Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, June 7, 2019

William Morrow & Company: End of Story by A.J. Finn

From My Shelf

LGBT Pride Month: Books for Kids & Teens

June is LGBT Pride Month, and there are lots of new, wonderful works by and about GLBTQIAP+ individuals for young readers. Here are only three of the many edifying, entertaining and/or affecting books for kids and teens with a GLBTQIAP+ focus.

Rob Sanders chooses an ingenious perspective to tell the Stonewall story in Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution (illus. by Jamey Christoph, Random House, $17.99): the buildings, acting together as plural narrator, tell their own story. This allows for the inviting, inclusive use of "our" and "we" throughout, while their enduring existence becomes an emphatic statement about permanence. Backmatter includes supplemental history, photographs and an interview with Uprising participant Martin Boyce, adding further validity to this nonfiction picture book for readers ages 5-8.

Nicole Melleby's debut middle-grade novel, Hurricane Season (Algonquin, $16.95), is a delicate storm. Fig's dad was once a famous pianist and composer; now, though, he lives in extremes, buzzing with frantic energy or barely able to get out of bed, leaving Fig to fend for herself. When his erratic behavior leads Fig's teacher to call the state child protection agency, Fig is terrified--what if they "take him away from her?"

Laura Dean has broken up with Freddy Riley three times. Freddy can tell that her "friends are struggling to muster sympathy for [her] increasingly ridiculous situation," so she writes to an advice columnist. The e-mails work as the graphic novel's exposition while giving readers an idea of how Freddy perceives the world. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan, $24.99) is almost too real. Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Rosemary Valero-O'Connell get the ache, desire and humiliation of being in a relationship that has moved past love into compulsion, creating an uncomfortable but very true read.

--Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Jewish Book Council: 73rd National Jewish Book Award Winners

The Writer's Life

Joanna Shupe: Secrets and Romance in New York City's Gilded Age

photo: Kathryn Huang Photography

Historical romance author Joanna Shupe has received the Romance Writers of America's coveted Golden Heart Award, and her novels have appeared on multiple bestseller lists. In the start to a new series, The Rogue of Fifth Avenue (reviewed below), society heiress Mamie Green longs for a more meaningful existence and befriends tenement families in 1890s New York City. When her father's attorney, Jack Tripp, attempts to stop her, life quickly becomes very complicated for both of them. Shupe lives in New Jersey with her family.

Tell us about how you research and what led you to set this and earlier works in 1890s New York City.

I've been obsessed with the Gilded Age since I read Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence as a teenager, and soon started visiting New York City every chance I got. After college, I moved to Chicago (another great Gilded Age city) and then to New York a few years later. I've stayed in the area ever since. Luckily, I get to take lots of research trips into the city.

New York City was such a fascinating place in the late 19th century. It was the first stop for millions of people as they arrived from Europe, including my Dad's grandparents. On the other end was the old guard of high society, with its rigid rules and social hierarchy, along with the captains of industry who were transforming America's banking and transportation. So much of what we are as a country today comes from the Gilded Age, and New York City was really the epicenter of finance and invention. It's all of these different extremes that make storytelling in those years so interesting.

The contrast between the wealthy families of Fifth Avenue and the grindingly poor in the city lend depth to the novel. Did you base your characters' situations on actual people from the era?

Not specific people, no. But the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of New York is one of my favorite places. The restored tenement apartments give a detailed glimpse of what it would have been like to live there at the turn of the 20th century. Jacob Riis's How the Other Half Lives is a book I've often referenced for inspiration as well. He was a photographer who chronicled the city's struggling neighborhoods in 1890. I also read criminal court transcripts from that era, which gave me a good idea of the types of cases that were tried.

Mamie's views on women's rights are certain to resonate with today's readers. Did you set out to write a novel about contemporary issues in an historical setting or was this a natural evolution for your characters?

Women were a lot more progressive in history than we give them credit for. Domestic violence, substance abuse and the rights of women were very much topics of the day in the late 19th century. It's heartening to see how far we've come in some areas, but sad how little we've moved the needle in others.

