Library Journal

Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, January 31, 2014

Week ending January 31, 2014

Mizuki, Shigeru (text & illus.). Showa 1926–1939: A History of Japan. Drawn & Quarterly. 2013. 560p. tr. from Japanese by Zack Davisson. ISBN 9781770461352. pap. $24.95. MANGA
This massive manga history earned Mizuki (NonNonBa; Onward Toward Our Noble Death; Kitaro) the Kodansha Award in 1989. Here, he presents two parallel story lines: a meticulously researched chronology of the events leading up to Japan’s entry into the World War II and the memories of his youth during the era. As the focus of the narrative shifts, so, too, does the art, from highly realistic scenes of political and military events to an expressive, cartoony style when looking at the lives of ordinary people. As if these shifts in tone weren’t enough, Mizuki’s iconic Kitaro character Nezumi Otoko steps in periodically to expand on the background and impact of certain major events. This approach may sound disjointed, but the end result is much, much more than the sum of its parts. By turns poignant, hilarious, harrowing, cynical, and inspiring, this work perfectly balances personal and universal elements to deliver a powerful message. Originally published in eight volumes, the first two are collected here.
Verdict A remarkable work that will make a lasting impression on readers; essential for most manga collections and highly recommended for readers of World War II–era histories and memoirs.—Neil Derksen, Pierce Cty. Lib. Syst., Tacoma

Moore, Alan & Peter Hogan (text) & Yanick Paquette & Karl Story (illus.). Terra Obscura. Vols. 1 & 2: S.M.A.S.H. of Two Worlds. Vertigo. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781401242800. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781401249915. SUPERHERO/FANTASY
Written by Hogan (2000 AD) and Moore (Watchmen) and illustrated by Paquette (Swamp Thing) and Story (Ocean), this volume is pure fun. S.M.A.S.H. of Two Worlds continues the story of an alternate universe populated with “science heroes” and magical beings. Using characters that were created in the 1940s by ABC Comics and not protected by copyright, the creators add their own spin on things while maintaining the carefree, jovial attitude of the mid-20th century. The book contains two volumes, each with its own story line. While this collection will seem like a cleaner, more optimistic Watchmen to some readers, it won’t go down as a classic; instead, it is an ode to the golden age of comic books and its heroes. The artwork by Paquette complements the writing style with characters that resemble Buck Rogers and Tarzan but adds the bulky physiques that are popular in today’s heroes.
Verdict This is a great book for those new to the comic book world, or those who have fond memories of classic comic book tales. Lovers of sf, golden age comics, and Watchmen will enjoy.—Ryan Claringbole, Coll. Lib. at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Quinn, Jason (text) & Sachin Nagar (illus.). Gandhi: My Life Is My Message. Campfire. (Heroes). Mar. 2014. 212p. notes. ISBN 9789380741222. pap. $16.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Delhi-based Quinn (Steve Jobs: Genius by Design) chooses to pen this graphic tale in Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s own voice, creating a powerful narrative with a memoir feel. Told as Gandhi’s recollections of his own life on the evening before his assassination, the book’s final pages take place on that fateful day, January 30, 1948. Quinn covers the leader’s early life as thoroughly as the campaigns in India for which he is so well remembered. We read of Gandhi’s schooling in London and his extensive work in South Africa, where he first conceived of his satyagraha or nonviolent resistance strategy of opposition to injustice. Since Quinn is writing as Gandhi, he is free to include many of the great man’s memorable sayings as well as his thoughts, such as his own dislike for the honorific “Mahatma.” Quinn also includes family moments and foibles among the indignities, fasting, and campaigns for a free India and equality for the untouchables caste. Artist Nagar (Sundarkaand: The Triumph of Hanuman) describes the characters and backgrounds with fine pen lines, then finishes them with warm watercolor washes.
Verdict This would serve as a fine introduction to Gandhi’s life and work, with the graphic format making it more readily accessible to a wider audience.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib. Wisconsin Rapids

Remender, Rick (text) & Andy Kuhn & Matteo Scalera (illus.). Secret Avengers. Vol. 3. Marvel. 2013. 112p. ISBN 9780785161233. pap. $19.99. SUPERHERO
This third volume of Secret Avengers offers a great example of continuing an ongoing story but is a nightmare for those jumping in with just this book and no context. The plot involves robots and other advanced AI that want to thrive in the world. They feel the best way to do this is to infect everyone living with nanobites. The heroes can stop it, but that will kill all of the machines, of which many are their friends. Writer Remender does his best to bring the reader up to speed through dialog, but there are too many moving pieces, and he doesn’t succeed in showing a group of heroes who don’t like but still respect one another. Illustrator Kuhn provides the art in the first issue in this volume and differs drastically from Scalera, who is responsible for the artwork in the rest of the books. Scalera is a better fit, having more detail and bringing a grittier vision to a dystopian environment.
Verdict This is a well-written and well-drawn book but too complicated for a new reader to pick up and understand without reading previous volumes. Recommended to those who enjoy dystopian environments, magic vs. science, and comic book team chemistry.—Ryan Claringbole, Coll. Lib. at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Best Acknowledgments of 2013

As 2013 is now firmly established as “last year,” it is high time for me to offer my annual “Best Acknowledgments” and bestow the Amanda Foreman Award upon the author(s) and book(s) this subjective committee of one finds most deserving of kudos for gracious and specific thanks offered to named library and archives staff who, in providing research access to the author, helped bring the book to publication.

The Amanda Foreman Award is named for its first winner. In a subsequent piece that Foreman wrote on literary prizes for the New York Times Book Review over a year later, in April 2013, she referred to the award. “Laugh all you like,” she wrote, “it was one of the proudest moments of my life.” Thank you, Dr. Foreman! In truth, your “Acknowledgements” in A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War (2011) have yet to be surpassed.

This year’s notable “Acknowledgements” sort themselves into the following prizes, culminating with our winners.


John V. Fleming. The Dark Side of the Enlightenment: Wizards, Alchemists, and Spiritual Seekers in the Age of Reason. (Norton, Jul. 2013)
In keeping with his alchemical subject, Fleming transmutes his “Acknowledgments” into “A Brief Word to the Reader on How the Book Was Made and Who Helped Me Make It.”  While he does not thank any librarians by name (“My first debt of gratitude, as always, is to the librarians who work so effectively to preserve and make accessible the materials of humanistic study”), I must acknowledge that neither does he thank his family by name. A nice balanced approach!




David Rosen & Aaron Santesso. The Watchman in Pieces: Surveillance, Literature, and Liberal Personhood.  (Yale Univ., Jul. 2013).
The authors note in their “Acknowledgments” that, given the topic of their cross-disciplinary study, “Many of those with whom we spoke have requested anonymity,…” I must respectfully point out that librarians are not among the “surveillance professionals” who requested or needed the anonymity they were granted in these “Acknowledgements.” (However, as a collector of Georgian “lover’s eye” jewelry, I think your cover art is tops!)


Jane Ridley. The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, The Playboy Prince. (Random, Dec. 2013).
These are very rich “Acknowledgments.” We can hear the clip-clop of carriage horses and smell the scent of cigars, leather, and port. There’s double gratitude to the queen, first for granting access to the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle and then for giving permission to quote from the archives. However, there’s another book that wins, below, on the score of acknowledgments to the high born. I tip my hat to such piquant and specific thanks in Ridley’s “Acknowledgments” as “Anthony Camp’s prompt and scholarly genealogical research has kept me right on mistresses and bastards,” and “Henry Poole and Co. of Savile Row provided an insight into Tum Tum’s waistline.” I am craving roast beef and Yorkshire pudding now. Are you?


The country song (one of Elvis’s first recordings) goes “I Forgot To Remember To Forget,” but I direct you to Joseph Monteyne’s “Acknowledgments” in his From Still Life to the Screen: Print Culture, Display, and the Materiality of the Image in Eighteenth-Century London. (Yale Univ., Oct. 2013) in which, instead, the author remembers he’d forgotten to remember. He confesses: “Here I must also acknowledge some people I forgot when last preparing a book for publication—…I apologize if there is anyone I have left off this list.”  Nice to take care of it that way, sir! Well done!




Jung Chang. Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China. (Knopf, Nov. 2013).
The author thanks not simply “Her Majesty the Queen for permission to quote material from the Royal Archives at Windsor,” but  also a Romanov prince, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, one Lord, and five Ladies. Is it any wonder, then, that when it comes to regular library and archives staff who helped her, she limits the names to those in charge, adding, “Indeed, I am thankful to all the archivists who assisted me; I am only sorry not to be able to name them all here….” She does not explain why she was unable to do so.



Andro Linklater. Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership. (Bloomsbury, Nov. 2013).
This was one of LJ’s best books of 2013. We sadly note Linklater’s passing last November. He added a wry perspective to the general run of gratitude in “Acknowledgments” when he wrote that, in trying out his subject on any number of associates, “Almost all responses, including incomprehension and boredom, were useful….” It’s instructive to remember that when we are bored or confused we may actually be serving a purpose!


Jill Lepore. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinion of Jane Franklin. (Knopf, Oct. 2013).
In a book on Benjamin Franklin’s sister, forgotten by history—”Never once did he so much as mention her name”—in which Lepore seeks to recapture what is lost to us about Jane Franklin and her world, Lepore’s own “Acknowledgments” begin:
“Heartfelt thanks to the generous librarians, archivists, collectors, and curators who helped me write this book. People taught me how to stitch books. People showed me how to boil soap. People pored over old pages of manuscript. People wrote me the most unbelievable letters. Thank you.”  Think of all the “people” who helped Lepore who are now lost to history.



When it came to thanking library and archives staff who aided her research, Foreman took a very practical and thorough approach. With little fuss or muss, as I wrote at the time, she enumerated those who helped her at each of scores of repositories. She did not write a narrative testament, as is much more common. The narrative approach can enable an author to wax supportive of librarians and archivists generally without actually citing any by name. (“In particular I would like to pay tribute to librarians and archivists everywhere, the unsung heroes who safeguard our past, for their unstinting devotion and priceless work at a time when their resources have been and are still under severe threats and pressures,” wrote one of LJ‘s best-book authors of 2013.)

This year’s winners don’t weave their “Acknowledgments” narratives around a paucity of names. In a truly gratifying mixture, these two winning authors display both their own own individuality and their connectedness to others as they declare their thanks.


Erskine Clarke. By the Rivers of Water: A Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey. (Basic: Perseus, Oct. 2013).
The author’s “Acknowledgments” carry us through the island landscapes and inland waterways of Georgia’s Lowcountry (not to mention his research trip to Gabon) as he names those who aided his journey, from seven staff members at the John Bulow Campbell Library of Columbia Theological Seminary, to two who worked at the Georgia Historical Society, “whom I now regard as friends.” Clarke names other repository staff from South Carolina to Wisconsin “who went out of their way to provide me with needed materials.” Is it pure chance that both he and his fellow winner have wives named Nancy?  Yes.


David Roll. The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler. (Oxford Univ., Jan. 2013).
Roll thanks Harry Hopkins’s daughter, Diana: “Fluent in Arabic and Farsi, she is rumored to have been a CIA agent, although her lips remain sealed.” While library public service staff will recognize a bit of the grumpy researcher in Roll, he manages to charm us: “Periodically reprimanded by archivists Virginia Lewick, Matt Hanson, and Kirstin Carter (especially Virginia, my favorite nag), I tried to navigate the arcane rules governing those who paw through boxes and squint at microfilm in the research rooms of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. Bob Clark, a senior archivist and supersleuth, helped me track down and locate documents in the various collections.” He goes on to confess to letting his dog off the leash during research breaks outdoors at Hyde Park. (Yes, he names the dog: Thatcher.) In writing in his “Acknowledgments” about striving to “drill deeper” in his research, we see that he has done the same in his thanks as he remembers all those who helped him in what he calls his “happy effort.”

 Here’s to a year full of magnificent “Acknowledgments,” rich in detail, brimming with gratitude for those who made the “happy effort” of research possible!






