Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, October 5, 2018

Poisoned Pen Press: That Night in the Library by Eva Jurczyk

From My Shelf

The Delights of Walking

There are few things I love more than a long walk, in any season and almost any weather. My walking and reading inform each other: the books I'm reading often provide fodder for ambulatory reflection, but some books capture the pleasures of walking itself.
Scottish author Robert Macfarlane collected hundreds of "land-words" for his 2015 book, Landmarks (Penguin, $18). Each section begins with a lyrical essay about a type of landform in the British Isles (mountain, coastline, forest), and contains a glossary of related words. Walkers and word nerds will find much to love in Macfarlane's treasures from "the word-hoard."
For those who particularly relish a walk on a wet day, Melissa Harrison's Rain: Four Walks in English Weather (Faber & Faber, $15.95) is a celebration of misty treks through various landscapes and seasons.
The octogenarian title character of Kathleen Rooney's 2017 novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (St. Martin's Press, $16), embarks on a different kind of journey: a zigzagging walk around Manhattan on New Year's Eve 1984. Narrating her odyssey with the wry zingers that defined her advertising career, Boxfish takes readers on a tour of 20th-century New York on her way to a good steak at Delmonico's.
Emma Hooper's spare, lovely 2015 debut novel, Etta and Otto and Russell and James (Simon & Schuster, $15.99), follows Etta as she treks across the plains of Canada, determined to walk until she finds the ocean. Like Lillian, she is elderly, a bit lonely and fiercely stubborn. Like Macfarlane and Harrison, she walks with purpose and a sharp, observant eye.
These books celebrate the particular joys of a journey, whether it's a stroll around the block or a cross-country peregrination. The call to interested readers is the same: let's go. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

The Writer's Life

Reading with... Ben Fountain

photo: Thorne Anderson
Ben Fountain's novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award; it was made into a movie directed by Ang Lee. Fountain's first book, the story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, received the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, as well as a Whiting Writers Award. His new nonfiction book, Beautiful Country Burn Again (Ecco), takes as its starting point a series of essays and reportage that Fountain wrote for the Guardian on U.S. politics generally, and the U.S. presidential election in particular, during 2016.
On your nightstand now:
I've been on a short story streak lately, and the books at the top of the stacks reflect that. I'm bouncing among collections by Leonora Carrington, Jim Shepard, Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges, Clarice Lispector, Don Waters, Mark Richard, and Andrea Barrett. Digging down past the short story layer, I'm finding In the Shadows of the American Century by Alfred McCoy, We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes, the Bible, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay, Homelands by Alfredo Corchado, a couple of essay collections by Norman Mailer, The Cross of Redemption--Uncollected Writings by James Baldwin, a monograph on the pirate Blackbeard and a graphic novel, Kiki de Montparnasse.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Two books come to mind. We Were There at Pearl Harbor by Felix Sutton, which my friends and I read over and over in fourth and fifth grades (we took turns checking it out of the school library). I found it on the Internet some years ago and started ordering old copies for the kids in my life, and it's still as good and gripping to me as it was in grade school. Another book, also repeatedly checked out from the school library (Northwest Elementary in Kinston, N.C.) was a substantial kid's biography of Winston Churchill. Impressively thick, with wonderful line drawings throughout, and full of ripping yarns. It was probably published in the mid 1950s, and if I could ever remember the title and find a copy, my happiness would be complete.
Your top five authors:
Oh, geez. It depends on who I'm walking around thinking about that day. But folks who tend to stay at the forefront of my mind are Gabriel García Márquez, Joan Didion, James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Garry Wills, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Berger, Alma Guillermoprieto, Walker Percy, Ezra Pound. It's basically a village in my head, hard to narrow it down to a few names.
Book you've faked reading:
The Bible.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Lots of these. The past couple of years I've been especially enthusiastic about the work of Anna Badkhen, and if there's a better writer in English today than Ms. Badkhen, I'd love to know about this person. Her most recent three books, Fisherman's Blues, Walking with Abel and The World Is a Carpet, are flat-out masterpieces of immersive nonfiction in the same vein as Katherine Boo's wonderful Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Two novels of recent years that I love urging on people are Angela Flournoy's The Turner House (family is the hardest thing to write about, and Flournoy's novel nails it) and Dominic Smith's The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, which as far as I can tell is without flaw. Lea Carpenter's new novel Red, White, Blue is as fine as anything I've read in the past 10 years.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Woolgathering by Patti Smith. The inside was pretty excellent, too.
Book you hid from your parents:
Playboy magazine. Does that count?
Book that changed your life:
ABC of Reading by Ezra Pound, which I came upon early in my sophomore year of college, thanks to my teacher Doris Betts. I had some vague but I suppose powerful feelings about literature, and what it might take to devote one's life to it, but that little book by Pound crystallized things for me in a profound way. I still have that copy, heavily marked up from various readings over the years.
Favorite line from a book:
The one about Gregor Samsa waking up with the world's worst hangover is pretty good.
Five books you'll never part with:
Ezra Pound's Cantos, mainly because of the blizzard of marginal notes from the seminar I took on that mighty book with Professor Forrest Read. Thanks to that seminar, and those notes, I flatter myself thinking that I have some notion of what's going on in there. I have a copy of A Moveable Feast inscribed to me by Patrick Hemingway that's very dear, and an inscribed copy of Seamus Heany's Collected Poems. I have an old monograph published by the UNC Press on North Carolina politics of the first half of the 20th century, important to me for the chapter that tells about some stubborn-ass Fountains challenging the establishment (corporate) wing of the state's Democratic Party in the 1930s. My oldest sister gave me Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s two-volume biography of Robert Kennedy when it came out, and those books have stayed close at hand ever since.    
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Havana Bay by Martin Cruz Smith. A great thriller, and a great book, period. Cruz goes deeper into the real stuff of life in his so-called "genre" novels than most ostensibly literary writers.

