Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, December 29, 2020


Gallery Books: Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

From My Shelf

We Are More than What We Produce

In the spirit of accomplishing more each day--more work, more chores, more errands, more self-care--I've read countless books on time management. The one that changed my relationship with work more than any other, though, was not about doing more, but about doing less. In Do Nothing (Harmony, $25), Celeste Headlee invites readers to reconsider the role of rest in work, all while placing our modern understanding of work in its historical context. We must rest, she argues, or we burn out.

This concept of burnout is the crux of Anne Helen Peterson's Can't Even (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26), which expands on her viral Buzzfeed article. In Worked Over (Basic Books, $28), sociologist Jamie McCallum draws important connections between this culture of burnout and constant work with persistent inequalities in American society. When I picked up Wintering (Riverhead, $24) last month, I encountered yet again these themes of work and rest and burnout, woven into Katherine May's story of her own forced rest and what it taught her about the nature of her work.

These books about the culture of work (and rest) have me thinking in news ways about how I relate to my own daily work in the nonprofit sector, how I show up and how in turn I encourage others to show up. To that end, my first planned book for the new year is You Belong (HarperOne, $27.99), in which meditation expert Sebene Selassie explores how our sense of belonging and connection shapes the world we live in. Before I start that work, however, I will take time to rest on these shortest days of the year and embrace that I am--and we all are--more than what we can produce in a given day. As we stare down the uncertainty of a new year in this strange time, I invite you to do the same. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm


William Morrow & Company: Razzmatazz by Christopher Moore


The Writer's Life

Reading with... Sayaka Murata

photo: Bungeishunju Ltd.

Sayaka Murata is the author of many books, including Convenience Store Woman, winner of the Akutagawa Prize, and, most recently available in English, Earthlings (Grove Press, October 6, 2020). Murata has been named a Freeman's "Future of New Writing" author and a Vogue Japan Woman of the Year.

Translator's note:
Sayaka Murata read all the books referenced below in Japanese. Where a title exists in English (either original or translation), I simply give that English title and author name. Where the original title was not English and to date there is no English translation available, I give the original language
title followed by an approximate English translation in parentheses. --Ginny Tapley Takemori

On your nightstand now:

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, recommended to me by a dear friend; Les victorieuses (The Victorious Women) by Laetitia Colombani, which I've been wanting to read for ages but never had time; Sono sugata no keshikata (How to Make It Disappear) by Toshiyuki Horie, which I like to read over and over again before going to sleep since I love his use of words.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I loved Carrot Top by Jules Renard. When I was little, the thing I hated most was when adults used stories to lecture me, since stories were my sanctuary. This book was the furthest away from this sort of thing that I had. Beyond the novel I could feel the existence of an adult even more despairing than I was. That was a lifesaver for me.

Your top five authors:

I believe that novels are only completed once they become music within their readers. I can't judge an author simply because I was not able to properly perform their music. Books that didn't resonate with me probably provided someone else with a wonderful musical score. However, the authors who have given me wonderful music, especially when I was a college student, are Rieko Matsumura, Albert Camus, Kobo Abe, Yukio Mishima and Osamu Dazai.

Book you've faked reading:

At school I read only a bit of Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji, and the rest of what I know about it I gained only by looking at pictures and hearing people talk about it. But at an event abroad, I kind of made out that I'd read the whole thing.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I love Hiromi Kawakami's collection of stories Okina tori ni sarawarenai yo (Don't Let the Big Bird Carry You Away) and have often thought I'd like to live in this book. I always recommend The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee, since I want to discuss the character of Dmitri with them. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee has at last been translated into Japanese, and I was so struck by it that I tell everyone I meet about it.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Stefan Grabinski's An Eerie Tale has a gorgeous binding, and I'm entranced just by having it in my home. (It is in a box and the inside of this purple box is a beautiful red.)

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents believed that all books were a potential learning experience for children, so I was free to read whatever I liked. However, one book I simply couldn't put down despite the constant stream of terrible things happening in it was Saigo no kitsuensha (The Last Smoker) by Yasutaka Tsutsui. It was so far removed from what my parents would have considered appropriate reading for a good girl that I quietly stashed it away to avoid inadvertently giving my mother a shock.

