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Summer Fall Bests | Debut Novels

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 13:26

This compendium of best debuts from summer and early fall is actually two lists in one: books that LJ reviewers have found strong, insightful, and sure to start everyone talking (“Books To Get”) and forthcoming titles that I’ve determined measure up to the buzz they’ve been receiving (“Books To Anticipate”). Either way, these fresh voices offer great debut novels that will carry eager readers into the autumn.

Books to get

Pop Fiction

Borman, Tracy. The King’s Witch. Atlantic Monthly. Jul. 2018. 448p. ISBN 9780802127884. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780802146243.

The UK’s joint chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces launches a historical fiction trilogy starring  Frances Gorges, forced into the court of King James by an ambitious uncle and surrounded by the scheming that will culminate in the Gunpowder Plot. “Flawless prose and an absorbing plot.” (LJ 5/1/18)

Dalcher, Christina. Vox. Berkley. Aug. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780440000785. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780440000822.

In this politically acute tale, the Pure Woman movement sweeps the nation, and women can’t speak more than 100 words a day, with a counter on the wrist administering electric shocks for overage. “Perfect for readers who enjoy speculative fiction or women’s studies.” (forthcoming LJ review)

Green, Hank. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. Dutton. Sept. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781524743444. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781524743451.

In this debut from YouTube Crash Course sensation Green, April May makes a video of the looming sculpture she encounters late one night and, as the first to document a worldwide phenomenon, finds herself uncomfortably the center of international attention. “Timely and sorely needed.” (LJ 7/18)

Hurley, Blair. The Devoted. Norton. Aug. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780393651591. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393651607.

Raised Catholic, Nicole had her flings with drugs and sex but became increasingly committed to Zen Buddhism. Eventually, though, she must wrest free of her obdurate mentor. “All lovers of great fiction with complex characters as well as anyone fascinated by narratives about religious cults will want.” (LJ 6/15/18)

Lewis, Marjorie Herrera. When the Men Were Gone. Morrow. Oct. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780062869319. $26.99; pap. ISBN 9780062836052. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062836045.

It’s 1944, and with no men in town to coach, it looks as if Brownwood, TX, must forgo its high school football games. Then assistant principal Tylene Wilson, a whiz with the pigskin, talks herself into the job. Want stories about good people or a good cry? “[You] won’t do much better than this heartrending read.” (LJ 7/18)

Lovering, Carola. Tell Me Lies. Atria. Jun. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9781501169649. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501169663.

Betrayed by love-of-her-life Stephen DeMarco in college and on the outs with her mother as well, Lucy Albright has abandoned her professional aspirations and settled for a no-account job. Now Stephen is back, but is he worth the risk? “A new adult debut that is full of toxic love, secrets, and intense romance.” (LJ 5/1/18)

Meyerson, Amy. The Bookshop of Yesterdays. Park Row: Harlequin. Jun. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780778319849. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488078736.

When Miranda Brooks inherits Prospero Books from her uncle Billy, whom she hasn’t seen in years, she returns to Los Angeles and follows clues to understanding his past—and her own. As Shakespeare says in The Tempest, “What’s past is prologue.” “A sweet read.” (LJ 5/1/18)

Owens, Delia. Where the Crawdads Sing. Putnam. Aug. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780735219090. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780735219113.

Coauthor of best sellers about working as a wildlife scientist in Africa, Owens returns home to limn “Marsh Girl” Kya Clark, on her own in the North Carolina wetlands and suspected of a crime. “Carefully observed details about marshland wildlife and the surrounding area’s social class distinctions create a dramatic and immersive setting.” (forthcoming LJ ­review)

Pearce, AJ. Dear Mrs. Bird. Scribner. Jul. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781501170065. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501170089.

In 1940s London, Emmy is stuck at Women’s Friend magazine, answering letters sent to Mrs. Bird’s Problem Page. The real problem: Mrs. Bird insists on bland answers to only the blandest letters. Emmy’s solution: respond herself to the women who really need help. A Discover Great New Writers pick; a July LibraryReads pick; “a fresh portrait.” (LJ 4/15/18)

Literary: At Home

Dion, Katharine. The Dependents. Little, Brown. Jun. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780316473873. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316473880.

After his wife’s death, Gene worries that his marriage wasn’t as grand as he thought, and his strained relationship with his doubt-casting daughter doesn’t help. At least he’s got a decades-old friendship for support. “Sympathetic, believable…insightful.” (LJ 5/1/18)

Johnson, Caleb. Treeborne. Picador. Jun. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250169082. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250169099.

Interviewed about three generations of family in fading Elberta, AL, Janie Treeborne starts by recalling her grandfather’s work on a now-crumbling dam expected to burst and flood their 700-acre homestead. “So vivid and real that readers won’t want [the] stories to end.” (LJ 5/1/18)

Kiesling, Lydia. The Golden State. Farrar. Sept. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780374164836. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374718060.

Young wife and mother Daphne, whose Turkish husband is being barred from the country, flees San Francisco with toddler Honey. But living in high-desert Altavista only intensifies her dismay. “There’s so much to love about this novel.” (LJ 7/18)

Ma, Ling. Severance. Farrar. Aug. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780374261597. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374717117.

Completed after having won the Graywolf SLS Prize for the best novel excerpt from an emerging writer, this title lampoons workaholism and apocalyptic sagas equally as Candace Chen, on contract, still obsessively posts pictures of a New York City emptied by Then Shen Fever. “A smart, searing exposé.” (LJ 4/15/18)

Markley, Stephen. Ohio. S. & S. Aug. 2018. 496p. ISBN 9781501174476. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501174490.

In 2013, four former classmates return to small-town New Canaan, OH, now defined by recession, opioid addiction, racial tension, ongoing Middle East war, and the country’s locked-horns politics. A Discover Great New Writers pick and BookExpo buzz book; “highly recommended.” (LJ 5/1/18)

Mattson, Joshua. A Short Film About Disappointment. Penguin. Aug. 2018. 278p. ISBN 9780525522843. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780525522850.

This futuristic dystopia is formatted as a series of film reviews by Noah Body, who covers outlandish movies in prose he’s sure no one reads while sneaking in his own hilarious if cynical observations on the world. “Wildly experimental [and]…at times laugh-out-loud funny.” (LJ 6/15/18)

Saunders, Paula. The Distance Home. Random. Aug. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780525508748. $27.

In 1960s South Dakota, cattle broker Al appreciates daughter Rene’s gift of dance, something he scorns in his equally talented but wistfully shy son. Estrangement and tragedy result. “A true and honest story…captur[ing] the underlying turmoil of a dysfunctional family at war.” (LJ 7/18)

Literary: Abroad

Freiman, Lexi. Inappropriation. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jul. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780062699732. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062699756.

Teenage Ziggy Klein is equally unsettled by her parents’ sexual excesses and the radical feminism of her new friends at her swanky private Australian girls’ school. “A bold and heady coming-of-age tale with a biting sense of humor and a heavy dose of contemporary cultural critique.” (LJ 5/15/18)

Greengrass, Jessie. Sight. Hogarth: Crown. Aug. 2018. 208p. ISBN 9780525574606. $21; ebk. ISBN 9780525574620.

Winner of a Somerset Maugham Award for her debut story collection, Greengrass goes long-form with an unnamed narrator chronicling her movement toward motherhood, even as she recalls the death of her own mother. “[An] assured first novel.” (LJ 6/15/18)

Hughes, Caoilinn. Orchid and the Wasp. Hogarth: Crown. Jul. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781524761103. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781524761127.

In this first novel from an award-winning Irish poet, edgy and intrepid young Gael Foess endures her self-absorbed parents until her father walks out, then travels from Dublin to London to New York to find a way to heal the family.” “Wry, crackling prose…about what constitutes a meaningful life.” (LJ 6/15/18)

Kim, Crystal Hana. If You Leave Me. Morrow. Aug. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9780062645173. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062645203.

At a refugee camp with her widowed mother and brother in 1950s Korea, Haemi Lee must choose between two cousins for her family’s sake. Inspired by Kim’s grandmother; “this sensitive and hauntingly written novel will easily leave readers wanting more.” (LJ 7/18)

Wise, Spencer. The Emperor of Shoes. Hanover Square: Harlequin. Jun. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781335145901. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488080562.

In this heartfelt work, a young Jewish American expat takes charge of his family’s shoe factory in China, coming to empathize with the workers and falling in love with one of them even as he challenges his father. “An impressive debut.” (LJ 5/15/18)

Youngson, Anne. Meet Me at the Museum. Flatiron: Macmillan. Aug. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781250295163. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250295156.

Initially brought together by an artifact called the Tollund Man, disaffected English farmwife Tina Hopgood and museum curator and widower Anders Larsen grow ever closer through a series of increasingly engaged and engaging emails. “Luminous, affecting, and delightful.” (Xpress Reviews 6/15/18)


Barnard, J.E. When the Flood Falls. Dundurn. (Falls Mysteries, Bk. 1). Jul. 2018. 424p. ISBN 9781459741218. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459741232.

Once a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Lacey McCrae is divorced from her abusive husband and working security when she and her roommate are troubled by escalatingly dangerous incidents. Winner of the Unhanged Arthur Ellis Award as Canada’s best unpublished mystery; “a complex, unconventional debut.” (LJ 7/18)

Brandreth, Benet. The Spy of Venice; A William Shakespeare Mystery. Pegasus Crime. Aug. 2018. 448p. ISBN 9781681777986. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681778457.

In this historical thriller by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s rhetoric coach, Will joins a group of traveling players journeying to Italy, where he gets involved with all manner of adventures. There’s a villain, with the trap laid for him “as intricate and impressive as some of the greatest Shakespearean plots.” (LJ 5/1/18)

Clark, Tracy. Broken Places. Kensington. (Chicago Mystery, Bk. 1). Jun. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781496714879. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781496714893.

Furious when a bumbling former colleague is slated to investigate the murder of her beloved Father Ray Heaton, stubborn-as-hell Cass Raines, an African American private investigator, launches her own probe. “Compelling, suspenseful, and action-packed.” (LJ 6/1/18)

Cobb, May. Big Woods. Midnight Ink. Jul. 2018. 312p. ISBN 9780738757810. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780738759234.

When sister Lucy disappears, teenage Leah is persuaded that Lucy won’t end up dead in the Big Woods like other recent kidnapping victims. A reclusive widow the police can’t be bothered with thinks she knows what’s happening. An LJ Mystery Debut of the Month; “heart-wrenching.” (LJ 7/18)

Frear, Caz. Sweet Little Lies. Harper. Aug. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780062823199. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062823281.

DC Cat Kinsella anxiously investigates an Islington housewife’s strangling, as her estranged father’s pub is nearby, and she realizes that he might be implicated. “Secrets and lies come back with a vengeance in this intense page-turner.” (LJ 7/18)

Jones, Sandie. The Other Woman. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Aug. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781250191984. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250192011.

Lovers Emily and Adam face a woman who won’t let Adam go—his mother, Pammie. What starts as standard sniping gets a whole lot scarier. “Readers’ pulses will race uncontrollably as they anticipate how Pammie might strike next.” (LJ 7/18)

Logan, T.M. Lies. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9781250182265. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250182289.

Joe Lynch has a terrible quarrel with neighbor Ben, even shoving him to the ground. Now that Ben has vanished, Joe is suspected of his murder, never mind the absence of a body. “A tensely woven eight-day cat and mouse chase.” (LJ 7/18)

McTiernan, Dervla. The Ruin. Penguin. Jul. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780143133124. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780525504894.

Twenty years after Maude and Jack Blake’s mother succumbed to a heroin overdose, Jack commits suicide, compelling partner Aisling Conroy, a medical resident, to reinvestigate. “Reminiscent of Tana French’s ‘Dublin Murder Squad’ series and…the close-to-home, quieter suspense of Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game.” (LJ 6/1/18)

Stage, Zoje. Baby Teeth. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250170750. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781250170774.

What’s a devoted mother to do when her young daughter wants to kill her so that she can snuggle up to her father? “The author keeps the suspense taut by alternating chapters between Hanna and Suzette, offering a terrifying glimpse into the inner thoughts of a budding sociopath.” A July LibraryReads pick. (LJ 4/1/18)

Turton, Stuart. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Sourcebooks Landmark. Sept. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9781492657965. $25.99.

After Aiden Bishop thinks he sees a woman murdered in the woods, each day at 11 p.m., he must inhabit the bodies of different guests at a party he’s interrupted so that he can identify the killer. “[­Turton] expertly manages the many moving parts…while taking the reader ever deeper into the story.” (LJ 7/18)


Edwards, K.D. The Last Sun. Pyr: Prometheus. (Tarot Sequence, Bk. 1). Jun. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9781633884236. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781633884243.

Last of the fallen Sun Court, Rune Saint John is hired to find Lady Judgment’s missing son, Addam, on New Atlantis, built on Nantucket when ordinary humans destroyed the original city. “­Edwards’s gorgeous debut presents an alternate modern world that is at once unusual and familiar.” (LJ 5/15/18)

French, Jonathan. The Grey Bastards. Crown. (Lot Lands, Bk. 1). Jun. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9780525572442. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525572466.

Separating humans and nasty orcs, the Lot Lands are ­patrolled by bands of half-orcs that include the Grey Bastards, with whom Jackal rides. Of course his loyalty will be tested. “Winner of the 2016 Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO), this gritty debut takes the swords and sorcery trope to new heights.” (LJ 6/15/18)

Hawke, Sam. City of Lies. Tor. (Poison War, Bk. 1). Jul. 2018. 360p. ISBN 9780765396891. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780765396914.

Best friend to Tain, the Chancellor’s Heir, and nephew to the Chancellor’s poison master, Jovan is drawn into the political chaos that results when both his uncle and the chancellor are slain by an unidentified poison. “Epic fantasy.” (LJ 6/15/18)

Heng, Rachel. Suicide Club. Holt. Jul. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781250185341. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781250185358.

In a near-future where the genetically blessed can live for 300 years—or maybe forever—lucky “Lifer” Lea Kirino is drawn by her renegade father into the Suicide Club, whose members resist the quest for immortality. “Fans of modern speculative fiction and readers who love stories that warn us to be careful what we wish for will be enthralled.” (LJ 5/15/18)

Ruocchio, Christopher. Empire of Silence. DAW. (Sun Eater, Bk. 1). Jul. 2018. 624p. ISBN 9780756413002. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780756413026.

Eldest of a powerful pa latine Lord, Hadrian Marlowe is stunned when his father sends him to the Chantry, which battles technological heresy, and his efforts to escape his fate end up altering the universe. “A wow of a book.” (LJ 7/18)

Schiffman, Jay. Game of the Gods. Tor. Jul. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780765389541. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780765389558.

Even as tensions presage a coming global war, judge for the Federacy Max Cone wishes he could drop politics. But the kidnapping of his wife and children put him in a different frame of mind. An LJ SF Debut of the Month; “absorbing sf adventure.” (LJ 7/18)

Books To Anticipate

Coleman, Claire. Terra Nullius. Small Beer. Sept. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781618731517. pap. $17.

A Noongar woman from Western Australia, Coleman uses stark, pounding language to imagine an Australia on the verge of recolonization, echoing the past and tearing apart Native families in particular. Perhaps that’s why “Jacky was running…. All he had was a sense of what was behind, what he was running from.” Short-listed for Stella and ­Aurealis honors.

Donkor, Michael. Housegirl. Picador. Aug. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250305176. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781250305190.

An Observer “New Face of Fiction” for this lyrical, heartfelt story, Donkor takes housegirl Belinda from Ghana (and from the young hire she’s training) to serve a posh Ghanaian couple in London as a model for their wayward daughter. Pitch-perfect dialog contrasts lilting African politesse and teenage London cool (“­Belinda, totally. Yeah. Thank you”) while showing how young women talk.

English, Talley. Horse. Knopf. Aug. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781101874332. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101874349.

In limpid, affecting language, award-­winning poet English depicts teenage Teagan, blindsided with her family when her father departs, who manages by working with Obsidian, her father’s head-tossingly independent-minded horse (“if she let him trot he tried to canter”). An original portrait of family disruption, the relationship of horse and rider, and on­going grief.

Fox, Hester. The Witch of Willow Hall. Graydon House: Harlequin. Oct. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781525833014. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488096747.

