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Summer Travels | Classic Returns

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 14:32

It’s fitting that the summer edition of “Classic Returns” should feature so much travel. This time we have Victorian adventurers and adventuresses; an American actress’s last act in Liverpool; a guide for Frankophiles (as in Lloyd Wright); and time travel in both directions, including Pre-Raphaelite artist and author William Morris’s dreams of the future, and Mena Calthorpe’s portrait of post–World War II textile workers in Australia. Further flights of fancy and fantasy include a fable by humorist James Thurber, an excursion into the mind of Virginia Woolf, and a peek at the Sri Lankan gardens of the brothers Bawa. Many of these reissues are compact and perfect for slipping into your weekend getaway bag.

Calthorpe, Mena. The Dyehouse. Text Classics. Jul. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781925355758. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781925410112. F
Australia-based Text Publishing, dedicated to promoting “quality literature” from Australia and New Zealand deserving new readership, celebrates its 100th Classic reissue with this title.  Published in Australia in 1961 and released here for the first time with this edition, Calthorpe’s first novel (followed by The Defectors and The Plain of Ala) is distinctive for its capturing of the emotional and psychological costs of labor on an ensemble cast of factory workers in the mid-1950s. Calthorpe (1905–96) was once employed in a textile factory and for some years was a member of the Communist Party in Australia. Introduced by author Fiona McFarlane (The Night Guest).

Crocker, Aimée. And I’d Do It Again. Head of Zeus. Jul. 2017. 208p. ISBN 9781784979850. $24.95. AUTOBIOG
The fabulously wealthy, much-married, adventuring railroad heiress and bohemian socialite Crocker (1864–1941) writes of her hair-raising travels around the world in this reprint of a 1936 release. From the Polynesian Islands to the Far East, Crocker pursued and found thrills. She describes her experiences of séances in Honolulu, headhunters in Borneo, spiritual enlightenment in India, drinking games with Oscar Wilde, abduction by a Dayak prince, and dalliances with an international mélange of men. With a foreword by English comedian and actress Helen Lederer (Absolutely Fabulous).


Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. Wright Sites: A Guide to Frank Lloyd Wright Public Places. 4th ed. Princeton Architectural. May 2017. 160p. ed. by Joel Hoglund. photos. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781616895778. pap. $22.95. ARCH/TRAV
Happy 150th birthday, Frank Lloyd Wright, born June 8, 1867. Among the many sesquicentennial salutes to the famous and prolific architect is the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy’s update of its guide to all Wright-designed buildings open to the public in the United States and Japan. A 1991 LJ review of the first edition lamented the lack of maps or driving instructions yet called it “useful, but very specialized; for the insatiable Wright audience.” This new edition has been revised and expanded to include 20 new sites, updated descriptions and access information, and, for the first time, color photographs. Also included are itineraries for Wright road trips and a list of archives.

Morris, William. News from Nowhere. Victoria & Albert Museum: Thames & Hudson. May 2017. 306p. illus. ISBN 9780500519394. $45. sf
This lovely facsimile edition of Pre-Raphaelite artist, designer, social reformer, and writer Morris’s 1892 time-travel novel showcases the story’s blend of utopian socialism and sf, first published in serial form in 1890 in the author’s ideological newspaper, The Commonweal. Narrator William Guest awakens the day after attending a Socialist League meeting to find himself in the 21st century—not the terror-filled, polluted, politically divisive 21st century of today, but a postrevolutionary pastoral paradise, with wooded areas and gardens, open-air markets, and people clad in 14th-century costumes. Divorce, money, and prison have all been abolished as well, and what was once known as “England” is now called “Nowhere.” An introduction by the former Bishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, discusses how Morris’s “wonderful fiction” challenges “that corrosive poverty of sense and spirit, and its outworking in political anxiety, apathy, and stagnation.”

Thurber, James. The Wonderful O. Penguin Classics. Jun. 2017. 96p. illus. by Marc Simont. ISBN 9780143130420. pap. $17. LIT
Ever since Black’s mother got wedged in a porthole and had to be pushed out, he’s had a grudge against the letter “O.” In Thurber’s fanciful parable, our protagonist sails to the Isle of Ooroo, looking for treasure. When that search comes up zero, he moves to purge Ooroo of “O.” Not so fast! The islanders decide to shake off his tyranny and reclaim their O-ness. They find the treasure in the process. This reissue of  Thurber’s 1957 tale has deckled edges, French flaps, and multi-award-winning illustrator Simont’s amusing drawings in full color. Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, provides the introduction.

Woolf, Virginia. Essays on the Self. Notting Hill: NYRB. May 2017. 184p. notes. ISBN  9781907903922. $18.95. LIT
Notting Hill, an independent UK publisher devoted to the art of the essay, joins with New York Review Books to publish this collection of essays by novelist, critic, and publisher Woolf (1882–1941). The selected pieces were written between 1919 and 1940, thus the publisher notes, “Woolf changed, many times over, her opinions changed, her circumstances too; she was not a fixed entity, reiterating a rigid and immaculate position each time she picked up her pen.” The essays cover many subjects, including women’s rights, social issues, the agony of war, and literary excursions. A charmingly bound and printed volume.

Classic Returns Cinema

Turner, Peter. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool: A True Love Story. Picador. May 2017. 176p. ISBN 9781250136855. pap. $16. Film/Memoir
This account of a love affair between British actor Turner and film noir star Gloria Grahame near the end of her tumultuous life is slated to be a major motion picture starring Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julie Walter, and Vanessa Redgrave. The “true love” story began in the late 1970s, when Grahame was in her 50s and twentysomething Turner was just starting out in his career. When their relationship sputtered to an end, Turner thought he’d never see her again. But years after the breakup, the star, who had cancer, collapsed in Lancaster, England, and reached out to Turner for help. She stubbornly refused any medical attention, so Turner brought her to stay with his eccentric family to recuperate. A thoughtful and candid “Since Then” afterword by the author sketches in more details and burnishes Grahame’s reputation.

Short Takes

Goodman, Jonathan. The Killing of Julia Wallace. Kent State Univ. Apr. 2017. 328p. illus. notes. ISBN 9781606353110. pap. $19.95  CRIME
This title by noted true crime historian Goodman, originally released in 1969, delves into the 1931 murder of a British woman, the wrongful conviction of her husband, and official cover-ups and malfeasance.

Lee, Sky. Disappearing Moon Café. NeWest Pr. May 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781926455815. $20.95. F
This reprint of Lee’s 1990 debut novel about a Canadian Chinese family (LJ 9/15/91) boasts new design, an author Q&A, and an afterword.

Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Pelican Shakespeare: Penguin. Jun. 2017. 158p. ed. by Peter Holland. notes. ISBN 9780143130253. pap. $9. LIT
The final Lancaster/York play features a juicy and perhaps timely villain who will stop at nothing to gain power. Includes The introduction and notes by Shakespeare scholar Holland were written in 2000.

Tucholsky, Kurt. Germany? Germany! Satirical Writings: The Kurt Tucholsky Reader. 2d ed. Berlinica. Jun. 2017. 208p. tr. from German by Harry Zohn. Illus. ISBN 9781935902386. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781935902393. LIT
This second edition of the collected works of one of Weimar Germany’s most celebrated literary figures, deftly translated by Zohn, features a new foreword by former New York Times reporter Ralph Blumenthal and a new afterword by Steve Zohn, son of the late Harry.

London Library Shelf finds

Celebrating the 175th birthday of the London Library, Pushkin Press presents the “Found on the Shelves” series, an amusing array of historic ephemera brought back into print in small chapbooks. These selections feature mostly Victorian-era treats.

Agogós (Charles William Day) & Lewis Carroll. Hints on Etiquette / A Shield Against the Vulgar. London Library: Pushkin Pr. (Found on the Shelves, No. 10). Jun. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9781782273219. pap. $9.95. ETIQUETTE
Agogós provides a guide for the bewildered through proper comportment in the mid-19th century; Carroll answers with a satirical take on behavior.

Donnelly, Ned. The Noble English Art of Self-Defence. London Library: Pushkin Pr. (Found on the Shelves, No. 9). Jul. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9781782273196. pap. $9.95. SPORTS
Irish-born pugilist Donnelly, who trained playwright George Bernard Shaw and others, demonstrates how gentlemen should box.

Greg, Thomas Tylston. Through a Glass Lightly: Confession of a Reluctant Water Drinker. London Library: Pushkin Pr. (Found on the Shelves, No. 7). Aug. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9781782273158. pap. $9.95. ESSAYS/Food
A tippler’s guide through the maze of claret, Madeira, wine, glassware, butlers, and, finally, water, when the author is diagnosed with gout.

Lady Colin Campbell. A Woman’s Walks. London Library: Pushkin Pr. (Found on the Shelves, No. 11). Jun. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9781782273233. pap. $9.95. TRAV
Victorian traveler Campbell treks through Italy, France, Switzerland, Austro-Hungary, England, and her own inner landscape.

Nadar, Felix. The Right To Fly. London Library: Pushkin Pr. (Found on the Shelves, No. 8). Aug. 2017. 92p. ISBN 9781782273172. pap. $9.95. ESSAYS
Photographer and adventurer Nadar defends the right of humans to fly (in hot-air balloons). With a foreword by George Sand.

Other Classic Returns

Robson, David. Bawa: The Sri Lanka Gardens. Thames & Hudson. Jun. 2017. 176p. illus. photos by Dominic Sansoni. bibliog. ISBN 9780500292921. pap. $29.95. GARDENING
This paperback reprint of the original hardcover published nearly a decade earlier celebrates the work of brothers Bevis and Geoffrey Bawa, specifically their distinct homes and gardens, Brief and Lunuganga. Architect Geoffrey’s Lunuganga is most notable. Indeed, prior to this book, Robson coauthored Geoffrey Bawa: The Complete Works with the designer. Brief, the remains of a rubber estate and residence of Bevis, hints at the English style of walled gardens and moon gates. The smaller of the two gardens, it incorporates many intimate views of its surroundings. The house appointments are rooted in local flora and fauna. Tiles and urns designed by Barbara Sansoni and David Friend, respectively, resonate with Sri Lankan motifs. Lunuganga is larger with broader aspects, epitomizing Geoffrey’s combination of regional structures with lush native plantings. Both invite an experience of natural harmony underscored by a homoerotic aesthetic. Brief introductions to Sri Lankan gardens and landscapes, particularly the rubber estates, and Bawa family history, emphasize the importance of place and past in the two lives and gardens. VERDICT The paperback edition retains Sansoni’s beautiful photographs; an important addition for readers interested in this distinctive style and culture.—Jeanette McVeigh, Univ. of the Sciences, Philadelphia






#Ownvoices | Collection Development: Race, Diversity, & Society

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 10:11

The complexity, history, and nuances of race in America mean a wealth of material could arguably be identified as essential for library collections. There has been a recent explosion of titles about diversity and identity in America, and there has been more published historically than is often acknowledged.

As mobility and interconnectedness surge and the under­standing of our society’s intricacies deepens, building collections that reflect both the entanglements of our local communities and our broader country and world is becoming increasingly crucial. Looking outside of typical collection development tools can help librarians expand collections to encompass many voices. Online publications such as Buzzfeed, The Rumpus, and Book Riot regularly provide lists of contemporary writers from a broad array of backgrounds, including Ocean Vuong, Angela Flournoy, Taiye Selasi, Rigoberto González, Imbolo Mbue, Gabby Rivera, Celeste Ng, Natalie Baszile, Natashia Deón, Yaa Gyasi, Porochista Khakpour, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Linda ­LeGarde Grover.

The works listed here reveal some of the diversity of American society but certainly not all. They are relatively recent and perhaps less publicized. It’s assumed that the classics will already be part of nearly all collections because, whether acknowledged or not, cultural pluralism has always defined our society. These classics include works by Zora Neale Hurston, Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zitkala-Sa, Vine Deloria Jr., James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Paula Gunn Allen, Maxine Hong Kingston, N. Scott Momaday, Richard Wright, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Ralph Ellison, Ntozake Shange, Amy Tan, Hisaye Yamamoto, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Isabel Allende, Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, Octavia E. Butler, Junot Díaz, Linda Hogan, Janet Campbell Hale, Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, and Luís Alberto Urrea, among many others, a good number of whom are still writing and publishing.

Our culture and stories continue to evolve and expand, and our cultural production, from publishing to Hollywood, is beginning to catch up. A variety of artists develop diverse work in film, music, multimedia, and podcasting. Writers from many different backgrounds are creating romance novels, mystery, noir, speculative fiction, fantasy, comic books, literature, poetry, creative nonfiction, memoir, researched nonfiction, academic nonfiction, biography, graphic novels, and so much more. There are a great many chroniclers of the American experience. Look for them in unusual places and across every genre.

Starred titles () are essential for most library ­collections.

Candice Kail is Web Services Librarian, Columbia University, New York, and was a Reference Librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. She has reviewed for LJ since 2007 and is also a freelance writer


Alcalá, Kathleen. The Desert Remembers My Name: On Family and Writing. Univ. of Arizona. 2007. 192p. ISBN 9780816526260. $32; pap. ISBN 9780816526277. $16.95.

Born in California to Mexican parents, Alcalá was always told of California’s roots as a part of Mexico. In these linked essays, she writes about culture, land, and the many meanings of family.

Alexander, Elizabeth. The Light of the World. Grand Central. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9781455599875. $26; pap. ISBN 9781455599868. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455599851.

Alexander’s memoir beautifully captures the love she shared with her husband and the grief she and her young sons bore when he died suddenly at age 50. Alexander is a poet, and her lyricism captures the dreamlike quality of their daily routine, the haunting experience of sudden loss, and the rebuilding they did. (Memoir, 2/19/15)

Bayoumi, Mustafa. This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror. New York Univ. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9781479836840. $89; pap. ISBN 9781479835645. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781479804061.

This work describes what life in post-9/11 America has been like for Muslims, particularly for those who have been under surveillance for practicing their religion. Bayoumi exposes and corrects mis­information and myths about Islam and Muslims in this and his other books. (LJ 9/1/15)

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. Spiegel & Grau. 2015. 176p. ISBN 9780812993547. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780679645986.

In the wake of the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, Coates wrote an extended letter to his 15-year-old son about the realities of being a black man in America. Also recommended is Coates’s The Beautiful Struggle, a memoir about his relationship with his father and growing up in Baltimore. (LJ 2/1/16)

Ebrahimji, Maria M. & Zahra T. Suratwala, eds. I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim. White Cloud. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9781935952008. pap. $16.95; ebk ISBN 9781935952367.

In 40 essays, women from across the United States write of their allegiance to our country and to their faith and how those shape both their private and public lives.

Gay, Roxane. Bad Feminist. Harper. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780062282712. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062282729.

These essays intertwine the personal with the cultural, offering incisive takes on music, movies, fashion, and pop culture, along with sexual assault and violence, race, and gender. By turns humorous and serious, Gay is always engaging. (LJ 11/1/14)

Glaude, Eddie S., Jr. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. Crown. Jan. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780804137416. $26; pap. ISBN 9780804137430. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780804137423.

Glaude (religion & African American studies, Princeton) illuminates and unpacks present-day issues of race through individual stories, history, and unflinching sociopolitical analysis, with writing that makes this book almost impossible to put down. If his exploration interests you, be sure also to look for Keeangha-Yamatta Taylor’s From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. (LJ 11/1/15)

Jefferson, Margo. Negroland. Knopf. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780307378453. $25; pap. ISBN 9780307473431. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101870648.

Jefferson grew up in Chicago’s African American elite upper class. She describes negotiating the expectations of her parents, along with those of her broader social circles. She interweaves history, culture, ideas, and memory and also candidly examines how race can affect the perception of, diagnosis of, and responses to mental health issues. (LJ 9/15/15)

Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. PublicAffairs. 2016. 592p. ISBN 9781568584638. $32.99; pap. ISBN 9781568585987. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781568584645.

In exceptionally compelling prose and well-researched detail, Kendi (Africana studies, Univ. of Florida) begins with the colonies and continues through abolition, emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the civil rights era, and Black Power. He breaks down the differences among segregationist, assimilationist, and antiracist ideas and explains why moving to an antiracism power structure that embraces immediate equality is the way to end racism in America. (LJ 2/15/15)

LaDuke, Winona. Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming. Haymarket. 2016. 294p. ISBN 9781608466276. pap. $19; ebk. ISBN 9781608466627.

LaDuke, who is Anishinaabe, begins by asking, “How does a community heal itself from the ravages of the past?” She argues that recovering the sacred is integral to healing and looks at work being done to protect sacred land and traditional agriculture and foodways and to recover cultural objects and images across Native American communities to restore ways of life.

Lanham, J. Drew. The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature. Milkweed Editions. Jun. 2017. 232p. ISBN 9781571313157. $24; pap. ISBN 9781571313508. $16.

Lanham (wildlife ecology, forestry, & environmental conservation, Clemson) fell in love with nature as a young boy growing up in South Carolina. His family’s property and surrounding Forest Service land provided plenty to explore. Lanham describes his childhood and the challenges and dangers he’s faced doing remote fieldwork as a scientist and “birding while black.”

Lee, Erika. The Making of Asian America. S. & S. 2015. 528p. ISBN 9781476739403. $29.95; pap. ISBN 9781476739410. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781476739427.

Lee (history, Univ. of Minnesota) has written the most comprehensive, accessible, history of Asian America to date. (LJ 6/1/15)

Savoy, Lauret Edith. Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape. Counterpoint. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9781619025738. $25; pap. ISBN 9781619028258. $16.95.

Savoy’s (environmental studies & geology, Mt. Holyoke) unique journeys and explorations of race, history, family, the American landscape, and her own memory are richly drawn meditations. Her love for the land and for unearthing her roots and connections to the environment are ­palpable.

Silko, Leslie Marmon. The Turquoise Ledge. Penguin. 2010. 336p. ISBN 9780143120100. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101464588.

Silko writes evocatively of both the desert surrounding her Tucson, AZ, home and the land of the Laguna Pueblo, where she grew up. Her mesmerizing storytelling here interweaves family history, the natural world, and the Laguna Pueblo culture.

Touré. Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means To Be Black Now. S. & S. 2011. 272p. ISBN 9781439177556. $25; pap. ISBN 9781439177563. $16.

Touré interviewed 105 people about the many ways of being black in America, and he pulls all those experiences along with his own into this book, explaining that postblackness is not postracial and defies stereotyping what being black means. See also Baratunde Thurston’s How To Be Black.

Treuer, David. Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life. Atlantic. 2012. 368p. ISBN 9780802119711. $26; pap. ISBN 9780802120823. $16.

Treuer, also a novelist (Prudence), describes his experiences growing up on a reservation in northern Minnesota while elegantly weaving in history. His brother Anton Treuer’s book Everything You Wanted To Know About Indians but Were Afraid To Ask is an incredible compendium covering terminology, history, identity, and more. (LJ 2/1/12)

Ward, Jesmyn, ed. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race. Scribner. 2016. 240p. ISBN 9781501126345. $25; pap. ISBN 9781501126352. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781501126369.

This collection of essays and poetry uses James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time as its progenitor, and the writers speak about race from perspectives that intertwine personal, cultural, and political histories. The contributors (among them Carol Anderson, Edwidge Danticat, Kiese Layman, and Claudia Rankine) write “toward the hurt, to wrestle with the ugly truths that plague us in this country.” The result is incredibly wrought. (LJ 6/15/16)

Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Vintage. 2010. 640p. ISBN 9780679444329. $35; pap. ISBN 9780679763888. $17; ebk. ISBN 9780679604075.

Wilkerson investigates the Great Migration, a period from World War I through the 1960s when six million black Americans emigrated from the South to the North. She focuses on three individuals who moved to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Her reporting and writing are meticulous and riveting.


Chang, Jade. The Wangs vs. the World. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780544734098. $26; pap. ISBN 9781328745538. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780544734203.

In this road trip novel, Charles Wang, after losing his personal fortune and cosmetics company in the financial crisis, takes his family from Bel Air, CA, to his eldest daughter’s home in upstate New York. (LJ 8/16)

Henríquez, Christina. The Book of Unknown Americans. Vintage. 2014. 419p. ISBN 9781410474322. $31.99; pap. ISBN 9780345806406. $15; ebk ISBN 9780345806406.

After their daughter suffers a brain injury in Mexico, Arturo and Alma ­Rivera decide to bring her to the United States for a better chance to heal and thrive. They settle into an apartment complex in Delaware filled with other Latinx immigrants, whose stories become woven into theirs.

Jacob, Mira. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. Random. 2015. 528p. ISBN 9780812994780. $26; pap. ISBN 9780812985061. $17.

Jacob’s family saga reaches from New Mexico and Seattle back to India through a family haunted by past interactions and differing generational ­expectations. (LJ 6/1/14)

Kahf, Mohja. The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf. Carroll & Graf. 2006. 448p. ISBN 9780786715190. pap. $17.99.

Khadra Shamy is a Syrian girl growing up in Indiana in the 1970s in a devout Muslim family navigating the territory between being Muslim and being ­American.

Mathis, Ayana. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. Vintage. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780307949707. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350303.

Hattie Shepherd moves north to Philadelphia from Georgia during the Great Migration. There, she marries and tragically soon loses her firstborn twins to illness. This trauma and its effects on her life and those of her nine other children are woven throughout this inter­generational tale.

Torres, Justin. We the Animals. Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. 2012. 144p. ISBN 9780547576725. $18; pap. ISBN 9780547844190. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9780547577005.

A novel about growing up with brothers, about being half Puerto Rican, about coming of age as a queer kid in a small upstate New York town where being Puerto Rican has already made you different, and about the sheer physicality of life, Torres’s debut, though slim, is packed. (LJ 7/11)

Umrigar, Thrity. The Story Hour. Harper. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780594600435. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9780062259318. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062259325.

Dr. Maggie Bose and Lakshmi ­Patil have a complicated friendship that ­traverses cultures, boundaries, and marital troubles.

Yamashita, Karen Tei. I Hotel. Coffee House. 2010. 640p. ISBN 9781566892391. pap. $19.95.

Ten interconnected novellas tell the story of the Yellow Power movement in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1960s and 1970s.


The Betrayal (Nerakhoon). Ellen Kuras & Thavisouk Phrasavath. Cinema Guild. 2008.

Filmed over 23 years, this unique documentary collaboration depicts Phrasavath’s experiences as a Laotian refugee immigrating to the United States because his father participated in U.S. ­military operations in Laos during the Vietnam War.

New Muslim Cool. Jennifer Maytorena Taylor. Seventh Art Releasing. 2009.

This documentary follows a young Puerto Rican convert to Islam who moves to Pittsburgh, where he is called to set up a religious community and work with poor and incarcerated boys and men. (LJ 10/1/11)

Real Women Have Curves. Patricia Cardoso. HBO Films. 2005.

Set in Hispanic East Los Angeles, this coming-of-age tale of Ana Garcia (America Ferrera) resonates across generations.

Selma. Ava DuVernay. Paramount. 2015.

Selma covers three months in the civil rights movement, culminating in the historic Alabama march from Selma to Montgomery and the signing of the Voting Rights Act. Includes standout performances by David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Skins. Chris Eyre. First Look Media. 2002.

Eyre (director, Smoke Signals) excels at story­telling and cinematography in this film about two brothers on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The Developing Schedule

AUG PROSTATE health & Wellness
NOV Math & Science Literacy
DEC graphic novels/nonfiction

To submit titles (new and/or backlist), contact Barbara Genco four to six months before issue dates listed above (email:

Ordering à la Carte | Memoir

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:57

For those who are not in the mood for any one thing but ravenous for variety, this month’s memoirs reflect the delightful miscellany of summer, including books about overcoming adversity, practicing mindfulness, rising above poverty, and experiencing romance and art. It’s like eating a pint of raspberries, a giant bowl of popcorn, and fresh gazpacho for dinner—each is so satisfying yet so different. The hope is that readers will find these titles simply delectable.

Catron, Mandy Len. How To Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays. S. & S. Jun. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781501137440. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501137464. MEMOIR
This memoir emerged from the kernel of Catron’s well-received article in the 2015 New York Times “Modern Love” column, “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This.” In this work, the author explores the origins of contemporary perspectives on love and romance—drawing from traditional fairy tales and her own family myths, as well as popular sources such as Pretty Woman. In deconstructing these narratives, we begin to see how unhealthy and unbalanced they truly are. Catron also brings her own romantic life to the dissection table, as we see her college sweetheart evolve into her cohabitating boyfriend, and how the two become reluctant spouses. We also meet the man who inspired her New York Times piece and learn about the start of their relationship, which moves forward in an informed and aware way. Catron is a talented writer who makes accurate and insightful observations about romance, dating, and even breakups and divorce. VERDICT Recommended reading for anyone in a long-term relationship, as well as for aficionados of the romance genre. [See Prepub Alert, 1/9/17.]

Howd, Jennifer. Sit, Walk, Don’t Talk: How I Survived a Silent Meditation Retreat. Parallax. May 2017. 144p. ISBN 9781941529706. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781941529713. MEMOIR
Howd’s slim guide to undertaking a meditation retreat is both readable and educational. Readers might wonder, “A silent meditation retreat, how much can you say about that?” Howd first shares her own experience about her introduction to meditation practice and her initial silent meditation retreat, complete with its lessons learned. She also gives a list of tips to help new practitioners enjoy a successful retreat, including a packing list and how to reenter the day-to-day world after the retreat has ended. Particularly inclusive are her recommendations for completing a DIY at-home retreat, as she recognizes that one’s resources and daily responsibilities don’t always allow for an experience away from home. The author also includes a recommended reading list, as well as instructions for two different types of meditation. A helpful, firsthand account of how one woman joined the meditation community, Howd’s book provides a gentle introduction to how meditation can offer peace and tranquility in a frenetic world. VERDICT Recommended for readers who are interested in taking up meditation practice.