Book Candy

The Magic and Mystery of Literary Maps

"Wizards, Moomins and pirates." The Guardian explored "the magic and mystery of literary maps."


In anticipation of Halloween, Merriam-Webster showcased "8 words for the necromantic in your life


"Tim Gunn is my writing teacher." At Electric Lit, Hilarie Ashton explained the Project Runway star's role in "getting me through my dissertation."


JSTOR Daily explored "why Europe's oldest intact book was found in a saint's coffin."


Bookshelf featured Sedbergh's Book Shelter, created by "bibliophiles in the community, which claims to have the most books for sale per head of population anywhere in England."

Great Reads

Rediscover: The Virgin Suicides

In 1993, Jeffrey Eugenides released his debut novel, The Virgin Suicides, to widespread critical acclaim. Set in Grosse Pointe, Mich., during the 1970s, The Virgin Suicides is told via the first-person voices of teenage boys fascinated by the local Lisbon family. The Lisbons have five girls, ages 13 to 17, with a homemaker mother and Catholic father who is also the high school math teacher. When the youngest Lisbon girl commits suicide, their father becomes increasingly overbearing with his remaining daughters. Eventually the girls are all withdrawn from school and forced to stay home, becoming even more mysterious to the watching boys.

In 1999, Sofia Coppola directed an adaptation of The Virgin Suicides starring James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett. It was Sofia Coppola's directorial debut. Eugenides has since written Middlesex (2002), winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; The Marriage Plot (2011); and Fresh Complaint (2017), a short story collection. On October 2, Picador will publish a 25th-anniversary edition of The Virgin Suicides with a new introduction by Emma Cline ($17, 9781250303547). --Tobias Mutter

