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Exploring a Rapidly Expanding Podcast Universe | Discovery & Advisory

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 16:46

The appeal of podcasts is easy to understand—they’re free, easy to sample and subscribe to, and there are now so many that it’s possible to find a show to match any interest and satisfy any reader.

Podcast listening continues to increase. Edison Research’s 2018 Infinite Dial study reports that 44 percent of Americans over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast, up from 40 percent the previous year. Ease of listening contributes to that trend as music apps incorporate podcast feeds; Google Play Music added podcast support last year, and Spotify just added it this spring. Apple has incorporated podcast downloading as a feature on iTunes for years; its current podcast app is now simply called Apple Podcasts.

Yet with more than 500,000 active podcasts available through Apple Podcasts alone, how can discovery be managed—for librarians or for patrons looking for guidance? First, some general advice for finding great podcasts and then recommendations for readers with particular interests.

Podcast App Discovery Features

The podcast app you or your patrons are already using probably has a built-in discovery feature. Most have directories to make finding new podcasts easier. Some may have personalized recommendations based on current subscriptions, but just about any podcast app will have subject-based categories for convenient browsing. Finding podcasts this way to match book tastes may be easier for nonfiction buffs, as it’s no stretch to map nonfiction genres such as politics, history, and travel onto podcast categories, but don’t overlook the Arts & Entertainment (or similar) category in those apps, as it will probably include both fiction podcasts and podcasts about fiction genres.

NPR has been a longtime leader in popularizing podcasts, and its NPR One app makes it even easier to unearth new programs and episodes of interest. Listeners can follow their favorite shows and mark episodes as “interesting,” and the app will recommend others that they may enjoy based on their listening history. It’s useful when listeners are in the mood for something new but aren’t sure what to try, and it’s surprising that more podcast apps don’t have a similar feature.

Follow the Guests

Listeners of even a few podcasts will realize that most podcasters make guest appearances on other podcasts. If you hear a guest you like, pay attention to the plugs at the end of the episode. If that individual has a podcast, try it out. It’s a simple but effective way to find more shows to follow.

Likewise, many podcasts today are produced by networks such as Earwolf, Radiotopia, Maximum Fun, Gimlet Media, or Nerdist. The hugely popular Welcome to Night Vale has begun this spring to spin off new shows on its budding network. Membership in a network gives podcasts a natural way to build their publicity and income, and typically podcasts on a network will cross-promote other shows. Take note of all the podcasts on the network(s) you or your patrons like; they’ll probably share common elements of style and sensibility.

Online Communities

Whatever your online discussion forum of choice—Facebook groups, Twitter, Subreddits, or forums for particular interests such as fitness, gaming, fanfiction, cooking, or reading—odds are there’s a thread floating around with podcast recommendations. Do a search for the word podcasts or podcasts-plus the genre you’re looking for, or try googling “podcasts like” and a book title. It’s nearly guaranteed that someone has asked for prior recommendations. Podcasts come and go, so if that suggestion thread is more than a year old, start a new one to get some current offerings.

Following your favorite authors on social media is a great tactic to discover their guest appearances on podcasts, and may lead listeners to a new favorite. Authors often do virtual book tours including a round of podcast appearances when they’re promoting a new release. When an author has a new book, pay attention to where they’re guesting. If a podcast features an author you like, check out the next episode as well; you may discover a new regular listen—or a new ­favorite author.

ON THE LINE Libraries that lack the resources to provide their own podcast recording equipment may have access though a consortium or local library organization. The Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) is a nonprofit resource-sharing agency for New York City’s libraries and archives. Studio manager Molly Schwartz shows off
the audio recording booth at METRO’s Studio 599. Schwartz produces and hosts METRO’s podcast, Library Bytegeist.
Photos ©2018 William Neumann

Best Podcast Lists

Plenty of media and book websites post lists of best podcasts. There’s no single authoritative body issuing a universally recognized award such as the Academy Awards, and no Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes for ratings, so be prepared to poke around the web a little. Here are a few “best of” lists worth checking out.

The A.V. Club’s Podmass column is a weekly roundup of its favorite episodes from the previous week’s podcasts. It’s a great way not only to hear about notable episodes and interviews from well-known podcasts but to get highlights from new and less-well-known programs. As of this writing, the current week’s list includes royal weddings, deep readings of literary short fiction, and fairy-tale versions of notable women from history.

