Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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

From My Shelf

Football Season Begins

"If you love football, you get good at blind spots and blind sides." --Mark Leibovich, Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times
Football seems to be in turmoil these days, and three insightful books explore the reasons, highlighting many fans' blind spots.
Dr. Robert W. Turner II was a pro football player, so is well-qualified to dissect what it means to be a player, in Not for Long: The Life and Career of the NFL Athlete (Oxford University Press, $24.95). It's a precarious position: the momentum created by powerful owners, league revenue, and pros is a whirling wheel that "jettisons players, sending them spinning off into the ether," without guaranteed money or tools for life outside football.
In Playing While White: Privilege and Power On and Off the Field (University of Washington Press, $26.95), Professor David J. Leonard writes that sports culture is a key component of racial ideas. One prime example from football is trash talking. When Richard Sherman calls out Tom Brady--"You mad, bro?"--or tells Erin Andrews "I'm the best corner in the game!" he's seen as "immature, selfish and petulant." But when Brady (an inveterate trash talker) or Peyton Manning let loose, they're seen as competitive and fearless. "Bravado and confidence, like rage, is unacceptable in association with blackness."
Michael Bennett--premier defensive end with the Eagles (formerly with the Seahawks)--exudes bravado and confidence, and doesn't care if it's unacceptable. Indeed, his book (with Dave Zirin) is titled Things That Make White People Uncomfortable (Haymarket Books, $24.95). He loves football, he loves his teammates, he loves hating quarterbacks, but "the league itself, the violence you put your body through to play, is not fun." He writes about CTE, the lack of integration in the NFL with respect to owners and coaches, anthem protests and activism, and how his wife and three daughters inform his feminism. And he's very witty. Remembering the NFL combine, with its overtones of slave auction: he walked into a room filled with a lot of older men, and "felt like they were Kardashians and I was an NBA starting center."
--Marilyn Dahl (Seahawks, and now Eagles, fan)

Book Candy

Reading More Than One Book at a Time

Bustle shared advice on "how to read more than one book at a time."


"Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell on why we need libraries--an essay in pictures," via the Guardian.


Malia Wollan offered tips on "how to start a book group" in the New York Times.


Quirk Books wondered what might happen "if famous authors played Dungeons & Dragons."


Buzzfeed shared "21 To All the Boys I've Loved Before book quotes that'll make you swoon."


CrimeReads showcased six of "fiction's most alluring families... that enchant, seduce and lead to doom."

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

by Mackenzi Lee

In The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, her splendid historical novel/fantasy/pirate adventure/feminist anthem, Stonewall Book Award honoree Mackenzi Lee raises questions about such intertwined topics as colonialism, science, naturalism and even magic.

"You are Felicity Montague, I remind myself.... You have sailed with pirates and robbed tombs and held a human heart in your hands and sewn your brother's face back together after he got it shot off over said human heart.... You deserve to be here."

Felicity Montague frequently needs to give herself pep talks. Having denounced her family and devoted herself to studying preventative medicine, Felicity finds herself exactly where she doesn't want to be: facing a man who wants to make her his wife, with everything that title entails in 18th-century Europe. She's been working for a kind Scottish baker while trying to get medical schools interested in accepting her, and he has fallen in love with her. Panicked, and a little bit torn--capitulation to a traditional marriage would be easier in many ways--Felicity flees to London where her brother, Monty, and his best-friend-turned-lover, Percy, are living.

She persists in reaching out to doctors and schools but none will take her seriously, in spite of her obvious intelligence, commitment and autodidactic scholarship. Learning that her maverick idol, Dr. Alexander Platt, may be in the market for an assistant on a research expedition, Felicity jumps at the chance to track him down. As it turns out, Platt is about to marry Felicity's best childhood friend, Johanna, with whom she had a falling out a few years earlier. Monty and Percy (who disapprove of Felicity "gallivanting off" again) inadvertently introduce Felicity to her ticket to that chance: Sim, an Algerian Muslim woman and erstwhile pirate, offers to help her get to Stuttgart, Germany, where the wedding is to take place.