Science & Technology Reviews | January 2014

Golson, Terry (text) & Ben Fink (photos). The Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook. rev. ed. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2014. 192p. photos. index. ISBN 9781118627952. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9780544188402. COOKING

In 2006, chicken owner and professional chef Golson published The Farmstead Egg Cookbook to highlight recipes made with local eggs. This revised edition also showcases the joys of owning chickens. In the first part of the book, Golson expertly presents a brief overview of keeping chickens, discussing raising layers and how to handle fresh eggs. The majority of the work is devoted to a bounty of recipes featuring eggs as the main ingredient, ranging from the simplest forms of fried, poached, and shirred eggs to quiches, custards, sauces, and soufflés. Golson includes an instructive and entertaining introduction to each dish, and there are plenty of helpful charts and color photographs. VERDICT Golson provides a full-circle cookbook for those who won’t end up caring if the chicken or egg came first. This comprehensive volume is recommended for all collections, especially those with a community interest in urban farming.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

Kassinger, Ruth. A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered That Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants. Morrow. Mar. 2014. 416p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062048998. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062049032. SCI

Reluctant science student (she wanted to be a poet) and confessed plant murderer (her victim: a kumquat), Kassinger has traveled an unlikely road authoring numerous popular scientific articles and books (Paradise Under Glass). Here, she aims to “saunter” through the history of botany. An amiable and enthusiastic guide, she avoids a strict chronological treatment of the evolving science of botany, instead moving easily back and forth between historical and modern times. Kassinger punctuates her account with practical plant conundrums: Why, for example, did a neighbor’s old hickory tree die? How do those megapumpkins get to be so big? How do breeders engineer black petunias? Kassinger shows the progress of botany as resembling other branches of knowledge—i.e., built on the shoulders of giants—and she brings to life pioneering figures such as Robert Hooke, Marcello Malpighi, Nehemiah Grew, ­Joseph Priestly, and Charles Darwin. She also meets living plant researchers who are continuing the tradition. VERDICT Kassinger’s witty approach to a complex subject will win readers, but her really neat idea is to fit a personal quest for greater botanical knowledge within the larger historical development of the science. Students unsure about their fitness for scientific careers will be reassured by this book; gardeners will be intrigued.—­Robert Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ont.

Tunick, Michael H. The Science of Cheese. Oxford Univ. 2013. 312p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199922307. $29.95. SCI

The average American consumes 34 pounds of cheese annually, but most of us don’t ponder the complex scientific processes involved in cheese making. In his first book, Tunick (research chemist, Dairy & Functional Foods Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture) delves into the history of cheese making (like many discoveries, it was accidental) and the fascinating and varied methods that transform milk into cheese. He provides a skillfully organized tour of the major cheese varieties, exploring the provenance and geography of cheese making, the chemistry of flavor development, and the sensory experience of eating cheese. Tunick’s more technical scientific information, including chemical diagrams, is confined to boxes that can easily be skipped by general readers without losing the overall thematic thrust of the ­title. ­VERDICT Although readers will find that a basic knowledge of chemistry enhances enjoyment of the book, Tunick writes in a highly accessible style, with a delightful affinity for the subject matter. The results are essential reading for anyone interested in food science and culture and especially those seeking a robust introduction to the scientific aspects of homemade and artisanal cheese making, growing ever more popular.—Kelsy Peterson, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS

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Simeone, Vincent A. Grow More with Less: Sustainable Garden Methods. Cool Springs. 2013. 192p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781591865513. pap. $21.99. GARDENING

Zoob, Caroline (text) & Caroline Arber (photos). Virginia Woolf’s Garden: The Story of the Garden at Monk’s House. Jacqui Small: Quayside. 2013. 192p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781909342132. $40. GARDENING

Health & Medicine

Gruno, Brad. Brad’s Raw Made Easy: The Fast, Delicious Way To Lose Weight, Optimize Health, and Live Mostly in the Raw. Harmony. 2013. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9780385348126. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780385348133. HEALTH

Heimowitz, Colette. The New Atkins Made Easy: A Faster, Simpler Way To Shed Weight and Feel Great—Starting Today! Touchstone: S.& S. 2013. 352p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781476729954. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476730028. HEALTH

Hersey, Baird. The Practice of Nada Yoga: Meditation on the Inner Sacred Sound. Inner Traditions. 2013. 208p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781620551813. pap. $16.95. HEALTH

Noncommunicable Diseases in the Developing World: Addressing Gaps in Global Policy and Research. Johns Hopkins. 2013. 162p. ed. by Louis Galambos & Jeffrey L. Sturchio. index. ISBN 9781421412924. pap. $34.95; ebk. ISBN 9781421412931. MED

Peery, Pamela. Pop: 50 Amazing Secrets to a Successful Labor & Delivery or C-Section. Cassidy. 2013. 118p. ISBN 9780988680104. pap. $14.95. HEALTH

Shouse, Deborah. Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. Central Recovery. 2013. 180p. bibliog. ISBN 9781937612498. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781937612504. HEALTH

Home Economics

Cattell, Hudson. Wines of Eastern North America: From Prohibition to the Present; A History and Desk Reference. Cornell Univ. Jan. 2014. 400p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780801451980. $45. BEVERAGES

Watman, Max. Harvest: Field Notes from a Far-Flung Pursuit of Real Food. Norton. Mar. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780393063028. $24.95. HOME ECON

Wizenberg, Molly. Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage. S. & S. May 2014. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781451655094. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451655124. HOME ECON


Kilham, Benjamin. Out on a Limb: What Black Bears Have Taught Me About Intelligence and Intuition. Chelsea Green. 2013. 248p. photos. index. ISBN 9781603583909. $24.95. NAT HIST

Strycker, Noah. The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human. Riverhead. Apr. 2014. 304p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781594486357. $27.95. NAT HIST

Human Nature

Pääbo, Svante. Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes. Basic: Perseus. Feb. 2014. 288p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780465020836. $27.99. SCI

Paabo (director, dept. of genetics, Max Planck Inst. for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig) presents a scientific memoir of his—and his colleagues’—work in paleogenetics as they seek to learn more about those humans who populated the Northern Hemispheres before we did: Were Neanderthals our ancestors? He relates the progress of his own career in DNA studies from his native Sweden to Germany to the University of California, Berkeley, and eventually to the recently founded Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, as he describes challenges and accomplishments in finding and identifying ancient DNA. Along the way, readers behold the complex web of cooperation and competition among scientists, the politics of submission to the top journals, and the ego in assigning species status to a discovery, as well as Paabo’s lack of faith in paleontologists: they develop evolutionary theories from bone morphologies, while Paabo’s ilk seek the realities of the DNA story. Yet it’s clear that the retrieving, amplifying, and sequencing of ancient DNA are fraught with their own potentials for error. The technicalities of paleogenetics deepen as the chapters progress. Some readers may be forgiven if they skip ahead to the final two chapters, where the drama of Denisovan discoveries is palpable. VERDICT Scientific understanding of earlier humans is fast evolving. For the nonce, this is a go-to volume on the subject for serious readers. (P.S. In spite of the title, the DNA of Neanderthal women is crucial—as Paabo well knows!)—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal

Papagianni, Dimitra & Michael A. Morse. The Neanderthals Rediscovered: How Modern Science Is Rewriting Their Story. Thames & Hudson. 2013. 208p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500051771. $29.95. SCI

If you want grounding in our current understanding of our human predecessors, Papagianni, a PhD archaeologist, and Morse (How the Celts Came to Britain), a writer with a PhD in the history of science, have written the book for you. Although focused on Neanderthals, the authors set their discussion accessibly within the deeper context of the scientific study of hominid evolution generally, moving forward in chapters describing what is now understood of how former humans and hominids lived and functioned from about one million years ago to approximately 25,000 years ago. That’s the remarkably long time frame within which other humans may have walked the earth. Papagianni and Morse describe the evolution of tool use and manufacture, for example, so that we see what sets Neanderthal tools apart from those of their predecessors such as our common ancestor with Neanderthals, Homo heidelbergensis. (Inserted stand-alone two-to-four- page pieces such as “Stone tools: the basics” are very helpful.) The authors describe the differing points of view among notable paleontologists, archaeologists, and anthropologists (those groups Paabo, above, looks down on) about such matters as where Homo sapiens themselves evolved, Neanderthal burials, and Neanderthal–modern human interbreeding. Last, the authors show some of the ways in which our own culture keeps the Neanderthals with us to this day. VERDICT Highly recommended for general access collections on human evolution.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal

Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, January 31, 2014

Week ending January 31, 2014

Beaton, M.C. Death of a Policeman. Grand Central. Feb. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781455504732. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781455553433. MYS
The 30th installment in this long-running series (after 2013’s Death of Yesterday) finds Sgt. Hamish Macbeth facing another threat to his cozy setup in the Scottish Highlands. With the impending closure of local police stations across Scotland and reduction in staffing, Detective Chief Inspector Blair sees his chance finally to rid himself of Hamish. He sends Cyril Sessions, a handsome constable, to Lochdubh to spy on Hamish and report back. Although Hamish quickly discovers Cyril’s identity, he still is angered by Cyril’s presence and Blair’s trickery. When Cyril is murdered, Hamish is briefly considered a suspect. Attention soon turns, however, to an influential restaurateur and his shady business dealings. While Hamish’s investigation uncovers dark secrets and more dead bodies, Hamish struggles to find Cyril’s killer and to sort out his messy love life. Sidekick Dick’s infatuation with a young pretty librarian (and her love-hungry fellow librarian’s infatuation with Cyril, Hamish, and Dick) provides many funny moments.
Verdict Series fans will welcome another visit to Lochdubh. Cozy readers, while they might be surprised by the grisly deaths and the high body count, will enjoy reading about the charming and tenacious Hamish Macbeth.—Lynnanne Pearson, Skokie P.L., IL

Billingham, Mark. From the Dead. Atlantic Monthly. Jan. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780802122131. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802192882. F
A case out of DI Tom Thorne’s past has surfaced when he finds out that Alan Langford, a man who was supposed to be dead, seems to be still alive and living it up in Spain, if pictures sent to his former wife, Donna, are any indication. Donna, in fact, was put away for conspiracy to commit murder but is now out of jail, and their 18-year-old daughter has gone missing. Further complicating the matter is a nosy, and very determined, private investigator, hired by the newly freed Donna. When people involved in the case start to die, Thorne knows he must find out the truth about Langford before there are more casualties.
Verdict In the ninth outing featuring DI Thorne (after The Dying Hours), an absorbing mystery is interspersed with some uncomfortable moments in Thorne’s relationship with fellow cop Louise Porter. It’s also flavored with his bitterness as a result of a recent trial that failed to convict someone Thorne is certain is guilty. Newcomers to this series probably shouldn’t start here, but fans of the books will find plenty to enjoy.—Kristin Centorcelli, Denton, TX

Bingham, Harry. Love Story, with Murders. Delacorte. Feb. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780345533760. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780345533777. F
In the follow-up to Bingham’s acclaimed debut, Talking to the Dead, diminutive Welsh detective Fiona Griffiths is investigating an unusual harvest in a remote country village. The leg in the freezer, the arm in the drainpipe, and the head in the vat of oil soon fit together to form two victims, connected only in manner of disposal. Is this the work of a single killer, or is there a copycat in the mix? The investigation will lead the idiosyncratic detective one step closer to solving some mysteries of her own.
Verdict A character-driven thriller as heavy on charm as it is on grisly crime scenes and close escapes. Followers of Fiona Griffiths are sure to delight in her newest adventure, and newcomers will also enjoy the novel, which can be appreciated as a stand-alone. With its frosty settings and offbeat detective, Bingham’s latest might be welcomed by fans of Peter Høeg, Jo Nesbø, Stieg Larsson, and Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. [See Prepub Alert, 8/19/13.]—Liv Hanson, Chicago

Conroy, Robert. 1920: America’s Great War. Baen. 2013. 512p. ISBN 9781451639315. $25. SF
Conroy (Rising Sun) turns his alternate history talents to a reimagining of the Great War in this action-filled novel. “What if…,” Conroy conjectures, “Germany had won the battle of the Marne in 1914?” His introductory note explains that this isn’t far-fetched and that a swift victory over the French Army and the British Expeditionary Force could have resulted. The slightly mad Kaiser Wilhelm views America as weak and covets the oil of California, and, presto!, the Germans and their ally Mexico invade the American Southwest. Fighting rages between Texas Rangers and the Mexican Army near San Antonio, but the main event is the defense of San Francisco, virtually cut off from the rest of the country by saboteurs.
Verdict Conroy offers up a believable scenario and heroics galore on the part of the good guys, ranging from trench fighting to the first tank charge. His characters, though, come straight from central casting and feature straightforward military heroes, their plucky girlfriends, and dastardly traitors. Still, this should be good fun for alternate history buffs.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids

Grossman, Paul. Brotherhood of Fear: A Willi Kraus Novel. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781250011596. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466840911. F
Jewish police detective Willi Kraus makes his third appearance (after Children of Wrath) in this historical thriller. It’s 1933, and the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany has forced the famous and well-respected Kraus to flee Berlin for Paris, making him a refugee with no papers or work permit. His detecting skills are recognized in Paris, and soon Kraus is doing some illegal private detective work that involves following a university student. Kraus’s tenacity leads him into even shadier territory, and he begins to wonder for whom he’s really working. Meanwhile, wealthy financier André Duval befriends Kraus and convinces Kraus’s in-laws to invest in his firm. After an anonymous source accuses the financier of fraud, the police coerce Kraus into spying on Duval by threatening to deport him to Nazi Germany. Then Duval enlists Kraus to find the accuser. Caught in the middle, Kraus tries to satisfy both sides while continuing to pursue the original mystery of the student.
Verdict Grossman’s atmospheric thriller is full of twists that viscerally capture Paris on the brink of war. Readers will root for his hero, a hard-boiled detective unmoored by the loss of home and country yet determined to seek justice for the victims he encounters.—Melissa DeWild, Kent Dist. Lib., Comstock Park, MI

Hunsicker, Harry. The Contractors. Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Feb. 2014. 514p. ISBN 9781477808726. pap. $14.95. F
In his new stand-alone, the author of the Lee Henry Oswald PI mysteries (Still River; The Next Time You Die) takes as his realistic premise the proliferation of private military contractors and the privatization of law enforcement. Ex-Dallas cop Jon Cantrell, along with his partner Piper (with a penchant for orphan charities and a shoot-to-kill policy), works for a private contractor, intercepting drug shipments along the U.S.-Mexico border. But when they confiscate the wrong load, all hell breaks loose—violence, murder, revenge, and shootouts are here aplenty.
Verdict Hunsicker has written a very good thriller, all the better for addressing serious issue of narco-trafficking and privatization of law enforcement. His complex story line is plausible, very well paced yet also easy to follow. Characters both major and minor are well drawn and memorable, and the action sequences are convincing and compelling. The only drawback is the rather inappropriate humorous tone that detracts from a well-crafted novel of suspense.—Seamus Scanlon, Ctr. for Worker Education, CUNY

Rankin, Ian. Saints of the Shadow Bible. Little, Brown. Jan. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780316224550. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316224567. F
After a short-lived retirement, John Rebus (Exit Music; Standing in Another Man’s Grave) returns to the Edinburgh police force albeit with a demotion. Serendipitously, a new law is passed that allows the Scottish police to reopen old cases. Malcolm Fox (The Complaints; The Impossible Dead), the officer in charge of Complaints (Internal Affairs), reexamines a 30-year-old case investigated in the 1980s, when Rebus was a young officer, by his old team, known as “the Saints.” At the same time, Rebus teams up with his former mentee Siobhan Clarke to investigate a new case involving a young woman injured in a car accident. The evidence at the crime scene suggests foul play. When the young woman refuses to divulge the truth about the incident, Rebus and Clarke delve further into her life.
Verdict Edgar Award winner Rankin’s intricate plot and well-developed characters make this novel a must-read for Rankin fans, who will especially enjoy the Rebus-Fox matchup. By effectively recapping pertinent prior novels in the series, the author makes his latest title and his enigmatic protagonist accessible to new readers. [Eight-city tour.]—Russell Michalak, Goldey-Beacom Coll. Lib., Wilmington, DE

Vlautin, Willy. The Free. Harper Perennial. Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062276742. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062276759. F
An elegy for the blue-collar worker, Vlautin’s (Lean on Pete) fourth novel focuses on three ordinary people and spotlights their essential dignity in the face of economic hardship. Eight years after leaving Iraq with a traumatic brain injury, Leroy Kervin in a rare moment of clarity attempts to commit suicide at his group home, unable to see any way that he could live a happy life. Freddie McCall, at the first of his two jobs he works to fight off mounting medical bills, is the night caretaker at the home and calls in the accident. Leroy is moved to a hospital, bedridden and lost in the fog of his own mind, in which he plays out a fantastical adventure with his girlfriend Jeanette as they elude a mysterious gang known as the Free. His nurse, Pauline Hawkins, who lives alone and cares for her aging and infirm father, develops a bond with one of her patients, a heroin-addicted 16-year-old runaway.
Verdict Despite touching on urgent national issues such as health care and the death of the middle class, Vlautin’s deeply sympathetic novel never feels labored or overtly political, telling its characters’ stories in direct, unvarnished prose that recalls the best of John Steinbeck.—Michael Pucci, South Orange P.L., NJ

Fiction Reviews | January 2014

Moore, Lisa. Caught. Grove. Feb. 2014. 322p. ISBN 9780802122124. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780802192899. F

Childhood friends David Slaney and Brian Hearn grow up in 1970s Newfoundland to become college slackers, potheads, and drug runners—unsuccessful drug runners, that is. On their first big score, they’re nabbed and arrested on their return from Colombia. While Slaney gets jail time, Hearn manages to skip out on bail, flee across the country, and change his identity. Four years later, Hearn concocts a bold new scheme. He arranges Slaney’s escape from jail and pulls together a team of old friends and new investors for one more big operation. One of the “investors” is undercover detective Patterson, an overweight and underappreciated Toronto cop who hopes that, with the assistance of brand-new satellite surveillance, this case will be his big career break. VERDICT Moore, recent winner of Canada Reads and author of February, a New Yorker Best Book of the Year, provides a rollicking ride to an outcome that is never really in doubt. With pitch-perfect dialog and endearingly human characters, this finalist for Canada’s prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize is a fantastic read. [See Prepub Alert, 8/12/13.]—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.

Reichl, Ruth. Delicious! Random. May 2014. 368p. ISBN 9781400069620. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780679604617. F

Reichl, the former editor of Gourmet magazine and best-selling author of culinary memoirs (Tender at the Bone; Comfort Me with Apples), makes her fiction debut with a story set at an iconic food magazine in New York called Delicious. Billie Breslin has recently been hired as an assistant and soon is writing for the magazine, too, but her exciting new job comes to a halt when the magazine is abruptly shut down. Billie, however, is asked to stay on to handle calls for the “Delicious Guarantee,” which promises money back if a recipe doesn’t work. A guarantee question leads Billie to the magazine’s locked library, where she stumbles upon letters written during World War II from a young girl named Lulu Swan to chef James Beard. Billie follows card catalog clues to find the remaining letters and goes to Ohio to look for Lulu. Her journey finally helps Billie see the truth about her own family and gives her the courage to realize her dreams and maybe even give love a chance. VERDICT Reichl’s vivid descriptions of food will have readers salivating, and an insider’s look at life at a food magazine is fascinating. Her satisfying coming-of-age novel of love and loss vividly demonstrates the power of food to connect people across cultures and generations. [See Prepub Alert, 11/22/13.]—­Melissa DeWild, Kent District Lib., Comstock Park, MI

Kupersmith, Violet. The Frangipani Hotel. Spiegel & Grau. Apr. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780812993318. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780679645146. F

What is most haunting in Kupersmith’s nine multilayered pieces are not the specters, whose tales are revealed as stories within stories, but the lingering loss and disconnect endured by the still living. With an American father and a Vietnamese “former boat refugee” mother, the author channels her bicultural history to create contemporary, post–Vietnam War glimpses of reclamation and reinvention on both sides of East and West. In “Skin and Bones,” two Houston sisters visit their Ho Chi Minh City grandmother “to rediscover their roots” but more realistically because “Vietnam Was Fat Camp.” In “Guests,” a pair of American expat lovers have diverging expectations. A dying youth tries to steal another’s body in “Little Brother,” and an insistent knock at the door demands retribution 40 years after the war in “One-Finger.” In “Reception,” set in the titular Frangipani Hotel, the clerk’s family’s past overlaps with the coming new brand of the ugly American. VERDICT The wunderkind moniker will soon enough be attached to the 1989-born Kupersmith, who wrote most of these stories as a Mt. Holyoke undergraduate. Her mature-beyond-her-years debut deserves equal shelf space with other spare, provocative collections, such as Paul Yoon’s Once the Shore, Lauren Groff’s Delicate Edible Birds, and Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/13.]—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

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Abani, Chris. The Secret History of Las Vegas. Penguin. Jan. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780143124955. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780698140189. F

Ackroyd, Peter. Three Brothers. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Mar. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780385538619. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385538626. F

Afrika, Tatamkhulu. Bitter Eden. Picador. Feb. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781250043665. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781250043672. F

Barr, Nevada. Destroyer Angel: An Anna Pigeon Novel. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780312614584. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466841680. F

Black, Benjamin. The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel. Holt. Mar. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780805098143. $27. F

Black, Robin. Life Drawing. Random. Jul. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781400068562. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780812996036. F

Boyden, Joseph. The Orenda. Knopf. May 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780385350730. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350747. F

Buck, Pearl S. The Eternal Wonder. Open Road. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781480439702. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781480439665. F

Calhoun, Kenneth. Black Moon. Hogarth: Crown. Mar. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780804137140. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780804137157. F

Cameron, Claire. The Bear. Little, Brown. Feb. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9780316230124. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780316230100. F

Collins, Jackie. Confessions of a Wild Child. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781250050939. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466851924. F

Condit, Sonja. Starter House. Morrow. Jan. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062283054. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062283061. F

Corona, Laurel. The Mapmaker’s Daughter. Sourcebooks Landmark. Mar. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781402286490. pap. $14.99. F

Dean, Averil. Alice Close Your Eyes. Mira: Harlequin. Jan. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780778315865. pap. $14.95. F

de Vigan, Delphine. Nothing Holds Back the Night. Bloomsbury USA. Mar. 2014. 352p. tr. from French by George Miller. ISBN 9781620404850. pap. $16. F

Donoghue, Emma. Frog Music. Little, Brown. Apr. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780316324687. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316324663. F

Doyle, Brian. The Plover. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781250034779. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250034786. F

Go, Justin. The Steady Running of the Hour. S. & S. Apr. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9781476704586. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476704609. F

Grossman, David. Falling Out of Time. Knopf. Mar. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9780385350136. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350143. F

Harris, Robert. An Officer and a Spy. Knopf. Jan. 2014. 464p. ISBN 9780385349581. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385349598. F

Harun, Adrianne. A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain. Penguin. Feb. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780670786107. pap. $16. F

Hayes, Terry. I Am Pilgrim. Emily Bestler: Atria. May 2014. 624p. ISBN 9781439177723. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781439177747. F

Henríquez, Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans. Knopf. Jun. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780385350846. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350853. F

Hicks, Patrick. The Commandant of Lubizec. Steerforth. Mar. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781586422202. pap. $15. F

Hoffman, Alice. The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Scribner. Feb. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781451693560. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451693584. F

Hustvedt, Siri. The Blazing World. S. & S. Mar. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781476747231. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476747255. F

Kilroy, Claire. The Devil I Know. Black Cat: Grove Atlantic. Feb. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780802122377. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780802192691. F

LaPlante, Alice. A Circle of Wives. Atlantic Monthly. Mar. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780802122346. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780802192745. F

Leuthardt, Eric C. RedDevil 4. Forge. Feb. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780765332561. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466800984. F

Levine, Daniel. Hyde. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780544191181. $24. F

Levine, James. Bingo’s Run. Spiegel & Grau. Jan. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781400068838. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781588369475. F

Li, Yiyun. Kinder Than Solitude. Random. Feb. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781400068142. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780812996029. F

Loewenstein, Laurie. Unmentionables. Kaylie Jones: Akashic. Jan. 2014. 320p.