Your heroine's sisters are so intriguing. Might we see future books featuring them?

Yes! Florence is getting her own story next in The Prince of Broadway. That book takes place concurrently with Mamie and Frank's story. Justine will be the third story, tentatively titled The King of Manhattan, which unfolds a few years later.

What's your writing process like?

I sit and figure out the major arc of the story--or the tent poles, as I call them--before I start writing. But I don't write a detailed synopsis or outline first. My brain just doesn't work that way. I'm much better figuring it out through my fingertips as I type out the story.

What drew you to write romance novels?

I grew up reading mysteries, then discovered my grandmother's romance novels around 12. I was hooked after my first Johanna Lindsey novel. I always loved writing and got a journalism degree in college. When I graduated, my older sister dared me to write a romance and I absolutely loved the process.

Can you tell us about your next project?

The next book in the Uptown Girls series is The Prince of Broadway, featuring Florence Greene and Clayton Madden, the owner of the poshest casino in Manhattan. Florence wants to open a casino just for women and goes to Clay for lessons on how to operate a casino. Clay sees Florence as a way to get revenge against her father. He's not prepared for how Florence gets under his skin and she upends his carefully constructed world of vice. There's plenty of gambling, police corruption and sexy times in the story. --Lois Faye Dyer, writer and reviewer

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

Book Candy

The Return of Merriam Webster's Challenging Vocabulary Quiz

Merriam Webster's "challenging vocabulary quiz returns! No tricks, just difficult words."


Mental Floss shared "10 facts about Dr. Seuss's Oh, The Places You'll Go!"


"Fairytale book covers by Latvian artist Aniko Kolesnikova" were showcased by Bored Panda.


Quirk Books calculated the "difficulty ratings of trails in literature."


"Food for thought: Sonoma school buys vending machine for books," the Index-Tribune reported.

Great Reads

Rediscover: Taking Woodstock

On August 15-18, 1969, 400,000 people descended on Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y. (43 miles southwest of the town of Woodstock) for what was billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music." Thirty-two performers took the stage that weekend, including Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, the Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, the Band and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The event became a major component of '60s counterculture, music history and pop culture in general.

In 1969, Elliot Tiber was a young gay man who split his time between New York City and his parents' motel in Bethel. After witnessing the Stonewall riots, Tiber heard that the forthcoming Woodstock festival had been kicked out of Walkill, N.Y., and needed a new venue. He got in touch with the organizers and offered his parents' 15-acre property. When that proved inadequate, he introduced them to Yasgur and the rest is history. Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert and a Life, co-written with Tom Monte, gives a biography of Tiber and recounts how the family motel became the logistical epicenter of a once-in-a-generation event. In 2009, Ang Lee directed a comedy-drama adaptation of Taking Woodstock starring Demetri Martin as Tiber. Taking Woodstock is available from Square One ($15.95, 9780757003332). --Tobias Mutter

Book Review


The Rosie Result

by Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project) grants Professor Don Tillman the perfect send-off in the closing chapter of this hilarious and heartwarming series.

When readers last saw the brilliant and socially clueless geneticist, he and wife Rosie had just become parents. Now they've relocated back to Melbourne, Australia, from New York, but the move brings disaster. Rosie lands her dream job but faces sex discrimination in the workplace. Eleven-year-old Hudson acts out at his new school, leading teachers to suggest an autism screening. In a parent-child parallel, Don's superiors urge him to pursue his own diagnosis as protection from accusations of racism following the so-called Genetics Lecture Outrage. Ever the pragmatist, Don sets out to rescue his family's plummeting life-contentment graph trajectory. All he has to do is teach Hudson everything he knows about life, open a sensory-friendly cocktail bar and not start trouble. What could possibly go wrong?

