Library Journal

Best Sellers: Home Decorating, February 1, 2014

This list includes titles most in demand by libraries and bookstores nationwide from Baker & Taylor six months prior to the week ending January 11, 2014. (c) Copyright 2014 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.

Home Decorating

RANK 1 DIY Ideas: Projects and Tips for Every Room. [P] Kathy Barnes. Better Homes & Gardens. 2012. ISBN 9781118148389. $24.99. 2 Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design. [HC] Amanda Brown. Storey. 2013. ISBN 9781612121376. $35. 3 Colour Recipes for Painted Furniture and More. [P] Annie Sloan. CICO. 2013. ISBN 9781908862778. $24.95. 4 Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home. [HC] 
Julie Carlson. Artisan. 2013. ISBN 9781579655365. $37.50. 5 House Beautiful Quick Changes: Fresh Looks for Every Room. [HC] Barbara King. Hearst: Sterling. 2013. ISBN 9781618370358. $24.95. 6 House Beautiful Color: The Perfect Shade for Every Room. [HC] Lisa Cregan. Hearst: Sterling. 2013. ISBN 9781588169792. $40. 7 Country Living The Little Book of Big Decorating Ideas: 
287 Clever Tips, Tricks, and Solutions. [HC] Katy McColl. 
Hearst: Sterling. 2013. ISBN 9781618370389. $24.95. 8 Candice Olson Everyday Elegance. [P] Candice Olson. 
Houghton Harcourt. 2013. ISBN 9781118477472. $19.99. 9 Furniture Makeovers: Simple Techniques for Transforming Furniture with Paint, Stains, Paper, Stencils, and More. [HC] 
Barb Blair. Chronicle. 2013. ISBN 9781452104157. $24.95. 10 Organize Your Home: Clutter Cures for Every Room. [P] Samantha S. Thorpe. Better Homes & Gardens. 2013. ISBN 9781118359952. $24.99. 11 Love Where You Live: At Home in the Country. [HC] Joan Osofsky 
& Abby Adams. Rizzoli. 2013. ISBN 9780847840069. $50. 12 Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures. [HC] Rachel Ashwell. CICO. 2013. ISBN 9781782490432. $35. 13 Makeovers: Room by Room Solutions. [P] Better Homes & Gardens. 2013. ISBN 9781118388648. $21.99. 14 1000 Home Details: A Complete Book of Inspiring Ideas To Improve Home Decoration. [HC] Francesc[OK] Zamora Mola. Firefly. 2013. ISBN 9781770852136. $29.95. 15 Tricia Guild: Decorating with Color. [HC] Amanda Back & 
Tricia Guild. Rizzoli. 2013. ISBN 9780847840694. $50. 16 How To Decorate: An Inspiring and Practical Handbook. [P] Shannon Fricke. Potter Style: Crown. 2013. ISBN 9780385345071. $22.50. 17 A Place Called Home: Creating Beautiful Spaces To Call Your Own. [HC] Jason Grant. Hardie Grant. 2013. ISBN 9781742704999. $39.95. 18 How To Hang a Picture: And Other Essential Lessons for 
the Stylish Home. [HC] Jay Sacher & Suzanne LuGasa. Griffin: 
St. Martin’s. 2013. ISBN 9781250036032. $19.99. 19 Quick and Easy Paint Transformations: 50 Step-by-step Ways 
To Make Over Your Home for Next to Nothing. [P] Annie Sloan. CICO. ISBN 9781906525750. $21.95. 20 Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide. [P] Rachel Ashwell. Harper Design: HarperCollins. 2013. ISBN 9780062267443. $24.99.

The Five Reading Stages of Romantic Liaisons | Wyatt’s World

Just as couples advance from crushes to anniversaries, the romance genre itself inspires multiple levels of commitment. Here are five go-to titles that will please a range of readers, from those celebrating another year in a long reading relationship to those just flirting with the genre.

  • Crush: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (S. & S.).
    A socially inept geneticist’s quest for love makes for charming reading in this delightful debut. Funny, quirky, smartly paced, and great fun, Simsion’s book is a perfect choice for those new to the wide variety to be found in the romance genre.
  • Friends with benefits: The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, Bk. 1) by Meljean Brook (Berkley).
    Steampunk and romance have yet to deepen into much more than a flirtation. The tender yet steamy love affair between a police inspector and a conquering hero, detailed as it is with fantastical Victorian technology, will make readers wonder why—even as they delight in Brook’s vivid world-building and strong characterization.
  • Happily married: Up From the Grave (Night Huntress, Bk. 7) by Jeaniene Frost (Avon).
    Paranormal and urban fantasy, on the other hand, is in a deeply committed and serious relationship with romance as is made clear by Frost’s seven-book long “Night Huntress” series featuring half-vampire Cat Crawfield and uber-vampire husband, Bones. The series just concluded so readers new to Frost should start with Halfway to the Grave. Each title shares the same fast pace, intensity, and rich world-building.
  • Midlife crisis: River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz (Putnam).
    The allure of romantic suspense has dimmed a bit in the face of the serious attractions of the paranormal. But as all committed couples know, troubles can be worked through. Krentz proves the point in this winning romance between two very appealing characters, who first met when they were teens. Their new courtship is played out against the backdrop of small towns, hidden secrets, and dangerous foes.
  • Golden Anniversary: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (St. Martin’s).
    There are many titles to choose from when considering the careers of the queens of contemporary romance—namely Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. However, the charming, sweet, and delightful tale of Minerva Dobbs and Calvin Morrisey is hard to top. Min thinks Cal has made a bet that he can seduce her into bed. She sets out to punish the presumption. What unfolds is a wooing of such tenderness and fun it sets a high watermark for the genre.

Science & Technology Reviews | February 1, 2014

Blau, Melinda & Tracy Hogg. Family Whispering: The Baby Whisperer’s Commonsense Strategies for Communicating and Connecting with the People You Love and Making Your Whole Family Stronger. Atria. Feb. 2014. 336p. index. ISBN 9781451654462. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451654516. CHILD REARING

“Baby whisperer” Hogg (Secrets of the Baby Whisperer) died of cancer in 2004 but provided part of the prolog and some of the principles that coauthor Blau presents here. Their aim is to help parents examine the household and then use that understanding to handle whatever life brings, such as chores, change, sibling rivalry, and hardship. The balance of the We (the family) and the I (individuals) is a constant theme. Relationships with caregivers and extended kin are discussed. Stories of families illustrate the interplay of the three factors of family life: individuals, relationships, and context. Throughout the book are acronyms like REAL (responsibility, empathy, authenticity, leading with love), quizzes, and “For Your Notebook” questions to stimulate reflection. Each chapter ends with a blank page for notes. Some ideas from the authors’ previous books, such as the importance of routines, are repeated here. ­VERDICT Recommended for fans of the Baby Whisperer books and for readers looking for guidance on how to strengthen their families.—Janet Clapp, N. Clarendon, VT

de Queiroz, Alan. The Monkey’s Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life. Basic: Perseus. 2014. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465020515. $27.99. SCI

Evolutionary biologist de Queiroz (adjunct faculty, Univ. of Nevada, Reno) presents a fascinating exploration of the field of biogeography—the study of the distribution of living things—and one of its most fundamental concerns: What explains the presence of closely related lineages on land masses separated by oceans or seas? According to de Queiroz, two schools of thought have battled for decades about the answer, one claiming that these species are ancient “relicts” of the breakup of the Mesozoic supercontinent Gondwana and the other arguing that all sorts of plants and animals have actually crossed ocean barriers, in some cases floating on mats of vegetation. He concludes with a discussion of how such chance events as ocean crossings can have massive effects on the diversification of life forms. An excellent storyteller, de Queiroz dramatically weaves the historical development of various scientific tropes—continental drift, plate tectonics, molecular dating, and mass extinctions—together with his own research interests and details of his far-flung travels. VERDICT This provocative book will appeal to fans of the late paleontologist and evolutionary scientist Stephen Jay Gould’s writing (e.g., Wonderful Life) and to non­specialists interested in the long history of life on Earth.—Cynthia Lee Knight, formerly with Hunterdon Cty. Lib., Flemington, NJ

Lochbaum, David & others. Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster. New Pr. Feb. 2014. 320p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781595589088. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781595589279. SCI

Lochbaum (head scientist, Nuclear Safety Project, Union of Concerned Scientists [UCS]; Nuclear Waste Disposal Crisis), Edwin Lyman (senior scientist, Global Security Program, UCS), and science writer Susan Q. Stranahan (Susquehanna, River of Dreams), with the UCS itself as an additional author, write compellingly of why the tsunami-driven Fukushima tragedy of March 2011 happened and how to avert future nuclear disasters. During the ordeal, Masao ­Yoshida, the nuclear engineer in charge of the ­Fukushima Daiichi power plant, inspired his workers to persevere despite miscommunications from authorities and a litany of errors: water hoses too short to reach reactors, insufficient backup batteries, missing instruction manuals, and more. Japan’s emergency plans included plenty of redundancies but did not anticipate a 42-foot tsunami. They should have, say the authors, who explain why the disaster was compounded by human error and corruption. They detail how nations suffer a too-cozy relationship between their regulatory agencies and their nuclear industry, underestimating disaster modeling with the refrain, “It can’t happen here.” Yet it does. VERDICT There are other books on Fukushima, but the only one covering this ground is David Elliott’s Fukushima: Impacts and Implications, which takes a more global and policy-related approach. Told with economy, drama, and scientific accuracy, this book is a must for anyone involved in energy assessment or concerned about nuclear energy issues.—Michal Strutin, Santa Clara Univ. Lib., CA

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Horvath, Brent. The Plant Lover’s Guide to Sedums. Timber. (Plant Lover’s Guides). Apr. 2014. 232p. photos. index. ISBN 9781604693928. $24.95. GARDENING

Pruitt, Gayle (text) & Joe Grisham (photos). Dog-Gone Good Cuisine: More Healthy, Fast, and Easy Recipes for You and Your Pooch. Griffin: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 208p. photos. index. ISBN 9781250037138. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250037145. PETS

Walliser, Jessica. Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control. Timber. 2014. 444p. illus. ISBN 9781604693881. pap. $24.95. GARDENING

Health & Medicine

Drago, Dorothy A. Living Safely, Aging Well: A Guide to Preventing Injuries at Home. Johns Hopkins. 2014. 216p. illus. index. ISBN 9781421411514. $45; pap. ISBN 9781421411521. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781421411538. HEALTH

Freudenberg, Nicholas. Lethal but Legal: Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting Public Health. Oxford Univ. Feb. 2014. 336p. illus. index. ISBN 9780199937196. $29.95. HEALTH

Kresser, Chris. Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan To Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life. Little, Brown. 2013. 320p. index. ISBN 9780316322898. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316323086. HEALTH

Mincolla, Mark. Whole Health: A Holistic Approach to Healing for the 21st Century. Tarcher. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780399165016. $27.95. HEALTH

Reno, Tosca. The Start Here Diet: Three Simple Steps That Helped Me Transition from Fat to Slim…for Life. Ballantine. 2013. 272p. illus. index. ISBN 9780345548016. $25. HEALTH

Sadeghi, Habib. Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss. Premier Digital. 2014. 292p. ISBN 9781624671807. pap. $18.99; ebk. ISBN 9781624671791. HEALTH

Shainberg, Catherine. Dreambirth: Transforming the Journey of Childbirth Through Imagery. Sounds True. 2014. 342p. notes. ISBN 9781622030903. pap. $18.95. HEALTH

Smith, Pamela Wartian. What You Must Know About Memory Loss & How You Can Stop It: A Guide to Proven Techniques and Supplements To Maintain, Strengthen, or Regain Memory. Square One. 2013. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9780757003868. pap. $15.95. HEALTH

Home Economics

Eighmey, Rae Katherine. Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times. Smithsonian. Feb. 2014. 288p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781588344557. $21.95. COOKING

Forgione, Marc & Olga Massov (text) & Evan Sung (photos). Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2014. 416p. photos. ISBN 9781118302781. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780544187283. COOKING

Martin, Daniella. Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope To Save the Planet. New Harvest. Feb. 2014. 272p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780544114357. $23. HOME ECON

Ward, Cole & Karen Coshof. The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat: How To Source It Ethically, Cut It Professionally, and Prepare It Properly. Chelsea Green. Feb. 2014. 336p. photos. index. ISBN 9781603584685. $49.95 w/CD. HOME ECON


Dvorak, John. Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault. Pegasus. Mar. 2014. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9781605984957. $27.95. SCI

Jackson, Tom. Physics: An Illustrated History of the Foundations of Science. Shelter Harbor. (Ponderables). 2013. 144p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780985323066. $24.95. SCI

Meredith, Leda. Northeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Beach Plums to Wineberries. Timber. Mar. 2014. 316p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781604694178. pap. $24.95. NAT HIST

Palumbi, Stephen R. & Anthony R. Palumbi. The Extreme Life of the Sea. Princeton Univ. Mar. 2014. 256p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780691149561. $27.95. NAT HIST


The review of Shaun Gallagher’s Experimenting with Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid (LJ 11/15/13, p. 76ff.) listed the author as an affiliate of philosophy, Univ. of Central Florida, and coeditor of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. He is neither. We regret the error.