Thus begins the most adventurous whirlwind "grand tour" since, well, the previous year, when Felicity traveled Europe with Monty and Percy (The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue). Twists and turns and tangles of fate result in the three unlikely traveling companions--Felicity, Johanna and Sim--banding together in a race against time, overbearing macho pirates and drug-addled scientists.

Each of the women has a driving passion to do "work that matters": Felicity, to become a doctor; Johanna, a naturalist; and Sim, a pirate commodore with an environmental preservationist bent. The three challenge each other in unexpected ways. Felicity, who has rested in the odd security of her reputation as a "feral girl in a domesticated world," learns to confront intimacy and her fear thereof. She begins to understand that she may in fact be what her 21st-century cohorts would call asexual, but that being "in the company of women like this--sharp-edged as raw diamonds but with soft hands and hearts, not strong in spite of anything but powerful because of everything"--makes her feel invincible. Johanna grapples with her desire to be flirtatiously feminine even while grubbing around in the natural world. Sim rails against the inherent sexism in a patriarchal society; as firstborn, she wants to claim her birthright, but she knows her younger, less qualified brothers are likely to inherit her father's fleet of pirate ships. All three women struggle mightily for agency and independence in their lives.

In the midst of all this adventure and personal growth, they also manage to be hilariously, dryly funny, particularly Felicity: "I wrote to Monty before we left Zurich, informing him I was safe and in, if not good, at least neutral company, and that I would not be back in London as soon as I'd planned. I did not mention that there was a good chance I might be running off to join a pirate expedition to protect sea monsters. I have a sense that would get his breeches in a twist."

A fierce feminism permeates Mackenzi Lee's swashbuckling sequel to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. Fans of the first novel will be pleased to see its heroes--Monty and Percy--happy now (if impoverished) and to enter an entire new chapter of the Montague family drama. Felicity is supremely likable in all her flaws, and sophisticated readers will appreciate how she learns to hold a mirror up to herself even though she could easily convince herself that she is unique and special due to her determination to break deeply rooted misogynistic traditions. She is special, it's true, but she's not alone, and her way through the world is only one of many.

Lee, who has also produced such literary treasures as Bygone Badass Broads and This Monstrous Thing, weaves together folklore and science, history and imagination to create a world so rich in detail and imagery, readers will emerge from the book's covers blinking just as they would coming out of a movie theater. As Felicity herself would say: Zounds! --Emilie Coulter

Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, $18.99, hardcover, 464p., ages 13-up, 9780062795328

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

The Reader's Guide to Mackenzi Lee

When not fawning over every dog she sees, Mackenzi Lee writes award-winning books like The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, This Monstrous Thing and Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World. With The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (available October 2, 2018, from HarperCollins), her sequel to The Gentleman's Guide, Lee brings readers on another wild and dangerous Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe, this time including Africa and the uncharted seas beyond.

Did you plan all along to write a follow-up to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue? Or did Felicity nag you until you did it?

I had zero plans for this book when I first wrote Gentleman's Guide. Honestly, I didn't think Gentleman's Guide would take off the way it did, let alone have enough of a readership to warrant a sequel. But since I had readers who seemed to love this world and these characters as much as I do, it felt like a natural next step to take. When I originally started plotting a second book (at the urging of my editor), I intended to make it another Monty-narrated book. But he and Percy already got their happy ending, and I didn't want to mess with that. So instead, I looked to Felicity, and her story sort of unfurled.

I know you love history. What did you learn in your research for The Gentleman's Guide and The Lady's Guide that surprised you most?

Where to even start? I read about so many bizarre medical treatments from the 18th century for this book, like sealing up a deep cut with toasted cheese, and the incredible extravagance that was the Grand Tour. But queer culture in history continues to be the most exciting and surprising thing for me to research. We tend to talk about history in sweeping generalizations, and queer experience is no exception, while we talk about queer people today with the benefit of individuality. We know that your experience as a queer person in the United States in 2018 can vary hugely depending on a plethora of factors, but we don't often grant that same individuality to queer people in history. I love finding these individual stories that disprove the idea that every queer person before Rent came out was sad and lonely and unable to live true to themselves. Reading the stories of queer people in history who were able to live openly with the people they love will never stop giving me hope.

Felicity, Sim and Johanna are pretty nontraditional 18th-century women, at least the way we tend to think of that period. Did you find many examples of badass 1700s women to draw from?