Simsion returns to comic form seamlessly, pitting Don against his greatest challenge: parenting. Hudson is Don in miniature with a double helping of Rosie's sass, and whether the two are butting heads or joining forces, hilarity ensues. However, Simsion also works in a plethora of social commentary as seen through the lens of Don's distinctive logic. While familiarity with the previous books will yield best results, newcomers should have no trouble following the action. A meditation on parenting in our times, an indictment of discrimination and a fond farewell to a one-of-a-kind character, The Rosie Result will make readers fall in love with the series all over again. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: A decade after events in The Rosie Effect, Don Tillman returns to confront his greatest challenge--raising his tween son--in this series finale.

Text Publishing, $26.99, hardcover, 386p., 9781925773811

The Favorite Daughter

by Patti Callahan Henry

On her wedding day, Lena Donohue found her fiancé kissing her sister, Hallie, in the hallway of the church. She fled her small South Carolina hometown, started going by Colleen (her full name) and has built a career in New York as a travel writer. But when her dad, Gavin, starts losing his memory to Alzheimer's disease, Colleen's brother, Shane, calls and asks her to come home. As Gavin struggles to adjust, Colleen, Shane and Hallie begin making plans for his care and gathering stories from his life for a memory book. What they uncover will have far-reaching implications for Colleen--and it may help her edge toward forgiving Hallie.

Patti Callahan Henry (The Bookshop at Water's End) returns to the setting of Watersend, S.C., for her 14th novel, The Favorite Daughter. She brings the town to life, especially the Lark, the family pub that has long served as a community gathering place. Colleen clings to her resentment and hurt, but Henry treats her and the other characters with compassion. Shane's deep love for his sisters and his frustration with their feud are entirely understandable, and Hallie--struggling to parent two young daughters and confront the truth about her marriage--becomes more than just the sister who shattered Colleen's dreams. Henry skillfully depicts layered sibling dynamics and family secrets, exploring the different versions of a person that emerge through the memories of their loved ones. The Favorite Daughter is a warmhearted narrative that honors the complexity and centrality of family bonds. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Patti Callahan Henry's 14th novel is a kindhearted exploration of complicated sibling dynamics and family secrets.

Berkley, $16, paperback, 368p., 9780399583131

Dual Citizens

by Alix Ohlin

Half-sisters Lark and Robin are left to their own devices at a young age: their respective fathers are gone and their shared mother, Marianne, leaves them to fend for themselves for days. Despite their differences--introverted Lark (nicknamed "Looks Down at the Ground" in college) craves routine, while Robin is "never entirely tame"--the girls forge an incredible bond. 

Over four parts (Before, Childhood, Motherhood, After), Alix Ohlin's Dual Citizens traces the sisters' crisscrossing paths of self-discovery. Irreparably impacted by their childhood in Montreal, they struggle to find their places in the world, together and through agonizing fractures in their relationship.

Brilliant Lark scores a scholarship to study film in Boston, leaving Robin with Marianne and her many boyfriends. Robin, a piano prodigy, eventually escapes to join Lark and is accepted into Juilliard. The dynamic fluctuates when Lark takes on a motherly role as Robin's legal guardian, and Robin rebels against the rigors and structure of Juilliard. 

Ohlin's prose and insight are luminous, particularly within Childhood, focused on the girls' early years and the exposed roots they trip over as they try to find their footing--as sisters, daughters, parental figures and individuals. Motherhood is equally compelling yet oddly discordant, as Robin and Lark spend much of it apart. As with her prior novel, Inside, Ohlin is adroit at articulating her characters' internal dialogues, and it becomes apparent to the reader as it does to both women that they are at their most harmonious when connected to each other. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: The lives and relationship of two devoted half-sisters, as women, artists and citizens, are explored as they come together and fall apart over time.

Knopf, $25.95, hardcover, 288p., 9780525521891

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell

by Neal Stephenson

Richard "Dodge" Forthrast made his fortune by founding a successful gaming company. Now middle-aged, he enjoys the billionaire life in Seattle, spending time with his niece Zula; her daughter, Sophia; and his best friend/former employee, Corvallis. But when a medical procedure goes wrong and leaves Dodge brain dead, his surviving family and friends are confronted by a confusing will. In his younger days, Dodge had requested his body be given to a cryonics company now owned by shady tech titan Elmo Shepherd. Despite their misgivings, Zula and Corvallis cooperate with El in keeping Dodge's brain intact for future scanning and possible resurrection.