ISBN 9781617751943. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617752056. F

Lovric, Michelle. The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters. Bloomsbury USA. Aug. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9781620400142. $28. F

Magnuson, James. Famous Writers I Have Known. Norton. Jan. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780393240887. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393242782. F

Miller, Mary. The Last Days of California. Liveright: Norton. Jan. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780871405883. $24.95. F

Mones, Nicole. Night in Shanghai. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780547516172. $25; ebk. ISBN 978054751778. F

Ness, Patrick. The Crane Wife. Penguin Pr. Jan. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781594205477. $26.95. F

Nguyen, Bich Minh. Pioneer Girl. Viking. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780670025091. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698151376. F

Oates, Joyce Carol. Carthage. Ecco. Feb. 2014. 496p. ISBN 9780062208125. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062208149. F

O’Connor, Scott. Half World. S. & S.Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781476716596. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476716619. F

O’Keeffe, Patrick. The Visitors. Viking. Mar. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780670024636. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698151352. F

Park, David. The Poets’ Wives. Bloomsbury USA. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781620405246. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781620405260. F

Pitigrilli. Cocaine. New Vessel. 2013. 261p. tr. from Italian by Eric Mosbacher. ISBN 9781939931092. pap. $16.49; ebk. ISBN 9781939931085. F

Ryan, Donal. The Spinning Heart. Steerforth. Feb. 2014. 160p. ISBN 9781586422240. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781586422257. F

Schaffert, Timothy. The Swan Gondola. Riverhead. Feb. 2014. 464p. ISBN 9781594486098. $27.95. F

Scott, James. The Kept. Harper. Jan. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780062236739. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062236661. F

Sharma, Akhil. Family Life. Norton. Apr. 2014. 192p. ISBN 9780393060058. $23.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393242317. F

Thompson, Ted. The Land of Steady Habits. Little, Brown. Mar. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780316186568. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780316215831. F

Townsend, Jacinda. Saint Monkey. Norton. Feb. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780393080049. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393242959. F

Troy, Judy. The Quiet Streets of Winslow. Counterpoint. Feb. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781619022393. $25. F

Wicomb, Zoë. October. New Pr. Mar. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781595589620. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781595589675. F

Zackheim, Michele. Last Train to Paris. Europa Editions. Jan. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781609451790. pap. $17. F

Zarhin, Shemi. Some Day. New Vessel. 2013. 450p. tr. from Hebrew by Yardenne Greenspan. ISBN 9781939931054. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781939931047. F

Short Stories

Cantor, Jay. Forgiving the Angel: Four Stories for Franz Kafka. Knopf. Jan. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780385350341. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350358. F

Gilchrist, Ellen. Acts of God. Algonquin. Apr. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781616201104. $23.95. F

Klay, Phil. Redeployment. Penguin Pr. Mar. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781594204999. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698151642. F

Novak, B.J. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories. Knopf. Feb. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780385351836. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385351843. F

Spencer, Elizabeth. Starting Over. Liveright: Norton. Jan. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780871406811. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871407832. F

Historical Thrills

Fortier, Anne. The Lost Sisterhood. Ballantine. Mar. 2014. 608p. ISBN 9780345536228. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780345536235. F

While lecturing at Oxford, Diana Morgan, philologist and expert on the legendary female warriors known as the Amazons, receives a tantalizing offer from a stranger who invites her to visit a new excavation that promises to rewrite history. Taking leave of her academic responsibilities and possibly her senses, she sets off to North Africa. At the ancient temple, Diana recognizes writing, not from her research as a philologist but from her grandmother’s journal. Her father, presuming his mother insane, had condemned her to psychiatric procedures and confinement. As a young girl, Diana had facilitated her grandmother’s disappearance, thus resulting in a lifetime of regret and longing. Now suddenly faced with written evidence of the historical existence of the Amazons, Diane realizes that her grandmother’s journal is not a memoir of delusions. Are the Amazons still among us? VERDICT Through her time-shifting narrative, Fortier (Juliet) offers us a front-row seat to the mythological stories we have learned through epics and poetry. Grounded in a thorough knowledge of classical literature, this skillful interweaving of plausible archaeological speculation, ancient mythology, and exciting modern adventure will delight fans of such authors as Kate Mosse and Katherine Neville. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/13.]—Laura Cifelli, Fort Myers–Lee Cty. P.L., FL

Mosse, Kate. Citadel. Morrow. Mar. 2014. 704p. ISBN 9780062281258. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062281289. F

The final book of Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy (Labyrinth and Sepulchre) is set in southern France against the backdrop of World War II. There is a large cast of strong females, including some returning characters as this installment has a parallel time line that overlaps some events from the previous books. Protagonist Sandrine, an orphaned teen living with her older sister, is rescued by resistance fighter Raoul. After Raoul is falsely implicated in a bombing, he and Sandrine must flee the region for their safety. The second story line involves a young monk who is tasked with hiding a regarded magical Codex from the church to preserve for future generations. By the 1940s, the Codex’s guardian, Audric Baillard, is also being sought by opposition forces. VERDICT Very detailed and well researched, this dramatic finale is a compelling mix of romance and historical fiction that succeeds as an epic tale of mystery and adventure. Fans of the first two books of the trilogy will be satisfied. Recommended for historical fiction, fantasy fiction, and adventure/thriller enthusiasts. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/13.]—Carolann Curry, Mercer Univ. Lib., Macon, GA

Going Local: Celebrating a Decade of Resident Writers

If you had told me ten years ago I’d be editing a volume of stories featuring Dennis Lehane, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Connelly, Jonathan Safran Foer, Lee Child, and Pete Hamill—and if I told you then that I believed you—I’d likely also be the proud owner of the bridge you’d subsequently tried to sell me. Let’s just call it the Brooklyn Bridge. But this past November my company Akashic Books published USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series (LJ 8/13), which indeed includes this star-studded cast, along with 31 other literary luminaries.

In 2003, Tim McLoughlin approached me with the notion of editing an anthology of stories by Brooklyn-affiliated writers. I knew Tim to be a proud Brooklynite from his novel Heart of the Old Country, which was one of Akashic’s early successes. Tim and I shared a passion and appreciation for Brooklyn’s diversity and knew the volume could only work if we gathered a roster of writers reflecting the complexity of the borough’s physical and psychological landscape.

When we began work on Brooklyn Noir, we had no intention of launching a series. We decided to approach the volume first by setting a high literary bar and then by asking the contributors to situate each of their stories in a distinct Brooklyn neighborhood. Not only did this give us an organizing principle for the volume, it also helped us identify the writers who could best represent each neighborhood.

Hyperlocalism as Key to Success

Our goal was to leave the reader with the impression that each story could only be set in the location it’s written. This notion of hyperlocalism is the secret to the success of the series, but it is not a unique model in the book business. In fact, I’d say that we’re pretenders to the aesthetic when compared to the one institution in publishing that truly functions on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood level: libraries. They’re the only literary institution to touch whole swaths of America.

No one knows neighborhoods better than libraries, and branch locations are often unmistakably intertwined with their locales. When we embarked on a (first-ever) 15-neighborhood book tour for Brooklyn Noir, the Brooklyn Public Library proved this. Librarians Jay Kaplan and Meredith Walters were hugely supportive from the start and helped arrange book events in a diverse array of branch locations: Coney Island, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, and, of course the majestic Central Library at Grand Army Plaza. Hearing our contributors read in the branch libraries associated with their stories was a truly special experience.

In each city we visit with this series, it has been a natural fit for Akashic to engage with libraries. Last year, the central branch of the Kansas City Public Library hosted the launch event for Kansas City Noir and featured the book in its “While the City Sleeps” reading series. The Glendale Public Library selected Los Angeles Noir for its “One Book, One Glendale” program. In fact, in all but a few cases, every single book set in the United States has been launched with some form of collaboration with local libraries.

Then there are various other points of library contact: portions of the profits from New Orleans Noir are donated to the New Orleans Public Library Foundation; a number of cover photos in the series have been licensed from library archives. I’m also pleased to announce that Laureen P. Cantwell, an Instructional Services Librarian at the University of Memphis, has just signed on as coeditor of Memphis Noir. She and her coeditor, book critic Leonard Gill, join an illustrious group of volume editors that includes Lawrence Block, Laura Lippman, Ken Bruen, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, and Joyce Carol Oates. And perhaps most important, the series has connected us with so many talented authors—more than 800 writers have contributed to the 60-plus volumes so far.

Focusing on Community

With each volume, we’ve maintained the organizing principle that fueled the success of the inaugural collection: each story is brand new and set in a distinct neighborhood or city location. Without this stipulation, we fear most stories might congregate in just a few sections of the city. We want to explore the underbelly of whole cities, serving the Noir Series’ community-based goal of holding a mirror up to their true populations.

My own hope is that publishing will somehow become more community based, even as it remains focused on the “bigger picture” of the digital and international realms. There are hints of this, such as the rise of Greenlight Bookstore in my home neighborhood of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, which is a model of community engagement. You could say of Greenlight that it has a library sensibility.

As our Noir Series has continued to expand, we apply the same criteria to identify editors for the series that Tim and I used to distinguish the different writers who could best represent Brooklyn’s different neighborhoods. Who better to explore the ins and outs of a Boston we’ve never lived in than that city’s own Dennis Lehane, or Haiti than Edwidge Danticat? We’ve been delighted to discover that so many of our big-name editors are willing to work with our small-name press because the series helps them serve their own goals of community engagement. The only common element that appears in every editor’s introduction is community pride.

I hope USA Noir provides readers new to the series a point of entry and leads them to explore what for me has been an unforgettable literary tour, with some of today’s best writers acting as the guides.

Johnny Temple is the publisher of Akashic Books, an award-winning Brooklyn-based independent company. He is the winner of the 2013 Ellery Queen Award, and Chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council, which works with Brooklyn’s borough president to plan the annual Brooklyn Book Festival

RUSA’s Top Pop Fiction | ALA Midwinter 2014

At RUSA’s Book and Media Awards Ceremony, held Sunday January 26 at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel, the winners of the 2014 Reading List were announced. Started in 2007 by RUSA’s CODES section, the list highlights genre fiction in eight categories that merit special attention by adult readers and reader’s advisory librarians. Also named were the short list finalists and the read-alike suggestions for the winners.

Check out our full reviews of the winning titles in BookVerdict.

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (Scribner)
VERDICT An intense descent into a vortex of carnal passion, career brutality, and smart tradecraft, this thriller evokes the great Cold War era of espionage and adds startling touches such as recipes and a main character with synesthesia. Readers of bloodthirsty spy and suspense will welcome this debut from a writer who supersizes his spies. (LJ 3/1/13)

Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Tor)
“A friendly rivalry turns vicious when college friends Victor and Eli obtain super-human powers and use them for very different purposes. This dark paranormal fantasy, a riveting tale of vengeance and redemption, proves that extraordinary powers don’t necessarily make superheroes.”

The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent (Little, Brown)
VERDICT Kent has built a well-paced story, filled with twists and turns that will surprise most readers. A solid choice for those interested in a Western, a thriller, a historical novel, or even just something new. (LJ 7/1/13)

Last Days by Adam Neville (Griffin: St. Martin’s)
VERDICT This exceptional macabre tale stuns in its ability to inspire abject, primal terror. Readers will lose all hope of undisturbed, peaceful sleep. (LJ 1/15/13)

Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell (Mulholland)
VERDICT Morrell hooks the reader early and moves the action along swiftly. He also effectively captures a long-gone London and details how the city was changing as it moved into the industrial age. This diverting thriller will please the many readers who enjoy historical crime fiction. (LJ 12/1/12)

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare (Avon)
VERDICT  A duke determined to avoid marriage and a plain-speaking girl whose sights go no higher than owning her own bookstore strike an ill-fated but ultimately perfect bargain. This witty, wickedly funny romantic escapade infuses a Pygmalion plot with a touch of Cinderella magic and spins it into another perfect addition to Dare’s “Spindle Cove” series (A Lady by Midnight). (LJ 6/15/13)

Love Minus Eighty by Will Macintosh (Orbit: Hachette)
VERDICT  Based on his 2010 Hugo-winning short story “Bridesicle,” McIntosh’s (Hitchers; Soft Apocalpyse) latest novel combines sf future tech with horror to craft a story that is both disturbing and hopeful as it questions the value of a life on borrowed time. The dystopic view of the future is both frightening and plausible, while the characters keep the story grounded in the details of human existence. (LJ 5/15/13)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (St. Martin’s)
“Unemployed 26-year-old Louisa takes the only job she can find: as a ‘care assistant’  to 35-year-old quadriplegic Will. When Louisa discovers the depth of Will’s unhappiness, she embarks on a mission to convince him that life is worth living and in the process begins to think about her own future. This bittersweet, quirky novel recounts an unlikely friendship while grappling with complex issues in a realistic and sensitive manner.”

Other awards announced at the event included Notable Books, the Listen List (for audiobooks), the Dartmouth Medal for Reference, the Sophie Brody Medal for Jewish Literature. For full details, see the RUSA News blog.


Literally Reading About Literature | Wyatt’s World

Our attachment to the literary concept can be so addictive that even as we read we want to discover books, authors, and, yes, reading. The delights of such an undertaking can be indulged in the following array of titles, due out soon or already published.

  • An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine (Grove, Feb.).
    Alameddine’s fourth novel, set in Beirut, Lebanon, features Aaliya, a 72-year-old translator who reflects upon literature and the existence she has forged within its grip. This lyrical exploration of a life focused on the meaning of words should resonate with literary fiction fans.
  • The Dream of the Great American Novel by Lawrence Buell (Belknap: Harvard Univ., Feb.).
    This tome is something akin to the whale in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick—an oft allusive and always obsessive quest. Buell casts a wide net in his discussion of what might constitute such a novel and explores a number of choices in this smart, lively, and accessible survey.
  • The Way of All Fish by Martha Grimes (Scribner).
    In the sequel to Foul Matter, Grimes offers a send-up of the publishing world, weaving into her mystery a skewering of literary agents and others. Fans of witty, fun, and clever whodunits will rejoice in both Grimes’s glee and her fast-moving plot.
  • Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (Ballantine).
    The author of Loving Frank returns with a riveting and finely crafted imagining of the lives of Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Osbourne. The novel follows many threads, among them the Stevensons’ literary friends and Robert’s creative inspirations.
  • Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books by Wendy Lesser (Farrar).
    Lesser, editor of The Threepenny Review, has spent her career reading. In this meditation, she musters all her experience to discuss a wide range of types and forms of literature. With great skill she explores the pleasures of reading and the qualities of a literature-rich life.