Animals Among Us

McArthur, Jo-Anne. We Animals. Lantern Bks. 2014. 208p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9781590564264. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781590564271. NAT HIST

Photojournalist McArthur ( explores the complex relationships between humans and other animals around the globe, presenting more than 100 photographs she has taken over the last 15 years, with ample text calmly describing the contexts of her images. The book is divided into categories—“Fashion and Entertainment,” “Food,” “Research,” and “Mercy,” the latter highlighting animal rights activism around the world—describing our use of animals. Throughout, McArthur includes images of animals relegated to different roles from those Westerners usually think of for them, e.g., live dogs for sale as food in Asia. Showcasing species from across the animal kingdom, the photographs throughout this oversize volume range from cute to extremely disturbing. The concluding chapter, “Notes from the Field 2009–2013,” gives an inside look at McArthur’s journal entries as she captures the images in the book. VERDICT McArthur’s work complements Hal Herzog’s Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals and Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. Compelling, yet very unsettling, this is recommended for animal rights activists and those interested in human cultures of animal use.—Diana Hartle, Univ. of Georgia Science Lib., Athens

Masson, Jeffrey Moussaieff. Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us About the Origins of Good and Evil. Bloomsbury. Mar. 2014. 224p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608196159. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781608199914. NAT HIST

Masson (When Elephants Weep) explores here what animals can teach us about good and evil. He argues that humans have often categorized animals as “beasts” to imply that they are immoral and uncivilized. However, he continues, animals have a kind of morality and are in fact generally much less violent than humans. In some cases where animals are violent—such as cases of chimpanzee-on-chimpanzee attack—Masson argues the aggression may be owing to human inter­ference. He views agriculture and domestication of animals as unfortunate developments in human history leading to an unhealthy relationship between humans and animals, one that he believes has led to a psychological traumatization that perpetuates human violence. Masson’s animal rights philosophy and veganism clearly influence how he frames his argument, and in some places the case seems too simplistic. He does admit that some facts don’t fit with his views. Nonetheless, this is a thought-­provoking look into animal behavior and violence, with some new observations on the subject, demonstrating that animal behavior is a field of study in which much more research awaits. VERDICT Recommended to readers interested in animal rights and human-animal behavior.—Scott Vieira, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX

Social Sciences Reviews | February 1, 2014

Swift, Will. Pat and Dick: The Nixons, an Intimate Portrait of a Marriage. Threshold Editions. 2014. 336p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781451676945. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451676969. BIOG

Swift’s book begs the question: Could Richard M. Nixon have become president if not for his wife, Pat? Relying on newly released materials housed at the Nixon Presidential Library, including the couple’s earliest correspondence and other of Pat’s archives there, Swift (The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm), a psychologist, begins with the Nixons’ courtship, when the Quaker lawyer Richard, unrelenting in his attentions, convinced his independent and beautiful girlfriend to marry him, making what was arguably the most astute decision of his life. As he progressed in politics, so, too, did Pat sustain him and seek to create an enviably happy home life to present to the media to overcome the impression that the two were cold and distant. An introverted, deeply insecure man by nature, Richard evidently found that the steadfast and loyal presence of his wife made it possible for him to further his political ambitions, until the time when his native insecurity took him a step too far. Swift covers the aftermath of Watergate as experienced by the Nixons and their daughters, through the death of Pat in 1993, followed closely by the end of her husband’s life in 1994. Overall, he gives us among the most nuanced portraits of these two complex individuals that we have yet seen. ­VERDICT For all biography buffs, presidential history buffs, and those who study profiles of marriage.—Lisa Guidarini, Algonquin P.L., IL

Fink, Carole K. Cold War: An International History. Westview. 2014. 256p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813347950. pap. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780813347967. HIST

The Cold War was a part of our lives for decades before it came to an abrupt end in 1991. It has been described and assessed in a seemingly endless array of volumes, including John Lewis Gaddis’s The Cold War: A New History and editors Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad’s three-volume The Cambridge History of the Cold War. Those readers seeking a well-written single-­volume treatment now can turn to this finely wrought book. Fink (history, emerita, Ohio State Univ.; Defending the Rights of Others) turns her considerable talents to the task of producing a global history of the Cold War that extends back to 1917 when a kind of incipient cold war began between the United States and Russia during the rise of the Soviets and Lenin. Fink also covers the well-known post–World War II Cold War in Europe, but, as per her subtitle, she also explores the war’s impact on the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere. To help the novice reader, she provides a time line, a glossary, and a list of significant individuals who played key roles in the struggle. VERDICT At a reasonable price and length, and with contents that are eminently readable, Fink’s history is a gem that should be in all 20th-century history collections.—Ed ­Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames

Jacobsen, Annie. Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America. Little, Brown. Feb. 2014. 576p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316221047. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780316221054. HIST

At the climax of World War II in Europe, the U.S. government searched for the intellectual bounty of the Third Reich even as the Allied services were hunting Nazi war criminals. So begins this chilling, compelling, and comprehensive accounting by Jacobsen (Area 51) of one of the most secretive of 20th-century U.S. intelligence programs. No, it wasn’t a secret that German scientists and engineers came to America after the war, but the extent of their loyalty to the Nazi cause was kept hidden. As Jacobsen ably recounts, these men, including rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and physician Walter Schreiber, were ardent Nazis who participated in war crimes including experiments on humans and the use of slave labor to accomplish their goals for Hitler. They were then recruited by both Soviets and Americans to continue their work during the onset of the Cold War. The U.S. government turned a blind eye to these men’s atrocities, helped them avoid justice at Nuremberg, and paid them considerably. In return? Among other things, America won the space race. Built upon archival records, court transcripts, declassified documents, and interviews, Jacobsen’s impressive book plumbs the dark depths of this postwar recruiting and shows the historical truths behind the space race and postwar U.S. dominance. VERDICT Highly recommended for readers in World War II history, espionage, government cover-ups, or the Cold War. [See Prepub Alert, 9/1/13.]—Evan M. ­Anderson, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames

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Don't know if you have an account with us? It's easy to check and verify your email, or create a new account. The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
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Jacobs, Diane. Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters. Ballantine. Feb. 2014. 512p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780345465061. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780345549846. BIOG

Spiel, Hilde. Fanny von Arnstein: Daughter of the Enlightenment. New Vessel. 2013. 371p. tr. from German by Christine Shuttleworth. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781939931030. pap. $18.99. BIOG

Whitelock, Anna. The Queen’s Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth’s Court. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Feb. 2014. 480p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374239787. $28. BIOG


Dobrow, Joe. Natural Prophets: From Health Foods to Whole Foods—How the Pioneers of the Industry Changed the Way We Eat and Reshaped American Business. Rodale. Feb. 2014. 288p. notes. ISBN 9781623361792. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781623361808. BUS

Harford, Tim. The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How To Run–or Ruin–an Economy. Riverhead. 2014. 272p. notes. index. ISBN 9781594631405. $27.95;

ebk. ISBN 9781101613887. ECON

Martin, Felix. Money: The Unauthorized Biography. Knopf. Mar. 2014. 336p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307962430. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307962447. ECON

Yogg, Michael R. Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot. rev. ed. Columbia Business. Feb. 2014. 272p. notes. index. ISBN 9780231167468. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780231537025. BUS


Daddis, Gregory. Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam. Oxford Univ. 2014. 320p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780199316502. $34.95. HIST

Egerton, Douglas R. The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era. Bloomsbury. 2014. 448p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781608195664. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781608195749. HIST

Kelly, Catriona. St. Petersburg: Shadows of the Past. Yale Univ. Feb. 2014. 488p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300169188. $35. HIST

McAuliffe, Mary. Twilight of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, and Their Friends Through the Great War. Rowman & Littlefield. Mar. 2014. 416p. illus. notes. bibliog.

index. ISBN 9781442221635. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781442221642. HIST

An Osage Journey to Europe, 1827–1830: Three French Accounts. Univ. of Oklahoma. (American Exploration & Travel, Vol. 81). 2013. 168p. ed. & tr. from French by William Least Heat-Moon & James K. Wallace. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780806144030. $29.95. HIST

The Scottsboro Boys in Their Own Words: Selected Letters, 1931–1950. McFarland. 2014. 277p. ed. by Kwando M. Kinshasa. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780786472048. pap. $45; ebk. ISBN 9781476603445. HIST

Law & Crime

Bosco, David. Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics. Oxford Univ. 2014. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9780199844135. $29.95. LAW

Ingram, Jim & James L. Dickerson. The Hero Among Us: FBI Witness Hunter. Sartoris Literary Group. 2013. 250p. photos. ISBN 9780989945431. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9780989945448. CRIME

Richman, Kimberly D. License To Wed: What Legal Marriage Means to Same-Sex Couples. New York Univ. 2014. 272p. notes. index. ISBN 9780814725467. $39. LAW

Selby, Scott Andrew. A Serial Killer in Nazi Berlin: The Chilling True Story of the S-Bahn Murderer. Berkley. 2014. 320p. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780425264140. $26.95. CRIME


Glass-Coffin, Bonnie & Oscar Miro-Quesada. Lessons in Courage: Peruvian Shamanic Wisdom for Everyday Life. Rainbow Ridge. 2013. 160p. ISBN 9781937907181. pap. $16.95. PARAPSYCH

Political Science

Friel, Howard. Chomsky and Dershowitz: On Endless War and the End of Civil Liberties. Olive Branch: Interlink. 2013. 376p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781566569422. $35. POL SCI

Gessen, Masha. Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. Riverhead. Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781594632198. pap. $16. INT AFFAIRS

Moskin, J. Robert. American Statecraft: The Story of the U.S. Foreign Service. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. 2013. 944p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250037459. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781250037466. INT AFFAIRS


Krasnow, Iris. Sex After…: Women Share How Intimacy Changes as Life Changes. Gotham. Feb. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781592408276. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780698148581. PSYCH

Social Science

Brunner, Bernd. The Art of Lying Down: A Guide to Horizontal Living. Melville House. 2013. 176p. tr. from German by Lori Lantz. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781612193090. $19.95. SOC SCI

Chua, Amy & Jed Rubenfeld. The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America. Penguin Pr. Feb. 2014. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9781594205460. $27.95. SOC SCI

Duberman, Martin. Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS. New Pr. Mar. 2014. 368p. notes. ISBN 9781595589453. $27.95;

ebk. ISBN 9781595589651. SOC SCI

Travel & Geography

Murphy, Michael. Eat Dat New Orleans: A Guide to the Unique Food Culture of the Crescent City. Countryman. Feb. 2014. 288p. photos. maps. index. ISBN 9781581572353. pap. $16.95. TRAV

Thorpe, Nick. The Danube: A Journey Upriver from the Black Sea to the Black Forest. Yale Univ. 2014. 328p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300181654. $35. TRAV

Wigge, Michael. How To Barter for Paradise: My Journey Through 14 Countries, Trading Up from an Apple to a House in Hawaii. Skyhorse. 2014. 224p. tr. from German by Tobi Haberstroh. ISBN 9781626364172. pap. $14.95. TRAV

Zoellner, Tom. Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World—from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief. Viking. Feb. 2014. 384p. notes. index. ISBN 9780670025282. $27.95. TRAV

Reference Reviews | February 1, 2014

Lo Bello, Anthony. Origins of Mathematical Words: A Comprehensive Dictionary of Latin, Greek, and Arabic Roots. Johns Hopkins. 2013. 350p. ISBN 9781421410982. pap. $49.95; ebk. ISBN 9781421410999. REF

Ranging from the Greek cissoid to the ­Arabic zenith and Latin convex, this title is a mother lode of information on the derivation of mathematical terms. Lo Bello’s (mathematics, Allegheny Coll.; Ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Tests and Contests; The Commentary of al-Nayrizi on Books II–IV of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry) subtitle clearly denotes the coverage of this volume. He identifies the original language of each mathematical term, describes combinations of root terms, provides explanatory definitions, and notes historical references of word usage. Other mathematical dictionaries such as Douglas Downing’s Dictionary of Mathematics Terms (1995) or Christopher Clapham and James Nicholson’s The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Mathematics (2009) supply definitions and diagrams but do not consider mathematics as a language. A true labor of love, this book will delight mathematicians, especially graduate students. Others can only applaud the knowledge, curiosity, and delight Lo Bello brings to his work. VERDICT Enthusiastically recommended for comprehensive mathematical collections, graduate collections, and for every mathematician’s bookshelf.—M.S. Lary, San Bernardino, CA

Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories That Shaped Our Culture. 4 vols. Greenwood. 2013. 1236p. ed. by Jacqueline Edmondson. discog. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313393471. $415; ebk. ISBN 9780313393488. REF

This superbly written and edited set is full of pleasant surprises, from offbeat entries, such as “U.S. Presidents as Musicians,” to fascinating trivia (the band the B-52s got its name from “Southern slang for a large beehive hairstyle that resembled the nose cone of the B-52 aircraft”). From the silly to the serious, as in “Fools and Foolish Behavior in Song” vs. “American Federation of Musicians,” the volumes encompass the breadth and depth of the American music scene. The bulk of the work consists of 500–plus alphabetically arranged, signed entries covering notable personalities; famous bands, singers, and songwriters; musical instruments, genres, and styles; organizations; social movements; technology as an influence on music; and a multiplicity of other topics. Add to this engaging mix a half-dozen special features, including a chronology, bibliography, discography, list of music festivals, and so on, plus a refreshingly high degree of academic rigor, and the result is a set that not only makes for interesting reading but is truly useful as a research tool. Edmondson (education, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park) has gathered a cast of contributors that consists of “more than 280 musicians, scholars, critics, and industry experts from the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.” It should be noted that the contributors’ pages are unusually detailed regarding education, experience, and background of the individual writers, so one gets a much better sense of their musical credentials than is available from a mere listing of a name and an institution. VERDICT While one could carp about obvious omissions (doo-wop, harmonica, and Nashville are but a few), this title does a commendable job of presenting the story of the American condition, past and present, as told through the universal language of melody. Those who need much more detail on the subject should consider the eight-volume Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2d ed.—Michael Bemis, St. Paul

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Brown, Laura. How To Write Anything: A Complete Guide. Norton. Apr. 2014. 560p. ISBN 9780393240146. $35. REF

Fiske, Robert Hartwell. To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing. Norton. Mar. 2014. 608p. ISBN 9780393347173. pap. $21.95. REF


Shea, Daniel M. & Brian M. Harward. Presidential Campaigns. ABC-CLIO. (Documents Decoded). 2013. 305p. index. ISBN 9781610691925. $79; ebk. ISBN 9781610691932. REF


Introduction to Literary Context: American Short Fiction. Salem Pr. 2013. 300p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781619252127. $165. REF

The Virgil Encyclopedia. 3 vols. Wiley. 2013. 1632p. ed. by Richard F. Thomas & Jan M. Ziolkowski. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781405154987. $495. REF


Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 2d ed. IVP Academic: InterVarsity. 2013. 1120p. ed. by Joel B. Green & others. index. ISBN 9780830824564. $60; ebk. ISBN 9780830884384. REF

Rasmussen, Carl G. Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible. Zondervan. 2014. 160p. photos. maps. ISBN 9780310318576. pap. $16.99. REF

Social Sciences

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women. 2 vols. Oxford Univ. 2013. 1428p. ed. by Natana J. DeLong-Bas. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199998036. $295. REF

Reference Short Takes | February 1, 2014

Albion, Michele Wehrwein. The Quotable Eleanor Roosevelt. Univ. Pr. of Florida. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780813044941. $24.95. REF

Credit Albion with the trademark courage of her esteemed subject—this quotation collection begins with Eleanor carping, “It has always seemed to me very unwise to quote people after they are dead.” Gauntlet thrown, Albion, author of similar compilations on Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, goes on to organize Roosevelt’s key sayings by subject, including government, race, gender, work, and more. Albion’s overall introduction as well as setups to each section fill in the biographical picture, as does her front-of-book chronology and judicious dating of each quotation cited. VERDICT A pithy peek into the thoughts of this influential first lady.