In time, technology advances to the point where Dodge's neural connections can be mapped in detail and digitally simulated. Thus, Dodge becomes conscious in a formless afterlife of chaos. Through long trial and error, he crafts this simulation into an island continent soon inhabited by other scanned souls. But when El dies, he has no intention of being ruled by the deity that Dodge has become. Eons pass in their struggle over this fantasy world, while decades go by on Earth, with millions of people soon uploaded into a far from utopian eternal life.

Fall is a stunning combination of science fiction and Tolkienesque epic fantasy. Neal Stephenson (Seveneves, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.) moves deftly between real and simulated worlds, following characters in both settings and the long-term consequences of their actions. Fall is biblical in theme and scope. At nearly 900 pages, Stephenson's bifurcated world is easy to get lost in. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

Discover: A tech billionaire is uploaded into an imperfect digital world after his death.

Morrow, $35, hardcover, 896p., 9780062458711


The Rogue of Fifth Avenue

by Joanna Shupe

The lure of forbidden romance, the divide between wealth and poverty and the struggle for women's rights in 1890s America drives The Rogue of Fifth Avenue, the first entry in author Joanna Shupe's Uptown Girls series. Daughter of a powerful New York City financier, Mamie Green wants more from life than the arranged society marriage her father has decreed. Her search for a fulfilling way to occupy her days leads her to become benefactor to several poor families living in a tenement. At night she dons designer gowns and frequents gambling houses, where she fleeces men to finance her good deeds.

Lawyer Jack Tripp solves problems for his wealthy clientele--and when he discovers the daughter of an important client recklessly frequenting gambling clubs, he sets out to nip the incipient scandal in the bud. What he doesn't anticipate, however, is that exposure to beautiful Mamie will threaten his carefully structured life. Jack has secrets, and pursuing the attraction that smolders between them threatens everything he's fought to attain.

When Mamie asks for Jack's legal help on behalf of an abused tenement wife, he can't refuse. A romantic relationship is absolutely forbidden by all aspects of Mamie and Jack's social stations. Nonetheless, they can't stay away from each other and every clandestine meeting threatens exposure and subsequent scandal. Will they manage to resolve what appears to be an impossible situation?

Shupe creates a fascinating picture of life in early 1890s New York, well-seasoned with a liberal helping of sexual tension, fascinating characters and an intriguing, well-drawn plot. This excellent start of a new series is certain to delight fans of historical romance. --Lois Faye Dyer, writer and reviewer 

Discover: In this romance set in New York City during the Gilded Age, a lawyer meets his match in the reckless daughter of a wealthy client.

Avon, $7.99, mass market paperbound, 400p., 9780062906816


The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel

by Julie Satow

Following a false start in 1890, Manhattan's Plaza Hotel opened in 1907 and has had more lives than a cat. The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel explains how it survived union battles, Prohibition, the Great Depression, wartime abstemiousness, recession, 9/11 and perhaps its greatest existential threat: ownership by the man who would become the 45th president of the United States.

New York Times reporter Julie Satow tells the absorbing story of the building, a National Historic Landmark since 1986, through accounts of its owners, employees and visitors, among them F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Beatles and Kay Thompson, author of the beloved Eloise picture books. (Both Thompson and her fictional heroine made the hotel their home.) Satow, who interviewed key players in Plaza history for her book, is attuned to how the hotel's ebbing and flowing fortunes reflected the times. When Donald Trump bought the building in 1988 for more than $400 million in borrowed funds, the sale "epitomized the hubris of the go-go '80s, when greed was good." The hotel went bankrupt four years later.

In her introduction, Satow distills her book's central question: "How did we get from the glory of what the Plaza once represented to its current state?" She's referring to the fact that in 2005, many of the hotel's units were turned into condominiums, which went on to be purchased by people of extravagant wealth, some of them probably using ill-gotten gains. To crib a Times op-ed title: "What Would Eloise Say?" --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Discover: This scrupulously reported biography of an iconic Manhattan hotel is a history as well as a dishy drama.