Reyes, Emma. The Book of Emma Reyes. Penguin Classics. Aug. 2017. 192p. tr. from Spanish by Daniel Alarcón. ISBN 9780143108689. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781101992098. MEMOIR
In 23 letters to Colombian author and historian Germán Arciniegas, artist Reyes maps out her childhood, beginning in an impoverished neighborhood in Bogotá, Colombia, where she plays in the trash heap and lives in a single room with her sister and an indifferent guardian (possibly her mother). Emma is moved to the rural town Guateque, then back to Bogotá, then to another out-of-the-way area called Fusagasuga. She and her sister are abandoned, then placed in a convent workhouse. When she’s older, Emma receives a job assignment in the chapel, preparing flowers, vestments, and statuary for mass. A nun teaches her to read and she enjoys additional freedoms in the extremely restrictive environment, until finally she escapes. This epistolary memoir received high praise when it was first published in Spanish; it is easy to see why. With a child’s innocence, Reyes narrates her experience with precise, direct prose that is interspersed with mature and thoughtful insights. VERDICT This exceptional memoir in a nontraditional format will captivate those interested in Reyes’s artworks, as well as the casual reader. Alarcón’s translation is artful, as is his introduction.

Williams, Patricia & Jeannine Amber. Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat. Dey St: HarperCollins. Aug. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9780062407306. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062407320. MEMOIR
Williams illustrates what it is like to grow up black and in poverty in modern-day America. Most compelling is her depiction of the dearth of options for a young girl in her situation: at age 12, she meets a man in his 20s who offers a means of escape from her unstable home life. By 15, she has two children with him; to support them, she sells crack cocaine. At 18, she’s in jail. At 23, she starts anew, but without a legitimate work history, she struggles to obtain minimum-wage jobs. She earns a GED and a medical assisting degree, but criminal background checks make working in a doctor’s office impossible. She marries again, this time to someone who is steadfast and reliable, and continues to be a strong and supportive force for her family. When it’s suggested that she become a comedian, she brushes it off as unrealistic. But then she signs up for open-mic night and gets the audience laughing at the anecdotes she tells of her childhood. Her first break leads to a guest spot with comedian Marc Maron, followed by well-deserved recognition of her own comedy chops. VERDICT With colorful language and an eye for the ridiculous, Williams uses comedy to address the dark events of her upbringing and early adulthood without lessening their impact or gravity. [See Prepub Alert, 3/8/17.]

Comics Cross Over | Genre Spotlight: Graphic Novels

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 11:27

Continuing to fuel today’s pop culture landscape, graphic novels have become the lifeblood of new and innovative work. This year, we see more genres blending and mutating into fresh forms of storytelling, emerging voices are finding their earliest expressions, and creative teams large and small (some comprised of only a single creator) are forging truly fantastic material for every occasion, every mood, and every reader.

These upward trends show no signs of abating, and libraries have become champions of the illustrated format. According to Kuo-Yu Liang, VP of sales and marketing, Diamond Comic Distributors, “In 2016, graphic novels sales increased 17.2 percent for public libraries and 14 percent for school libraries.” Reporting a whopping 64 percent growth in digital lending from 2015 to 2016, OverDrive’s Hadie Bartholomew told LJ that public libraries are set for another record-breaking year in 2017.

While traditional superhero adventures still dominate, many different kinds of comics are gaining traction. “Libraries that were typically focused on superheroes and the like are now showing interest in treatments that are literary in nature, showcasing a broader range of stories that can be done in comics,” observes Baker & Taylor’s Martin Warzala, director, collection development. Jenny McCluskey, Ingram Content Group’s comics specialist predicts expansion specifically for YA books, memoirs, and realistic fiction.

Creators abroad are also showing a stronger U.S. presence, with new digital distributor Europe Comics making available—via OverDrive’s catalog—thousands of thoughtful and dizzyingly varied English translations. And this past spring, digital content provider Findaway launched Comics Playaway Lauchpad, unveiling a new line of preloaded tablets designed for library circulation of diverse comics for kids, teens, and adults.

New horizons

Some of 2017’s most exciting new offerings don’t conform easily to existing genre definitions. Newcomer Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 2 (Fantagraphics, Oct.; Vol. 1, LJ 6/1/17), continues ten-year-old Karen Reyes’s journey of self-discovery, deepening and resolving mysteries begun in the widely acclaimed first volume with the same bold vision and sensuous, experimental storytelling. [See the Q&A with ­Ferris below.] Another rich visual treat defying easy categorization is Connor ­Willumsen’s Anti-Gone (Koyama, Sept.), in which Spyda and Lynxa’s reality shifts between a surreal sf dystopia and the virtual present. Highlighting the adventures of young Iranian Minoo ­Shirazi, Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman’s two-volume Persia Blues (NBM, Jul.) moves between a mythic fantasy realm and the modern world as magical and realist drama collide. Also in July, Simon & Schuster’s new graphic imprint, Gallery 13, releases master storyteller Christophe Chabouté’s largely wordless Alone (LJ 6/1/17). Combining heartbreak and hope, the tale centers on a hermit coming to terms with existence and meaning.

The picture book format and sweetly gothic sensibility are hallmarks of Élian Black’more and Carine-M’s Spooky & the Strange Tales: Monster Inn (IDW, Aug.), in which young Spooky shows why she is unlike the other bright princesses in the kingdom of Fairy Tales. Finally, the midnight imagination of debuter Chris Gooch enlivens the somnambulistic world of Bottled (Top Shelf: IDW, Sept.), tackling issues of body horror and its tragic consequences, as protagonist Jane obsesses over her former friend Natalie’s glamorous life and her own lack of achievement.

Wonder Women: Creators & Stories

Advancing the lively growth seen in the last few years of stories by and about women are works from a range of incredible female talent. Janet Harvey and Megan Levens’s Angel City: Town Without Pity (Oni, Aug.) places Dolores Dare in a Los Angeles–set noir investigating the murder of her roommate amid the glamour of 1930s Hollywood and the turmoil that fueled the Zoot Suit Riots. Self-discovery is the mystery at the heart of newcomer Nidhi Chanani’s all-ages Pashmina (First Second, Oct.), following young Priyanka Das’s search for answers about why her mother left India for America and why she won’t talk about her father. And with The Wendy Project (Super Genius: Papercutz, Jul.), debut author Melissa Jane Osborne and artist Veronica Fish confront aspects of life and death, as Wendy Davies imagines her recently deceased younger brother very much alive, only caught in some sort of Neverland with a flying boy.

Firmly grounded in the present yet attuned to the past are two October titles. Award winner Roz Chast’s charming and hilarious Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York (Bloomsbury USA) sees the native New Yorker traipsing through the wonderland of the city, viewing the concrete jungle anew with her children. Covering similar territory but from the perspective of a West Coast transplant who spent a decade living and working in Gotham is Julia Wertz’s Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City (Black Dog & Leventhal).

Fantasy lovers won’t want to miss the latest volume in ­Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s Eisner-nominated ­Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood (Image, Jun.), which continues Maika’s quest to discover her past, despite new threats surfacing in strange and forbidding territories. Picturing lazy summer days and middle school surfer girls who happen upon a cave filled with supernatural wonders is Kim Dwinell’s Surfside Girls. Bk. 1: The Secret of Danger Point (Top Shelf: IDW, Jul.). Katie O’Neill’s The Tea Dragon Society (Oni, Oct.) also deals with the lives of young women, chiefly Greta, an apprentice blacksmith, who makes friends and learns a new craft in the seldom-seen world of tea dragons.

Cases In point

In recent years, crime fiction comics have made a huge comeback. And with new graphic imprints dedicated to the genre, such as Hard Case Crime Comics, merging Titan Comics and mystery publisher Hard Case Crime, the appeal of the detective story appears here to stay. Some notable new crime titles include Joe R. Lansdale and Jussi Piironen’s Hap and Leonard: Savage Season (IDW, Oct.), in which the easygoing best friends are caught up in a simple recovery job that becomes a life-or-death struggle. David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr.’s Spencer & Locke (Action Lab, Aug.) teams a hard-boiled detective with his imaginary childhood friend, a talking panther, to solve a brutal murder. And continuing the compelling police procedural featuring wizard cops against the backdrop of a lushly imagined supernatural London are acclaimed creative team Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, and Lee Sullivan with the July release of Rivers of London, Vol. 3: Black Mould (Titan Comics).

Artful allusions

Several titles out this month delve into the power of art as medium and artistic vision. Igort’s Japanese Notebooks: A Journey to the Empire of Signs (Chronicle) manages to be both a meditation about the cartoonist’s time in Japan working in the manga industry as well as a cultural history and presentation of various styles. With Hubert (Jonathan Cape: Random UK), debuter Ben Gijsemans pulls off a similar feat of aesthetic prowess, capturing the life of the titular museum­-goer, whose obsession with high art interferes with his ability to navigate real life. Étienne Davodeau’s The Cross-Eyed Mutt continues NBM’s popular “Louvre” series with Louvre worker Fabian pressured by his girlfriend’s family to mount a hideous painting of a cross-eyed dog onto the walls of the museum, leading to hilarious predicaments for the hapless administrator.

More examples of art in story continue with Eternal Friendship (Siglio, Oct.), in which creator Anouck Durand uses old propaganda art, photography, and a variety of formal visual techniques to tell the true story of two friends of different faiths trying to reconnect during wartime. Katie Skelly’s My Pretty Vampire (Fantagraphics, Aug.) employs a pop art–meets–manga approach in this sex-positive tale of a young vampire girl seeking to end cruel restrictions placed on her undead life. Further down the river of the surreal, readers will enjoy Nicole Claveloux’s The Green Hand: And Other Stories (NYRC, Sept.), a lushly pop art–infused dream-glance at romance, mystery, and self-realization. Not to be missed is Titan Comics’ The Book of ­Ballads: The Original Art Edition (Nov.), in which regal adaptations of great songs and folktales serve as the vehicle to original art by multi-award-winning fantasy illustrator Charles Vess. They are accompanied by stellar writing from such luminaries as Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Charles de Lint, and Elaine Lee.

September sees a bounty of titles exploring the life and times of artists both fictional and real, starting with French creator Kickliy’s wrap-up to the Angoulême Prize–­nominated series “Musnet,” starring the plucky mouse artiste. Vol. 4: The Tears of the Painter (from Uncivilized Books’ new YA comics line, Odod Books) relates Musnet’s final journey toward becoming a great painter, working in the same style as his human counterpart, Claude Monet. Taking a turn toward biography, Firefly Books presents French writer/illustrator Florent Silloray’s take on the photographic journalism of World War II photographer Robert Capa: A Graphic ­Biography. Also from Firefly, Xavier Coste’s Egon Schiele: His Life and Death unveils the Austro-Hungarian artist’s relationships with colleagues and models and the passions that drove him further into his craft. Finally, Norway’s Lars Fiske revels in the art scene of Weimar Germany and more with his biographical two-tone look at the life of caricaturist Grosz (Fantagraphics).

Realms of the Real

Real-life tales of drama, heartache, perseverance, and hope are another component in the continuing popularity of the graphic novel format. Juliana Smith, Ronald Nelson, and Mike Hampton’s (H)afrocentric Comics, Vols. 1–4 (PM Pr., Sept.), wields humor and satire as weapons while exploring ­racial and economic strife on a college campus, just as Yvan Alagbé’s collection of short stories, Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures (NYRC, Oct.), reveals unsettling truths about racial inequality and oppression on both a personal and hegemonic scale. For Japanese manga master Tadao Tsuge, the lives of the down-and-out, small-time hustlers, and petty thugs are the stuff of the creative life, as portrayed in Slum Wolf (NYRC, Nov.).

Having completed his National Book Award–winning March trilogy, documenting the trials and triumphs of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis, Nate Powell returns this month with Nate Powell’s Omnibox (Top Shelf: IDW). Compiling the cartoonist’s earlier works in one place, this collection addresses issues such as war and mental illness. Newcomer Yuki ­Fumino’s dramatic relationship manga, I Hear the Sunspot (One Peace, Aug.), features young Kohei, whose personal diffidence, based in part on his hearing loss, is pushed aside when he meets out­going Taichi. And using surreal iconography and comedy to convey the heartbreaking lengths to which Daphne will go to retain custody of her son, novelist Deb Olin Unferth teams with artist Elizabeth Haidle for I, Parrot (Black Balloon: Catapult, Nov.). Finally, news­paper comics get a little love with a comprehensive collection of Lynn Johnston’s compelling family dramedy For Better or for Worse: The Complete Library, Vol. 1 (IDW, Oct.).

drawn to life

Many upcoming biographical works depict lives from around the world and every sort of circumstance. Coming in August is Kevin Sacco’s wordless Josephine (Slave Labor), offering a lens into the author’s rising consciousness by way of his New York City childhood during the height of the civil rights movement. Small press Microcosm adds to its “Comix Journalism” series with Six Days in Cincinnati: A Graphic Account of the Riots That Shook the Nation a Decade Before Black Lives Matter (Xpress Reviews, 4/14/17), in which activist Dan Mendez Moore cartoons his experience of the nation’s first large-scale 20th-century uprising. In Diario de Oaxaca (PM Pr., Sept.), Peter Kuper captures a peaceful vacation escape that landed him in the midst of some of Mexico’s largest political struggles.

Chronicling life in the Middle East, author Brigitte ­Findakly, with the help of artist-husband Lewis Trondheim, discusses growing up as an Orthodox Christian in Iraq under Saddam Hussein and her bittersweet relationship with her homeland in Poppies of Iraq (Drawn & Quarterly, Sept.). Cartoonist Riad Sattouf concludes his personal history of moving from Syria to France with the final volume in ­the ­Angoulême Award–winning trilogy The Arab of the Future. Vol. 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985–1987 (Holt, Sept.; Vol. 1, LJ 9/15/15, Vol. 2., Xpress Reviews, 7/22/16).

Reaching even further into the personal, health coach Lacy J. Davis and illustrator Jim Kettner tackle body issues head-on in Ink in Water: An Illustrated Memoir; or, How I Kicked Anorexia’s Ass & Embraced Body Positivity (New Harbinger, Oct.), detailing with poignancy and care Davis’s struggles to become who she is today. Sabrina Symington captivates with the bright and moving First Year Out: A Transgender Transcript (Singing Dragon: Jessica ­Kingsley, Nov.), telling a story of transitioning based on her own life. Similarly, Iasmin Omar Ata’s personal experience as an Arab American college student dealing with epilepsy informs the stirring tale of Mis(h)adra (Gallery 13: S. & S., Oct.). Sparks of joy are guaranteed to accompany organization consultant Marie Kondo and manga artist Yuko Uramoto’s The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up (Ten Speed: Crown, Jun.), which tells the story of Chiaki, who turns her life around with the help of Kondo’s renowned decluttering philosophy.

Finally, two August releases in the world of traditional biography: Jonathan Hennessey and Justin Greenwood pre­sent a timely portrait of the famous and controversial Alexander Hamilton: The Graphic History of an American Founding Father (Ten Speed: Crown), while Mathilde Ramadier and Anaïs ­Depommier solve the existential crisis at the heart of modern life with a study of Sartre (NBM).

Flights of Imagination

The fantasy genre continues to be a solid presence in the world of comics, and this year there are several exceptional efforts that may become tomorrow’s classics. Kevin Czap’s Fütchi Perf (Uncivilized, Sept.) beautifully imagines a romantic future created by young, queer radicals working to better all humanity (while still leaving time for a few great parties and good friends). Art is the thing in Campbell Whyte’s Home Time. Bk. 1: Under the River (Top Shelf: IDW, Jun.), as gorgeously rendered, video game-influenced adventure is had by a group of precocious youth in the summer before high school begins. Gaming enthusiasts should also check out The Comic Book Story of Video Games: The Incredible History of the Electronic Gaming Revolution (Ten Speed: Crown, Oct.) by Jonathan Hennessey and Jack McGowan, detailing the people, business forces, and products that built the industry.

Doors to unknown universes open in M.F.K. (Insight, Sept.), which follows Nilah Magruder’s deaf protagonist ­Abbie’s attempts to bury her mother’s ashes on a fantastical mountain range steeped in hidden magic. Superstar creator Becky Cloonan’s By Chance or Providence (Image, Jul.) gathers a stunning collection of epic tales of swords, magic, and intrigue. And Kerascoët and Fabien Vehlmann envision ­Satania (NBM, Nov.), where young scientist Charlotte embarks on an expedition to use Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to prove the physical existence of Hell, with unexpected results.

Classics, Reinvented

The modern Stone Age family continues to get a satire-rich but perpetually fun makeover in Mark Russell and Steve Pugh’s The Flintstones. Vol. 2: Bedrock Bedlam (DC, Oct.). Forging ahead with two-fisted excitement for superhero fans of all ages is Ted Naifeh’s breathtaking Night’s Dominion, Vol. 1 (Oni, Jul.). Featuring uproarious adventure and complex characterization, this new series centers on barmaid Emerane, aka most-wanted thief extraordinaire Night, leading the fight against ­eldritch cult forces infiltrating the highest rungs of government. Trapped in a New England mansion mystery and navigating multiple relationships, Sarah Vaughn and Lan ­Medina’s Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, Vol. 1 (DC, Jun.), blends gothic romance with the supernatural. Transporting the superhero universe to high school, Carrie Harris and Stipe Kalajžic’s On the Wall (One Peace, Jun.) tells the story of Mira Mason, who believes herself useless, yet her “lame” talent might just be what’s needed to help catch the creep roaming the halls. Venerable icon Wonder Woman also gets a chance to shine in 2017, with the hero-defining work of Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, and Nicola Scott in Wonder Woman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition, Bk. 1 (DC, Oct.). This volume both respects the Amazonian princess’s past yet moves her into the future.

A number of ripping yarns this season spread the thrill of adventure throughout time and space. With Anno Dracula: 1895; Seven Days in Mayhem (Titan Comics, Nov.), Kim Newman and Paul McCaffrey follow up Newman’s best-selling eponymous novel with this graphic sequel, imagining Dracula defeating his enemies and marrying Queen Victoria. Enter vampire journalist and freethinker Kate Reed, who takes part in a vampire anarchist group hoping to end Dracula’s world-conquering plans in 1895.

The riveting world of steampunk continues to grow with NBA legend/Sherlock Holmes enthusiast ­Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld, and Josh Cassara’s Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook (Titan Comics, Sept.; LJ 6/1/17). Here, the great detective’s older brother sets out on a global search for a weapon with unearthly power. In ancient Rome, bloodied visions of Apollo are driving people mad, while a female gladiator’s power threatens patriarchal rule in comics master Peter Milligan and Juan José Ryp’s Britannia. Vol. 2: We Who Are About To Die (Valiant, Oct.; Vol. 1, LJ 6/1/17).

And in November from Papercutz’s new imprint Charmz, specifically geared toward teen girls, is the first book in Patricia ­Lyfoung’s series, Scarlet Rose. Set in 18th-century France, the story follows the adventures of Maud—aka the swashbuckling Scarlet Rose—on a quest to right the wrong of her father’s death and meet the sword-wielding Fox. Bringing the Wild West roaring back to life, award winners Joe R. Lansdale and Sam Glanz­man kick off IDW’s It’s Alive imprint with Red Range: A Wild Western Adventure (Jun.). This realistic portrayal of racially motivated hatred wrapped in Western exploits takes a turn for the weird before the final gunfight. And riffing on today’s strange landscape, Berkeley Breathed returns to the comics art form after a 25-year sabbatical with Opus, Milo, Binkly, and the gang in Bloom County: Brand Spanking New Day (IDW, Sept.).

Finally, editors Ben Katchor and Bill Kartalopoulos are this year’s team for The Best American Comics 2017 (Houghton Harcourt, Oct.), which pulls together a smorgasbord of great talent in an anthology format and provides a superb starting point for adult readers to experience the breadth and depth of what graphic novels can offer.

Q&A: Emil Ferris

Emil Ferris burst onto the comics scene this year, garnering critical acclaim for her debut graphic novel, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (MFTIM), Vol. 1 (Fantagraphics; LJ 6/1/17), which centers on ten-year-old Karen Reyes growing up in 1960s Chicago. The second and final volume, imbued with exquisite art and a deeply resonant script, is set for an October release. Author Rednour caught up with Ferris via email, giving us a glimpse into her creative world.

In MFTIM, Karen fills hundreds of pages of her diary with horror images, basically combining a thoughtful coming-of-age tale and a murder mystery. How did you create such a dynamic story?
Early on, I knew that the book was going to be the kind sewn together in my art laboratory from the midnight-harvested remains of dead saints, criminals, myths, and monsters. Like the good Dr. Frankenstein, I used the ingredients that appealed to me most, and I did a lot of research and remained open to the places [where] that research led me. I drew experiences from my own life and from the lives of others and from stories that resonated with me and had always haunted me.

Your artwork is so deliberate, down to the smallest line. How did you develop such a beautiful style?
I’ve been drawing since I was two. I had a disability, so I was drawing well before I was able to walk. Also, I think that losing the ability to draw for a time, relatively recently, and being required to fight my way back, has helped me to value the process of creating art even more. All the pages that comprise [MFTIM] might seem deliberate, but I allowed accidents and mistakes to lead the way and indicate my path.

MFTIM combines elements of many genres, especially horror. How has that genre influenced your work?
Horror is, in my opinion, as viable a means to illustrate social commentary as sf. Three movies inspired my approach: the classic Night of the Living Dead, with its stark ending, wherein the black male savior of zombie-menaced humans is ultimately gunned down by police, as well as the recent Get Out, which offers another, more pointed consideration of racism in America and tells us we’re living with horror every day. Finally, there’s The Wolf Man (1941), written by Curt Siodmak, a German Jew who fled Nazi Germany and ended up in Hollywood. Siodmak has said that his use of the pentagram [in the film] as an ominous foretelling of doom was inspired by the Nazi’s use of the Star of David as a way to “brand” Jews and emphasize their “otherness.” Of course, we know that this brand of otherness was what ultimately marked them—and many others—for state-sponsored murder.

Karen; her brother, Deeze; and her schoolmate regularly walk through museums, and both Karen and Deeze sketch their own versions of the art on display. Were you able to work in your favorite art pieces, or are there some that didn’t make the book?
I did not obtain permission to use Paul Delvaux’s Village of the Mermaids, nor Peter Blume’s The Rock. Consequently, I went in other directions. Many of the paintings that I love that didn’t make it into the first book will be seen in the second. (Get ready for Karen to draw some luscious Renaissance gore!)

What developments and twists of fate can you tease fans about appearing in Volume 2?
The story of Karen’s mysteriously deceased German neighbor Anka Silver­berg takes up quite a bit of Book 2. We see her life in Nazi Germany and her attempt to save six girls, despite the terrible cost. The mystery of Anka’s death is solved, and we also come to understand who Deeze has killed. We learn more about the Invisible Man (Karen’s father)…. [W]e find out what became of the down-at-heels ventriloquist Mr. Chugg and…Karen falls in love!

NBM, 40 Years and Counting

NBM (Nantier Beall Minoustchine) Publishing released its first title in 1977, a year after its founding by co-owner and publisher Terry Nantier (TN) and partners Chris Beall and Marc ­Minoustchine. ­Influenced by the popularity of graphic novels in Europe at the time, the company began releasing English trans­lations of top-line European cartoonists as well as reprints of classic newspaper comics. Innovative and focused on distribution via traditional bookstores rather than specialty comics shops, their efforts have helped forge today’s broad comics market.

Could you imagine when you started NBM that comics would come to be so beloved and integral to modern culture?
I did, actually, as that was the vision. Did I imagine it would take over 20 years to even begin to get there? No. Obviously, I figured graphic novels would take America by storm in a couple of years. Not exactly, but I persevered, and we saw incremental progress through much of those first 20 years.

How do you choose which works to translate and release in U.S. editions?
I have maintained great relations with Europe’s leading publishers of comics from the beginning. Do we get a first look? Fairly often, since I travel twice a year to Frankfurt, Germany, and Bologna, Italy, but not as a matter of contract or agreement. I’m continually sent the best choices, filtered for what we’re seeking these days: general fiction and nonfiction.

How do you find the right translator for a given work?
A good translation is indeed necessary. We have a few translators now, and I do some pretty severe editing, making sure the language sounds natural, steering away from a theatrical and literary tone the French like to use (and French readers expect) to the easygoing attitude of U.S. readers. I shy away from the pompous or oratorical, [which] can appear stiff to us. It’s not easy, and there are spots I find later where I kick myself for missing something that could have been better.

From your perspective, are stories today blending genres more than they did in the past?
Yes. For example, I’ve read stories in which an sf setting really becomes a vehicle for a psychological study of characters rather than a story about creating a new world. Our forthcoming Persia Blues (Jul.) by Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman does just that, blending a young Iranian girl’s experience in today’s world with fantasy steeped in Persian legend. However, NBM has a small list, so we’ve stuck mostly with excellent literary fiction from creators such as Cyril ­Pedrosa, the creative team of Kerascoët, and Sean Michael Wilson. That said, we are doing sf/fantasy parody (Dungeon and ­Zombillenium), and, recently, we published the charming sf Look by American author Jon Nielsen (a librarian, I might add).

What 2017 titles are you most excited about?
We’re very proud that it is our 40th anniversary and are taking the occasion to bring back some classics from years past. This fall, we’ll rerelease the remarkable Streak of Chalk by Miguelanxo Prado, a psychological thriller, with breathtaking paintings, set on a small, wayward island. We’re also republishing the entire Mercenary saga by Vicente Segrelles, which I believe is the world’s first fully painted—in oil—realistically styled heroic fantasy. Each panel is a painting you could put up on your wall, and the stories are quite fun. We will also continue our very successful biographies series with Sartre, Monet, and Rick Geary looking at Billy the Kid, as well as more works by Pedrosa and Kerascoët.