Lifehacker’s subject editors have an interesting and eclectic list of their favorites, covering a wide range of topical ground and a mix of the famous and obscure.

Vulture recommends new podcasts for 2018 featuring something for true crime fans (Atlanta Monster and West Cork) and Marvel comics fans (Wolverine: The Long Night), among others, and suggests checking out the Night Vale Presents productions Adventures in New America (forthcoming), set in an alternate New York City inhabited by space vampires, and Pounded in the Butt by My Own Podcast, which features celebrity readers narrating author Chuck Tingle’s surreal gay erotica.

The New Yorker’s Best Podcasts of 2017 list includes less common recommendations such as Uncivil, which spotlights lesser-known stories from the Civil War; Ear Hustle, about domestic life in prison and is produced by inmates at San Quentin State Prison; Nocturne, “a podcast about the night” featuring recordings of night sounds, stories about terrifying and remarkable nighttime events, and explorations of dreams; and The Nod, which offers deep dives into African American culture.

Book Riot’s 15 Outstanding Podcasts for Book Lovers list has listening recommendations for readers: author interviews on Beth’s Bookshelf and Penguin Random House’s Beaks & Geeks; The Brit List Podcast for Anglophiles; Banging Book Club for sex-related book talk with a strong dose of issues of representation and feminism; Backlisted, “giving new life to old books”; and The Secret Library Podcast about the publishing industry, among others.

How To Start a Podcast: What To Consider Before, During,
and After You Hit “Record”

By Chris Kretz

have a great idea for a podcast? It’s an exciting challenge and opportunity to share your message with the world. However, podcasting also requires technical skill, a host of logistical decisions, and extreme attention to detail. So how do you start a podcast? Deliberately. Willingly. And with a lot of patience. Here is a basic look at the process.

The Idea

A podcast can contain many things, from discussions and interviews to scripted dramas and stories. Decide what you want to capture. Many subsequent decisions will be driven by what type of podcast you want. Ask yourself:

• What’s your show about? Write an intro that you’ll say at the beginning of each episode to help you define it.

• Has it been done before? Listen to existing podcasts on the same topic: How will yours be different?

• What’s the format? One host? A team? Rotating guests?

• What’s your tone? Informal and off-the-cuff? Highly scripted? Consider your own strengths and weaknesses.

• Check to see what names have been taken. You may have to get creative.


Your recording setup will depend on your budget and situation. For a one-person show, one mic is all you need. If you have multiple people on each show, a digital audio recorder that can take multiple mics would be a better choice.

Regardless, the basic ingredients are a microphone, equipment to record into, and editing software.

• Microphones These break down into two types: USB mics connect to a laptop or desktop computer. They are easy to use and come in a range of price and quality. Examples include Blue’s Yeti and Samson’s Meteor. XLR mics have three-pronged outputs and connect to external recording devices. They are more expensive but give you better quality. Examples include the Shure SM58 and the Rode Procaster.

• Recording devices You can start with a desktop or laptop computer running sound editing software such as Garageband for Mac and Audacity for Windows Digital audio recorders work with XLR mics, provide better audio quality, and are more portable. Audio files need to be transferred to a computer for editing. Examples include the Zoom H6 and the Tascam DR-40.

• Recording space Pick the quietest spot you can find and guard against interruptions. Most spaces are not as insulated as you think; noise seeps in from everywhere. People have been known to record in closets and under blankets.


Do at least some basic editing and postproduction work before releasing your podcast to the world.

Things to take care of:

• Audio levels: make sure they are consistent, with no sudden leaps in volume or sections that are too low to hear. Your software will help you adjust.

• ID3 tags: Make sure your audio file has the standard ID3 metadata tags encoded. Podcast players and directories will display this information as author, title, artist, track no., etc.

• Cover/album art: Design an eye-catching, simple graphic for your podcast and embed it in each audio file. It will be your calling card across multiple podcast directories and apps. Apple’s requirements for artwork are currently a JPG or PNG image, from 1,400 to 3,000 pixels square.


You need a stable, reliable host to hold your files and generate your RSS feed. The feed is the constantly updated XML file of metadata about your podcast that distributes it to directories and apps across the digital landscape.