Bronstein, Judith L. & others. Ecosystem Services for Sustainability. 168p. ISBN 9781614729662. pap. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781614729679.

Dernbach, John C. & others. Energy Industries and Sustainability. 171p. ISBN 9781614729907. pap. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781614729686.

ea vol: Berkshire. (Essentials). 2013. ed. by Ray C. Anderson & others. illus. index. REF

Drawing from the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability (Vol. 4 was reviewed in LJ 8/12), these concentrated excerpts from that larger reference provide welcome glimpses of the expansive world of sustainability studies. Ecosystem Services outlines the many benefits people obtain from nature and the policies and initiatives used or needed to manage these resources. Energy Industries puts renewable energy in relief, focusing on mining, nuclear power, and conservation incentives. Both guides convey their narrative via essay chapters and include further reading lists and limited but effective black-and-white illustrations. VERDICT Accessible, quick-shot primers on key sustainability subjects.

Chico, Beverly. Hats and Headwear Around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. 2013. 531p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781610690621. $100. REF

“The way you wear your hat” was significant to Frank Sinatra and is important anthropologically, too. A contributor to Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion (LJ 10/1/10), Chico (history/humanities, Regis Univ., Denver) tackles this topic through A–Z entries that encompass continents and countries (Africa, China), specific forms (fez, pillbox), and heady intersections (Christianity, advertising). While more illustrations would be welcome, Chico offers a useful introduction, nifty sidebars (including a riff on Mary Tyler Moore’s classic hat toss), and an extensive bibliography and index. VERDICT An absorbing cultural study for those fascinated by fascinators and more.

Miller, Judith. Miller’s Antiques Marks. Octopus. 2013. 296p. illus. ISBN 9781845337988. pap. $9.99. REF

As any viewer of Antiques Roadshow knows, the specific mark on any “antique” item often determines if you have a gold-mine find or junk-heap fake. In this palm-sized reference, Roadshow regular Miller provides an identification guide to more than 6,000 antiques marks, organized in sections covering silver, Sheffield plate, bronze, ceramics, glass, costume jewelry, dolls, teddy bears, and toys. VERDICT While the author’s Antique Handbook & Price Guide (LJ 11/1/13) provides more in-depth assistance, this pocket pal will be a quick, nifty aid for treasure hunters.

State and Metropolitan Area Data Book 2013. Bernan. (County & City Extra). 2013. 460p. ed. by Deirdre A. Gaquin & Gwenavere W. Dunn. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9781598886276. $89; ebk. ISBN 9781598886306. REF

The U.S. Census Bureau terminated its Statistical Compendia program in 2011, including ceasing regular publication of its data book focused on states, metropolitan/micropolitan areas, and their component counties. Bernan rectifies this situation by reviving and updating that former government guide as part of its ongoing census data collection series. This updated offering provides 2010 census counts and includes more recent population estimates for all areas, results of the 2012 state and national elections, and an extensive source notes and explanation section. VERDICT This back-from-the-dead data compendium will prove useful in urban research ­collections.

Wyeth, Sims. The Essentials of Persuasive Public Speaking. Norton. 2014. 128p. ISBN 9780393346046. pap. $14.95. REF

Wyeth, president of an executive development firm, seeks to take the sting out of speechifying by providing “pointers substantive and fun, like organic jalapeño chips.” His approach is indeed quite snackable—only one tip is showcased per page, with sections covering the power of speech, preparation, delivery, the design and use of visual aids, and special occasions. He offers advice both practical (be careful of the “side effects” of technology, such as sing-songing along with a teleprompter) and inspirational (be sure to be a good leader as well as a good speaker). VERDICT An upbeat and easy-to-digest guide to public speaking.—Judy Quinn, formerly with Library Journal

Reference eReviews | February 1, 2014

Choice Reviews Online American Library Association;

By Cheryl LaGuardia

content Choice Reviews Online (CRO), version 3, provides access to the entire data­base of Choice reviews since September 1988, using the HighWire Press platform. Targeted at “librarians and faculty members who select materials for academic libraries, especially for undergraduate research and teaching,” according to the product’s website, Choice publishes 7,000-plus reviews of books, websites, and other library resources annually. Content also includes bibliographic essays on timely topics, an “Outstanding Academic Titles” list, an annual forthcoming titles feature on a selected subject, and faculty picks of important works. There are also several web-exclusive features: “Editors’ Picks” are compiled by Choice subject editors and highlight a wide-ranging and impressive group of titles from each issue; “Hot Topics” are also compiled by the magazine’s subject editors and feature selected reviews from the Choice database on topics of current interest.

This new version of CRO offers unlimited, user-created custom alerts for both subscribers and nonsubscribers. Past users should note that “Subject Alerts replace the Monthly Reviews in the new version [and] you can have as many alerts as you want delivered to a single email address. Each Alert can be customized by numerous criteria (e.g., Choice subject heading, keyword, readership level, recommendation level).”

Users will also find a browsable archive of past issues back to September 1988, one-stop searching of reviews and editorial features, highlighted search terms, cross-reference linking to prior reviews and within bibliographic essays, DOIs (digital object identifiers) for all content, bookmarking and sharing of content over social media platforms, a moderated “comments” section that allows readers to share opinions, cross-content searching across all 1,700 HighWire Press–hosted publications, institutional administrator accounts, COUNTER-­compliant usage reports, and short-term access or pay per article options for nonsubscribers. Reviews are arranged into sections: reference, humanities, science and technology, social and behavioral sciences, and inter­disciplinary categories (such as regional and gender ­studies).

usability The main screen of the CRO site showcases at top screen left the clickable cover of the current issue for easy access. Below this is a button marked “Click Here for User Guide and FAQ,” which clearly tells researchers how to access the material, set up receipt of alerts and monthly reviews, search, and read the user guide and get “Top Tips.” [Note to CRO editors: If “Subject Alerts replace the Monthly Reviews in the new version,” you should change the wording here about “Monthly Reviews.”]

A toolbar links to items such as home, the current issue and past issues, web exclusives, “My Lists,” “My Saved Searches,” and alerts. Just below that is a keywords search box and then a link to advanced search (I had to hunt a bit for this; it’s pretty low-key in size and position).

To the right of the current issue’s cover is a column containing a variety of links: view current issue; outstanding academic titles of 2013; “Choice e-Collection”; and a guide to using the new version of the database. Other links allow users to subscribe, sign up for Choice’s email newsletters, and find forthcoming title lists and infor­mation for reviewers and for publishers.

To get started, I clicked on the cover of the current issue (January 2014); it took about six seconds for the table of contents to load, which isn’t bad. There I found a letter from the editor with links for getting a corresponding extract, full text, or full text (PDF). It took 13 seconds to get the extract, one second to get the full text, and four seconds to get a full-color PDF of the letter. After that I pulled up the full text of the feature article “Outstanding Academic Titles 2013”; in two seconds, the “Faculty Picks: 5 Great Books on Animal Studies”; in two seconds, the table of contents of the editors’ picks, and the full text of the review of the first pick in one second. You get the idea: it doesn’t take all that long to load any piece of the content here.

The reviews themselves are good: necessarily brief but signed and with a clear recommendation. There’s nearly as much text in the options at screen right as there is in the review: the DOI for the article, links to switch between extract and full text, the classification of the subject, and services, which include the options to email the article, alert the user when e-letters are published, find similar articles in this journal, find in WorldCat, and more titles from the publisher and by the author in question. These are thoughtful, workmanlike links that will be of use to collection selectors. But there’s more: links to submit a comment about the review, to search Google Scholar for other articles by this reviewer, to access related content in the database, and one to use social bookmarking.

A keyword search of the database for “civil war” returned 4,085 pertinent results in five seconds. That was pretty nifty, but I wanted to see what advanced search could do. There I could search by a number of access points (keyword, author/editor, ISBN, Library of Congress number, publisher, Choice review number, reviewer name, and reviewer affiliation), select format and sorting of results, search all content or only reviews or only features, search by Choice subject headings, stipulate readership and recommendation levels, as well as copyright year, Choice issue, format, and LC classification. Oddly, the interdisciplinary categories are listed near the bottom of the search screen (rather than with the other Choice subject headings), just above the box to click for outstanding academic titles.

It took me only two clicks to find all 936 outstanding academic title books on women’s studies in the database: I simply ­selected “Women’s and Gender Studies” from the interdisciplinary categories and clicked the checkbox for “Outstanding ­Academic ­Title.”

Pricing An annual subscription to CRO costs $530 for public libraries. For academic libraries, the annual cost is $555 for up to 2,500 FTE, $589 for between 2,500 and 9,999 FTE, and $625 where FTE is above 10,000.

Verdict Collection selectors should give this a trial run. You may find yourself using the online and paper versions of the resource together; one to create lists, the other to actually browse and read.

Cheryl LaGuardia is a Research Librarian for the Widener Library at Harvard University and author of Becoming a Library Teacher (Neal-Schuman, 2000). Readers can contact her at

Research MonitorEuromonitor International;

By Bonnie J.M. Swoger

content Euromonitor International is widely respected for its global market research and analysis reports. The company’s new product, Research Monitor, packages some of its content into a searchable database for library patrons. Users have access to worldwide market data, consumer information, and industry news through Research Monitor reports.

Research Monitor includes industry reports on consumer products (e.g., consumer electronics, eyewear, hot drinks, luxury goods, and toys) and consumer services (e.g., finance, retail, tourism, etc.), as well as business and manufacturing products and services (e.g., machinery, communications, and business services). The coverage is global, with information from 80 countries. Industry reports for individual countries are generally less than a year old, although the site includes business and industry news covering the past ten years. Daily updates are provided; equal attention is paid to developed and developing nations.

Information and reports about countries and their consumers are also here. Country data covers business environments, technology and media, infrastructure, and economy. Consumer information (available by country and region) features reports about income, consumer spending, trends, and population data.

Reports typically have basic descriptive information and analysis of the topic or country, as well as recent changes affecting the business environment. Data relevant to the topic typically shows trends over the past five years.

Usability Research Monitor is a user-friendly database that encourages users to perform guided searches for information related to country and region, while also providing a basic search box. The homepage presents a list of recent articles, demonstrating that information is added to the resource daily. The list is limited to ten items, and there isn’t a way to view additional recent articles, which would be handy.

The search box is available in the upper right-hand corner of all the pages and provides potential search terms as a query is entered. Typing a search for “eye” prompted me with suggestions for “Eyewear,” “Eye care,” “Eye supplements,” and an extended list of country profiles: “Eyewear in Argentina,” “Eyewear in Australia,” etc.

Although the search box is available, users are strongly pushed toward the two primary guided searches offered by the database: searching by subject or searching by country or region. Clicking either results in a list of options for users to select. Subject searches include the categories listed above (consumer products and services, business services, etc.). The country search allows users to select single countries, multiple countries, or entire regions (e.g., Latin America, Eastern Europe, Australasia, Asia Pacific, and more). More than one subject or country can be chosen. After a selection is made, users have the option to add additional concepts. For example, I can select the “Eyewear” category, then click the link to add a geographical filter to locate information about the that industry in Malaysia or Indonesia. Alternatively, I can select the region Australasia and add subjects such as “Eyewear” or look for country reports about infrastructure and technology.

By default, the results list is sorted by relevance, but users can sort by date or alphabetical order as necessary. The additional filtering options are quite useful. I can refine my list by subject or country, select the type of report (e.g., opinion, industry report, article, etc.), and choose the date range for the results (within the past year or older than one year).

Once a report is selected, users can read the full report on screen and take advantage of some built-in tools. Each article has a clickable table of contents and tools to translate the article into Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, or Arabic. (Since I’m monolingual, I cannot comment on the quality of the translations.)

Almost all reports contain small data tables. Unfortunately, tools to manipulate or download this data are not available. Patrons would need to copy and paste the tables (a sloppy procedure at the best of times). Resource Monitor would be improved by adding the ability to download data tables as CSV or XLS files.

Users can view as many reports as they wish online but are limited to printing just 20 pages per session via the built-in printing tools. This policy is spelled out for researchers as they log in, and librarians are granted a special status that lets them print and email up to 20 pages per patron. Fortunately, users can save individual reports to their account for retrieval later on. Reports can be saved to a “Saved Research” folder by clicking a paperclip icon and easily retrieved later from a link in the header. The simplicity of the “Saved Research” feature makes it an effective tool.

pricing Research Monitor costs $5,000 annually for community colleges and colleges/universities with fewer than 3,000 students, with up to 20 percent off for institutions in participating consortia. For larger colleges and universities, the price ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 based on the size of the institution. For public libraries, the database costs $2,950 annually per individual branch, and for systems, from $5,000 to $20,000, based on the number of cardholders.

verdict The Research Monitor Database offers high-quality research information and is easy to use. The material might be beneficial to libraries associated with business schools, especially those with an emphasis on international business. Public libraries that serve patrons looking for international business and marketing data may also find the database helpful.

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog, Readers can contact her at

Kevin Birmingham on The Most Dangerous Book

Kevin Birmingham’s debut, The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses (Penguin Pr., Jun.), offers an elegant account of the 15-year struggle over the publication of Joyce’s controversial masterpiece. Intrigued by this biography of a novel, I wrote to Birmingham via email with a few questions. Here’s what he had to say. (See “Editors’ Picks 2014,” LJ 2/15/14).—Annalisa Pesek


What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
We take our freedoms to read and write books for granted, and I want readers to see how difficult—and how recent—the fight for literary freedom has been. James Joyce’s Ulysses is canonical partly because it was contraband. Its legalization made so many things possible for the writers who followed.

I’d like to remind people that books are dangerous and powerful, and Ulysses is the perfect example of that. Female sexuality simply wasn’t something an author could write about—it seemed to be a force that could break marriages and families apart. Joyce confronted those fears directly. Beyond that, Ulysses seemed to overturn all traditions, standards, and codes—it violated all of the rules of literature. In a world that was already skittish about falling empires, the lionization of Ulysses among certain men and women of letters seemed to confirm that something was seriously wrong with Western civilization, that we had reached the end of something. And they were right.

This story revisits a time of upheaval and war as well as an explosion of popular culture, literacy rates, urbanization, and immigration—and these factors made books that could “deprave and corrupt” the public even more frightening. We forget about the power of books because we have newer technologies to worry about (the Internet and video games), but the written word is still the primary vehicle for unsettling ideas.