Going Graphic

Below are the forthcoming titles mentioned in this article. Translations are denoted by [Tr.]

AUTHOR TITLE PUBLISHER RELEASE Aaronovitch, Ben & others Rivers of London. Vol. 3: Black Mould Titan Comics Jul. Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem & others Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook Titan Comics Sept. Alagbé, Yvan Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures [Tr.] NYRC Oct. Ata, Iasmin Omar Mis(h)adra Gallery 13: S. & S. Oct. Black’more, Élian & Carine-M Spooky & the Strange Tales: Monster Inn [Tr.] IDW Aug. Breathed, Berkeley Bloom County: Brand Spanking New Day IDW Sept. Chabouté, Christophe Alone Gallery 13: S. & S. Jul. Chanani, Nidhi Pashmina First Second Oct. Chast, Roz Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York Bloomsbury USA Oct. Claveloux, Nicole The Green Hand: And Other Stories [Tr.] NYRC Sept. Cloonan, Becky By Chance or Providence Image Jul. Coste, Xavier Egon Schiele [Tr.] Firefly Sept. Czap, Kevin Fütchi Perf Uncivilized Sept. Davis, Lacy J. & Jim Kettner Ink in Water New Harbinger Oct. Davodeau, Étienne The Cross-Eyed Mutt [Tr.] NBM Jun. Durand, Anouck Eternal Friendship [Tr.] Siglio Oct. Dwinell, Kim Surfside Girls. Bk. 1: The Secret of Danger Point Top Shelf: IDW Jul. Ferris, Emil My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. Vol. 2 Fantagraphics Oct. Findakly, Brigitte & Lewis Trondheim Poppies in Iraq [Tr.] Drawn & Quarterly Sept. Fiske, Lars Grosz [Tr.] Fantagraphics Sept. Fumino, Yuki I Hear the Sunspot [Tr.] One Peace Aug. Gijsemans, Ben Hubert [Tr.] Jonathan Cape: Random UK Jun. Gooch, Chris Bottled Top Shelf: IDW Sept. Harris, Carrie & Stipe Kalajžic On the Wall One Peace Jun. Harvey, Janet & Megan Levens Angel City: Town Without Pity Oni Aug. Hennessey, Jonathan & Justin Greenwood Alexander Hamilton Ten Speed: Crown Aug. Hennessey, Jonathan & Jack McGowan The Comic Book Story of Video Games Ten Speed: Crown Oct. Igort Japanese Notebooks: A Journey to the Empire of Signs Chronicle Jun. Johnston, Lynn For Better or for Worse: The Complete Library IDW Oct. Katchor, Ben & Bill Kartalopoulos, eds. The Best American Comics 2017 Houghton Harcourt Oct. Kerascoët & Fabien Vehlmann Satania [Tr.] NBM Nov. Kickliy Musnet. Vol. 4: The Tears of the Painter [Tr.] Odod: Uncivilized Sept. Kondo, Marie & Yuko Uramoto The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up [Tr.] Ten Speed: Crown Jun. Kuper, Peter Diario de Oaxaca PM Pr. Sept. Lansdale, Joe R. & Jussi Piironen Hap and Leonard: Savage Season IDW Oct. Lansdale, Joe R. & Sam Glanzman Red Range: A Wild Western Adventure It’s Alive: IDW Jun. Liu, Marjorie & Sana Takeda Monstress. Vol. 2: The Blood Image Jun. Lyfoung, Patricia Scarlet Rose [Tr.] Charmz: Papercutz Nov. Magruder, Nilah M.F.K. Insight Sept. Milligan, Peter & Juan José Ryp Brittania. Vol. 2 Valiant Oct. Moore, Dan Mendez Six Days in Cincinnati Microcosm Jun. Naifeh, Ted Night’s Dominion. Vol. 1 Oni Jul. Naraghi, Dara & Brent Bowman Persia Blues NBM Jul. Newman, Kim & Paul McCaffrey Anno Dracula: 1895 Titan Comics Nov. O’Neill, Katie The Tea Dragon Society Oni Oct. Osborne, Melissa Jane & Veronica Fish The Wendy Project Super Genius: Papercutz Jul. Pepose, David Jr. & Jorge Santiago Spencer & Locke Action Lab Aug. Powell, Nate Nate Powell’s Omnibox Top Shelf: IDW Jun. Ramadier, Mathilde & Anaïs Depommier Sartre [Tr.] NBM Aug. Rucka, Greg & others Wonder Woman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition. Bk. 1 DC Oct. Russell, Mark & Steve Pugh The Flintstones. Vol. 2: Bedrock Bedlam DC Oct. Sacco, Kevin Josephine Slave Labor Aug. Sattouf, Riad The Arab of the Future. Vol. 3 [Tr.] Holt Sept. Silloray, Florent Robert Capa: A Graphic Biography [Tr.] Firefly Sept. Skelly, Katie My Pretty Vampire Fantagraphics Aug. Smith, Juliana & others (H)afrocentric Comics. Vols. 1–4 PM Pr. Sept. Symington, Sabrina First Year Out: A Transgender Transcript Singing Dragon: Jessica Kingsley Nov. Tsuge, Tadao Slum Wolf [Tr.] NYRC Nov. Unferth, Deb Olin & Elizabeth Haidle I, Parrot Black Balloon: Catapult Nov. Various The Book of Ballads: The Original Art Edition Titan Comics Nov. Vaughan, Sarah & Lan Medina Deadman. Vol. 1 DC Jun. Wertz, Julia Tenements, Towers & Trash Black Dog & Leventhal Oct. Whyte, Campbell Home Time. Bk. 1: Under the River Top Shelf: IDW Jun. Willumsen, Connor Anti-Gone Koyama Sept.

Douglas Rednour is a Collection Support Specialist, Georgia State University Library, Atlanta. A lifelong fan of the fantastic in comic books, comic strips, animation, and film, Rednour has early memories of multiple boxes of Sixties-era comics he received from his uncles, so many in fact that he jumped in them like a pile of leaves. He is the 2017 LJ Video Reviewer of the Year

Nina George | LibraryReads Author Spotlight

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 12:21

On a trip to Paris with her husband, 60-year-old German Marianne decides to commit suicide, but fate leads her to ­Kerdruc instead. Nina George’s The Little French Bistro conveys the mysteries of life and love through the inter­actions among the inhabitants of that small Breton town. A resident of both Berlin and Brittany, George graciously answered a few questions LJ posed to her via email.

Photo Urban Zintel © by Nina George

Where did Marianne find the courage to take that first step—admittedly an act toward death but one that led her back to life?
When Marianne decides to end her life, three things have aligned for her: blank despair, an opportunity, and a sort of determination. But when Marianne decides she wants to die, she’s really saying that she wants to live another life—she just does not know where to find it. To want to end life does not always mean, “I want to die.” It means, “I just want to leave this life, I want to have a restart. I do not want to just go back and change little things. I want a reincarnation, but I do not know where to find it.” I imagine every human being has these moments. I have been in these situations, too. But I am much too curious to see what might be coming up around the corner.

Marianne seems to hold the key to solving all the problems of the people she encounters in Kerdruc. Why does she deny her own strength in the face of all that she means to others?
Most women…have been taught (by their mothers but also by patriarchal societies and religions) if you want to be loved, you have to be sober, easygoing, nice, well-educated, not so loud, not too powerful, not too ambitious. To break down these inner jails of self-destructive themes is a lifelong job…. To help others is a kind of “undercover strength,” because you do not use it for yourself. One day a woman finds out: I am worth it. I am worth being loved although I am strong—even, because I am strong. To change the mind-set of a self-restrained woman—this is what nearly every woman has to do.

The Bretons all suffer for love. Does it have to be so complicated?
Love is not complicated. It is there, or it is not. You can do nothing for or against it. But this is the challenge we have to struggle with over the years: What should we do with love from another which we do not want? What do we do when we are lonely some nights? How can we survive if someone we love is dying, and there is no one else to love us exactly in this soothing, caring way? Love doesn’t help us to deal with fear or career or politics or living with one another. It never does the work we have to do. Sometimes you can even love someone deeply and never tell him or her. Because love does not solve our problems. Yeah, okay, it is complicated. :)

Cats were worshipped in Egypt and associated with gods and goddesses. Were they always part of your design as those mythical creatures, or did they magically create themselves?
Cats and ravens: these are my favorite animals to add a mythical glimpse in nearly every story. In [my earlier book], The Little Paris Bookshop, there were two cats (named Kafka and Lindgren), and ravens are sort of heralds from the other worlds of dreams, the past, and the upcoming future. As a child, I fell in love with the legends of the Greeks and Romans. Although I am a skeptical, rational, analytical person when it comes to politics or business, another part of me is pure emotion, sensitive to the unexplainable. To be a storyteller also means telling about the myths that are part of daily life in every culture and character. In Brittany—la Bretagne—god is not very topical. It’s the sea and death, the women and the rocks, the other world and the Celtic legends. My education was imprinted by my father’s lesson: religion is something like a house. You do not need to look in every house of the gods and goddesses but tolerate and respect it if someone would like to live in a different house than you. For me as a child, that was logic.

Aside from Brittany itself, what figures so largely in Bistro is the sea.
What is the lure of the sea to us?
There are two general types of people: mountain and forest addicts and ocean lovers…. The sea is the dynamic, the unpredictable, nurturing but also rogue, full of passion and movement, in a permanent flow, full of emotions and depth, which frightens most people. Let’s say: feminine. Mountains are made of eternity, solidity, scary in their shadows, and confining in their deep, cold valleys; you have to wait sometimes a dozen years until a mountain shows any emotion…. [T]hey are ­masculine.

Over the years I realized that people who feel safe in the mountains, who find relief and peace, are often people who are very good at keeping things stable and maintaining a routine. Ocean lovers are different: full of an inner urge to run away, a yearning to change their routines.

For me, the sea is a mirror of myself. When I am by the sea, I live within the tides—I feel my inner tides, the changing of emotions, conceptions, and I deeply understand that our souls are moving all the time. Inside of everyone there is an endless and deep ocean, full of sentiments, thoughts, ideas, fears, hate, and love. We do not remain who we are—tomorrow I will have various colors of the sea on my mind. And this is okay—this is human nature. We are made of water.

You’re from Germany, now also living and writing in France. And this book takes place
in Brittany, which is distinctive from the rest of France in its language and culture.
How does this “double distance” affect you as a writer?
If someone would ever ask me to describe my inner landscape, I would unfold a map of Brittany. Brittany is one of the oldest parts of Europe—once, at the beginning of the world in the Carboniferous Period, this microcontinent was called “Armorica.” The Romans were impressed with the savage seashore, the endless forests, the old stones (most of them have faces…), and called it “Finis Terrae”—end of the land. But the Breton people call it “the beginning of the world.” If you come here for the first time, you will be hurt—because you are thrown back on your own beginnings. The nights with these pearl-lit stars, the never-sleeping sea, the rocks: this is where time does not matter. It does not matter how old you are, what you have done until now, or what kind of culture or religion you come from. You are at your own beginning. Could there be a better place to set stories—or to settle down for a lifetime? I may be far away from everything I am in the Big City Berlin, but I am closer to being myself than ever.—Bette-Lee Fox & Barbara Hoffert

Created by a group of librarians, LibraryReads offers a monthly list of ten current titles culled from nominations made by librarians nationwide as their favorites. See the June 2017 list at and contact to make your own nomination.

Geniuses & Gods, Podcasts & Presidents, “Mene” Moms, & More | What We’re Reading & Watching

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 11:35

This week we have a whole raft of watchers, readers, and…podders? LJS Assistant Managing Editor Mahnaz Dar adds another medium to the “What We’re Reading & Watching” stew: podcasts. And WWR/WWW emerita Henrietta Verma wants to share what she’s eating these days (hint: healthier!). The rest of the crew go crazy with bibliomysteries, Holmes’s & Watson’s descendants, TV dramas, YA magical realism tales, social media tomes, and Matthew Broderick’s birthday present from Sarah Jessica Parker. It’s the usual mixed bag of goodies from new and veteran WWRers.

Ellen Abrams, WWR/WWW emerita
Who hasn’t wanted to know what made Albert Einstein tick? The NatGeo short series Genius, based on Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography, Eisenstein: His Life and Universe (S. & S.), attempts to answer the question we have all asked ourselves: What made Einstein so…Einsteinian? While there is no way to comprehend genius, it is most entertaining to watch the show try. In fact, the goal is so nearly impossible that while the series attempts to explain Einstein’s greatest theories by showing how he thinks, it focuses primarily on the personal, private Einstein, a life story that is little known to the general public. And it is fascinating: his youthful romances and failures, his relationships with his family, his wives (yes, he had more than one!), his friendships, and his battles with other envious and grumpy physicists. Johnny Flynn, the actor who plays the young Einstein, is adorable and intelligent-seeming. You can see why women fall for him. Samantha Colley plays Einstein’s first wife, Mileva, a physicist who aches at the surrender of her own career. She gives a heartbreaking performance as a prefeminist career woman relegated to the role of wifey to the Great Man. Geoffrey Rush, as the older Einstein, who intuits, earlier than most, what the new German chancellor, Adolf Hitler, is really up to, delivers a typically charming and nuanced performance as well. A bit biography, a bit soap opera, a bit historical parade, Genius is as informative as it is entertaining—although, in truth, I can understand about .01 percent of the physics. And that’s only after it is illustrated for idiots.

Mahnaz Dar, Assistant Managing Editor, LJS
Lately, I’ve added a new medium to the mix: sound! I’ve been slow to board the podcast train, but I’m enthusiastic! I became a die-hard Serial fan a few years ago, and this past week, I listened to another NPR podcast, S-Town. To say much about S-Town would be to deprive would-be listeners of an utterly divine experience, so I’ll keep it brief. It entices listeners with the promise of true crime but delivers so much more. At the center is John B. McLemore, who contacts NPR, dangling the possibility of corruption and a murder cover-up in the small town of Woodstock, AL. Tinged with elements of Southern gothic, this podcast easily competes with Harper Lee, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Connor when it comes to presenting unforgettable characters—and has gotten me rereading short stories by Faulkner and O’Connor.

As for the books? I’m enjoying Bill James’s Popular Crime: Reflections on the History of Violence (Scribner), a look at murder, kidnapping, sexual crimes, and the like through the ages. James chronicles well-known events—the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, Lizzie Borden—and some that are lesser known but received tons of attention at the time. This is more than a mere documentation; it’s a musing on how the justice system has transformed over time and an explanation of why certain crimes catch our fancy—and what that says about society. It’s rare to find highbrow analysis when it comes to the world of true crime, as James points out, and this title is one I would recommend to any fans of the genre.

Liz French, Senior Editor, LJ Reviews
I’m paging through the Otto Penzler–edited collection Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the World of Books and Bookstores (Pegasus Crime), which I’m reviewing for LJ’s Pop Fiction Editor Wilda Williams. So far I’m about halfway through and the count is: Nazis, many; Sigmund Freud, one; Columbo, one; Tess Monaghan, one; satanic forces, one. And Mickey Spillane makes an appearance, aided by Max Allan Collins. Don’t want to give away too much, but the collection is a fun read. I would love to see more mentions of libraries, but perhaps Pegasus and Penzler have that one waiting in the wings. One can hope….


Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, WWR/WWW emeritus
I read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (HarperCollins) several years ago and was as intrigued by its premise as I was apparently disappointed in its execution, based on a brief review I wrote at the time, noting “the ending falls somewhere between cheap bait-and-switch and outright letdown.” I can’t for the life of me remember what the ending was, but when the adaptation was first announced, I was hopeful a TV series might be able to deliver on its premise more effectively, and so far, so very good, especially the last two episodes!

Meanwhile, I’m slowly making my way through Alex Pentland’s Social Physics (Penguin), a fascinating dive into real-life and virtual social networks, how ideas are born, and how behaviors are normalized. Here’s a quote from p. 65:

The Facebook voting example suggests that information by itself is a rather weak motivator. On the other hand, both the ape troop and Bell Stars examples suggest that seeing members of our peer groups adopting a new idea provides a very strong motivation to join in and cooperate with others.

While a bit on the academic side, Pentland’s research and findings are particularly relevant today in light of ongoing controversies over fake news and the increased visibility of so-called alt-right views, and someone with more free time than I have might tackle a think piece that connects it to Gaiman’s underlying premise: “People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.”

Tyler Hixson, WWR/WWW emeritus
In my attempt to familiarize myself with the Brooklyn Public Library summer reading program, I just finished Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap ( Balzer + Bray), which won the Printz Award and was a National Book Award finalist. It tells the story of Finn, who witnessed the kidnapping of Roza, a beautiful young Polish immigrant who had been living with Finn and his brother Sean, but he can’t remember the face of her kidnapper. Everybody in the town of Bone Gap thinks that Finn is making the story up to cover for Roza, who they believe simply ran away, but Finn knows what he saw. Sean becomes distant and cold, since he believes the townspeople over his brother, so Finn searches for Roza by himself. During his investigation, he falls for Priscilla (Petey; she hates being called Priscilla), the local beekeeper’s daughter, who helps him in his search. It turns out there’s a surprising reason Finn can’t describe Roza’s kidnapper—and why he falls in love with Petey. There are also alternate universes, a magic horse, and a world-creating psychopath bad guy.

Bone Gap truly is magical realism at its finest, but the book definitely takes some serious contemplation upon its completion to really “get” it. I stewed over this title for a few days before I decided that I liked it. There is a twist near the end that sheds light on the rest of the narrative; I like when stories do that, when they force you to go “wait, what?” and flip frantically back through so you can piece things together.

In terms of what I’m watching, I’ve shown up late to the game that is Criminal Minds, and I’m disappointed that I haven’t been following this show since the beginning. It’s so smart, tense, and even a little pretentious, but honestly, who cares? I have more fun trying to figure out who the killer is before the FBI does than watching the actual show. It almost makes me feel like I’m finally putting my undergrad psych minor to good use.

Amanda Mastrull, Assistant Editor, LJ Reviews
This week I’m reading Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte (Katherine Tegen). I’d heard a lot of good things about it last year but didn’t get around to reading it until now. Which was my mistake, really, because this book is great. Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, the great-great-great-grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, respectively, end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, where they meet for the first time. Charlotte is brilliant and consults on cases with Scotland Yard and doesn’t really relate to her peers. She did something that caused her parents to send her to the school, while Jamie, who has been much more sheltered from his legacy, ended up there on a rugby scholarship after his parents struggled to pay for his private school in the UK. When a fellow student who has had run-ins with both teens is killed in the same manner as someone in a Sherlock Holmes story, they realize they’re being framed and pair up to investigate. It’s all very fun and clever, and I’m really enjoying it. Below, here’s the first time Jamie, lacking Charlotte’s experience and expertise and trying to convince himself he’s not completely out of his depth (he is), visits her on-campus lab:

I belonged here, I thought, with her, as surely as anyone belonged anywhere.

As weird as here was.

Because there was just so much else crammed in that space, and any one part of it would have made her Prime Suspect #1 in Every Murder Ever. One wall was plastered with diagrams of handguns, obscured by a hanging set of giant bird skeletons. (A vulture peered knowingly at me, its eyehole bullet-black.) The tatty love seat against one wall was spattered in what had to be blood, dripped, most likely, from the riding crops hung above it. There were sagging shelves filled with soil samples, blood samples, what looked like a jar of teeth. Beside the jar was a violin case, a lone bastion of sanity.

I fervently hoped that I was the only visitor she’d ever had to this lab. Or else she was most definitely going to jail.

Lisa Peet, Associate Editor, News & Features, LJ
Like recent LJ interview subject Sarah Jessica Parker, I, too, just read George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo (Random). And although I didn’t buy a copy for Matthew Broderick for his birthday—hey, he has one already—I did like it, but I suspect I liked it in a conditional way. While I think that at some other point in my life—any other point, maybe—I would have found this tale of Abraham Lincoln and the dead a bit gimmicky, it happened to hit that right-book-right-time factor for me. I did like the worldbuilding off the bat (which sent me to reread the first chapter of Kevin Brockmeier’s weird and wonderful The Brief History of the Dead) but found the hand of authorial research on the heavy side. What injected the needed degree of soul for me, though, was the Buddhist subtext (and sometimes text) on suffering and sorrow, and the reminder that much of living involves entering into the suffering and sorrow of others—in the novel’s case, literally, which might have struck me as overly crafty at another time but, just now, I’m totally okay with. The historical “climax” was a bit pat. But I still felt more uplifted than not and got that little visceral thrill of noncritical happiness when I finished, so that’s good. (Granted, maybe this means I should just be reading some Buddhist texts and dispensing with the fictional cloak, but that’s a point for another WWR.)

Henrietta Verma, WWR/WWW emerita
As I mentioned in the last column, I’m trying out a plant-based diet. I’m enjoying cooking different things and feeling far more energetic than I have in a while. In the same vein, I’ve taken down a book I’ve had on the shelf for some time, Dan Barber’s The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food (Penguin). It’s a thoughtful examination of the four realms that produce our food: soil, land (i.e., dry-land animals), sea, and seed. I’m in the soil section now, where Barber introduces pioneering organic farmers and the idea that what is a weed is in the eye (tummy?) of the beholder. Students doing a history of the dust bowl could pick up a lot here, though the book is mainly for the likes of me: those who are tired of being tired and are looking for a new way.

What am I eating these days? Everything except meat and dairy, which leaves A LOT. I used to make this chickpea curry anyway, but have been making it more often. I’m also partial to this chili jam even though it scares the kids (I got my six-year-old to try it and then found a note from him that said “Your mene”). Lastly, I’m making lots of the goodies to be found in Katie Parker’s The High-Protein Vegetarian Cookbook (Countryman, 2015), which includes instructions for an open-faced pistachio tofu sandwich, a veggie and quinoa wrap with sun-dried tomato aioli, and much more.

The First Amendment Resistance Presented By Pen America | Book Expo 2017

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 17:00

Image: BookExpo

At The First Amendment Resistance Presented By Pen America, On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone hosted a series of panelists on Thursday, June 1, to explore free speech and fake news in the wake of Simon & Schuster’s decision to cancel the publication of a book by former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Speakers included Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Cullors; New York Post columnist and Commentary magazine editor John Podhoretz; Zoe Quinn, a central figure in the Gamergate controversy; and author and lawyer Scott Turow. The passionate and honest conversation began with a discussion of Yiannopoulos, who become a cheerleader for Gamergate and was banned from Twitter after the harassment of actress Leslie Jones in 2016.

“I woke up one day after my phone number had been disseminated by people who were trying to find and kill me,” Quinn began. She described her personal story of being a victim of intense online harassment, and maintained that giving [Yiannopoulos] a platform is also giving him legitimacy. In response, Gladstone asked if a book should be evaluated by the text or content instead of the person, and whether it is possible to separate one from the other. Panelists, including Quinn, debated whether that subject is made more complicated when one has made a career off of hate speech.

“You can call it hate speech, but you can’t call in truth,” Quinn clearly stated. Turow wondered if it was purely a commercial decision by Simon & Schuster to make the initial decision to publish and the later decision to cancel. He emphasized, “Publishers are private actors and they are free to publish what they want to publish.” The question of whether Simon & Schuster made a commercial or moral decision was debated, although there was no unified answer.

Saying that he didn’t want to see any writers silenced, Turow further explained, “If you buy an irresponsible book, that is also part of the market. That is also part of free speech and free expression. Hard cases make bad law. The actors who rise up as martyrs are people you don’t necessarily want to defend.” Podhoretz compared the situation to Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, who has made headlines with his First Amendment legal battles.

When asked about the controversy, Cullors found it unfortunate that Yiannopoulos’s book deal was only canceled after the allegations of pedophilia. “Milo allows for a new group of people to engage in hate speech and practice it,” she added. In mentioning the recent hate crime in Portland, OR, Cullors said that we need to have conversations about those events too.

Gladstone agreed that the messenger is just as important as the message, and argued that silos can foster great extremes. “If you’re in a bubble, the centrist voices become the marginalized ones and the loudest voices become the most extreme,” she said. “How do you reach outside the bubble? How you let some air into the bubble?”

Cullors responded with a questions she frequently receives: What about all lives? She suggested it is in our best interest to have conversations with those who don’t have the same views.

“Why don’t marginalized groups talk to the extreme?,” asked Cullors. “I don’t think that’s a fair question. Why does this group of people think that it’s okay to harm, kill, or abuse this other group of people?…We don’t live in a healthy environment right now. We don’t live in a healthy country. We don’t trust each other. We don’t feel safe with each other. And those are human values that are necessary.”

Panelists disagreed about whether people are given a license because of the current political climate. Podhoretz asked if, in the past, we could imagine a president calling for riots or calling for violence. “It’s a degradation of our public discourage in my own lifetime,” he said.”  Turow wondered if Yiannopoulos would incite others who share the same views. Meanwhile, Quinn questioned why he still has a platform, and expressed frustration that there haven’t been any prosecutions of people affiliated with Gamergate.

“In an era where they are no gatekeepers, where everyone can find their audience,” Gladstone asked, “Does that change the rules for writers?” Quinn responded that it does, and that she is not having a book tour for safety reasons. Cullors believed that this conversation existed in a vacuum, and that we need to have a conversation about all of the ways these events impact us—which resulted in much applause and cheering from the audience.

Well Turned Out: Art and Fashion Titles Walk the Runway

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 13:25

Anderson, Fiona. Tweed. Bloomsbury Pr. (Textiles That Changed the World). Dec. 2016. 232p. ed. by Linda Welters. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781845206963. $114; pap. ISBN 9781845206970. $34.95.