Many commercial hosts exist, usually charging a sliding scale for their services. Others are free but come with limitations.

Some things to consider about hosts:

• Check any data upload limits. Choose the tier appropriate to the amount of content you expect to produce. Most hosts reset the limits at the beginning of the month.

• What type of customer service do they provide? Do they offer tutorials or help pages?

• How hard will it be to get your content off their platform should the need arise?

• Popular hosting sites include Blubrry, Libsyn, Podbean, and SoundCloud.


Apple continues to be the major player in the podcast distribution game. So your first step is to submit your show to Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes). You’ll need an existing Apple ID to log in and submit your RSS feed to Apple. Once accepted, your show will appear in the directory, the Apple Podcast app, and in any app that pulls from Apple, such as Overcast, Downcast, Castro, and so on. Some services, such as Spotify, require you to submit your RSS feed to them individually.

Now What?

A lot of work goes into a podcast, but don’t let the technical requirements dissuade you. If you’re passionate about an idea and are willing to commit to it, then get started. The sooner you start, the sooner others can start listening.

Chris Kretz is Head of the Southampton Library, Stony Brook University Libraries, NY. He produces two podcasts: The Long Island History Project ( and The Radio Tower (

Book podcasts

There are, of course, many podcasts specifically devoted to books and reading. NPR’s All About Books interviews best-selling and award-winning novelists; it recently featured an interview with librarian and readers’ advisory expert Becky Spratford. The hosts have talked to writers in a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres.

Reading Glasses features discussions on book culture, author interviews, and the reading lifestyle. Hosts Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara interview authors, librarians, and publishers; review “bookish technology” such as reading lights and ereader accessories; and hold animated discussions about how to get more out of your reading life: breaking up with a bad book, consolidating your book collection with your partner’s, or using your ereader in the bath.

BookRiot produces a dizzying array of book-related podcasts—some general-interest like Book Riot the Podcast and All the Books, and some specific to particular genres such as For Real (all things nonfiction-related), Read or Dead (mystery/thriller), SFF Yeah (sf/fantasy), and When in ­Romance.

Anglophiles may want to try The Guardian Books Podcast, which features in-depth author interviews and thematic investigations into literary trends.

Unladylike is an Australian podcast about women and writing. Hosts Adele Walsh and Kelly Gardiner’s manifesto states that they “talk with women and nonbinary people about writing and reading and particularly about process: the thinking, planning, plotting (or not), research, drafting, and editing that writers do.” Guests have included mystery author Kerry Greenwood, romance novelists Anna Campbell and Kylie Scott, and Bandjalang illustrator Bronwyn Bancroft.

Listener’s Advisory

Podcasts are a great way for fiction readers to sample short works or discover new authors. Fiction podcasts often fit an audiobook-style mold, with a single narrator reading a story, but some programs (as well as some audiobooks) go beyond that with fully produced dramatic presentations in the style of a radio drama, with music, sound effects, and a cast of actors.

NPR’s Selected Shorts features a rotating cast of guest hosts including Jane Curtin, Jane Kaczmarek, and Robert Sean Leonard, presenting stories by well-known and emerging writers, read by such celebrity narrators as Tony Hale, John Lithgow, and Parker Posey.

Radiotopia’s The Truth presents original dramatized short stories in a format called “movies for your ears,” with full sound design and music, produced by a team of screenwriters and actors.

Bronzeville is an episodic scripted audio drama by Oscar and BAFTA nominee Josh Olson, starring Laurence Fishburne, Larenz Tate, and Tika Sumpter in a story about characters playing and running an underground lottery.

For a different kind of fiction, try Dead Pilots Society, readings of TV comedy pilot scripts that never got produced. Episodes have featured writers like Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, and John Hodgman and comic performers Jason Ritter, Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt, and Cedric Yarbrough, among others.


The podcast landscape for genre enthusiasts is particularly rich.

True Crime

Fans of true crime such as Michelle McNamara’s new posthumous best seller I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer are truly living in a golden age of podcasts. It’s hard to open a podcast app without tripping over a recommendation for true crime.