Do you have advice for first-time Ulysses readers?
First, go slowly. Don’t expect to read Ulysses the way you read other books. Second, use Don Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated—a companion to Joyce’s novel. I’ve done my most recent reading with a book club, and I think groups are especially helpful with difficult novels. If you want to go the extra mile, check out Frank Delaney’s podcast, “Re: Joyce.” Delaney discusses the novel page by page in smart, fun, and incredibly detailed ten-minute podcasts. He’s approaching podcast No. 200 and is still only about ten percent of the way through the novel. He adds a new installment every week, and his enthusiasm is infectious.

Finally, and most important: be comfortable with not knowing everything. Writers typically cater to readers so that comprehension is as swift and smooth as possible. Stories and ideas are served to us as lists, slide shows, and TED talks, which means we’re less accustomed to anything obscure or time-consuming. Ulysses goes deeper than what even the savviest reader can absorb in one reading. Have faith that, in the end, the work will pay off. Years from now, you probably won’t remember the slide shows. You’ll remember Ulysses.

This is your first book. What was the most enjoyable part of writing it?
A thousand illuminating details—Ezra Pound’s childhood letter to Santa Claus; a radiograph of Joyce’s bad teeth; the books, maps, and upholstery in the library where Judge Woolsey read Ulysses. The story is important because of the way it changed modernism and literary freedom, but the long research process is thrilling because of the details. You go to archives looking for information, and the half-buried stories keep you there.

Pop Culture Advisory: The Fault in Our Stars

The trailer for the film adaptation for John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars went online recently and if you’re reading this, odds are good you’re one of the millions who viewed it (at least half of whom, it seems, immediately tweeted that they were crying at their desks).

But what shall we read and watch and listen to and play until June 6, when the movie comes out in theaters?

Those readers who fell in love with the character of warm, sparky Hazel Grace Lancaster may want to pick up This Star Won’t Go Out, the memoir of Esther Grace Earl, a 16-year-old cancer patient who inspired the author and his legions of fans, the Nerdfighters. A starred review of the audio version will run in School Library Journal‘s March issue.

And there’s a lot of good buzz around the portrayal of friendship in Melissa Kantor’s Maybe One Day, which comes out later this month and will be reviewed very positively in the March issue of SLJ. It’s the story of best friends Olivia and Zoe, who have big plans to tour the world as ballet dancers, and what happens when Olivia gets leukemia.

If you responded to the unconventional, heartwarming relationship between Hazel and Augustus, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park or Natalie Standiford’s How To Say Goodbye in Robot are both good choices.

Doomed teen love is always a popular subject; on the 1990s television series Life Goes On high school sophomore Becca Thatcher falls in love with HIV-positive classmate Jesse. Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why begins after Hannah Baker has committed suicide, leaving 13 cassette tapes for Clay Jenkins as a way to explain her decision.

Of course, it’s hard to beat the Bard when it comes to teens in doomed love. (After all, it’s hard to beat the amount of woe suffered by Juliet and her Romeo.) Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio are appropriately over the top in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film version. And there’s plenty of good buzz around the upcoming release of Rachel Caine’s Prince of Shadows, which is told from the perspective of Romeo’s cousin, Benvolio Montague, a thief whose late-night glimpse of his cousin’s first love, Rosaline, sets all sorts of events in motion.

Augustus’s favorite band in the book is called The Hectic Glow. Sadly, THG are only a figment of John Green’s imagination, but there are plenty of talented musicians who’ve died young, including Elliott Smith, Aaliyah, and Big Star’s Chris Bell, whose lyrical discussions of love and oblivion seem like something Augustus and Hazel would have really responded to.

Augustus and his friend Isaac play a lot of a Call of Duty-esque videogame, but there are plenty of games that are closer to the novel in spirit for those who are interested. LJ‘s gaming columnist M. Brandon Robbins offers the following suggestions:

While it’s VERY artsy, Shadow of the Colossus has the doomed-teen-lovers bend to it. A boy known only as the Wanderer takes a young girl to a temple in a remote paradise to bring her back to life. To do so, he must kills ancient beings known as the Colossi. It’s a beautiful game, and actually ends with him ultimately sacrificing his life for her. Again, very artsy, but that narrative hook is certainly there.

While not dealing with cancer, The Cat Lady deals with addiction and depression. It’s darker than drinking vodka at 2 AM while listening to Nine Inch Nails. Part of the game early on is a fantastical look at how addiction and treatment works. It might make a good recommendation for those who want to take the theme of living with an illness to another level.

Perhaps the best game to tie into this theme is To the Moon. The plot of this game is that a company has developed a technology that permanently implants memories into the human mind, allowing for a form of wish fulfillment. Because of the damage this does to the human psyche—the implanted memories contrast with the natural ones—it is only done on terminal patients. As a doctor, you are attempting to solve the mysteries of one patient’s past in order to implant the memories of a trip to the moon in his mind. The patient doesn’t suffer from cancer per se, and actual cancer treatment is not part of the game, but again: it ties into the overarching theme of terminal illness and one’s response to it.

An additional recommendation: while it’s intended more as a way for young people with cancer to understand their disease and its treatment and less as a narrative/game play experience, the Re-Mission series is worth a mention. The games are set inside the human body, giving players weapons like chemotherapy, antibiotics, and the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer.

Crafts & DIY Reviews | February 1, 2014


HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Hodge, Susie. How To Draw People in Simple Steps. Search. 2014. 32p. illus. ISBN 9781844489480. pap. $9.95. ART INSTRUCTION

Readers can follow the color-coded, step-by-step sequential drawings in this simple guide to practice drawing the human figure in a variety of situations. Each exercise breaks the pose down into simple lines and shapes. Following the sequential red and blue sketch guidelines, readers can layer their lines and shading to produce finished drawings resembling the final ones shown in each exercise. VERDICT This title could be helpful and entertaining for older children, teens, and adult beginner artists, but anyone looking for more complex or in-depth tips will want to look elsewhere.



Balzer, Julie Fei-Fan. Carve Stamp Play: Designing and Creating Custom Stamps. Interweave. 2013. 143p. illus. index. ISBN 9781596688865. pap. $24.99. CRAFTS

Mixed-media artist Balzer guides novices through the basics of designing, carving, and printing with art stamps in this thoughtful guide. The introductory section covers supplies and basic techniques for stamp carving and is followed by eight “workshops” focusing on specific skills using a project-based approach. Each workshop builds upon the previous one, and by the time all eight lessons have been completed, novices will have all of the necessary skills to design and carve their own stamps. A final section introduces stamp sets, repeating stamps, and interlocking stamps, which open numerous possibilities for creative design. Projects are interspersed throughout, as are expert tips on everything from avoiding fatigue while carving stamps to cleaning and storing completed creations. VERDICT Balzer makes stamp carving accessible and fun, and the workshop approach helps to build beginners’ confidence in their ability to create their own stamps. Scrapbookers, paper artists, and crafters interested in printing will find abundant inspiration and guidance in this excellent title.

DeCoster, Marcia. Marcia DeCoster Presents: Interviews with 30 Beaders on Inspiration & Technique. Lark: Sterling. Feb. 2014. 159p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454707974. pap. $26.95. CRAFTS

Master beadworker DeCoster (Marcia DeCoster’s Beads in Motion: 24 Jewelry Projects That Spin, Sway, Swing, and Slide) is a well-known author and jewelry designer. In this collection, she interviews her fellow bead artists on a variety of topics, from inspiration to favorite techniques to the role of the Internet and social media in their creative lives. Each interview includes a brief biography of the artist and large-format photographs (both full-length and detail shots) of representative works. The highlight for most readers will be the gallery of each designer’s projects, which demonstrate the exciting variety of styles and techniques used in contemporary beadwork. There are no projects in the book, so those interested in how-tos will be better off consulting one of DeCoster’s other works. VERDICT Beaders looking for projects may be disappointed, but there’s still plenty of innovation to be found here. Purchase where similar titles, such as Lark’s “Showcase” series, are popular.

Pigza, Jessica. BiblioCraft: The Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects. Abrams. Mar. 2014. 208p. illus. ISBN 9781617690969. $27.50. CRAFTS

Pigza, a rare-books librarian at the New York Public Library, connects her two passions—libraries and crafting—in this collection of book-inspired craft projects. Each project uses books and library collections (often vintage) as a jumping-off point, turning things as commonplace as marbled endpapers into a pretty sewn pouch or drawing inspiration from children’s book illustrations for a fanciful child’s dress. Photographs of the primary sources that provided ideas for the projects are incorporated, allowing crafters to see the “ancestry” of each item. Pigza has assembled quite the cast of crafting luminaries, such as Gretchen Hirsch (Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing), Liesl Gibson (Oliver + S Little Things To Sew), and Heather Ross (Heather Ross Prints), and these varied projects include everything from sewing and embroidery to papercraft. Copyright issues relating to craft making—a frequent cause of heated arguments in crafting communities—are concisely and intelligently covered, and there’s plenty of material on types of libraries and ways to use libraries as a source of creativity and information. VERDICT Though bibliophiles and fans of libraries will be drawn in by the theme of the book, crafters who haven’t visited a library since childhood will be thrilled with the wealth of talented artists whose projects are featured. (Bibliophiles will also be pleased that no books are harmed in the making of these crafts.) [See author Q&A, p. 74.—Ed.]

do it yourself


Frauenfelder, Mark. Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects. New Harvest. May 2014. 240p. illus. ISBN 9780544114548. pap. $20. DIY

Dads have been the focus of many project books for kids over the past few years. Here, Frauenfelder—blogger, editor of MAKE magazine, and author—tries his hand at two dozen projects, with his young daughters in mind (though the projects are not traditionally “girly”). General supplies and a difficulty rating for each project are listed. The wide range of ideas (everything from jewelry, puzzles, candy, and soap to electronic and computer projects such as a drawbot, computer games, and speakers) seems haphazard and a little forced. Instructions are accompanied by clear, step-by-step illustrations of construction. VERDICT This collection is rather specialized, with the electronics projects a bit difficult. While the directions are helpful, the projects lack cohesion and creativity. For daddy projects that really have kid appeal, turn instead to Scott Bedford’s Made by Dad. Frauenfelder’s book lacks the pop and sparkle needed. An optional purchase only.

fiber crafts


Allaho, Shelby & Ellen Gormley (text) & Nancy J.S. Langdon (photos). Crocheting Clothes Kids Love. Creative. Feb. 2014. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781589237810. pap. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS

Most crochet books for children focus on babies and toddlers, so award-winning designer Allaho and crafter Gormley (Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook) decided to tackle clothes for a different group: children age six to 12. The collection features garments, including winter wear, and small accessories that take advantage of the lacy and whimsical motifs common in crochet. The projects are appropriate for crocheters of a variety of skill levels, and each one contains step-by-step written directions and full explanations of any special stitches used. Adults may even want some of the accessories for themselves, especially the pompom-studded caravan scarf, a cozy, shawl-like wrap that would suit grown-ups as well as it does youngsters. Allaho and Gormley include patterns for both boys and girls in the collection, and those aimed at boys are more than just token hats and scarves. VERDICT The unique emphasis will appeal to crocheters whose little ones have aged out of the baby and toddler patterns, and children in the target age group will enjoy wearing these designs.

Carestio, Amanda. Never Been Stitched: 45 No-Sew & Low-Sew Projects. Lark: Sterling. Feb. 2014. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454704218. pap. $17.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Carestio (Fa La La La Felt) believes that fabric obsession isn’t only for expert sewists. This collection of no-sew and low-sew projects takes a variety of materials, from quilting cottons to recycled clothing to paper maps, and transforms them into garments and accessories appropriate for everyday use. Upcycling is a recurring theme in the projects, and Carestio makes clever use of repurposed fabrics and garments. The projects that work best are the designs for children, such as the colorful sock monsters, the pencil roll made out of wool felt, and the teddy bear backpack. Many of the fashion projects come across as odd—the deconstructed T-shirt with hand-tied sides and the skirt made out of curtains would be difficult for most women to pull off. VERDICT Fashion missteps aside, this is a fun set of projects that fills a gap in crafting collections, and though the upcycling trend seems to be on the wane, it’s still a popular topic.

Interior design

GAYLE A. WILLIAMSON, Fashion Inst. of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles

Jennings, Mar. Life on Mar’s: Creating Casual Luxury. Midpoint. 2013. 151p. photos. ISBN 9780578120829. $19.95. INTERIOR DESIGN

Jennings (Life on Mar’s A Four Season Garden), who has dispensed his design advice on HGTV and QVC, takes the reader on a tour of his Connecticut home to illustrate his design aesthetic of “casual luxury.” Showing off every room of his house, as well as the garden, through 200-plus beautiful photographs, Jennings describes how he creates a timeless and comfortable look. Throughout, he adds design tips while adhering to his six design principles (represent Mother Nature, embrace light and reflection, incorporate natural materials and colors, repurpose, repeat shapes and patterns, and consider size and scale). A downloadable worksheet at the conclusion of the book is a useful tool to evaluate one’s own abode. VERDICT Given the practical advice here, as well as Jennings’s renown as a lifestyle expert, this book will be helpful for do-it-yourselfers.