You can't throw a rock in the 1700s without hitting a badass woman (but please don't throw rocks at women). My philosophy when studying history is that everywhere we talk about men doing things, there are women (and queer people and people of color and disabled people) doing that same thing, we just don't tell those stories. Johanna and her mother are inspired by Maria Merian, a real naturalist and artist whose documentation of the natural world took her around the globe and made her one of the most important people working in science at the time. Felicity has many influences, including Sophia Jex-Blake, the first woman to be admitted to medical school in the United Kingdom, and Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the United States, who was admitted to medical school as a joke but then totally kicked ass at it. And Sim is part of a host of badass lady pirates in history--Ching Shih, Jacquotte Delahaye, Jeanne de Clisson, Sayyida al-Hurra.... I could go on. Badass women aren't the exception in history; they are the rule.

Felicity's brother, Monty, is happily coupled with a man. Felicity herself may be asexual. How important is it to you to be LGBTQ+-inclusive in your work?

SO IMPORTANT! Because I want my readers--particularly my teen readers, and even more particularly my queer teen readers--to know in no uncertain terms that queer people have existed as long as there have been people, and that they have been more than tragic subplots in BBC period dramas. They have lived and loved and thrived and had happy, full lives. They've carved out spaces for themselves and found people they loved and made history. There's something very validating in knowing not only that other people like you exist but that people like you always have. 

The friendship among the three women in Ladies Guide is complex and beautifully authentic. Do the friendships in your life play into your fiction writing?

As a teenager, my friendships were the most important relationships in my life. I felt so passionately--almost romantically--about all of my friends, and I think the contained nature of high school along with the intensity of every feeling during your teenage years leads to these sorts of friendships. My memories of my teenage friendships hugely informed the relationships among Johanna, Sim and Felicity. I still feel incredibly strongly about my friendships. I'm so lucky that I have many incredible women in my life now, and they were all close to my heart as I wrote this book (and many of them quite literally cheered me on through the writing of it).

What was your biggest challenge in writing Lady's Guide? What came easiest?

The hardest part was writing it. I've never written a sequel, never planned to write this sequel and was initially overwhelmed by the expectations readers would bring to this book--I wasn't sure I could make lightning strike twice. So, the biggest challenge was just getting out of my own head and focusing on the story rather than the audience. Gentleman's Guide came from a place of writing about tropes, history and archetypes that I love. Once I found that same love in Lady's Guide, the writing came much easier, though that nasty little internal monologue that tells you you're destined for failure never quite goes away.

The easiest part? Having written it. I hate writing books but oh boy do I love having written a book.

The (other) easiest part was probably Felicity's voice. From page one, Felicity's voice was there, just like Monty's had been, and it was so easy to channel.

If you didn't write, what would you do for work?

I've always wanted to be a set dresser for historical films and plays. Because I love history and I love buying stuff.

How do you know when you're finished with a book?

When my editor e-mails me and says, "Okay, this is the last call, we really need the manuscript now." I'd fiddle with a book forever if given the chance. --Emilie Coulter

Shelf vetted, publisher supported.

Book Review


Three Things About Elsie

by Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon's protagonist in Three Things About Elsie is nearing the end of her life rather than coming-of-age, as the heroines in her debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, were. But 84-year-old Florence is just as engaging, and her tale includes a mystery.
A resident of the Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly, "Flo" relies on Elsie. Her best friend since childhood, Elsie shares Flo's days, filling in memory gaps and fending off behavior that might result in a transfer to the dreaded Greenbank facility. Flo adores Elsie, who "always undid the stitches of other people's worrying and made them disappear." However, the novel opens with Flo alone, at 4:48 p.m., lying on her sitting-room floor awaiting discovery after a fall, practicing what she'll say to her rescuers and musing over what will eventually be revealed: "Everyone's life has a secret."
Ending hours later, at 11:12 p.m., the story covers decades, including a long-ago tragedy the women shared. This pivotal event has abruptly resurfaced in the form of Cherry Tree's newest resident: a man who looks exactly like the villain who died following that incident.
Elsie and Flo set out to unravel the mystery of the newcomer, and their sleuthing revives memories--although Flo's can be unreliable. Past and present intertwine as they uncover truths, some more surprising than the man's identity. Flo and Elsie are endearing, and Cannon's diverse characters at the home enrich this charming story. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

Discover: When mystery comes to the Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly, best friends Elsie and Flo uncover some surprising truths in their quest to solve it.