Future, Past, Present, Perfect | What We’re Reading

Library Journal editors visit dystopias, finish a family saga, and transcribe the news this week.

Liz French, Associate Editor, Reviews, LJ
People, get ready, because today I’m gonna preach: Get yourself out there and get a copy of Amy Rowland’s The Transcriptionist, coming out in May from Algonquin. I snagged an ARC from the publisher at the American Library Association’s (ALA) Midwinter conference in Philadelphia, thanks to LJ’s Prepub Editor Barbara Hoffert. (Dear Barbara: THANKS for the LJ Galley Guide you put together for ALA Midwinter attendees! It was super helpful, especially the booth-by-booth listings.) I stopped by the Workman/Algonquin booth and inquired about The Transcriptionist at a very opportune time: the boothies were passing out lemon bars and brownies. And yes, they did happen to have ARCs of Rowland’s debut. My lucky day! I cast aside the two other books I’ve been reading alternately and dove in.

It’s the story of a lonely woman who works as a transcriptionist at “the Record,” a thinly disguised New York Times (where Rowland has worked for more than a decade). Lena becomes obsessed with a woman who was mauled to death by lions at the zoo, and she begins to worry that all the words and stories she records (aha, just got that trope!) for the journalists are invading her mind. Rowland writes very poetically, and that poetry-prose is interspersed with hilarious skewerings of New York Times—er, I mean Record—stories. Here’s a fun one from the paper’s “Vows” column, dictated by an irate reporter who wants to get off the wedding beat:

“OK. Vows column. Elizabeth, the daughter of the former finance minister of a South American country, and Drake, the son of Victor V. W. Blankoff, met at a polo match in Brazil. They plan to travel the world for a year and then make a documentary film.
“ ‘We want to take our time,’ the bride said, her eyes as blue as a Tiffany’s box, ‘and find a deserving subject. We’re going to start doing research right away, on our honeymoon safari in Africa. I can’t wait to go to Africa.’
“The groom, twenty-nine, is a retired hedge fund founder and a buyer of polo horses and conceptual art.”

There’s more like that, including an interview with a pretentious architect/developer, but the book is much more than a satire. It is a moving, expressive delight of a debut. People, go read it! Amen.

Margaret Heilbrun, Senior Editor, Reviews, LJ
My sister sent me a wonderful present: The British edition of the last volume of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s “Cazalet Chronicles” series, All Change. It published late last year in Britain and is due out here in late March as a paperback original from Pan Books. Howard died earlier this month, aged 90. Her Cazalet series (The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, and Casting Off, and now this last one) is one to sink yourself into if you enjoy family sagas more about choices made, and emotions expressed or suppressed, than in grand action and schemes. Possessing a fascination for the British upper middle class and the changes of the mid–20th century helps. The first of the series was published over 20 years ago. Many readers had not expected this final volume. What a wonderful gift.

Stephanie Klose, Media Editor, LJ
I just started Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (Broadway), which is set in a not-great near future after fossil fuels have been completely depleted and everything is basically the worst. Wade Watts lives in an abandoned van and uses an exercise bike hooked up to a battery recharger to power his laptop, which lets him log into the OASIS, the virtual world where thousands of elaborate worlds are his to explore. When the OASIS’s founder dies without an heir, his video will reveals that he’s hidden 1980s pop culture–related clues somewhere in his sprawling creation, and that whoever finds the keys to unlock his secret will inherit his billions. I’m not far into the book yet, but I’m enjoying it immensely and looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.


Meredith Schwartz, Editor, News & Features, LJ
I just finished Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell, one of the too many galleys I succumbed to at ALA Midwinter. The book will release in April from Tor Teen. It seems to be somewhat of an inheritor/hybrid of P.D. James’s The Children of Men and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go: the former in that humanity has had an as-yet-unexplained, near-total fertility failure, which we are observing through the lens of its impact on England; the latter in that the mitigation involves creating young people who are attending a version of the British aristocratic school system but are not regarded as fully human and are not permitted to live out a normal life span. If I hadn’t read either of those other titles, I would probably have loved this one, because the basic ideas remain compelling. However as it is, most of the new or different elements it brought to the mix were not my favorites.
The heroine’s father is a vicar, and not only his teachings but the way that the worldbuilding works add a Christian emphasis which, as a nonChristian, I found rather alienating. It’s not just that religious characters see their ethics through a religious lens, or that misfortune has driven people back to religion, but that the only religion shown is Christianity—isn’t the UK rather more diverse than that?—and that the Church of England is not shown to be at all challenged or at a loss in the face of these massive societal troubles. Or even successfully changing itself to meet the new need…that near total sterility would not produce any alterations worth mentioning in either individual or collective faith is more than my suspension of disbelief can swallow.
It is hard to talk about my second issue without spoilers, but let’s just say that having reprised a classic moral dilemma of the sf field in creating artificial intelligence, I did not find the ethical “take a third option” conclusion to be convincing or satisfying, while a previously interesting element—a voice from the far future which was reacting and responding to the story—was disappointingly resolved. Nonetheless it would make a good YA first exposure to these ideas for kids not ready for the James or Ishiguro titles, particularly in its more hopeful ending.

The ALA Midwinter Galley Chase

Galleys, galleys, galleys. The floor at the ALA Midwinter conference in Philadelphia this past weekend was aflood with them. For the most part, giveaways weren’t scheduled, as they have tended to be at past ALA shows and at BookExpo America, contributing to a general sense of discovery. Galleys that were really moving included Paula Brackston’s The Midnight Witch, about a young aristocrat who becomes Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven (Macmillan); David Downing’s crime-series starter, Jack of Spies, and Sean Madigan Hoen’s gritty memoir, Songs Only You Know, with 200 copies each distributed in the first hour and a half of the show (Soho); and Gabrielle Zevin’s quirkily charming The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (Algonquin).

Also popular: Amy Talkington’s Liv Forever (Soho Teen) and Gae Polisner’s The Summer of Letting Go (Algonquin Young Readers), just two of the many YA titles spotted at the conference—not surprisingly, as according to LJ’s 2014 Materials Survey, YA circulation has inched up one percent annually over the past few years. YA titles really lit up the twitter buzz.

Over at the HarperCollins booth, Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam disappeared so fast that a colleague had to beg for a behind-the-scenes copy. Also popular at HarperCollins: Susan Gloss’s Vintage, featuring a Midwestern vintage clothing store, a debut novel like so many titles on the floor, and Brian Payton’s The Wind Is Not a River, a World War II tale of love and survival that was a LibraryReads pick. Another tale of survival, Shane Bauer & others A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran, was a big draw at the Houghton Harcourt booth, as was Stacey D’Erasmo’s Wonderland, about a woman rocker on a comeback tour.

Not surprisingly, there were lots of long lines for Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, an Oprah 2.0 Book Club that’s No. 1 on the New York Times best sellers list. Those are just a few of the titles that moved; I’ll check on more, and anyone with titles to volunteer, speak up!

From Samuel Beckett to James Carroll to Jacqueline Winspear in Historical Fiction Mode | Barbara’s Picks, Jul. 2014, Pt. 2

Beckett, Samuel. Echo’s Bones. Grove. Jul. 2014. 128p. ISBN 9780802120458. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780802194077. LITERARY FICTION
In 1933, Chatto & Windus agreed to issue Beckett’s first published work of fiction, a collection of ten linked stories called More Pricks Than Kicks. The editor asked Beckett to write a final piece, which was then rejected as too weird, wild, and playful—in other words, as quintessentially Beckett. The story has remained unpublished until now, and since the last new Beckett work to be released was the play Eleutheria in the mid-Nineties, this is pretty exciting. This story proved a watershed for Beckett, who used it to remake his writing and move in a new direction. Set aside fears that Beckett is too esoteric (go see Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot on Broadway if you doubt it) and note that the publisher sold out its hardcover centenary box set of Beckett works and is currently redesigning all Beckett backlist titles.

Carroll, James. Warburg in Rome. Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780547738901. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780547738956. LITERARY FICTION
Carroll left the priesthood to become a writer, and we can be glad he did; his books include the National Book Award winner An American Requiem and the New York Times best-selling Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews. In this new novel, set in post–World War II Rome, he expands on themes in Constantine’s Sword to examine Catholic complicity in the fate of the Jews. David Warburg, just designated director of the U.S. War Refugee Board, arrives in Rome eager to help the displaced Jews now crowding the city. He’s dismayed to learn that the Church has allowed many Nazi criminals to escape the Continent—and that U.S. intelligence knows. With a 30,000-copy first printing.

Goodwin, Daisy. The Fortune Hunter. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9781250043894. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466842243. CD: Macmillan Audio. HISTORICAL FICTION
Goodwin, who charged onto the course with The American Heiress, a New York Times best seller with 300,000 books in print, returns with a second novel featuring a dramatic love triangle. Restless in her marriage and her royal duties, the Empress Elizabeth of Austria lives to ride. So does Capt. Bay Middleton, charming but too poor to buy a horse of the quality to win the Grand National. He’s lucky to meet independent-minded heiress Charlotte Baird, but their budding relationship is disrupted when Bay is asked to guide the empress on the course set for a hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England. With a national laydown on July 29.

Mills, Marja. The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee. Penguin Pr. Jul. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781594205194. $27.95. BIOGRAPHY/LITERATURE
In 2001, Chicago Tribune journalist Mills went to Monroe­ville, AL, to attempt what other journalists had failed to do: get an interview with legendary novelist Harper Lee. Not only did she succeed but she ended up befriending both Lee and her sister, with whom Lee lived. Mills eventually moved in next door and spent 18 months chatting with the sisters, learning about family history, imbibing Southern lore, and meeting their friends. Here is her account of that time—and now maybe we can learn why Harper Lee never wrote another novel.

Scottoline, Lisa & Francesca Serritella. Have a Nice Guilt Trip. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780312640095. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466834569. CD: Macmillan Audio. FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS
Thriller fans love Edgar Award winner Scottoline’s fiction, while readers of humor and heartfelt narrative nonfiction enjoy curling up with the books Scottoline writes with daughter Serritella, who won a stack of awards for her writing at Harvard. This fourth book from the mother-daughter team addresses issues like acquiring puppies (Scottoline), attempting to date (Serritella), and figuring out whether men or canines are more difficult. Lots of book club outreach and pitched as the perfect summer read.

Walsh, Helen. The Lemon Grove. Doubleday. Jul. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780385538534. $24.95. POP FICTION
Winner of the Betty Trask and Somerset Maugham awards, Walsh is known for edgy, in-your-face novels; this one is billed as hot but not quite as hot as Fifty Shades of Grey, and the writing should be more upscale. Jenn and Greg, married for 14 years, are lazing about in Majorca when Greg’s daughter from his first marriage arrives with boyfriend Nathan. And guess who’s attracted to Nathan? Fading youth, female desire, the pull of temptation, the craziness of marriage, and vivid sex—it’s all here.

Winspear, Jacqueline. The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War. Harper. Jul. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780062220509. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062220523. lrg. prnt. HISTORICAL FICTION
Winspear is known for her fabulous Maisie Dobbs mystery series, whose heroine was marked by her experiences as a nurse in World War I. For this historical, the war isn’t the defining past but the looming present, as Kezia Marchant marries friend Thea Brissenden’s brother Tom just one month before the fighting breaks out. Thea’s involvement in the women’s suffrage movement has frayed the bonds between her and Kezia, but the times bring changes for everyone, as Tom marches to battle, Thea is also drawn into the war, and Kezia must manage the family farm alone. With a 100,000-copy first printing and an eight-city tour to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland (OR), Phoenix, Houston, Boston, and Chicago.

From Sally Beauman & Robert Hellenga to Jude Deveraux & Danielle Steel | Fiction Previews, Jul. 2014, Pt. 2

Beauman, Sally. The Visitors. Harper. Jul. 2014. 544p. ISBN 9780062302687. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062302717. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
This isn’t simply the story of the friendship between delicate Lucy, sent from England to recover from typhus in sun-glazed Egypt, and a girl she meets there, the daughter of an American archaeologist. It’s also the story of the hunt for the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun, which makes the girls visitors not just to Egypt but to the past. Atmosphere! From the New York Times best-selling author of Rebecca’s Tale; with a 50,000-copy first printing.