When her family is forced by scandal to flee early 1800s Boston for their country estate, Willow Hall, Lydia senses the hall’s dark secrets and discovers her own special powers, which she uses in the name of love. “My blood runs in time with the river. My ears roar. It’s all clear now.” Absorbing, dark-edged ­entertainment.

Hua, Vanessa. A River of Stars. Ballantine. Aug. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780399178788. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399178801.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Hua, who totes around awards for her short fiction, offers a smooth, page-turning novel about Chinese factory clerk Scarlett Chen, pregnant by her boss/lover, who is sent to America to give birth and ends up on the run from the maternity center (“Always restless, she was now skidding out of control, a scooter on gravel”). A culturally adept work starring the irresistible Scarlett.

Moore, Wayétu. She Would Be King. Graywolf. Sept. 2018. 312p. ISBN 9781555978174. $26.

Blending the stories of sun-bright Gbessa, exiled from her village; June Dey, who fled his Virginia plantation; and Norman Aragon, son of a British colonizer and a Jamaican slave, Moore imaginatively re-creates Liberia’s early years in resonant, near-folkloric language (“The elders say that where you find a suffering village, you will hear the wind give warning”). A BookExpo buzz book.

Perry, S.K. Let Me Be Like Water. Melville House. Aug. 2018. 224p. ISBN 9781612197265. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781612197272.

In this meditative, beautifully wistful study of mourning from British poet Perry, Holly doesn’t want to leave London (“I didn’t want to lose the feeling the river gives me in the morning”). But she’s moving to Brighton to try to fill the terrible gash left in her life by her boyfriend’s death. Meeting a retired musician with his own burdens helps redirect her life.

Taneja, Preti. We That Are Young. Knopf. Sept. 2018. 496p. ISBN 9780525521525. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525521532.

Taneja’s account of the chaos that ensues when the Devraj family patriarch decides to step down as head of the flourishing industry and entertainment conglomerate he founded echoes King Lear while exploring contemporary India (“For a freak moment, he wonders if he’s landed in the right city. The crowd is only one-deep”) and human behavior in extremis. It’s a rich, absorbing, magisterial work.

Walker, Nico. Cherry. Knopf. Aug. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780525520139. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525520146.

Walker has some story; he served as a medic on more than 250 missions in Iraq and currently has two more years left of an 11-year sentence for bank robbery. Featuring a former army medic with PTSD who supports his heroin addiction and his wife through bank heists, this can’t-put-down autobiographical novel is told in raw, graphic language. “Act like you love the police. Act like you never did drugs. Act like you love America so much it’s retarded.”

Barbara Hoffert is Editor, Prepub Alert, LJ

Master of the Universe | Games, Gamers, & Gaming

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 09:04

One of the most successful library programs I’ve ever run was a monthly game. I had been toying with the idea for a while when a friend and patron mentioned that she had seen that our library already hosted after school Magic the Gathering. She mentioned her boyfriend was an excellent Dungeon Master, the person who tells the story and guides the players through the world, and had been looking for an excuse to run a game for a while.

I was sold immediately. I was vaguely familiar with the rules of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) but hadn’t had time to commit to learning them in depth, and I was intimidated by what I saw as a steep learning curve before I could run a game. To have someone else come in and jump that hurdle for me seemed like a quick and easy solution. This solution lasted three months.

Dungeon Master Tom Heisler guides a group of Dungeons & Dragons players (left);
related items (right) are now part of the collection

Think big

I was working in a town with a population of 2,000, and if ten people came to a program, it was a runaway hit. My initial mistake was basing assumed attendance off of previous programs. I was right, or so I thought, when three people showed up the first time who had never played before. They chose premade characters and jumped into play. The next time, there were eight. The time after that, there were 16.

D&D is a game best played with a maximum of eight people at the table. Because the players take turns describing their action and fighting in battle, having more than eight players makes it almost impossible to get anything done. We didn’t want to turn people away, but we had to find a way to make it more manageable. Having players sign up ahead of time is one way to deal with the situation.

Eventually our Dungeon Master’s schedule changed, and it seemed that the only solution was going to be becoming a Dungeon Master myself.

Mastering the game

It turns out that being a Dungeon Master is a lot like being a librarian. You don’t need to know the answers to every question, only how to find those answers. I was incredibly hesitant at first, but after watching our Dungeon Master in action (and a few helpful YouTube videos), I felt confident that I was up to the task.

Luckily, Wizards of the Coast, the game’s publisher, provides volumes of tutorials and books of prewritten stories, known as campaigns. I didn’t have to make anything up from scratch. The main website ( also provides premade characters, so beginners can start without going through the lengthy process of character creation.

My players were forgiving of any mistakes I made and had a ton of fun. They were even impressed that it was my first time DMing a game. The program kept growing, and the library saw a lot of new patrons. Because we added the game ­titles—The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual—into our collection, the new patrons got library cards and began checking them out. Our circulation climbed!

Preparing for the quest

The game I ran for my players was D&D Fifth Edition, which puts less emphasis on the rules and the numbers than the fourth edition. It tries to bring out the fun of the game in the storytelling and roleplaying aspects, therefore making for a great starting point. The players need a set of seven dice: one four-sided, one six-sided, one eight-sided, two ten-sided, one 12-sided, and one 20-sided. A local game shop was happy to donate sets to the library and also advertised our game nights, which was a great draw.

We used miniature figures to represent the players, nonplayer characters (NPCs), and their enemies. Figures aren’t necessary for a successful game but are good for beginners who may have a hard time visualizing the world or for gamers used to video games in which the world is laid out before them. The game store also donated maps, which helped in battle to visualize where players were in relation to what they were fighting. Some Dungeon Masters also like to create atmosphere with elements such as music and lighting.

D&D can be a valuable addition to any public library’s programming. It engages a different population than may normally come into the library and is a perfect opportunity for more outreach with the community, including local businesses. This program, though it can be overwhelming at first, is easy to implement and pays off in spades. When I left that library, the game was going strong with plenty of regular players showing up. It was a bit unwieldy at times, but it was always entertaining. The games typically ran for two hours, fueled by pizza from a local shop that was generously provided by our Friends group.

I loved my experience, and I strongly advocate for any librarians who think their community may enjoy something like this to try it out. You just may be the next Dungeon Master.

Kathryn Kania works as a Teen Librarian at the Pelham Public Library, NH. She loves swing dancing, video games, and fall in New England

Fear Not | Genre Spotlight: Horror

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 18:33

Despite its long-term
and growing popularity, horror can be a tricky genre for librarians to recommend confidently. A 2014 survey, developed by LJ with NoveList and the RUSA CODES Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Committee, revealed that library workers had quite a bit of anxiety about providing readers’ advisory (RA) in unfamiliar genres. When they were asked which genres they were most intimidated by, horror was one of the top four. To help ease that worry, last May I wrote “Making Horror Less Scary” as part of an LJ series of “Readers’ Advisory Toolkits.”

Over the last 12 months there has been an explosion in the popularity of horror with a mainstream audience. Since the start of 2018, we have seen Jordan Peele’s blockbuster film Get Out win the Oscar for best screenplay and nab the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation at the Nebula Awards. Stephen King was presented with the PEN America Literary Service Award, given to a critically acclaimed writer whose body of work “helps us understand and interpret the human condition.”

These recognitions are forcing people to confront a common bias against horror, which is often misunderstood as a genre doused in blood and filled with cheap jump scares. Today’s tales range from gory to subtle, from straightforward to weird. Horror is a complex mode of storytelling that probes deeply into readers’ emotions, eliciting uncomfortable feelings that many readers crave. According to Melissa Ann Singer, senior editor at Tor/Forge, horror “becomes increasingly popular during times of societal unease. When people are worried that the world is going to pieces around them, when they have lost faith in the idea that things will soon (or even someday) be better than they now are…. The struggle of the horror novel is often the struggle to restore order and normality to a chaotic world, community, or family.”

Horror is also a genre in which critically acclaimed authors of color, such as Victor LaValle, Linda Addison, Carmen Maria Machado, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Stephen Graham Jones, are seeing critical and commercial success, offering inclusive tales that mine terror from both real-world racism and supernatural monsters. As Jones explains, hugely influential horror authors have historically often written from the perspective of marginalized groups and cultures: “Maybe Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild implanted all these alien insects in us, and they’re just now crawling out onto the page. But it could have been Samuel R. Delany, too. Or Shirley Jackson…. We always have been [here].”

Horror is even being touted as a good beach read, with Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World (Morrow, Jun.) appearing on many of this summer’s must-read lists. His thought-provoking, politically charged, and utterly ­terrifying home invasion tale fits unapologetically within the confines of horror.

Horror has clearly moved out of the shadows and is now demanding attention. Librarians can run away in fear, or can stand their ground and get ready for the hordes of horror-hungry readers searching for scary stories to keep them alternating between covering their eyes and compulsively turning the pages. The following is a sampling of what’s to come during the second half of 2018.

Big Names and New Voices

This fall marks the return of one of the most popular horror characters of recent memory, Lestat, in Anne Rice’s Blood Communion (Knopf, Oct.), an eagerly anticipated epic tale in which Prince Lestat fights for control of the vampire world. A new Rice inevitably means holds queues and requests for more terrifying vampire novels. Thankfully, the conclusion of Glen Hirshberg’s “Motherless Children Trilogy,” Nothing To Devour (Tor, Nov.), follows quickly on its heels. This final installment of the award-winning series contemplates how far a mother—both a human mother and an undead one—will go for her children. Readers may want to look back to an even more famous vampire, Dracula, with Dracul (Putnam, Oct.) by best-selling writer J.D. Barker and Bram Stoker’s direct descendant Dacre Stoker. The younger Stoker used the classic author’s original notes and texts to create a terrifying and compelling prequel that reveals how a young Bram Stoker confronted evil to craft a masterpiece.

It’s not only vampires who come back to life in horror novels, though. Two well-known authors are also probing the depths of Hell this fall. First is the return of Sandman Slim in Richard Kadrey’s tenth entry in the series, Hollywood Dead (Harper Voyager, Aug.). Slim returns from the underworld once again in a supernatural noir tale filled with danger and dark humor, but this time the stakes are raised; his reanimated body has a very strict time limit, one that could lead to a final death. Grady Hendrix then invokes the devil in his latest novel, We Sold Our Souls (Quirk, Sept.), in which heavy metal and Faustian bargains ­collide in what the quirky, pop culture–fueled, best-selling author is calling his darkest book yet.

For readers on the hunt for more subtle scares with artful writing, several new titles prove that horror is worthy of the attention of even the more literary set. Sarah Perry follows up on her success with 2017’s haunting The Essex Serpent with a tale of the monster behind humanity’s darkest and most evil moments in Melmoth (Custom House: Harper­Collins, Oct.), while Laird Hunt, author of the New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice selection Neverhome, returns with In the House in the Dark of the Woods (Little, Brown, Oct.), a terrifying trip deep into the forests of colonial New England. As Michael Homler, an editor at St. Martin’s, explains, the horror genre is ever evolving. “You can have a story that relies on victims getting killed in very painful ways or stories that are more psychological or ones that deal with race and/or religion. They can be literary; they can be commercial. It’s not a one-fits-all genre ­anymore.”

One sign that horror is becoming more mainstream is the willingness of major publishers to take a chance on newer voices. Beginning in July, Rio Youers’s supernatural thriller Halcyon (St. Martin’s) is set on an island oasis in the middle of Lake Ontario, where paradise comes at a horrifying price. August brings Reddit sensation Dathan Auerbach out of the forums and into print with Bad Man (Doubleday), a dark and suspenseful tale of a missing child, the brother who won’t stop looking for him, and the evil at the core of it all. August also heralds the newest novel by rising speculative fiction star Nicky Drayden. Temper (Harper Voyager), set in an alternative South ­Africa, pits twin brothers against powerful demons in a story that deftly combines sf, fantasy, horror, and dark humor. Come September, Brendan Deneen takes the mundane fear of adult responsibility and melds it with the haunted house trope in the fast-paced, chillingly twisted The Chrysalis (Tor).

Tremblay, who also serves as a juror on the Shirley Jackson Awards, explains that while “horror is becoming more inclusive, let’s not kid ourselves, we still have a long way to go. Horror is finally starting to shed some of its well-earned reputation/stigma for being a reactionary genre. Writers are finding more space and opportunity to explore socio­political issues and experiences within the genre. The publishers and its audience are becoming more receptive and accepting as the work and its artists become more diverse. Again, though, miles to go before we sleep.”

Indie Presses ON THE RISE

The horror offerings from major houses are only an introduction to the wonderful world of monsters and mayhem. The growing ranks of smaller presses are building impressive catalogs that feature not only some of the most critically acclaimed authors but some of the most popular as well.

You don’t get bigger than Stephen King. He serves as editor, along with Bev Vincent, on Flight or Fright (Cemetery Dance, Sept.), a curated compendium of horror stories that includes a brand-new tale of King’s own that plays off his fear of flying. Cemetery Dance is one of the biggest players in the horror independent press world, and its general manager, Brian James Freeman, will be releasing Walking with Ghosts (PS Publishing, Aug.), which presents 29 of his eerie, compelling, and simply unforgettable tales, many of which have never been published before. Horror fans will be eager to read this well-known writer’s first collection.

Other small presses are identifying and cultivating their own new voices of horror, including JournalStone, which saw huge success in 2017 with S.P. Miskowski’s I Wish I Was Like You, as it garnered critical acclaim, multiple award nominations, and even an appearance in the New York Times Book Review. This year brings more dread from Miskowski with the aptly titled The Worst Is Yet To Come (Trepidatio, Sept.), a psychological horror novel about two troubled teenage girls and their sinister influence. Also in the JournalStone stable of authors is Gwendolyn Kiste, who was nominated for a 2017 Bram Stoker award for her story collection And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. She is making her novel debut with The Rust Maidens (­Trepidatio, Sept.), a story told in two chilling time lines. In 1980 Cleveland, young girls are transforming into grotesque creatures right before everyone’s eyes, and in the present, a now-grown woman is coming to terms with her part in the horrific events.

One of last year’s biggest surprises was the emergence of hybrid publisher Inkshares on the horror market. It published one of the most talked about horror titles of the year, Scott Thomas’s Kill Creek, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and took the top horror slot on the 2018 RUSA CODES Reading List. Fans are eagerly awaiting Thomas’s follow-up, Violet (Inkshares, Oct.), a creepy tale of an imaginary friend who is upset that she had to wait 20 years for her human to come back.

Perhaps the most anticipated event in horror published by small presses is the impending return of legendary horror editor Don D’Auria, mastermind behind the paperback horror boom of the early 2000s, with the September launch of Flame Tree Press and its lineup of speculative fiction featuring award-winning authors and brand-new voices. High on Flame Tree’s list is Jonathan Janz’s The Siren and the Specter (Sept.), a terrifying tale about a haunted house and the deeply haunted man who is challenged to spend a month there.

Trending: Lovecraft

Although he has been dead for more than 80 years, H.P. Lovecraft is having a moment. While the man himself was a notorious racist, misogynist, and xenophobe, many writers, especially white women and people of color, have begun acknowledging his faults while still paying tribute to his influence. Authors including Victor LaValle and Matt Ruff have enjoyed much acclaim for their African American–­centered reimaginings of Lovecraftian worlds. The trend is still gaining steam, as we can see in a trio of upcoming titles that use Lovecraft as their starting point.

Critically acclaimed British horror editor ­Stephen Jones has a third volume in his series of inter­connected novels, The Lovecraft Squad: Dreaming (Pegasus, Nov.), which features original contributions by many of the genre’s best-known voices. The series, which will entice Cthulhu fans and novices alike, reimagines a secret worldwide league charged with fighting Lovecraft’s eldritch monsters. Another popular series, James Lovegrove’s “Cthulhu Casebooks,” uses Lovecraft as a frame but also inserts Sherlock Holmes into the mix. The third book in the series, Sherlock Holmes and the Sussex Sea-Devils (Titan, Nov.), sees Holmes and Watson tasked with solving Cthulhu-inspired mysteries. The ­Lovecraftian details are perfectly rendered, and the whodunit component will satisfy both mystery and horror fans. Lovegrove’s series is also an accessible entry point to the Cthulhu mythos for curious readers who don’t want to get in over their heads.