Book Review


Virgil Wander

by Leif Enger

Readers who enjoy tenderhearted stories seasoned with a dash of intrigue will find much to like in Virgil Wander, Leif Enger's (Peace Like a River) third novel. By the shore of Lake Superior, the town of Greenstone, Minn., is home to the eponymous narrator. Virgil's near-fatal automobile plunge into the lake is only the first of several events--including a death by giant sturgeon and a near electrocution caused by a wayward kite--that make life there seem unusually dangerous. Things have gotten so depressed that the town, "full of people who could make you sad just by strolling into view," decides to name its festival "Hard Luck Days."
Employed as the city clerk by day, Virgil also owns the failing Empress Theater, which boasts a cache of classic films stolen by a previous owner. As he recovers from his car accident, Virgil invites Rune Eliassen, a Norwegian maker of exotic kites, to share his apartment above the Empress. Rune has left his home north of the Arctic Circle to visit the place where, unbeknownst to him until recently, he fathered a son almost half a century earlier.
Virgil is a patient, observant storyteller, qualities that extend even to his account of the discovery that a homegrown terrorist may be plotting a spectacular bombing in Greenstone. The novel's depiction of how broken souls can begin to mend is both thoughtful and moving. Greenstone may be a town shadowed by bad luck, but those who discover this gentle novel will consider themselves most fortunate. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Discover: Leif Enger's third novel is the warmhearted story of how some inhabitants of a depressed small town recover their zest for life.

Grove Press, $27, hardcover, 352p., 9780802128782


by Merilyn Simonds

Refuge by Merilyn Simonds (The Convict Lover; The Holding) examines the emotional pain and suffering an elderly woman endures after a lifetime pursuit of science leaves her in denial about her personal choices and relationships.
Piqued by curiosity and nagging suspicions, 96-year-old Cass MacCallum invites Nang Aung Myaing, a Burmese woman who says she is her great-granddaughter, to her remote island home in Newbliss, Ontario. Nang hopes to seek asylum as a refugee based on her family's Canadian roots. As Nang relates her violent and tortuous past, Cass reminisces about her own history, spanning three countries and two World Wars. She observes and defines human pain through the frozen faces of black-and-white photographs--a skill she inherited from her amateur naturalist father and carefully honed as a nurse--as she reconciles the hurt that arises from grief and loss.
Cass's need to confront her past honestly and Nang's search for refuge coalesce in a tense and emotionally wrought narrative. Simonds's attention to detail--her descriptive, poetic writing--connects the dots between all the major events of the 20th century through Cass's eyes. She pulls readers in and builds emotional tension, turning the fantastical into believable moments in her characters' lives. Cass's purity of belief in scientific observation becomes a metaphor for her search for human connectedness and refuge--both for herself and for Nang.
As Simonds writes, "Observe. Don't force a moment in the direction of your choosing; allow it to unfold as it will. Truth is rarely extracted, only revealed." --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: In this richly layered story, a visitor claiming to be kin forces an elderly woman to confront uncomfortable truths about the tragedies of her past.

ECW Press, $17, paperback, 320p., 9781770414181

Mystery & Thriller

Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit

by Amy Stewart

Constance Kopp, deputy sheriff of Hackensack, N.J., is doing her best to keep on keeping on. After a year in her role, she's more than capable of watching over the female inmates in her charge and (literally) chasing down the occasional thief. But 1916 is a contentious election year, and Constance's boss and champion, Sheriff Heath, is under scrutiny as he runs for Congress. While Constance cares little for public opinion, she's loath to jeopardize Sheriff Heath's future or her own. Despite all that, she still has a job to do, and she lives up to the title of her fourth adventure, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit.
Amy Stewart's plot circles enjoyably around familiar characters: Sheriff Heath and his social-climbing wife, Cordelia; Constance's sisters, flighty Fleurette and stoic Norma (who spends most of the book building an elaborate pigeon cart); and Constance herself, fiercely committed to justice and terrified of losing the job she loves. The local political machinations are based in the reality of 1916, and they carry strong overtones for an election a century later: Stewart highlights the contrast between quiet, sober public servants and glad-handing politicians, letting the modern-day parallels speak for themselves. The book ends with intimations of change for Constance and the nation as war looms closer, but the indefatigable lady detective doubtless has more adventures in store.
Packed with incisive social commentary and colorful characters on both sides of the law, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit is a stellar entry in a highly enjoyable series. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Constance Kopp takes on petty criminals and local politicians in Amy Stewart's witty, insightful fourth mystery.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, hardcover, 320p., 9781328736512