Scribner, $26, hardcover, 384p., 9781501187384


by Alice Mattison

Olive Grossman, a 60-something editor and writer, met Helen Weinstein at their Brooklyn high school and never quite recovered. Their friendship endured through college, when the antiwar movement reached fever pitch and the radicalized Helen came to regard Olive's commitment to nonviolence as gutless.
As Conscience opens, Olive's memories of Helen are revived when her husband, Griff, the principal of a high school for troubled kids, asks to borrow her copy of Bright Morning of Pain, a tawdry bestselling novel published in the 1980s. They both know that its author, Valerie Benevento, another childhood friend of Olive, based a central character on Helen. It's soon made clear that Valerie pilfered from other lives to fortify her novel and that Olive isn't being histrionic when she says of her long-ago four-year separation from Griff, "This book had been one of our problems."
Chapters that aren't narrated by Olive (with occasional perspective from Griff) are narrated by Jean Argos, the director of a New Haven agency dedicated to serving the homeless. Olive gets to know Jean--who may or may not be able to fill the vacancy Helen left in Olive's life--after the eternally high-minded Griff becomes president of the agency's board.
With her shatteringly incisive novel, Alice Mattison, whose previous books include When We Argued All Night, again swaddles a political moment with both quotidian details and pitiless insights into human nature. Conscience leaves the reader with the understanding that being conscientious and egotistical are hardly mutually exclusive. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Discover: A trashy old novel reopens a rift in a marriage between an editor and a high school principal, both of whom know that the book's author raided their lives for copy.

Pegasus, $25.95, hardcover, 368p., 9781681777894

Mystery & Thriller

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

by Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen, author of the Molly Murphy and Her Royal Spyness mystery series, returns to England with Lady Georgiana Rannoch in Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding. The 12th of Lady Georgiana's adventures, but easily read as a standalone, this takes place in 1930s England, on the eve of Georgie's marriage to impoverished Irish lord Darcy O'Mara.
Georgie, cousin of the king of England, has to renounce her place in the royal line in order to marry a Catholic, but she is happy to do so. She's less thrilled when the king and queen invite themselves to her wedding, and assume she's inviting half the royal houses of Europe as well. Since Georgie is just as poor as Darcy, with only her regal name and an empty pocketbook, she's at her wit's end, when her previous stepfather (one of her mother's many ex-husbands) offers her the chance to live for free at his estate, Eynsleigh.
Georgie jumps at the chance, only to discover shifty servants and strange activities, which make her extremely nervous. Trying to play lady of the manor, Georgie attempts to make the servants do what they ought, but she begins to suspect that sinister things are happening at Eynsleigh.
Fast-paced, funny and full of royal cameos, Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding is a delightful historical mystery. Georgie and her no-nonsense approach to life, plus her hilarious schemes to stay afloat financially, will keep the readers chuckling as she follows her suspicions. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.

Discover: In this historical romp, Lady Georgiana must simultaneously discover what sinister things her servants are up to and plan her lavish wedding.

Berkley, $26, hardcover, 304p., 9780425283523

Don't Send Flowers

by Martín Solares

Martín Solares follows up The Black Minutes with Don't Send Flowers, another unpredictable descent into a region of Mexico teetering on the edge of complete lawlessness. It is reminiscent of Don Winslow's dark thrillers The Power of the Dog and The Cartel in its emphasis on the miseries wrought by the drug trade, but Solares's focus is firmly on the Mexican side of the border. His novel, translated from Spanish by Heather Cleary, centers on the all-too-common crime of kidnapping in the Gulf town of Ciudad Miel. In this case, the missing girl has a powerful father who convinces retired police detective Carlos Treviño to help find his daughter before it's too late.
Don't Send Flowers follows Treviño's painstaking investigation into the kidnapping. Treviño has a history with the local police that ended with his torture and desperate escape, so he has to dodge the cops as well as two cartels warring over territory. The scope of the story is complicated by surprising tangents and perspective shifts. Few characters seem untouched by what they refer to as "the trade": "Throw a rock and you'll hit someone living off the cartels, sometimes without even knowing it." Politicians, business owners, even the military are implicated. And Solares is unafraid to look through the eyes of borderline villainous characters, taking readers deep into the calculations and moral compromises they've made to stay alive or even prosper in what increasingly seems like a modern Wild West.
Revealing more would spoil the plot, but suffice to say that throughout the book's bold narrative choices, Solares maintains a deft touch for suspense. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Discover: A retired cop investigates the kidnapping of a wealthy man's daughter in a Mexican town riddled with corruption and cartel violence.