Book that changed your life:

Kenshin (Dog's Body) by Rieko Matsuura. Ever since childhood I'd always struggled to become a proper human being, so the term "species identity disorder" came as a great relief for me. When the protagonist actually turns into a dog, I felt that I too was permitted to carry on living as a non-human, which made me really happy.

Favorite line from a book:

"If there is anything resembling sexuality within me as I am, it isn't either homosexual or heterosexual, it should be called something like--and this is a word I made up just now--dogsexual. This sexuality is the feeling of being in heaven if someone treats me affectionately, in the way a dog is treated affectionately by the human it loves. And since I'm a dog, the gender of the human doesn't bother me."

It's a bit long, but this line from Kenshin (mentioned above) liberated my soul. I could finally become, not human, but an original creature of my own.

Five books you'll never part with:

Whenever I read Chikyū ni chiribamerarete (Scattered Across the Earth) by Yoko Tawada, I feel really fond of Japanese, and feel love for the various other original languages she mentions that I don't yet know. Kohaku no matataki (The Twinkling of Amber) by Yoko Ogawa: although the world of this novel is small in size, it has unlimited breadth. Edwin Mullhouse by Steven Millhauser: when I re-read this book, I feel like my own childhood memories are being crystallized. Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro: various moments in my life are shaken by this book. Ice by Anna Kavan: for some reason, being in this book makes me feel really comfortable.

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

Dove mi trovo (Where I Find Myself; Whereabouts English translation is expected in 2021) by Jhumpa Lahiri mesmerized me so much that I didn't want it to finish. The First Bad Man by Miranda July: I want to experience the same sense of exhilaration that I felt the first time I read this book. And I want to experience once again the creepiness of steadily losing track of what is "human" in Ningen sokkuri (Just Like a Real Human) by Kobo Abe.

A book that you wonder how it would turn out in English translation.

I really love Haha no hattatsu (Development of a Mother) by Yoriko Shono, but it's the sort of novel in which the author has experimented with her own unique free use of Japanese, giving the reader an unusual experience of Japanese words. A mother progressively fragments into various mothers each designated with a letter from the hiragana syllabary, and the author plays with the sounds of the syllabary to describe this process. I often ponder how this might be transposed to another language.


Bethany House Publishers: When the Day Comes (Timeless) by Gabrielle Meyer


Book Candy

Year-End Literary Quiz

The New York Public Library presented "a look back: our end of year literary quiz."

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"If famous literary characters were given very good doggos." (via McSweeney's)

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A fundraising campaign is underway for a full-size statue in bronze of Virginia Woolf sitting by the riverside in London, Fine Books & Collections magazine noted.

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Mental Floss challenged: "Is it an IKEA product or Middle-earth character?"

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Open Culture noted that 70 years ago, poet Langston Hughes "sent everyone on his gift list simple, homemade holiday postcards."

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Simone de Beauvoir's "remarkable" letters to Violette Leduc were sold at auction by Sotheby's, the Guardian reported.


University of South Carolina Press: Only Wanna Be with You: The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish by Tim Sommer


Great Reads

Rediscover: Barry Lopez

Barry Lopez, a Pacific Northwest nature writer who explored the connections between the human and natural worlds in novels and nonfiction, died December 25 at age 75. Originally from New York, Lopez lived many years in the woods along the McKenzie River east of Eugene, Ore., before the September 2020 Holiday Farm fire destroyed his "25 acres of mature, temperate-zone rain forest," as he wrote. He is best known for Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape (1986), which chronicled five years of biology work in the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic. It won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, an Oregon Book Award for literary nonfiction and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Lopez was also a contributor to National Geographic, the Paris Review and Outside, as well as a contributing editor for Harper's magazine.