Not every Lovecraft-inspired title is as tongue-in-cheek as these two. Many authors are looking to pay homage to Lovecraft while inserting their own voice into the pantheon. Garden of Eldritch Delights (Raw Dog Screaming, Oct.), a horror story collection by a modern master of the form, Lucy A. Snyder, offers explosive tales of trauma and survival, featuring memorable monsters while also looking back to Lovecraft for inspiration.


Yet arguably even more popular than Lovecraft right now are the hordes of international horror authors dragging themselves onto American shores. One of the most well-known names is Sweden’s John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of Let the Right One In. Lindqvist’s new book, I Am Behind You (St. Martin’s, Oct.), centers on four families on vacation who wake up at their campsite to find that the entire world as they have always known it has disappeared. Fever Dream from critical darling Samanta Schweblin, who hails from Argentina, beat out Lincoln in the Bardo for the 2018 Tournament of Books, presented by the Morning News, and was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize. Schweblin offers a hotly anticipated, masterfully unsettling collection of new stories, Mouthful of Birds (Riverhead, Jan. 2019).

There are also a few new voices on the horizon, such as Shirley Barrett from Australia, whose The Bus on Thursday (Farrar, Sept.) may sound innocuous but is assuredly not. Think Maria Semple meets The Exorcist in a remote Australian town. Be ready to laugh as goose bumps rise. Asian horror is a class all by itself, but many of the best titles don’t make it into English translation. Gladly, with the increased popularity in international horror in general, that tide appears to be turning as one of Japan’s most promising writers, Yukiko Motoya, will see her English-language debut with The Lonesome Bodybuilder (Soft Skull, Nov.), including 11 stories in which the grotesque and bizarre invade the normal world. This inventive and chilling volume will have U.S. audiences craving more from Motoya and other Asian horror authors.

Librarians and booksellers can keep up with the new international voices that are coming to the United States with collected works on the topic. Leading the pack is The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 5 (Apex, Sept.) by series editor ­Lavie Tidhar and volume editor Cristina Jurado. These books showcase the very best of global speculative fiction, including horror. But for fans who don’t want to share the stage with their speculative fiction siblings, there is now A World of Horror, edited by Eric J. Guignard (Dark Moon, Sept.), a fresh collection of horror authors representing 22 countries. Each entry explores monsters and myths from the authors’ homelands, from Ukraine to Uganda and from Indonesia to Brazil.

Big Scares in Smaller Doses

Like sf and fantasy, horror has a rich legacy in the short story and novella format. Noted editors such as Ellen Datlow identify and curate the best horror tales. Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories (Saga: S. & S., Sept.) presents new entries by a diverse list of today’s best horror writers. There’s also the tenth anniversary edition of her year-end anthology, The Best of the Best Horror of the Year: 10 Years of Essential Horror Fiction (Night Shade, Oct.).

There are also enjoyable holiday-themed collections available every year, including Halloween Carnival (Cemetery Dance, Oct.), edited by Brian James Freeman and featuring 25 authors from all over the world who put the horror back in All Hallows’ Eve. Readers may also enjoy Hark! The ­Herald Angels Scream (Anchor: Double­day, Oct.), edited by best-selling author Christopher Golden and offering 18 stories that delve into the darkness that lurks under the surface of the holiday season. Though these volumes will appeal to die-hard fans, they also let newbies dip their toes into the genre.

While anthologies are a great method for discovering new authors, many readers want to explore the work of a single creator. Nick Mamatas has been writing in the sf, dark fantasy, and horror genres for years, but his stories have been spread out across many different publications. With the release of The People’s Republic of Everything (Tachyon, Aug.), a decade’s worth of his stories have been collected into one volume, with a bonus introduction by Jeffrey Ford.

Newcomer Dustin LaValley explores horror in a slightly longer form. His new collection of three white-knuckle novellas, 12 Gauge: Songs from a Street Sweeper (Sinister Grin, Jul.), is action-packed, fast-paced, violent, and full of criminals and adventures that thrill, terrorize, and satirize.

“At the end of the story, when good triumphs, we feel a cathartic release,” says Tor/Forge’s Singer about the appeal of the genre. “All has been restored or saved. The world makes sense again. Even if this moment of calm is transient, for now, all is right with the world…. The reader has…survived. It’s a chance to take a deep breath and relax, to have faith in ­human nature.”

Horror Lineup

AUTHOR TITLE PUBLISHER RELEASE Auerbach, Dathan Bad Man Doubleday Aug. Barrett, Shirley The Bus on Thursday Farrar Sept. Datlow, Ellen, ed. The Best of the Best Horror of the Year: 10 Years of Essential Horror Fiction Night Shade Oct. Datlow, Ellen, ed. Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories Saga: S. & S. Sept. Deneen, Brendan The Chrysalis Tor Sept. Drayden, Nicky Temper Harper Voyager Aug. Freeman, Brian James, ed. Halloween Carnival Cemetery Dance Oct. Freeman, Brian James Walking with Ghosts PS Publishing Aug. Golden, Christopher, ed. Hark! The Herald Angels Scream Anchor: Doubleday Oct. Guignard, Eric J., ed. A World of Horror Dark Moon Sept. Hendrix, Grady We Sold Our Souls Quirk Sept. Hirshberg, Glen Nothing To Devour Tor Nov. Hunt, Laird In the House in the Dark of the Woods Little, Brown Oct. Janz, Jonathan The Siren and the Specter Flame Tree Sept. Jones, Stephen The Lovecraft Squad: Dreaming Pegasus Nov. Jurado, Cristina, ed. The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 5 Apex Sept. Kadrey, Richard Hollywood Dead Harper Voyager Aug. King, Stephen & Bev Vincent, eds. Flight or Fright Cemetary Dance Sept. Kiste, Gwendolyn The Rust Maidens Trepidatio Sept. LaValley, Dustin 12 Gauge: Songs from a Street Sweeper Sinister Grin Jul. Lindqvist, John Ajvide I Am Behind You St. Martin’s Oct. Lovegrove, James Sherlock Holmes and the Sussex Sea-Devils Titan Nov. Mamatas, Nick The People’s Republic of Everything Tachyon Aug. Miskowski, SP The Worst Is Yet To Come Trepidatio Sept. Motoya, Yukiko The Lonesome Bodybuilder Soft Skull Nov. Perry, Sarah Melmoth Custom House: HarperCollins Oct. Rice, Anne Blood Communion Knopf Oct. Schweblin, Samanta Mouthful of Birds Riverhead Jan. 2019 Snyder, Lucy A. Garden of Eldritch Delights Raw Dog Screaming Oct. Stoker, Dacre & J.D. Barker Dracul Putnam Oct. Thomas, Scott Violet Inkshares Oct. Tremblay, Paul The Cabin at the End of the World Morrow Jun. Youers, Rio Halcyon St. Martin’s Jul.

Becky Spratford is a Readers’ Advisor (RA) in Illinois specializing in serving patrons ages 13 and up and trains library staff worldwide on how to match books with readers through the local public library. She runs the critically acclaimed RA training blog RA for All and its evil twin RA for All: Horror and is on the Steering Committee of the Adult Reading Round Table. Spratford is also known for her work with horror readers as the author of The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Horror, 2d ed. (ALA Editions, 2012) and is a proud member of the Horror Writers Association and is currently organizing Librarians’ Day for StokerCon 2019. You can follow her on Twitter @RAforAll

Summer Reads To Warm the Heart | Romance Reviews

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 17:18

The Sizzle and Sweet of Summer Reads Despite the summer, with all its activities, being possibly busier than the rest of the year, the idea of taking the time to curl up on a porch swing with a glass of ice-cold tea or lemonade and a good book still has appeal, and publishers are making sure there are plenty of options. Whether readers prefer romances set in the past or the present; stories that are tenderly innocent or page-singeingly torrid; books realistic to a fault or dusted with magic; or love stories featuring humor, earnestness, or suspense, this season’s bumper crop have it all.

Ashe, Katharine. The Prince. Avon. (Devil’s Duke, Bk. 4). Jun. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780062641748. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062641755. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Forensic physician’s daughter Elizabeth Shaw will do anything to study medicine at Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh, even disguise herself as a man. But Libby needs help, so when the popular but reclusive portrait artist Ibrahim Kent (aka Ziyaeddin Mirza, Prince of Tabir) sees through her façade and doesn’t give her away, they strike a dangerous bargain. He will allow her to move into his house—as medical student Joseph Smart—and introduce her to a noted artist/surgeon who can help her in her quest; she will pose for him once each week. The plan works perfectly except for one thing—they fall in love. A brilliant, atypical heroine with goals of her own and a responsible royal who has a kingdom to look after star in an engaging romance that keeps things wonderfully unsettled until the very end. VERDICT Sparkling repartee, definitive commentary on social issues, and a pair of deserving protagonists make this a worthy addition to Ashe’s series and a delectable summertime read. Ashe (The Duke) lives in Durham, NC.

James, Eloisa. Too Wilde To Wed. Avon. (Wildes of Lindow Castle, Bk. 2). Jun. 2018. 373p. ISBN 9780062692467. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062692405. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Returning from fighting in the Colonies, Lord Roland Northbridge Wilde is shocked to find Diana Belgrave, the woman who jilted him several years ago, at his family estate serving as governess for his half-sister and a boy society thinks is his child. However, deeply affected by war and circumstance, North and Diana are not quite the same people they once were. Passion simmers between them as a hero who doesn’t want to be a duke and a heroine who doesn’t want to be a duchess struggle to mesh their feelings with their situations and finally discover the true meaning of love. VERDICT Exquisite character development, breathtaking sensuality, perfectly placed humor, and vivid descriptions of fashion, food, and assorted political detail and current events result in a rewarding romance that is emotionally complex and provides an exceptional sense of time and place. A heartwarming delight. James (Wilde in Love) lives in New York City. [A Spring Editor’s Pick, LJ 2/1/18, p. 31.]

Lindsey, Johanna. Marry Me by Sundown. Gallery: S. & S. Jul. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781501162237. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501162268. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Called home to Philadelphia just before the London Season gets under way, ­Violet Mitchell is stunned to learn that the family she hasn’t seen in five years is in dire financial straits because their father, Charles, has gone off seeking gold in Montana. With disaster looming, ­Violet heads out west to find her father—and discovers Morgan Callahan, instead. Sadly, Charles is dead, and the gruff, reclusive mountain man who was her father’s partner abducts Violet, believing she is working for his enemy and isn’t Charles Mitchell’s daughter at all. Naturally, this all sorts itself out, but as ­Violet spends time at the camp, determined to find Charles’s money, her relationship with Morgan changes. ­VERDICT With humor, a lively pace, appealing characters, a dash of danger, and solid historical detail, Lindsey’s latest provides a compelling picture of the Old West, in the author’s inimitable style. Lindsey (A Man To Call My Own) lives in New Hampshire.

Long, Julie Anne. The First Time at Firelight Falls. Avon. (Hellcat Canyon, Bk. 4). Jun. 2018. 366p. ISBN 9780062672902. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062672919. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

With a ten-year-old daughter and a thriving flower shop, single mom Eden ­Harwood doesn’t need a man in her life—and for years she’s managed to keep the local bachelors at bay. But elementary school principal and ex–Navy SEAL Gabe ­Caldera is not so easily dissuaded, and Eden, as determined as she is to avoid a relationship, can’t deny the pull between them. Propriety wars with passion as they come to terms with their feelings, only to have their budding relationship threatened when Eden’s past—and her daughter’s ­father—come to town. Appealing protagonists are complemented by an exceptional cast of old and new characters (an overly critical helicopter mom and a precocious ten-year-old are especially pleasing), bringing the quirky town to life. ­VERDICT Sweet, sexy, flirty, and upbeat, Long’s latest Hellcat romp is undiluted fun and as refreshing as a California breeze. A great summertime read. Long (Dirty Dancing at Devil’s Leap) lives in Northern California.

Lorret, Vivienne. How To Forget a Duke. Avon. (Misadventures in Matchmaking, Bk. 1). Jun. 2018. 371p. ISBN 9780062685483. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062685490. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Jacinda Bourne’s investigative methods are anything but conventional, but when it comes to ensuring a happy marriage for her family’s matrimonial agency clients, she’ll stop at nothing—not even haring off to the Duke of Rydstrom’s Sussex estate to discover what he, their most prestigious patron, is hiding. Unfortunately, she wakes up on a rock, drenched in seawater, with no memory. The locals who rescue her assume she’s the Duke’s bride-to-be, setting the stage for a comedy of errors that becomes a romance of dukely proportions. A persistent, un­orthodox heroine and a protective hero find love in a story that benefits from a beautifully realized supporting cast and an assortment of charming apropos quotes and references to Jane Austen’s Emma. ­VERDICT With clever wit, heady sexuality, and lush description, Lorret’s title puts an ­enticing spin on the classic amnesia trope and launches a series (the author’s Avon print debut) in fine style. Lorret (Just Another Viscount in Love) lives in Indiana.

MacLean, Sarah. Wicked and the Wallflower. Avon. (Bareknuckle Bastards, Bk. 1). Jul. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780062692061. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062691972. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

When spinster Lady Felicity Faircloth announces, in a fit of pique, that she is the Duke of Marwick’s intended bride—and he goes along with it—she has no idea that she is playing into the hands of a man who wants nothing more than to ruin the Duke. Marwick is about to renege on a bargain he made with his siblings years ago, and Devil (aka Devon Culm), one of the powerful Bareknuckle Bastards, is out for revenge and intends to use ­Felicity to accomplish it. It’s a perfect plan, but falling for Felicity wasn’t in the cards. Set as Victoria’s reign is just beginning, MacLean’s stunning series opener spins a compelling tale rich with mythological and fairy-tale allusions and history (the ice trade and the “unpickable” Chubb lock are enthralling), taking readers on a tantalizing journey to the dark, criminal world of Covent Garden. VERDICT An intrepid heroine who wants more than society offers makes a deal with the Devil that they just might live to enjoy. This intense, deliciously sensual tale of intrigue and deception begins a promising series. ­MacLean (The Day of the Duchess) lives in New York City.

Mason, Debbie. Sandpiper Shore. Forever: Grand Central. (Harmony Harbor, Bk. 6). Jun. 2018. 343p. ISBN 9781538744222. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781538744215. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

From the moment Secret Service Agent Logan Gallagher pulled Jenna Bell out of the path of an oncoming car and then decked her smarmy former fiancé, he’s been her knight in shining armor. Despite the obvious magnetism, Logan isn’t the marrying kind. Then he finds himself engaged to a princess he had been guarding but, owing to a knock on the head, doesn’t remember. To top it all off, Jenna is planning the wedding. A complex, multilayered plot keeps the pages turning, while a meddling, ghostly great-­grandmother adds a whimsical touch. VERDICT Quirky, funny, sweet, and overflowing with a colorful cast, this welcome installment in this popular seaside series is complete in itself, but because of a number of continuing characters and plot threads, readers may wish to begin with the first title, Mistletoe Cottage. Mason (Driftwood Cove) lives in ­Ontario, Canada.

Pineiro, Caridad. What Happens in Summer. Sourcebooks Casablanca. (At the Shore, Bk. 2). Jun. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781492649670. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781492649687. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Bitterly torn apart by conflicting life ambitions, focused, goal-oriented ­Connie Reyes and brilliant, restless Jonathan Pierce went their separate ways after one love-drenched summer at the shore. Now seven years later, Connie is an up-and-coming attorney and Jon is a wealthy tech wizard with an entrepreneurial spirit, and they are back in quaint Sea Kiss, NJ, where it all began. Their initial anger soon melts away as their passion blazes as hot as ever, but getting past Connie’s wariness is a challenge—just the kind that Jon is now ready to tackle. A bevy of winning characters contribute to the depth, humor, and continuity of a story that touches on issues of trust, dependability, and expectations. VERDICT Pineiro has penned a tender, sexy, often lighthearted yet realistic version of the classic reunion plot, offering a delightful beach blanket read. Pineiro (One Summer Night) lives in New Jersey.