Black Cat/Grove, $16, paperback, 288p., 9780802128157

Science Fiction & Fantasy

The People's Republic of Everything

by Nick Mamatas

Nick Mamatas (I Am Providence) creates landscapes in The People's Republic of Everything that are off-kilter yet disconcertingly familiar. This short story collection examines his recurring themes of "the body, technology, [and] materialism" with tales that span conventional narrative, science fiction and dystopian fantasy; dark themes abide, touched with a fair bit of humor.
The title story, "The People's Republic of Everything and Everywhere," introduces a narrator who is part of an anarchist scheme to steal the Q-chip: it breaks every code and cracks every password. "No walls, no doors" is the insurgents' motto. In "Arbeitskraft," factory workers are altered with prosthetic limb devices that repress an already downtrodden class. The main character, a rich man who fancies himself a liberal do-gooder, is used to "critique steampunk without creating an anti-steampunk story."
This collection also includes the preferred author edition of Under My Roof, a novel set in the near future when war is constant. A telepathic boy tells the very funny story of his father's homemade nuclear bomb and the reaction to his declaring their house a new country. Part Kurt Vonnegut and part The Mouse That Roared, it's a biting and relevant satire.
Mamatas adds author notes at the end of each story. The reader may come away with the feeling that it's a minor miracle that any of his unusual work sees print--and a very good thing that it does--because his underground aesthetic and slightly skewed imagination give adventurous readers a wild ride. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

Discover: The People's Republic of Everything is a subversive and darkly humorous collection of stories showcasing author Nick Mamatas's ability to work across a variety of genres.

Tachyon, $15.95, paperback, 336p., 9781616963002

Biography & Memoir

I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan

by Khalida Brohi

"Izzat mare, pen mare te maf" is a saying in Khalida Brohi's Pakistani tribe, translating as "Even if I have nothing, I should have honor." Born in a small village, Brohi understood the concept of honor was tied to her father. As his eldest daughter, she was the one who could dishonor him the most. Brohi's father, however, was exceptional. Rather than ascribing to centuries-old customs keeping women unempowered, he told her she would dishonor him the day she failed to bring home good grades. This freedom ("my father took the biggest weight from my shoulders and in its place attached two wings") and how it helped forge Brohi's life is the subject of I Should Have Honor.
Brohi's cousin was the victim of an honor killing at the age of 14. Brohi, herself just 16, was forever changed. Convinced education meant power, she began protesting and speaking out to local women. Facing resistance and threats, Brohi changed tack and formed the Sughar Empowerment Society, a nonprofit that helps women learn skills and earn income selling traditional embroidered products to the fashion industry.
Through Sughar, Brohi also educates women about gender equality and domestic violence, and her work has been recognized worldwide. Writing in natural, unadorned prose, Brohi captures the reader with her passion and indefatigability. Brohi's success, earned despite entrenched cultural obstacles ("Daughters are a blessing from God, but they are a tough gift to cherish. Everyone wants a piece of them. Always."), is a lesson in perseverance and familial courage. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: This is the memoir of a young social entrepreneur who, following the honor killing of her cousin, works to empower and educate Pakistani women.

