgs and lunars, to a new level, drawing a parallel to modern society's underlying fears of immigration and the perils of information-gathering, eerily akin to the NSA debate. Meyer once again creates nuanced characters that grow in complexity--as Captain Thorne develops a moral backbone, Cinder discovers a dark side to her potential power.

Readers won't know for sure if Cinder's audacious plan to halt Levana will work until the final installment, slated for February 2015. Readers will be anxiously orbiting until then. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: In this third installment of the Lunar Chronicles, only Cress, trapped in a satellite, can stop Queen Levana's plot to rule Earth.

Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, $18.99, hardcover, 560p., ages 12-up, 9780312642976

Cruel Beauty

by Rosamund Hodge

This arresting debut fantasy, inspired by Beauty and the Beast and set against a backdrop of Greek myths, stars 17-year-old Nyx, who has been raised to marry and kill the prince of demons.

Although the citizens disagree about what left Tartarus vulnerable, the kingdom fell into the hands of the Gentle Lord, Ignifex, who cut them off from the rest of the world. Nyx's father, Leonidas, bargained with the Gentle Lord to allow his wife to conceive twin girls. In exchange, one daughter would be betrothed to Ignifex when she turned 17. Leonidas trained Nyx to inscribe nullifying sigils of the four elements throughout the Gentle Lord's castle in order to free their homeland. Meanwhile, Nyx's aunt taught her to seduce her new husband ("[D]o whatever it takes to make him trust you," she says). But nothing prepares Nyx for the transformation she will undergo in the Gentle Lord's company. Shade, the living shadow servant of the Gentle Lord, adds to an ensemble of well-layered characters as he defies his master to help Nyx carry out her plan. The mystery of Shade's true identity is sure to keep readers engaged.

Hodge's ambitious debut is well executed, with grand prose and a fully realized world with a system of magic that even well-versed fantasy readers will find refreshing. Nyx's call of duty and desire to survive keeps her from surrendering completely to her dark marriage, but those seeking romance will be plenty satisfied with her interactions between the Gentle Lord and Shade. A captivating read. --Adam Silvera, children's bookseller

Discover: A young adult novel with a spin on a classic--Beauty must kill the Beast in order to save her kingdom.

Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, $17.99, hardcover, 352p., ages 13-up, 9780062224736


Author Buzz

Dragon Kiss
(A Dragon Kings Novella)

by Donna Grant

Dear Reader,

Welcome back to the Dragon Kings! I'm thrilled to bring you DRAGON KISS. The world of the Dragon Kings keeps expanding, and this story brings us Alasdair and Lotti, a powerful couple who have overcome all odds to find love. But a deadly enemy intends to rip them apart.

I can't wait for you to fall in love with Alasdair and Lotti as I have.


Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Dragon Kiss (A Dragon Kings Novella) by Donna Grant

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
January 9, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

Powered by: Xtenit