Arts & Humanities Reviews | February 1, 2014

Mackenzie, Colin & others. The Chinese Art Book. Phaidon. 2013. 350p. illus. index. ISBN 9780714865751. $59.95. FINE ARTS

This is a book of superlatives. Chinese art curator Mackenzie’s (Nelson-Akins Museum of Art) introductory essay provides a concise historical context, and coauthors Keith Pratt (emeritus, East Asian Studies, Univ. of Durham), Jeffrey Moser (East Asian art history, McGill Univ.), and Katie Hill (director, Office of Contemporary Chinese Art) discuss 300 of the finest artworks from the past 5,000 years of Chinese culture. One artwork per page is displayed in color, in large format, and accompanied by a description of the work, its context, and its significance. All media are included—from traditional ceramics, calligraphy, jade, bronze, and ink painting to contemporary photography, oil painting, performance art, and installations. The book also contains a glossary, a time line featuring thumbnails of the 300 works, and a list of museums and collections whose works are illustrated in the book. Its content and accessibility to various levels of readers makes this title an essential purchase for any library with an interest in Chinese art. For a chronologically arranged alternative, see Andrew Sullivan’s The Arts of China, a standard text that covers the entire range of Chinese art. VERDICT For anyone who loves Chinese art and wants to know more about it.—Martha Smith, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

Bloom, Patience. Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last. Dutton. Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780525954385. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698148567. LIT

The beautiful irony of the title says it all—erudite romance editor by day, lonely girl by night. Bloom (editor, Harlequin) offers the American, real, and highly relatable version of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones. A lovably quirky narrator and an abundance of self-deprecating humor give this book the appeal of a good New York–girl–in–publishing chick lit title that’s bound to be consumed in great gulps. That said, this is a very well-packaged and well-written memoir, containing a great deal of substance. Bloom doesn’t gloss over the seriousness that under­pins her experience, but she folds it into a larger tale to tell a phenomenal story—not of a fabulously flawless twentysomething but rather the warts-and-all saga of a woman approaching middle age who’s been fruitlessly searching for love as long as she can remember and whose story has (how could it not?) a happy ending. VERDICT Readers who are appalled at the demise of Fielding’s Mark Darcy, snap this up. It will ease your pain. Highly recommended for romantics of all stripes.—Audrey Snowden, Orrington P.L., ME

Bierds, Linda. Roget’s Illusion. Marian Wood: Putnam. Mar. 2014. 112p. ISBN 9780399165467. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101624036. POETRY

In language both delicious and precise, poems by MacArthur Fellow Bierds (Flight: New and Selected Poems) inhabit the realm of illusion and the human need for clarity. Here, she begins with Peter Mark Roget, known not just for his essential book of synonyms but for his essay examining an optical illusion in which a wheel moving forward appears (on film) to be moving backward or not at all, to explore truisms within history, language, and art: “Not symmetry. Not grace./ Just flint and form and a resin torch:/ to venerate the living world/ and keep the ghosts at bay.” While she offers no definitive answers to Roget’s riddle, Bierds presents myriad possibilities, from Faraday’s consideration of candle and flame to walking dolls and tractors to cave paintings. Often using the form pantoum, a quatrain that repeats and spirals like a DNA’s double helix, and the moth as symbol, ­Bierds shows readers that language and illusion can be transformative and revelatory: “Lamp. Matter. Symmetry. Why try to capture/ the world? Light as compass, wind as hinge?/ All the dust-shaped moths on their word-shaped/ pins.” VERDICT An important new book for readers interested in the intersections between science and art. [See “Ten Essential Poetry Titles for Winter,” Prepub Alert, 9/30/13.]—Karla Huston, Appleton, WI

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Fine Arts

Arts & Crafts of the Islamic Lands: Principles, Materials, Practice. Thames & Hudson. 2013. 288p. ed. by Khaled Azzam. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500517024. $60. DEC ARTS

Bell, Victoria Ballard & Patrick Rand. Materials for Design 2. Princeton Architectural. 2014. 272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781616891909. pap. $50. ARCH

Hollis, Edward. The Memory Palace: A Book of Lost Interiors. Counterpoint. 2014. 320p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781619022485. $28. ARCH

Rewald, Sabine. Balthus: Cats and Girls. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2013. 176p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300197013. $35. FINE ARTS

Rubin, James H. How To Read Impressionism: Ways of Looking. Abrams. 2013. 400p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781419709968. pap. $39.95. FINE ARTS

White, Michael. Generation Dada: The Berlin Avant-Garde and the First World War. Yale Univ. 2013. 382p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300169034. $55. FINE ARTS

Witham, Larry. Piero’s Light: In Search of Piero Della Francesca; A Renaissance Painter and the Revolution in Art, Science, and Religion. Pegasus. 2014. 367p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9781605984940. $28.95. FINE ARTS

Wolf, Norbert. Art Deco. Prestel. 2013. 288p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9783791347646. $85. DEC ARTS


Cline, Sally. Dashiell Hammett: Man of Mystery. Skyhorse. 2014. 168p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781611457841. $19.95. LIT

Prochnik, George. The Impossible Exile. Other. May 2014. 400p. photos. notes. ISBN 9781590516126. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781590516133. LIT

Shillinglaw, Susan. On Reading The Grapes of Wrath. Penguin. Apr. 2014. 224p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780143125501. pap. $14; ebk. ISBN 9780698146099. LIT

Truthful Fictions: Conversations with American Biographical Novelists. Bloomsbury Academic. Feb. 2014. 272p. ed. by Michael Lackey. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781623567415. $120; pap. ISBN 9781623568252. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623566159. LIT

White, Edward. The Tastemaker: Carl Van Vechten and the Birth of Modern America. Farrar. Feb. 2014. 384p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374201579. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780374708818. LIT

Zacharias, Lee. The Only Sounds We Make. Hub City. May 2014. 215p. notes. ISBN 9781938235009. pap. $16. LIT

Performing Arts

Brown, Donald. Bob Dylan: American Troubadour. Rowman & Littlefield. (Tempo). 2014. 254p. discog. notes. ISBN 9780810884205. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780810884212. MUSIC

Deluxe, Jean-Emmanuel. Yé-Yé Girls of ’60s French Pop. Feral House. 2013. 256p. photos. discog. ISBN 9781936239719. pap. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781936239726. MUSIC

Gordon, Robert. Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion. Bloomsbury. 2013. 480p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781596915770. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781608194179. MUSIC

Havers, Richard. Verve: The Sound of America. Thames & Hudson. 2013. 399p. illus. index. ISBN 9780500517147. $75. MUSIC

International Women Stage Directors. Univ. of Illinois. 2013. 344p. ed. by Anne Fliotsos & Wendy Vierow. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780252037818. $48. THEATER

Kidjo, Angélique & Rachel Wenrick. Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music. Harper Design. 2014. 256p. photos. ISBN 9780062071798. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062288479. MUSIC

Morrissey. Autobiography. Putnam. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780399171543. $30. MUSIC

Quinn, Carolyn. Mama Rose’s Turn: The True Story of America’s Most Notorious Stage Mother. Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. 2013. 368p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781617038532. $35. THEATER

Salsa World: A Global Dance in Local Contexts. Temple. (Studies in Latin American & Caribbean Music). 2013. 236p. ed. by Sydney Hutchinson. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781439910061. $89.50. DANCE


Geuss, Raymond. A World Without Why. Princeton Univ. Mar. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780691155883. $39.95; ebk. ISBN 9781400848485. PHIL

Goldstein, Rebecca. Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away. Pantheon. Mar. 2014. 464p. bibliog. ISBN 9780307378194. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908872. PHIL

Kierkegaard, Søren. The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin. Liveright: Norton. Mar. 2014. 288p. tr. from Danish by Alastair Hannay. notes. ISBN 9780871407191. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871407719. PHIL


McLane, Maureen N. This Blue. Farrar. Apr. 2014. 112p. ISBN 9780374275938. $24. POETRY

Smith, Charlie. Jump Soul: New and Selected Poems. Norton. Mar. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780393240221. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393242973. POETRY

Young, Kevin. Book of Hours: Poems. Knopf. Mar. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9780307272249. $26.95. POETRY

Spirituality & Religion

Cornwell, John. The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession. Basic Bks: Perseus. Mar. 2014. 304p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465039951. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465080496. REL

Plate, S. Brent. A History of Religion in 5½ Objects: Bringing the Spiritual to Its Senses. Beacon. Mar. 2014. 272p. notes. index. ISBN 9780807033111. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780807033128. REL

Stephens, Mitchell. Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World. Palgrave Macmillan. Feb. 2014. 336p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781137002600. $30. REL

Wright, N.T. Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Fortress. 2013. 1700p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780800626839. pap. $89; ebk. ISBN 9781451452341. REL

Sports & Recreation

Kaplan, Ben. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now: The Rogue’s Guide to Running the Marathon. Greystone. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781771000734. pap. $17.95; ebk. ISBN 9781771000741. SPORTS

Life Lessons

Bremer, Krista. My Accidental Jihad. Algonquin. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781616200688. $23.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616203979. LIT

Bremer (associate publisher, The Sun) focuses her memoir on the contrast between the cultures of a man and a woman who meet on a running trail, fall in love, and decide to marry and raise a family together. A selfish, materialistic American woman who formerly worked as a pregnancy counselor finds herself on the other side of a pink test strip and marries the older, overbearing, irrational Libyan-born Muslim who is the father of her child. Ismail grew up in Africa with an illiterate father who was a shopkeeper but earned very little money. As a middle-class teenager in the United States, Bremer worked in an ice cream store to be able to afford more designer clothing. The couple’s experience of Christmas and Ramadan show the stark difference between their customs. While Bremer is frantically shopping, wrapping, and decorating, Ismail can only ask her: “Why?” Meanwhile, Ismail, who is regimented by the monthlong Ramadan fast, has no patience for his wife’s overindulgence, causing Bremer to wonder with annoyance if, when, and how her husband will find his Christmas spirit. VERDICT Bremer won a Pushcart Prize for her essay on which this book is based; her writing appears in numerous magazines (O: The Oprah Magazine; More). Readers of memoir will welcome this love story about patience and kindness and learning the importance of putting culture first.—Joyce Sparrow, ­Kenneth City, FL

Cleage, Pearl. Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons, and Love Affairs. Atria. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781451664690. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451664713. LIT

Writing is what Cleage, an acclaimed poet (We Don’t Need No Music), essayist (Deals with the Devil: And Other Reasons To Riot), novelist (What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day), and award-winning playwright (Flyin’ West) does. Here, her journals are the source of a revealing, intimate memoir. With over 50 years of notebooks stashed in cardboard boxes and a steamer trunk, ­Cleage contemplates their value. Her daughter suggests burning the journals, but Cleage resists; this historical record allows her to remember details and understand how she survived and succeeded. She shares entries from 1970 to 1988 in this volume describing her “mad flight toward financial independence, sexual liberation, creative fulfillment and free womanhood.” VERDICT ­ Cleage’s observations explode with joy, anxiety, anger, and, of course, honesty; her style is breezy and casual but the content is complex. Her fans will embrace this work, and all readers interested in women’s memoirs, especially those focused on the struggle against racism and sexism, will be moved by this title. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/13.]—Kathryn Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN

Nunez, Elizabeth. Not for Everyday Use: A Memoir. Akashic. Apr. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781617752346. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781617752339. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617752780. LIT

For Nunez (writing, Hunter Coll., CUNY; Boundaries; Anna In-Between), growing up on a Caribbean island was not easy. Her parents had high expectations for her and her eight siblings. Here, she focuses on the four days after her mother’s death when the family gathers in Trinidad. As she goes about comforting her 90-year-old father, interacting with her siblings, and preparing for the funeral, she recalls growing up under colonialism, being sent to the United States for college, and eventually becoming a professor. Repeatedly, she marvels at her parents’ long and loving 65-year marriage, especially in light of their offspring’s divorces and annulments. Besides being a time to mourn her mother, the visit provided Nunez the opportunity to reflect on and forgive her parents for not showing their love for her as she would have wished. ­VERDICT Through her thoughtful and articulate writing, Nunez offers a valuable perspective on the racism that she experienced, even in America, and the damage the Catholic Church does to women who follow the “no artificial birth control” rule. Recommended for memoir enthusiasts and readers interested in Caribbean literature.—Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo

Fiction Reviews | February 1, 2014

Cassella, Carol. Gemini. S. & S. Mar. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781451627930. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451627954. F

Intensive care doctor Charlotte Reese is on duty in Seattle’s Beacon Hospital when a hit-and-run victim, a middle-aged woman, is delivered by helicopter from Olympia ­Island. Charlotte expertly assesses the unconscious woman’s injuries, which include a very broken body and high probability of brain damage. After stabilizing the patient, Charlotte attempts to address the multiple injuries in an effort to keep this Jane Doe alive until either she can speak for herself or some next of kin appears to identify her. Meanwhile, in Charlotte’s personal life, her boyfriend Eric, a science reporter, clearly adores Charlotte but inexplicably appears unable to take their relationship forward to commitment and parenthood. Alternating chapters chronicle Charlotte’s life and the story of a country girl named Raney, who falls in love with a city boy named Bo. The book prompts many questions: Who is Jane Doe? Why has no one come forward to identify her? How long can Charlotte keep this patient alive before an appointed guardian decides that it would be in the woman’s best interests to let her die? How do the stories of Charlotte and Raney intersect? VERDICT Informed by her work as a doctor, Casella’s third medical novel (after Oxygen and Healer) poses interesting medical questions and offers deepening mysteries to keep the reader turning the pages. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/13.]—Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC

Gay, Roxane. An Untamed State. Black Cat: Grove Atlantic. May 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780802122513. pap. $17. F

What happens after you have been kidnapped, beaten, raped, and humiliated by a gang of armed men while your extremely wealthy father holds on to his “principles” and refuses to pay the ransom to ensure your swift release? That is the subject of this much-anticipated debut novel from Gay, already celebrated for her short stories. Mireille Jameson endures this horrific situation when she visits her impoverished homeland of Haiti with her American husband, Michael, and their young son. Led by the Commander, the kidnappers torment Mireille for her privileged life as she tries to remain unbroken. It is not until she returns to Miami that the experience truly haunts her. She becomes erratic, preferring instability over home and family. As Michael pulls away, Mireille’s mother-in-law offers her comfort through a recovery fraught with insecurity, guilt, and un­certainty. VERDICT Gay brilliantly writes of the story’s external events while skillfully capturing Mireille’s internal anguish. Not since Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The ­Yellow Wallpaper has an author so effectively captured the descent into mental instability. This novel is recommended for lovers of literary and Caribbean fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 11/22/13.]—Ashanti White, Yelm, WA

Hoffman, Cara. Be Safe I Love You. S. & S. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781451641318. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451641332. F

Lauren Clay returns from a tour of duty in Iraq to her small, dead-end upstate New York town on Christmas Day. A gifted singer, she had given up a full scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in order to enlist. Practically a mother to her beloved younger brother since their mother abandoned the family years earlier and with a father incapacitated by depression, Lauren single-handedly supports her small family. Hoffman (So Much Pretty) opens the novel with an ominous prolog that creates a mild sense of dread that lasts until the final chapter, and she tells Lauren’s story in glimpses and through multiple viewpoints, which helps build suspense. It takes a long time for the reader to comprehend the true nature of Lauren’s emotional instability and the extent of her post-traumatic stress disorder, which is revealed in a trip with her brother that turns into something else.VERDICT Though Hoffman manages to incorporate comic elements, this is a searing, unforgettable, and beautifully written tale about the corrosive effects of war on the psyche, a contemporary version of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried with a female protagonist. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/13.]—Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY

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Addison, Corban. The Garden of Burning Sand. Quercus. May 2014. 416p.