Young, Caroline & Ann Martin. Tartan + Tweed. Frances Lincoln. Feb. 2017. 240p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780711238220. $35. DEC ARTS

Appealing to anyone exploring the language of fashion, Tartan + Tweed, from journalists Young and Martin, weaves the material history of these ubiquitous textiles, chronicling their enduring popularity and shifting cultural meanings in fluid prose and plentiful illustrations. Several previous books also delve into tartan’s history and appearances in popular culture, notably Jeffrey Banks and Doria de la Chappelle’s glamorous Tartan: Romancing the Plaid, and Jonathan ­Faiers’s denser, more academic Tartan. ­

Independent curator Anderson’s Tweed joins the same “Textiles That Changed the World” series as Faiers’s 2008 title. ­Anderson’s study brings new research to the history of tweed, expanding beyond Harris Tweed and upper-class Britain to a more global view. Tweed groans with endnotes, with mostly black-and-white illustrations and a textbook-like format. Books on tweed are generally fewer and less colorful than those on tartan. The most dynamic parts of both Young/­Martin’s and Anderson’s wide-­ranging volumes consider how fashion designers including Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, and Coco Chanel employed and deployed traditional fabrics in serious and subversive ways. They further investigate the curious ability of these fabrics to sustain contradictory meanings. Also of note are Tartan + Tweed’s guides to identifying types—herringbone to houndstooth, Black Watch to Stewart—with practical tips on buying a kilt and caring for a tweed suit. VERDICT Give Tartan + Tweed to your menswear-loving friends, and put Tweed on your fashion history course reserve.—Lindsay King, Yale Univ. Libs, New Haven, CT

Colors in Fashion. Bloomsbury Pr. Nov. 2016. 256p. ed. by Jonathan Faiers & Mary Westerman. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781474273688. $114; ebk. ISBN 9781474273718. DEC ARTS

Why did the British suffragettes wear white? What color did Thailand’s Queen Sirikit sport on Fridays? And why were dyed green carnations in the early 1800s so deadly? The role of color in the world of fashion, as readers will learn, is to inform, communicate, and even discriminate, as well as to illustrate political, economic, and sexual ideas. This book includes 16 of the best papers presented at the 2014 Costume Colloquium conference held in Florence, Italy, and they cover many shades of the rainbow to answer the questions above, as well as the meaning of black in postwar Paris, how fashion and color are used to show identity and belonging with the Yoruba in Nigeria, and how early colorized silent films employed high fashion to attract female viewers and blur the lines between upper- and lower-class forms of entertainment. VERDICT Readers of fashion, costume, and design, as well as anthropology, history, and art history will enjoy this accessible, fun title.—Melissa Aho, Univ. of Minnesota Bio-Medical Lib., Minneapolis

Corn, Wanda M. Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern. Prestel. Mar. 2017. 320p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9783791356013. $60. FINE ARTS

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) came of age as a young woman and an artist when the “functional simplicity” of the arts and crafts movement was in vogue and a woman’s dress said something about her modernity. Art historian Corn (Seeing Gertrude Stein) considers O’Keeffe’s influences but points to photos of the artist (eschewing the ribbons, bows, and puffed sleeves of her classmates) that indicate O’Keeffe’s minimalist aesthetic formed early on. These qualities, as seen in the painter’s dress, living quarters, and work are clearly articulated and well documented in this generously illustrated book. Thirty years of photos of O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz (and other photographers who came after) offer evidence of how little her style changed over the years, as do numerous images of the beautifully designed and exquisitely sewn garments she made for herself, commissioned and purchased, and preserved. While not immune to contemporary fashions, occasionally adapting new trends and regional wear to her wardrobe (more colors in the 1950s, Marimekko dresses in the 1960s, denim), O’Keeffe’s signature style was one that fused “male with female and East with West.” VERDICT A fascinating, holistic look at a 20th-century icon, superbly illustrated.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Engel, Allison & others. ThriftStyle: The Ultimate Bargain Shopper’s Guide to Smart Fashion. Charlesbridge. Sept. 2017. 224p. photos. ISBN 9781623545024. $15.99. DEC ARTS

This comprehensive guide is written in a friendly, approachable way, as if your cool aunts took you along to their favorite Salvation Army shop. It’s much more than a thrift store junket, though. All three authors are seasoned thrifters and have years of writing and TV experience (twins Allison and Margaret Engel collaborated on plays and the Food Network’s Food Finds; TV producer Reise Moore has worked with A&E’s Biography and for Animal Planet). Here they canvas 165 stores around the country and then stage a “fashion shoot” using real people in all-thrifted ensembles (Roger Snider’s photos are charming and plentiful). The book also features trips to the tailors, dry cleaners, reweavers, and sewists who help whip the bargain finds into shape—a nice touch to see the people behind the scenes. Throughout, the authors convey the joy of discovering designer pieces for pennies, and the chapters on defining your own style and developing your eye to find those hidden treasures among the racks are informative. An extensive resources list includes many online and app options, from finding a store to learning to sew to stain removal. Lightly laid atop the shopping advice is an admonition against fast fashion and waste. VERDICT Slip this into your valise the next time you visit ­thriftlandia.—Liz French, Library Journal (LF)

Heck, Erik Madigan & others. Erik Madigan Heck: Old Future. Abrams. Mar. 2017. 160p. photos. ISBN 9781419725913. $45. DEC ARTS

Beautiful images are a constant in Abrams publications, and this volume does not disappoint. Intended as an introduction to the work of photographer Heck, it features 100 of his fashion and nature images, both in the studio and plein air. The photos admirably illustrate his versatility, respect for his models, and commitment to beauty and the art of photography. Luscious, saturated colors and patterns make it sometimes difficult to tell where the models begin and end, what is fabric, and what is background. Shooting primarily for independent designers, Heck does not follow preconceived notions of what photography should be. He works to understand the designer and uses ornament, graphics, shapes, and shadows to bring his ideas and their creations to life. This book also includes short essays by Susan Bright (independent curator of photography, Art Photography Now) and Justine Picardie (editor in chief, Harper’s Bazaar UK; Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life). Bright also features an interview with Heck and a list of plates, which includes the piece, model, designer, and collection on display. VERDICT Sumptuous photographs that will appeal to artists, designers, and photographers alike.—Nancy J. Mactague, ­formerly Aurora Univ. Lib., IL

Hill, Colleen. Paris Refashioned, 1957–1968. Yale Univ. Feb. 2017. 252p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780300226072. $55. DEC ARTS

The 1960s saw a major shift in the fashion industry, from the dominance of Parisian haute couture to a grudging acceptance of ready-to-wear (prêt-à-porter). The changing style toward a more active and youthful look simultaneously inspired French designers, such as stylists ­Emmanelle Khanh and Sonia Rykiel. Hill (Exposed; Fairy Tale Fashion) is associate curator of accessories at the Museum of FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York and draws upon its extensive collections in her analysis and the associated exhibition. Her detailed account includes American press reactions to these modern French designs and contemporaneous reviews accompanied by images from Vogue, Elle, and the exhibition. Four essays add depth to this story as they describe activism in 1968 Paris, the impact on couturiers Cristóbal Balenciaga and Yves Saint ­Laurent, and changes in fashion photography during the 1960s. VERDICT A compelling account of how French fashion came to reflect societal changes as women embraced a more modern and active role in the world.—
Nancy B. Turner, Temple Univ. Lib., Philadelphia

Kelly, Simon & Esther Bell. Degas, Impressionism, and the Millinery Trade. Prestel. Mar. 2017. 296p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9783791356211. $75. FINE ARTS

Walking the streets of Paris, Edgar Degas frequently peered into the shop windows of the many millinery establishments of the day. This affection for and devotion to the fashions of the times is brought to light in this catalog for an extraordinary traveling exhibition of the artist’s many images of the milliners, “modistes,” and hat wearers. The book’s four major essays by curators and art experts discuss Degas’s portrayal of women in 19th-century life; examine what were essentially female professions at the time; spotlight various creators and their evolution in the fashion world; and look into the modernizing of a historical tradition in the period. Art history, social history, the fashion and textile industry, and the role of women in commerce are covered in this impressive work. Curators Kelly and Bell pay tribute to the famous Parisian milliners with a series of wonderful images of 19th-century Paris. The well-annotated illustrations give readers a splendid opportunity to see some of these marvelous creations and to appreciate the time and effort that went into their making. VERDICT Hats off to those who put together such a singular production, intellectually and visually, remarking on a very special aspect of the work of Degas and as such, a stimulating addition to the literature.—Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York

London Uprising: Fifty Fashion Designers, One City. Phaidon. Feb. 2017. 608p. ed. by Tania Fares & Sarah Mower. photos. ISBN 9780714873350. $100. DEC ARTS

Printed on a combination of faux newsprint and glossy paper, using Courier typeface in a vintage hand-typed style, post-bound with photographs of designers and their styles, this is more scrapbook than study. Accompanying the photographs are interviews by established London-based fashion journalists with 50 contemporary designers. The title goes behind the London fashion world’s closed doors, into studios ranging from one-room, live-work spaces to comfortable home offices to corporate entities. Showcased are well-known names such as Stella McCartney and Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, who designed the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, as well as newcomers to the scene. In addition to several of the interviews, editors Fares (founder, BFC Fashion Trust) and Mower (MBE; visiting professor, Central Saint Martins, London) contribute chapters about the city’s unique style and how the fashion uprising came about. VERDICT This informative book with its numerous, colorful images will be of interest to designers and design students.—Nancy J. Mactague, formerly Aurora Univ. Lib., IL

Piazza, Arianna. Fashion 150: 150 Years, 150 Designers. Laurence King. Oct. 2016. 536p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781780676203. $65. DEC ARTS

This fashion parade begins with an introduction by Piazza (history of art, textiles, & fashion, Afol Moda, Milan), which discusses the intersectionality of art and fashion and the interactivity of fashion among designers, makers, and wearers. Then the title marches down the runway in alphabetical order, from Colombian-born designer Haider Ackerman, whose gowns are regularly worn by edgy fashion types, to Zoran, a Yugoslav minimalist who had no formal fashion training. In between these two are many well-known game changers, such as Christian Dior (the New Look), Diane Von Fürstenbrg (wrap dresses), Jean Paul Gaultier (cone bras!), and Elsa Schiaparelli (shocking pink), various counterculture “movements” (e.g., “Ethnic,” “Preppy,” “Hipster,” “Emo”), a few mass-market brands, even the movie Lolita. The listings have “Inspiration & Philosophy” and “Icons” boxes focusing on the designers’ and movements’ achievements and influences. Mood boards from designers such as ­Armani, Chanel, and Yamamoto are also included. VERDICT This big, bold, and beautiful book is a pleasure to browse; it will delight art and fashion historians and those who seek style inspiration.—LF

Possémé, Evelyne & others. Jeweled Splendors of the Art Deco Era: The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection. Thames & Hudson. Apr. 2017. 256p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500519479. $75. DEC ARTS

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933–2003) was an avid art collector and had one of the finest private collections of Islamic art in the world. In 1972, he married Catherine Aleya ­Beriketti Sursock, and together they amassed a magnificent collection of jeweled art deco objects created by Cartier, Boucheron, and Van Cleef and Arpels, to name a few. Photographer Doug Rosa does a magnificent job of presenting some of their most gorgeous vanity cases, cigarette cases, and miscellaneous objects from the 1920s and 1930s. The art deco period was a time of technological advances and decadent styles. There are over 230 objects represented in fine detail. Each chapter has a catalog of the items with thorough descriptions. Many of the pieces are also shown with the original design drawings. This entire book is a feast for the eyes with images of intricate inlay, bright colors, and inventive design. VERDICT An elegant offering filled with jeweled works beyond compare but not a necessary purchase.—­Sandra Knowles, South Carolina State Lib., Columbia

Ribeiro, Aileen. Clothing Art: The Visual Culture of Fashion, 1600–1914. Yale Univ. Feb. 2017. 582p. illus. ISBN 9780300119077. DEC ARTS

Ribeiro’s (emeritus, ­history of dress, Courtauld Inst. of Art, London) complete and engaging narrative addresses the history of clothes seen through European art from 1600 to 1914. She demonstrates how fashion portrayed in paintings might be altered by the artist while still communicating information about the style of a specific period or revealing truths about the figures depicted. Presented chronologically yet also thematically, the book begins with an exploration of portraiture and how the real vs. the imaginative in attire played out through this medium. The same ideas are also discussed in relation to the issue of ­national dress, in this case in 17th-century Holland. In the 18th- and early 19th-century France and England, the predilection for dressing up in clothing reflecting a romanticized past is examined. In 19th-century France, modernity is reflected in fashion developing as a growing industry. Lastly, in the more modern eras, dress reform is reflected in art with the liberation of the corset and the simplifying and relaxing of the lines of women’s garments through the style of “artistic dress.” Also during this period, artists such as Henry Van de Velde and Gustav Klimt designed clothes themselves. VERDICT Well written and stunningly illustrated, this title is recommended for readers interested in the history of dress.—Sandra Rothenberg, ­Framingham State Univ. Lib., MA

Sims, Josh. Men of Style. Laurence King. Nov. 2016. 192p. photos. ISBN 9781780678641. pap. $29.95. DEC ARTS

Sims (Icons of Men’s Style) presents 43 “men of style” in this compendium. There are the bad (Johnny Cash, Jim Morrison, James Dean, Alain Delon, the Duke of Windsor), the beautiful (Delon again, David Bowie, Johnny Depp, Cary Grant), the homely (Serge Gainsbourg, Winston Churchill, Gabrielle D’Annunzio), the icons (Bob Marley, Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra), and writers, artists, basketball players, and literary lights (Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Truman Capote). Sprinkled among the well-known subjects are a few lesser-known gents, including London tailor Tommy Nutter, who introduced the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and others to the bespoke world, and Jean René Lacoste, creator of the Izod shirt. The brief bios discuss each man’s personal style and effect on the world: jazz musician Miles Davis co-opted the preppy look early in his career; Depp was the first male to receive the Fashion Designers of America Fashion Icon Award; actor Steve ­McQueen’s wife advised him to show off his muscled forearms in The Great Escape. Much is made of tailoring and accessory choices, especially designer watches. VERDICT A lavishly illustrated collection featuring stylish men, with a little something for everyone. ­Recommended for all libraries, fashion and otherwise.—LF

Short Takes

Markowitz, Yvonne J & Elizabeth Hamilton. Oscar Heyman: The Jewelers’ Jeweler. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Apr. 2017. 160p. illus. ISBN 9780878468362. $45. DEC ARTS

“Jewelers’ jeweler” Oscar Heyman & Brothers, founded in 1912 by a Russian immigrant family, is still creating exquisite pieces for elite firms. This work includes vintage and contemporary creations, drawings from the company’s archives, and photos of famous clients wearing the jewelry. Boston Museum of Art curator emerita Markowitz and researcher/writer Hamilton shine a light on a business that previously worked behind the scenes and is now creating jewelry under its own name.—LF

Weir-de La Rochefoucauld, Juliet. Lydia Courteille: Extraordinary Jewellery of Imagination and Dreams. Antique Collectors’ Club. Nov. 2016. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9781851498376. $75. DEC ARTS

A monograph covering the life and work of contemporary Parisian jeweler Lydia Courteille presents her fanciful, ornate, gothic creations, many meditating on the brevity of life and the battle of good and evil. Courteille cites many influences, including African and Amazonian imagery, fairy tales, memento mori items, and beasts mythical and real. The photographs are delightful, but the use of graphic representations of fantasy-like rather than human models might be off-putting for some.—LF

Wilcox, Claire with Elizabeth Currie. Bags. Thames & Hudson. (V&A Accessories).May 2017. 160p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500519370. $24.95. DEC ARTS

This updated, beautifully bound volume from the “V&A Accessories” series looks at purses and handbags primarily from London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). Fashion curators and coauthors Wilcox and Currie, who spent years at the V&A, trace the development of bags in the 16th century through the designer “it” bags of the 2000s. With informed commentary, 90-plus ­illustrations, and a glossary.—LF

Kings & Queens | Collection Development: The Royals

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 14:03

The modern British royal family has been shaped by two long-reigning queens, three crowned kings, and an abdication. In the past two centuries, the monarchy has survived two world wars, social upheaval, royal scandals (e.g., the abdication crisis), and the untimely death of a princess. The constitutional monarchy functions within the structure of a democratically elected government and remains politically neutral.

Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837. She and her adored husband, Prince Albert, had nine children; most married into other royal houses of Europe. After Albert’s death in 1861, the grief-stricken Queen withdrew from public life. Despite growing republican sentiment, she was declared Empress of India in 1876 and celebrated her golden jubilee in 1887. Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 was the end of an era known for its industry and innovation.

Her heir, Edward VII, was her complete opposite. Relaxed and charming, he was renowned for his love of women and gambling. Edward VII was 59 when he inherited the throne and proved to be an able king despite his playboy image. As he was related to nearly all of the royal families of Europe, he used his considerable diplomatic skills to foster peace, with the term Edwardian now conjuring up images of the golden era between the death of Queen Victoria and the start of World War I. He died, well respected, in 1910.

His son, George V, reigned during a period of great instability as his grandparents’ attempts to unify Europe by intermarriage failed to avert conflict. Germany, led by George’s cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II, declared war in 1914. Cousin Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate from the Russian throne. In 1917, George V changed the name of the British royal house from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the House of Windsor, as he feared being considered pro-German. The new name ushered in the modern era of monarchy. He and his wife, Queen Mary, were perceived as staid and dull; they conscientiously forged the image of monarchy as family-oriented and dutiful. George V made the first Christmas radio broadcast in 1932, and he continued to broadcast annually until his death in early 1936.

In 1936, as communism and fascism gained traction throughout Europe, the glamorous Edward VIII, son of George V and Queen Mary, caused a constitutional crisis when he abdicated the crown over his desire to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. The episode raised questions about the relevance of the entire royal family. Despite having little preparation for the role, Edward VIII’s brother, George VI, was crowned in 1937. Two years later, Britain declared war on Germany. The war took its toll on this well-respected monarch, and George VI died an early death in February 1952 at age 56. The monarchy was then headed by his daughter Princess Elizabeth.

Queen Elizabeth II’s tireless sense of duty has ensured that the royal family remains woven into the fabric of British life. Her reign has not been without controversy and scandal, especially when Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997. The public reaction to Diana’s death was unprecedented, and regard for the royal family plummeted. Two decades later, the queen has regained public confidence—Prince Charles is poised to become the next king, and the popularity of Prince William; his wife, Catherine; and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte assures the future of the House of Windsor.

The year 2017 is a significant year for the family. Queen Elizabeth celebrates her sapphire jubilee (65 years as monarch), and it is also the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death. The works listed here show continued focus on the royal family itself and renewed interest in Diana’s life and death.

Starred () titles are essential for all collections.

Penelope Klein is a retired public and academic librarian. While she will read almost anything, she has particular interests in English and Scottish social history, legal history, and law. Originally from England, she now lives in upstate New York


Baird, Julia. Victoria: The Queen; An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire. Random. 2016. 752p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781400069880. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780679605058.

Drawing upon previously unpublished material, Baird presents a full portrait of the monarch, the woman, and the empress from her childhood through her time on the throne to widowhood. (LJ 7/16)

Bradford, Sarah. Diana. Penguin. 2007. 464p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780143112464. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781101533246.

Historian Bradford makes use of firsthand accounts to provide an authoritative portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales, one of the 20th century’s most celebrated women.

Cannadine, David. George V: The Unexpected King. Penguin. 2015. 144p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780141976891. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9780141976907.

Cannadine shows how George V and Queen Mary modernized the House of Windsor in the aftermath of World War I, guaranteeing its survival.

Edwards, Anne. Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor. Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. 560p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442236554. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781442236561.

Edwards describes Queen Mary’s pivotal role during the abdication of Edward VIII and how she ensured the continuation and stability of the royal family.

Edwards, Anne. Royal Sisters: Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. Lyons. Feb. 2017. 400p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781630762650. pap. $18.95.

Fans of Netflix’s The Queen will appreciate this dual biography of Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, who caused a political crisis owing to her relationship with a divorcé.

Ewart, Tim. Queen Elizabeth: A Celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday. Carlton. 2016. 128p. photos. maps. index. ISBN 9780233004815. $24.95.

This feast of photographs captures the remarkable life of Queen Elizabeth, who turned 90 in 2016, and the importance of her family.

Kuhn, William. Democratic Royalism: The Transformation of the British Monarchy, 1861–1914. Palgrave Macmillan. 1996. 174p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780333658130. $185.

Unlike the fate of most European monarchies following World War I, the British crown transformed itself into a powerful symbol of national unity. Kuhn focuses on five individuals who developed the modern constitutional British monarchy: Walter Bagehot, W.E. Gladstone, Lord Esher, Randall Davidson, and the 15th Duke of ­Norfolk.

Lloyd, Ian. William & Catherine’s New Royal Family: Celebrating the Arrival of Princess Charlotte. Carlton. 2015. 224p. illus. ISBN 9781780976624. $24.95.

Princess Charlotte’s birth in 2015 was a historic moment for the British monarchy; the princess is currently fourth in line to the throne after Charles, Prince of Wales; Prince William; and Charlotte’s older brother, Prince George of ­Cambridge.

Morton, Andrew. Diana: Her True Story—in Her Own Words. Gallery. Jun. 2017. 480p. illus. index. ISBN 9781476752815. $35.50; pap. ISBN 9781501169731. $15.95; ebk. 9781439187883.

Revised for its 25th anniversary, this book, once considered scurrilous, is now generally accepted as having been written with Diana’s full cooperation.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family: A Glorious Illustrated History. DK. 2015. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781465438003. $40.

This compendium of facts, illustrations, and photographs offers a thorough overview of the British Royal Family.

Ridley, Jane. The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince. Random. 2013. 752p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780812972634. pap. $20; ebk. ISBN 9780812994759.

Ridley was granted extensive access to the Windsor Castle archives to research this scholarly book. The result is an authoritative portrait of a much-loved prince who, although once considered just a playboy, proved to be a thoughtful monarch. (Xpress Reviews 1/17/14)

Sebba, Anne. That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson Duchess of Windsor. Griffin: St. Martin’s. 2012. 368p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250022189. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429962452.

Sebba tries to sort myth from reality and so includes new material that suggests that Wallis Simpson was trapped into her fateful marriage with the Duke of Windsor. (LJ 2/1/12)

Smith, Sally Bedell. Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch. Random. 2012. 720p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780812979794. pap. $20; ebk. ISBN 9780679643937.

Recently revised, with a new afterword by the author, this warm and intimate work presents a well-researched portrait of a woman recognizable to almost everyone but enigmatic to most. (LJ 12/11)

Smith, Sally Bedell. Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life. Random. Apr. 2017. 624p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781400067909. $32; ebk. ISBN 9780812988437.

A new chronicle of a complex, thoughtful, and visionary man poised to be king. (LJ 3/15/17)

Ziegler, Philip. George VI: The Dutiful King. Penguin. 2015. 112p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780141977379. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9780141977386.

Happy to be a minor royal, George VI was instead thrust onto the throne after the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII, and then faced the prospect of war with Germany.

Ziegler, Philip. King Edward VIII: A Biography. Ballantine. 1992. 552p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780345375636. pap. $27.

The definitive biography of the King who abdicated the British throne to marry the woman he loved. Granted unrestricted access to the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, Ziegler worked with Edward’s letters and extensive diaries to portray a full depiction of the exiled ­monarch.


Soud, David. Kings & Queens of Great Britain: Every Question Answered; The Fascinating Biographies of the British Monarchs from the House of Wessex to the House of Windsor. Thunder Bay. 2014. 400p. illus. index. ISBN 9781626862357. $24.95.

Ideal for all reference collections, this thorough resource also contains a selection of historical royal documents.


In Their Own Words: Queen Elizabeth II. 60 min. dist. by PBS. 2015. DVD UPC 841887022804. $24.99.

A journey through the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, with commentary from family members and others in her circle.

The Royal Collection. 4 discs. 407 min. dist. by BBC. 2013. DVD UPC 883929339723. $24.99.

A set of four DVDs offering an ideal introduction to those new to the British monarchy: Queen Victoria’s Children; King George and Queen Mary; The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II; and How To Be a Prince.

Victoria: The Complete First Season. 3 discs. 480 min. dist. by PBS. 2017. DVD UPC 841887030922. $49.99; Blu-ray UPC 841887030939. $59.99.

A dramatic and sumptuous portrayal of the queen and empress, with a stunning performance by Jenna Coleman. (LJ 3/15/17)


Bates, Stephen. Royalty Inc.: Britain’s Best-Known Brand. Aurum. 2015. 368p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781781313565. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781781314791.

Objective and thought-provoking, Bates’s book examines the British monarchy’s talent for transformation and its current appeal throughout the world.

Nash, Michael L. Royal Wills in Britain from 1509 to 2008. Palgrave Macmillan. Feb. 2017. 217p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781137601445. $109.

In this book, according to the publisher the first on the subject since 1780, the author dispels the myth that all royals dispose of their estates only according to the rules of ­primogeniture.

Titchmarsh, Alan. The Queen’s Houses: Royal Britain at Home. Ebury. 2014. 256p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781849902175. $46.95; ebk. ISBN 9781448142958.

The royal residences offer a haven of peace for the royal family. Here, Titchmarsh takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the royal homes and includes personal reflections by and interviews with staff.


The British Monarchy YouTube Channel

The official channel for the British Royal Family offers a wide variety of videos to satisfy even the most ardent royal watcher.