Bitov, Andrei. The Symmetry Teacher. Farrar. Jul. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780374273514. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374712099. LITERARY
Lots of interesting things going on in this novel by Bitov, considered one of the greatest writers of late 20th-century Russia and a forerunner of postmodernism. A man on a park bench meets the devil, bearing scary photographs of both past and future, and a king reigning over all possible worlds shuts off the stars and turns out to be a compiler of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The authorial voice says it’s just the memory of a British novel; clearly for the sharp of mind.

The Creator of Rich Kids of Instagram & Maya Sloan. Rich Kids of Instagram. Gallery. Jul. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781476764061. $24. POP FICTION
Drawn from the relentlessly popular Rich Kids of Instagram blog, which averages 850,000 unique visitors a month, this novel presents a pack of insanely rich, insanely spoiled kids who drive Ferraris, enjoy weekend getaways on private jets, and are better at power plays than your average CEO. These industry heiresses and Mayflower legacies really clobber the nouveau riche kid in their midst. If you like this kind of thing….

Deveraux, Jude. For All Time. Ballantine. Jul. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780345541826. $32. CD: Random Audio. ROMANCE
In the second contemporary romance in her “Nantucket Brides” trilogy, Deveraux—the 2013 Romantic Times Pioneer Award winner for her lifetime of devotion to the genre—offers a charming tale of improbable romance. When Toby meets Graydon Montgomery, heir to the Lanconian throne, she can distinguish him from his twin, Rory—something no one else can do. According to legend, that means she is his true love. Alas, Graydon is unhappily set to marry an eligible royal. Will love and legend or duty win out?

Evanovich, Stephanie. The Sweet Spot. Morrow. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780062234810. $26.99. CD: Harper Audio. lrg. prnt. ROMANCE
Evanovich returns with a novel that nicely echoes her debut, Big Girl Panties, which made the New York Times extended best sellers list. Pro baseball player Chase Walker falls instantly for Amanda when he spots her in a restaurant, but she’s an independent-minded entrepreneur uninterested in competing with the skinny groupies surrounding Chase. With a 150,000-copy first printing and a five-city tour to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia.

Garwood, Julie. Fast Track. Dutton. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780525954453. $26.95. ROMANCE
Cordelia has convinced hotel magnate Aiden Madison, her best friend’s older brother, to take her to Sydney, Australia—not because she’s always had a crush on him but so that she can meet the mother she never knew she had. Unfortunately, Aiden has angered a corrupt politician, which puts them both in (romance-inducing) danger. A fast-track novel.

Hellenga, Robert. The Confessions of Frances Godwin. Bloomsbury USA. Jul. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781620405499. $26. LITERARY
Because Hellenga is the author of Snakewoman of Little Egypt and The Sixteen Pleasures, readers of serious fiction will want to grab this new book, the fictional memoir of a retired high school Latin teacher. Frances looks back on her life with some regrets but remains in the here and now, intervening when her daughter’s husband gets abusive.

Iggulden, Conn. Wars of the Roses: Stormbird. Putnam. Jul. 2014. 496p. ISBN 9780399165368. $27.95. HISTORICAL
Iggulden is a New York Times best-selling author of historical fiction, so pay attention to this first in a new series. In 1437, the Lancaster king Henry VI ascends the throne of England amid doubts that he’ll be an effective leader because he’s a pious milquetoast. Then a secret truce is negotiated with France to trade British territories for a royal bride, and in England all hell breaks loose.

Lawrenson, Deborah. The Sea Garden. Harper. Jul. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062279668. $26.99. HISTORICAL/SUSPENSE
Lawrenson’s debut, The Lantern, a tale of suspense set in lavender-strewn Provence, sold nicely at 40,000 copies, so you’ll want to consider this second book, a collection of novellas also set in the south of France or an island of its coast. The three novellas are connected, and all echo with the tensions created by World War II. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Lisboa, Adriana. Crow Blue. Bloomsbury USA. Jul. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781620403365. pap. $16. LITERARY
Winner of the José Saramago Literary Prize in 2003 and named one of the best Latin American writers under 39 by the Hay Festival in 2007, Lisboa is a writer for serious readers to investigate. When her mother dies, 13-year-old Vanja leaves Rio de Janeiro for Colorado to live with her stepfather, who’s shadowed by his violent past as a guerrilla. But she still wants to find her biological father.

Mapson, Jo-Ann. Owen’s Daughter. Bloomsbury USA. Jul. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781620401477. $26. POP FICTION
Mapson, popular for novels like Blue Rodeo, Solomon’s Oak, and Finding Casey, mixes characters from all three in her latest, not a sequel to any of them but a work that stands on its own. After Skye Elliot gets out of rehab, she searches for daughter Gracie, now in the custody of her ex-husband, even as recovering alcoholic Owen Garret searches for a painter named Margaret he once loved.

Mark, David. Sorrow Bound. Blue Rider. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780399168208. $26.95. THRILLER
Too bad gray skies and an awful new drug lord are making things hard for DS Aector McAvoy in Hull, Yorkshire; there’s also a serial killer to be caught. Mark has indeed made his mark in the UK, where the first in this series, Dark Winter, was a “Richard & Judy” book club pick and sold scads. The publisher is looking to break him out here.

Rasmussen, Rebecca. Evergreen. Knopf. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780385350990. $25.95. LITERARY
In 1938, Eveline is a new bride living happily in the wilderness with her husband and infant son, Hux. But when her husband leaves to care for his father, Eveline becomes pregnant by a stranger passing through. She gives away her daughter, who years later is tracked down by Hux. Rasmussen did nicely with her debut, The Bird Sisters, which won a handful of awards. Watch.

Siddons, Anne Rivers. The Girls of August. Grand Central. Jul. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9780446527958. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780446565844; lib. ebk. ISBN 9781935170952. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. WOMEN’S FICTION
“The Girls of August”: four women who have vacationed together at the beach (in a different house each summer) from the time their husbands were in medical school. They spin apart when one dies tragically, but a new marriage brings them together again for a heartfelt reunion on one of South Carolina’s barrier islands. Classic beach reading.

Steel, Danielle. A Perfect Life. Delacorte. Jul. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780345530943. $28. POP FICTION
A classic Steel story, with a mother and daughter keeping up appearances as they overcome tragedy and learn a thing or two about themselves. Steel’s Until the End of Time, published a year ago, debuted in the top spot on the New York Times best sellers list, and her publisher believes that she has new wind under her wings.

Su, Bernie & Kate Rorick. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. Touchstone. Jul. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781476763149. $24. POP FICTION
The executive producer, ­cocreator, head writer, and director of the Emmy Award–winning The Lizzie Bennet Diaries now becomes an author as well, giving us this contemporary update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring video blogger Lizzie Bennet. For Lizzie, what began as a graduate student thesis has expanded into a video peak into her life with her sisters Jane and impossible Lydia. Then friend Bing introduces her to even more impossible William Darcy. Look for a reading group guide; featured at the American Library Association conference this summer.

Thor, Brad. Untitled #13: A Thriller. Emily Bestler: Atria. Jul. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781476717128. $27.99. THRILLER
I can tell you that this is the next Scot Harvath thriller from No. 1 New York Times best-selling author Thor, that there will be extensive publicity, and that there will be author appearances in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Washington, DC. I just can’t tell you anything about the plot.

Thorpe, Rufi. The Girls from Corona del Mar. Knopf. Jul. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780385351966. $24.95. CD: Random Audio. LITERARY
Mia is a toughie who as a teenager had to contend with boy troubles, contentious younger brothers, and a heavy-drinking mother, while her longtime friend Lorrie Ann was always all sweetness and light, protected by her family. Then tragedy strikes Lorrie Ann, and she becomes a shockingly different person. With a reading group guide; this debut is making some waves.

Woodman, Betsy. Emeralds Included: A Jana Bibi Adventure. Holt. Jul. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780805093582. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781627790543. LITERARY
Woodman triumphed with Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes and then Love Potion Number 10,
both set in India, where Woodman was raised. In this third Jana Bibi novel, Jana is at home in the topsy-turvy town of Harma Naga, where she has inherited a house, awaiting the arrival from Scotland of son Jack and his Hungarian fiancée. The stress, both emotional and financial, might mean her doing something unwise with her precious Treasure Emporium emeralds.

Barbree on Neil Armstrong, Memoirs from Travis Barker & Lee Grant, Germaine Greer on Trees | Nonfiction Previews, Jul. 2013. Pt. 2

Barbree, Jay. Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781250040718. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466836341. BIOGRAPHY
During 55 years at NBC News, Barbree covered all 166 American astronaut flights and moon landings—the only reporter to have done so—and he got an Emmy for his efforts. So he seems like the right person to do a biography of Neil Armstrong. Lots of photos.

Barker, Travis with Gavin Edwards. Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums. Morrow. Jul. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780062319425. $28.99. MEMOIR
“No punk band of the 1990s has been more influential than Blink-182,” proclaims the New York Times. And it has sold over 30 million albums. Here, band drummer Barker talks about his life, his music, the plane crash that nearly killed him in 2008, and his road to redemption. With a 100,000-copy first printing—not surprising, given his nearly two million Facebook followers.

Cole, Juan. The New Arabs: How the Wired and Global Youth of the Middle East Is Transforming It. S. & S. Jul. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781451690392. $26. POLITICAL SCIENCE
A Middle East expert (he’s Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan) and a leading blogger, Cole focuses his narrative on today’s Arab youth—the ones that got the Arab Spring going, for instance, yet haven’t figured as prominently in recent accounts of those events.

Dudgeon, Piers. Maeve Binchy: The Biography. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781250047144. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466847507. BIOGRAPHY/LITERATURE
Dudgeon, a prolific biography whose subjects have ranged from Daphne du Maurier to the composer Sir John Tavener, takes on beloved Irish author Binchy. Binchy died in July 2012, but Dudgeon met her in 2000 and interviewed her over the next 12 years, also talking to her close friends. A sentimental journey, indeed.

Feldman, David & Lee Kravetz. Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success. Harper. Jul. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780062267856. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062267870. PSYCHOLOGY
You’ve heard the phrase “the power of positive thinking”? The authors challenge it in this study of triumphing in the wake of trauma, showing realistic expectations with an underpinning of hope and support are more likely to succeed. Kravetz himself survived a battle with cancer at age 29, which changed his thinking. Plenty of other success stories are listed, from the businesswoman who became an international rock star after her bout with cancer to a badly injured basketball player who became a Hollywood stuntman. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Grant, Lee. I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir. Blue Rider. Jul. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780399169304. $28.95. MEMOIR
Not your standard actress memoir, and not because Grant is an Academy Award winner. Just as her career was taking off, Grant found herself blacklisted during the McCarthy era and fought for 12 years to exonerate herself. Lots of Hollywood insider stuff, too, plus memoirs of her rise to fame at the Actors Studio and as a Broadway star and Vogue “It Girl.”

Greer, Germaine. White Beech: The Rainforest Years. Bloomsbury USA. Jul. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781620406113. $30. NATURE
An unexpected book from feminist Greer, this memoir celebrates the nature of her native Australia. At 62, Greer was in a despairing frame of mind when she became entranced by 60 hectares of dairy farmland in southeast Queensland. On the land, she spotted a few of the 120-foot-tall white beeches almost completely logged out by white settlers, and she was determined to bring the beeches back.

Heymann, C. David. Joe and Marilyn. Emily Bestler: Atria. Jul. 2014. 400p.
ISBN 9781439191774. $26. BIOGRAPHY
The author of Bobby and Jackie and The Georgetown Ladies’ Social Club, among other titles, Heymann is a purveyor of upper-crust, hot-item biography. Here he takes on the star-crossed marriage of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.

Leovy, Jill. The Homicide Report: Understanding Murder in America. Spiegel & Grau. Jul. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780385529983. $32. CD: Random Audio. SOCIOLOGY
Los Angeles Times reporter/editor Leovy was part of a six-member team that won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News, so she’ll have the skills to detail the investigation of a young black man’s murder in Los Angeles in spring 2007. First, though, she embedded herself with the homicide division of the South Bureau in Los Angeles.

Timberg, Robert. Blue-Eyed Boy. Penguin Pr. Jul. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781594205668. $27.95. MEMOIR
That Timberg spent three decades as a reporter, editor, and White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun is interesting. That he did so after terrible injuries sustained in Vietnam in 1967, which led to 35 operations, is more newsworthy. But what’s especially important here is that, having immersed himself in reporting on the Iran-Contra scandal and talking with the Vietnam-era veterans at the heart of it (see his The Nightingale’s Song), he finally saw clearly how the Vietnam War has shaped this nation.

OverDrive announces move to all MP3 audiobooks

OverDrive, one of the major vendors of audiobooks to libraries, has announced that it will be moving away from the WMA format and making audiobooks for the library market available solely as MP3s.