ISBN 9781623651299. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623651305. F

Coupland, Douglas. Worst. Person. Ever. Blue Rider. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780399168437. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698151079. F

D’Aguiar, Fred. Children of Paradise. Harper. Feb. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062277329. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062277343. F

Davidson, Hilary. Blood Always Tells. Forge: Tor. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780765333544. $25.99. F

Dillen, Frederick. Beauty. S. & S. Mar. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781476716923. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476716947. F

Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See. Scribner. May 2014. 544p. ISBN 9781476746586. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781476746609. F

Duncan, Glen. By Blood We Live. Knopf. Feb. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780307595102. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350389. F

Dunmore, Helen. The Lie. Atlantic Monthly. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780802122544. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780802192547. F

Gifford, Elisabeth. The Sea House. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781250043344. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466841406. F

Glass, Julia. And the Dark Sacred Night. Pantheon. Apr. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780307377937. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908636. F

Gloss, Susan. Vintage. Morrow. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062270320. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062270344. F

Grant, Katharine. Sedition. Holt. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780805099928. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780805099935 F

Gurnah, Abdulrazak. The Last Gift. Bloomsbury USA. Feb. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781620403280. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781620403297. F

Jones, Sadie. Fallout. Harper. Apr. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780062292810. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062292834. F

Kaysen, Susanna. Cambridge. Knopf. Mar. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780385350259. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350266. F

Khalifa, Khaled. In Praise of Hatred. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 320p. tr. from Arabic by Leri Price. ISBN 9781250052346. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466853898. F

Korelitz, Jean Hanff. You Should Have Known. Grand Central. Mar. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9781455599493. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455599509. F

Lane, Timothy S. Rules for Becoming a Legend. Viking. Mar. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780670014880. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101617762 F

Montanari, Richard. The Stolen Ones. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Feb. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780316244701. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780316244695. F

Quick, Matthew. The Good Luck of Right Now. Harper. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780062285539. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062285553. F

Rasmussen, Rebecca. Evergreen. Knopf. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780385350990. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385351003. F

Rowland, Amy. The Transcriptionist. Algonquin. May 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781616202545. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616203962. F

Shaw, Johnny. Plaster City. Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Apr. 2014. 334p. ISBN 9781477817582. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781477867587. F

Shipstead, Maggie. Astonish Me. Knopf. Apr. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780307962904. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307962911. F

Stace, Wesley. Wonderkid. Overlook. Mar. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781468308013. $26.95. F

Thomson, Rupert. Secrecy. Other. Apr. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781590516850. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781590516867. F

Vandermerwe, Meg. Zebra Crossing. Oneworld. Apr. 2014. 216p. ISBN 9781780744308. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781780744315. F

Weisgarber, Ann. The Promise. Skyhorse. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781629142364. $24.95. F

Zevin, Gabrielle. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Algonquin. Apr. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781616203214. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616203948. F

Zimmerman, Jean. Savage Girl. Viking. Mar. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780670014859. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101616321. F

Short Stories

Guterson, David. Problems with People: Stories. Knopf. Jun. 2014. 176p. ISBN 9780385351485. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385351492. F

Merkner, Christopher. The Rise & Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic: Stories. Coffee House. 2014. 228p. ISBN 9781566893381. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781566893442. F

Mystery Series Lineup | February 1, 2014

MiBryan, Mollie Cox. Death of an Irish Diva: A Cumberland Creek Mystery. Kensington. Feb. 2014. 344p. ISBN 9780758266330. pap. $7.99. M

A day after St. Patrick’s Day, an attractive Irish dance instructor is murdered; her abrasive personality means several folks have motives. Annie, the small-town journalist (and avid scrapbooker), finds hidden secrets that someone wants kept quiet. This third crafty entry (after Scrapped) in Bryan’s Agatha Award–nominated series includes a glossary and DIY tips.

Cleeves, Ann. Dead Water: A Shetland Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781250036605. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250036612. M

Broken-hearted DI Jimmy Perez sets aside his own grief to assist the local authorities with a case involving a murdered journalist. The victim had left the Shetland Islands for greener pastures, and it looks as if his return was the wrong move. This is the fifth series entry (after Blue Lightning) for the Gold Dagger Award–winning author. The books have become a BBC TV series, Shetland.

Collins, Kate. Throw in the Trowel: A Flower Shop Mystery. Obsidian Mysteries: NAL. Feb. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780451415509. pap. $7.99. M

Just back from their honeymoon, Abby and Marco literally unearth a skeleton in the basement of Marco’s bar. Figuring out who and why keeps number 15 in the Indiana-set cozy series (after Seed No Evil) moving lightly and cleverly.

Duncan, Alice. Spirits Revived: A Daisy Gumm Majesty Mystery. Five Star: Gale Cengage. Mar. 2014. 252p. ISBN 9781432827984. $25.95. M

Widowed Daisy, still working as a medium in Pasadena, CA, finds herself in trouble with a drug ring when a séance goes awry. Duncan’s cozy historical series, circa 1923, features laughter and strong family connections. This is number seven for Daisy (after Ancient Spirits).

James, Miranda. The Silence of the Library: A Cat in the Stacks Mystery. Prime Crime: Berkley. Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780425257289. pap. $7.99. M

National Library Week festivities go haywire when the planned visit by a centenarian author of a well-known girl detective mystery series (think: Nancy Drew) is disrupted by fans. Mississippi academic librarian Charlie has to watch his back when murder strikes again. This is case number five for Charlie and Diesel, his Maine Coon cat (after Out of Circulation).

Kurland, Michael. Who Thinks Evil: A Moriarty Novel. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780312365455. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466847392. M

It’s 1892, and one of Queen Victoria’s sons has gone missing—and he’s a suspect in the death of a young woman. With Sherlock unavailable to solve the case, Moriarty is the next best option. Don’t miss the fifth entry in the smartly structured historical (after 2006’s The Empress of India).

McKinty, Adrian. In the Morning I’ll Be Gone: A Detective Sean Duffy Novel. Seventh St: Prometheus. Mar. 2014. 308p. ISBN . pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616148782. M

Belfast’s DS Sean Duffy must balance his background (Irish Catholic) and his job (he’s currently with MI5). Hunting for an IRA bomber requires his immediate attention. Set in the 1980s, this is the concluding volume in a gritty trilogy (after I Hear the Sirens in the Street).

Ramsay, Frederick. Drowning Barbie: An Ike Schwartz Mystery. Poisoned Pen. Feb. 2014. 268p. ISBN 9781464202148. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781464202162. $14.95.; ebk. ISBN 9781615954704. M

Sheriff Ike wonders what he’s gotten into when meth heads make their presence known and two bodies turn up in one grave. This is the ninth case for the honorable sheriff (after Scone Island) working in a scenic Virginia college town.

Walker, Martin. The Resistance Man: A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel. Knopf. Feb. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780385349543. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385349550. M

Bruno has his hands full with a case linked to the French Resistance movement of World War II, plus present-day troubles in the local gay community. The sixth entry in the enjoyable series (after The Devil’s Cave) set in France’s Dordogne region. [Prepub Alert, 8/19/13.]

Mystery Reviews | February 1, 2014

Speeding, careening, throttling, and skidding: typical verbs for the high-­octane world of mystery thrillers. What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang than by reading David Burnsworth’s crackling Southern Heat, which features the iconic vehicle? Or consider Robert K. Lewis’s decidedly grim Critical Damage, also chock-full of specialty cars. Even the British procedurals get into the act with Nick Oldham’s Judgement Call pulling in some dramatic chases. Not to be outdone, Parker Bilal (The Ghost Runner) puts Land Cruisers to the test in his Saharan setting.

Classic mystery allure doesn’t necessarily need four wheels, counter the genealogy buffs. For them, offer up two dandy new cozies by Gigi Pandian (Pirate Vishnu) and Triss Stein (Brooklyn Graves) that explore U.S. immigrant histories through their historian protagonists. And, finally, get your green on in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. Several titles make the mark including newcomer Lisa Alber’s stirring debut Kilmoon. See the Series Lineup for more.

Bilal, Parker. The Ghost Runner: A Makana Mystery. Bloomsbury USA. Feb. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9781620403402. $27. M

The year is 2002, and the world is on terrorist high alert. Musab Khayr, an Egyptian political dissident banished to Denmark, has been secretly hauled back to Egypt to do covert work. Makana, a Sudanese ex-police inspector who lives in Cairo, is hired by Magdy Ragab to find out whether a young woman’s death was a suicide. For complicated reasons, Magby suspects Musab of murdering her. Thus Makana makes the trek west to Siwa, where he believes Musab would go. Once there, Makana encounters a wall of silence that he patiently chips away at, surviving several dangerous encounters. Consequently, he’s not entirely surprised when old enemies arise seemingly out of nowhere. The conclusion will startle and exhilarate readers. VERDICT This superb novel executes a slow build-up, exploring Middle Eastern cultural practices and explaining historical context. Thus drawn in, readers will be mesmerized by the rippling events that occur in quick order. Bilal is a pseudonym for literary novelist Jamal Mahjoub. His third lone wolf Makana title (after Dogstar Rising) will appeal to lovers of dark international crime fiction.

Harrod-Eagles, Cynthia. Hard Going: A Bill Slider Mystery. Severn House. Feb. 2014. 236p. ISBN 9780727883315. $28.95. M

A nice man, by all accounts, Lionel Bygod has shockingly been bludgeoned to death in his study. DI Bill Slider and his team must tease apart the victim’s life both for motive and next of kin notification. They subsequently investigate the housekeeper’s shady family, the law practice Bygod abandoned abruptly several years earlier, and, most surprisingly, his connection with one of England’s most popular stage actresses. Good old-fashioned detective work eliminates the wide pool and finally exposes the killer. VERDICT Harrod-Eagles has neatly updated a typical British procedural and given it 21st-century flair with believable protagonists, a diverse ensemble cast, and contemporary issues. Her knack for making the supporting characters stand out is particularly notable. Additionally, her excellent dialog peppered with sly humor (cleverly titled chapters, e.g., “Driving Miss Crazy”) gives it an episodic tone. Readers new to the series can enjoy this 16th entry (after Blood Never Dies) without having to turn to the earlier titles.

Brody, Frances. Murder in the Afternoon: A Kate Shackleton Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 388p. ISBN 9781250037022. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250037039. M

One Saturday afternoon, stonemason Ethan Armstrong is murdered. Oddly, his ten-year-old daughter, Harriet, was the only one to see his corpse in his workshop. When the authorities arrive later, the body has disappeared. Harriet’s observations are not taken seriously, except by her mother, Mary Jane, who asks PI Kate Shackleton to investigate. Over the period of a week, Kate gradually untwists a number of village secrets, including some of her own. While Ethan’s political leanings (he was a leftist union organizer) made him many enemies, it may be that other long-held secrets led to his death. VERDICT This meaty historical set in post–World War I England succeeds as a satisfying traditional mystery and as a fascinating historical novel tackling women’s roles in the early 1920s. Brody’s series, now at three (after A Medal for Murder), merits serious attention. While leisurely paced, it never lags, instead inviting quiet time on the couch with a cuppa. Partners well with Jacqueline Winspear and Kerry Greenwood.


Burnsworth, David. Southern Heat. Five Star: Gale Cengage. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781432828004. $25.95. M

Troubled Brack Pelton, a young widower and ex-Marine recently back from his Afghanistan stint, is mostly guided by self-preservation. When Reggie Sails, his beloved, crusty bar-owning uncle, is shot and killed in a Charleston, SC, alley, Brack captures only Reggie’s puzzling final words. His uncle left him clues here and there, and Brack attempts to assemble a fuller picture of the man’s dealings. Mysteriously, Reggie had been working with an informant who fed him documents about an environmental cover-up in the region. Brack meets with him, but, soon after, the informant is killed. Fighting back, Brack assembles an unlikely team ranging from Reggie’s high-society ex-wife, a gutsy newspaper reporter, and a minister with valuable connections. But the villains have no moral compass, and everyone on Brack’s side is vulnerable. Brack must fire up his Marine training and power through. VERDICT Hop on board for a hard-edged debut that’s fully loaded with car chases (particularly Mustangs), war veterans, old grudges, and abundant greed. A choppy start belies a well-executed plotline enhanced by the atmospheric Palmetto State setting.

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Mystery Encore

Hart, Carolyn. Castle Rock. Seventh St: Prometheus. Feb. 2014. 172p. ISBN 9781616148737. pap. $13.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616148744. M


“Makana walked out into the open air and lit a cigarette. The lights across the river glittered in the water below him. What was it that made him feel so uneasy? Makana had the sense that he was on the trail of something much bigger than he had bargained for. He wasn’t sure he could see where the edges were and he didn’t like that.”—Parker Bilal, The Ghost Runner

Check These Out

Alber, Lisa. Kilmoon: A County Clare Mystery. Muskrat. Mar. 2014. 348p. ISBN 9780989544603. pap. $14.95. M

Lewis, Robert K. Critical Damage: A Mark Mallen Novel. Midnight Ink. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780738736235. pap. $14.99. M

Oldham, Nick. Judgement Call: A Detective Superintendent Henry Christie Novel. Severn House. Feb. 2014. 220p. ISBN 9780727883339. $28.95. M

Rhodes, Kate. A Killing of Angels. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781250014313. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250014306. M

COzy corner

Brett, Simon. The Strangling on the Stage: A Fethering Mystery. Crème de la Crime: Severn House. Feb. 2014. 204p. ISBN 9781780290560. $27.95. M

Pandian, Gigi. Pirate Vishnu: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery. Henery. Feb. 2014.

308p. ISBN 9781938383977. pap. $15.95. M

Stein, Triss. Brooklyn Graves: An Erica Donato Mystery. Poisoned Pen. Mar. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781464202179. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781464202193. $14.95. M

Additional Mystery

Coleman, Reed Farrel. The Hollow Girl: A Moe Prager Mystery. Tyrus. May 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781440562020. $24.95;

pap. ISBN 9781440573019. $16.99. M

Shaw, William. She’s Leaving Home. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Feb. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9780316246842. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316246835. M


This month I’m going back to C.J. Box’s New Year’s reading resolutions (see Mystery, LJ 1/14, p. 76, for the full report). Box resolved that he would read Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke. In an email he noted, “I’ve read most of his other books and I’m a huge fan, but for some reason I missed the one considered a classic. It’s on my list. So is Hombre by Elmore Leonard.” Box also heartily endorsed Scottish author Denise Mina, describing her as “brilliant” and “a fantastic stylist.” When last sighted, he was reading Mina’s Gods and Beasts. No slouch himself, Box has a new Joe Pickett mystery, coming out in March (Stone Cold). A collection of Box short stories (Shots Fired) publishes this summer. He promises another chilling stand-alone (after The Highway) for 2015. One of Box’s talents is his ability to appeal to both male and female readers; statistics indicate that his fan base is split right down the middle.


