Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Harperteen: The Someday Daughter by Ellen O'Clover

From My Shelf

National Coloring Book Day

Today is National Coloring Book Day. It may be an obscure holiday right now, but given the surging popularity of adult coloring books, in a few more years maybe everyone will get the day off work.

Grab some coloring books starring your favorite characters, some great colored pencils or pens, margaritas or mojitos, and host a Coloring & Cocktails Party in honor of National Coloring Book Day! Here are some titles to fill in and up on:

Art of Coloring: Star Wars: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity and Relaxation (Disney Editions, $15.99)
Full of Star Wars images from all the movies, and perfect for coloring while your spouse re-watches the films for the 92nd time.

Harry Potter Magical Places & Characters Coloring Book (Scholastic, $15.99)
From the tacky Dursley living room to the beauty of the Great Hall at Hogwarts, this beautiful coloring book brings the Harry Potter films to life.

The Official A Game of Thrones Coloring Book (Bantam, $16.95)
Including beautifully detailed artwork and quotes from various Game of Thrones books, this would be a great accompaniment to one of George R.R. Martin's books on audio.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: A Coloring Book (Silver Dolphin Books, $12.95)
With illustrations based on John Tenniel's original illustrations for the book, this whimsical book captures the charms of Wonderland.

Romeo and Juliet: A Coloring Classic (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $15.95)
For the lovelorn, coloring the pretty pictures in this classic book is bound to be more fun than swiping right or left on Tinder!

Doctor Who Travels in Time Coloring Book (Penguin Young Readers Group, $14.99)
Whovians will adore this detailed book featuring images of many of the Doctor's adversaries and friends, including everything from spaceships to Charles Dickens.

Classic Coloring: Jane Austen (Abrams, $12.95)
With 55 removable pages lovely enough to frame, this book is full of charming illustrations and some of Austen's most witty quotes.

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

The Writer's Life

Reading with... Rachel Howzell Hall

photo: Dave Hall

Rachel Howzell Hall is the author of the Detective Elouise Norton series. The third novel in the series is Trail of Echoes (Forge). Land of Shadows and Skies of Ash were included on the Los Angeles Times' "Books to Read This Summer" for 2014 and 2015, and the New York Times called Lou Norton "a formidable fighter--someone you want on your side." A featured writer on NPR's Crime in the City series, Hall also served as a mentor in AWP's Writer to Writer Program and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

On your nightstand now:

You mean other than the four remote controls, the Xbox game controller, the tube of hand lotion, the Fitbit charger and water bottle? In paperback, The Martian by Andy Weir. I'm almost done, swear! My e-reader's also sitting on my nightstand, and the stories I'm actively reading include The Road Out of Hell by Anthony Flacco and, once I'm finished writing my last draft of City of Saviors, I'll start The Cartel by Don Winslow. Reading Winslow right now as I'm writing would leave me feeling terribly inadequate.

Favorite book when you were a child:

So many books, how to choose? Okay, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White--I've read that beautiful story over and over again, and had the chance to enjoy it as my daughter read it for class. And in my mind, Paul Lynde will forever be the voice of Templeton the Rat.

Your top five authors:

Only five, huh? Okay. Stephen King, Toni Morrison, Dennis Lehane, Gillian Flynn and Ira Levin. Bonus: Paul Beatty. A little literary, a little horror and a lot of mystery.

Book you've faked reading:

I haven't faked--I'll just flat-out say, "Yeah, I tried but nooo...." That happens with all Jonathan Franzen novels for me. I just... can't. I think I've stopped trying. Oh. Wait. In college, I fake-read Finnegans Wake after barely making it through Ulysses. College. Good times. Anyway, life's too short to fake-read when there are so many thrilling books out there waiting for my eyes!

Book you're an evangelist for:

I think every writer everywhere should and must read Stephen King's On Writing. Praise him, praise him! The genius and everyman offers practical advice as well as insight about the writing life.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I barely remember the title because I bought it for the cover. Lemme Google... it was The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl. So pretty. So haunting. It's in my library and I'll get to read it someday (which is why I don't fake read--The Boy in the Suitcase is waiting for my eyes).