Reasons for the shift include the facts that MP3s are widely compatible across various listening devices and that the vast majority of the company’s audiobook collection is already in MP3 format, including titles from Hachette, Penguin Group, Random House (Books on Tape and Listening Library), HarperCollins, AudioGo, Blackstone, Tantor Media, and more.

While OverDrive has not announced a firm date for the change, the company will be communicating with customers about the discontinuance of WMA sales, and then, at a future date, will announce when MP3 files will be the only  format supported through OverDrive platforms. The company promises to work with libraries and schools that currently have WMA audiobook files in their collections to gain permissions to update those inventories to MP3.

Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, January 24, 2014

 Week ending January 24, 2014

Andrews, Ilona. Magic Rises. (Kate Daniels, Bk. 6). 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 15 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470376413. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
The latest in Andrews’s series (after Magic Slays) finds Kate and her partner, werelion Curran, departing an alternate Atlanta for the Black Sea. Many of their Pack’s shape-shifting children are not surviving to adulthood, and they’re on a quest to find something to help. Exciting and fast-paced, the story is filled with pirates, romance, Middle Eastern history and mythology, and monsters. Andrews, the nom de plume of husband-and-wife writing team of Ilona and Andrew Gordon, is a gem of the paranormal fantasy genre. Plot and characters are well motivated and feel natural. Andrews’s new audio publisher Recorded Books—previous audiobooks were released by Tantor—has retained Renee Raudman, who voiced the previous books in this series. Her gentle voice softens a sometimes violent and gory tale.
Verdict This is paranormal fiction at its best. Recommend to readers of the genre including existing fans and those new to the series, who will be able to jump in with no problem.—Janet Martin, Southern Pines P.L., NC

Brown, Sandra. Deadline. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12½ hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781609419240. $35; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Brown (Low Pressure) offers up a real treat for listeners with this dark look at how people can never truly escape their past. War-weary journalist Dawson Scott has returned from Afghanistan damaged in spirit. As a favor to his godfather, he goes to Savannah to cover the sensational trial of a murdered former marine, Jeremy Wesson, who happens to be the secret biological son of one of the FBI’s most wanted criminals. Dawson finds himself drawn to the victim’s ex-wife, Amelia, and her two young sons, but when her nanny is killed, Dawson becomes a suspect. The story is well written, fast paced, and full of plot twists. Stephen Lang’s narration is masterly both in accents and cadence and is an immense asset to the listening experience.
Verdict Highly Recommended.—Scott R. DiMarco, Mansfield Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib.

Collins, Manda. Why Dukes Say I Do. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452614328. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Collins (How To Entice an Earl) launches the “Wicked Widows” trilogy with this gothic-tinged Regency romance set in Yorkshire and London in the first half of 1800s. Lady Isabella Wharton is blackmailed by her godmother into visiting the reclusive Duke of Ormond, Trevor Carey. On a dark and stormy night, her carriage breaks down on the moors. When she is rescued by a large, rough-mannered, and handsome country fellow, she doesn’t know whether to be grateful or fearful. The rude fellow takes control and is revealed to be the very duke for whom she is looking. The plot thickens when she begins to receive threats and Trevor finds out that the carriage was sabotaged. As this is a trilogy, not all the threads are tied up at the end of this delightful romp, but enough are to make it a satisfying listening experience. Anne Flosnick does a very good job handling the varying accents of characters at all levels of British society.
Verdict Recommended for all historical romance fans.—Kathy L. Bell, Nancy Carol Roberts Memorial Lib., Brenham, TX

Cooper, Mike. Full Ratchet. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470364045. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. F
This follow-up to Clawback (2012) again features Silas Cade, the auditor to call when you need one with special forces skills. More likely to use a gun than a calculator, Silas leaves his beloved Manhattan for rural Pennsylvania to investigate sleaze at a manufacturing plant. His efforts bring the attention of some Russian thugs and a squad of heavies led by a blonde beauty named Harmony. Silas’s wisecracking humor and savoir faire help the decidedly rambling plot move swiftly; when Silas adds his long-lost brother and his earthy wit to his team, things get even funnier. While most of Henry Leyva’s narration is delivered in an agreeable monotone with little differentiation among characters, the voices of minor characters will occasionally jar readers out of the story.
Verdict Fans of thrillers will find this an adequate tale of suspense.—Douglas C. Lord, Middletown, CT

Fairstein, Linda. Death Angel. (Alexandra Cooper, Bk. 15). 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12¼ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470364229. $123.75; 11 CDs. retail ed. Penguin Audio; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In Fairstein’s 15th Alexandra Cooper thriller (after Night Watch), Alex and Det. Mike Chapman try to find the killer and identity of a young woman whose corpse is found in one of Central Park’s lakes. As they try to work out whether the case is connected to earlier deaths, another young woman is attacked. The park itself becomes one of the main characters in this thriller; Fairstein discusses the history and topography of the magnificent, human-made landscape. Narrator Barbara Rosenblat makes the novel come alive by giving the characters their own nuanced New York regional accent.
Verdict Recommended for all crime thriller fans and patrons, especially those who are fascinated by Central Park and its environs.—Ilka Gordon, Aaron Garber Lib., Cleveland

McCall Smith, Alexander. Trains and Lovers. 5 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 5¼ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 97810470340902. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD/5 CDs. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
On a train journey from Scotland to London, four travelers share surprisingly intimate details of their lives and the reasons for making the trip. Love, constancy, trust, mystery, and unfulfilled longing all figure in their stories. McCall Smith (The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon) crafts his characters with care, providing details that give them depth and feeling. The audiobook is well read with different accents for each character by Robert Ian McKenzie.
Verdict Recommended. [“Subtle wit, leisurely pacing, copious references to W.H. Auden—the hallmarks of McCall Smith’s storytelling are in full force here, as is his penchant for quiet vignettes,” read the review of the Pantheon hc, LJ 5/15/13.]—Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence

Zan, Koethi. The Never List. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611761917. $39.95; digital download. F
In Zan’s debut, ten years after Sarah survived being abducted and tortured, she still mourns the death of her best friend, Jennifer, at the hands of their abductor and struggles vainly to lead a “normal” life. The scheduled parole hearing of their kidnapper energizes Sarah into an active investigation in search of further evidence to keep him incarcerated, and she discovers that her own ordeal was only a small part of a much bigger story. This is a respectable debut thriller—the action itself pulls the reader along—but, like a sketchy outline of a much longer novel, the story also lacks the detail, texture, and description of a truly engrossing page-turner. Reader Kristen Sieh provides a serviceable but unmemorable narration.
Verdict Recommended only where demand warrants.—Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA

Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, January 24, 2104

Week ending January 24, 2014

Henry, Murphy Hicks. Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass. Univ. of Illinois. 2013. 528p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780252032868. $90; pap. ISBN 9780252079177. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780252095887. MUSIC
Alison Krauss, the Dixie Chicks, Rhonda Vincent, and others are only the latest in a long line of female bluegrass performers. More than 80 of these foremothers are featured in this title; 44 of them are spotlighted in short biographies of eight to ten pages each. The author goes on to describe the life, style, and work of 43 others, including some groups, in this thorough work. Herself a well-known banjo player, Henry had been told she was pretty good “for a girl” nearly all her life. While working on her MA in literature in 1999, she began her 15-year study of women in bluegrass. The first featured musician is Sally Ann Forrester, who played accordion with Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys in the 1940s. The book has lots of black-and-white photos, 17 pages of source material, and a detailed bibliography and index. The individual biographies are easy to access separately without reading the whole book.
Verdict A massive, well-researched work that students of music and women’s studies will find useful.—Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA

Sullivan, Louis Wade with David Chanoff. Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine. Univ. of Georgia. (Sarah Mills Hodge Fund). Feb. 2014. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9780820346632. $29.95. MED
Best known as secretary of Health and Human Services during the presidency of George H.W. Bush (after C. Everett Koop left the position), Sullivan tells his story here. He grew up in segregated Blakely, GA, and attended Morehouse College, which was followed by medical school at Boston University and an internship and residency at Cornell Medical Center. Hematology was his chief interest, and Sullivan soon headed the hematology unit at Boston University. In his early 40s, he was asked to return to Morehouse to establish a medical school dedicated to expanding the pool of minority physicians, a mission it still promotes successfully. During his time with the Bush administration, Sullivan navigated turbulent political currents and pushed the department toward research and treatment of AIDS, antismoking campaigns, mandated health labels on foods, and, unsuccessfully, much-needed insurance reforms. Within hours of the end of the Bush administration, he was back at Morehouse, until his retirement in 2002. He now promotes public health in the United States and in Africa through various nonprofits.
Verdict One of the first of the civil rights generation to achieve national distinction, Sullivan is an engaging narrator as well as a passionate advocate for his beloved Morehouse and a variety of public health initiatives, particularly expanding medical education for African Americans. Sullivan is an outstanding example of a “Morehouse man” who has made a difference; this narrative of his life and legacy will entertain and inspire.—Kathleen Arsenault, St. Petersburg, FL

Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, January 24, 2014

Week ending January 24, 2014

Cornwell, Sarah. What I Had Before I Had You. Harper. Jan. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780062237842. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062237866. F
“Sex is only a flea in the fur of love, which is a magnificent tiger, but that love, like a tiger, will kill you fast.” This is an early introduction to life for preadolescent Olivia, offered by her charismatic but erratic mother, Myla, who claims to be psychic. Enduring a rather confused existence in Ocean Vista, NJ, Olivia must hold everything together until the oft-disappearing Myla resurfaces, sometimes many days later. But one particular summer, Olivia exhibits her own eccentric behavior. This family history novel, rich in images, moves back and forth between Olivia as a troubled youth and Olivia, 20 years later, as a divorced mother traveling back to Ocean Vista with her two children. Uneasy about her new single parent status, she finds herself dwelling on details of her past, momentarily taking her eyes off her bipolar nine-year-old son, Daniel, who vanishes. As Olivia and her daughter begin their search for Daniel, Olivia’s memories of her decidedly dysfunctional family combine with flashes from her unhappy, unstable adult life.
Verdict This is a remarkable debut by an award-winning short story writer; Cornwell’s psychological study of the stormy relationships in one particular family is engrossing and insightful.—Andrea Tarr, Corona P.L., CA

Kinnings, Max. Baptism. Quercus. Feb. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9781623651022. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623651039. F
This colorful thriller of hostage-taking in the London tube opens its narrative in the remote Welsh alpine-wilds of Snowdonia, with the murder of a monk, found with a knife protruding from his throat. Proceeding from there, we follow ex-soldier and religious psychopath Tommy Denning and his twin sister, Belle, who have hijacked a Northern Line subway train driven by George Wakeham, a claustrophobic tube driver (!) whose family has been kidnapped to ensure George’s cooperation with the hijackers. DCI Ed Mallory of the Metropolitan Police faces his greatest challenge as a hostage crisis negotiator in this high-stakes showdown. Blinded in a grenade blast early in his career, Mallory has developed other faculties to compensate, including an acute sense of hearing and a penetrating insight into the workings of the criminal mind.
Verdict The tortuously twisting plot should be popular with thriller fans, and the author’s direct style increases the tension and urgency here, with hundreds of lives at stake as water rises in the tunnel and Mallory and his colleagues struggle to resolve the situation. By using minute-by-minute, almost staccato-length chapters, Kinnings (Hitman; The Fixer) is able to shift among his large cast of characters in a way that makes his scenario, all too plausible in today’s dangerous world, work exceptionally well. This series debut was first published in Britain in 2012.—Vicki Gregory, Univ. of South Florida Sch. of Information, Tampa

Marshall, Michael. We Are Here. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Feb. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9780316252577. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780316252560. F
What if your belief in an imaginary friend was so strong, you made him real? As a child of alcoholic parents, David relied on Maj for everything from entertainment to comfort and encouragement. But Maj eventually faded from David’s memory as he grew into adulthood. Now Maj is back and wants David to give him a life of his own. Meanwhile, John Henderson and his girlfriend Kristina begin investigating the possibility that a friend is being followed. At first, it appears the friend is just paranoid, but it soon becomes clear that she is being watched by a woman who seems to disappear into thin air. As the mystery deepens, John and Kristina discover a group of forgotten people, living in the shadows, some of whom will stop at nothing to keep their existence a secret.
Verdict Intentionally vague storytelling and multiple points of view make Marshall’s (Killer Move; The Straw Men) latest psychological thriller hard to follow. Fans of the author’s other works may enjoy the pace at which information is revealed, but those looking for thrilling suspense will most likely be unsatisfied.—Vicki Briner, Westminster, CO