Don’t let winter hold you in its grip! SleuthFest 2014 ( comes to Orlando, FL, on February 27 and runs until March 2. Librarian’s Day, with special rates, is February 28. All sorts of show-stopping authors will be featured, including

Laura Lippman, Ace Atkins, and Hank Phillippi Ryan. Or, head west to Left Coast Crime (, being held on March 20–23 in Monterey, CA. Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, Cara Black, Louise Penny, and Sue Grafton are among the honorees, with the irrepressible Brad Parks as toastmaster.

Teresa L. Jacobsen, retired librarian, was a training coordinator for Solano County Library, and previous to that, a fiction evaluator/reference librarian for Santa Monica Public Library. She has written occasional feature articles for LJ and reviewed fiction regularly since 2004. She is an unabashed mystery fan who enjoys bringing new readers into the fold

In Print: Sourcebooks to Publish House of Cards

The second season of House of Cards, the  Emmy Award-winning Netflix series starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, premieres Friday, February 14. Today Sourcebooks is releasing the ebook version of Michael Dobbs’s political thriller on which the series is based. Originally published over 20 years ago in Britain, House of Cards is a gripping tale of corruption and intrigue within the Palace of Westminster as Chief Whip Francis Urquhart schemes his way to becoming Prime Minister.

Dobbs, a former Conservative politician and adviser to Margaret Thatcher, wrote the novel after a dispute with Thatcher. Acclaimed for its insider’s behind-the-scenes look at the machinations of government, the book became an acclaimed BBC series that featured a memorably diabolical  Ian Richardson as Urquhart. (Watch the clip below, but  there is a serious SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t seen either the British or American series.)

Although Dobbs’s novel was released here, it had long been out of print until Sourcebooks acquired the U.S. rights. The publisher plans to issue the print version on March 11, and for this edition, the author has rewritten the ending and updated the dialog. Coming later this year and in early 2015 are the other two titles in the  trilogy: To Play the King and The Final Cut.

Video Reviews | February 1, 2014

The Empire State Building: The World’s Greatest Skyscraper. color. 60 min. Tom Ashley, My Little Show, 2013. DVD ISBN 9780578126081. $10. ARCH

With work beginning on March 17, 1930, the Empire State Building eventually surpassed in height the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street to become the tallest office building in the world. Through archival photographs and vintage film as well as animation, the construction of the 102-story edifice is re-created here. The story of this iconic, landmark skyscraper is also the story of the invention of industrial steel, the competition among industrial barons, and the history of modern New York. The builders, the Starrett brothers, introduced many innovations to the project, such as the use of rail cars and food services at the site; their concern for their workers was unique in the history of labor. Lewis Hine, a well-known social photographer, documented the laborers and craftspeople at work. Unfortunately, the great triumph of erecting this building in fewer than 14 months was overshadowed by the Depression, as less than a third of the space was initially rented. The Empire State Building reigned as the tallest building in the world for more than 41 years and still holds a place in our imaginations as the world’s greatest skyscraper. VERDICT This production is highly recommended for general library and academic collections, especially those serving students interested in architectural history and the history of the great Depression.—Herbert E. Shapiro, Lifelong Learning Soc., Florida Atlantic Univ., Boca Raton

In Heaven There Is No Beer: The Kiss or Kill Music Scene; Saving Los Angeles from Itself One Tuesday at a Time. color. 88+ min. Dave Palamaro, No-Money Enterprises, dist. by MVDvisual, 800-888-0486; 2013. DVD UPC 760137593294. $14.95. MUSIC

The Kiss or Kill music scene was not your average Tuesday night music club. Formed as a reaction to more commercial Los Angeles musical goings-on, Kiss or Kill flourished from 2002 to 2007 in small venues around L.A. until it imploded through jealousy, rivalries, a move to larger venues, and offers of record deals. In fact, it became co-opted by the very things against which it had rebelled. Director Palamaro was a member of the Kiss or Kill club band the O.A.T.S., and his insider knowledge combines with wonderful archival footage of the bands and venues that defined the scene. The film relies heavily on interviews with key figures and leaves the viewer with an excellent picture of a time and place where loud music, cheap drinks, a friendly and supportive music community, and a $5 cover were the rule. VERDICT A raucous blast from an all-too-short-lived episode, this production is an indie-rock treat and a refreshing alternative for anyone tired of overproduced, overhyped corporate rock.—Bill Baars, Lake Oswego P.L., OR

Chasing Sarasota. color. 92+ min. Matt Mastrantuono, Blurred Lens Prods., dist. by Seventh Art Releasing, 2013. DVD $79; acad. libs. $250. Public performance; home version $15. SPORTS

On the Kickstarter page that enabled the making of this film, director Mastrantuono described this project as a means to pursue two of his passions: filmmaking and ­Ultimate Frisbee (UF). The result is a documentary on the Portland, OR, Rhino elite men’s ultimate team in pursuit of the 2011 national championship being held that year in Sarasota, FL. Those unfamiliar with UF will find it to be an extremely physical disc team sport that looks something like a blend of lacrosse and football but played at nearly the speed of ice hockey. Ultimate is popular in recreational leagues and as a college and independent club sport. At the elite level, players mirror ­Mastrantuono’s passion for the game and adopt training regimens worthy of professional athletes. VERDICT This fine film debut is highly recommended for adult sports video collections as a great introduction to a rising sport.—Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH

Radio Unnameable. color & b/w. 87+ min. Paul Lovelace & Jessica Wolfson, Twelve O’Clock Films, Lost Footage Films, dist. by Kino Lorber, 2013. DVD UPC 738329109523. $149; public performance $249; DSL $499; DSL & public performance $599; home version $29.95. COMM

Beginning in 1963 and continuing through some of the most turbulent periods of recent history, Bob Fass shaped FM radio as a medium. Broadcasting on commercial-free WBAI in New York City, Fass (b. 1933) added telephone conversations with listeners and live performances to traditional radio fare of recorded music. This documentary traces Fass’s 50-year career, including how his overnight program, Radio Unnameable, became the venue for antiwar protestors such as Abbie Hoffman. Long before social media fueled movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, Fass and WBAI were playing integral roles in the Grand Central Station Yip-In and Chicago’s 1968 Democratic National Convention. The film features interviews with Fass and many of his contemporaries, but it derives much of its richness from Fass’s extensive personal archive. The documentary ends with efforts currently under way to preserve this huge collection of rare and valuable material. Bonus features include deleted scenes and an animated short film. VERDICT An essential production for anyone wanting to understand the music and the movements of the 1960s and 1970s.—Rosemary Arneson, Univ. of Mary Washington Lib., Fredericksburg, VA

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The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vincente Fernandez. color. 99+ min. Elia Petridis, Filmatics Prod., dist. by Indican Pictures c/o 2013. DVD UPC 825284201413. $24.99; Blu-ray UPC 825284100075. $29.99. F

Sweetwater. color. 95+ min. Logan Miller, ARC Entertainment c/o 2014. DVD UPC 796019824316. $20.99; Blu-ray UPC 796019827614. $24.99. Rated: R. F/WESTERN

The Bells of St. Mary’s. b/w. 126+ min. Leo McCarey, dist. by Olive Films, 2013. DVD UPC 887090075107. $19.95; Blu-ray UPC 887090075206. $29.95. F


Ain’t in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm. color. 83+ min. Jacob Hatley, Dirt Farmer Music, dist. by Kino Lorber, 2013. DVD UPC 738329083823. $149; public performance $229; DSL $499; DSL & public performance $599; home version $26.95; Blu-ray UPC 738329118921. $29.95. MUSIC

Good Ol’ Freda: Behind a Great Band There Was a Great Woman. color & b/w. 87+ min. Ryan White, Tripod Media, Magnolia Home Entertainment, dist. by Magnolia, 2013. DVD UPC 876964006194. $26.98; Blu-ray UPC 876964006200. $26.98. Rated: PG. MUSIC

One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das. color. 72+ min. Jeremy Frindel, Substratum Films, dist. by Zeitgeist Films, 2013. DVD UPC 795975115537. $29.99. MUSIC/REL

Becoming Traviata. color. 112 min. In French & Italian w/English subtitles. Philippe Beziat, dist. by Cinema Guild, 2013. DVD ISBN 9780781514422. $99.95; acad. libs. $195. Public performance; home version $24.95. OPERA

Violeta Went to Heaven. color. 110+ min. In Spanish & French w/English subtitles. Andrés Wood, Wood Prods., Maiz Prods., & Bossanova Films, dist. by Kino Lorber, 800-562-3330; 2013. DVD UPC 738329106522. $149; public performance $249; DSL $499; DSL & public performance $599; home version $29.95. PERFORMING ARTS/BIOPIC

Secretariat’s Jockey: Ron Turcotte. color. 75 min. In French w/English subtitles; in English w/French subtitles. Phil Comeau, Natl. Film Bd. of Canada, 800-542-2164; 2013. DVD UPC 698193287386. $195. Public performance. SPORTS/BIOG


Herman’s House. color. 81+ min. Angad Singh Bhalla, Storyline Entertainment & Time of Day Prods., dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2013. DVD UPC 720229915595. $24.95; digital version from Cinedigm, CRIMINOLOGY

Schools That Change Communities. color. 58 min. Bob Gliner, dist. by Video Project, 800-4-PLANET; 2013. $79; acad. libs. $195. Public performance; closed-captioned. ED

A Womb with a View. color. 64 min. Jennifer Miller, dist. by MVDvisual, 2013. DVD UPC 760137574491. $99.95. Public performance. women’s studies

The World Before Her. color. 91+ min. In Hindi w/English subtitles. Nisha Pahuja, Storyline Entertainment, dist. by Cinedigm c/o 2013. DVD UPC 767685291061. $29.95; digital version at Closed-captioned. WOMEN’s STUDIES/INT AFFAIRS


Boom Varietal: The Rise of Argentine Malbec. color. 72+ min. In English & Spanish w/English subtitles. Sky Pinnick, Rage Prods., dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2013. DVD UPC 720229915649. $24.95. BEVERAGES

Fish Meat: Choose Your Farm Wisely. color. 29/52 min. Jose Cunningham, Fish Navy Films, dist. by Collective Eye, 2012. DVD ISBN 9780985439804. $39.99; public performance $100; acad. libs. $200; home version $14.99; streaming $9.99.

Vegucated. color. 77+ min. Marisa Miller Wolfson, Filmbuff, Kind Green Planet, dist. by Passion River, 732-440-8100; 2012. DVD UPC 728028164572. $23.99. Closed-captioned. HOME ECON

CORRECTION: The correct name of the codirector of The Greatest Ears in Town: The Arif Mardin Story (LJ 1/14) is Doug Biro. We apologize for the error.

Audio Reviews | February 1, 2014

Chapman, Emma. How To Be a Good Wife. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7¼ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470376475. $92.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. F

After 25 years of marriage, Marta Bjornstad has gone off her meds. She can quote passages with ease from How To Be a Good Wife (a wedding present from her mother-in-law) but is increasingly unable to operate in the world. She’s either the traumatized victim of a brutal act in the past, or she’s descending into psychosis, but which is it? Since Marta is telling her own story, it’s hard to decide. Susan Lyons as reader is a near-perfect choice. All characters are rendered skillfully, but with the inner voice of Marta, Lyons strikes just the right notes of hesitation, desperation, and despair. VERDICT Highly recommended. [“[T]his confident and compelling debut novel is a chilling and very creepy tale of deception and distrust,” read the starred review of the St. Martin’s hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 9/20/13.]—Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA

Gilbert, Elizabeth. The Signature of All Things. 18 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 22 hrs. Penguin Random Audio. 2013. ISBN . $39.95; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) returns to fiction with a sprawling 19th-century saga about a young botanist, Alma Whittaker. Alma’s fascination with plants (mosses in particular), combined with her recently broken heart, leads her from her birthplace of Philadelphia to Tahiti and, eventually, to the formulation of her “Theory of Competitive Alteration.” Substitute finches for mosses and the Galapagos Islands for Tahiti, and you will see where Alma is headed with her ideas about how plant life evolves in order to survive. Beautifully read by the English actress Juliet Stevenson, this audiobook encompasses Alma’s experiences with natural science, love, loss, and enlightenment and delivers a cracking good story in the process. ­VERDICT Highly recommended. [“Gilbert’s (Stern Men) first novel in 13 years gets off to a strong and compelling start but loses its way midpoint; awkward plot points make the second half feel at times like another book entirely,” read the less impressed review of the Viking hc, LJ 10/1/13.]—Wendy Galgan, St. Francis Coll., Brooklyn

Kent, Hannah. Burial Rites. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781619699793. $30; Playaway digital; digital download. F

This mesmerizing debut from Kent is a haunting fictionalized account of the final months of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, an Icelandic work maid condemned to execution in 1829. Charged with the brutal murder of two men, Agnes is shipped off to the ­Jónsson family’s remote farm in northern Iceland to await her fate—death by beheading. As the narrative gracefully shifts among historical documents, flashbacks, and multiple characters’ perspectives, listeners become captivated by the complex Agnes, a woman whose intelligence has offended many in the patriarchal 19th-century Icelandic society. Kent’s prose is achingly beautiful, and her descriptions of even the smallest incidents are so exquisite listeners will want to go back and hear them over again. ­VERDICT Recommend this heartbreaking tale, masterfully narrated by Scottish actress Morven Christie, to anyone who enjoys suspenseful, smart historical fiction. [“[T]his compulsively readable novel entertains while illuminating a significant but little-known true story. Highly recommended,” read the starred review of the Little, Brown hc, LJ 7/13.]—Beth Farrell, Cleveland State Univ. Law Lib.