Book you hid from your parents:

I remember hiding Wifey by Judy Blume deep inside my backpack in junior high. I'd just consumed Forever, which had been taken away by one of my teachers--someone had underlined the naughty parts with orange ink. After that literary adventure of discovering words that I didn't know (and there was no Google back in 1982, and the Oxford Dictionary did not have, ahem, certain words in their pages), I hustled back to the library for my next Judy Blume fix.

Book that changed your life:

Nearly every book I start and finish changes my life, even if it's a molecular shift on my brain. A ridge becomes deeper. Still, the book that really affected me was It by Stephen King. That's when I realized I wasn't the only person in the world scared of both clowns and sewers. That story spoke to my fear. I was no longer embarrassed.

Favorite line from a book:

"Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever." --from All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Five books you'll never part with:

They'll have to pry from my cold, dead hands Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Stand by Stephen King and Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton.

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

I was vacationing on the Big Island in Hawaii when I opened All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. And even with the beautiful ocean and volcanoes and drinks with little umbrellas, I didn't want to stop reading. Can't wait to read it again!

What you would be if you were good in math:

Glad you asked! I would be an astronaut--something about being way out there in Nothing-Something intrigues and terrifies me.

Broadleaf Books: What We Remember Will Be Saved: A Story of Refugees and the Things They Carry by Stephanie Saldaña

Book Candy

Summer Classes Inspired by Fictional Characters

Summer school! Quirk Books imagined "summer classes inspired by characters from literature."


Adorable Beatrix Potter stamps have been released by Royal Mail to mark author's 150th anniversary, the Independent reported. And this selection of "rare Beatrix Potter illustrations are just too adorbs for this world," the Huffington Post wrote.


Bustle showcased "9 literary-inspired manicures for readers who wear their heart on their nails."


"Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is." Signature considered "the end times: 12 memorable closing lines."


She "sold her first piece of writing when she was just 13." Mental Floss shared "10 facts about author Lois Duncan."

Great Reads

Rediscover: The Boys in the Boat

The track and field triumphs of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics weren't the only upsets to Hitler's hopes for Aryan athletic domination. A team of rowers from the University of Washington, young Americans from working-class families, narrowly beat the Italian and German teams for the gold medal. Their inspirational tale is the subject of Daniel James Brown's mega-bestselling nonfiction book, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, published by Penguin Books in 2013.

Tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern, PBS is airing The Boys of '36, part of the American Experience documentary series. The program is based on Brown's book, which is also being adapted into a feature film by Peter Berg. Daniel James Brown is also the author of Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894 (2006), about a Minnesota wildfire that killed hundreds of people, including Brown's great-grandfather, and The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride (2009). A mass market paperback/PBS tie-in edition of The Boys in the Boat was published on July 26 (Penguin Books, $9.99, 9780143130833), just in time for the opening of the Rio Olympics. --Tobias Mutter

Book Review


Bright, Precious Days

by Jay McInerney

Jay McInerney's eighth novel, Bright, Precious Days, is a sobering sketch of New York City on the eve of the Great Recession, through the eyes of Corinne and Russell Calloway--first seen in his novel Brightness Falls and again in The Good Life--whose midlife marriage is about to endure its own upheaval.

As the novel opens in 2006, the Manhattan the Calloways view from their TriBeCa loft has become for them and their upper-middle-class friends "a collection of luxury brand and franchise outlets: Dubai on the Hudson." Attending the occasional charity gala or hosting an annual summer party at the home they rent in the Hamptons, they fret over how they can afford to purchase the apartment they inhabit when it's converted to a condo in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Each day at work they confront the specter of financial failure.

McInerney offers a convincing portrayal of the ennui that afflicts some marriages in their third decade. But for the Calloways, who've been a couple since their college days at Brown, that malaise seems to arise as much from the sense they'll always have their noses pressed against the glass of the glamorous world spread before them as it does from the nagging frictions that occasionally threaten to undermine even the strongest, lasting relationship.