West Cork is Audible’s original true crime podcast. Creators Jennifer Forde and Sam Bungey follow the case of a French filmmaker murdered outside a small Irish town. Audible provides online supplemental material, including maps and time lines, for enthusiastic sleuths to follow.

My Favorite Murder, hosted by comedians Karen ­Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, has taken off in popularity since its launch in 2016. Hardstark and Kilgariff each research a different weekly case and relate the details in a conversational format full of passionate digressions and life advice (like “stay out of the forest”).

Criminal is a different kind of “true crime” podcast. While the label technically fits—it’s about crime and it’s all true—this show is rarely interested in gory murders. Rather, it’s an examination of a different encounter with a different kind of crime every episode, interviewing perpetrators, victims, and families touched by crime in some way.

The Grift by Maria Konnikova (The Confidence Game) is a fascinating limited-run series with ten episodes about con artists, both living and historical, whose crimes range from art fraud to gambling swindles to claims of psychic powers.

In the Dark’s first season covered the case of abducted child Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota, examining how police mishandled the case and its effect on national fear of danger to children and the development of sex offender registries. Its second season started May 1 and chronicles Curtis Flowers, a man on death row in Mississippi whose case has had two mistrials and three convictions overturned on appeal; he’s been tried six times for the same crime.

Crimetown digs into the crime culture of a variety of American cities. The excellent first season concerned Providence and the influence of organized crime on law enforcement and local politics at all levels in a story with few purely good or bad characters. The topic for Season 2 has yet to be announced, but Season 1 includes a generous handful of bonus episodes to satisfy listeners.

Fantasy & SF

Sf and fantasy (sf/f) readers are well covered in the podcast world. Readers who like John Scalzi’s upcoming Head On or N.K. Jemisin’s recently concluded “Broken Earth” trilogy may want to check out some of these ­podcasts:

Sword & Laser is a long-running literary sf/f podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. They not only highlight current reading picks but also present a very active companion discussion forum on Goodreads and run an ongoing sf/f book club alternating between the two genres. (Belmont also cohosts the Vaginal Fantasy book club with Felicia Day featuring romance novels by female authors.) Bonus: learn what the hosts are drinking each episode.

Escape Pod and PodCastle are sibling fiction podcasts (sf and fantasy, respectively) that have been running audio short fiction for well over a decade (they also produce PseudoPod for horror and Cast of Wonders for YA fiction). They’ve featured authors from the unknown to the famous (and some that went from the former to the latter) with a rotating cast of narrators.

StarShipSofa is another long-running sf podcast. It has featured fiction by genre giants like Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, and China Mieville and is the first podcast to win a Hugo Award for best fanzine for its audio adaptations. editors and sf authors Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders have just launched Our Opinions Are Correct. The first episodes covered themes of hope and dread in the new series Star Trek: Discovery and a discussion of how propaganda and mind control in sf relates to recent revelations about the ways Facebook data is used by outside entities. A promising new entry.


Horror readers have plenty to choose from, whether they’re interested in true tales of the weird or dramatized fiction.

The Noir and Bizarre is a nonfiction podcast about the dark and strange side of Baltimore. Episodes focus on such topics as the city as Edgar Allan Poe knew it and the Baltimore man who popularized and commercialized the Ouija board.

Archive 81 is as of this writing on hiatus between seasons, but fans of Lovecraftian weird fiction will enjoy this audio drama about Dan Powell, who disappeared after being hired to archive a series of strange and disturbing audiotapes.

Welcome to Night Vale is a little harder to classify—it’s a surreal, creepy, and very funny audio drama featuring local radio from a small desert town in which every conspiracy theory is true. Night Vale has thus far spawned two novels, the aforementioned new podcast network, and a wildly enthusiastic fan base.

Lore, recently adapted into a TV miniseries by Amazon and a new series of books, digs into the darker side of history to look at people, places, and things more terrifying than fiction. Recent episodes have featured the horrors of disease, abandoned places, and the secret history of Southern cities.


Romance readers may be interested in Girl, Have You Read…?, which focuses on fiction, especially romance, with African American protagonists. Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is hosted by Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ Sarah Wendell and Dear Author’s Jane Litte. They interview authors, for instance Alisha Rai and Jasmine Guillory, and cover such topics such plots twists and book covers.