His final book, Horizon (2019), is an autobiography charting a lifetime of travel to more than 70 countries, in which Lopez also explores humanity's incessant desire to explore and often exploit their surroundings. Paperback versions of both Arctic Dreams ($16.95) and Horizon ($17) are available from Vintage. --Tobias Mutter


Inkyard Press: A Show for Two by Tashie Bhuiyan


Book Review

Fiction

The Chanel Sisters

by Judithe Little


Before Coco Chanel became an haute-couture icon, she was simply Gabrielle, one of three sisters left at the convent at Aubazine by their peddler father after their mother's death. Though they learned to sew at the convent, Gabrielle and her sisters chafed against the strictures of their new life, longing to leave and make their own way in the world. In her second novel, The Chanel Sisters, Judithe Little (Wickwythe Hall) tells the story of Gabrielle's rise to fame through the eyes of her sister, Antoinette.

Four years younger than Gabrielle, Antoinette (known as "Ninette") shares her sister's desire to leave Aubazine and become something more than a seamstress or a peasant's wife. Little's narrative recounts their grim years at the convent and their eventual connection to their father's family, especially their young aunt, Adrienne. Gabrielle dreams of a career on the stage and Adrienne wants to marry a rich man, but Ninette--to her own surprise--discovers a facility for making hats. Quiet but determined, she learns all she can at the milliner's shop where she works. When Gabrielle, now the bored mistress of a wealthy man, decides she wants to make hats, too, Ninette lends her skill to her sister's new project. Through the next several years, the sisters hone their craft and dream of opening their own shop.

Little expertly blends the few known facts about Ninette (and the much more extensive details of Gabrielle's biography) with fiction. A moving portrait of the deep and complex bonds between sisters, Ninette's story shines a light on a courageous, talented woman too often left in her sister's shadow. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Coco Chanel's sister Antoinette tells her own story in a lushly described novel of struggle, romance and gritty hard work.

Graydon House, $28.99, hardcover, 400p., 9781525806384

Books Fluent: A Disturbing Nature by Brian Lebeau


Mystery & Thriller

Accra Noir

by Nana-Ama Danquah, editor


"Accra is the perfect setting for noir fiction," writes Nana-Ama Danquah (Willow Weep for Me), Ghanaian American editor of this volume for Akashic Book's long-running Noir series. Hardly an endorsement for tourism, this spine-chilling 13-story collection offers an opportunity to "consider the context, beware of a pretext, search for a subtext" on living--and dying--in a major metropolis consumed by poverty and desperation.

Overlooked, underrepresented citizens exact their own due process in the opening and closing stories: the desperate literally feed the desperate in "Chop Money," and a woman punishes her ex-pat boyfriend--and his wife and children--in "Instant Justice." The powerful (mis)use their privilege in "Moon over Aburi," which reveals a policewoman who castrated a rapist, and "Tabilo Wuɔfɔ," in which a PTSD-addled former soldier commits horrific violence. Corpses divulge their own murders in "Shape-Shifters" and "The Boy Who Wasn't There." Infidelity turns fatal as a woman listens to one lover kill another in "Fantasia in Fans and Flat Screens"; a philanderer inspires poisonous revenge in "Intentional Consequences"; a suspicious husband kills in "When a Man Loves a Woman." "Trust No One" surely could be subtitles for "The Driver" who victimizes a pair of twins; "The Labadi Sunshine Bar," where youth usurps experience; "Kweku's House," in which the elderly suffer; and "The Situation," in which best friends lose all to a shared lover.

"Much like Accra, these stories are not always what they seem," Danquah warns. Interestingly, her literary roster includes an Irish ex-pat and a Parisian journalist. While an overwhelming bleak impression of Accra looms, the Ghanaian capital's inhabitants haunt long after the final page. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Discover: Poverty and desperation in Accra, Ghana, fuel the fatal crimes that permeate the 13 chilling stories in this volume of the long-running Akashic Noir series.

Akashic Books, $16.95, paperback, 256p., 9781617758898

The War Widow

by Tara Moss


The War Widow launches Australian author Tara Moss's (The Fictional Woman) series starring journalist Billie Walker. World War II has been over for a year, but even in Australia, its economic and psychological effects are still being felt. Billie is reeling from the disappearance of her photographer husband, Jack, in the final months of the war. To distract her from her grief and pay the rent, Billie has reopened her late father's investigative agency (much to her baroness mother's chagrin).