Since the publication of Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney has served as a kind of cultural anthropologist, reporting on the tribal rituals of a certain slice of New York life. Readers eager for the report of his latest expedition will find Bright, Precious Days more than satisfying. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Discover: Jay McInerney returns to Corinne and Russell Calloway to assess the state of their marriage on the eve of the Great Recession.

Knopf, $27.95, hardcover, 416p., 9781101948002

Carousel Court

by Joe McGinniss Jr.

Carousel Court, Joe McGinniss Jr.'s second novel (after The Delivery Man), is the story of a young Boston family's search for the California dream at just the wrong time. Nick and Phoebe Maguire pack up their two-year-old son, Jackson, and meager belongings to drive their Subaru cross-country for Nick's new job with a boutique L.A. film production company. With their marriage on shaky ground after her affair with the uber-rich boss at her previous job, and a car accident that nearly killed Jackson, Nick and Phoebe have a plan: "secure an investment property to upgrade, flip for enough profit to secure their future." Acting quickly, they buy a ranch house on the suburban cul-de-sac Carousel Court, and do the whole California remodel thing. Then comes the Great Recession.

McGinniss writes with a keen feel for the contemporary zeitgeist, but he also might justly lay claim to being the ascending fictional Prince of Darkness. The Delivery Man was about a dangerous teen prostitution ring set amid the glitter of Sin City--a sort of Less Than Zero meets Leaving Las Vegas. His characters in Carousel Court weather broken personal connections, social unrest and financial desperation. Their world is sadly a modern one with which readers are all too familiar--talking via text, hustling to make ends meet, dodging extremes of weather, looking for that lost American Dream. Yet McGinniss opens a window of hope as Nick and Phoebe weather the mess they make of their lives and put their faith in Jackson. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: A young Boston family heads west to find the American Dream at the wrong time and in the wrong place.

Simon & Schuster, $26, hardcover, 368p., 9781476791272

How I Became a North Korean

by Krys Lee

How I Became a North Korean is Krys Lee's debut novel and follow-up to her acclaimed short story collection, Drifting House. While both concentrate on the varied experiences of people in the fractured Korean peninsula and in diaspora, the novel focuses on the Joseon-jok, "ethnic Koreans who'd lived alongside the Han Chinese in northeastern China," as well as on refugees from famine-stricken North Korea struggling to survive in the border areas.

At first, Lee's trio of protagonists seem to share little aside from their ethnic heritage. Yongju is forced to flee his relatively privileged life in Pyongyang after his high-ranking father is executed by Kim Jong-il. Pregnant and desperate to protect her unborn child, Jangmi finds her way across the border into China thanks to a hastily arranged marriage. Finally, Danny, a misfit Chinese American teen with Korean heritage, flees to the border areas in a questionable attempt to find himself. Their lives intersect and diverge in surprising ways, providing a fictional interpretation of a real-life crisis--the author's time as an activist for North Korean refugees in China's border region no doubt lends to the novel's feeling of authenticity.

Lee's prose style is understated, almost journalistic. She is gifted at conveying the powerful feeling of not belonging that haunts her characters, and how their social disconnection translates into persistent vulnerability. It's a dangerous world that Yongju, Jangmi and Danny inhabit; How I Became a North Korean is a tribute to a people who survive against all odds. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Discover: This bracing debut novel follows a trio of protagonists navigating the inhospitable border between China and North Korea.

Viking, $26, hardcover, 256p., 9780670025688

Santorini Sunsets

by Anita Hughes

Society beauty Brigit Palmer is stepping down from her intense job at an influential New York law office just in time for her wedding to hot Hollywood actor Blake Crawford. But Blake is more than a pretty face--he's also incredibly generous, which dovetails perfectly with Brigit's new career on the board of her father's philanthropic foundation.