The British Royal Family

Per this official website of the British Royal Family, “written and managed by the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace, it aims to provide an authoritative resource of information about the Monarchy and Royal Family, past and present.” It provides access to the Court Circular (past engagements) and future ­engagements.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA

Started in 1956 by Prince Philip, “The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is the world’s leading youth achievement award, equipping young people for life. The Award is available for all young people aged 14 to 24, regardless of their background, culture, physical ability, skills, and interests. It is a fully inclusive program and has no social, political, or religious affiliations.”

The Prince’s Trust

“It all began in 1976, when HRH the Prince of Wales had a bold idea. Having completed his duty in the Royal Navy, His Royal Highness became dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged young people in the UK. He founded His Trust to deliver on that ­commitment.”

The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry

The main vehicle for the philanthropic activities of the two princes, the foundation grew out of the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund.


The British Monarchy

Comprehensive reference guide to the monarchs of England and Scotland since the eighth century.

Kings and Queens: 1,000 Years of British Royal History

Comprehensive and easy to navigate, with child-friendly descriptions.

The Developing Schedule

JUL Cuba, History, & More
AUG Prostate Health & Wellness
SEPT Women in Sports
OCT Retelling the Classics
NOV Math & Science Literacy

To submit titles (new and/or backlist), contact Barbara Genco four to six months before issue dates listed above (email:

June 2017 LibraryReads

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:42

Summer is on its way, and the June LibraryReads list has a handful of great beach reads. New York Times best-selling author Nalini Singh is back with a captivating novel full of lust and betrayal. Set during World War I, Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network tells a fascinating story of courage and sacrifice, while Matthew Sullivan’s Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore delivers a mystery page-turner that will have you hooked till the end.

Horowitz, Anthony. Magpie Murders. Harper. ISBN 9780062645227. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062645241. MYS
See LJ’s starred review:

Singh, Nalini. Silver Silence: A Psi-Changling Trinity Novel. Berkley. ISBN 9781101987797. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781101987810. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

Bates, Callie. The Waking Land. Del Rey: Ballantine. ISBN 9780425284025. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399177392. SF
See LJ review:

McGuire, Seanan. Down Among the Sticks and Bones. ISBN 9780765392039. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9780765392046. SF
See LJ’s starred review:

Meloy, Maile. Do Not Become Alarmed. Riverhead. ISBN 9780735216525. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780735216549. F
See LJ’s review:

Quinn, Kate. The Alice Network. Morrow Paperbacks. ISBN 9780062654199. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062654205. F
See LJ’s starred review: LJ 6/1/17

Barton, Fiona. The Child. Berkley. ISBN 9781101990483. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101990506. F
See LJ’s starred review:

George, Nina. The Little French Bistro. Crown. ISBN 9780451495587. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780451495600. F
See LJ’s starred review:

Reid, Taylor Jenkins. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Atria. ISBN 9781501139239. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501139246. F
See LJ’s review:

Sullivan, Matthew. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. Scribner. ISBN 9781501116841. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501116865. MYS
See LJ’s review:

Created by a group of librarians, LibraryReads offers a monthly list of ten current titles culled from nominations made by librarians nationwide as their favorites. See the June 2017 list at and contact to make your own nomination.

4 Family Stories, 1 Autism Experience | Memoir

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:23

This month, I cover three memoirs about three very different families (surprise! I like family memoirs) and a memoir about autism. Two of these works succeed, while the other two don’t do quite as good a job. But, to paraphrase Meatloaf, two out of four ain’t bad! [A review of Kelly Grey Carlisle’s We Are All Shipwrecks adds another title to the family memoir count.—Ed.]

Bussola, Matteo. Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast: Reflections on Fatherhood. TarcherPerigee. May 2017. 288p. tr. from Italian by Jamie Richards. illus. ISBN 9780143131373. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781524705107. MEMOIR
Based on his popular Facebook posts, Italian illustrator and stay-at-home dad Bussola’s debut memoir is a charming and humorous take on fatherhood. Most chapters are only a few pages long and consist of musings on the small moments—his three young daughters’ questions about life, a trip to the grocery store, taking the dog out late at night. The book is arranged by seasons, starting with winter, and readers can dip in anywhere and find something engrossing, insightful, and fun. Richards’s translation reads well, as neither American nor British English but as Italian English, if there is such a thing. VERDICT A perfect summer read that will allow parents, dads especially, to reflect upon their own experiences raising children.

Cove, Lou. Man of the Year. Flatiron: Macmillan. May 2017. 320p. photos. ISBN 9781250123961. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250123978. MEMOIR
On the surface, this book has all the trappings of a gonzo memoir—Playgirl magazine, porn stars, a flamboyantly gay tenant. Yet, Cove’s debut offers a profound narrative of one family’s undoing. Handsome and confident Howie Gordon, a college friend of the author’s father, comes to visit the Coves in the fall of 1978. He’s intent on a showbiz career, and his first goal is to win Playgirl‘s Man of the Year Award. Howie’s carefree and genuine personality contrasts sharply with that of Cove’s father. But as a 12-year-old, the author takes immediately to Howie and they become pals. Cove’s mother also appreciates Howie’s attention. The writing here builds just enough suspense and adds detail to detail to keep readers intrigued and engaged. The memoirist’s handling of the many characters and characterization in general is also to be noted. VERDICT A very fine family memoir that proves, in a variety of ways, that things are not always what they seem.

Higashida, Naoki. Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism. Random. Jul. 2017. 240p. tr. from Japanese by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell. illus. ISBN 9780812997392. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812997408. MEMOIR
As in his previous memoir, The Reason I Jump, Higashida, a “severely autistic” young Japanese man, spends a good deal of time speculating about what autism is, or why it is. He proposes that people with autism were “brought into being” because of some sort of “imbalance in this world.” There is tremendous variance in the manifestation of symptoms of this disorder. Thus, some people, like Higashida, are almost completely nonverbal, while others have logorrhea (excessive talking), to give just one example of two extremes. At times, Higashida seems to presume he can speak for all people with autism, which is foolish and misleading. That said, this book, like his earlier work, provides many moments of genuine insight into his own experience. VERDICT Recommended with reservations for readers who enjoyed The Reason I Jump or those seeking deeper insight into one man’s distinctive struggle. [See Prepub Alert, 2/16/17.]

Taranto, Tim. Ars Botanica: A Field Guide. Curbside Splendor. Jul. 2017. 224p. illus. ISBN 9781940430980. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781945883033. MEMOIR
Taranto’s debut memoir is sometimes painful to read, focusing mostly on events surrounding the abortion of his then-partner’s child. Along with drawings, mostly of the natural world, Taranto gives us letters to his child and a narrative of his life with the child’s mother. The loss, first of the baby and then of his relationship in the wake of the abortion, is devastating for Taranto, and this book is his attempt to write his way out of grief. Unfortunately, at times he leans too heavily on the use of profanities to express extreme emotions. Much of this book, intentionally or not, ends up being an argument against abortion, simply by presenting the toll it takes on two individuals. VERDICT This singular account will make readers wish that Taranto was a more polished writer and thinker.

Other Memoir

Carlisle, Kelly Grey. We Are All Shipwrecks. Sourcebooks. Sept. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781492645207. $24.99. MEMOIR
The theme that the past influences the present is apparent throughout this striking memoir. At first, the author believed that her mother and father died in a car accident when she was an infant. When she’s older, she learns that her mother was murdered. As an adult, she discovers more about her father and the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. This book is divided into segments, with descriptions of Carlisle’s childhood with her plucky, often volatile grandfather and his wife, Marilyn, constituting the largest portion. The family lived on a houseboat and operated an adult video store. Her grandfather is portrayed as a liar but also generous and caring. Carlisle’s investigation into her mother’s murder and the whereabouts of her father are by far the smallest sections. Overall, it is clear that the author’s tragic and unusual upbringing has not left her broken, and that despite the chaos of her childhood, her early life was full of love. As she begins her own family, she has the opportunity to share the complete story with her daughter. VERDICT Moving and complex, this is an exquisitely written tale of perseverance and unconditional love. A worthwhile addition to any collection.—Kaitlin Malixi, Bucks Cty. Free Lib., Doylestown, PA



Mothers, Dog, Trees, Dystopias, Beach Cottages | What We’re Reading & Watching

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 09:27

A random tweet from Reviews Director Kiera Parrott about crying on mass transit prompted me to ask the “What We’re Reading & Watching” team about books that made them sob on the subway (or bawl on the bus, which was the case for at least one of Kiera’s reads). While I often want to shed bitter tears of frustration at the placidly presented horribleness that is New York City mass transit (pity me, for I must ride the M and J trains every day), I haven’t done that so often. I laugh out loud a lot more, and that’s usually at the absurdity of the political news. I have to turn to the crossword for less emotion-inducing fare. So below we have some weepy and not-weepy blurbs from current and former LJ staffers. Mothers and dogs crop up; fear and prejudice, too. Oh, and a talking tree. What can I say, some things just get to you. Try not to laugh at us, we cry easily!

Liz French, Senior Editor, LJ Reviews
The last time I cried (but not on the subway) was while reading the touching finale of Nicole J. Georges’s graphic memoir, Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home (Houghton Harcourt), which I reviewed for LJ. What a well-drawn, well-written book, full of insights and love for a bad dog. I can relate: I had a bad dog that I loved unreservedly, despite some really rotten behavior. She’s gone now, so I don’t have to worry about her biting the neighbors, but I still miss her.

Big surprise, too: I wept at the end of Eva Woods’s whimsical Something Like Happy (Graydon House, Sept.) about how a terminal patient named Polly turns everything upside down in the life of Annie, who’s been kicked in the teeth by life a lot. One burden on Annie is her mother, who has early-onset dementia—that’s how she and Polly meet, Annie is visiting her mother, who doesn’t recognize her, and Polly is charming everybody in the hospital, where she practically lives in the MRI scanner (brain tumor). They develop a friendship and do a lot of those “hundred happy days” projects and everything is going along all ducky, but then, you know…terminal.

Speaking of mothers, I must confess: up until last weekend, I had never seen the Maysles Brothers’ 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, except for tiny clips. Well now I’m no longer a Big Edie/Little Edie virgin and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. This was one dysfunctional mother-daughter dynamic, but at least they had each other. I was very glad that it wasn’t presented in smell-o-vision. The cat and raccoon urine would do me in.

Tyler Hixson, WWR/WWW emeritus
I am in the middle of Paolo Bacigalupi’s Printz Award winner, Ship Breaker (Little, Brown), as I just finished reviewing the newest installment in the series, Tool of War (Oct.) and wanted to acquaint myself with the series. It takes place in a postapocalyptic Earth; the United States descended into another civil war, the world was literally torn apart by superhurricanes (“city killers”), and now everything is owned by dozens of huge corporations while once-bustling metropolises have drowned in the ocean. Ship Breaker is about Nailer, a ship breaker whose job it is to explore shipwrecks that have washed up on the beach and scavenge them for parts. Nailer lives in a hut with his drug-addicted father, who beats him on a regular basis, and constantly dreams of leaving the beach to be a clipper-ship captain. His fortunes shift when he discovers a wrecked clipper and inside is a “swank”; a rich girl who has rings on her fingers and diamonds in her face. The girl explains that her father is the head of the Patel Global Corporation, a powerful company, and that she’s on the run from her uncle, who is trying to stage a coup against her father. She promises to get him away from his life as a ship breaker if he’ll help her escape from her uncle. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. It’s an enthralling read, and I can’t wait to plow through the rest of it, along with the second book in the series. Apocalyptic and dystopian fiction is always interesting to read; some authors have incredible visions about how the world could be destroyed or altered, and Bacigalupi is a master of worldbuilding.

I also just watched Army of Darkness, the third and final Evil Dead movie. IT WAS SO BAD. Not even good bad, like B-movie, corny bad, but BAD bad.The first film is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I was excited to finish the trilogy.

Kiera Parrott, Reviews Director, LJS
I have a bad habit of choosing poignant, tear-inducing books for my commute. This week I teared up twice—for two different books. The first was Dashka Slater’s The 57 Bus (Farrar, Oct.). It’s a YA crossover nonfiction about the intersection of two teen lives sparked by a horrific crime. In November 2013, Sasha, a high school senior from Oakland fell asleep while riding the 57 bus home from school. Sasha, who identifies as agender, was wearing a flowing skirt. Richard, another Oakland teen, boarded the bus with his two friends, and the trio began to make comments and jokes about the sleeping teen. A lighter was produced and Richard touched the flame to Sasha’s skirt. When they awoke, Sasha’s entire skirt was engulfed in fire. Sasha suffered severe third-degree burns on their legs and required skin grafts, intensive therapy, and several weeks stay in a burn unit. Sixteen-year-old Richard was soon arrested and charged as an adult with two felonies classified as hate crimes. Slater, who originally reported the crime for the New York Times Magazine, here breaks down the series of events into short and effective chapters that explain and explore issues of gender identity, the race and class divisions that separate two different Oakland neighborhoods, the faults and limits of the justice system, the concept of restorative justice, and the breadth of human cruelty, guilt, and forgiveness. There is no way to read this book and not come away with a deep sense of empathy for both teens, their families, and their communities.

The other book that brought a tear to my eye was Katherine Applegate’s Wishtree (Feiwel & Friends), a middle grade novel coming out in September. Applegate is the Newbery Medal–winning author of The One and Only Ivan. When Ivan first came out, I didn’t think I’d like it. (I’m not typically a fan of books featuring talking animals.) But, of course, I was drawn in from the first page and fell in love. It was a similar situation with Wishtree. The story is told from the perspective of…wait for it…a talking tree. I was skeptical, to say the least. But there’s much to love about this wise, old red oak who narrates a tale about a new girl in town who’s wishing for a friend. It could be sappy or saccharine, but Applegate’s light touch keeps it grounded. I’m a sucker for tough, no-nonsense characters who reveal their softer sides. There’s a scene like that in the book that really got me. Hence, the tears on the subway!

Lisa Peet, Associate Editor, News & Features, LJ
The last book that made me weep copiously on public transportation was Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Birds of a Lesser Paradise (Scribner). While the stories in this collection aren’t linked, there are themes that repeat just enough to make them echo one another. And while my response to it was, obviously, deeply personal, I also imagine I’m not the only one who feels shot right through the heart by their subjects: Being a mother. Having a mother. Slowly losing a parent to dementia. Loving animals a bit unreasonably. The tug of wanting to rescue all the hurt ones. And the awful guilt of feeling like you’ve failed a good dog. (Nearly 12 years after losing a really good dog of my own, to this day unsure whether I could have saved him if I’d done something differently, I still cry a little every time I think of him.) And the big one: That love can be, and is, often irrational. And we all have to live with that. These are wonderful, well-written, heartfelt stories; Bergman has put together a beautifully coherent and sweet book. I myself had to double check the dedication page to make sure it wasn’t written just for me. But nope—they’re for all the world’s stray creatures who need a little love and rescuing. Very highly recommended, but bring a pair of dark glasses with you.

Henrietta Verma, WWR emerita
Sticking with my Nancy Thayer beach-read theme from a few weeks back, I just read Mary Alice Monroe’s Beach House for Rent (Gallery: S. & S.). It was more serious than Thayer’s book, featuring an agoraphobic artist who rents a beach house for the summer so she can paint shorebirds, and the woman whose house she rents, who experiences a tragedy during the drama, romance, and friendship-filled season. Nothing too demanding but enjoyable. On the nonfiction side, I read Eric C. Lindstrom’s The Skeptical Vegan: My Journey from Notorious Meat Eater to Tofu-Munching Vegan—A Survival Guide. The author’s attempts at humor are sometimes a little too punny, but his experiences and advice are valuable and prompted me to start a plant-based diet, something I’ve been contemplating for a while. (Being a full vegan also means wearing no leather, wool, or silk, and eating no honey…I just can’t.)







All Ears: Top Audiobook Titles for Summer and Fall | Audio Spotlight

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 15:09

Audiobook consumption among library patrons continues to rise. Barbara Hoffert’s 2017 materials survey found that circulation of downloadable audio was up more than nine percent overall, and the budget for downloadable audio has doubled in two years (though it’s still small, at four percent). In addition, media—physical and downloadable audiobooks, movies, and music—account for more than a quarter (27 percent) of materials budgets for the first time. Its budget share has grown nearly ten percent since 2006, when LJ began tracking materials breakdowns.

With that in mind, this summer and fall will see a plethora of extraordinary titles on audio, with something for every listener, from podcast enthusiasts to historical fiction fans to theater devotees. Information about narrators is included where available.


Mystery, suspense, and other crime-related titles are reliable favorites on audio. Listeners interested in writing in the genre may benefit from The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction (Recorded Bks., Jun.), an entry in the “Great Courses” series in which David Schmid of the University of Buffalo explores, in a series of lectures, how and why various works in the genre are so compelling. Investigators putting his theories into practice include cop-turned-PI Frank Marr in David Swinson’s latest mystery, Crime Song (Hachette Audio, May; read by Christopher Ryan Grant); the chief inspector of the Ghanaian federal police, Darko Dawson, in Kwei Quartey’s Death by His Grace (Recorded Bks., Aug.); Isa Wilde, a new mother whose past catches up with her, in Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game (S. & S. Audio, Jul.); and the ex–national coroner of Laos, Dr. Siri Paiboun, who travels to Moscow for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Colin Cotterill’s The Rat Catcher’s Olympics (Recorded Bks., Aug.) and gets caught up in the investigation when a Lao athlete is accused of murder.

This summer will see highly anticipated series installments from Sue Grafton, who turns in the 25th entry in her “Alphabet Mysteries,” Y Is for… (Books on Tape, Aug.), and Louise Penny, whose 13th Armand Gamache mystery, Glass Houses (Macmillan Audio; read by Robert Bathurst), will be out in August. Treasure Hernandez introduces characters from both her “Baltimore Chronicles” and “Flint” titles in Return to Flint (Recorded Bks., Aug.; read by Diana Luke) as Tiphani Fuller returns to the hometown she swore she’d left behind. Fiona Barton and B.A. Paris are both releasing their second novels after wildly successful debuts (The Widow and Behind Closed Doors, respectively). In Barton’s The Child (Books on Tape, Jun.; read by Mandy Williams, Rosalyn Lander, and Jean Gilpin), the discovery of an infant’s ­remains leads to the unraveling of a web of mysteries, while Paris’s The Breakdown (Macmillan Audio, Jul.; read by Georgia Maguire) sees its protagonist losing her memories and living in fear.

The bond between parents and children is the driving force behind several upcoming titles. Gin Phillips’s heroine in Fierce Kingdom (Books on Tape, Jul.; read by Cassandra Campbell) must protect her son by hiding in a zoo at night. Joanne Fluke, best known for her cozy “Hannah Swensen” series, takes a walk on the dark side with The Stepchild (Recorded Bks., Aug.), in which a young woman must figure out whether the nightmares that plague her are memories of her mother’s murder—and whether her stepmother did the deed. The heroine of Agnete Friis’s What My Body Remembers (Recorded Bks., Aug.; read by Susan Boyce) also grapples with childhood memories of her mother’s murder and must figure out whether her father was wrongfully convicted. There’s no question that the father in Karen ­Dionne’s The Marsh King’s Daughter (Books on Tape, Jun.; read by Emily Rankin) is guilty of murder, and said daughter is the only one who can track him in the Upper Peninsula marshlands where he’s hiding.


Nearly 20 years after The God of Small Things won the Man Booker Prize, Arundhati Roy releases her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Books on Tape, Jun.; read by the author), which examines the intertwined lives of numerous characters in India and beyond. Nobel Prize winner ­Orhan Pamuk’s The Red-Haired Woman (Books on Tape, Aug.) features a close friendship between a master well digger and his apprentice, temptation by the titular female, and a death with which the apprentice takes years to come to terms.
Robin Sloan’s second novel (after Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore), Sourdough (Macmillan Audio, Sept.), features a software engineer–turned–baker who must navigate the cutthroat world of Bay Area farmers markets. In Tracey Lindberg’s debut, Birdie (Recorded Bks., Jun.; read by Alyssa Bresnahan), Cree woman Bernice “Birdie” Meetoos travels from northern Alberta to Gibsons, BC, to recover from tragedy and build a new life. Alyssa Cole’s An Extra­ordinary Union (Recorded Bks., Aug.; read by Karen Chilton) is a romance between a slave–turned–Union spy and a Pinkerton detective, while Stef Penney’s Under a Pole Star (Recorded Bks., Sept.) is set in northern Greenland, New York, and London at the end of the 19th century as polar exploration began to capture the public’s imagination.

Life either just before or in the wake of a cataclysmic event continues to be a vibrant theme in fiction. In Benjamin Percy’s The Dark Net (Recorded Bks., Aug.), an ancient darkness is gathering strength in the depths of the anonymous online realm known as the dark net, and a disparate group that includes a well-intentioned hacker, a technophobe journalist, and a 12-year-old girl whose wearable tech helps her see must stop the demons from breaking out into the real world. John Jantunen’s A Desolate Splendor (Recorded Bks., Jun.; read by Graham Winton) is set after the collapse of civilization as an isolated family finds a ray of hope in their young son.

Akhil Sharma and Jeffrey Eugenides are both releasing short story collections. Sharma’s A Life of Adventure and Delight (HighBridge, Jul.) features such characters as an older divorced man attempting to learn to be a better partner by reading women’s magazines and a woman in an arranged marriage who suddenly realizes she is in love with her husband. Eugenides’s Fresh Complaint (Macmillan Audio, Oct.) finds a failed poet becoming an embezzler and a son feeling guilty about putting his mother in a nursing home.


Audiobooks are a natural next step for podcast fans, particularly when the books are extensions of popular shows. Manoush Zomorodi’s “Note to Self” podcast explores ideas connected to preserving humanity in the digital age. In Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self (Macmillan Audio, Sept.; read by the author), she encourages listeners to unplug, allow themselves to get bored, and see what creative thinking ensues. Krystyna Hutchinson and Corinne Fisher, who cohost “Guys We F*cked: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast,” share their findings in F*cked: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed (HarperAudio, Oct.). And listeners can return to their favorite offbeat town in It Devours! (Harper Audio, Oct.; read by Cecil Baldwin), the latest from “Welcome to Night Vale” creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.

Speaking of offbeat towns, Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier (Macmillan Audio, Oct.) will appeal to those fans for whom Showtime’s limited series, the first episode of which airs May 21, merely whets their appetite for cherry pie, black coffee, quirky characters, and murder.


Several upcoming memoirs describe the experience of navigating the world from inside the author’s specific body. Roxane Gay’s Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (Harper Audio, Jun.; read by the author) is an account of living inside what Gay refers to as her “wildly undisciplined” body; Kimberly Rae Miller’s Beautiful Bodies (Brilliance, Jul.) combines research into historical standards for the ideal body with Miller’s present-day pursuit of one. Naoki Higashida, a nonverbal man with autism, wrote The Reason I Jump when he was 13. Nine years later, he continues to share his unique view of the world in Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism (Books on Tape, Jul.).

The death of the author’s mother drives a number of upcoming titles. Sherman Alexie won both the National Book Award for his semiauto-biographical novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and the Odyssey Award for its audiobook, which he narrated. In You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (Hachette Audio, Jun.; read by the author), he writes about his complicated relationship with his mother, Lillian. In We Are All Shipwrecks (Recorded Bks., Sept.), Kelley Grey Carlisle investigates her mother’s murder and recalls her own unusual upbringing with her porn store–owning grandparents. Sarah Perry also writes about her mother’s untimely death in After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, a Daughter’s Search (HighBridge, Sept.). Comedian/actor Eddie Izzard was six years old when his mother died; the effects of that loss on the rest of his life are among the topics he considers in Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens (Books on Tape, Jun.; read by the author). Edwidge Danticat’s The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Recorded Bks., Jul.) explores both her mother’s death from cancer and the act of writing about the end of life.


John McPhee also looks at the act of writing in Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process (Recorded Bks., Sept.; read by the author). The essays depict the writing process from reporting to drafting through several rounds of revision. Those in the revision process may benefit from David Crystal’s grammar guide Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar (Recorded Bks., Jul.), in which the author aims to dispel the notion that grammar is dull and intimidating, while those having trouble getting started might turn to Edward O. Wilson’s The Origins of Creativity (Recorded Bks., Sept.), which probes what Wilson calls “the unique and defining trait of our species.” Bruce Handy considers the act of reading in Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult (HighBridge, Aug.), as he revisits classic works of American children’s literature by such authors as L. Frank Baum, Eric Carle, and Beverly Cleary.


This summer will see several group biographies of women. Elizabeth Norton’s The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women: A Social History (HighBridge, Jul.) looks at the lives of Tudor women from birth to old age, drawing on examples including Elizabeth Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister; Cecily Burbage, Elizabeth’s wet nurse; influential widow Mary Howard; and Elizabeth Barton, a peasant girl who became a seer. Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas by Donna M. Lucey (HighBridge, Aug.; read by Elizabeth Wiley) uses letters and diaries to survey the lives of women whose portraits were painted by John Singer Sargent: Elsie Palmer, Elizabeth Chanler, Sally Fairchild, and Isabella Stewart Gardner. ­Alison Weir casts her gaze back to the Middle Ages for Queens of the Conquest: England’s Medieval Queens (Recorded Bks., Sept.), profiling Matilda of Flanders, the wife of William the Conqueror, and Empress Matilda, the mother of King Henry II, among others.

Rebecca Solnit follows up Men Explain Things to Me with the essay collection The Mother of All Questions (Tantor, May; read by Tanya Eby), in which she devotes herself to such topics as rape jokes, gender-based violence, and the masculinity of the literary canon. In A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug: The Working Woman’s Guide to Overthrowing the Patriarchy (Harper Audio, Nov.), Sarah Lacy posits that working mothers, far from being distracted or weak, are focused, decisive, and tremendous assets to their organizations.