Depth of Winter

by Craig Johnson

Walt Longmire heads south of the border in Craig Johnson's 15th book about the sheriff from the least populated county in the least populated American state. A black-hearted hitman and drug lord with a serious grudge has kidnapped Walt's daughter, Cady, and is holding her in a lawless Mexican desert town. Red tape and politics seem to have rendered the Mexican and U.S. governments helpless, but Walt is not about to sit and wait. As he explains, "to save my daughter, I'll go as far as hell and back and never blink an eye."
Johnson's series has been growing darker with each book, and Depth of Winter may be the darkest yet. The evil perpetrated on characters is chilling, including skinning faces to stitch onto soccer balls. The intensity of the action ratchets up as well, with daring escapes, chemical explosions, car chases, even a bullfight.
Long-time fans of the series can rest assured that while this one has a different feel from previous books, there's still plenty of the Johnson signature present: crack dialogue, smart humor, mystical realism, strong sense of place and colorful, complex characters. Most of the regular cast remains in the U.S. for this outing, so Johnson offers up a slew of new faces--the blind and legless Seer, an Apache/Tarahumara sniper, a Mexican doctor and some mules. So grab your literary passports and prepare for an unforgettable trip to Mexico. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Discover: Sheriff Walt Longmire travels to Mexico to save his daughter from a ruthless, deadly drug lord.

Viking, $28, hardcover, 304p., 9780525522478

Three Little Lies

by Laura Marshall

In the summer of 2005, best friends Ellen and Karina watch an intriguing family disembark from a moving van at the corner house. They are struck by a piano, boxes upon boxes of books, bohemian parents, two teen boys and an alluring, scar-faced girl, Sasha. The girls obsess over the Monkton clan, particularly Sasha, and are soon swept up in house parties filled with artists, booze and music. The good times come to a screeching halt when oldest son Daniel Monkton is accused of rape at a New Year's Eve bash.
Daniel's mother sits at his trial in 2007, watching as Karina, Ellen and Sasha testify against him. Olivia is torn between the natural impulse to believe her son and the gutting fear that some of the girls' lies bear a hint of truth. 
In 2017, Ellen and Sasha are roommates in London with no connection to the others, save for threatening letters from Daniel in prison. After Sasha fails to return from work one evening, Ellen learns Daniel is off probation and worries he's seeking retribution. When the police investigation stalls, Ellen revisits the past to find Sasha and settle what happened that New Year's Eve.
Within the alternating timelines of Three Little Lies, Laura Marshall (Friend Request) spins an engrossing mystery filled with secrets and lies. She has a knack for the nuances of female friendships and mother/daughter relationships, bolstering the emotional underpinnings of the narrative. Despite a slightly hollow final reveal, Three Little Lies stirs a dysfunctional family drama and teenage insecurities into a very satisfying story. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: The truth about one reckless New Year's Eve party comes out after a woman goes missing a decade later.

Grand Central, $26, hardcover, 352p., 9781478948568

Science Fiction & Fantasy


by Tade Thompson

"The mind is supposed to be the last sanctuary of a free human." What if that sanctuary is breached? Rosewater by Tade Thompson, the first book in the Wormwood trilogy, presents an alien invasion story with a twist.
Midway through the 21st century a biodome appears in rural Nigeria, initially eliciting worldwide fear. Nearby people notice certain healings, and the dome's properties afford electricity where there is none. A town, Rosewater, grows up around the perimeter, and the dome, nicknamed Wormwood, seems less menacing.
Kaaro, the narrator, is an anomaly, even in a world that includes aliens. He's a "sensitive" who has learned to harness the power of the biodome to access people's thoughts. He admits, "I steal dreams. I steal hopes. I steal entire lives." He uses this skill for the Nigerian government but is increasingly mistrustful of the real motives of the state. When the few other sensitives start mysteriously dying, he realizes that the aliens may in fact have invaded more than the surface of the planet--they may be within the human race.
Even as most of the world accepts aliens, the United States is an enigma. It went dark after Wormwood became established and has not been heard from since, setting up the next piece of the trilogy. Thompson, born in London to Nigerian parents, makes the story believable with his sensual and atmospheric writing. Waiting for the rest of the series will be hard for those enthralled with this imaginative novel. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

Discover: Rosewater, a speculative novel set in Nigeria, is a thrilling twist on the alien invasion narrative, perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and N.K. Jemisin.