The Lonely Hearts Romance Comics Podcast explores romance comics and romance in comics, and Book Thingo is an Australian podcast for romance readers, featuring, among other delights, an episode called Readers Are the New Gatekeepers, with librarian Wendy Crutcher.

There’s a wide range of podcasts for any interest that readers might have, and since most podcasts are free, it’s easy to explore and sample the range. Podcasts are a great way for patrons to take a deeper dive in a favorite genre, discover something new, or just listen to fellow readers and fans share their enthusiasm.

Professional Listening: Podcasts About Librarians and Libraries

By Cecily Walker

Lost in the Stacks: The Research Library Rock’n’Roll Radio Show On air since 2014, Lost in the Stacks is one of the longest running library-related podcasts on this list. Recording in the studios of Georgia Tech’s WREK-FM, the hosts choose a topic, then use it to create a mix of music, interviews, and library talk.

Bellwether Friends Readers’ advisory that goes beyond books. Hosts Anna, Alene, Carolyn, and Julie have varied interests that are reflected in the show’s topics. Be sure to check out episode 83: “Classical Music Advisory with Robin Bradford,” any of their “Book Buzz” episodes, and the episode where I talk about pens for 90 minutes.

The Librarian Is In This New York Public Library podcast is about books, culture, and the world of libraries. Every episode stands alone, but together the archive forms a compendium of curiosities that include such topics as technology, trans characters in novels, fat-positive children’s books, and hippo ranching, to name a few. Gwen Glazer and Frank Collerius have an easy camaraderie and start to feel like old friends after a few listens.

The Worst Bestsellers is a podcast where the hosts talk about best sellers of questionable quality. Librarians are cautioned not to express their opinions on titles to our patrons, so this podcast is both refreshing and cathartic. Hosts Kait and Renata hold nothing back as they discuss pop culture advice books, juggernaut vampire series, and numerous romance novels from well-known authors. Be sure to check out their discussion of John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus from a queer perspective.

Archivist’s Alley  Archivist’s Alley describes itself as “a safe conversational space designed for casual and lively discussions
about how to preserve our work and identities in the professional landscapes and media that we work and create in.” Though
the podcast is only five episodes in as of press time, conversations
are meaningful, thoughtful, and cover such subjects as digital preservation, social justice and equity, women in archiving,
digital forensics, and personal media archives.

Turbitt & Duck: Purveyors of Cultural Expertise and Library Sass to the Discerning Connoisseur Since 1885 Despite the title, Sally Turbitt and Amy Walduck have only been producing this podcast since late 2017. Librarians from Australia, Sally and Amy broadcast about libraries, galleries, archives, and museums worldwide. Notable episodes include episode two, in which the hosts discuss why they created the podcast, and episode five, which covers the hosts’ favorite and not-so-favorite books of 2017.

Time To Read is a podcast book club produced by the Winnipeg Public Library, Manitoba, Canada. Listeners can participate in the book club at their leisure and discuss the selected novels whenever it is convenient. Episodes are released the first Friday of every month. Recent reads feature Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. Upcoming titles include Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park.

Library Bytegeist
Audio stories from the libraries, archives, and museums of New York City, hosted by Molly Schwartz of the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

NonLibrary-Specific And Worthwhile

The Broad Experience is a conversation about women, the workplace, and success. Host Ashley Milne-Tyte takes great care to include women of various ages from a variety of backgrounds who speak to the theme of each show. Notable recent episodes include “Putting Yourself First”; “Your Weight, Your Worth”; and “Your Work, Your Private Life.”

Cultura Conscious Host Paula Santos is a self-avowed podcast addict who enjoys everything about art and culture. The podcast features Santos’s conversations with artists, museum workers, and other cultural leaders about how the work they do in their communities intersects and is informed by considerations of race and inequity in society. Cultura Conscious is relatively new on the podcast scene, so it’s easy to choose a topic you’re interested in and start there.

Call Your Girlfriend is “a podcast for long-distance besties everywhere” and is hosted by real-life besties Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. Each week the pair phone each other and record their conversations about pop culture and politics. The hosts advocate the practice of Shine Theory, a belief that women should befriend and learn from the success of other women they’re inclined to envy. CYG has more than 120 episodes that cover a number of topics, but “Best of CYG 2017” is a good place to start.