A collaboration among seven playwrights and seven female activists, Seven (L.A. Theatre Works, May) relates true and inspiring stories of overcoming adversity. Written by Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith, and Susan Yankowitz, it is performed by an all-star cast: Shannon Holt, Jossara Jinaro, Alex Kingston, Emily Kuroda, Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris, Annet Mahendru, and Sarah Shahi.

Merely the tip of the season’s audiobook iceberg, these titles will provide listeners with hours of enjoyment.

Stephanie Klose is Media Editor, LJ

Hannah Lillith Assadi: A Lyricist at Heart | Debut Spotlight

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 14:16

Photo by Ulysse Payet

Hannah Lillith Assadi’s first novel, Sonora (LJ 4/15/17), is a lyrical coming-of-age story about best friends Ahlam and Laura, who attempt to escape to New York City only to find that their troubled pasts have caught up to them there. Below, Assadi discusses poetry, the divide between life and art, and biblical influences.

In your novel, you use an epigraph from the Bible’s Book of Jonah. Why did this particular story speak to you?
One of the central questions of the novel is whether the sequence of deaths is following Laura and Ahlam like a curse or whether their self-destructive behavior leads them to tragedy. I’ve always loved the Jonah story, but what I remembered from childhood was only about him living inside the belly of the whale. There is this whole other part that I found so beautiful in rereading it that’s applicable to Sonora. Jonah knows that no matter how far he runs from his God, the seas won’t calm until the crew throws him overboard. He repents and then is reborn anew. I plotted Ahlam to follow this trajectory, albeit in very different terms.

How much of the book is based on your experience? Was it therapeutic to write?
Ahlam and I are alike in many ways: we share a cultural background, we both experienced a fair amount of exposure to death growing up in Arizona, and we both love to dance. Outside of these broad strokes though, our shared experience ends. I never knew a person like Laura, though she is a conglomerate of friends, romances, and even of the darkest parts of my own personality. My father doesn’t chase aliens; I went to college and graduate school, and I never did quite as many drugs.

Since I was young, there has been a lot of pressure on me to write into my background (being half Jewish/half Palestinian), as if I might have a solution to the conflict between the two groups by virtue [of my heritage]. In this book, I wanted to heighten the weight of those facts on Ahlam. Ahlam has semi-prophetic visions, which, in the end, do nothing to save her or her friends. It’s as if she has this magic power that is simultaneously impotent.

Your story includes myths and rituals from many cultures. Were any of these culled from your own life?
I read things ranging from local Arizona legends and mythology, such as the La Llorona skin-walkers in Navajo culture, to accounts of the Phoenix Lights [supposed UFO sighting]. I read about the coyote and its symbolic role in local tribal lore, Apache stories about the Superstition Mountains, and the odd disappearances that have plagued that range. Some were things I heard about growing up, but much of it I discovered as I went along.

Your prose is very poetic. Do you write poetry, or are there poets who have influenced you?
I have written poetry, and it is probably instinctually what I am most inclined to write. That said, I have tremendous respect and need for narrative, so trying to find a balance between a good story and poetic prose has always been my aim. There have been so many influences, but to name a few: Mark Strand, Yehuda Amichai, Mahmoud Darwish, Federico García Lorca, and Ted Hughes.

Ahlam’s father teaches her to disguise her name and homeland when asked about her background. Did you encounter prejudice growing up?
As a child, I definitely didn’t advertise that my father was a Palestinian and Muslim. Owing to the color of my skin, it was easier to hide this. I remember after 9/11, people who looked more “Arabic” than me (i.e., browner) were harassed. For the most part, aside from the occasional racist comment, I grew up more or less unscathed.

Why did you choose to construct the narrative in chapters based on months?
I wanted the chapters to be imbued with a sense of recurring seasons. In Arizona, August is afflicted with monsoons; I’ve always felt February to be the coldest month; and April is the cruelest, full of rain. These three months repeat themselves in the story. I wanted the structure to reflect the girls’ flight to NYC that never quite resolves in true liberation from their past—April returns and is even crueler, as it were.

You describe New York City and its inhabitants so articulately. As Laura says, it’s “home.” Did you feel this way when you arrived in the city?
I moved here to attend Columbia University, but it wasn’t until after I left college that I got to know [the city]—and perhaps only then did I really feel it deeply as my home. Every day, I consider leaving and living elsewhere, and maybe one day, I will, but this place has a way of always tugging me back into its clutches.—Kate Gray, Boston P.L., MA


High-Profile Debut Novels: Four Distinctive and Newsworthy Works

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 13:45

Brassingthwaighte, Ian. Live from Cairo. Scribner. Jul. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781501146879. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501146893. F

When Iraqi American Hana lands in 2011 Cairo, Egypt, to work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, she is pointedly told that the desperate Arabs and Africans flooding its offices mostly don’t get approved and remain trapped in the teeming city. That looks to be true for Dalia, whose husband disappeared in Baghdad after being attacked for his work with the U.S. Army; though he managed to make it to America, her visa is not forthcoming. Hana is clearly unsettled, as are readers, as ­Brassingthwaighte draws on his own legal aid work in Cairo to give us an intimate look at the refugee experience in language that’s urgent, informed, and richly detailed. Dalia had put her hope in her big-hearted, sometimes foolish attorney Charlie, who works for the Refugee Relief Project and is humored by friend and translator Aos, a quiet revolutionary. Until now, Charlie has never fallen in love with a client, and when Dalia’s application is rejected, he cooks up a questionable scheme to help her. The suspenseful, bittersweet narrative that follows earns its ending. VERDICT Absorbing and important ­reading. [See Prepub Alert, 2/13/17.]

Fuller, Alexandra. Quiet Until the Thaw. Penguin Pr. Jun. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9780735223349. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780735223356. F

In her debut novel, celebrated memoirist Fuller (Leaving Before the Rain Comes) aims to honor the history and culture of the Lakota Oglala Sioux Nation of South Dakota, focusing on two cousins who represent divergent responses to ongoing injustice. Rick Overlooking Horse returns terribly wounded from Vietnam, craftily avoided by You Choose Watson (later What Son), then goes to live outside the village, raising horses, refusing to deal with the White Man’s money, and earning a wise man’s reputation. You Choose sprints far from the Rez and tries out different Indian identities but always puts his interests first. Fuller unwinds a story of ongoing poverty and suffering, from grandmother Mina’s forced separation from family at boarding school, the need to “play possum” when the Bureau of Indian Affairs come ’round (its motto: “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”), the irony of Indians serving in Vietnam and Iraq, and the standoff at Wounded Knee, right down to You Choose’s stint as corrupt tribal leader and head-on conflict with his cousin. ­VERDICT Indignant on behalf of American Indians and imbued with Indian spirituality, Fuller tells a complex and satisfying story, eschewing the dark, weighty tone one might expect for light, mocking language. It’s an intelligent choice, but some readers will chafe. [See Prepub Alert, 12/12/17.]

Hamilton, Omar Robert. The City Always Wins. MCD: Farrar. Jun. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780374123970. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374716332. F

In fluid, you-are-there prose, punchy with anger and aspiration, Hamilton takes the events surrounding the 2011 uprising in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and turns them into persuasive and valuable fiction. Khalil, born in America, where in his judgment his father is hiding out from his native Palestine, has gone to Egypt to study music but becomes a news fixer and translator. Then he’s drawn into the revolution, falling in love with the valiant ­Mariam as they join other protesters facing gas canisters and bullets to bring about a better world. The story unfolds in rat-a-tat dialog spliced with texts, news reports, chants, and more, divided into quick, sharp sections by time and date. Yet this is also fine, lyrical writing that moves beyond reportage. We’re led relentlessly along as the violence escalates, police pour into the square, the revolution is betrayed, and Mariam is unable to escape the smell of the morgue. Khalil leaves for America but returns to Egypt, where he belongs. VERDICT Cofounder of the Palestine Festival of Literature, ­Hamilton turns in a relentlessly readable work that both informs and humbles. [See Prepub Alert, 12/19/16.]

Stansel, Ian. The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo. Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2017. 208p. ISBN 9780544963399. $23; ebk. ISBN 9780544963412. F

In his forthright, beautifully rendered first novel, following the PEN/Bingham Prize–winning story collection Everyone’s Irish, Stansel limns the murderous tension between two brothers, showing how families can fracture for mysterious reasons. Frank and Silas Van Loy grow up on their father’s Northern California ranch, but while Silas is the true horseman, arrogant Frank has the head for business and takes over as their father slowly succumbs to cancer, successfully turning the ranch to English riding. The novel opens with Silas shooting Frank to death, then leaping on a horse and escaping into the wilderness, furiously pursued by Frank’s wife, Lena. As the novel unfolds, we learn how the brothers have sought to undermine each other, often coming violently to blows. Yet they remain tightly bound, and though we gain some sympathy for sour Silas as the taut relationship is revealed in flashback, his reason for shooting Frank comes as an affecting and effective surprise. VERDICT The occasional scene seems extended, and readers will anxiously wonder whether these horse-loving fools would hurt their charges for revenge, yet Stansel has written a captivating novel, elegantly spare in language but big in purpose. [See Prepub Alert, 2/13/17.]

Barbara Hoffert is Editor, Prepub Alert, LJ

Summer Escapes: Roll Out the Beach Towel with Some Genre Fiction

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 12:39

Vacation season is approaching, and readers will be contemplating their book lists as carefully as they plan their holidays. To help them find that perfect literary escape, LJ turned to genre fiction columnists Christine Sharbrough (Christian fiction), Lesa Holstine and Ann ­Chambers Theis (mystery), Megan M. McArdle and Kristi Chadwick (sf & fantasy) as well as LJ reviewers and genre experts Mara Bandy (historical fiction), Bette-Lee Fox (romance), Jeff Ayers (thrillers), and Erin Holt (women’s fiction). Below are their picks for what they anticipate to be hot summer reads.—Wilda Williams


Chiavaroli, Heidi. Freedom’s Ring. Tyndale House. Aug. 2017. 425p. ISBN 9781496423122. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781496423139. CF

After Liberty Caldwell’s brother is killed at the 1770 Boston Massacre, all that remains of her protector, Alexander, is his ring. In 2015, Annie David survives the Boston Marathon bombing and the only detail she recalls is the antique ring on the hand of her first responder. First novelist Chiavaroli’s historical tapestry will provide a satisfying summer read for fans of Kristy Cambron and Lisa Wingate.

Clipston, Amy. The Beloved Hope Chest. Zondervan. (Amish Heirloom, Bk. 4). May 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780310341970. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780310000952. CF

In this final series installment (after The Forgotten ­Recipe; The Courtship Basket; The ­Cherished Quilt), the Fisher sisters delve into the family hope chest and uncover more details about their mother, Mattie, and the shocking secret she’s been keeping for years.

Johnson, Todd M. Fatal Trust. Bethany House. Aug. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780764230448. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9780764212352. $15.99. CF

For young Minnesota attorney Ian Wells, keeping his deceased father’s law firm afloat while contending with his mother’s deteriorating health pushes him to the brink. When a new client promises him $200,000 for a week’s worth of work, he jumps at the chance. Big mistake. Thanks to its engaging characters and dizzyingly twisty plot, this legal thriller makes the perfect vacation getaway for John Grisham and Robert Whitlow aficionados.

Orchard, Sandra. Over Maya Dead Body. Revell. (Serena Jones, Bk. 3). Jul. 2017. 353p. ISBN 9780800728892. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9780800726706. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781493407231. CF

FBI Agent Serena Jones (Another Day Another Dali) has barely arrived on Martha’s Vineyard for a little R&R when her uncle is murdered. Suspecting his death to be linked to an antiquities smuggling ring, she investigates. Orchard’s diverting title takes mystery lovers on an engrossing, fast-paced journey.

White, Roseanna. A Name Unknown. Bethany House. (Shadows over England, Bk. 1). Jul. 2017. 434p. ISBN 9780764230417. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9780764219269. $15.99. CF

In Edwardian England, loyalty to the Crown is of utmost importance; anyone with a German name is suspect. Rosemary Gresham, a professional thief for hire, is asked to investigate wealthy Peter Holstein’s background. She discovers the real Peter may not be the man she believed him to be. Fans of Roseanna M. White seeking a summer historical romance will be delighted.


Boling, Dave. The Lost History of Stars. Algonquin. Jun. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781616204174. $25. 95; ebk. ISBN 9781616207144. F

Journalist Boling (Guernica; The Undesirables) tells the harrowing story of 14-year-old Lettie, who is imprisoned with her Dutch Afrikaner family in a brutal British concentration camp during South Africa’s Boer War. Boling’s personal connection to this story of wartime suffering and perseverance (Boling is the grandson of a Boer War veteran) contributes to this powerful read about a period not often covered in historical fiction. (LJ 4/1/17)

Hartsuyker, Linnea. The Half-Drowned King. Harper. Aug. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9780062563699. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062563712. F

Inspired by the Icelandic sagas, this action-packed first volume in a planned trilogy will transport readers to Viking Norway, where Ragnvald battles his treacherous stepfather in order to claim his true birthright after his father’s death. Meanwhile, Ragnvald’s sister Svanhild seeks a marriage that will give her the freedom she craves despite the era’s restrictive social roles for women. An adventurous summer read, in which vivid historical detail meets a fast-moving plot. (LJ 4/1/17)

Kadish, Rachel. The Weight of Ink. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2017. 592p. ISBN 9780544866461. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780544866676. F

Inviting comparisons to A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Kadish’s third novel (after Tolstoy Lied) features two modern scholars investigating a literary historical mystery centered on a female Jewish scribe in 17th-century London. Immersive period detail about Jewish life in 1660s London combines with a riveting plot that touches on the pressures women have faced throughout time, balancing intellectual pursuits with devotion to family. (LJ 4/15/17)

Pataki, Allison & Owen Pataki. Where The Light Falls: A Novel of the French Revolution. Dial. Jul. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780399591686. $28. F

In her previous novels, Pataki (The Traitor’s Wife; The Accidental Empress) combined an entertaining story with rich historical detail. For this collaboration with her brother Owen, the setting is revolutionary Paris three years after the storming of the Bastille, where a host of characters struggle to survive within a rapidly changing social order. (LJ 5/1/17)

Quinn, Kate. The Alice Network. Morrow Jun. 2017. 528p. ISBN 9780062654199. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062654205. F

Those looking for intrigue and danger in their summer fiction may be drawn to Quinn’s (Mistress of Rome) latest, already generating positive early buzz. Featuring a time line split between a woman desperately seeking her cousin in 1947 postwar France and the doings of the “Alice Network” of female spies during World War I, this fast-paced story offers courageous heroines, villains you love to hate, and dramatic life-or-death stakes. (A June LibraryReads Pick)


Adler-Olsen, Jussi. The Scarred Woman. Dutton. Sept. 2017. 432p. ISBN 9780525954958. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698409781. M

The seventh book in the best-selling “Department Q” series finds Copen­hagen Det. Carl Mørck contending with an unsolved murder case, the troubled past of a member of his team, and the possible end of his department. [See Prepub Alert, 3/13/17.]

Horowitz, Anthony. Magpie Murders. HarperCollins. J un. 2017. 496p. ISBN 9780062645227. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062645241. M

Agatha Christie fans will line up for this salute to Golden Age whodunits from Horowitz (“Alex Rider” series). When editor Susan Ryeland receives best-selling mystery author Alan Conway’s new manuscript, she is annoyed to discover the final chapter is missing and that Conway has committed suicide. Susan begins to suspect that the irascible Conway’s book hides murderous secrets related to his death. (LJ 4/1/17)

Lepionka, Kristen. The Last Place You Look. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781250120519. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781538430415. M

Lepionka’s assured debut introduces persistent and problematic PI Roxane Weary, who walks the mean streets of Columbus, OH, fueled by sugar, alcohol, bad relationships, and the love of her dysfunctional family. Weary reluctantly takes on the closed case of a death row inmate and discovers connections to other cold cases, including one investigated by her late cop father. A swift-moving, gritty mystery that will keep readers glued to their beach towels. ( LJ 5/1/17)

Penny, Louise. Glass Houses. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Aug. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781250066190, $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466873681. M

Penny’s 13th entry in her award-winning “Chief Inspector Gamache” series will take readers back to the village of Three Pines, where Armand Gamache knows something is seriously wrong when a mysterious figure appears and a body is later discovered. An arrest and subsequent murder trial leaves Gamache struggling with his own conscience. [See Prepub Alert, 3/23/17.]

Quinn, Spencer. The Right Side. Atria. Jun. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781501118401. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501118425. M

Quinn departs from his popular “Chet and Bernie” mysteries with this stand-alone about a severely wounded female veteran suffering from PTSD who teams up with a stray dog to find the missing daughter of her deceased hospital roommate. Compelling characters and a suspenseful race to the finish will keep readers riveted. (LJ 4/1/17)


Brockmann, Suzanne. Some Kind of Hero. Ballantine. (Troubleshooters, Bk. 19). Jul. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9780345543820. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780345543837. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Landing her Navy SEALS stateside, Brockmann has made this latest “Trouble­shooters” title (since Do or Die) as funny as it is scary and nerve-wracking for her characters and the reader. Parenting issues conflict with duty and grief, while a romance writer gets to save the day. A disgraceful episode in America’s past finds itself in the spotlight.

Burrowes, Grace. Too Scot To Handle. Forever: Grand Central. (Windham Brides, Bk. 2). Jul. 2017. 346p. ISBN 9781455569991. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455569984. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

The Windhams have been popular with readers since Burrowes released The Heir (2010). This offshoot featuring the nieces to the Duke and Duchess of Moreland gives fans even more time with these fascinating folks, especially the younger men. Here, Anwen Windham is devoted to her orphanage and finds assistance from a Scottish lord both helpful and distracting.

Goodman, Jo. A Touch of Frost. Berkley Sensation. Jun. 2017. 416p. ISBN 9780399584275. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399584282. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Goodman allows her heroine to do a lot of the reconnaissance after a train robbery that leaves our hero, ­Remington Frost, unconscious on the floor. The American West is never as vivid or romantic as when Goodman heads down the trail.

Jeffries, Sabrina. The Pleasures of Passion. Pocket. (Sinful Suitors, Bk. 4). Jun. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781501144462. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501144479. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Oh, young love. Our hero must leave England following a duel, the true reason for which he is unable to supply to his 17-year-old sweetheart. Time passes; situations change. Now, neither seems willing to accept that the truth is beyond their ken and that there is more to each of their stories. A fake engagement seems like a bad idea, but no one is listening.

MacLean, Sarah. The Day of the Duchess. Avon. (Scandal & Scoundrel, Bk. 3). Jul. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9780062379436. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062379467. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Women in control are so attractive. The best-selling MacLean lets us in on the machinations behind divorce in England in 1836 as the Duke of Haven and his estranged wife duke it out over how to end their mostly off-again marriage. She’ll admit to anything to have it done; he doesn’t want to lose her. His way is pretty clever, if half-baked.

Quinn, Julia. The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband. Avon. (Rokesbys, Bk. 2). Jun. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780062388179. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062388186. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Quinn changes the playing field in this next prequel to her eight Bridgerton books. Moving across the pond, the story introduces the British troops encamped in New York during the American Revolution. Cecilia Harcourt braves the ocean crossing in search of her injured brother only to be mistaken for the wife of his best friend, who awakens from a head wound but can’t remember anything.


Cato, Beth. Call of Fire. Harper Voyager. (Blood of Earth, Vol. 2). Aug. 2017. ISBN 9780062422118. pap. $14.99; ebk. 978006242215. FANTASY

Fleeing a San Francisco devastated by the 1906 earthquake, geomancer Ingrid Carmichael heads north to learn more about her father, from whom she inherited her godlike powers. Cato’s sequel to Breath of Earth takes readers further into an alternate America with many of the same cultural and racial issues we still see in our universe.

Lee, Yoon Ha. Raven Stratagem. Solaris. (Machineries of Empire, Bk. 2). Jun. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781781085370. pap. $9.99; ebk. ISBN 9781786180469. SF

After evading an assassination attempt, legendary general Shuos Jedao (occupying the body that once belonged to Capt. Kel Charis) has seized a battle Swarm. While he is willing to fight the enemy Hafn, his larger plans seem to be nothing short of the destruction of the hexarchate. This follow up to the Nebula- and Hugo-nominated Ninefox Gambit combines exciting space opera action with dazzling, imaginative worldbuilding.

McGuire, Seanan. The Brightest Fell. DAW. (October Daye, Bk.11). Sept. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780756413316. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780698183520. FANTASY

Life seems to be finally settling down for October “Toby” Daye—until her mother, Amandine, demands her help in finding Toby’s long-missing sister August. Unable to refuse, Toby must team up with one person she does not trust, Simon Torquill. Fans of McGuire’s (Every Heart a Doorway) emotional and exciting writing will relish the Fae Knight’s new adventure.

Percy, Benjamin . The Dark Net. Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2017. 727p. ISBN 9780544750333. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780544750579. HORROR

The dark net is where people go online for things that satisfy their illicit desires. But what if something truly evil exists below the dark net? Standing in its way is a group of misfits in a near-future Portland, OR. Percy’s blend of cyberpunk-style sf and occult horror is a perfect combo for summer chills.

Snipes, Wesley & Ray Norman. Talon of God. HarperCollins. Jul. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780062668165. $27.99; ebk. 9780062668189. FANTASY

As a man of God, spirit warrior Talon Hunter strives to keep a balance against evil forces. Dr. Lauryn Jefferson is a skeptic, until a heinous drug infects her city and places her on the path to help Talon battle the forces trying to unleash Armageddon. Actor Snipes’s action-filled debut with ghostwriter ­Norman is sure to be as hot as the summer sun.


Coes, Ben. Trap the Devil. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781250043184. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466841284. F

In the world of Special Ops fiction, Coes’s Dewey Andreas is not the flashiest hero, but he gets the job done. This time the conspiracy is tied to the federal government, and the odds of success are slim at best. With everything against Andreas, including his own bosses, it will be a blast to see how he saves the day again. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/17.]

Ellison, J.T. Lie to Me. Mira: Harlequin. Sept. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780778330950. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488025143. F

Ellison knows how to deliver gripping psychological suspense, and this tale of a marriage disintegrating appears to echo Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Sutton Montclair vanishes, and her husband, Ethan, deals with the aftermath. Is he a killer, or is something else going on entirely? Appearances can be deceiving, but Ellison’s writing is not. [See Prepub Alert, 3/13/17.]

Gerritsen, Tess. I Know a Secret: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel. Ballantine. Aug. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780345543882. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780345543899. F

In light of the cancellation of the TNT series Rizzoli & Isles after seven seasons, it’s exciting that Gerritsen will continue to write about these wonderful characters. Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles investigate a series of murders in which the killer is reenacting scenes from horror films. Be prepared for an exciting ride with unexpected twists and terrific writing. [See Prepub Alert, 1/20/17.]

Grisham, John. Camino Island. Knopf. Jun. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780385543026. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385543057. F

A theft of priceless books from a library, a book dealer who dabbles in the black market of stolen manuscripts, and a novelist who is recruited for a daring mission all add up to what sounds like the ideal beach read.

Hanson, Hart. The Driver. Dutton. Aug. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781101986363. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101986387. F

The show runner for the Fox TV series Bones delivers his first thriller about a former U.S. Army Special Forces sergeant who runs a limo company (think The Bodyguard meets The Transporter). Toss in skateboarding and an intriguing potential romance and you have the makings of another popular series.

MatchUp. S.&S. Jun. 2017. 464p. ed. by Lee Child. ISBN 9781501141591. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781501141614. F

The International Thriller Writers’s new short story anthology has top authors this time pairing their male and female series characters. Reading about our favorite protagonists should be entertaining, assuming they play well together. (LJ 5/1/17)


Esposito, Chloé. Mad. Dutton. (Mad, Bad, & Dangerous To Know, Bk. 1). Jun. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781101985991. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101986011. F

When plans for identical twins Beth and Alvie to swap places for one night go fatally awry, Alvie seizes the chance to assume her perfect sister’s life. Using Sicily as a backdrop with its gorgeous architecture, villas, and sexy men, Esposito pens an unforgettable summer debut headed by a no-holds-barred protagonist.

Gelman, Laurie. Class Mom. Holt. Aug. 2017. 302p. ISBN 9781250124692. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250124708. F

When Jen Dixon is asked by her best friend (also the PTA president) to be kindergarten class mom for the third time, she begrudgingly agrees. With her first email, full of snark, wit, and charm, Jen sets the stage for how things will be in Miss Ward’s class. Moms, trying to hold back tears of laughter, will relate. (LJ 5/1/17)

Sykes, Lucy & Jo Piazza. Fitness Junkie. Doubleday. Jul. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780385541800. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385541817. F

The duo who brought us The Knockoff now tackle the fitness world. Threatened with losing her job if she doesn’t shed 30 pounds, couture wedding dress company CEO Janey Sweet embarks on a hilarious weight-loss quest that involves Free the Nipple yoga, dumpster diving on a first date, and other shenanigans.

Woods, Eva. Something Like Happy. Graydon House: Harlequin. Sept. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781525811357. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488026072. F

At 35, Annie Hebden, still grieving a painful loss, is ready for a change when she meets the eccentric Polly. Determined to bring Annie out of her funk. Polly concocts a happiness mission: find 100 new ways to be happy over 100 days. Simply irresistible!

Zevin, Gabrielle. Young Jane Young. Algonquin. Aug. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781616205041. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616207724. F

The author of the beloved The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry returns with what’s bound to be another ace in the hole. Congressional intern Aviva Grossman decides that having an affair with her boss, and then blogging about it, is a good idea. But then how does Aviva move forward when Google never forgets? Politics, sex, scandal, and it doesn’t stop there. [See Prepub Alert, 3/27/17.]