Twelve, $29, hardcover, 384p., 9781455566679

The Royal Society and the Invention of Modern Science

by Adrian Tinniswood

Adrian Tinniswood (Behind the Throne; The Long Weekend) provides an engaging history in The Royal Society and the Invention of Modern Science. In the 17th century, the Royal Society of London was founded by a dozen like-minded men, all interested in the nascent field of scientific research. They congregated less than 30 years after Galileo Galilei was hauled before the Inquisition for his belief that the world revolved around the sun. Its preceptors wanted to further their own scientific knowledge and disseminate these ideas as widely as possible. Although they were hidebound in some ways (the first woman was not admitted as a fellow until 1945), the Royal Society has been at the forefront of scientific investigation since 1660.

The Royal Society saw lows in the early years, such as poisoning animals for the sake of observation and a forced relocation after the Great Fire of London in 1666. But their highs included the chairmanship of Sir Isaac Newton and the commissioning of expeditions--three each to the Arctic, the Antarctic and Africa between 1819 and 1891. Nevertheless, its members always held true to the group's motto: Nullius in verba (Take no one's word for it). Their constant curiosity about the world around them has indisputably broadened the scope of scientific investigation for many years. Lovers of science and history alike will enjoy The Royal Society--this slim volume packs a wealth of entertaining information about these enterprising men and their research. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.

Discover: This brief history explores the Royal Society of London and its influence on modern science.

Basic Books, $26, hardcover, 240p., 9781541673588

Current Events & Issues

Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World

by Joseph Menn

Reuters cyber security reporter Joseph Menn (Fatal System Error) paints a mostly positive picture of one of the world's greatest hacking groups in Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World. The book doesn't argue that the Cult of the Dead Cow, a secretive and decades-old hacking group with influential members, will save the world. Instead, Menn suggests the bright minds and talented people the group consistently attracts have the capacity to help the cause of human rights in the digital era.

He carefully traces the origins of the group back to the pre-Internet age, when bored and often disaffected teenagers messed around with dial-up bulletin boards, sharing farcical, sometimes subversive material. Later chapters reveal how each founding member of the Cult of the Dead Cow became part of the "hacktivism" movement once the Internet took off in the 1990s. Hackers in the group began targeting mainstream software, finding and alerting companies to vulnerabilities. Their interests eventually branched out into human rights, as many found themselves on the frontlines of cyber war between repressive regimes and democratic activists. Members of the Cult of the Dead Cow went from being on the wrong side of the law to working for intelligence agencies, private security firms and some of the biggest companies in tech, like Facebook.

Menn writes crisply, with the appetite of an investigative journalist. Well researched and smartly written, Cult of the Dead Cow will certainly appeal to technologists and computer enthusiasts but also to the layperson interested in a new and fraught era of cyber geopolitics. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

Discover: This account of one of the world's greatest hacking groups reveals the new frontiers of cyber security and geopolitics.

PublicAffairs, $28, hardcover, 272p., 9781541762381

Political Science

This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto

by Suketu Mehta

In This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto, Suketu Mehta (Maximum City) paints a picture of a global, multicultural world enriched by immigrants and the migration of both people and their customs. Mehta, himself an immigrant from India who has been an American citizen for three decades, counts himself as one of the "lucky ones." Surveys estimate that while a quarter billion people now live in a country other than the one they were born in, another three-quarters of a billion wish to migrate and would do so if they had a chance. "Why do we move?" asks Mehta. "Why do we keep moving?"