Ryan, R.C. Cowboy on My Mind. Forever: Grand Central. (Montana Strong, Bk. 1). Jun. 2018. 483p. ISBN 9781538711156. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781538711149. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

One of three brothers adopted and raised by Mackenzie Monroe, Ben Monroe was a hot-headed hellion growing up; where he went, trouble followed. Now he sports a deputy sheriff’s badge and for once in his life is on the right side of the law. As well, Rebecca Henderson, the girl Ben has adored since grade school, has come home to stay, intending to carve out her own space and her own life, despite ­parental objections. Then the bullets begin to fly, and as Rebecca and Ben struggle to find answers, they are hard-pressed to resist the feelings that have sparked between them for years and are suddenly ablaze. ­VERDICT A strong, protective hero and an independent heroine fight for their future in this modern rough-and-tumble Western that has the importance of family at its core. (A bonus novella, Sara Richardson’s Rocky Mountain Cowboy, pairs a journalist with a cowboy snowboarder.) Ryan (Reed) is a pseudonym for Ruth Ryan Langan; she lives in the Detroit area.

Singh, Nalini. The Ocean Light. Berkley. (Psi-Changeling Trinity, Bk. 2). Jun. 2018. 416p. ISBN 9781101987827. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781101987841. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

Amazed to find that he is not dead after being shot in an assassination attempt, Bowen Knight, security chief for the ­Human Alliance, wakes up in a Black Sea installation in the care of the enigmatic and mysterious water changelings. The mesmerizing yet furious Maia, among them, is convinced the Human Alliance is responsible for the disappearance of some of the sea changelings. Bo’s life miraculously has been saved, but it’s only a matter of time before a specialized chip implanted in his head to block Psy telepathic interference fails and destroys his brain along with it; he has only a five percent chance of survival. But Bo is falling for Maia, and with no time to lose, he needs to get to the bottom of the strange occurrences. Singh’s vivid, relatable characters; wickedly complex plot; and unforgettable romance take readers deep into the heart of a mysterious watery world, with an alluring new culture to puzzle over and enjoy. ­VERDICT Another brilliant, thought-provoking fantasy romance from a worldbuilder like no other. Readers could benefit from experiencing the books in order. Singh (Archangel’s Viper) lives in New Zealand.

Thayne, RaeAnne. The Cottages on Silver Beach. HQN: Harlequin. (Haven Point, Bk. 8). Jun. 2018. 374p. ISBN 9781335007018. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488029363. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Ever since her brother Luke’s troubled wife vanished seven years ago, innkeeper and photographer Megan Hamilton has helped him to raise her young niece and nephew and deal with the undercurrent of suspicion that still swirls around Luke. Megan is resentful of anyone who thinks he could be guilty of a crime, and at the top of her list is Denver-based FBI agent and true-crime writer Elliot Bailey, her brother’s one-time best friend. Their paths rarely cross, but when Elliot comes home to heal from a gunshot wound and finish a novel, he rents the cottage next to Megan’s at her inn—and the romantic fire ignites. Still, ­Elliot needs results, too, and taking a look at the old case files uncovers an overlooked lead that just might provide answers. VERDICT An ice-cold case adds a dash of mystery and drives the plot of this family-rich reunion story that looks at some serious emotions and brings our protagonists together to the surprise of no one but themselves. A thoroughly charming seasonal read. Thayne (Sugar Pine Trail) lives in Northern Utah.

Thomas, Tara. Broken Promise. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (Sons of Broad, Bk. 3). Jul. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781250137982. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250137999. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Alyssa Adams decided to become a cop when she was 15 and her sister was murdered, and she has never stopped trying to find out who did it or help others in the same situation. So when shipping expert Kipling Benedict, eldest son of Charleston’s powerful old-money Benedicts, learns that his half sister, Jade, has been kidnapped, Alyssa gets involved. The killer is crafty, having waited a long while to bring the Benedicts down—and this time The Gentle­man is determined to succeed. A startling revelation turns Alyssa into a target, and as she and Kipling struggle to stay ahead of the game, they must deal with their mutual fascination as well. VERDICT Grim, occasionally frightening, and fueled by old enmities, this fast-paced romantic suspense brings a ­vicious killer down and ties up a number of loose ends in the process. Twisted Ends, a bonus series novella, is included. Thomas (Deadly Secret) lives in the ­Southeastern United States.

Wilson, Sariah. #Moonstruck. Montlake Romance. (#Lovestruck). Jul. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781503949362. pap. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9781503902831. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Thanks to a philandering jazz musician father, Maisy Harrison, lead guitarist and singer for her (and her brothers’) fledgling band Yesterday, has two unbreakable rules: never date a musician, and never have sex with one. Those hold true especially for musicians with reputations, such as totally hot pop star Ryan De Luna—and definitely not when they accept the gig to open for Ryan on his latest tour. But Ryan is out to change his image and having a serious girlfriend is key. He asks Maisy to be his “fake” sweetheart—no sex, of course—and with her family’s finances in the tank, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. If only she’d realized how hard he’d be to resist. VERDICT Making excellent use of sassy banter, hilarious texts, and a breezy style, Wilson’s energetic story brims with sexual tension and takes readers on a musical road trip that will leave them smiling. Perfect as well for YA and new adult collections. Wilson (­#Starstruck) lives in Utah.

Wright, Elle. Touched by You. Dafina: Kensington. (Wellspring, Bk. 1). Jun. 2018. 286p. ISBN 9781496716002. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781496716019. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Still grieving after the bitter loss of his wife and baby daughter two years earlier, tech consultant Carter Marshall heads to Wellspring, MI, to oversee his firm’s software installation for Wellspring Water Corporation and get his life back on track. He isn’t contemplating romance when he pulls Brooklyn Wells from the path of a truck. So he’s startled to find himself captivated by the outspoken, fiercely independent woman who turns out to be the daughter of the man with whom he has come to do business. The interest is mutual, but controlling and ruthless Parker Wells Sr. has other plans for his offspring. Brooklyn isn’t about to be bullied, though, and when Carter stands up for her, the battle lines are drawn for a fight that has its roots in past secrets, a fight that Carter and Brooklyn are determined to win. ­VERDICT Overflowing with steamy passion, soul-wrenching guilt, and intense family dynamics, this engrossing series opener leaves an enticing string or two dangling as it brings a hero wary of loving again and a heroine who wants to experience life on her own terms together and nicely sets the stage for the stories to come. Wright (Wherever You Are) lives near Ann Arbor, MI.


Former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, Stacey Abrams (aka romance writer Selena Montgomery) will run for governor in the fall after picking up three-quarters of the votes in the May 22 Democratic primary. Much more to come.

RT Book Reviews Ceases Publication

Romance fans were surprised and dismayed when RT Book Reviews (originally Romantic Times) announced at the annual RT Booklovers Convention in Reno, NV, this May that it would cease publication immediately. Fortunately, the website will be available for a year, although no new content will be added; then the site will go dark.

Founded in 1981, Romantic Times, commonly known as RT, was one of the earliest and certainly the most comprehensive and influential of the dedicated romance review publications, providing timely evaluations and articles of interest. In later years, it expanded its coverage to include a variety of fiction genres. Although it maintained both a print and online presence for a number of years, in 2016 it discontinued the print magazine and moved to an online-only format. The RT organization also sponsored the annual convention, as well as other popular events, and presented a number of romance-related awards. A strong advocate for the romance genre, it was an exceptional resource and will be missed.

LJ Talks to First Novelist Rachel Heng | Debut Spotlight

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 15:39

Photo by Andrew Bennett

Suicide Club (LJ 5/15/18) is a riveting contemplation on what it means to live. Debut author Rachel Heng talks about turning the complexities of life and death into a literary dystopia.


Where did you get the idea for a story about prolonging life?
It came from my own obsession with and fear of death. I first wrote about [it] in a short story that featured a similar world to that in Suicide Club. It began as a thought experiment, a way to think about what life would be like if we didn’t have to die. It wasn’t a very good story, but I remained intrigued and eventually started writing a novel set in the same universe.

Then I started seeing articles in the news about cryogenic freezing and Silicon Valley billionaires trying to “hack death,” and it turned out I had to make up much less stuff than I’d originally anticipated. So much of it was already happening.

Your book cover features the line, “a novel about living.” What does living mean to you and what did you want your protagonist Lea to learn?
Living to me is a kind of openness to cruelty, loss, and pain, but also beauty, kindness, unexpected grace. I suffered a loss at a fairly young age and the biggest way in which it affected me was that it made me close myself up. It taught me to be “strong” and left me with a deep fear of not being in control. Death undoes all of that; we exercise, sleep early, eat kale, or whatever, but in the end we still all die, and there’s nothing we can do to control that. The world of Suicide Club is one that is hyper-controlled, and at the beginning, Lea has fully bought into that. As the story progresses, she opens herself up bit by bit, first to cruelty—the world’s, but also her own—and pain, as well as beauty, kindness, and peace.

The epigraph I chose…is a line from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Kindness.” I love this poem because it links joy to pain, kindness to loss, and seems to embody the openness that is the project of my novel.

Why did you decide to use the estranged relationship between Lea and her father as the thrust of the narrative?
When I started the book, it was very much world- and premise-driven, and the hardest work was figuring out who the characters were and what they would do. I knew I wanted Lea to be someone who had bought into the system from the beginning, whose beliefs would be slowly undone. What I didn’t know was how this would happen. Then as I was redrafting, I realized that her relationship with her father was the most emotionally compelling aspect of her narrative and ended up writing this into the main plot.

I think this relationship works because our first encounter with death is so often dealing with the mortality of our parents. I remember not being able to sleep as a child, gripped by the terrible thought that one day my parents would die, that I would never see or speak to them again. This estranged relationship is similar in that it is the first loss that Lea experiences, one that causes her fear of other losses and death to take root.

How did you develop the Suicide Club?
The Suicide Club itself was one of the earliest things that came to me as I was writing the [original] short story. Those in the Club are the logical consequence to a world in which death is taboo and practically illegal. It made sense to me that there would be two opposing, somewhat extreme forces: on one hand, the gleaming “lifers” who seek to live forever and the Ministry that dictates who will and who won’t; on the other, the Suicide Club that wants to undo society’s all-consuming drive towards immortality. Both positions are untenable, but one couldn’t exist without the other.

How do you feel as you get closer to the July release of your first novel?
I think one of the ways I managed to finish the novel was by telling myself that no one would ever read it. But now…that illusion doesn’t hold up, and I find myself feeling increasingly anxious. While part of the anxiety is worrying about how the book will be received, the bigger feelings have been of exposure and vulnerability. Writing has always been very private for me—I wrote in secret for many years, and most people around me didn’t even know I wrote fiction—so to have it out in the world in such a public way feels extremely exposing. Yet at the same time—like any writer—I wish fervently for my book to be read, or I wouldn’t have published it in the first place.

I just don’t want anyone to talk to me about it because that would be mortifying (unless they absolutely, 100 percent got it and loved it and thought I was a genius—I kid, I kid).—Kate ­DiGirolomo


Graphically Speaking | Spotlight on Graphic Novels

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 05:00

Now, more than ever, graphic novels are the air pop culture breathes, providing the source material for today’s biggest events in film, TV, online/digital content, and publishing in general, as sequential art steadily infiltrates the literary and academic worlds.

Libraries and their patrons are greatly responsible for this rising popularity, as evidenced by the swell in circulation and sales of graphic novels across digital and print platforms. OverDrive’s collection development specialist and resident graphic novel expert Jack ­Phoenix reports a 47 percent increase in circulation of the company’s more than 30,000 titles in the category, noting manga as a vast contributor to that growth. He further cites a staggering 75 percent spike in circulation of nonsuperhero titles, including biographies, memoirs, and those dealing with historical and social issues, such as civil rights pioneer Congressman John Lewis’s autobiographical March trilogy, cocreated with writer ­Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell.

According to Josh Hayes, head of Diamond Book Distributors and executive VP of Diamond Comic Distributors, “Despite a difficult 2017, libraries performed above the traditional retail channels, which is a testament to the quality content we’re seeing in the category year over year.” Another important factor is the expansion of middle grade graphic novels, easily one of the most successful segments right now.

Not to be outdone, hoopla digital owner and cofounder Jeff Jankowski tells LJ that “since 2016, we’ve seen a 76 percent increase in graphic novel circulation and a 46 percent increase in unique comic book users.” Superhero series such as Wonder Woman and The Avengers are the highest circulating for hoopla, followed by humorous works, such as Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate and Sarah Anderson’s “Sarah’s Scribbles” collections. Jankowski adds that “comics and graphic novels are becoming a preferred reading choice in schools and libraries. We continue to invest in the experience and depth of content we are offering public library patrons.”

Debuts drawing interest

This fall sees the comics landscape continue to diversify with the arrival of fresh voices from across the literary and entertainment industries. In September, Aminder Dhaliwal, a Disney animation director, debuts Woman World (Drawn & Quarterly [D&Q]), a witty, thoughtful look at a post­apocalyptic universe in which a genetic mutation has killed off all males. D&Q marketing director Julia Pohl-Miranda describes the work as “very funny, very feminist…an e-original in a distinctive way since it began and blew up in popularity on Instagram before it became a D&Q release.” [See the interview with D&Q publisher Peggy Burns below.]

Also decidedly feminist is newcomer Emma’s The Mental Load: Comics from the Front Lines of Women’s Lives and Other Social Justice Issues (Seven Stories, Oct.), which investigates unpaid labor in the 21st century done primarily by women, as well as social justice issues, including immigrant rights and income ­inequality.

Esteemed author Margaret Atwood’s first foray into comics (Angel Catbird) was so successful that this autumn sees the Man Booker Prize winner release two new works with Dark Horse. Joining fellow Canadian and Astro Boy artist Ken Steacy, Atwood launches the first single-issue of War Bears (Sept.), which considers the impact of World War II on a Canadian creator’s life and career. In October comes The Complete Angel Catbird, illustrated by the acclaimed Johnnie Christmas and Tamra ­Bonvillain, collecting the first three volumes of the popular series combining human/animal hybrids and pulpy superhero adventure. With Infidel (Image, Sept.), former best-selling Vertigo editor and short film writer/director Pornsak Pichetshote makes his comics writing debut, accompanied by celebrated artists Aaron Campbell, José Villarrubia, and Jeff Powell. This genre-bending haunted house story centers on an American Muslim woman and her multiracial neighbors who move into a building occupied by entities that feed on xenophobia.

In the realm of dark speculative fiction, Prentis ­Rollins’s first full-length graphic novel, The Furnace (Tor, Jul.), is described by Tor editor Diana Pho as a “cautionary tale about the surveillance state and a searing critique of the prison-industrial system, all told through the eyes of a man trying to be a better father.” Pho draws parallels between Rollins’s work and 2017’s widely praised YA graphic novel I Am Alfonso Jones, from Tony Medina and others, as both convey “big, weighty topics told through intimate human perspectives and vibrant art that paints a complicated picture.”

Q&A: Tee Franklin

Tee Franklin, a queer disabled black woman, founded Inclusive Press to publish her own comics and those of other marginalized creators. The author has since received widespread acclaim for the queer romance novella Bingo Love, illustrated by Jenn St-Onge and Joy San, which garnered $60,000 via Kickstarter and won the 2017 Queer Press Grant before being released by Image Comics (LJ 2/1/18; We interviewed Franklin about her experiences with Kickstarter, self-publishing, and more.

What were your expectations when you started your Kickstarter campaign to fund Bingo Love?
I honestly expected to have to beg and plead with people to fund the Kickstarter. Never did I think that we were going to be funded in five days; that was just completely unheard of. As the numbers kept rising, I almost hit the cancel button and returned everyone’s pledges. I’m so glad I didn’t!

Bingo Love is creator-owned but published by Image Comics—what does that mean in terms of the practical tasks involved?
Bingo Love was self-published by me and my publishing company, Inclusive Press, via Kickstarter. Instead of bringing it to any of the major comics publishers, I decided to give it to the people and let them tell me yes or no. A few months after the Kickstarter ended, I was introduced to the head honcho at Image. Image believed in Bingo Love and wanted to publish the book and have it reach people and places that I couldn’t have reached on my own…. I’m forever grateful.

Hazel and Mari’s story is one readers don’t typically encounter. Has its reception been what you’d hoped for?
Bingo Love (already in its third printing) has been accepted by many people. A story of two teens who fall in love and reunite in their mid-sixties doesn’t get told because “happily ever afters” for the LGBTQ community typically don’t exist in [mainstream] entertainment. And it’s because [readers] get to see these characters—black, queer women—grow old together, love each other…that [they] see themselves. This is why I believe the book has sold so well.