MILFs, Monarchs, Miller, Makers, Murder, & More | What We’re Reading & Watching

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 09:21

Beginning this merry merry month of May, LJ and School Library Journal staffers join various emeriti and share their thoughts about Arthur Miller plays, literary mystery debuts, Roxane Gay’s new memoir, art-making novels, L.M. Montgomery “fanfic,” iterations of Spartacus, Australian dramedies, and family stories.

Speaking of emeritus, our colleague Tyler Hixson is leaving the SLJ book room for the wilds of Brooklyn Public Library, Brower Park branch to be exact, where he’ll be Senior Librarian 1 in the YA department. Kudos to Tyler and to Brower Park, whose gain is (sniff!) our loss. He’s promised to keep in touch with the WWR/WWW team, though. That’s some consolation.

Ellen Abrams, WWR/WWW emerita
I recently read Arthur Miller’s 1969 play, The Price. And while I haven’t seen the current Broadway production, running through May 14, I did see a 2000 performance starring Jeffrey DeMunn, Harris Yulin, Bob Dishy, and Lizbeth MacKay. It was a very good show with excellent New York actors, although not as high profile as the new star-studded cast.

The Price is a late-ish play by Miller about a two grown brothers: Victor is a beat cop; Walter, a successful doctor. The building in which they grew up is about to be torn down, and they have to get rid of the family possessions that have accumulated for decades. Only the brothers haven’t spoken in 28 years. Victor sacrificed a college education to support their father, who lost his money in the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  Victor calls in Solomon, a furniture appraiser, to purchase the family’s wares, but when Walter appears (after avoiding Victor’s phone calls), out comes the big reveal—which will not be exposed here, but it’s a good one.  Not necessarily absolutely believable, but it’s still Miller, and even when he’s not in tip-top form, he writes a compelling play that explores the dangers of mindless capitalism, the fatal injuries families inflict on one another, and the dreams forgotten that once meant everything.  The Price is definitely worth a first or second look.

Mahnaz Dar, Assistant Managing Editor, LJS
Last weekend, my reading and viewing materials took me to the college campus! First, I read Tom Perrotta’s latest, Mrs. Fletcher (S.& S.), about an empty-nester divorcée after her grunting frat boy of a fledgling has flown the coop. The book follows both the title character, Eve, and her son, Brendan, away at school. The night that Eve’s son leaves, she receives a lurid, middle-of-the-night text message from a stranger, who affectionately dubs her his MILF; the bizarre event prompts her to grapple with her sexual identity. She falls down a rabbit hole of MILF-related pornography, enrolls in a college course on gender, and starts flirting with a young woman who works for her. Meanwhile, freshman Brendan assumes that college will be nonstop sex and drugs, but encounters with thoughtful and more progressive students leave him bewildered. I love Perrotta’s ability to blend an absorbing narrative with incisive social observations, with hilarious results. This one isn’t quite as vivid as Little Children, but it’s absolutely enjoyable and spot-on.

I also binge-watched the entire first season of Netflix’s Dear White People, a TV series that’s a sequel of sorts to the 2014 film of the same name. The movie centered on the experiences of four black students at a predominantly white, Harvard-esque institution, exposing the microaggressions—and out-and-out racism—faced by people of color that often go unseen by those who are white. The series follows the same characters (mostly played by different actors) as they deal with the aftermath of a party where white students dressed in blackface, romantic and friendship woes, and institutional racism. While the show lacks the searing anger of the film, it’s far more focused. The characters are hilariously self-aware, exchanging dialog that would make Aaron Sorkin jealous, and achingly relatable, even when they are at their most infuriating. And the cherry on top? Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul’s Giancarlo Esposito introduces each episode!

Shelley Diaz, Reviews Manager, SLJ
On my travels to the Texas Librarian Association Conference, I finished Melanie J. Fishbane’s historical fiction YA Maud (Penguin Teen), based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s teen years. Anyone who knows me knows about my obsession with Anne of Green Gables and will understand why I had to read the book and interview the author. Check out our chat about Maud and the new Netflix adaptation Anne.

Since I finished that book and had vowed to travel lightly, I was stuck without something to read on my second leg of the trip (gasp!). So I picked up my first nonwork-related adult book in years, Philippa Gregory’s Three Sisters, Three Queens (Touchstone). I devoured Gregory’s books in high school and college, so this made a perfect airplane read. I finished the 600-page volume on my way home. It tells the story of three Tudor women—the ill-fated Queen Katherine, Queen Mary (younger sister of King Henry VIII) who became queen of France, and Queen Margaret (Henry’s older sister), the grandmother of the future Queen of Scots. The book is told from Queen Margaret’s point of view, and it’s fascinating. While not at all a likable heroine, she forges ahead of her time, trying to unite England and Scotland, marrying three times, and protecting her son’s right to the throne. She actually divorced her second husband before Anne Boleyn showed up and was severely ostracized by her brother Henry, even though a few years later, he’d do the same. Figures.

I’m now watching The White Queen and Reign to get my fill of British royal drama. And hey, there’s an Anne Shirley connection, too! Mary Queen of Scots’s mother-in-law is played by Megan Follows, who immortalized Anne in the Kevin Sullivan TV miniseries Anne of Green Gables.

Bette-Lee Fox, Managing Editor, LJ
Hannah Gersen’s 2016 debut novel, Home Field (Morrow), is about families, plain and simple. It’s 1996, and the wife of Maryland high school football coach Dean Renner has just committed suicide by hanging herself inside the barn on Dean’s father’s Pennsylvania farm. That leaves Dean to raise his two young sons, Robbie and Bryan, and his stepdaughter, Stephanie, who is surly enough with college looming at the end of the summer. Dean is an excellent coach; it’s his parenting approach that needs work. But with no alternative, he’s got to step it up and get in the game. A can’t-put-it-down novel, for sure, though I had to do just that twice when deadline-related reading intervened. Third time was the charm.

Liz French, Senior Editor, LJ Reviews
I’ve been wearing the reviewer’s hat lately, working on fashion books for both LJ and SLJ, a graphic memoir about a bad dog, a collection of biblio mysteries, and Danya Kukafka’s Girl in Snow (S. & S.), out in August. Kukafka’s debut is getting some buzz; she’s an assistant editor at Penguin’s Riverhead Books, and it’s a head-hopper of a title, with three different townspeople processing the death of a local golden girl. Two of the three protagonists are the girl’s high school classmates; the third is a policeman investigating the case.
The classmates, a boy named Cameron and a girl named Jade, are talking about Cameron’s dad, who left town under a cloud, accused but not tried or convicted of a violent crime. Jade rails against the local cops and says his dad got off even though he “nearly killed that girl.”

“Please,” Cameron said.
“Do you think he did it?” Jade asked.
“Yeah,” Cameron told her.
“It’s okay, you know,” Jade said. “I mean, it’s okay to love someone who does something bad. Just because you do something bad doesn’t mean you’re not a good person. Look at it this way: wouldn’t you rather be a good person who does one awful thing than a bad person who does one good thing?”

Tyler Hixson, Editorial Assistant, SLJ
I am currently binge-watching Starz’s Spartacus on Netflix. I love the story of the Thracian gladiator who led a slave revolt against the Roman Empire, and this series is just fun to watch. It’s gory and…adult-themed…but underneath all of that are really incredible story lines. There’s obviously Spartacus (Andy Whitfield/Liam McIntyre; Whitfield passed away from cancer between Seasons 1 and 2), a Thracian tribesman who leads his village to war siding with the Romans, only to be arrested for desertion and sold into gladiatorship to the house of Batiatus.

There’s also Quintus Lintinius Batiatus (John Hannah), the head of the ludus (gladiator school), who is constantly trying to get out from under his father’s shadow by seeking a position within the Roman Senate; his wife, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), despairs at not being able to have children and is sleeping with Crixus (Manu Bennett), the champion of Capua, the best gladiator at the house of Batiatus. Crixus has his own troubles when he falls in love with Naevia (Lesley-Ann Brandt), one of Lucretia’s most prized slaves. As you can see, there’s a lot more going on besides the over-the-top gore and licentiousness. Think the poor man’s Game of Thrones.

Lisa Peet, Associate Editor, News & Features, LJ
I love novels about making art—not only the thought process but the physical act as well. Reading Chaim Potok’s My Name Is Asher Lev at age 12 flipped that switch for me, and I always enjoy an author who takes on the creative act (reading about writers doesn’t do the same thing for me). Also, and I’m not proud of this, I love novels about drugs—not the moral-arc, Behind the Music narratives of hitting bottom and then redemption, though it’s okay if that happens. But those descriptions, when they ring true, of what it’s like to step outside of yourself. I’m like the happily partnered person who still likes to read the occasional steamy romance: it’s entertaining to read reports from a road I didn’t take.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that I liked Kayla Rae Whitaker’s The Animators (Random) very much. Good solid writing, some inspired dialog, and an interesting arc to the story of two women who found success making autobiographical indie animated films while wrestling with their own demons and vaguely Southern gothic, weird upbringings. I may not be a professional artist or a dedicated stoner, but I really lit up at the exploration of what it means when a woman puts her work first, how that reverberates through her life and relationships. Whitaker did a bang-up job on the friendship between the two women as well. I’m not sure I bought the family dynamics all the time, but overall, it was a lot of fun.

Henrietta Verma, WWR/WWW emerita
I just read and reviewed Roxane Gay’s Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (Harper). This is one of those books that stay with you long after you’ve finished. I won’t get into too much, as the review isn’t out yet, but I highly recommend this series of essays. They describe Gay’s issues with her body—hers happen to concern weight, but we’ve all got a bone to pick with the vessel we inhabit, so the book deserves a wide audience. (Note that it will be tough going for sexual abuse survivors.)

I’m also a watcher lately. After the Australian comedy/drama Offspring, which I loved, I was in the mood for something similar. I’m now watching ABC’s Chasing Life, a less funny drama that’s a remake of an earlier Mexican show, with this version set in Boston. It follows April, a twentysomething journalist who has cancer, and her relationships with family, friends, and love interests. It’s not Offspring, but it’s good.






Research at Risk? | Notable Government Documents 2016

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 08:57

Questions relating to climate change loom large: How much is attributable to human activity and how do communities forecast and plan for it? Over the last 30 years or so, Americans have become increasingly polarized on this issue along partisan and ideological lines. Throughout the Seventies and Eighties, climate scientists worldwide came to a consensus that greenhouse gasses produced by burning fossil fuels were the major contributor to global warming, the consequences of which include melting polar ice, more frequent and more severe hurricanes and tornadoes, more frequent 100-year-floods, wildfires, drought, and more. Reversing global warming, were it possible, would require an international effort.

The Clinton administration had an especially prominent leadership role in the 1997 Kyoto Protocols, which attempted to establish legally binding mandates for its member countries that would go into effect in 2008. It was those international mandates that aroused the suspicions of conservatives, and climate change deniers suddenly became a powerful political force.


In 2013, President Obama issued his Climate Action Plan (CAP), which expanded the role of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (­USGCRP). By the end of 2016, climate change research was being sponsored by nearly every cabinet-level department and agency, some with multiple programs.

At the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015, U.S. representatives pledged to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions in our country by 26–28 percent by 2025. In August 2015, President Obama announced his Clean Power Plan (CPP), which directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create new CO2 emission guidelines for existing fossil fuel–fired electricity-generating plants along the levels of the Paris Treaty. Implementation was blocked by the Supreme Court in early 2016.


President Trump brings to the White House a perspective completely antithetical to those of Clinton and Obama: he expressly undertook to erase President Obama’s environmental legacy. He rescinded the EPA regulations proposed under the CPP. His appointees to environmentally oriented agencies have publicly expressed opposition to the missions of the agencies they head. The president’s 2018 budget request would cut EPA support by 31 percent, and new Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney has referred to climate change research as “a waste of your money.”

Access to existing government information may be compromised owing to changes implemented by the Trump administration, such as altering or removing data on climate change from the EPA website, making librarian-led efforts to preserve government documents, such as the End of Term Web Archive, crucial.

Credit for leadership in the nationwide data rescue effort goes to two organizations. One of the first American-­organized data-rescue operations (hackathons) was held at the University of Pennsylvania’s Van Pelt Library on Inauguration Day 2017, under the auspices of UPenn’s Program in Environmental Humanities Lab. Its website ( serves as a clearinghouse for news about past and upcoming data-rescue events. The website of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative ( includes a Data Rescue toolkit for organizing local events or nominating data sets for rescue. Rescued data sets are primarily stored at and the Internet Archive.

With the status of government documents as reliable sources being eroded, the work of the government document specialist may become exponentially more complicated in the next few years. As one can imagine, the issue of climate change is an important theme among the Notable Government Documents of 2016, along with such topics of interest as military history, international and domestic policy, and national resources.


Birth of Camp Jackson: A Collection of Photographs, Maps and Papers Documenting the Development of Camp Jackson Near Columbia, South Carolina. U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum. 2016. 248p. illus. SuDocs# D 101.2:J 13/2.

The history of one of World War I’s National Army cantonments built to accommodate some of the soldiers drafted as a result of the recently passed Selective Service Act of 1917 is detailed here. Put up in less than six months, Camp Jackson housed and trained 44,000 troops throughout the war. The story is told mostly through the captions of beautiful photographs, making it easy and enjoyable to peruse. Also featured are the various camp buildings, daily life, records of the units and officers, and types of training provided.

Chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1949–2016. U.S. Dept. of Defense, Office of the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint History Office. 2016. 391p. illus. ISBN 9780160933219. SuDocs# D 5.2:C 34/2/2016. GPO Stock# 008-020-01636-5. $101.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, whose primary responsibility is to provide military advice to civilian leadership. This revised fifth edition examines the development of the position as an institution over the last 67 years. It traces the history of the JCS and the evolving role the chair plays in historical perspective. Starting with the first chairman, Omar Nelson Bradley, and continuing to the present day, each man receives a short synopsis of his career as well as a listing of his promotions and assignments prior to his JCS appointment.

Covered Bridges and the Birth of American Engineering. by Justine Christianson & others. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Svc., Historic American Engineering Board. 2015. 234p. illus. ISBN 9780578171067. SuDocs# I 29.2:B 76/5. (Available from Amazon: $17.)

This study, conducted jointly by the Federal Highway Administration and the National Park Service, is the result of the National Covered Bridges Recording Project. Essays explore the history of these iconic bridges, their design, prominent bridge builders and practices, and the structures’ preservation. This handsomely illustrated publication also includes an inventory of covered bridges listed in the Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record.

Forging the Star: The Official Modern History of the United States Marshals Service. by David S. Turk. Univ. of North Texas. 2016. 540p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781574416541. SuDocs# J 25.2:H 62/2. (Available from Amazon: $29.95.)

The U.S. Marshals Service is the oldest federal law enforcement organization in the country. Tracking the recent evolution of the agency, this work provides a unique perspective on American history from the 1930s to the present. The story is exhaustively researched and documented, with extensive endnotes, a bibliography, and a photo gallery. (Published outside the government, but distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program.)

Green Eyeshades of War: An Examination of Financial Management During War. by Larry O. Spencer. U.S. Dept. of Defense, Air Univ. 2016. 84p. illus. ISBN 9781585662616. SuDocs# D 301.26/6:F 49. (Available from Amazon: $9.99.)

An important perspective on financial management during World War II, Vietnam, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, and operations Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Air Force general Spencer points out that we must fiscally prepare for conflicts beforehand and that in today’s environment of competing resources, the efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars is paramount to getting congressional and public ­support.

Hill of Angels: U.S. Marines and the Battle for Con Thien, 1967 to 1968. by Joseph C. Long. U.S. Dept. of Defense, Marine Corps Univ. (Marines in the Vietnam War Commemorative). 2016. 61p. illus. maps. ISBN 9780160934656. SuDocs# D 214.13:V 67/4/CONTHIEN. GPO Stock# 008-055-00268-1. $22.

This history is one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War. Colonel Long, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (retired), examines U.S. Marine and North Vietnamese Army actions throughout the northern half of a region that became known as “Leatherneck Square.” More than a dozen operations were involved to varying degrees with the Battle of Con Thien. Using photographs and informative maps, Long provides a detailed and respectful account of the marines who fought bravely in those ­actions.

Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment. by Alison Crimmins & others. U.S. Global Change Research Program. 2016. 312p. illus. ISBN 9780160932410. SuDocs# PREX 30.2:H 88/2.

This report lucidly details the myriad observed and projected impacts of climate change on human health in this country. Relying upon recently published peer-reviewed research, more than 100 experts, from eight federal agencies, distill the current state of understanding of climate change impacts into an assessment that is thorough and accessible.

Implications for U.S. National Security of Anticipated Climate Change. U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Intelligence Council. (NIC WP 2016-01). 2016. digital. SuDocs#: PREX 28.18.

Most people are aware that climate change can affect weather and agriculture, but little is said about its impact on national security. This short overview of the potential security consequences of earth’s changing climate examines how such events could threaten the stability of countries, heighten social and political tension, and increase the risks to human health, resulting in clashes over limited resources and hampering the means to resolve those challenges.

Keeping America Informed: The U.S. Government Publishing Office; Legacy of Service to the Nation, 1861–2016. rev. ed. U.S. Government Publishing Office. 2016. r164p. illus. ISBN 9780160933196. SuDocs# GP 1.2:IN 3/2/2016. GPO Stock# 021-000-00217-8. $33.

This revised edition celebrates the 155th anniversary of the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and recognizes its ongoing and successful use of digital technologies in meeting the rapidly changing information needs of U.S. citizens. With engaging narratives from the past and images from GPO’s extensive photographic library, this chronicle beautifully records the agency’s history and vital ­service.

National Parks Index: 2012–2016; Official Index of the National Park Service. Centennial ed. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Svc. 2016. 158p. illus. ISBN 9780160932090. SuDocs# I 29.103:2012/2016. GPO Stock# 024-005-01320-2. $16.

America’s national parks are a treasured resource. This publication provides a comprehensive list, arranged by state, of every park in the system. Each entry contains mailing address, web address, phone number, acreage, dates of authorization and establishment, and explanation of the area’s national significance. The final section includes information on additional parks that have been authorized and other areas related to the National Park System—National Heritage Areas, National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, National Trails System, and affiliated ­areas.

Pipeline to Russia: The Alaska-Siberia Air Route in World War II. ed. by Alexander B. Dolitsk. Alaska Affiliated Areas Program, National Park Svc. 2016. PDF + print. 115p.

Rooted in history, this work is a tribute to the service and crucial role played by the Alaska-Siberia Air Route and the people who worked within the lend-lease project. Beautifully written, with numerous photos and illustrations, this publication provides detailed statistics on the amount of food, materials, troops, etc., transferred during the war. The numbers are startling and demonstrate how the United States truly became a superpower.

Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools. U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Partner Engagement. 2016. Unclassified ed. digital. illus. SuDocs# J 1.14/2:EX 8/2.

In today’s society, it is evident that a new concern over the influence that violent extremist movements may have on susceptible youth is challenging U.S. schools and placing a growing burden on the education system to find ways to counter­act it. This guide is designed to educate school personnel about at-risk behaviors and activities and assist students with reducing a social and psychological commitment to violence as a method of resolving a grievance. It looks at forms of violent extremism and recommends ways of preventing it in schools.

Rare Bryophytes of Oregon. by Ronald L. Exeter. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Salem District. 2016. 379p. illus. maps. w/CD-ROM. ISBN 9780979131042. SuDocs# I 53.2:B 84.

The strength of this book is its list of the 142 species of hornwort, liverwort, and mosses in Oregon considered rare, threatened, or endangered. It provides extensive information about their nomen­clature, distinctive taxonomic characteristics, technical descriptions, ecology, and references. Colorful pictures with detailed plates accompany each species. While the emphasis is on Oregon, many of the species are found in surrounding states as well, making this useful throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of Foreign Relations of the United States Series. by William B. McAllister. U.S. Dept. of State, Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs. 2015. 382p. illus. ISBN 9780160932120. SuDocs# S 1.2:H 62/2. GPO Stock# 044-000-02676-7. $43.

“Foreign Relations of the United States (aka FRUS),” a flagship series from the U.S. Department of State, provides the official documentary history of U.S. foreign relations. In recounting the publication history of FRUS, from the late 18th century to the present, this narrative dovetails with American domestic politics, revealing the controversies enmeshed in the ever relevant challenges of governmental transparency, timely declassification, and international security.

Treasured Landscapes: National Park Service Art Collections Tell America’s Stories. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Svc., Museum Mgt. Program. 2016. 160p. illus. ISBN 9780692536087. SuDocs# I 29.2:AR 7/5. GPO Stock# 024-005-01327-0. $37.

To commemorate the centennial of the National Park Service (NPS; 1916–2016), the agency gathered paintings, sketches, and other works of art from more than 45 NPS collections to illustrate and tell the history of our parkland. Art was crucial to the establishment of the national park system because it captured the grandeur and beauty of the West at a time when travel was limited. This volume allows the present-day viewer to experience the wonders of this nation’s landscapes through the works of these artists. Listed throughout are the various galleries and park collections, along with the numerous artists.

Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. by Henry D. Sokolski. U.S. Army War Coll. & Strategic Studies Inst. 2016. 130p. illus. maps. ISBN 9781584877196. SuDocs# D 101.146:UN 2. GPO Stock# 008-000-01175-3. $20.

This strategic study is a timely observation of what the author sees as “our not so peaceful nuclear future.” He addresses the growing stockpiles of separated plutonium and of highly enriched uranium, as well as the likely expansion of nuclear power programs in more countries. Sokolski’s brief volume discusses the key popular views on nuclear proliferation and how much worse matters might get if states continue with relatively loosely controlled nuclear activities. His purpose is to address a gap in the literature as arguments made by policy­makers and academics for preventing further nuclear proliferation are uneven. Each of the basic views—official, hawkish, and academic—spotlight some aspect of the truth, but each is incomplete. The author’s own view is surprisingly ­optimistic.

State & Local COLORADO

Measuring Health in Adults 65 and Over, Colorado 2016 Report: Fulfilling Colorado’s Commitment To Become the Healthiest State. Colorado Cross-Agency Collaborative; Colorado Dept. of Health Care Policy & Financing; Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment. 2016. 28p. OCLC # 948812372. PDF + print.

Looking at an increasingly aging and heavier population, the state public health departments began to investigate a path to ensure a healthy lifestyle would become a priority for all citizens, regardless of economic means. This report discusses the challenges and solutions.

A Report of Officer Involved Shootings in Colorado, 2010–2015: Pursuant to Senate Bill 15-217. by Ernesto Munoz Acevedo & others. Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate. Colorado Dept. of Public Safety, Office of Research & Statistics. 2016. 30p. OCLC # 944927159. PDF + print.

Owing to the rising number of officer-involved shootings, the Colorado legislature enacted this law requiring all law enforcement agencies to collect and report the data related to such events; this is the first such report to be issued. Filled with statistics, it provides thought-provoking details as to the nature of these episodes.


Removal of Voters from the Voter Registry List. by Kristin Sullivan. Connecticut General Assembly Office of Legislative Research. (OLR Research Report 2016-R-0079). 2016. 5p. OCLC # 951612508. Print + digital.

This timely and informative pamphlet provides a plain-language description of how, why, and when a voter’s name may be removed from the Voter Registry. It includes citations from the Connecticut state code but is otherwise free of legalese.


Florida Coastal Office Activity Book. Florida Coastal Office, Dept. of Environmental Protection. 19p. illus. OCLC # 962261587.

This fun and engaging interactive book is intended for children under the age of ten and anyone else who enjoys games and coloring. It teaches about aquatic and coastal life.


Manitoba’s Climate Change and Green Economy Action Plan. Manitoba Conservation & Water Stewardship. 2016. 54p. illus. map. OCLC# 949858170.

Manitoba has established itself as a frontrunner among Canadian provinces by producing 98 percent of its electricity from renewable resources. As we seek to reduce carbon emissions, we must also reinvent policies to adapt to the climate change effects that we’re already witnessing. This report addresses the impact of climate change on wildlife habitats, tourism, and water resources.


Butterflies in Your Backyard. by Christopher E. Moorman & Jeffrey Pippen. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Svc., North Carolina State Univ. (Urban Wildlife, AG Series 636-02). 2016. 10p. illus. maps. OCLC # 954735536. PDF + print.

Beautiful images and photographs of butterflies abound in this publication and accompanying web page about the butterflies of North Carolina. The authors detail everything from life cycle and habitat to conservation resources and how to use butterflies effectively in a garden.


Mark Anderson Univ. of Northern Colorado

Federal Selector Vicki L. Tate
Univ. of South Alabama

Federal Judge Carole Spector
Univ. of San Francisco

Federal Judge Christine Adams Youngstown State Univ.

State/Local Selector
Kathy Hale
State Lib. of Pennsylvania

State/Local Judge Aimée C. Quinn Central Washington Univ.

State/Local Judge Suhasini L. Kumar Univ. of Toledo

International Selector Hayley Johnson Nicholls State Univ.

International Judge Suzanne Reinman
Oklahoma State Univ.

International Judge Sonnet Ireland
St. Tammany Parish Lib.

Please complete the online nomination form at

Titles considered for the next review should be published in 2017. The deadline for nominating a publication is
January 8, 2018.

Intellectual Property, Liability and Trespass: A Guide for Coastal and Marine Scientists and Their Volunteers in North Carolina. by Tyler O’Hara & Nicholas Decker. North Carolina Sea Grant Coll. Program, North Carolina Coastal Resources Law, Planning, & Policy Ctr. 2016. 16p. illus. maps. OCLC# 950978213. ISBN 9780865264793. PDF.