Smylie, Mark. The Barrow. Pyr: Prometheus. Mar. 2014. 614p. ISBN 9781616148911. pap. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781616148928. FANTASY
A quest for an enchanted sword is at the center of this debut fantasy by comic book writer Smylie. Set in the same world as his “Artesia” series of comics, the story concerns a small and motley group led by Stjepan Black-Heart, who will follow a very unusual map to the long-lost barrow where the sword of an ancient king is hidden.
Verdict This bloody, oversexed, and sexist book is obviously trying for the tone and darkness of George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series but falls short in so many ways, most importantly in the quality of the writing. Endless exposition slows the action, and the book’s attempts at sensuality run exclusively to degradation and violence. Not recommended.—Megan M. McArdle, Berkeley P.L., CA

Whitehouse, Lucie. Before We Met. Bloomsbury USA. Jan. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781620402757. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781620402764. F
Hannah Reilly grew up in the English town of Malvern dreaming of the day she would move to the United States. But after her marriage to Mark, she finds herself in a transatlantic relationship in which he lives and works in New York while she oversees their London home. Hannah dutifully awaits his sporadic visits until the Friday night he fails to appear at Heathrow and his cell phone goes unanswered. Though Mark eventually calls with a story to explain his absence, its inconsistency is enough to arouse Hannah’s suspicions and call their relationship into question. Her quest to discover what lurks in the long-overlooked dark corners of their marriage leads Hannah down a treacherous path where past and present become intertwined.
Verdict Whitehouse’s (The House at Midnight; The Bed I Made) third novel features an intriguing premise, but the author clouds the story line by confusing the narrative flow with mismanaged flashbacks. She also misses opportunities to bring her characters to life by choosing to summarize their actions rather than portray them. Although parallels can be drawn to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Whitehouse’s clunky storytelling technique is a liability.—Nancy McNicol, Hamden P.L., CT

Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, January 24, 2014

Week ending January 24, 2014

Dimon, HelenKay. Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Samhain. (Men at Work, Bk. 1). Feb. 2014. 159p. ebk. ISBN 9781619220423. $4.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
The attraction between Thea Marshall and her boss Lincoln Campbell can’t go unheeded anymore. Ignoring company policy, Thea and Linc engage in a steamy tryst in his office that leaves them both hungry for more. But their passion cools as if doused with ice water when a PI arrives with proof that Thea stole from Linc’s company. With no choice but to fire her,  despite the evidence Linc can’t forget her. He tracks her down nine weeks later at her family’s cabin. What he finds is an angry and pregnant Thea. Linc can’t be a father; his only example was a deadbeat dad. And there’s still his continued attraction to Thea. Can Lincoln learn to trust himself and Thea to make a family work?
Verdict This first title in the “Men at Work” series by Dimon (A Simple Twist of Fate) is sweet and sexy. Thea declares her innocence consistently, which is refreshing; no wallflower here.Christyna Hunter, Loudoun Cty. P.L., Lovettsville, VA

Gilmer, Candice. Before His Eyes. Samhain. (Guys & Godmothers, Bk. 2). Feb. 2014. 213p. ebk. ISBN 9781619219267. $4.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
In this second installment in the “Guys and Godmothers” series, Bruce and Greta have been communicating on Facebook and by text for six months. For Bruce, a self-professed “man whore,” this is a new experience; he is into Greta, but he has never actually met her. Greta is a highly successful ebook author suffering from a traumatic incident involving a dog. However, Bruce’s most significant relationship is with his dog Steve. Unfortunately, in a kind of reverse “Gift of the Magi” moment, when Greta finds out about Steve’s dog, she cuts off all communication. Enter Lilly Bloom, Bruce’s fairy godmother tasked with engineering a happily ever after for Bruce despite the challenges of the relationship and some bad decisions. She is additionally challenged to use as little magic as possible.
Verdict This sexually charged novel by Gilmer (Mission of Christmas) makes a strong point about appearances versus the underlying substance in human relationships. The mostly behind-the-scenes operation of the paranormal characters is subtle and effective. Highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

Best Sellers: Microbiology, January 23, 2014

April 2013 to date as identified by YBP Library Services

  1. To Catch a Virus
    Booss, John
    American Society for Microbiology
    2013. ISBN 9781555815073. $39.95
  2. Bacteria: A Very Short Introduction
    Amyes, Sebastian G.B.
    Oxford University Press
    2013. ISBN 9780199578764. $11.95
  3. The Human Microbiome: Ethical, Legal and Social Concerns
    Rhodes, Rosamond
    Oxford University Press
    2013. ISBN 9780199829415. $55
  4. The Human Microbiota: How Microbial Communities Affect Health and Disease
    Fredricks, David N.
    2013. ISBN 9780470479896. $129.95
  5. The Human Microbiome, Diet, and Health: Workshop Summary
    Food Forum
    National Academies
    2012. ISBN 9780309265850. $47
  6. Guide to Foodborne Pathogens
    Labbe, Ronald G.
    2013. ISBN 9780470671429. $149.95
  7. Stress Biology of Cyanobacteria: Molecular Mechanisms to Cellular Responses
    Srivastava, Ashish Kumar
    CRC Press
    2013. ISBN 9781466504783. $159.95
  8. Color Atlas of Medical Bacteriology
    De La Maza, Luis M.
    American Society for Microbiology
    2013. ISBN 9781555814755. $169.95
  9. Fighting Multidrug Resistance with Herbal Extracts, Essential Oils and Their Components
    Rai, Mahendra
    Elsevier Academic Press
    2013. ISBN 9780123985392. $129.95
  10. Hepatitis C Virus: From Molecular Virology to Antiviral Therapy
    Bartenschlager, Ralf
    2013. ISBN 9783642273391. $189
  11. Between Pathogenicity and Commensalism
    Dobrindt, Ulrich
    2013. ISBN 9783642365591. $209
  12. Escherichia coli: Pathotypes and Principles of Pathogenesis
    Donnenberg, Michael S.
    Elsevier Academic Press
    2013. ISBN 9780123970480. $129.95
  13. Microbial Production of Food Ingredients, Enzymes and Nutraceuticals
    McNeil, Brian
    2013. ISBN 9780857093431. $325
  14. Prions: Current Progress in Advanced Research
    Sakudo, Akikazu
    Caister Academic Press
    2013. ISBN 9781908230249. $240
  15. Prion Biology: Research and Advances
    Beringue, Vincent
    Apple Academic Press
    2013. ISBN 9781926895376. $119.95
  16. Viruses in Food and Water: Risks, Surveillance and Control
    Cook, Nigel
    2013. ISBN 9780857094308. $290
  17. Antibody Fc: Linking Adaptive and Innate Immunity
    Ackerman, Margaret E.
    Elsevier Academic Press
    2014. ISBN 9780123948021. $199.95
  18. Identification of Pathogenic Fungi
    Campbell, Colin K.
    2013. ISBN 9781444330700. $159.95
  19. Cold-Adapted Microorganisms
    Yumoto, Isao
    Caister Academic Press
    2013. ISBN 9781908230263. $319
  20. Microbial Efflux Pumps: Current Research
    Yu, Edward W.
    Caister Academic Press
    2013. ISBN 9781908230218. $319

Remembrances, Rockers, Thrill Rides | What We’re Reading

This week, Library Journal/School Library Journal editors remember friends and fun times and savor noir and semisupernatural suspense stories.

Ian Chant, Associate Editor, News & Features, LJ
When I was in college in Bellingham, WA, I was lucky enough to attend a consistently excellent open mic poetry night. Over the years, the evening featured a rotating cast of hundreds, including students, locals, touring poets and visitors just passing through, filling whatever coffee shop was hosting it. That venue introduced me to a lot of extremely talented performers and a couple very dear friends over the years. Jack McCarthy was both. Jack was an award-winning slam poet who came late to his craft, and remains one of the finest performers I’ve ever seen take a stage. A born storyteller of boundless humor and quiet grace, Jack could hold a room without ever looking like he was trying. He was also one of the kindest and most genuine people I’ve ever met, and was an inspiration and mentor to a lot of aspiring writers who passed through those café doors, myself included. Jack passed away a year ago this month, and I’ve found myself revisiting his work once again, only to have my breath taken away anew. I also may have had to excuse myself from a room or two with something in my eye. If you can get your hands on a copy of one of his collections, like Say Goodnight, Grace Notes from EM Press, I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you can’t, we’re lucky enough to have some of his work preserved for posterity, and I’d direct you to this performance as a reason that I wish someone had brought a camcorder to more of those many open mics. So it goes.

Liz French, Associate Editor, Reviews, LJ
I simply cannot resist sharing more from my reading pick of last week, Holly George-Warren’s A Man Called Destruction (Viking), a thoroughly excellent and excellently thorough biography of alterna-rock icon Alex Chilton. After a stint as lead singer in the Box Tops, our antihero threw off the traces of pop stardom and left Memphis for Greenwich Village to make the scene (in 1970). I nearly cried when I read about the rents he and his friends paid for spaces in the area near LJ’s offices. I sighed when I read about the music gigs he heard and saw:

Alex gorged himself on New York’s smorgasbord of musical delights. That summer, for example, at the Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park, it cost $1 or $2 to see Little Richard and the Four Tops, while the Pop Festival at Randall’s Island presented Delaney and Bonnie, Van Morrison, and Sly and the Family Stone. Alex caught the masterful country-folk guitarist Doc Watson at a tiny performance space in the Village. He also saw the Velvet Underground, in their last performances with Lou Reed, at Max’s Kansas City, “held over for the entire summer, Wednesday through Sunday, at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.,” according to advertisements in The Village Voice.

That’s just a sampling of the acts he saw. Here’s Chilton on the “proto-glam” scene:

“Todd Rundgren had made his first solo album [Runt], around then and I was a big fan of that album,” he said. “That one just knocked me out. And he was all around the neighborhood. There was a glam rock bar on Bleecker in those days called Nobody’s. It was proto-glam. I remember sitting in there one night and seeing Todd come in the door and being very impressed. ‘Who’s that chick with him?’ ‘That’s Patti Smith.’ And nobody knew who Patti Smith was.”

Stephanie Klose, Media Editor, LJ
I’ve been enjoying one of Sharon Bolton’s backlist titles, Blood Harvest, (Minotaur: St. Martin’s) which she published as S.J. Bolton. I borrowed the ebook from the NYPL and am not particularly enjoying the experience of reading it on my phone (it wasn’t offered in the Kindle format) via 3M’s glitchy app, which freezes at least a couple of times per reading session and tends to forget my place in the text when I fire it back up. But I persevere because Bolton’s novel is terrific. Her stand-alone works, like this one, tend to be set in rural England with female protagonists who are disabled or disfigured somehow and have plots that hinge in some way on villagers’ adherence to preChristian traditions. There’s generally a moment when I’m reading one of her stand-alones where I say oh, how interesting: I thought this was a straight crime novel, but I guess it’s actually a horror story, but by the time everything’s wrapped up, there’s a perfectly plausible, all-too-human explanation for any otherworldly monkey business. In this work, the Fletcher family has moved into the small village of Heptenclough and built the first new home there in decades—directly next to the old graveyard. The Fletcher children see a deformed, ghostly figure lurking in the trees and watching them, but no adults ever do. There’s an earthy new vicar, a creepy family who owns almost all the land in town, dead children turning up in the wrong graves, secret ways into and out of the ancient church (and the crypt in the basement!), straw figures that move when you’re not looking, and a kind but brittle psychiatrist whose nerve damage subjects her to nearly constant pain. On my commute this morning I learned that one of the Fletcher children (four-year-old Joe) had been kidnapped, so I’m currently watching the clock until I can get back in and find out what happened to him. (He’s going to be fine, right? He’s gotta be fine.)

Kiera Parrott, Editor, Reviews, SLJ
I am completely enraptured by The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel, which is coming out in April from Simon & Schuster for Young Readers. Will Everett’s father is an engineer on The Boundless, the fastest, largest, most magnificent train ever built. All his life Will has longed for real adventure. Now that he’s traversing the country on the behemoth stream train, he’s about to get his wish. Villainous thieves, terrifying Sasquatches, and an alluring escape artist are just a few of the characters Will encounters on The Boundless. To say this middle grade tale is fast paced doesn’t do it justice. It will have readers wide-eyed, furiously scanning the pages with lip-biting tension. Hop on board, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

Etta Thornton-Verma, Editor, Reviews, LJ
I’m reading The Dark Winter by David Mark (Blue Rider). It’s a police procedural set in Scotland starring Detective Constable Aector McAvoy, a character who’s reminding me of some old friends: Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti and Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache. So far I’m enjoying both the setting and the uncertainty surrounding the main character: something happened in the past that’s making him tiptoe around the brass at work, but I can tell the buttoned-up behavior can last only so long.