Orbit, $15.99, paperback, 432p., 9780316449052

Biography & Memoir

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir

by Nicole Chung

Nicole Chung grew up in a white family in small-town Oregon, unable to fit in, "the only Korean most of my friends and family knew, the only Korean I knew." Her first book, All You Can Ever Know, is a memoir of her experiences as a transracial adoptee and her development of a mature understanding of herself, and of her adoptive and birth families, while becoming a parent herself.
Chung had loving adoptive parents who never discussed race with her, because they believed that was the right thing to do. "If they did take a 'color-blind' view of our family from its very formation... in this they were largely following ideals they were raised with, advice they had been given." She had no words to deal with the racism she encountered as a child. As she grew older, the love and loyalty she felt for her parents coexisted with new realizations of what she had missed. Her childhood fantasies of her biological family were mingled with her sense of abandonment, and the fear that they had given her away because she wasn't good enough. When she became pregnant for the first time, she collected what fragments of information she had and set out to contact them.
Chung creates a suspenseful story with her avalanches of questions and unexpected discoveries, and her hard-won insights into the nature of identity. She has many thoughts about adoption, but this is also an emotional and level-headed book about the rewards of questioning family expectations in order to come to terms with the complicated truth. --Sara Catterall

Discover: This is a Korean American woman's moving memoir of her experience as a transracial adoptee and her reconnection with her birth family.

Catapult, $26, hardcover, 240p., 9781936787975

My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love

by Dessa

Singer and rapper Dessa, member of the Minneapolis hip hop collective Doomtree, is no stranger to non-musical composition; she's published chapbooks, worked as a medical tech writer, spoken at the Mayo Clinic and written for the New York Times Magazine. Her first book, My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love, is part memoir, part science writing and part philosophy. Throughout, she details her musical life and her beginnings in Doomtree, as well as her long-term on-again-off-again relationship with a member of the crew. In "Call Off Your Ghost," she enlists a team of neuroscientists and undergoes brain scans to help her fall out of love with him. In "Breaking Even," when her train between gigs hits a person, she calculates the mathematical value of the life under the wheels. Dessa continuously goes back to the theme of her difficult love without it feeling repetitive, like a friend too self-aware to be annoying.
My Own Devices is more universal than most performer bios and more lyrical than many celebrity essay collections, as sharp and witty as the best magazine pieces. "Living as an artist is fundamentally speculative; there's a permanent uncertainty about where you'll be hired next and how long that work might last," she writes. "But really that's true of most parts of our lives.... We don't own much, and what we do own we certainly can't keep indefinitely. Every breath is borrowed by the lungful; you can't save them for later or hold a single one for long." --Katy Hershberger, freelance writer and bookseller

Discover: Rapper Dessa delivers a philosophical essay collection about science, music and heartbreak.

Dutton, $26, hardcover, 272p., 9781524742294

Social Science

American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle for Self-Determination and Inclusion

by Stephanie Woodard

The Dakota Access Pipeline protests put Native Americans in a new media spotlight. For those who would like to know more, American Apartheid offers a concise, knowledgeable and respectful portrait of the history, current status and struggles of Native peoples in the U.S. by Stephanie Woodard, a journalist who has reported for almost 20 years on these topics when major news outlets did not.
"Tribal communities are set apart from the rest of us geographically, socially, politically and economically." This is no accident, writes Woodard, but the result of federal policies over two centuries. "If a tribe wants to build a housing development or protect a sacred site, if a tribal member wants to start a business or plant a field, a federal agency can modify or scuttle the plans. Conversely, if a corporation or other outside interest covets reservation land or resources, the federal government becomes an obsequious bondservant, helping the non-Native entity get what it wants at bargain-basement prices." She shows how Native people are more likely to receive severe sentences for minor crimes, suffer police brutality and have their children taken from them by the courts. Wealth is drained away from reservation lands by outsiders, while "the reservations themselves act as giant funnels, pouring federal benefits and business earnings into state and regional economies." Though she does not gloss over what Native Americans have lost and still suffer, Woodard also shows the resilience of their cultures, and the organizations and individuals who strive to defend and build up their communities. --Sara Catterall

Discover: The challenges facing Native Americans in the U.S. are presented by a journalist who knows them well.