Brigit, Blake and the rest of their friends and family are enjoying a luxurious week on the Greek island of Santorini leading up to the couple's nuptials. But to Brigit's horror, her ex-husband Nathaniel, a reporter for HELLO! magazine, shows up. It turns out that Blake has sold the exclusive rights to their wedding story to HELLO! and is donating the $2 million to charity. Since it's for a good cause, Brigit decides to forgive Blake, grit her teeth and bear it, but will she be able to survive Nathaniel's interference all week? Or will the memories that her ex brings back disrupt her plans for a beautiful wedding?

With typical rom-com humor, and a few deeper thoughts as Brigit's family members reflect on the peccadilloes in their pasts, Anita Hughes (Lake Como, Rome in Love) has created a charming, somewhat clichéd, light read. Hughes's luscious descriptions of Greek food and history, and the beauty of the island and its beaches, serve as the backdrop for some frothy fun, making Santorini Sunsets an excellent beach read. It may also make readers research a trip to Santorini for themselves. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: Mere days before the wedding of her dreams, Brigit Palmer is startled by the husband from her failed first marriage.

St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, paperback, 304p., 9781250094124

Mystery & Thriller

Brussels Noir

by Michel Dufranne, editor

In the wake of the 2016 "Brexit" vote, the state of the European Union and its de facto capital, Brussels, seems a bit uncertain--as it does in several of the stories in Brussels Noir. Showcasing this generally delightful city, the anthology takes a look at the dark underside of many of its charming old neighborhoods.

Featuring stories originally written in French, English and Spanish, Brussels Noir contains many fictions that have grains of truth--like Paul Colize's "A Fraction of a Second" about the Mad Killers of Brabant and Alfredo Noriega's "Ecuador," homage to a prisoner who was killed by Belgian police. Others don't--like Katia Lanero Zamora's "Daedelus," set in a depressing, futuristic Brussels where electricity is limited and rebellions are on the rise. In spite of many stories' brevity, the collection is filled with fascinating and dynamic characters, including the obsessive mother who ends up driving her son to commit murder, the Korean geneticist who has a chance encounter on a train, and the quiet man who secretly grows cannabis in the king's gardens.

A perfect choice for those who love noir or those who love armchair traveling, this assortment of short stories gives the reader a glimpse into what life in the Belgian capital is like. An excellent entry in Akashic Books' noir series, which began with Brooklyn Noir more than a decade ago, Brussels Noir takes readers through the underbelly of yet another fascinating locale. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: Brussels Noir is a collection of atmospheric short stories set in Brussels, Belgium.

Akashic Books, $15.95, paperback, 288p., 9781617753985

The Darkness Knows

by Cheryl Honigford

Cheryl Honigford introduces a spunky, engaging amateur detective in her debut novel, The Darkness Knows. Vivian Witchell is a radio actress on the rise in 1930s Chicago. She's just landed a plum role, and she might finally be catching the attention of her handsome-and-he-knows-it co-star Graham Yarborough. But when Vivian stumbles across Marjorie Fox's body in the station's lounge one night, all signs point to murder--and to Vivian as the next victim. 

Marjorie was perhaps Vivian's least popular co-star at the radio station. Unfortunately, that means everyone's a suspect. With the help of attractive but taciturn private eye Charlie Haverman, Vivian starts digging into the dead woman's personal life and discreetly questioning her colleagues. Meanwhile, she struggles to keep her job in the face of constantly shifting politics (and an increasing number of reporters) around the station.

Honigford has done her research on the particulars of radio production in the 1930s; the scenes at the station shine, mixing dramatic tension (on and off the air) and perfect period detail. Some supporting characters, like Charlie, are interesting; others, such as Vivian's best friend Imogene, don't quite get their due. Vivian's contentious relationship with her socialite mother is a distraction rather than an extra plot layer, and Viv's tenacity sometimes tips over into bullheadedness. But for mystery lovers who like a go-getter heroine and a bit of history with their murder, The Darkness Knows is a promising start to a new series. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: A radio actress in 1930s Chicago must solve a colleague's murder or end up the next victim.

Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99, paperback, 352p., 9781492628613

Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Swarm: The Second Formic War

by Orson Scott Card, Aaron Johnston

Several generations before the events of the sci-fi classic Ender's Game, the alien antagonists attacked Earth. The Formics, as these insectoids are called, initially descended in the First Formic War trilogy (Earth Unaware, Earth Afire and Earth Awakens). Forty million people died when a single Formic scout ship ravaged China. Mazer Rackham (a central character in Ender's Game) and a handful of other humans managed to destroy that ship, only to discover a full fleet of warships were en route to the solar system.

With less than five years to prepare for an impossible second war, the nations of Earth have ceded global political control to a Hegemon and military control to a Strategos and Polemarch. Earth's efforts are bent on survival, with characters from the First Formic War series caught up in the struggle. Mazor Rackham is testing experimental weaponry when he faces a court martial for standing up to a corrupt officer. Lem Jukes, son of the Hegemon and new CEO of his father's former company, deals with impossible technical challenges. Victor Delgado is out in the Kuiper Belt on a mining ship, and Bingwen, in the vein of future Ender Wiggin, is training as a child soldier/commander. The Formic attack is already coming too soon, but, as The Swarm unfolds, these characters discover it might be much closer than they'd feared.

Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston (also co-author of the First Formic War trilogy) deliver another dose of satisfying genre action. The Swarm stands on its own merits, though it's recommended to read at least the original Ender's Game first. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

Discover: The Swarm heralds a second prequel trilogy set in the Ender's Game universe.

Tor, $25.99, hardcover, 464p., 9780765375629


Must Love Wieners: A Rescue Dog Romance

by Casey Griffin

Casey Griffin launches a romantic comedy series with Must Love Wieners. Set in San Francisco, this enjoyable, dog-centered novel is about two rescued dachshunds and how they bring together an unlikely couple.

Piper Summers is a 26-year-old veterinary student who moonlights at three jobs: driving taxis, delivering pizza and performing singing telegrams. She also volunteers at a Dachshund Rescue Center and is the owner of the lovable doxie Colin. One day, Piper sashays into a high-powered investment firm dressed as a sexy cowgirl, intent on delivering a country-western singing telegram professing love and bestowing chocolates on Aiden Caldwell, whom she thinks is a crotchety old business tycoon. Inside a crowded boardroom, Piper takes a misstep amid her song-and-dance number, tumbling into the lap of a gorgeous, Armani-clad young businessman who turns out to be Caldwell, a charismatic billionaire. Piper's embarrassment is compounded when she later loses two of her three jobs.

But Aiden, with his playboy reputation, is smitten with Piper. The two keep crossing paths until Aiden offers Piper a job walking his beloved rescued doxie, Sophie, who happens to be well acquainted with Colin. As the relationship between the dogs and their masters deepens, issues of trust and compatibility arise, as do a series of harrowing threats that bring unexpected challenges and danger to their lives. Is someone jealous of their romance?

Griffin's spirited, wholesome love story escalates into a deeper mystery offering playful comic relief en route to revealing whodunit. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: Rescued dachshunds unite an unlikely couple in an opposites-attract romantic comedy infused with elements of mystery.

St. Martin's Press, $7.99, mass market paperbound, 368p., 9781250084675

Biography & Memoir

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst

by Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin (The Run of His Life) brings context, nuance and new sources to a dramatic story in American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.

The 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patricia Campbell Hearst by the radical group self-styled as the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) was a media sensation. A nation watched with shock as the victim joined her captors in bank robberies and other crimes. Decades later, Toobin helpfully sets this salacious story against its backdrop: the influence of the Hearst name; the fledgling nature of televised media, particularly live news feeds; and the cultural upheavals underway via the radical political left, especially in the San Francisco area where Hearst lived. Surreally, a bumbling, incompetent SLA plagued by internal strife managed to elude federal investigators for many months. Jim Jones, Bill Walton and Ronald Reagan make cameo appearances.

American Heiress avoids firm conclusions about Hearst's level of agency in her own crimes. As Toobin observes, the phrase "Stockholm syndrome" was not yet in use at the time, but psychological coercion was the focus of Hearst's criminal defense. With the information uncovered, Toobin can reveal only a woman making the best of circumstances, "a clear thinker, if not a deep one." 