Another Round by Buzzfeed is a podcast hosted by Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu (and occasional guest hosts). The podcast focuses on topics ranging from politics, race, and gender to pop culture, squirrels, and Clayton’s bad jokes. In late 2017, Buzzfeed announced that it would stop producing Another Round, but Clayton and Nigatu took ownership of the podcast and promise to return. Notable episodes include “Madam Secretary, What’s Good” (with Hillary Clinton), “Two Dollars and a Paperclip” (with Ava DuVernay), and “Was That a Microaggression or Just Tuesday?” (with NPR’s Audie Cornish).

Cecily Walker is Assistant Manager for Community Digital Initiatives,Vancouver Public Library, BC

Jason Puckett is Online Learning Librarian, Georgia State University Library, Atlanta

Self-Care for New Moms, Toddler Meal Plans, Chabon on Fatherhood, Raising the Tech Generation | Parenting Reviews

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 19:23

CHOICES, CHOICES, CHOICES It’s no wonder decision fatigue runs rampant, as parents today face both age-old decisions, such as how to potty train (Sarah ­Ockwell-Smith’s Ready, Set, Go!) and prepare nutritious meals (Nicole M. Avena’s What To Feed Your Baby & Toddler) to managing wisely the constant onslaught of information (Mike Brooks & John Lasser’s Tech Generation). And is it any surprise that many moms struggle with rebuilding their health and energy after childbirth? Exploring the topic in-depth are ­Oscar ­Serrallach’s The Postnatal Depletion Cure (reviewed below) and Dayna M. Kurtz’s Mother Matters (Familius, May), offering a holistic guide on self-care through acupuncture, the expressive arts, and massage. To help combat the overwhelming barrage of parenting advice, popular Christian authors Sally and Clay Clarkson’s The Lifegiving ­Parent (­Tyndale House, May) shares principles for creating a home that nurtures, guides, and renews, while Stella O’Malley’s Bully-Proof Kids (Gill, May) presents an ­essential work on an important subject regrettably topping today’s headlines.

Avena, Nicole M. What To Feed Your Baby & Toddler: A Month-by-Month Guide To Support Your Child’s Health and Development. Ten Speed: Crown. May 2018. 224p. index. ISBN 9780399580239. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399580246. CHILD REARING

Neuroscientist Avena (What To Eat When You’re Pregnant) spends her days studying how food affects our brain and our behavior and here shares how to navigate feeding infants and toddlers. With the busyness of life, says the author, comes the temptation to turn to easy-fix meal choices. Focused on providing careful nutritional guidance and simple-to-­prepare recipes, ­Avena’s guide organizes meal plans month by month in chapters detailing what is happening developmentally in a child’s body, concentrating on a key nutrient at each stage of growth that will be especially crucial to changes at a specific time. Each month’s recipes are strong in this primary nutrient, making preparing healthy meals for baby a snap. Dining out, picky eating, food allergies, and other important medical issues are also addressed in the final chapters. ­VERDICT Specific nutritional information and straightforward, fun-to-eat recipes make this a great primer for new parents.

Brooks, Mike & Jon Lasser. Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kits in a Hyper-Connected World. Oxford Univ. Aug. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780190665296. $24.95. CHILD REARING

Cyberbullying, video-game violence, and sexting are common anxieties for parents. But an imbalanced use of technology isn’t a problem only for children; studies show that 28 percent of teens believe their parents are addicted to their phones. ­Coauthors and school psychologists Brooks (director, Austin Psychology and Assessment Ctr.; ­ and Lasser (associate dean, Coll. of Education, Texas State Univ.) argue that screen time has become so integrated into our daily routines that we can’t imagine existing without it. Have we become servants to technology? Brooks and Lasser answer, yes. Struggles with delayed gratification, decision fatigue created by myriad options, and continuous peer-to-peer comparisons are a result of this brave new world of hyperconnection. So how can we reap the benefits and minimize the fallout? Brooks and Lasser provide strategies on three levels: green for prevention (getting kids plugged into activities such as Girl Scouts, community service, and team sports; keeping screens out of bedrooms, setting time limits, and mindfully engaging), yellow for addressing emerging concerns (using collaboration and consequences to minimize challenges), and the red-light level, which calls for strong intervention when necessary. ­VERDICT A key title for libraries, with relevant research that supports a balanced approach to technology use.