Random House, $27, hardcover, 224p., 9780399588013


Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness Accounts from the Greatest Medical Holocaust in Modern History

by Catharine Arnold

Each year, up to 20% of the population will get the flu. Most individuals will recover with no complications. A small percentage will require hospitalization, and an even smaller percentage (usually the very young or the very old) will die. In 1918, at the end of World War I, this was not the case; more than one-third of the world's population caught the pandemic Spanish flu. Popular historian and journalist Catharine Arnold (Necropolis: London and Its Dead) follows the course of a virus that killed 25 million people in its first 25 weeks and more than 50 million people worldwide. Medical historians would call it the greatest medical holocaust in history--deadlier than the Great Plague.
Spanish flu struck down politicians and average Joes with equal intensity, differing from seasonal influenza by killing the young and healthy, rich as well as poor: "Indeed, by the end of the war, more Americans would have died from Spanish flu then perished in the war." Spanish flu made orphans out of 600 children in New York, caused a shortage of coffins and gravediggers in Philadelphia and turned Armistice Day into a protracted death march.
Arnold painstakingly reviews eyewitness accounts from survivors, diaries, newspaper reports and military and medical records. Spanish flu continued to haunt researchers nearly 80 years later, when tissue samples from excavated remains revealed it to be a form of avian flu, and when prospects of another epidemic loomed heavily on the horizon.
A 1918 London Times quote sums up the impact of the Spanish flu: "Never since the Black Death had such a plague swept over the world; never, perhaps, has a plague been more stoically accepted." --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: A popular historian traces the destructive path of the Spanish flu and the impact it continues to have 100 years later.

St. Martin's Press, $27.99, hardcover, 368p., 9781250139436

Psychology & Self-Help

How Not to Fall Apart: Lessons Learned on the Road from Self-Harm to Self-Care

by Maggy van Eijk

"The world in which depression and anxiety reign supreme is extremely lonely," writes Maggy van Eijk in the introduction to her book How Not to Fall Apart. "I wanted to write this book to reach out and say: 'Hey there, you're not alone, I'm right there with you.' " By documenting her own experiences living with mental illness--anxiety and depression, but also a variety of other co-existing diagnoses--van Eijk offers both community and advice to readers.
How Not to Fall Apart is full of lists: things to do to find comfort on a tough day; activities to consider instead of self-harm; a checklist for "when your brain is ready to jump to conclusions"; great places to cry it out. On their own, the lists could be seen as fluffy. Interjected throughout van Eijk's very personal account of struggling with anxiety, depression and self-harm, the lists become a window into one person's coping mechanisms, offered with a suggestion for personalization. (Note that readers who may be triggered by accounts of self-harm, sexual assault or other traumas may want to avoid this one, as van Eijk doesn't shy away from such details.)
That's the thing about mental health: it's incredibly personal, specific to the experiences of each individual. Books like How Not to Fall Apart can't offer a one-size-fits-all solution to living with anxiety or depression. But they can offer a reminder that there is hope, even when it's hard to find, and that we are not alone in our struggles, no matter how exceptional they may be. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: The author tells of her experiences living with anxiety and depression, and gives advice to others struggling with the same.

TarcherPerigee, $16, paperback, 256p., 9780143133490

Travel Literature

Arctic Solitaire: A Boat, a Bay and the Quest for the Perfect Bear

by Paul Souders

Paul Souders has been a wildlife and nature photographer for more than 30 years, yet he'd never captured a polar bear on film in its natural Arctic environment. Disinclined to join a tour group where his photographs would be the same as everyone else's, Souders bought a rubber dinghy and a wooden boat called C-Sick and went solo into Hudson Bay. Over the course of several summers, he traversed hazardous waterways in search of an iconic polar bear image.
Arctic Solitaire is Souder's first book and is based on the notes he took while on these expeditions. He holds little back, sharing with readers his distinct lack of knowledge for reading the sea and the weather, as he was caught in one storm after another. Pack ice threatened to crush his boat, strong winds drove him onto submerged rocks and even the bears he came to photograph almost did him serious harm. But amid that desolation, he did capture numerous polar bears and other wildlife on film, all of which he describes in loving and lyrical tones. Interspersed with his personal narrative are reflections on the history of previous arctic explorers as well as commentaries on the native Inuit he encountered in the tiny, isolated villages he visited. Arctic Solitaire is also filled with beautiful color images that mirror the story he tells. This is a great read about a harsh region of the world few get to see on their own. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: A photographer sails alone in the Arctic in search of the perfect polar bear photograph.