Moss describes Billie's world meticulously, paying special attention to clothes (both Billie's homemade couture and her clients' sartorial habits). She tracks Billie's movements across Sydney as she searches for Adin Brown, a missing teenage boy whose mysterious connection to an upscale auction house may hold the clue to his disappearance. With the help of her assistant, Sam, an enigmatic war veteran, Billie begins to unravel a case that points to not only Adin's kidnapping but also theft, Nazi war crimes and the possible abduction of several Aboriginal girls. Billie's love for fast cars and red lipstick calls to mind the classic tropes of film noir, while the contrast between Sydney's glittering nightclubs and an isolated homestead in the bush highlights the secrets hidden by people who fought on both sides of the war. With a plot that races against time and a heroine who thinks nothing of strapping a Colt to her lace garter, Billie's first case is a satisfying setup for her future exploits. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Tara Moss begins a smart, stylish mystery series with a kidnapping case set in post-World War II Sydney.

Dutton, $26, hardcover, 352p., 9780593182659

The Wrong Family

by Tarryn Fisher


When Juno Holland semi-accidentally winds up locked in the Seattle home of Winnie and Nigel Crouch while trespassing, she decides to take advantage of the opportunity to help them secretly. At 67, Juno has few pleasures left in life. Seriously ill and homeless after losing her family and her counseling practice, she wants to do some good before she dies. In The Wrong Family, Tarryn Fisher (The Wives) takes the unreliable narrator theme to a fascinating place as readers experience the Crouches, their teen son and extended family through Juno's damaged mind.

Nigel and Winnie are obviously at odds. As Juno overhears their late-night fights and accusations from her hidey hole, her curiosity and inner therapist begin to get the best of her. Confined to the house by the alarm system during the day, her food and drink forages expand to include snooping in drawers and on the computer. What she finds convinces her there are past wrongs that need to be set right--by any means necessary.

Fisher deftly weaves Winnie's experiences with Juno's, providing another viewpoint that keeps the puzzle pieces turning, searching for the sweet spot of the truth. The "perfect" life Winnie has cultivated can't erase the horrible thing she did that keeps her and Nigel forever bound yet separated by an emotional chasm. Unknown to Juno, Winnie's entire family is a powder keg; unknown to Winnie, Juno is working to bring the past into light. The combination makes for an explosive conclusion as the pieces fall into place. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: A homeless woman living in a family's crawlspace begins to investigate the tragic past that haunts them, which she believes needs to be uncovered.

Graydon House, $28.99, hardcover, 336p., 9781525806377

The Wicked Hour

by Alice Blanchard


The rural community of Burning Lake celebrates Halloween as a major holiday, and throngs of visitors flock to the upstate New York town's annual festival that capitalizes on the fascination with the public execution of several young women accused of being witches centuries ago. This collision of history's effect on contemporary life enhances the suspense in Alice Blanchard's gripping police procedural The Wicked Hour.

Police detective Natalie Lockhart and her fellow cops are used to drunken costumed revelers, tourists sleeping it off on sidewalks and so much trash that it takes days to clean up the town nestled in the Adirondack Mountains. But they don't expect to find the nude body of a young woman lying in a dumpster. The woman, who has an unusual tattoo and a callus under her chin, turns out to be Morgan Chambers, who had performed in the Halloween music festival, hoping to be discovered by a record producer who was supposed to attend. The 24-year-old was a violin student at a local music conservatory, from which another young woman violinist had disappeared the year before. The investigation stirs memories of Natalie's best friend, violinist Bella Striver, who allegedly left town on their high school graduation night.

This second entry in Blanchard's series weaves into the investigation a solid character study of Natalie, a shrewd detective whose anxieties, grief and guilt about her missing friend and her family's history rule her actions. Readers will better understand The Wicked Hour plot by starting with the series' first novel, Trace of Evil, which establishes Natalie's motives. A forceful look at a small town haunted by its past violence elevates The Wicked Hour. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer

Discover: A sharp small-town detective investigates a young woman's murder during a Halloween festival.

Minotaur, $26.99, hardcover, 304p., 9781250205735

The Dead Season

by Tessa Wegert


Early on in The Dead Season, Shana Merchant, senior investigator for upstate New York's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, is called "the badass who solved the bloodiest case these parts have seen in years." She's also three weeks into a suspension, her fitness-for-duty psych evaluation imminent. As readers of Tessa Wegert's equally absorbing Death in the Family know, the previous year, Shana was held hostage by serial killer Blake Bram, who is still at large, and she's far from over the experience.