Ig Publishing, $17.95, paperback, 264p., 9781632460684

Nature & Environment

This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-Offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America

by Jeff Nesbit

Himalayan snow melt, worldwide bee colony collapse, increasingly acidic oceans: these are just some of the consequences of climate change, writes Jeff Nesbit in the alarming This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-Offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America. And the planet is poised, he continues, to see much worse. The executive director of Climate Nexus and a former White House senior communications official, Nesbit draws from years of experience studying climate change to explain in clear and urgent prose how the Earth is changing and what solutions exist to tackle the problem.
Most impressive is Nesbit's ability to show that seemingly disconnected events are actually closely linked because of climate change. The migration patterns of multiple species are changing, he writes, because of warming temperatures. And these changes result in others that affect "every single type of plant or animal." The reason more people don't see these links is because scientists struggle "to shrink a lifetime of work into a brief statement that conveys instant meaning to a mass audience." Nesbit's book, though not brief, is a profound work that makes climate science accessible to the general public. 
Unlike many recent books on climate change, This Is the Way the World Ends also offers hopeful solutions. Nesbit's blueprint for a "path forward" includes "more efficient resource use, infrastructure investment, and innovation" across public and private sectors. This is a vital book, not only for environmentalists, but for anyone who cares about future generations. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor

Discover: This passionate book written by a former White House communications officer explains the broad scope of climate change and offers proposals for solving it.

Thomas Dunne Books, $29.99, hardcover, 336p., 9781250160461

Children's & Young Adult

24 Hours in Nowhere

by Dusti Bowling

Short, smart Gus is regularly tormented by Bo, a "thirteen-year-old in the body of an eighteen-year-old with the mind of an eight-year-old." In their hot, dry, rundown town of Nowhere, Arizona, kids like Gus who don't race dirt bikes are, socially speaking, the lowest of the low. So, it is the highest sacrifice when the best dirt bike racer in town, Rossi, a citizen of the Tohono O'odham tribe, offers her beloved bike to Bo to save Gus. Determined to make things right by her, Gus agrees to Bo's ridiculous demand for a piece of gold from the collapsing mine outside town in exchange for the bike.
In no time, Gus, Rossi and two former friends who have unexpectedly joined the foolhardy expedition get lost in a mine, trapped in a cave-in, attacked by wild animals and nearly drown in a mysterious underground lake with skeletons and "strange mutant albino shrimp." They're also coming to terms with the idea that even if their ancestors were murderous, mortal enemies--which, well, they were--the kids don't need to carry on the feuding tradition.
Readers who loved Holes and Dusti Bowling's earlier novel, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, will be delighted with 24 Hours in Nowhere, a similarly captivating novel abounding in wordplay, eccentric personalities and an evocative setting: "Nowhere was the best at a lot of things: number one in poverty, number one in high school dropouts, number one in least livability, number one in drunken mine deaths. We tried not to let it all go to our heads." Maybe they should. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Discover: In this funny, moving novel, four teens explore an abandoned gold mine in order to placate their town's resident bully, making discoveries about the past--and themselves--along the way.

Sterling, $14.95, hardcover, 272p., ages 8-12, 9781454929246

The Dreamer

by Il Sung Na

"Once, there was a pig who admired birds./ But he could never join them. Could he?" Hey, this is a children's book: of course he can!
The pig--a minty green color as improbable as the notion that pigs can fly--draws up plans and makes several flying machines; they fail. He seeks the advice of birds, whose suggestions leads to modifications to his plans. This time, his plane flies: "There was no height he couldn't reach. Was there?" Because this is a kids' book, there wasn't--as readers will see.
The beauty of The Dreamer is that, while its title takes the singular form, the story is about the power of collective dreamers. Il Sung Na has flagged his affection for animals in books like A Book of Babies and The Opposite Zoo, and here his digitally composited ink and colored pencil art (with lots of daydream-soliciting white space) features not only the mentor-like birds but the pig's reliable trio of critter pals: they are stumped when he's stumped, pore over plans when he does, cheer when he triumphs. While readers may be able to anticipate the pig's success, they probably won't guess that, while his dreams have taken him places, the story ends as it begins, with the words "Once, there was a pig who admired birds" and an illustration of the pig gazing in wonder at feathered friends in flight. This is one flying pig who never loses sight of his kin: the original dreamers, plural. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Discover: The Dreamer knows when pigs fly: when they get a little help from their (animal) friends.