How did the creative team come together?
I found artist Jenn St-Onge and colorist Joy San via Twitter. Comics editor Erica Schultz and I had known each other for several years, and Erica knew letterer Cardinal Rae. I reached out and offered them all jobs; I’m so thrilled they said yes. They did such a fantastic job, they’re all extremely talented.

Is the artwork what you envisioned for the book, or did the artists’ style move you to consider another direction(s)?
I didn’t consider any other direction for Bingo Love. Jenn’s beautiful artwork, along with Joy’s colors, fit perfectly in the Bingo Love universe. Jenn took my script and created a masterpiece, bringing tears to the eyes of people as young as 11, all the way to an 80-year-old woman. This team knocked it all the way out of the park.

What can you tell us about your next project(s)?
I’m working on a horror miniseries that will be coming out through Image this year, and I have a few more comics in the pipeline to keep me busy for the next few years. I’ve also decided to dip my toe into the prose pool, so we’ll see what happens; hopefully I don’t drown.

What are the most important takeaways from your experiences in making Bingo Love?
Bingo Love has given people hope and that’s something that is needed…. I’ve even had Hazels and Maris thank me for telling their story. People have broken down in my arms and thanked me for what I’ve done—[both] straight and LGBTQ folks. It’s a relatable [story] about finding your true love. To the creators out there, especially marginalized creators, you don’t have to take no for an answer. Just get on out there and create. The only person who can stop you from creating something is you.

Fan faves meet scholarship

Times have changed when a major comic book publisher launches a series of prose works and academic presses turn their attention to graphic novels. Kathryn Marguy, publicity and communications manager, University of Texas (UT), acknowledges that “perhaps unsurprisingly, not many university presses work in the [graphic] space.” Yet this year brings more academic publishers promoting illustrated works, a sign that visual storytelling is indeed gaining traction in the academy. UT puts forth its first-ever graphic biography with debut author/artist María Hesse’s Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life (Sept.). Originally published in Spanish and translated into English by Achy Obejas, this volume portrays the artist’s tumultuous life from her own perspective. Two new additions to Ohio State University’s “Latinographix” series also arrive in September, with Eric J. García’s Drawing on Anger: Portraits of U.S. Hypocrisy offering a scathing indictment of Republicans, Democrats, and America itself via cartoons and comics collected from 2004 to the present. Tales from la Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology, edited by Frederick Luis Aldama, touted as the first anthology of its kind, spotlights comics and artwork by more than 80 Latinx contributors.

Princeton builds on its growing list of graphic narratives with Totally Random: Why Nobody Understands Quantum Mechanics (A Serious Comic on Entanglement) (Jun.) from father-daughter team Jeffrey and Tanya Bub. In July, Pennsylvania State (Penn State) brings us reportage illustrator Olivier Kugler’s Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees, a firsthand look at the life of refugees and their caregivers, as documented by the author while on assignment. Academic presses are also dabbling in fiction. Writer Ilan Stavans and artist Roberto Weil’s meta-adaptation of Don Quixote of La Mancha (Penn State, Oct.) has Miguel de Cervantes’s fictional knight and his luckless squire encountering past and present creators and adaptors as well as the modern world (available in English and Spanglish editions).

Fans of military and naval history and biography, general history, and stories of the high seas, are sure to embrace several works from the Naval Institute’s Dead Reckoning imprint, launching in September. First releases include Ian Densford’s Trench Dogs, an anthropomorphic retelling of World War I; Kevin Knodell and others’ The ‘Stan, a series of short comics chronicling the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan; and Brent Dulak and others’ Machete Squad, depicting a U.S. Army medic’s struggle to preserve life and sanity during a tour in Afghanistan.

For readers seeking comics with a more literary bent, Humanoids’ Life Drawn imprint promises “diverse voices…from different points of view, whether powerful political and personal stories from Afghanistan or Vietnam or a biography of Hedy ­Lamarr,” reports ­Fabrice Giger, CEO/publisher. Highlighting its debut season is Luisa: Now and Then (Jun.; LJ 6/1/18), a queer transformative tale about self-acceptance and sexuality by French creator Carole ­Maurel, adapted by Caldecott Medal winner Mariko Tamaki (This One ­Summer).

Simon & Schuster’s graphic imprint Gallery 13 brings lots of in-house love to Eisner-nominated writer Alex de Campi and artist Victor Santos’s ambitious historical noir thriller Bad Girls (Jul.), which tells of three tough ladies looking to escape Cuba, with $6 million in stolen cash, the night before the country fell to Castro’s Communist rule.

Q&A: Drawn & Quarterly, 28 Years of Quality Lit

Montreal-based Drawn & Quarterly (D&Q) is a preeminent publisher of literary graphic novels. For almost three decades, its output has been designed by writers and artists solely responsible for the ideas behind their works. Its past and present roster speaks for itself: Lynda Barry, Daniel Clowes, Kate Beaton, Chester Brown, Seth, Guy Delisle, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi, to name a few. We queried publisher Peggy Burns to find out more about the press and its methodology.

In your 15 years at D&Q, three as publisher, what achievement(s) are you most proud of? What goals are you determined to accomplish?
The biggest achievement is [that] we have created a professional, streamlined alternative for authors that exists between multinationals and micro­publishers. We provide creative freedom, solid distribution and sales, ­author-friendly royalty rates, transparent contract and payment terms, first-rate foreign rights, and a full-scale integrated marketing campaign in three countries.

What qualities does D&Q look for in prospective titles?
D&Q is different from most major publishers in that we are not seeking to replicate past successes by following a blueprint. We look for authors with singular visions. Equally important is that each creator stands out from the others on our list. We publish 25 books a year, so it is imperative that each have its own personality and [make its own] contribution. Each season requires a mix of fiction, memoir, reprints, and both new and established authors in order to succeed. Our unofficial mandate is less is more—to publish fewer books and sell more of those titles, thereby fully supporting each work on our list. In 2017, we toured ten authors, so our commitment to marketing each book is sincere.

What qualities do you consider when selecting works in translation?
We do not treat translations differently from other books we acquire. With each work we ask, “Is this a distinctive approach? How does it complement our list?” We just started translating works in Korean. In 2017, we published Yeon-Sik Hong’s Uncomfortably Happy, and in September we’ll release Ancco’s Bad Friends. Quality literature is quality literature, no matter the language in which it is written.

Does D&Q have any new imprints in the works?
D&Q has its house brand and our children’s imprint, Enfant. We also have a significant reprint project…that we’re pretty proud of and will announce soon!

What 2018 titles are you most enthused about sharing with our readers?
I adore all of our books! I am enthusiastic about how our list ebbs and flows and the various ways the works all relate to one another, even if we look for distinct qualities in each of them.
In May, we launched Aline Kominsky­-Crumb’s Love That Bunch (Xpress Reviews 5/25/18), putting the career of this pioneering female cartoonist—the first to delve into autobiographical comics—in its rightful historical context. At the same time, John Porcellino (the contemporary king of autobiographical comics) was on the road touring his new book From Lone Mountain, published in March. John also contributed to Julie Doucet’s Dirty Plotte, releasing this fall, and Aline featured Julie in Weirdo magazine, for which Aline is a co­editor. It all comes together, sometimes it just takes a few decades.

Big houses, new imprints

Many of the most exciting developments at DC Comics are all about imprints. In August, DC’s new Black Label line unleashes modern comics luminaries Frank Miller, John Romita Jr., Kelly Sue ­DeConnick, Scott Snyder, Phil Jimenez, Lee Bermejo, John Ridley, Greg Rucka, and Greg Capullo to create epic, out-of-continuity Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman stories. First up is Miller and Romita’s three-part Superman: Year One (Nov.), in celebration of the Man of Steel’s 80th anniversary.

August also sees Neil Gaiman’s return to DC Vertigo with the debut of the Sandman Universe line, which kicks off with his The Sandman Universe. The imprint’s four ongoing series by creators of Gaiman’s choosing feature Si Spurrier and Bilquis Evely (The Dreaming, Sept.), Nalo Hopkinson and Dominike Stanton (House of Whispers, Sept.), Dan Watters and others (Lucifer, Oct.), and Kat Howard and Tom Fowler (Books of Magic, Oct.). Mature readers who miss DC ­Vertigo’s glory days of Hellblazer, Preacher, and the like are directed to two new imprints, both curated by former Vertigo editors. IDW’s creator-owned Black Crown label, established in 2017 by editor Shelly Bond, follows up its first series, Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler’s Kid Lobotomy, with a collected edition of the initial arc of Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez’s Assassinistas (Aug.), which follows a gay college student happy to coast through life until his bounty hunter mom blows his tuition on the gear she needs to get back in the game, meaning her son is in for a ride and an interesting semester abroad. At Dark Horse, veteran editor Karen Berger, who oversees Berger Books, announces two works with edge: Emma Beeby’s graphic biography of the infamous courtesan and spy Mata Hari (Nov.) and Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s ­Incognegro: Renaissance (Oct.). Johnson and Pleece’s prequel to the ­much-admired Incognegro follows Zane Pinchback, a black cub reporter in early 1920s Harlem who poses as a white man to find the killer of a black writer.

Women artists at work

With the momentum brought on by the #metoo and #timesup movements reinvigorating women’s narratives, something trailblazers such as Gabrielle Bell (Cecil & Jordan in New York) have been at for more than a decade, new comics arrive to further women’s stories in an industry still largely dominated by men.

From Fantagraphics, Swedish cartoonist Liv Strömquist’s Fruit of Knowledge (Aug.) traces how different cultures and traditions have shaped women’s health and body image throughout history, reminding us of modern civilization’s shortcomings in those areas; Anne Simon’s The Song of Aglaia (Jul.) introduces a willful sea nymph who, after experiencing betrayal and rejection from the men in her life, comes to value her independence; and Georgia Webber’s Dumb (Jun.) presents a graphic memoir about overcoming a throat injury and muteness to find one’s voice.

Independent presses such as D&Q continue to specialize in literary works both utterly of the social and political moment and firmly grounded in the comics canon. With Coyote Doggirl (Aug.), Lisa Hanawalt, producer of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, delivers an uproarious, feminist send-up of and tribute to Westerns. In Blame This on the Boogie (Oct.), cartoonist Rina Ayuyang chronicles the adventures of a Filipino American girl born in the decade of disco. Other current and upcoming profemale releases include comprehensive collections of the raw, autobiographical cartoons of Aline Kominsky-Crumb (Love That Bunch, May) and Julie Doucet (Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet, Oct.).

From IDW in September, Top Shelf’s Girl Town collects minicomics and anthology contributions by Carolyn Nowak (Lumberjanes), while Black Crown sends the anthology Femme Magnifique, edited by Shelly Bond, back to print. A Kickstarter success, ­Magnifique gathers illustrated minibios of 50 women who changed the world, from Harriet ­Tubman and Sally Ride to Kate Bush and Michelle Obama, as told by more than 100 global creators, including Cecil Castellucci, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Carey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Tee Franklin [see the Q&A, p. 36], and Gilbert Hernandez.

In October, Anne Frank’s Diary (Pantheon) gets introduced to a new generation of readers with the first graphic adaptation of this important historical work. Authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and including text from the original, the project is headed by Oscar-nominated director Ari Folman and artist David Polonsky.

DiversE makers, material

The growing supply of and demand for diversity in graphic novels and in those who create them strengthen the argument that sequential art is a singularly exciting medium. Calvin Reid, senior news editor, Publishers Weekly, contends that “the demand for genres beyond superhero comics, the demands of women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, kids, and others for comics that reflect their lives is changing the American comics marketplace dramatically.”

Thus consider Gumballs (Top Shelf: IDW, Jun.), a pioneering comic from transgender cartoonist Erin Nations, in which graphic memoir combines with observational comedy, character studies, and more. Or Lauren Keller and others’ How Do You Smoke a Weed? A Comics Guide to a Responsible High (Jun.) from Charlie “Spike” Trotman’s Iron Circus Comics, which boasts a talented roster of queer, straight, male, female, nonbinary, and multiracial creators. Coming in September from PM Press, edited by Quincy Saul, Maroon Comix: Origins and Destinies collects stories about the Africans who escaped slavery in the Americas and created their own new societies and cultures. With A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns (Limerence: Oni, Jun.), genderqueer artist/writer Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson illustrate the basics of everyday usage, leavening a serious topic with just the right amount of ­humor.

Notable forthcoming graphic biographies and memoirs include Congressman Lewis’s much-anticipated Run: Book One (Comics Arts: Abrams, Oct.). Cocreated with writer Aydin and illustrators Afua Richardson and Powell, it begins the next chapter in the life of the civil rights icon, starting after the historic success of the 1965 Selma campaign. Also continuing his acclaimed memoir series, French-­Syrian cartoonist Riad Sattouf releases The Arab of the Future. Vol. 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985–1987 (Metropolitan: Holt, Aug.). Other standouts include Keiler Roberts’s unsparing ­Chlorine Gardens (Koyama, Sept.), which touches on pregnancy, raising children, and mental illness; ­Liana Finck’s self-dubbed “neurological coming-of-age story” Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir (Random, Sept.); and Eisner-nominated cartoonist Tom Hart’s The Art of the Graphic Memoir (St. Martin’s, Nov.).

Noam Chomsky comes to comics in Jeffrey Wilson and Eliseu ­Gouveia’s The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky (Seven Stories, Jun.). Sure to satisfy sports fans is The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling (Ten Speed: Crown, Oct.), as told by ­Aubrey ­Sitterson and Chris Moreno.


On the crime fiction, thriller, and noir front, Pulitzer Prize winner Jules ­Feiffer introduces Ghost Script (­Liveright: Norton, Jul.; Xpress Reviews 6/8/18), the gripping finale to his innovative “Kill My Mother” ­trilogy. Artist John K. Snyder III adapts novelist Lawrence Block’s Eight Million Ways To Die (IDW, Jul.) into a graphic, grainy, and moody setting that evokes the noir magazine covers of the period. And depicting male adolescence in the 1950s with grit, David Small’s first major adult work, Home After Dark (­Liveright: Norton, Sept.; LJ 6/1/18), follows up (and possibly surpasses) National Book Award finalist Stitches. Meanwhile, top suspense from Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime features Edgar-­nominated Duane ­Swierczynski’s Breakneck, illustrated by Simone Guglielmini (Aug.); Max Allan Collins’s Quarry’s War, with artist Szymon Kudranski (Jul.); and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer: The Night I Died (Oct.), penned by Collins, with artist Marcelo Salaza, and timed to celebrate the 100th birthday of the legendary crime novelist.

Stunning literary adaptations include Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel, illustrated by Fred Fordham (Harper, Nov.); Jack London’s classic short story To Build a Fire (Gallery 13, Oct.), from acclaimed writer/­artist ­Christophe Chabouté; and award-winning cartoonist Peter ­Kuper’s ­Kafkaesque: Fourteen Short Stories (Norton, Sept.). For music fans, creator Bill Morrison’s lavish adaptation of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (Titan Comics, Aug.) complements NBM’s The Beatles in Comics! (Nov.), the complete illustrated story of the Fab Four, from their formation through Beatlemania and the turbulent 1960s to their breakup. Rock enthusiasts will savor Joe Pearson and others’ Pearl Jam: Do the Evolution (IDW, Sept.), detailing the creation of the group’s Grammy-­nominated animated video, codirected by comics’ Todd ­McFarlane and Kevin Altieri.

Translations & manga

Speaking to the wide appeal of comics and graphic novels, or Bandes dessinées, in France, Flore Piacentino, project manager, French Publishers Association/Syndicat national de l’edition, tells LJ that “half of the [French] population reads at least one Bande dessinée per year, with 35 percent of books borrowed [from libraries] in France being graphic novels.” Furthermore, over the past decade, sales of French comics for adults and children, manga, and American comics have strongly increased. Highlighting the growing success of translated French works for American audiences, Piacentino says that “each year, translation rights for more than 200 French comics are sold to American ­publishers.”