Since she's on leave, Shana heads home to Swanton, Vt., as soon as her parents share some disturbing news: the bones of her ne'er-do-well uncle have just been discovered in a local wildlife refuge. The police estimate that the man has been dead for two decades, which corresponds with the time that he left his wife and kids for a new life in Philadelphia. (Or so they thought.) While in Swanton, Shana gets word of a horrific new crime back in upstate that she knows Bram is behind.

Readers who can accept Shana's decision to withhold her personal relationship to Bram from her colleagues will find her quite redoubtable as she sets out to solve two crimes; she may recall Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan, among other unrepentant female investigators from modern crime fiction. Shana, who narrates The Dead Season, admits that "the fact that I'd worked the case on Tern Island while still wrestling with PTSD was irresponsible on every level," but that doesn't mean she's sorry she did it. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Discover: The compulsively readable second Shana Merchant mystery finds the investigator returning to her Vermont hometown when the bones of her uncle are discovered in a local wildlife refuge.

Berkley, $17, paperback, 352p., 9780593097915

Call of Vultures

by Kate Kessler


The FBI is planning a takedown of a drug and sex trafficking cult masquerading as a self-help institution. Before the feds can execute the plan, ex-convict and MMA fighter Killian Delaney is hired to get two cult members out of harm's way. This sets in motion the twisty thriller Call of Vultures, Kate Kessler's sequel to Seven Crows.

Since her release from prison, Killian has been working for a secretive vigilante organization called The Initiative. On paper, Killian's job description is security consultant with a global company known as New Amsterdam Security, which keeps Killian's parole officer happy. Killian's freedom is threatened when Raven, an old cellmate, comes to visit. The daughters of Raven's girlfriend are trapped in the cult the FBI is about to take down. There's a hefty paycheck, and a personal debt will be paid in full if Killian can get the girls away from the cult before the raid. Taking on the mission might violate the terms of her parole, but time is running out for the sisters, and Killian risks it all--even her life--to save them.

Killian is an angry person who'd rather throw a punch than discuss her feelings, but Kessler provides enough character layering to show humans are complicated and not everyone fits into a box. Killian isn't afraid of anyone, even people she has no chance of beating, but the author goes past simple hardheadedness, revealing a softhearted side to Killian's intentions. At the heart of all the fist-flying action in Call of Vultures lies a soul-stirring universal mandate: always fight the good fight. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer

Discover: In this action-packed thriller, an ex-con risks her freedom and her life in an attempt to rescue a pair of sisters from a cult they don't want to leave.

Redhook, $16.99, paperback, 352p., 9780316454261

Romance

Truth, Lies, and Second Dates

by MaryJanice Davidson


MaryJanice Davidson (The Love Scam) writes romance across genres, from comedy to horror to paranormal. In Truth, Lies, and Second Dates, she incorporates elements of a thriller. Ava Capp is a snarky, flawed heroine with an unresolved past. Not yet 30 years old, Ava is already an accomplished pilot for a commercial airline. Her need to fly away began years before. As a teenager, she and her best friend, Danielle, were inseparable--until Danielle was brutally murdered when the girls were 16. The tragic loss of Danielle and her unsolved murder led Ava to abuse drugs and alcohol, until she dried out, turned her life around and became a pilot--one plagued with romantic commitment issues.

One day, on a routine flight, she crosses paths with Danielle's twin brother, Dennis, who invites Ava to a 10-year memorial service for his sister. The invitation brings Ava back to her hometown, Minneapolis, Minn., where she's welcomed coolly by Danielle's family--especially by her mother, who still suspects Ava killed her daughter. When things go dreadfully awry at the service, and Ava leaves abruptly, she meets Dr. Tom Baker. When Baker was 13, the grisly murder of Danielle intrigued him so much that it launched him into a career as a medical examiner. As Ava and Tom strike up a friendship (on the way to romance), mysterious happenings resurrect the past and begin to threaten Ava's sanity and safety.