Chronicle, $16.99, hardcover, 52p., ages 3-5, 9781452156088

The Storm Runner

by J.C. Cervantes

J.C. Cervantes uses her lifelong fascination with Mayan and Aztec mythologies to create the compelling, humorous The Storm Runner.
"Zane Obispo has a pretty sweet life." Ever since last year, he's been home-schooled, which means he spends his time reading The Lost Myths and Magic of the Maya, wandering around the desert of New Mexico with his beloved three-legged dog, Rosie, and spending time with his hardworking mother. He also recently found an entrance to "a whole labyrinth of caves" inside a dead volcano he considers his own. Life is generally pretty good, even if he does sometimes consider himself a "freak" because one of his "legs [is] shorter than the other," meaning he walks with "a dumb limp."
Things take a turn for the worst, though, a couple days before a solar eclipse. Zane's mom makes him attend a "stuffy private school" and he learns that he's part of a "very big prophecy that was told hundreds of years ago" in which a boy will release from prison Ah-Puch, the "Mayan god of death, disaster, and darkness." Zane is that boy. To make matters all the more overwhelming, he finds out a new friend is a "nawal" (shape-shifter) and an old friend is a "nik' wachinel" (a Mayan seer). When Rosie is killed by a demon from Xib'alb'a, the only thing he wants to do is save her from the underworld. Well, and not let "the Stinking One" out to destroy the world.
Fans of the Percy Jackson books are sure to love Cervantes's hefty, Aztec mythology-based, chosen-one-style adventure. Zane is supremely likable, with an approachable, gently dark sense of humor that works with the horrors he faces. High stakes and terrifying monsters make The Storm Runner great fun for the voracious middle-grade fantasy reader. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Thirteen-year-old Zane Obispo discovers he's the chosen one--to release the murderous and vengeful Mayan god of death, that is.

Rick Riordan Presents/Disney, $16.99, hardcover, 448p., ages 8-12, 9781368016346


Author Buzz

The Rom-Commers

by Katherine Center

Dear Reader,

Famous screenwriter Charlie Yates wrote a romantic comedy screenplay--and it’s terrible. Aspiring writer Emma Wheeler just got hired to fix it. But Charlie doesn't want anyone rewriting his work--least of all a "failed nobody," and Emma can't support a guy who doesn't even like rom-coms, adding another bad one to the pantheon. So what choice does Emma have but to stand up for herself, and rom-coms, and love in general--and, in the process, to show her nemesis-slash-writing-hero exactly how to fall stupidly, crazily, perfectly in love?

Email with the subject line "The Rom-Commers sweepstakes" for a chance to win one of five copies.

Katherine Center

Buy now and support your local indie bookstore>

AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: The Rom-Commers by Katherine Center

St. Martin's Press

Pub Date: 
June 11, 2024


List Price: 
$29.00 Hardcover

Blue Moon
(A Smoke and Mirrors Novella)

by Skye Warren

Dear Reader,

When I started writing Ringmaster Emerson Durand in the Smoke and Mirrors series, I knew he would get his own story. Insouciant. Charming. And he's actually the villain of that book. So can he be redeemed? It's the question I'm always working to answer in my books.

If he's going to deserve his own happily ever after, it's going to be a journey. A scorching hot journey!

That's what BLUE MOON illuminates. A dangerous ringmaster claims his rebellious acrobat for a sensual show you cannot miss.

Skye Warren

Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Blue Moon (A Smoke and Mirrors Novella) by Skye Warren

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
March 12, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

Powered by: Xtenit