Responding to the trend, D&Q has added several fresh voices from abroad to its 2018 offerings. German cartoonist ­Aisha Franz’s Shit Is Real (Jun.) traces a young woman’s struggles with depression in the wake of an unexpected breakup, while Korean creator Ancco’s Bad Friends (Sept.) examines female friendship in a 1990s South Korea torn between tradition and Western modernity. D&Q’s Pohl-Miranda is most excited about Ancco’s work after the huge success of Yeon-Sik Hong’s Uncomfortably Happy, noting “there’s a really good space for literary manhwa [Korean manga] carved out by the manga (and gekiga [alternative manga]) reading public.”

Mark de Vera, publishing sales manager, VIZ Media, relates that VIZ’s “library business has grown steadily over the past five years because of big new hits such as Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul [see Vol. 5: re, Jun.]…and Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia [see Hideyuki Furuhashi & Betten Court’s Vigilantes. Vol. 1, Jul.], as well as sequels to beloved manga ­series.” De Vera lists the most notable new trends as “the success of RWBY, a manga adaptation of the hit YouTube show [see RWBY Official Manga Anthology. Vol. 2: Mirror, Mirror (Aug.) and RWBY: Official Manga Anthology. Vol. 3: From Shadows (Nov.)] and continued growth of My Hero Academia, currently the biggest manga and anime property in America.”

The next age of superheroes

Signaling that the superhero genre is alive and well is the unprecedented success of the Black Panther film, which garnered a record-breaking $242.1 million in box office sales in its first days of hitting theaters this past February. Jenny McClusky, collection development librarian, Ingram Library Services, considers superhero saturation from the perspective of libraries, telling LJ that “with the name recognition of critically acclaimed graphic novel creators [e.g., Mariko Tamaki, Gene Luen Yang] now on board to write superhero stories, the usual complexities of superhero worlds should hopefully take a backseat in ­public library collection development. If this approach works, we could see libraries and educators, as well as graphic novel fans, embrace superheroes in a whole new way.”

PW’s Reid notes several recent attempts by Marvel and DC to incorporate “diversity and social trends to their well-known heroes: Marvel has a lady Thor as well as an Afro-Latino Spider-Man…an Islamic Ms. Marvel, the revival of Black Panther, Iceman coming out as gay.” Fans should also look to John Ridley’s The American Way. Vol. 2: Those Above and Those Below, continuing a series the Oscar-winning director (12 Years a Slave) began a decade ago, as well as a new series he’s working on that expands the background of DC heroes from marginalized communities, The Other ­History of the DC Universe. Still, many of the major current releases are collected or deluxe editions of ongoing series or recent successes, including Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal; Deluxe Edition (Jun.), with Quarto set to release Robert Greenberger’s long-overdue DC Comics Heroines: 100 Greatest Moments (Sept.).

Etching out the times

Among the big titles set in the continually revisited World War II era is Anthony Del Col and others’ Son of Hitler (Image, Jun.), which sees a British agent find the title character in occupied France and recruiting him for a most dangerous mission.

America and its conflicted history remain popular themes as well. Val Mayerik and Jim Berry’s Kickstarter-funded Of Dust & Blood: The Battle at Little Big Horn (NBM, Oct.) views that fateful event through the eyes of a cavalry scout and a young Lakota warrior. Jump ahead to 1970s America, a popular setting for the macabre, as seen in National Book Award winner Nate ­Powell’s Come Again (Top Shelf: IDW, Jul.), marking the artist’s first solo graphic novel in seven years. In a hilltop “intentional community” in Arkansas, high in the Ozark Mountains, the spirit of the Love Generation is kept alive even as the Me Decade comes to an end.

As evidenced by this latest crop of titles, the graphic medium continues to transform the storytelling landscape. Citing Congressman Lewis’s March trilogy and Ken Krimstein’s upcoming graphic biography The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt (Sept.), Bloomsbury associate publisher and editorial director Nancy Miller considers the current strengths and boundless possibilities of comics. For Miller, “graphic nonfiction can be especially effective in bringing a historical subject to vivid life in a way that makes it feel quite of the moment, both politically and visually—and almost cinematic in its sweep and immediacy…speak[ing] to readers in new ways.”

Going Graphic

Below are the forthcoming titles mentioned in this article. Translations are denoted by (Tr.)

AUTHOR TITLE PUBLISHER RELEASE Aldama, Frederick Luis (ed.) Tales from la Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology Latinographix: Ohio State Sept. Ancco Bad Friends (Tr.) Drawn & Quarterly Sept. Atwood, Margaret & others The Complete Angel Catbird Dark Horse Oct. Atwood, Margaret & Ken Steacy War Bears Dark Horse Sept. Ayuyang, Rina Blame This on the Boogie Drawn & Quarterly Oct. Beeby, Emma Mata Hari Berger: Dark Horse Nov. Block, Lawrence & John K. Snyder III Eight Million Ways To Die IDW Jul. Bond, Shelly (ed.) Femme Magnifique Black Crown: IDW Sept. Bongiovanni, Archie & Tristan Jimerson A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns Limerence: Oni Jun. Bub, Tanya & Jeffrey Bub Totally Random: Why Nobody Understands Quantum Mechanics (A Serious Comic on Entanglement) Princeton Univ. Jun. Cervantes, Miguel de & others Don Quixote of La Mancha Penn State Oct. Collins, Max Allan & others Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer: The Night I Died Hard Case Crime/Titan Oct. Collins, Max Allan & others Quarry’s War Hard Case Crime/Titan Jul. De Campi, Alex & Victor Santos Bad Girls Gallery 13: S. & S. Jul. Del Col, Anthony & others Son of Hitler Image Jun. Densford, Ian Trench Dogs Dead Reckoning: Naval Inst. Sept. Dhaliwal, Aminder Woman World Drawn & Quarterly Sept. Doucet, Julie Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet Drawn & Quarterly Oct. Dulak, Brent & others Machete Squad Dead Reckoning: Naval Inst. Sept. Emma The Mental Load: Comics from the Front Lines of Women’s Lives and Other Social Justice Issues Seven Stories Oct. Feiffer, Jules Ghost Script Liveright: Norton Jul. Finck, Liana Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir Random Sept. Frank, Anne & others Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation Pantheon Oct. Franz, Aisha Shit Is Real (Tr.) Drawn & Quarterly Jun. Furuhashi, Hideyuki & Betten Court My Hero Academia. Vol. 1: Vigilantes (Tr.) VIZ Jul. Gaiman, Neil & others The Sandman Universe Sandman Universe: DC. Aug. Garcia, Eric J. Drawing on Anger: Portraits of U.S. Hypocrisy Latinographix: Ohio State Sept. Greenberger, Robert DC Comics Heroines: 100 Greatest Moments Quarto Sept. Hanawalt, Lisa Coyote Doggirl Drawn & Quarterly Aug. Hart, Tom The Art of the Graphic Memoir St. Martin’s Nov. Hesse, María Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life (Tr.) Univ. of Texas Sept. Hopkinson, Nalo & Dominike Stanton House of Whispers Sandman Universe: DC Sept. Howard, Kat & Tom Fowler Books of Magic Sandman Universe: DC Oct. Howard, Tini & Gilbert Hernandez Assassinistas Black Crown : IDW Aug. Ishida, Sui Tokyo Ghoul. Vol. 5: re VIZ Jun. Johnson, Mat & Warren Pleece Incognegro: Renaissance Berger: Dark Horse Oct. Kafka, Franz & Peter Kuper Kafkaesque: Fourteen Short Stories Norton Sept. Keller, Lauren & others How Do You Smoke a Weed? A Comics Guide to a Responsible High Iron Circus Jun. Knodell, Kevin & others The ‘Stan Dead Reckoning: Sept. Kominsky-Crumb, Aline Love That Bunch Drawn & Quarterly May Krimstein, Ken The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt Bloomsbury Sept. Kugler, Olivier Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees Myriad: Penn State Jul. Lee, Harper & Fred Fordham To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel Harper Nov. Lewis, John & others Run: Book One Comics Arts: Abrams Oct. London, Jack & Christophe Chabouté To Build a Fire Gallery 13: S. & S. Oct. Maurel, Carole & Mariko Tamaki Luisa: Now and Then (Tr.) Life Drawn: Humanoids Jun. Mayerik, Val & Jim Berry Of Dust & Blood: The Battle at Little Big Horn NBM Oct. Miller, Frank & John Romita Jr. Superman: Year One Black Label: DC Nov. Morrison, Bill The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine Titan Comics AUG. Nations, Erin Gumballs Top Shelf: IDW Jun. Nowak, Carolyn Girl Town Top Shelf: IDW Sept. Pearson, Joe & others Pearl Jam: Do the Evolution IDW Sept. Pichetshote, Pornsak & others Infidel Image Sept. Powell, Nate Come Again Top Shelf: IDW Jul. Roberts, Keiler Chlorine Gardens Koyama Sept. Rollins, Prentis The Furnace Tor Jul. Sattouf, Riad The Arab of the Future. Vol. 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985–1987 (Tr.) Metropolitan: Holt Aug. Saul, Quincy (ed.) Maroon Comix: Origins and Destinies PM Sept. Simon, Anne The Song of Aglaia Fantagraphics Jul. Sitterson, Aubrey & Chris Moreno The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling Ten Speed: Crown Oct. Small, David Home After Dark Liveright: Norton Sept. Snyder, Scott & Greg Capullo Dark Nights: Metal; Deluxe Edition DC Jun. Spurrier, Si & Bilquis Evely The Dreaming Sandman Universe: DC Sept. Strömquist, Liv Fruit of Knowledge Fantagraphics Aug. Swierczynski, Duane & others Breakneck Hard Case Crime/Titan Aug. Various The Beatles in Comics! NBM Nov. Various RWBY: Official Manga Anthology. Vol. 2: Mirror, Mirror (Tr.) VIZ Aug. Various RWBY: Official Manga Anthology. Vol. 3: From Shadows (Tr.) VIZ Nov. Watters, Dan & others Lucifer Sandman Universe: DC Oct. Webber, Georgia Dumb Fantagraphics Jun. Wilson, Jeffrey & Eliseu Gouveia The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky Seven Stories Jun.

Jody Osicki, Community Services Librarian, Saint John Free Public Library, NB, began reviewing videos and graphic novels for LJ in 2006. A pop culture devotee since age three, he has written about film, music, books, and other works of popular art for various publications since 1990. Osicki was LJ’s 2014 Video Reviewer of the Year

Modernists, Memoirs, Melancholia, Movies | Classic Returns

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:27

This “Classic Returns” column introduces some fascinating personalities readers might have missed the first time around. In the real-lives realm, we have strong survivors: Mary Berg, a fortunate escapee of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi occupation; Albert Race Sample, who triumphed over a stint in the Texas “plantation prison” system; Pauli Murray, whose internal conflicts and external influence made her a powerful voice in the civil rights movement; even Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ press agent in the Swingin’ Sixties, is a survivor of sorts. Fictional survivors include Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose, who suffered through a horrible childhood and has addiction issues; the star-crossed lovers in W.H. Hudson’s back-to-nature novel; and Tom Kristensen’s melancholy Dane Ole, who might have matched Patrick Melrose drink for drink.

Besides survivor stories, there are sf reissues, rereleased mysteries, essays by Saul Bellow, Hollywood books, one covering a megastar and the other an outlier’s memoir, and Canadian author Helen Weinzweig’s rediscovered feminist classic.

Aickman, Robert. Compulsory Games. NYRB Classics. May 2018. 368p. ed. by Victoria Nelson. ISBN 9781681371894. pap. $17.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681371900. SF/SHORT STORIES
This collection from British supernatural/gothic writer Aickman (1914–81) includes 11 original stories from eight original collections not included in the Faber four-volume centenary set reissued in 2014. Four stories unpublished in the author’s lifetime—“The Strangers,” The Coffin House,” “A Disciple of Pain,” and “The Fully Conducted Tour”—are also featured. Editor/author Nelson (Gothicka) notes that Aickman’s “sophisticated modernist tales” deserve “a much higher ranking in the literary canon than the genre ghetto they currently occupy.”

Arnason, Eleanor. Ring of Swords. Heirloom: Aqueduct. (Heirloom, Vol. 5). May 2018. 350p. ISBN 9781619761407. pap. $20. SF
The fifth volume in Aqueduct’s Heirloom imprint reissues sf writer Arnason’s “Hwarhath” novel, originally published in 1993. The aim of Heirloom Books is “to bring back into print work that has helped make feminist sf what it is today,” according to Aqueduct editor L. Timmel Duchamp. Celebrated sf author Ursula K. Le Guin provides a new introduction, elaborating on her original  blurb for the 1993 edition. Among other things, Le Guin said the “ancestry” of Ring of Swords includes The War of the Worlds, A Tale of Two Cities, and War and Peace.


Berg, Mary. The Diary of Mary Berg: Growing Up in the Warsaw Ghetto; 75th Anniversary Edition. ed. by S.L. Schneiderman & Susan Pentlin. OneWorld. Jun. 2018. 320p. photos. bibliog. notes. index. ISBN 9781786073402. pap. $22.99. AUTOBIOG
Author Berg, born Mary Wattenberg in Poland, began writing her diary in 1939, when she was 15 years old and the Nazis were cracking down on the Jewish residents of the Warsaw Ghetto, where she and her family lived. She  chronicled the increasing terror of daily life for four years before escaping to America. First published in 1945 as Warsaw Ghetto: A Diary, this edition features the original introduction by Yiddish journalist Schneiderman, who first met Berg on the dock after her ship arrived in America. Pentlin (emerita professor of modern languages, Central Missouri State Univ.) also contributes an introduction.

Hudson, W.H. Green Mansions. Overlook. May 2018. 400p. illus. by Keith Henderson. ISBN 9781468309195. $30; pap. ISBN 9781585679485. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9781468304176. LIT
Argentinian-born naturalist, ornithologist, and author Hudson’s 1904 allegorical novel is set in the Amazonian jungle. Abel, a war refugee, seeks sanctuary in the virgin forests of Venezuela, where he meets and begins a star-crossed romance with Rima, the last survivor of a mysterious aboriginal race. Hudson’s other books helped foster the back-to-nature movement of the 1920s and 1930s; this full-cloth restoration of a 1926 edition features a foil-stamped cover, 60 black-and-white drawings by Scottish illustrator Henderson, and a new introduction by author Margaret Atwood. (Film note: Audrey Hepburn and Tony Perkins starred in a 1959 film version of Green Mansions, directed by Hepburn’s then-husband, Mel Ferrer.)

Murray, Pauli. Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage. Liveright: Norton. May 2018. 592p. ISBN 9781631494581. pap. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631494598. MEMOIR/LGBTQ
Murray (1910–85), a poet, lawyer, feminist, activist, and later, Episcopal priest, was pivotal in the overturning of Plessy v. Ferguson and other Supreme Court civil rights cases, as well as a cofounder of the National Organization for Women. She befriended progressive leaders such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Thurgood Marshall and was active in social justice movements. Her second memoir (after 1956’s Proud Shoes) was originally published posthumously in 1987. Patricia Bell-Scott (emerita, Univ. of Georgia), author of The Firebrand and the First Lady, an account of Murray’s relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt, provides a new introduction.

St. Aubyn, Edward. Patrick Melrose. Picador. May 2018. ISBN 9781250305664. $26. F
As a tie-in to the Showtime Network five-part “limited event series” starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, this volume collects all five of St. Aubyn’s “Patrick Melrose” novels. Never Mind unfolds over a day and an evening at the Melrose family chateau in France; Bad News opens with 22-year-old Patrick on a drug-fueled trip to New York to collect the ashes of his abusive father; the next book offers Some Hope for a newly sober Patrick; Mother’s Milk looks at him as husband, father, and son; and At Last is set over the single day of a funeral. St. Aubyn’s quintet is celebrated by other authors and critics (including tough nuts such as New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani and author/critic Francine Prose in her upcoming collection, What To Read and Why).

Sample, Albert Race. Racehoss: Big Emma’s Boy. Scribner. May 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781501183980. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781501183997. MEMOIR/LAW & CRIME
First published in 1984, the author’s account of his life as an African American in the Jim Crow South and 17 years of incarceration at a Texas “prison plantation” in the 1950s and 1960s has a hard-won happy ending. Sample (1930–2005) went on to be the first ex-convict in Texas to work for the governor’s office, to be hired as a probation officer, and to serve on the state bar of Texas. He was granted a full pardon in 1976 and received many awards for his work in the field of corrections and rehabilitation of ex-offenders. This edition has a new foreword and afterword written by Sample’s widow, Carol, and ten percent more material.