Mountaineers Books, $26.95, hardcover, 304p., 9781680511048

Children's & Young Adult

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

by Traci Sorell, illus. by Frané Lessac

Cherokee poet Traci Sorell makes her picture book debut with We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, illustrated by the prolific Frané Lessac.
"Cherokee people say otsaliheliga to express gratitude. It is a reminder to celebrate our blessings and reflect on struggles--daily, throughout the year, and across the seasons." With seasonal chapter headings in both English and Tsalagi, Cherokee, Sorell takes the reader through a year in the life of contemporary citizens of the Cherokee Nation. Using the refrain "we say otsaliheliga" (pronounced oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah), each season is given special joys, sorrows and celebrations both specific and generic, personal and communal.
In autumn (uligohvsdi), gratitude is voiced as shell shakers dance around the fire during the Great New Moon Ceremony; it is expressed as citizens of the Cherokee Nation clean their homes, don new clothes and feast to welcome the Cherokee New Year; it is communicated through acts of remembrance for "ancestors who suffered hardship and loss on the Trail of Tears." In winter (gola), "[a]s bears sleep deep and snow blankets the ground," the large, tightly knit community is thankful for the stories of elders and for traditional lullabies.
Lessac's folk art-style gouache illustrations depict the diversity of contemporary life experiences described in Sorell's text. On one spread, the family hugs a "clan relative" dressed in fatigues as he heads off "to serve our country"; on another, children play in a cornfield as "the crops mature and the sun scorches." In Sorell's author note, she says "Cherokee culture places a strong emphasis on expressing gratitude to unelanvhi... literally 'the one who provides all,' " as well as for "one another." An elegant representation of this concept, We Are Grateful has the ability to resonate with any reader: "Otsaliheliga for all who came before us, those here now, and those yet to come." --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac's picture book explores the Cherokee word "otsaliheliga," meaning We Are Grateful.

Charlesbridge, $17.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 3-7, 9781580897723

Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery

by Mary Amato

"Lacy's scream is loud enough to wake the Dead, and that is precisely what is happening." Sixteen-year-old Lacy Brink wakes, thoroughly confused, in Westminster Cemetery. Turns out, she's dead. She quickly learns that the afterlives of the cemetery's Dead are governed by strict rules, enforced by the unforgiving Mrs. Steele. Rule-breaking in Westminster has consequences--"[t]hree strikes and you become one of the Suppressed, which means you lose your aboveground privileges." (The cemetery's most famous resident, Edgar Allan Poe, is among the Suppressed.) Horrified Lacy tries to adapt to her afterlife with the help of earnest 17-year-old Civil War soldier Sam. Lacy is assigned to host an evening of entertainment and proposes an open mic night "to create a space for self-expression." The residents of Westminster crave a change from the monotony, but are they bold enough to accept Lacy's radical proposal, open up and risk Mrs. Steele Suppressing them all?
Mary Amato's inventive Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery finds humor in the grave. Formatted as a play, with a helpful narrator occasionally chiming in, Open Mic Night dares readers to laugh at the macabre. Even though the main cast is already dead, the threat of Suppression is serious enough to create notable tension, and the revealed secrets of a few characters are memorable and affecting. Additionally, Lacy's liberal use of profanity (she's particularly fond of yelling "F*ck!" in the quiet graveyard) allows the reader to feel as jarred by her presence as the Dead do. Open Mic Night reinvents the afterlife in a way that's both mysterious and playful. --Kyla Paterno, former YA and children's book buyer

Discover: A teenage girl, surprised to learn she's dead when she wakes up in the same cemetery as Edgar Allan Poe, decides to host an open mic night for the Dead residents.

Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner, $18.99, hardcover, 272p., ages 13-up, 9781512465310


Author Buzz

Every Time We Say Goodbye

by Natalie Jenner

Dear Reader,

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

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

Gratefully yours,
Natalie Jenner

Buy now and support your local indie bookstore>

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

St. Martin's Press

Pub Date: 
May 14, 2024


List Price: 
$29.00 Hardcover

Happily Ever Maybe
(A Montgomery Ink Legacy Novella)

by Carrie Ann Ryan

Dear Reader,

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

All the heat and action!

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

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

I hope you love them!

Carrie Ann Ryan

Available on Kobo

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

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
February 13, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

Powered by: Xtenit