Readers will root for the flawed heroine and the pull of romance. However, they'll be more apt to keep turning pages, eager to solve the suspenseful whodunnit embroiled in the midst of it all. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A snarky romance--and well-crafted whodunnit--about a successful airline pilot forced to revisit the long-ago murder of her best friend.

St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99, paperback, 320p., 9781250053176

Food & Wine

The Terroir of Whiskey: A Distiller's Journey into the Flavor of Place

by Rob Arnold


"Terroir" is a "somewhat controversial concept with an unsettled definition." It is essentially a French descriptor for how crop flavors are influenced by the environment (soil layers, topography, climate, etc.). As master distiller at Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., maker of the TX Whiskey brand, Rob Arnold is spellbound by terroir. And Arnold himself is a study in terroir--almost all of his mother's side of the family worked in bourbon.

Arnold undertook a years-long process to educate himself about how environment affects product, ultimately writing a Ph.D. dissertation for Texas A&M's plant-breeding program on "how genetic and environmental forces influence corn-derived flavors in whiskey." In an industry that commonly uses co-op and commodity sales, TX Whiskey is one of a rising number of distillers sourcing grains from one farm to understand better environmental impact on flavor.

Arnold's thesis research forms the backbone of The Terroir of Whiskey, an in-depth look at crop growth, fermentation, distillation and aging of wine and whiskey. The wine industry--known for using terroir--was where Arnold began his immersive journey to show a correlation in whiskey. His world travel to wine and whiskey producers, discussions with makers, tastings, analyses and conclusions make for heady reading. Arnold smartly and capably writes for the distiller, educated taster and novice alike, breaking issues into lay language as necessary (even using Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the Tasmanian Devil to explain). Arnold provides specifics for the reader to taste along with him, resulting in a full sensory educational experience. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: A master distiller goes on a global research trip to learn if the impact of place on flavor as applied in the wine industry can also be used when growing crops for whiskey.

Columbia University Press, $27.95, hardcover, 368p., 9780231194587

History

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World

by Virginia Postrel


In The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World, Virginia Postrel (The Power of Glamor) convincingly argues that textiles have played a central role in the histories of technology, commerce and civilization itself.

The Fabric of Civilization is a story of innovation--or, more accurately, a series of stories. Postrel describes innovations in the creation of textiles, from the game-changing discovery of string in the Stone Age to current efforts to engineer "smart textiles." She explains the fundamental principles of spinning and weaving, and the unexpected relationship between weaving and binary code. She considers how changes in textile manufacturing shaped the larger world, including the textile mills that sparked the Industrial Revolution and the search for better dyes that created the modern chemical industry. Furthermore, she looks at the development of information technologies as a result of long-distance textile trades: business letters in ancient Assyria, regular mail service in medieval Italy, double-entry bookkeeping in Renaissance Italy, the roots of modern banking in the need for international credit arrangements in the early modern era.

Postrel never loses sight of the people in her story. A woman weaver in ancient Assyria responding to changing market demands, the teenaged Niccolo Machiavelli mastering the "new math" of Hindu-Arabic numerals, paleoanthropologists reproducing prehistoric fibers, and modern textile chemists and engineers all play a role.

Combining exhaustive research with an accessible writing style, The Fabric of Civilization will appeal to both fans of micro-histories and to textile junkies interested in the history of their passion. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Discover: Extensive research reveals how deeply textiles are woven into the fabric of our world.

Basic Books, $30, hardcover, 320p., 9781541617605

Children's & Young Adult

Tiny Monsters: The Strange Creatures that Live On Us, In Us, and Around Us

by Steve Jenkins, Robin Page


The husband-and-wife writing team that brought young readers the Caldecott Honor book What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? delves into the creepy crawly world of arthropods (specifically insects, mites and spiders) in the fascinating Tiny Monsters. Steve Jenkins and Robin Page explore how these minute critters co-exist in our environment using fun facts, bold illustrations and size comparisons to drive home the minuscule stature of their subjects.

Some of the tiny monsters live outdoors, like the South American jumping ant that "has the largest eyes of any ant relative to its body size"; others can be found in human homes, like the dust mite. Some creatures, such as the harmless eyelash mite, exist on humans; yet more live in humans, like the pork tapeworm, which "feeds by attaching itself to the intestines of its host... [and] can cause serious health problems."