Intended to increase awareness of potential legal issues involved in citizen science projects in the Tar Heel State, this paper is written specifically for scientists and volunteers who wish to understand the legal implications of working in the marine sciences. It outlines the policies and potential hazards.

So Great the Devastation: The 1916 Flood in Western North Carolina. by Jessica A. Bandel. North Carolina Office of Archives and History. 2016. 45p. illus. maps. OCLC # 945772281. ISBN 9780865264816. $10.

A heart-wrenching chronicle of this historic flood, which remains one of the worst natural disasters in the state’s history. It derived from the collision of two powerful hurricanes, and this story details the strength of the people, while the photos show the devastation in the primarily agrarian countryside. Hauntingly written.

Social Relationships Between Wineries and Local Communities: Perspectives of North Carolinians from the Piedmont Triad. by Jing Li. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Svc. 2016. 6p. illus. maps. OCLC # 954600046. PDF.

The state of North Carolina ranks fourth nationwide as a destination for wine tourists. This report analyzes the responses of a survey of 663 households to an inquiry about their perceptions of and relations with the wineries and their customers.


A Traveler’s Companion to North Dakota State Historic Sites. 3d ed. by Merlan E. Paaverud Jr. North Dakota State Historical Soc. 2016. 206p. illus. maps. OCLC # 895666894. ISBN 978189149423. $23.95.

Beautiful imagery and fascinating commentary about each site highlight this guidebook of places of historic significance in North Dakota. This resource is organized alphabetically, but people can also arrange their visit by theme, a great way to see this part of the country.

You and the Law in North Dakota: The Rights of Grandparents and Step-Grandparents. by Divya Saxena & Jane Strommen. NDSU Extension Svc. 2014. illus. 8p. OCLC # 907929372. PDF + print.

Too often grandparents don’t know their legal rights when their children divorce or choose to have someone else adopt their child. This publication discusses the legal options for grandparents and step-­grandparents.


Communicating Climate Change to Agriculture Audiences. by Zachary M. Eaton & Joshua W. Faulkner. Virginia Cooperative Extension. 2016. 9p. OCLC# 980316458.

This pamphlet outlines the risks of climate change for agricultural producers and proposed best practices for extension educators who need to communicate climate change issues to stakeholders who might not be familiar with scientific jargon. A complex issue made easy to absorb.


Predicted Impacts of Climate Change on Groundwater Resources of Washington State. by Charles F. Pitz. Washington State Dept. of Ecology. Environmental Assessment Program. 2016. 127p. illus. 2016. OCLC# 9612722867.

A useful tool for managers of water resources, this report synthesizes recent scientific research to predict how global climate change may impact Washington state’s groundwater, streams, and wetlands.

Washington Remembers World War II: Personal Accounts from the Deadliest Conflict in World History. by John C. Hughes & Trova Heffernan. Legacy Washington, Office of the Secretary of State. 2016. 265p. illus. OCLC # 965384957. ISBN 9781889320373. $23.95. PDF + print.

Six thousand Washingtonians gave their lives during World War II. To commemorate them, Legacy Washington was established on the 70th anniversary of the war. This book gathers stories and personal accounts of what these brave Americans lived through, told via interviews and photographs. A tribute to those who sacrificed so much.


Child, Early and Forced Marriage Legislation in 37 Asia Pacific Countries. Inter-Parliamentary Union & World Health Organization. 142p. illus. OCLC # 954624721. ISBN 9789291426478. PDF. Free.

A detailed report of the causes and consequences of child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) as well as legislation pertaining to it. Parliamentarians are the key to enforcing existing laws and policies regarding CEFM and are able to bring about necessary legal reforms. In addition to implementing and enforcing laws and policies, other comprehensive strategies are integral to addressing the situation. Strategies include strengthening child protective systems, providing safe shelters and access to a judicial process, and promoting education and availability of health care.

Compendium of Good Practices on Human Rights and the Environment. United Nations Environment Programme. 148p. D1 No. 15-03568/50 copies. Digital. Free.

This compendium presents solid practices to fulfill human rights obligations related to environmental protection and management. Divided into nine categories, the document presents more than 100 examples of how individuals and states have successfully implemented programs that are practical and innovative.

Energy, Climate Change, and Environment: 2016 Insights. International Energy Agency. 129p. illus. OCLC # 962848718. PDF. Free.

The Paris Agreement on climate change signed at COP21 by 196 nations in December 2015 calls for a transition to low-carbon energy systems with a long-term goal of limiting global average temperature rise to “well below 2°C.” This paper examines key energy sectors, technologies, and policy measures affecting energy systems as well as providing global energy and emissions data as a tool to investigate regional energy trends. Includes inter­regional comparisons of key emissions and energy indicators for ten regions.

European Forest Ecosystems: State and Trends. European Environment Agency. 123p. illus. maps. OCLC # 954081095. ISBN 9789292137281. PDF. Free.

The sustainable management of forests is crucial, as they are one of the eco­systems in Europe with the highest degree of biodiversity and provide resources for climate regulation and ecosystem services for humans. Key characteristics of forests are discussed here in addition to the increased pressures on and threats to forest ecosystems such as climate change and human ­activities.

Global Report on Urban Health: Equitable, Healthier Cities for Sustainable Development. World Health Organization. 242p. illus. maps. OCLC # 949371184. ISBN 9789241565271. PDF. Free.

Estimates demonstrate that 60 percent of all people will reside in cities by the year 2030. This new development paradigm in conjunction with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the significance of reshaping urban environments and health systems to enable livable cities with improved health outcomes for their inhabitants. Effective actions by cities and nations worldwide are probed.

Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2015. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 66p. illus. maps. OCLC # 951987953. PDF. Free.

This report dissects statistical trends and changes in global displacement from January to December 2015. According to the data, 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide by the end of 2015, and, on average, 24 individuals worldwide were newly displaced every minute during that year. Asylum seekers and internally displaced persons are assessed. Additionally, solutions such as resettlement and local integration are ­considered.

Green Energy Choices: The Benefits, Risks and Trade-offs of Low-Carbon Technologies for Electricity Production. United Nations Environment Programme. 453p. illus. OCLC # 972803332. ISBN 9789280734904. PDF. Free.

This examination of the nine key electricity-generating technologies and their greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential also addresses the possible effects of these technologies on the environment, human health, and natural resources. With comparisons of the life cycles of all technologies.

The Rise of Environmental Crime: A Growing Threat to Natural Resources Peace, Development and Security. United Nations Environment Programme. 104p. illus. maps. bibliog. OCLC # 968511749. ISBN 9788269043419. PDF. Free.

Environmental transgressions (including wildlife, forestry, fisheries, waste and pollution, and white collar) comprise the world’s fourth largest crime sector, depleting countries of revenue and development opportunities as well as destroying resources and eco­systems. In addition to defining the types of environmental misdeeds being committed, this report discusses the scale of crimes and the legal framework that exists to combat them. Concluding with restoration case studies of relocation and reintroduction of species, the document looks at the response to and enforcement of environmental laws.

Wildlife Crime. European Parliament. 121p. illus. OCLC # 960393239. ISBN 9789282388136. PDF. Free.

An overview of the state of wildlife crime in the European Union (EU) and the EU’s value in combating it, serving as a major market for illegal products and as a transit point for trafficking. Legislation on wildlife crime and enforcement deficits is presented. The report ends with policy recommendations to be used in conjunction with the EU Action Plan.

Working Together: Skills and Labour Market Integration of Immigrants and Their Children in Sweden. OECD. 204p. illus. bibliog. OCLC # 949844245. digital. Free. ebook. $33.

Sixteen percent of Sweden’s population was born abroad, and, in 2015, 163,000 asylum seekers arrived in that country. This report looks at the skills and labor market situation of immigrants as well as the integration process through which migrants can acquire and build necessary capabilities to integrate with both the Swedish labor market and society at large. Employer demand for proficiency and mechanisms for matching supply with demand are also related.

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Mark Anderson ( is Chair of the Notable Documents Panel of the American Library Association’s Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) and Reference/Research Librarian for Government Information, History and Geography, James A. Michener Library, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley

Disco Fever

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 11:38

In light of the Library of Congress’s Bibliodiscotheque, disco celebration, let’s consider the essential disco songs. Want to hear the songs themselves? Check out the “Robin’s Disco Delights” Spotify playlist, which includes all of the songs mentioned here.

If I had to pick a single soundtrack for the disco era, I think I’d have to go with the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Though it is incomplete, so many of those songs are what immediately come to mind when I hear the word disco: yes, the obvious Bee Gees songs like “Night Fever,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “More Than a Woman,” and “You Should Be Dancing,” but also songs like “Disco Inferno” by the Trammps, “Boogie Shoes” by KC and the Sunshine Band, and “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman. Plus, the movie just brings to mind exactly what we think of the disco era.

While Saturday Night Fever was a film about disco made during the era, Netflix’s The Get Down is a modern production that looks at the end of the disco era as it gave way to hip-hop in the late 1970s. The tension between booming disco and burgeoning hip-hop plays out in many ways, including the main character’s conflict between helping his (kinda sorta) girlfriend, who dreams of becoming a disco star and his friends as they seek to become DJ stars in their own right. The clothes, the club, and the soundtrack of The Get Down bring the Bronx of the late Seventies right into your living room.

Holding Saturday Night Fever, the Bee Gees, and John Travolta up as the voices and face of disco, however, erases much of who and what disco was for and about. In the article I Feel Love: Disco and it’s Discontents by cultural critic Tavia Nyong’o (Criticism 50 no1, 101-12 Wint 2008) he articulates it this way: “The unhappy hybridity of disco is still evinced in the uneasy status of its foremost cultural avatars—The Bee Gees and John Travolta, playing Tony Manero—white men occupying vocal registers and striking choreographic poses that usurp the disco diva and the gay man while at the same time infringing upon, even denaturing the very white masculinity that such a colonizing move is supposed to secure.”

If I had to name the most iconic disco artists, I think I would go with Donna Summer. Oddly enough, she’s one of the few people not on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, but I can’t think of disco without either of them. When I was trying to pick “a few” songs for this list, I kept thinking that the next one couldn’t be left out. We can’t talk about “Hot Stuff” and not talk about “Bad Girls.” We can’t talk about “Love To Love You” and not talk about “Heaven Knows.” “Dim All the Lights” is probably my favorite Donna Summer song, but everybody knows “Last Dance.”

The Essential Donna Summer Collection
  • “I Feel Love”
  • “Hot Stuff”
  • “Last Dance”
  • “Bad Girls”
  • “Love To Love You”
  • “Heaven Knows”
  • “Dim All the Lights”
  • “On the Radio”
  • “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)”a duet with Barbra Streisand and a much better girl power song than Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” (yeah, I said it.) And, probably the sassiest Streisand has ever been.

But, it’s also worth noting that much of what we think of as disco is coming from a past perspective. My thoughts on the era are a weird mix of nostalgia for an era I barely remember, and are completely different from those of someone who had a different experience of the time.

That said, I love disco. I love almost every glittery-disco-ball-wacky-pantsuit-platform-shoes moment of it, though the music world got sick of disco pretty quickly. So quickly, in fact, that there was exactly one year where it was specifically in contention at the Grammys. In 1980, Best Disco Song was a category at the Grammys; before the 1981 awards ceremony rolled around, the Academy had gotten rid of it. Disco had fallen out of favor and they preferred to  pretend it had never happened. A shame, really, because so many of those songs we know and love to this day deserve to be recognized.

So, what’s on my disco playlist and why? First and foremost, it needs to be danceable. This is, literally, the definition of disco. You can argue about many other things (do you need a singer? Do you need a horn section? Are those gimmicky songs and acts like the Village People their own subgenre of disco? What are the exact dates of the disco “era?”) but you can’t argue about the fact that you have to be able to dance to it.

Essential Disco Playlist
  • “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel“—Tavares.  The band also did a bunch of the songs we associate with the Bee Gees and, while I prefer their version of “More Than a Woman” to the Bee Gees version, I can’t say that about the others.
  • “Love Sensation”Loleatta Holloway. A mostly throwaway song, but echoes back to the Nineties, when Mark Wahlberg sampled it for “Good Vibrations,” during his two-minute rap career.
  • “He’s the Greatest Dancer”Sister Sledge. Reincarnated in Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It,” the original still makes you want to get up and dance.
  • “Le Freak”Chic.  I just saw Chic a few years ago in concert, and it’s like they haven’t changed a bit over the years.
  • “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”Sylvester. Sylvester was one of the artists who was new to me because these songs don’t even get nostalgic airplay. But, when I mentioned disco to someone who was there during the height of the party scene, this was the first person he mentioned. And now, it’s one of the songs that define the era for me.
  • Diana Ross, queen of the Motown era, had a couple pretty fantastic disco hits: “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down.”
  • “It’s Raining Men”Weather Girls. Good luck going to any kind of gathering with a DJ, and not hearing this song. If that isn’t withstanding the test of time, I don’t know what is.
  • “Knock on Wood”Amii Stewart. It’s okay to be a one-hit wonder if that one hit is really good.
  • “Ring My Bell”Anita Ward
  • “I Love the Nightlife” —Alicia Bridges
  • “Don’t Leave Me This Way”Thelma Houston
  • “I Will Survive”—Gloria Gaynor. The song that won the one and only disco Grammy in 1980. You can’t have a disco list without this song, I guess.
  • “Turn the Beat Around”Vicki Sue Robinson. The 1994 remake by Gloria Estefan was good, but the original has yet to be topped.
  • “Best of My Love”—Emotions. This song was produced by Earth, Wind, & Fire’s Maurice White.
  • “Boogie Wonderland”Earth, Wind, & Fire. Yeah…is it disco? This is one of those songs that may be classified as disco because of its release date. Okay, and maybe because of the clothes in the video. But, the sound, like most of EWF, refuses to be siloed into a particular genre or era. This one also features The Emotions, who were solidly disco.
  • I wouldn’t call Michael Jackson disco, but…well, there was Off the Wall which, in my opinion, was his best album. And on that album, there was disco. Strangely enough, the song that was nominated for best disco song in 1980, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” is not one of them. (sorry, Academy! I disagree with your choice.) That song is a mix of a lot of different styles, but there are other clear disco hits on that CD: “Off the Wall,” “Get On the Floor,” and my favorite, “Rock with You.”

Robin Bradford is a Collection Development Librarian at Timberland Regional Library, WA, where she orders adult fiction, feature films (and TV!), and music CDs. She was chosen the Romance Writers of America 2016 Librarian of the Year.

Exciting Poetry for Spring: 13 Highly Recommended Titles That Will Shock You Awake

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 14:37

Bashir, Samiya. Field Theories. Nightboat. Mar. 2017. 72p. ISBN 9781937658632. pap. $15.95. POETRY
At first, it may seem surprising that this energetically in-your-face collection references physics. But when Bashir (Gospel) notes of thermodynamics, “When Albert Murray said/ the second law adds up to/ the blues…/ he meant it//… more how my grandmother/ warned that men like women// with soft hands,” you see where she’s going. “Planck’s constant” denotes holding to others as we climb to get ahead; “Ground state,” a surge toward intimacy; and “We call it dark matter because it doesn’t interact with light,” America’s increasing xenophobia. Thus does Bashir sort out life’s demands, periodically grounding her exploration with references to African American legend John Henry and his wife, Polly Ann. ­VERDICT Interesting work; anyone who can combine woolly mammoths and the lyric “I’m gonna be your number one” in one poem knows her stuff.

Brown, Molly McCully. The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded. Persea. Mar. 2017. 80p. ISBN 9780892554782. pap. $15.95. POETRY

Born with cerebral palsy, Brown grew up near the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, a singular set of circumstances that led to this striking first collection. The American eugenics movement originated at the colony, and Brown allowed herself to imagine the horror of being an inmate there by working through several fictional personae. That’s a potent enough set-up, but she doesn’t let it do her work for her, using effectively pinpointed language to tell her story. “You come back bone-tired and bruised,/ burned dead out and ready to be shut away,” she says of those sent out for day labor. And elsewhere: “Imagine you are/ an animal/ in your own throat.” VERDICT Brown accomplishes her task admirably, and her work will appeal not just to ­poetry readers.

Carr, Julie. Objects from a Borrowed Confession. Ahsahta. Jun. 2017. 160p. ISBN 9781934103685. pap. $18. POETRY

The gifted author of fluid yet edgy prose poems, Carr frequently treats sociopolitical issues (e.g., 100 Notes on Violence) but is here more personal and reflective. The volume opens with letters to an ex-lover’s ex-lover, whom the speaker claims to want to know better. She’s not chasing the past, which is “less than the light that falls toward my face. The future, however, is a red fox, running right past me.” Instead of accumulated stories, she sees us each as a “perpetual vanishing,” with the child’s death that opens the book’s second section shuddering her into the crucial, oft-skimmed present. Is confession a search for forgiveness or recognition? Actually, it seems more about attachment (you’re “made something rather than remaining (alone and) nothing.” VERDICT A rich meditation on self and others; for all smart readers.

Chen Chen. When I Grow Up I Want To Be a List of Further Possibilities. BOA. Apr. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9781942683339. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781942683346. POETRY

Visually vivid, erotic and intimate, at times bitingly funny, and refreshingly world-observant, Chen’s poems are steeped in the pain of being other as both Asian American and gay. He’s excellent at relating the confusion of childhood, recalling “Mom & Dad’s/ idiot faces, yelling at me” as they confront his sexuality and grappling with the consequences of his heritage. The standout poem “First Light” enumerates many different, often outré ways Chen envisions having come to this country, embodying the kind of imagination it takes to adapt to a new culture. Throughout, there’s ratcheted-up emotion yet an amazing command of language: “I carried in my snake mouth a boxful/ of carnal autobiographies” says the world. VERDICT An A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize winner; expansive work for expansive audiences.

Dunham, Rebecca. Cold Pastoral. Milkweed. Mar. 2017. 80p. ISBN 9781571314789. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781571319395. POETRY

T.S. Eliot Prize winner Dunham (The Miniature Room) frames her latest work in terms of three recent environmental disasters: the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Hurricane Katrina, and the lead-poisoned water of Flint, MI. Her images are relentless and indelible: “The rig boils black/ and then curls back upon itself”; “the lead—no/ imminent threat to public health—seeps and floats like a ghost.” But Dunham probes deeper, asking “What is, what reason, what is/ the good of man?” From chickens with clipped mouths and bound feet (“I thought/ I knew cages, knew boxes”) to a doll caught in a branch (“She could be dead. Easily// she could be your daughter”), Dunham shows us a natural world damaged by humans, who also damage themselves. VERDICT Engaged and ­engaging poetry.

Fagan, Kathy . Sycamore. Milkweed. Mar. 2017. 88p. ISBN 9781571314734. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781571319296. POETRY

Whether she is detailing an abandoned sledding hill (“the days like an unused billboard”), a sycamore tree (“I barely creak/ in wind that raised and hung me/ out to dry”), or a missed meteor (“a gold star shook/ lose from blue firmament”), National Poetry Series winner Fagan (The Raft) is a tremendous scene setter. And the scenes she sets often effectively disclose tamped-down sorrow at the end of a relationship. Not surprisingly, then, hers is a landscape of snow and ice (“a detonation—/ then white everywhere”), yet we frequently meet, as if striding, her noble sycamores, attentively and variably rendered and even given speech: “When I was dead, one of the whiter/ sycamores who live on the river said,/ Kathy, why didn’t you live in your body more?” VERDICT A quiet, beautifully articulated work whose mood does not wear.

ford, t’ai freedom. how to get over. Red Hen. May 2017. 110p. ISBN 9781597090384. pap. $17.95. POETRY

Winner of the Feminist Wire’s inaugural poetry contest, ford debuts with a fiery collection that uses language both evocatively rich and colloquially sharp and sly to capture the African American experience. Poems titled “past life portrait” range from the Negroes Burying Ground in Lower Manhattan, circa 1787, to the imagined thoughts of Rodney King, while the ambitious and deftly handled “black, brown, and beige (a movement in three parts)” echoes Duke Ellington’s symphony of the same name. (“Movement Three: Beige” says “this/ skin a shade/ and a half past alright”). Another poem series, “how to get over,” offers tough-love advice: “unload the artillery/ of switch, shrapnel their eyes with/ bitch and fierce, drop dead// gorgeous.” VERDICT Drop-dead gorgeous indeed.

Hood, Charles. Partially Excited States. Univ. of Wisconsin. Mar. 2017. 72p. ISBN 9780299311643. pap. $14.95. POETRY

“The Wand Chooses the Wizard” proclaims the title of Hood’s opening poem, which goes on inventively to observe how “the patsy chooses the mark/ and the floozy chooses the lug” all the way down to the reader’s challenge: “this poem has chosen you.” Clearly, Hood knows his pop culture, but the depth of historical and scientific knowledge throughout makes for lush if sometimes off-kilter reading. Topics range from Jasper Johns’s thieving assistant to the street trees of San Francisco to an Upper Paleolithic cave. VERDICT “Sunrise on Mercury” opens, “A woman in a bar once told me I looked like matches waiting for an arsonist. A man said, “If you could lick my heart,/ it would poison you,” which sums up exactly Hood’s darkly offbeat and witty verse. A Felix Pollak Poetry Prize winner.

Long Soldier, Layli. Whereas. Graywolf. Mar. 2017. 114p. ISBN 9781555977672. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781555979614. POETRY

Whiting Award winner Long Soldier, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, uses urgent, muscular, fiercely vibrant language to explore the very concept of language: how tightly it is bound up with culture, how it shifts and defines the speaker. The early poems set the scene: a man is dragged through the dirt, “His skull, glisten of star/ to bone; a square poem signals the speaker’s entrapment; “Wings that do not close” bespeak aspiration. Soon the speaker is exploring the relation of thought to language, which must be used well (“Here, the sentence will be respected”), even as she comments reflexively on historical and ongoing abuses. The tour-de-force title section confronts the U.S. government’s meager apology for such abuses in 2009. VERDICT Challenging and worth it.

McCrae, Shane. In the Language of My Captor. Wesleyan Univ. Feb. 2017. 108p. ISBN 9780819577115. $22.75; ebk. ISBN 9780819577139. POETRY

In his award-winning The Animal Too Big To Kill, McCrae explored the conundrum of being a half-black man raised by white supremacists, and his new work again confronts the crosscurrents of race and history. Whether he’s presenting a black man exhibited behind bars who’s wiser than the desperate white zookeeper, a mulatto boy adopted by Jefferson Davis, or acclaimed performer Banjo Yes, who reflects angrily on how white culture shaped his life and career, McCrae delivers sharp scenarios and cool, forthright language. The core concern is freedom: says Banjo, “you think it’s/ making decisions other folks won’t like/ Listen I do a thing to piss a white man off// I’m bound to that man’s will.” VERDICT Unsettling and approachable for a wide audience.

Pico, Tommy. Nature Poem. Tin House. May 2017. 128p. ISBN 9781941040638. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781941040645. POETRY

The title of this cheeky, daring, joyously caustic work is ironic, for as the opening poem states, “I can’t write a nature poem/ bc it’s fodder for the noble savage/ narrative.” Young, queer, and Native American, Pico’s alter ego, Teebs, refuses to follow the expected path, declares “I only fuck with the city,” and worries about getting a nose ring at 30. He’s also frankly angry about the white settlers’ abuses (“Thank god for colonialist plundering, right? At least some of these/ artifacts remain intact behind glass”) and humanity’s larger crimes and presumptions (“Dragonflies experience a kind of quantum time,// …and I’m supposed to believe we’re such miracles?”). VERDICT A 2013 Lambda ­Literary fellow, Pico concludes, “It’s hard to be anything// but a pessimist,” but we can be deeply optimistic about his work.

Sanabria, Ruth Irupé. Beasts Behave in Foreign Lands. Red Hen. Apr. 2017. 84p. ISBN 9781597097635. $16.95. POETRY

Winner of the 2014 Letras Latinas/Red Hen Press Poetry Prize, this second collection was inspired by the author’s testifying in trials nearly four decades after her parents were imprisoned and tortured during Argentina’s military dictatorship. What’s surprising, then, is that the language is not brutally realistic, with the beginning lines nearly surreal in their portrayal of an Admitting Chair scolding a “limp-winged” snitch working through the Throat of Silence and stalked by the Beast of Memory. But then such heightened imagery may be the best way to deal with unbelievable horror. This evocative collection unfolds as both cultural celebration and chronicle of survival: “Draw sun, draw star,/ still bones are cast as dust,” says Sanabria, and “out of our inevitable estrangement/ I’d make us up again and again.” VERDICT Startling and successful; for most readers.

Tuffaha, Lena Khalaf. Water & Salt. Red Hen. Apr. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9781597090292. pap. $17.95. POETRY

Of Palestinian, Jordanian, and Syrian heritage, Tuffaha offers a beautifully crafted debut that uses clear, observant language to explore the immigrant experience and the burdens of ongoing war. As she explains, “We travel back not to// because even now/ after we’ve lived longer// here than anywhere else// we still think of this place// as new.” Writing crucially helps her negotiate that newness—“The hollows of write/ are lined with bookshelves/ and speak spirals off my tongue into stories”—as it helps her negotiate reentry into a brutalized homeland. Even as she notes the fragrance of almond blossoms, she observes: “Today again. Smoke-charred throats/ suffocating.” VERDICT Taking her from Beirut, Baghdad, Afghanistan, and a once-imprisoned Palestinian friend “whose eyes are like two pools of olive/ oil about to ignite,” Tuffaha’s journey is both immediately relevant and timelessly poetic.