Taylor, Derek. As Time Goes By. Faber & Faber. May 2018. 228p. illus. index. ISBN 9780571342662. pap. $14.95. MUSIC/MEMOIR
Taylor was press officer for the Beatles in 1964 and for the band’s label, Apple Records, between 1968 and 1970. In the interim, he repped megastar acts such as the Beach Boys and the Byrds. Among the first Sixties pop culture books (released in 1973), this book contains anecdotes about the Beatles’ frenetic 1964 world tour, the scene on the Sunset Strip (1966–67), the Utopian beginnings of Apple Records, and the 1970 breakup of the Beatles. Music journalist and pop culture author Jon Savage (Teenage; 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded) provides a new introduction.

Short Takes

Bellow, Saul. It All Adds Up: From the Distant Past to the Uncertain Future. Penguin Classics. Jun. 2018. ISBN 9780143106685. $22; ebk. ISBN 9781623730338. ESSAYS
Literary giant Bellow (1915–2005) took a break from fiction to muse on history, politics, art, writers, intellectuals, and more in this collection of essays written over a 40-year period. Also included are his remembrances of lost friends such as John Cheever, Allan Bloom, and John Berryman. With a new intro by editor and critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, who reviewed the original 1994 edition.

Brown, Carter. No Harp for My Angel/Booty for a Babe/Eve, It’s Extortion. Stark House. May 2018. 298p. ISBN 9781944520441. pap. $19.95. MYS
This edition comprises three “Al Wheeler” mysteries (Books 4–6) from the British-born, Australia-based author’s long-running series. Brown wrote around 300 books featuring five different series characters, but American police lieutenant Al Wheeler was his most popular; all three books were published in 1956.

Duncan, Francis. So Pretty a Problem (Mordecai Tremaine, Bk. 3). Sourcebooks Landmark. May 2018. pap. 288p. ISBN 9781492651765; ebk. ISBN 9781492651772. MYS
This Golden Age mystery (originally released in 1947) about the murder of an artist and his wife’s puzzling confession is the third of five books (after Murder Has a Motive and Murder for Christmas) starring amateur criminologist Mordecai Tremaine.

Frangioni, David & Thomas Schatz. Clint Eastwood: Icon; The Essential Film Art Collection. Insight Editions. Jun. 2018. 240p. illus. ISBN 9781683833055. $39.95. FILM
Happy 88th birthday (May 31, 1930) to director/actor/
producer Eastwood, whose 60-plus years in Hollywood are represented here in a revised, expanded edition of a 2009 tribute. Frangioni, a prominent collector of Eastwood memorabilia, and movie expert and University of Texas performing arts professor Schatz have added new content from Eastwood’s most recent films.


Kristensen, Tom. Havoc. NYRB Classics. Jun. 2018. 528p. tr. from Danish by Carl Malmberg. ISBN 9781681372075. pap. $17.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681372082. F
Danish journalist, critic, poet, and author Kristensen (1893–1974) penned this “lost Modernist classic” in 1930. Author Karl Ove Knausgaard dubbed this roman à clef that follows a self-destructive literary critic who appears to have it all  “one of the best novels to come out of Scandinavia.”

Lanchester, Elsa. Elsa Lanchester, Herself: An Autobiography. Chicago Review. Apr. 2018. 368p. photos. index. ISBN 9780912777832. pap. $15.99. FILM/AUTOBIOG
She was so much more than Bride of Frankenstein. Actress of stage and screen Lanchester (1902–86) also played dotty British ladies, queens, and the occasional murderess. This long-out-of-print autobiography recounts her unconventional life and times, including her unorthodox marriage to actor and director Charles Laughton.

Weinzweig, Helen. Basic Black with Pearls. NYRB Classics. Apr. 2018. 160p. ISBN 9781681372167. pap. $14; ebk. ISBN 9781681372174. F
First published in 1980, Weinzweig’s layered, dreamlike second novel is recognized as a landmark of feminist fiction. With an afterword from fellow Canadian writer (The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World) and editor (Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s) Sarah Weinman.

Busting Out with Books | What We’re Reading

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 15:32

My recent prompt to the “What We’re Reading & Watching” crew was a call to discuss reading something out of their comfort zones, maybe a genre hop or a complete 180-degree flip from fiction to nonfiction (or vice versa). Laura and Etta made that 180 turn; like Etta, I’m primarily a mystery fan, but I genre-hopped to historical fiction in preparation for moderating a panel at LJ’s Day of Dialog.  Lisa also studied and read for the Great Reporting panel she moderated, but stuck pretty close to home as far as comfort zones go. Ashleigh, too, stood by her favorites but stretched her reading to letters between two beloved African American authors. Whatever our zones, we’re always trying to expand our reading horizons here at WWR Land.

Liz French, Senior Editor, LJ
Like my WWR colleague Lisa (see below) and fellow review editors Wilda Williams and Barbara Hoffert, I moderated a panel at LJ’s annual Day of Dialog, the Top Historical Fiction discussion. In order to know what the heck I was talking about, I had to binge on some really great historical fiction titles (poor little me, right?). I don’t want to pick favorites among the five books (and authors), so I’ll just talk briefly about each: B.J. Shapiro’s The Collector’s Apprentice (Algonquin) is set in the 1920s and the art world, big pluses in my opinion; Ramin Ganeshram’s The General’s Cook (Arcade: Skyhorse) makes you feel the tension and indignities of living every day as a slave in 1790s Philadelphia; Susanna Kearsley’s Bellewether (Sourcebooks Landmark) uses her trademark parallel narrative storytelling to excellent effect; Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter (Atria: S. & S.) also has artists behaving badly and madly as in Shapiro’s novel, and multiple time lines and viewpoints, as in Kearsley’s, but she goes further, with a murder, family secrets, and a ghost. There’s a murder in Beatriz Williams’s The Summer Wives (Morrow), too, and several time lines, but she adds class conflict and the 1969 USA moon landing to her story. Each novel has such a strong sense of place—I was transported out of my comfort zone into each of their worlds, and the trips were exciting to boot. 

Laura Girmscheid, Research Manager, LJS
I usually read fiction but picked up Garrett M. Graff’s Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan To Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die (S. & S.) at the recommendation of a friend. The book is about the U.S. government’s Continuity of Government (COG) program that’s been in place since the Cold War. It discloses formerly secret bunkers located around the country and highlights the workings of one called Raven Rock near Camp David in Maryland. These were designed to withstand global nuclear war and preserve the country’s government as well as various U.S. artifacts. The program doesn’t care who is president so long as there is a president. If you’ve ever watched Designated Survivor, you are familiar with the idea of an order of succession to the presidency. I’m not too far into the book, but it’s easy to read. I think I’m going to like it!

Lisa Peet, Associate Editor, LJ
Earlier this month I read Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Algonquin), by Tim Mohr, as part of prep for the Day of Dialog panel I moderated on Great Reporting. And this fit the bill; I liked it quite a lot. The subject matter hit a bunch of my sweet spots: history as viewed through a specific lens, events that happened in my adult lifetime, and early punk rock. In this case, as the title would indicate, the book focuses on the fall of the Berlin wall and what part was played by the early punk movement in the DDR and Eastern Europe, from 1981 through 1989. Mohr has good sources in addition to opened Stasi records, which he admits are pretty dry, and his narrative is very engaging—he’s obviously making sure his voice matches up with the subject without falling into total inarticulacy, so lots of short, sharp sentences, sometimes repeated like song choruses, and plenty of profanity. As someone who was involved in the downtown NYC punk scene starting in roughly 1981, I was fascinated by the contrast. I definitely consider what I was part of as a scene, rather than a movement. It may have stemmed from adolescent (and post-adolescent) rebellion and a dislike of conformity on my end, but it didn’t carry the same kind of life-and-death charter—no one I knew was going to jail for their beliefs (other than public intoxication, maybe), or having to dodge police to make the music they wanted to make or attend concerts or marches. So even though I know my history, and have read a fair amount about the end of the DDR and the Communist regime at the time, this was an interesting filter to drive home the import of what a lot of young people were dealing with there and then. It also sparked a wave of nostalgia, and I stayed up too late last week Googling photos of punks in the early 80s East Village and falling down a few where-are-they-now rabbit holes. Not everyone I knew then has aged well; imagine.

Henrietta Verma, WWR Emerita
Amanda’s discussion of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark in the last installment of What We’re Reading was so compelling that the book is now high on my TBR list. That would be out of my comfort zone—I’m a big mystery novel reader, but for some reason hardly ever read true crime. At the moment I’m more in my zone, though pushing it a little with the kind of angsty mom who’s a little too like me for my liking. The mom in question, Nina Browning, stars in Emily Giffin’s All We Ever Wanted; her son has done something awful at a party, and she and the victim’s father are the only ones taking it seriously. The first half of this book got me through a bumpy, scary plane ride, so it must be good, but if Nina’s wealthy, obnoxious husband doesn’t get his comeuppance soon, I’ll throw my Kindle at the first rich guy I see. 

Ashleigh Williams, Editorial Assistant, SLJ
So this book is kind of a cheat when it comes to extending beyond my comfort zone. I’m very familiar with Audre Lorde’s work, and I’m pretty vocal about it—so much so that a colleague handed me Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974–1989 (Midsummer Nights) unprompted the moment it showed up at our office! But I haven’t read many letters between writers. I’m almost too excited to read this, so I’m really trying to take my time and savor the exchanges between these amazing black lesbian writers who were hugely influential in the black feminist arts and who continue to shape queer studies today. It feels like a gift to experience their friendship through the written mundanities of their lives and to “eavesdrop” (as Mecca Jamilah Sullivan calls it in the introduction) on the ways in which they supported each other. It seems that Lorde liked to send Parker gifts, including a check for stamps and Bazooka Bubble Gum, and playfully but firmly asked Parker to send her work for personal critique or publication. The pair exchanged confidences about community organizing and the need to work with youth, with prisoners, and with the public overall while navigating the bureaucracy and limitations of institutions like the public school system and the National Endowment for the Arts (“Nothing connected with the NEA is only what it seems to be on the surface,” Lorde wrote in an early undated letter). I’ve barely skimmed the surface of this text, and I already feel like I’ve learned so much about these two brilliant creators.



Sophisticated Reads | Day of Dialog 2018

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 13:18

With a title aptly echoing Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” as noted by moderator and LJ Prepub Alert Editor Barbara Hoffert, the “Sophisticated Reads” panel led off with Gary Shteyngart declaring “Librarians, I love you” before launching into a discussion of his multi-faceted Lake Success (Random, Sept.), a road-trip novel about an ultrarich but clueless hedge-fund manager abandoning his wife and autistic son to hop a Greyhound in search of his college girlfriend and the real America. Shteyngart said that while all his books are “comic at heart, I try to write about something that matters in life,” and what matters here is finding connection with those whom we might seem to have little in common.

Next, debut novelist Crystal Hana Kim touched on resonant emotional truths in If You Leave Me (Morrow, Aug.), a sprawling, multigenerational family saga set during the Korean War and its aftermath. The author cited chilling stories passed down by her war survivor grandmother, as well as being a lifelong reader, as her primary research sources for portraying how women in particular have navigated tough choices during wartime.

An eerie, metaphysical thriller whose protagonist encounters her recently deceased husband while attending a horror film festival in Havana, Cuba, Laura van den Berg’s The Third Hotel (Farrar, Aug.) aims to convey an “extreme rupture to the character’s sense of self,” said the author. Horror can do that; as the narrative declares, “Horror is the dislocation of reality, a dislocation designed to reveal the reality that’s been there all along.” Van den Berg further clarified that art in general serves as “a kind of jolt, a disturbance in the air and to the smooth surface of the self”—exactly what she hopes readers will get from her novel.

(Pictured l. to r.) Laura van den Berg, Walter Mosley, Gary Shteyngart,
Crystal Hana Kim, James Frey

Described by Hoffert as “a story hot enough to burn through your eyes,” New York Times best-selling author James Frey’s sensuous, stylistically experimental Katerina (Scout: Gallery, Sept.) is about relationships, yes, but especially about the act of creation. Moving mostly between contemporary America and 1920s Paris, it sees an emotionally broken writer return to his raucous, raunchy young days in the City of Light and his affair with the heart-sucking titular heroine. Citing his own early days as a writer, Frey said he was inspired to create “divisive works that change people’s lives and burn the fucking world down,” the latter phrase featuring prominently throughout. For Frey, that’s “learning to write, chasing your dreams…loss…a book about books.”

Though Walter Mosley is a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, his intellectually exciting new stand-alone, John Woman (Atlantic Monthly, Sept.), is decidedly not a mystery despite opening with a violent crime. Reinventing himself after terrible loss, the titular character, now a deconstructionist historian professor, challenges his students to question what they think they know, which in turn challenges readers as John deconstructs the twists and turns of history. “As time goes by, things change,” said Mosley, perhaps echoing his own constant reinvention as a writer, his taking back the creative license he says capitalism strips away by pigeonholing authors. As the mic was passed among the authors, each pushing the envelope in a different way, Frey concluded, “I’d rather fail than having done nothing at all.”

Photos ©2018 William Neumann


Read To Lead | Leadership

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 17:11
Seventeen Titles To Give
New Library Leaders Context
and Help Experienced Ones
Keep Things Fresh

Library Focused

Evans, G. Edward & Holland Christie. Managerial Leadership for Librarians: Thriving in the Public and Nonprofit World. Libraries Unlimited. 2017. 379p. index. ISBN 9781440841705. pap. $65; ebk. ISBN 9781440841712.

This title is aimed at librarians with some managerial experience and knowledge/understanding of foundational concepts. Though some chapters cover familiar ground, the authors quickly move the discussions beyond the basics. They also focus on adapting management concepts and theory specifically for the public and nonprofit sectors and combining the development of advanced management skills with those of dynamic leadership. (LJ 4/1/18)

The LITA Leadership Guide: The Librarian as Entrepreneur, Leader, and Technologist. Rowman & Littlefield. 2017. 152p. ed. by Carl Antonucci & Sharon Clapp. illus. index. ISBN 9781442279018. $75; pap. ISBN 9781442279025. $37.

The authors encourage librarians who aspire to leadership roles to embrace the ever-changing technology and space needs of their patrons and to adopt an entrepreneurial spirit in both areas. They examine the effect these changes have had on the mission and operations of libraries and how leaders willing to take risks can help ensure that libraries continue to be relevant to the communities they serve. (LJ 10/15/17)

The Many Faces of School Library Leadership. 2d ed. Libraries Unlimited. 2017. 184p. ed. by Sharon Coatney & Violet H. Harada. index. ISBN 9781440848971. pap. $50; ebk. ISBN 9781440848988.

Though this work is aimed at K–12 librarians, the advice is easily adaptable to all types of librarianship. The K–12 focus offers some interesting angles that do not typically show up in other titles, such as literacy and curriculum leadership and advocacy leadership.

Related OrganizationS

Garrett, Charles E. Guiding Principles for Commonsense Leadership: A Little Black Book for Educational Leaders. Dog Ear. 2017. 91p. ISBN 9781457559105. pap. $14.95.

Targeting a specific population (principals and administrators), this book is nonetheless applicable to aspiring leaders in any setting. The author covers a wide range of topics with emphasis on common sense, collaboration, and avoiding common pitfalls such as poor listening.

Inclusive Leadership in Higher Education: International Perspectives and Approaches. Routledge. Jan. 2018. 215p. ed. by Lorraine Stefani & Patrick Blessinger. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781138201446. pap. $46.95; ebk. ISBN 9781315466095.

As its title implies, this volume showcases leadership practices that promote inclusion across all groups in higher education organizations. Content includes case studies from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the UK, as well as topical chapters focused on particular challenges and opportunities faced by leaders in this environment.

Transformational Leadership and Not for Profits and Social Enterprises. Routledge. (Studies in the Management of Voluntary & Non-Profit Organizations). Mar. 2018. 232p. ed. by Ken Wiltshire & others. index. ISBN 9781138204829. $150; ebk. ISBN 9781315468570.