Jenkins and Page keep their audience riveted with shiver- and itch-inducing pages and fascinating trivia: the tardigrade "can live for 30 years without eating or drinking"; the marine scale worm lives near "volcanic vents on the sea floor." Meanwhile, the cut- and torn-paper collage illustrations highlight creatures that, when enlarged to a visible size, are more intriguing than sinister--the wonderful detail simply demands a thorough and close inspection. Jenkins and Page erase a lot of the creepy from this crawly world by helping their audience to understand the little critters with whom coexistence is a fact of life. With a bibliography and "more tiny monster facts" included at book's end, readers may never look at their surroundings the in the same way again. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Discover: Under the magnifying glass of two award-winning children's book authors, insects, mites and spiders turn out to be captivating creatures.

HMH Books for Young Readers, $17.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 6-9, 9780358307112

Admission

by Julie Buxbaum


This dramatic fictional celebrity tell-all is a lesson in privilege, complicity and integrity.

"Nothing bad has ever really happened" to 17-year-old Chloe Berringer. She attends "the best private school in Los Angeles," has been accepted to one of her reach colleges--even though she's in the bottom half of her class--and is attending prom with the boy she's had a years-long crush on. When the FBI shows up at her house, she thinks it's a gag. But it's no joke when her sitcom-starring mom is arrested on "multiple fraud charges in [a] countrywide college admissions scandal." As Chloe sorts out her role in the incident, she loses "everything," including her college acceptance and friends. Now Chloe must come to terms with her guilt and reconcile what's worse: the act or complicity in it.

In the ripped-from-the-headlines Admission, Julie Buxbaum (Hope and Other Punchlines) uses the 2019 Varsity Blues admission scandal to discuss white privilege and white people's complicity. Whether it's Chloe's microaggressions toward her Nigerian American best friend ("Maybe you guys should move to a better school district") or the legal ways Chloe's family has worked the system ("I had tutors and specialists and advisors"), Buxbaum shows how ingrained white privilege is in our society, as well as its effects on Black people. Dual timelines that alternate narration between "Now" and "Then" move the story along quickly and help facilitate a discussion about complicity as readers consider Chloe's role in the events that led up to her mother's arrest. This thought-provoking and compelling story proves being "aggressively oblivious" can no longer be the status quo. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

Discover: This fictional take on a real-life college admissions scandal deftly addresses white privilege and entitlement.

Delacorte Press, $18.99, hardcover, 352p., ages 12-up, 9781984893628

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Kids Buzz

Case Closed #4: Danger on the Dig

by Lauren Magaziner

Dear Reader,

What if YOU got to be a detective? Which clues would you examine? Which suspects would you investigate? What choices would you make?

I wrote the Case Closed series so you can find out! These interactive pick-your-own path mysteries let the reader be the detective. And because kids make all the decisions, they get to write the story with me, in real time.

For a chance to win a signed copy of the newest Case Closed book, email me at lauren@laurenmagaziner.com.

Happy sleuthing,
Lauren Magaziner
laurenmagaziner.com



Publisher: 
Katherine Tegen Books

Pub Date: 
May 17, 2022

ISBN:
9780063207356

Type of Book:
Middle Grade Fiction

Age Range: 
8-12

List Price: 
$7.99 Paperback

Moody Moody Cars

by Eileen Kennedy-Moore
photographs by Michael Furman

Dear Reader,

Cars have feelings! Or at least some look like they do. My picture book, Moody Moody Cars, shows genuine, classic automobile faces showing feelings from angry to excited. Being able to read emotions is like having a GPS for life.

Research says talking about feelings helps kids understand them. Children who are better at recognizing emotions are also:

  • Better liked by peers
  • Less likely to act out aggressively
  • Better achieving in school

Email me at ekm@EileenKennedyMoore.com to enter to win a signed copy.

Warm wishes,
Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD
EileenKennedyMoore.com





Publisher: 
Magination Press

Pub Date: 
April 26, 2022

ISBN:
9781433836992

Type of Book:
Picture Book

Age Range: 
4-8

List Price: 
$16.99 Hardcover

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