This Land Is Our Land is an attempt to answer these questions. Mehta explores the numbers behind migration--how many are on the move now, and where--across the globe, from Mexico and Central America into the United States; from Norway into Russia; from the Gold Coast to Europe. He then moves to the why: why people leave (climate change, war, the persistent and lingering impact of colonialism and modern-day "commercial" colonialism) and why those same people are so feared by others. While his account of immigration will most resonate with those already in favor of pro-immigration policies, Mehta's concrete suggestions for addressing immigration narratives offer the potential to carry this conversation beyond a self-selecting audience of readers. At the end, after all, it is not about policy or politics, but about people. "I am not calling for open borders," Mehta argues. "I am calling for open hearts." --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: An account of immigration and migration across the world explores why people migrate, why they are feared and what can be done to change the narratives around immigration.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, hardcover, 320p., 9780374276027

Social Science

Trace: Who Killed Maria James?

by Rachael Brown

Australian crime journalist Rachael Brown's grandparents taught her "questions are a precious way to show care." When Brown discovered seeming contradictions in a cold case that left two brothers without answers for more than three decades, she started asking questions. Brown's inquiry into the brutal murder of Maria James is recounted in Trace, the gripping account of her search for a killer. It's also the name of her acclaimed true-crime podcast, which aired during her investigation, allowing the public to contribute.

Mark and Adam James were boys when their mother was murdered in the home attached to her Melbourne bookshop in June 1980, stabbed 68 times. As Brown pours through old files and the minds of those who worked or had connections to the case, she digs up long-buried horrors. Startling key evidence comes from painful secrets held by those closest to Maria, suggesting either a "huge cock-up" or widespread conspiracy.

Trace is a brilliant and compelling look into a horrific crime that affected countless lives. Brown struggles with the knowledge that reopening such a case takes "haunted people on a rollercoaster ride." It is, indeed, such a ride, emotionally, procedurally and forensically. As the Trace podcast ended without definitive answers, Brown responded to disappointed listeners: "This is not a show, folks. This is someone's death. And I can't invent an ending--it's real-life nonfiction. I want to scream, 'Imagine how the James boys feel?' " Regardless of the ultimate outcome, Brown's work enthralls while never forgetting the burden of care. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: An Australian journalist's look into a cold case murder reveals startling new evidence that could finally find justice for the victim's two sons.

Scribe, $18, paperback, 304p., 9781947534582

Children's & Young Adult

The Fisherman & the Whale

by Jessica Lanan

In this wordless picture book, handsome watercolor and gouache paintings tell a story of deep connection between animals and humans. 

A boy and his dad are working together on a fishing boat when the boy notices a whale on the horizon. In series of underwater scenes, readers see the large mammal has become entangled in nets and ropes. The boy insists that his reluctant father help the whale. Jessica Lanan's double-page spread draws the viewer into the action, showing, on the left, the fisherman's eye reflecting the whale's image and, on the right, the whale's eye reflecting the humans. The connection is made, and the reader can tell the father feels compelled to rescue the animal. Armed with a small knife, he jumps into the cold water and courageously cuts the ropes. The spread devoted to the rescue is presented vertically (as is the final scene of the whale's initial entanglement) and appears as if animated, with the man's small figure shown in three different positions around the whale. Finally, the whale floats free and the man surfaces. His son tosses him a life preserver, in pleasing counterpoint to the whale's rescue.

Even the endpapers provide a satisfying coda, depicting both adult mammals close to their young (boy and man in front, whale and calf in back). The author's note includes facts on human involvement in whale entanglement, but warns readers against rushing to rescue whales--this is meant to be an environmental fable (like Mordicai Gerstein's The Boy and the Whale). The highly dramatic paintings, employing a palette of blues, browns and grays, are sure to stimulate a range of emotions, encouraging readers to return again and again. --Melinda Greenblatt, freelance book reviewer

Discover: This wordless picture book, with its breathtaking paintings of the sea, does a splendid job of helping young readers realize that our planet must be shared.

Simon & Schuster, $17.99, hardcover, 48p., ages 4-8, 9781534415744

Now What? A Math Tale

by Robie H. Harris, illus. by Chris Chatterton

Beginning with Crash! Boom! A Math Tale, Robie H. Harris and illustrator Chris Chatterton have collaborated on picture books that make basic geometry adorably accessible to readers ages 2-5. They continue in Now What? A Math Tale.