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Grisham, John. Sycamore Row. 16 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 20½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385366496. $45; 16 CDs. retail ed. Penguin Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Koontz, Dean. The Servants of Twilight. 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 16 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781469248806; $69.97; 13 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Lethem, Jonathan. Dissident Gardens. 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 16½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780307940919. $50; 13 CDs. retail ed. Penguin Random Audio; digital download. F

Modesitt, L.E. The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, with Winds and Accompaniment. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452616087. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD/10 CDs. library ed.; digital download. SF

Moyes, Jojo. The Girl You Left Behind. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2012. ISBN 9781470382742. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Setterfield, Diane. Bellman and Black. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781442364387. $39.99; digital download. F

Shreve, Anita. Stella Bain. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781619692183. $30; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Trigiani, Adriana. The Supreme Macaroni Company. (Valentine Trilogy, Bk. 3). Harper Audio. 8 CDs. 10 hrs. unabridged. ISBN 978006236098. $39.99; digital download. F


Baker, Peter. Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House. 23 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 29½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385362368. $70; 23 CDs. retail ed. Penguin Random Audio; digital download. POL SCI

Barr, Luke. Provence, 1970. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804148856. $40; digital download. BIOG

Brennan, Chrisann. The Bite in the Apple: A Memoir of My Life with Steve Jobs. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Tantor Audio. ISBN 9781452618081. $34.99; 9 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. MEMOIR

Ephron, Delia. Sister Mother Husband Dog.

4 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 5 hrs. Brilliance Audio. ISBN 9781480557116. $79.97; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. MEMOIR

Fagen, Donald. Eminent Hipsters. 4 CDs. unabridged. 5 hrs. Penguin Random Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611762198. $29.95; digital download. MUSIC

Gneezy, Uri & John List. The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624068096. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. SOC SCI

Goodwin, Doris Kearns. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. 30 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 37 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781442353152. $75; 4 MP3-CDs. retail ed.; digital download. HIST

Henry, David & Joe Henry. Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452615578. $42.99; 8 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. BIOG

Lamott, Anne. Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair. 2 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 2 hrs. Penguin Random Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611762372. $17.95 [check price; I added]; digital download. SELF-HELP

Smart, Elizabeth. My Story. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427233424. $29.99; Playaway digital; digital download. MEMOIR

Yousafzai, Malala, with Christina Lamb. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781478979784. $30; Playaway digital; digital download. MEMOIR

Trailers: What’s coming on DVD/Blu-ray | February 1, 2014

A Brief History of Time. color. 84+ min. Errol Morris, dist. by Criterion Collection. Mar. 2014. DVD/Blu-ray ISBN 9781604658118. $39.95. SCI/BIOG

An exploration of Stephen Hawking.

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor. color. 60+ min. dist. by BBC Home Entertainment. Mar. 2014. DVD $14.98; Blu-ray $19.98. SF/TV

Adios to Matt Smith, the “Eleventh Doctor.”

The Freshman. b/w. 76+ min. Harold Lloyd, dist. by Criterion Collection. Mar. 2014. DVD/Blu-ray ISBN 9781604658088. $39.95. SILENT COMEDY

Football as only Lloyd can play it.

George Washington. color. 90+ min. David Gordon Green, dist. by Criterion Collection. Mar. 2014. DVD/Blu-ray ISBN 9781604658293. $39.95. DRAMA

Childhood in the South.

Persona. b/w. 83+ min. In Swedish w/English subtitles. Ingmar Bergman, dist. by Criterion Collection. Mar. 2014. DVD/Blu-ray ISBN 9781604658125. $39.95. DRAMA

A mute actress and her nurse in a psychological drama.

Samson and Delilah. color. 133+ min. Cecil B. DeMille, dist. by Paramount Home Media. Mar. 2014. Blu-ray UPC 032429146489. $22.98. DRAMA

A hair-raising historical drama, with Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature.

Torture Made in America. color. 87+ min. Robin Marie-Monique, dist. by Oscilloscope Labs. Mar. 2014. DVD UPC 698452210230. $24.99. POLITICS/CRIME

When did torture become legal? Can the Bush administration be prosecuted?

Veep: The Complete Second Season. 2 discs. color. 279+ min. HBO Home Entertainment. Mar. 2014. DVD UPC 883929355594. $39.98; Blu-ray/digital UPC 883929355624. $49.99. Rated: TV-MA. COMEDY

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as our “second” favorite politico.—Bette-Lee Fox

Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, February 14, 2014

Week ending February 14, 2014

Casey, Joe (text) & Piotr Kowalski (illus.). Sex. Vol. 1: The Summer of Hard. Image. 2013. 168p. ISBN 9781607067849. pap. $9.99. Rated: M. ROMANTIC DRAMA
There’s something oddly quaint about Sex: The Summer of Hard. In our modern world, where hard-core pornography is available at the click of a button, reading eight single-issue comics of soft-core meanderings seems like lots of work. And that’s pretty much all Casey’s title amounts to in this volume. Simon Cooke is taking a break from his superhero gig as the Armored Saint, hoping to let loose and sample Saturn City’s abundance of escorts and high-class orgies, but he struggles with his conscience, his virtue, and his unconsummated love for his archnemesis (and Madame) Shadow Lynx. Less morally preoccupied subplots focusing on villains like grotesque Old Man, shady Prank Addict, and the slimy, effeminate Alpha Brothers offer a bit of excitement but not enough to turn this into a fleshed-out, compelling story. The conflict of the virtuous man dabbling in darkness feels antiquated and borrowed—Batman’s inner psychic struggle comes to mind. Kowalski’s artwork is serviceable and titillating but also repetitive and rote, and the trope of spelling out the sexual undertones lurking in the margins of mainstream comics is rather on-the-nose.
Verdict For adult fans of sexual subtext in superhero sagas and the erstwhile connoisseur of nudie pics.—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX

DeForge, Michael (text & illus.). Ant Colony. Drawn & Quarterly. Feb. 2014. 112p. ISBN 9781770461376. $21.95. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Toronto-based Eisner Award nominee DeForge (Lose) creates a demented tale of an ant colony and its uncertain end with just a handful of ants playing an active part in the plot. He alternates among the stories of a pair of worker ant lovers, a cowardly ant cop, a sociopathic father, and his prophet son. The ant queen also appears, as do other invertebrates including spiders and bees. A red ant colony and the colony of the main characters virtually annihilate each other leaving the protagonists to attempt, somehow, to begin a colony anew. The artwork is bizarre, bordering on the disturbing at points. Although the ant characters aren’t named, Deforge clearly distinguishes each ant visually. The black ants’ organs are depicted, while each has a distinctly shaped head and colored face. His spiders look like dogs and a centipede is some sort of stretch SUV. The color scheme is an odd mix of brilliant yellow and pink with duller earth tones and pastels. Verdict This may be of interest to alternative comics fans but will leave other readers scratching their heads.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids

Graham, Brandon (text & illus.). Complete Multiple Warheads. Image. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9781607068402. pap. $17.99. Rated: M+. FANTASY
Complete Multiple Warheads is set in a world where water can be haunted, cigarettes sing, and slug-like creatures are harnessed to provide guilt-free power. The main character is an organ hunter named Sexica who is determined to start a new life with her werewolf boyfriend in the Impossible City after one of World War III’s abandoned aircraft comes hurtling down from the sky and destroys their apartment. Meanwhile, another organ hunter named Nura is chasing a life form who is able to regrow organs and who is the ultimate catch but who also has a definite taste for melodrama and is not going to make things easy. Just like the story, the art is deceptively simple blending. Both line and shading are clean and subtle, but landscapes and perspectives are constantly shifting making the action sometimes difficult to follow. The cleverness of the writing, the sheer number of puns, and the hidden sight gags encourage readers to revisit this highly original book again and again. It’s like Alan Martin’s Tank Girl in the hands of R. Crumb.
Verdict This decidedly adult book will appeal to readers who are looking for something very different but may leave those expecting a standard sf dystopia wondering what just happened.—E.W. Goodman, Art Inst. of Pittsburgh

Novgorodoff, Danica (text & illus.). The Undertaking of Lily Chen. First Second. Mar. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9781596435865. pap. $29.99. F
When Deshi Li accidentally kills his brother Wei during an argument, their mother demands that he find Wei a corpse bride, fulfilling the ancient Chinese tradition of “ghost marriage” that is still practiced in some provinces today. Unable to locate a suitably fresh body even with the help of middleman Mr. Song, Deshi sets his sights on the very much alive Lily Chen, who makes his job especially easy by begging him to take her away from her boring village. His plan to turn Lily into an eligible stiff goes awry, however, when his conscience—and his heart—inadvertently interfere. Meanwhile, Lily’s father is after them with the village’s finest men, and Mr. Song is determined to finish the job he was hired to do.
Verdict Novgorodoff (Refresh, Refresh) illustrates beautifully immersive watercolor scenes and detailed backgrounds that are tough to reconcile visually with her rather inhuman-looking characters. It’s hard to tell what mood she was attempting to set. Consequently, some readers might be moved by Deshi’s predicament, others might just enjoy the novel as a dark-humored adventure story. Recommended to teens and adults with an interest in Chinese culture or quirky graphic novels.—Heather Williams, Whatcom Community Coll., Bellingham, WA

Okazaki, Kyoko (text & illus.). Pink. Vertical. 2013. 249p. ISBN 9781939130129. pap. $16.95. MANGA
Okazaki (Helter Skelter) created the groundbreaking manga Pink in 1989, and Vertical’s edition is the first in English. It’s the story of Yumi, who sells both her office skills and her body to make enough money to feed her pet crocodile “Croc.” She develops a physical relationship with Haru, a budding novelist who had been sleeping with her stepmother. After Yumi’s apartment floods, she moves in with him and they fall in love. When Croc goes missing and Yumi’s stepmother later sends her a crocodile-skin suitcase, her consolation is Haru’s lucky win of a literary contest with a huge cash prize and the promise of leaving Tokyo with him for somewhere tropical.
Verdict Okazaki’s simple character designs lend a matter-of-fact, almost comical quality to Pink’s otherwise graphic sex scenes. Fans of typical women’s manga will be surprised by this honest and bizarrely charming read, while other adults may be drawn in by the unusual humor and the artist’s subtle meditations on what it means to live and love in a capitalist society.—Heather Williams, Whatcom Community Coll., Bellingham, WA

Enter the Folio Prize

There’s a new book prize in town, and it announced itself grandly on February 10 by issuing an inaugural shortlist ranging from debut Irish author Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing to Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, one of the most lauded titles in the U.S. market last year. Officially launched in March 2013, the Folio Prize was founded by Andrew Kidd, managing director of the London-based literary agency Aitken Alexander Associates, and is sponsored by the Folio Society, a British publisher known for its elegantly produced nonfiction and fiction. Its organizers call it the first major English-language book prize open to writers from around the world.

The scope is thus global, the focus Anglophone (books must be written originally in English), and the calendar British (candidates must be published in the U.K. in the year previous to the March awards). Most significantly, the award aims to honor fiction, considering any genre to find “the most exciting and outstanding English-language books to appear in the last year,” says Kidd. Aside from Kushner’s and McBride’s works, the eight final contenders offer a satisfying if mostly recognizable mix with a touch of surprise.

Anne Carson’s Red Doc>, for instance, is actually a full-length work of poetry in dramatic format whose nomination reveals an intriguing open-mindedness on the part of the judges. Amity Gaige’s morally nuanced Schroder made numerous Top Ten lists in America but is here getting its first chance at prize recognition. Jane Gardam’s Last Friends, third in the English author’s “Old Filth” trilogy, is a home run for the home team. Kent Haruf’s quiet Benediction, which revisits the author’s beloved small-town Colorado, contrasts with Sergio De La Pava’s A Naked Singularity, a breakout debut novel in America, originally self-published, that won the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. George Saunders rounds out the list with his acclaimed story collection, Tenth of December, a National Book Award finalist, as was Kushner’s The Flamethrowers.

The judges, chaired by prize-winning British poet/novelist Lavinia Greenlaw, include Pulitzer Prize–winning American novelist Michael Chabon; British novelist Sarah Hall, whose The Electric Michelangelo was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award; the Vietnamese-born, Australian-raised Nam Le, winner of multiple prizes for The Boat; and Indian novelist Pankaj Mishra, who won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Together they winnowed their selections from 80 books, 60 nominated by members of the newly formed Folio Prize Academy—over 100 strong, a rich mix of established authors and critics ranging from John Banville and Ian McEwan to Edwidge Danticat and Anne Tyler—and 20 drawn by the judges from letters of recommendation furnished by publishers.

The winner, who will receive £40,000, will be announced on Monday, March 10, at an invitation-only awards ceremony at London’s St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. In keeping with the award’s avowed aim, a Folio Prize Fiction Festival will be held the weekend before, March 8–9, in partnership with the British Library. The panels feature the judges, shortlisted authors, and a host of Folio Academy members, including Ali Smith and Sebastian Faulks, and are organized around the concepts of voice, place, genre, structure, and context—concepts that the prize’s organizers see as defining great fiction. At £8 apiece, the panels are a bargain, but the website advises those interested to book now.

The focus on concepts like voice and structure signals the prize’s commitment to the grand tradition of practiced, polished storytelling over anything thematic, niche, or in-your-face outré. As Greenlaw comments, “The prize makes an unapologetic assertion about the value of experience and expertise, and the high expectations that come from spending much of your life investigating and testing language and form.” This year’s judges weren’t entirely risk averse, though. British newspapers report that McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing was shopped around for nine years but rejected as too experimental until its purchase by Galley Beggar Press, which must now be popping champagne corks over that smart decision. The book has also won the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize and will be published here by Coffee House Press in the fall.

Given its backing, the Folio Prize might have tilted toward British authors, but in fact five of the eight shortlisted authors are Americans; adding Canadian Anne Carson makes for strong representation from North America. Clearly, the judges obeyed the injunction to ignore boundaries, sticking with what rang true to them. In the future, one would wish to see non-Western authors on the shortlist and some more daring choices generally. The prize admirably puts English-speaking authors from Africa and Australia, Asia, the Americas, and the British Isles on an equal footing and could serve as a real means of discovery. But a good list honoring good fiction is always welcome, and the inaugural Folio list is a nice start.

The Anglophone mandate does raise an interesting question. Other English-language prizes, such as the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and America’s National Book Critics Circle Awards, are open to books in translation and thus bring important titles to English-language readers. By not doing so, the Folio Prize seems poised to go in another direction as it brings together the entire community of authors writing in English—unlike the Commonwealth Writers Prizes, for instance, which obviously exclude the United States and have now ramped down to a short story prize only. The Folio Prize should allow us to reconsider the worldwide reach of the English language and its literature while clarifying how much both have been shaped by that reach. And it’s obviously another helpful tool for authors, publishers, and review editors eager to connect readers to good books.