While most older readers will have preconceptions about the events, Toobin's ample research and new sources offer a fresh version. An author's note states that Hearst declined to comment, and explains the research methods. This history satisfies with its level of detail and emotional distance from a subject who remains mysterious. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: New research on the Patty Hearst case reveals a story as compelling and confounding as ever.

Doubleday, $28.95, hardcover, 384p., 9780385536714

Social Science

Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud

by Elizabeth Greenwood

Elizabeth Greenwood had recently quit teaching public school in New York City to return to school herself, and her student loan debt had hit six figures. She was feeling desperate, trapped and bored with her day-to-day existence. When a friend made a joke about faking her death to get away from it all, she was intrigued.

The idea became the research project that consumed her time and imagination for years, and resulted in Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud. Greenwood explores the world of pseudocide from several angles. She speaks with several subjects of infamous botched cases, but fails to identify any successful fraudsters (by definition, they are hard to find). She visits with the investigators who pursue these attempted frauds on behalf of the insurance companies frequently scammed, as well as with professionals in the field of helping people disappear. When Greenwood sits down with family members who have been left behind, she finds the most damage inflicted. Finally, in the Philippines, she sets out to purchase her own death certificate.

This energetic exploration of a world many readers may not have ever considered is perhaps slightly macabre, but ultimately very human; it involves a questioning of how we seek satisfaction in life, and when we cut and run. Greenwood's narrative voice is humble and approachable, but as an investigator she is tenacious, going the distance--to death and back--to bring this oddly fascinating story to her readers. Playing Dead will please those attracted to the eccentric, as well as anyone who has ever fantasized about leaving it all behind. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: This engrossing inquiry into faked deaths introduces curious characters and a litany of questions about life.

Simon & Schuster, $26, hardcover, 272p., 9781476739335

Children's & Young Adult


by Randy Cecil

In the first three acts, Randy Cecil (Brontorina) tells a similar story of a little stray dog named Lucy in three different ways, and children will revel in spotting the clever additions and changes, big and small, that shape the narrative.

The first act begins: "As the sun rose over Bloomville,/ a distant trumpet began to play--/ doodle-de-doodle-doo." The notes drift into the dreams of a little white dog, but a car door slams: "She was awake now." She runs past Bertolt's Butcher Shop, "the diner with the questionable scraps," a one-eyed cat and some park pigeons, until she finds her spot... the stoop of a red-doored apartment building. Here she waits for Eleanor Wische, the girl with the toaster-shaped head, to lower a bit of sausage on a string from an upstairs window. Inside, Eleanor's father is juggling his snow-globe collection, so absorbed he's late for work, and almost trips on the little dog on his way out. Small moments are captured in few words and many pictures, like sniffing a neighborhood mailbox (Lucy) or buying a cheese sandwich (Eleanor).

All acts but the fourth end with a nightmare: Eleanor's father paralyzed with stage fright as he tries to juggle on stage at the Palace Theater. In the satisfying denouement, dog, girl and father all find what they seek, be it sausage, love or courage. Cecil's circular duotone illustrations have the pleasingly odd, architectural starkness of Edward Gorey's compositions, but with the soft texture of sandstone. Lucy is a sweet stray dog story and an extraordinary exploration of persistence and perspective. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: In Randy Cecil's lovely illustrated narrative, it takes four acts for a girl, her father and a stray dog finally to find what they're looking for.

Candlewick, $19.99, hardcover, 144p., ages 5-8, 9780763668082

Inspector Flytrap

by Tom Angleberger, illus. by Cece Bell

Inspector Flytrap is actually a carnivorous plant, a Venus flytrap in a clay pot. The intrepid plant detective is able to zoom around town solving mysteries for distraught clients because his assistant, an omnivorous goat named Nina, pushes him around on a skateboard.