Much like libraries, the role of not-for-profit organizations has become more complex and with this comes a need for innovative leadership. The essays in this title draw on real-world experiences from the not-for-profit world to help aspiring leaders support their teams and client communities and situate their organizations to succeed in an increasingly challenging milieu.

General Leadership

Fabritius, Friederike & Hans W. Hagemann. The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance. TarcherPerigee: Putnam. 2017. 272p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780143129356. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101993200.

Part leadership theory and part strategy for training your brain, this work is designed both for individual development and as a resource for creating higher functioning teams. The first two sections focus on individual development and the third expands the individual strategies to a team setting, including advice for hiring and training.

Grieser, Randy. The Ordinary Leader: 10 Key Insights for Building and Leading a Thriving Organization. Achieve. 2017. 216p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781988617008. $21; ebk. ISBN 9781988617015.

Not all great leaders head up governments, large corporations, or notable organizations. Grieser maintains that “ordinary” leaders can come from any part of any size organization, and, if they pay attention to ten key areas, they can be influential in the success of their organization. The author adds survey responses from 1,700 professionals to his own experience, as well as examples for translating ideas into action.

Hougaard, Rasmus & Jacqueline Carter. The Mind of the Leader: How To Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results. Harvard Business Review. Mar. 2018. 328p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781633693425. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781633693432.

An important part of leading is having a vision and bringing it to fruition but not at the expense of the people you lead. The authors contend that truly successful leaders must exhibit mindfulness, selflessness, and compassion. They offer success stories from such corporate giants as Marriott, Accenture, McKinsey & Co., and LinkedIn to underscore their theory.

Kottler, Jeffrey A. What You Don’t Know About Leadership, but Probably Should: Applications to Daily Life. Oxford Univ.Mar. 2018. 344p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190620820. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780190620837.

The emphasis here is boiling down leadership theory into practical strategies that can be used across a multitude of professional situations. Kottler calls out particular attributes (flexibility, humility, self-confidence) that are marks of a successful leader, and dangerous pitfalls (narcissism, hubris) that can cause a leader to fail.

Meyer, Ron. Leadership Agility: Developing Your Repertoire of Leadership Styles. Routledge. Jan. 2018. 264p. illus. index. ISBN 9781138065109. pap. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781315159980.

Just as there are styles of learning, there are also styles of leading. This title details ten leadership techniques, suggesting in which contexts, settings, and roles each might be particularly effective and for which they may not be suited. The author explains why it is advantageous for leaders to learn how and when to switch among various methods.

Northouse, Peter G. Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice. 4th ed. SAGE. Jan. 2018. 335p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781506330082. pap. $67.

Currently in its fourth edition, this title provides an overview of leadership concepts and strategies. Each chapter contains a self-assessment questionnaire, exercises, and worksheets for practice and introspection. This new edition adds a chapter on diversity and inclusion and an ethical leadership style survey.

Spodek, Joshua. Leadership Step by Step: Become the Person Others Follow. AMACOM. 2017. 246p. index. ISBN 9780814437933. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780814437940.

This leadership workbook provides 22 exercises designed to help the reader build the skills and abilities that successful leaders possess. Each chapter encompasses one exercise, progressing from an inward-facing self-development focus to more advanced practice that budding leaders can work through in their own professional setting.

Tjan, Anthony. Good People: The Only Leadership Decision That Really Matters. Portfolio. 2017. 304p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780399562150. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780399562174.

As with the previous title, Good People contends that successful leaders should exhibit compassion and integrity. The author defines these and other “good” qualities and provides excerpts from interviews with leaders who embody them. Additionally, he stresses the importance of hiring with an eye toward applicants who exhibit these qualities instead of simply judging them by the record of accomplishments listed in their résumés. (LJ 4/1/17)


Bailey, Cathy Quartner. Show Up as Your Best Self: Mindful Leaders, Meditation, & More. CreateSpace: Amazon. 2017. 186p. ISBN 9781523787197. pap. $12.95.

Taking on the responsibilities that come with being a leader can be stressful. Bailey explains how adopting mindfulness practices such as quiet reflection and meditation not only can help relieve stress but also enable leaders to manage uncertainty better, solve problems, and engage more deeply in active listening and other habits that will maintain crucial connections throughout their organizations.

Kahnweiler, Jennifer B. The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength. Berrett-Koehler. Mar. 2018. 188p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781523094332. pap. $20.95; ebk. ISBN 9781523094318.

It may seem like all successful leaders must be extroverts, but Kahnweiler makes the case that many introvert qualities are well suited for that position. She discusses how introverts can benefit from their natural tendency toward observation, listening over talking, and careful word choice and lays out a four-step strategy they can use to build on these and other qualities that will help them become successful leaders.

Quayle, Moura. Designed Leadership. Columbia Univ. 2017. 226p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780231173124. pap. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780231544689.

This title lays out strategies for incorporating design thinking into leadership. Quayle explains how design thinking is an important addition to the leader’s toolkit because it inspires innovation and creativity. She explains the ten principles and methods of designed leadership, offers advice on how to practice them, and provides case studies that showcase their effectiveness.

Sara Holder is Associate Professor and Head of Research and Information Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has authored journal articles on subjects including librarian training and development and academic library management. She is active in ALA, ACRL, and LLAMA and is a frequent reviewer for LJ (she is the 2018 Video Reviewer of the Year)

Editors’ Mystery Picks: Top Titles from Top Publishers | Day of Dialog 2018

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 15:24

Moderated by LJ Fiction Editor Wilda Williams, the inaugural Mystery Editors’ Picks panel opened with industry veteran Tom Colgan, VP and editorial director of Berkley’s lauded Prime Crime imprint, presenting the irresistible combination of clever librarian sleuths and cute, crime-solving cats, as featured in Jenn McKinlay’s Hitting the Books (“Library Lovers” series) and Sofie Kelly’s The Cats Came Back (“Magical Cats” series, now in hardcover). At the other end of the mystery spectrum and proving equally appealing were edgy, authentically drawn historicals featuring one-of-a-kind female protagonists, as exemplified by Rhys Bowen’s 1930s-set Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding: A Royal Spyness Mystery and Victoria Thompson’s series launch City of Secrets, set during the suffragette era.

Three-year-old upstart Crooked Lane—now publishing 75 titles a year—has seen an increase in its thriller entries, said publisher Matt Martz, highlighting debut author Laurie Petrou’s dark psychological thriller Sister of Mine. But he stressed that new entries in well-respected (and LJ-acclaimed) series will continue to head the company’s frontlist, including P.J. Tracy’s The Guilty Dead, the latest in a long-running police procedural series from a mother/daughter writing team, with this volume written by daughter Tracy after P.J.’s recent death, and Ellen Byron’s Mardi Gras Murder, next in the “Cajun Country Mystery” series that launched the publisher with the best-selling Plantation Shudders.

Ensuring Soho Crime’s commitment to its 30-year-old motto, “crime has no time zone,” senior vice president/associate publisher Juliet Grames’s list spanned continents, cultures, and cuisines, as well as an array of narrative styles. Consider Shamus Award–winning John Straley’s Alaska-set Baby’s First Felony, Stephen Mack Jones’s Detroit-based Lives Laid Away, rising star Mick Herron’s London Rules (blurbed as the John le Carré of our generation), and fan favorite Sujat Massey’s The Satapur Moonstone, the second in the series starring Perveen Mistry, India’s first female lawyer.

Having worked with authors such as Jeffrey Archer, Lucinda Riley, and Ann Cleeves before joining St. Martin’s Minotaur Books in 2017 to head the development of crime fiction, Catherine Richards spent nearly a decade as the senior editor of commercial fiction at the UK-based Pan Macmillan. Here she debuted an impressive, all-female list, which ranged from newcomer Sandie Jones’s chilling domestic suspense The Other Woman, to gorgeous, sweeping historicals by Jess Montgomery (The Widows) and Kate Mosse (The Burning Chambers), to Zoje Stage’s fantasy-tinged thriller Wonderland.

Lastly, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Janet Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” series, Dan Zitt, VP, content production, Penguin Random House Audio/Books on Tape, announced the release of Evanovich’s Look Alive Twenty-Five, narrated by Lorelei King, and Lee Child’s latest “Jack Reacher” novel, Past Tense, read by Scott Brick. Zitt also shared the ins and outs of casting a mystery audio and for podcast fans recommended This Is the Author, a brief, ten-minute podcast with authors discussing the experience of narrating their own book. Click here for a full list of titles.

Photos ©2018 William Neumann

Librarians Shout ‘n Share Their Show Picks | BookExpo 2018

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 10:39

Shout ‘n Sharers (left to right): Wilda Williams (moderator), Stephanie Anderson, Gregg Winsor, Jennifer Hubert Swan, and Shayera Tangeri. Photo by Chris Vaccari

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Library Journal’s popular Librarian Shout ‘n Share panel once again took center stage on the final day of BookExpo 2018, held May 30–June 1 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

Occupying the Downtown Stage, one of three main venues for special book and author events, the discussion was moderated by LJ Fiction Editor Wilda Williams and featured a mix of first-time and veteran librarian shouters: Stephanie Anderson, assistant director of selection, BookOps, New York and Brooklyn Public Libraries; Gregg Winsor, reference librarian, Johnson County Library, Overland Park, KS; Jennifer Hubert Swan, middle school librarian and director of library services, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School, NYC; and Shayera Tangeri, senior librarian, Porter Ranch Branch Library, CA.

As with last year’s session, there was surprisingly very little overlap in the discoveries shared by panelists. Home After Dark, author/illustrator David Small’s long-awaited follow up to his 2011 National Book Award finalist Stitches, drew nods from Winsor, Swan, and Williams. Other titles attracting multiple attention included The Real Lolita, Sarah Weinman’s investigation of the kidnapping that inspired Vladimir Nabokov’s literary masterpiece; Stephen L. Carter’s Invisible, which recounts the life of the author’s remarkable grandmother, who helped take down 1930s gangster Lucky Luciano; and Sarah McCoy’s Marilla of Green Gables, the much anticipated prequel to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Canadian classic, Anne of Green Gables.

In 2017, A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window was the Big Book of the show. No such thriller appeared on the horizon this year, but buzz is building for British screenwriter Alex Michaelides’s chilling debut The Silent Patient, which will be released in early 2019 by Macmillan’s new Celedon Books imprint.

The following list includes all titles presented, in roughly the order mentioned, with bold titles indicating those selected by more than one panelist.

Stephanie Anderson, BookOps, NYPL & BPL

Murata, Sayaka. Convenience Store Woman (Grove Atlantic, Jun.) F

Farizan, Sara. Here To Stay (Algonquin Young Readers, Sept.) YA Fic

Weinman, Sarah. The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World (Ecco: HarperCollins, Sept.) True Crime/Lit

Gerald, Casey. There Will Be No Miracles Here (Riverhead, Oct.) Memoir

Carter, Stephen L. Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster (Holt, Oct.) Biog

Guillory, Jasmine. The Proposal (Berkley, Sept.) Romance

Invisible Planets, ed. & tr. from Chinese by Ken Liu (Tor, pap. release Aug.) SF/Short Stories

Lal, Ruby. Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (Norton, Jul.) Hist

Chung, Nicole. All You Can Ever Know (Catapult, Oct.) Memoir

Brodell, Ria. Butch Heroes (MIT, Sept.) LGBTQ Hist


Gregg Winsor, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS

Michaelides, Alex. The Silent Patient (Celadon, Jan. 2019) Psychological Thriller

Pinborough, Sarah. Cross Her Heart (Morrow, Sept.) Psychological Thriller

Ryan, Hank Phillippi. Trust Me. (Forge, Aug.)  Psychological Thriller

Small, David. Home After Dark. (Liveright, Sept.) Graphic Novel/Coming of Age

Hendrix, Grady. We Sold Our Souls (Quirk, Sept.) Horror

Reed, Elliott, A Key to Treehouse Living (Tin House, Sept.) Coming-of-Age Fiction

Dalcher, Christine. Vox. (Berkley, Aug.) Dystopian Fiction

Walker, Karen Thompson. The Dreamers (Random, Jan. 2019) Literary SF

Harvey, Michael. Pulse (HarperCollins, Oct.) Science Thriller

Moshfegh, Otessa. My Year of Rest and Relaxation. (Penguin, Jul.) Literary Fiction

Suri, Tasha. Empire of Sand (Orbit: Hachette, Nov.) Fantasy

Shayera Tangeri, Porter Ranch Branch Lib., CA

Anderson, Pam. How To Cook Without a Book, Completely Updated and Revised: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Clarkson Potter: Crown, Aug.) Cooking

Dyson, Michael. What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America (St. Martin’s, Jun.) Politics

Felix, Antonia. Elizabeth Warren: Her Fight. Her Work. Her Life (Sourcebooks, Aug.) Biog

Dawson, Delilah S. & Kevin Hearn. Kill the Farm Boy: The Tales of Pell (Del Rey, July) Fantasy

Kimball, Christopher. Milk Street: Tuesday Nights; More Than 200 Simple Weeknight Suppers That Deliver Bold Flavor, Fast (Little, Brown, Oct.) Cooking

Lepore, Jill. These Truths: A History of the United States (Norton, Sept.) Hist

Loren, Roni. The One You Can’t Forget (Sourcebooks Casablanca, Jun.) Romance

McCoy, Sarah. Marilla of Green Gables (Morrow, Oct. ) Coming-of-Age Historical/YA Crossover

Morgan, Sarah. The Christmas Sisters (HQN: Harlequin, Sept.) Holiday Romance 

Novik, Naomi. Spinning Silver (Del Rey: Ballantine, Jul.) Fantasy

Gallagher, Cayla. Unicorn Food: Rainbow Treats and Colorful Creations To Enjoy and Admire (Skyhorse, May) Cooking

Schlueter, Heather. Cooking with Your Instant Pot® Mini: 100 Quick & Easy Recipes for 3-Quart Models (Sterling Epicure, May) Cooking

Yolen, Jane. Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse (, Oct.) Fantasy

Jennifer Hubert Swan, Little Red Sch. House & Elisabeth Irwin High Sch., NYC

Brooks, Molly. Sanity and Tallulah (Disney-Hyperion, Oct.) Middle Grade Graphic Novel

Reed, Elliot. A Key to Treehouse Living (Tin House, Sept.) Coming-of-Age/YA Crossover

Shepard, Megan. Grim Lovelies (HMH Books for Young Readers, Oct.) YA Fantasy

Medina, Meg. Merci Suárez Changes Gears (Candlewick, Sept.) Middle Grade Fiction

Fresh Ink, ed. by Lamar Giles (Crown Bks for Young Readers Aug.) YA anthology

Pessl, Marisha. Neverworld Wake (Delacorte, Jun.) YA Fiction

Sarles, Shawn. Campfire (Jimmy Patterson: Little Brown, Jul.) YA Horror

Colfer, Eoin & Andrew Donkin (text) & Giovanni Rigano (illus.). Illegal (Sourcebooks, Aug.) Middle Grade Graphic Novel

Imani, Blair. Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Writing History (Ten Speed: Crown, Oct.)  Hist

Small, David. Home After Dark (Liveright: Norton, Sept.) Graphic Novel/Coming of Age

Wilda Williams, LJ Reviews

Corera, Dan. Operation Columba—The Secret Pigeon Service: The Untold Story of World War II Resistance in Europe (Morrow, Oct.) Hist

Mohr, Tim. Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Algonquin, Sept) Hist

Dalcher, Christine. Vox (Berkley, Aug.) Dystopian Fiction

Hua, Vanessa. River of Stars (Ballantine, Aug.) F

Park, Samuel. The Caregiver (S. & S., Sept.) F

Carter, Stephen L. Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster (Holt, Oct.) Biog

Weinman, Sarah. The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World (Ecco: HarperCollins, Sept.) True Crime/Lit

Lewis, Marjorie Herrera. When the Men Were Gone (Morrow, Oct.) Historical Fic

McCoy, Sarah. Marilla of Green Gables (Morrow, Oct.) Coming-of-Age Historical/YA Crossover

Barbash, Tom. The Dakota Winters. (Ecco: HarperCollins, Dec.) Coming-of-Age Fic

Carey, Edward. Little. (Riverhead, Oct.) Literary Historical Fic

Parry, Ambrose. The Way of All Flesh (Canongate, Oct.) Historical Mys

Mustich, James. 1,000 Books To Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List (Workman, Oct.) Lit