A sweet-faced orange, white and black-spotted puppy with dark, floppy beagle ears finds a bag of wooden blocks and sets about building the perfect puppy-sized bed. Alone, the rectangle and square blocks leave Puppy hanging off their sides. But, with a little ingenuity, a few triangle blocks and the comforting presence of a favorite teddy bear, Puppy finds the exact configuration of blocks to approximate a human's bed.

Puppy's expressive pencil-stroke eyebrows and wagging tail catapult this bouncy protagonist to a huggability quotient rarely witnessed in math-oriented texts. Chatterton sets the digitally colored action against plain white, canary yellow and cornflower blue backgrounds, and gives Puppy a shadow that matches those of the photographed and scanned blocks, plush bear and Puppy's blanket, creating a very effective illusion of three dimensions. Puppy's egg-shaped face, whether set in determination or smiling hopefully, telegraphs understandable emotions. In the titular moment, Puppy wails "NOW WHAT?" after running out of rectangular blocks, a moment of frustration young children will certainly recognize. Harris succeeds in describing block shapes ("1. 2. 3. 4 corners. 1. 2. 3. 4 straight lines--all the same size. Hey! This is a square!") and Puppy's trial-and error-process in kid-friendly terms, providing support for young builders who might not see the design flaws right away. Readers should pair this book with real blocks for a tail-waggingly fun building session once Puppy settles in for a well-earned victory nap. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services division manager at Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library

Discover: This accessible picture book introduction to geometry stars an adorable puppy who wants to build a wooden block bed.

Candlewick, $15.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 2-5, 9780763678289

Don't Date Rosa Santos

by Nina Moreno

The women in Rosa Santos's family are cursed: while escaping Cuba, Rosa's grandmother lost her husband at sea; Rosa's father also died at sea, leaving her pregnant mother to raise Rosa alone. The irony of living in a harbor town is not lost on Rosa, who has never set foot on a boat nor dipped a toe in the ocean: "The lullaby of my life is that to know the sea is to know love, but to love us is to lose everything."

The 18-year-old has a lot on her mind: college is on the horizon, the future of her hometown of Port Coral, Fla., is in jeopardy, and she is determined to explore her Cuban roots. "I was a collection of hyphens and bilingual words," Rosa thinks, "Always caught in between. Two schools, two languages, two countries. Never quite right or enough for either." But her abuela is unwilling to talk about her painful past, and her mother is always on the road. Then, Rosa meets Alex, "a boy with a man beard who baked the most dreamy desserts." Alex, though, is a sailor "bound for the sea" and Santos women don't get involved with seafarers. Rosa delves into her family history and diligently works to preserve the future of Port Coral, yet it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore her feelings for Alex and her desire for what she assumes would be an ill-fated relationship.

In her debut novel, Nina Moreno flawlessly melds spiritual belief, economic hardship and an exploration of personal identity with a swoon-worthy romance set in a richly painted community populated with colorful characters. Don't Date Rosa Santos is likely to delight readers of contemporary YA. --Jennifer Oleinik, freelance writer and editor

Discover: In this vibrant debut novel, a whirlwind romance takes Rosa by surprise as she works to save her failing town and understand her Cuban roots.

Disney-Hyperion, $17.99, hardcover, 336p., ages 12-up, 9781368039703


Author Buzz

Visions of Flesh and Blood:
A Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium

by Jennifer L. Armentrout with Rayvn Salvador

Dear Reader,

Today is the release of VISIONS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, the Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium, and I am so excited that you finally get to see and read it!

I saw the love you had for Miss Willa, watched how following along with all the series twists and turns brought you joy, and thought... wouldn't it be nice to have a book to help with that, yet give even more new stuff?

So, my publisher and I came up with a plan. It included loads of stunning art commissions, strategic disclosures, and brand-new material. When it all came together, it was even better than I imagined.

VISIONS OF FLESH AND BLOOD is so much more than a series bible. It's a journey and a work of art. A collector's item for sure!


Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: Visions of Flesh and Blood: A Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium by Jennifer L. Armentrout with Rayvn Salvador

Blue Box Press

Pub Date: 
February 20, 2024


List Price: 
$7.99 e-book

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