In this giddy series debut written by Tom Angleberger (the Origami Yoda series; Horton Halfpott) and illustrated by Newbery Honor author Cece Bell (El Deafo), Inspector Flytrap and Nina solve three "BIG DEAL" mysteries (not just any silly "small-deal" mysteries like missing pickle paperweights). Indeed, Inspector Flytrap cracks only serious cases, such as the "Da Vinci Cold," in which a Da Vinci painting has a mysterious yellow blob on it (kind of disgusting, really); the "Mystery of the Stinky Cookies" in which the cookies at Koko Dodo's Cookie Shop are not stinky, but the bathtub-sized shoe on the top of the building sure is; and the "Mystery of the Missing Rose" at Snooty la Tooty Gardens, in which a rose is stolen by yet another goat with a skateboard, that later crashes into--surprise!--a pickle paperweight. Nina the goat's eagerness to eat or lick anything is the key to solving most of the cases. On the other hand, her indiscriminate voraciousness creates all sorts of new disasters.

Bell's comical black-and-white illustrations, large type, snappy dialogue and rampant hilarity guarantee fly-through reading, and comic book-style inserts à la Captain Underpants serve as clever asides to the detective duo's silly antics. Readers will snap up this series debut like a Venus flytrap in a cloud of gnats. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell team up in this hilarious early-reader series debut about a detective who is also a Venus flytrap.

Amulet/Abrams, $5.95, paperback, 112p., ages 6-10, 9781419709654


Author Buzz


by Jessica George

Dear Reader,

Exploring the idea that a 'coming of age' can occur at any age and a number of times is at the heart of Maame. An often introspective, often funny, often realistic look at a later bloomer finding herself amidst all her assigned labels: daughter, carer, friend, assistant, mother.

To celebrate the upcoming publication of the paperback, I'm giving away five copies of Maame. Send your mailing address to enter!

Jessica George

Buy now and support your local indie bookstore>

AuthorBuzz: Maame by Jessica George

St. Martin's Griffin

Pub Date: 
February 6, 2024


List Price: 
$18.00 Paperback

Christmas in Cape May
(A Sunshine Sisters Novella)

by Jennifer Probst

Dear Reader,

What happens when a woman who loves Christmas meets a man who relates better to the Grinch are suddenly forced together to run the annual holiday fur gala?

Let the festivities begin.

This enemies-to-lovers, opposites-attract, holiday romance is part of my bestselling Sunshine Sisters series that takes place in the beach town of Cape May, New Jersey. Devon and Jameson stole my heart with their snarky banter, off-the-charts chemistry, and emotional vulnerability that slowly creates a bond between them. But is there enough magic in Christmas to keep them together?

Let's find out.

Happy reading.

Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Christmas in Cape May (A Sunshine Sisters Novella) by Jennifer Probst

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
November 7, 2023


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

Legacy of Temptation
(Demonica Birthright #1)

by Larissa Ione

Dear Reader,

Three decades after the events of REAPER, humans in the Demonica world still struggle to adapt to the existence of supernatural beings. Now, an ancient, powerful demon-slaying organization promises to contain or exterminate all underworlders, even if that means ushering in the End of Days.

Standing in their way is the next generation of warriors, children of demons and angels and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

See how they become legends in their own right.

Larissa Ione

Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: Blue Box Press: Legecy of Temptation (Demonica Birthright #1) by Larissa Ione

Blue Box Press

Pub Date: 
February 6, 2024


List Price: 
$5.99 e-book


Kids Buzz

Ode to a Pug

by Jill Rosen, illus. by Stephanie Rohr

Dear Reader,

Ode to a Pug is a rhyming story about a precocious pug with a penchant for messes and mayhem who drives her frazzled owner to declare that she will give her pug away! Will she? Families will enjoy finding the answer and children will see that everyone experiences strong emotions at times in Ode to a Pug, starring the infamous clown of the canine world.

The Children's Book Review calls Ode to a Pug "a sweet and funny exploration of what unconditional love looks like."

Wishing laughs and maybe even a tear or two,

Dark Ink: Ode to a Pug by Jill Rosen, illus. by Stephanie Rohr

AM Ink Publishing

Pub Date: 
February 15, 2024


Type of Book:
Picture Book

Age Range: 

List Price: 
$14.99 Paperback

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