Burrowes, Susan. Off the Rails: One Family’s Journey Through Teen Addiction. She Writes. Aug. 2018. 308p. ISBN 9781631524677. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631524684. CHILD REARING

With two healthy children and rewarding careers, educator and communications expert ­Burrowes and husband Paul were shocked when, within only a few months, their lives were thrown into upheaval as daughter Hannah’s ordinary teen moodiness shifted into vicious anger. “If she’s willing to hit me, what else is she capable of,” asks Burrowes at the start of this often disturbing, raw, and uncut account written from both the author’s and Hannah’s perspectives. Readers follow Hannah as she’s admitted to a psychiatric hospital then completes progressive treatments at the Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy program and comes to understand Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl’s idea that “caring is the last human freedom.” After Hannah completes a strict regimen at the wilderness program, she is treated at a residential center. ­Burrowes reflects on the experience: “when you have a child in treatment, everything you see, hear, and do is filtered through a lens of frustration, failure, and shame. Readers will appreciate Hannah’s final move toward redemption when Hannah returns home and healing begins. VERDICT A powerful work of unfiltered truth about addiction, mother-daughter relationships, and the importance of working together.

Chabon, Michael. Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces. Harper. May 2018. 144p. ISBN 9780062834621. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062834638. CHILD REARING

A well-known author once told Pulitzer Prize winner Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; Wonder Boys; Telegraph Avenue), “You can write books or you can have kids…you lose a book for every child.” Yet Chabon, father of four, argues that books, unlike children, don’t love you back. So begins this literary ode to parenting in which the author admires his son Abe’s rare gift for doing things with panache but struggles to understand his love for fashion, stumbles over bedtime reading, and ponders how to teach his son how to treat the women in his life even as he explores his own foibles and failures in this regard. As parenting is likely to lead to self-reflection, Chabon further examines his own childhood through the looking glass, contemplating his decision not to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor. In the last section, Chabon writes about visiting his father, who is hospitalized for a possibly fatal infection, meditating on his own relationship with Dad. VERDICT Literary and emotionally provocative, Chabon’s memoir is a quick read that will appeal to parents as well as fans of his fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/17.]

Ockwell-Smith, Sarah. Ready, Set, Go! A Gentle Parenting Guide to Calmer, Quicker Potty Training. TarcherPerigee. Jun. 2018. 208p. ISBN 9780143131908. pap. $16. CHILD REARING

Blogger Ockwell-Smith (Sarah­ is read by two million parents each year. As a prenatal teacher, birth and postnatal doula, cofounder of ­, and mother of four, the author provides tips for potty training. In the first chapter, bringing her gentle approach to a developmental milestone, she devotes attention to the physiological factors involved in potty training and how to know when your child is ready. The decision can only be made by your child, advises the author. As the text continues, she provides suggestions on how to begin and answers questions, such as do pull ups contribute to a mixed message that slows the process? And are girls usually ready to potty train before boys? She disagrees with the common carrot-dangling reward method, preferring a more mindful technique using effort-based praise and dealing with emotions involved in the act itself. Nighttime training is a common struggle for parents, and the author dedicates an entire section to solving evening potty woes. The last chapter contains common questions parents ask, and helpful recommendations of books and videos for children fill the appendix. VERDICT There is little new here, but potty training is of perennial interest to parents, and newbies may find this a solid starter manual.

Power, Thomas J. & Linda Wasmer Andrews. If Your Adolescent Has ADHD: An Essential Resource for Parents. Oxford Univ. (Adolescent Mental Health Initiative). Aug. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9780190494636. pap. $12.95. CHILD REARING

Published as part of an initiative developed by the Annenberg Public Policy Center to spread awareness about adolescent mental-health issues, this volume from Power (director, Ctr. for Management of ADHD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; coauthor, ADHD Rating Scale-5 for Children and Adolescents) and Andrews (If Your Adolescent Has Depression or Bipolar Disorder) addresses new challenges teens face in academics and social relationships created by ADHD, providing information on symptoms, diagnosis, behavioral modification, and the pros and cons of therapy and medication. The second half of the book assists with the struggles of enforcing curfews, promoting healthy sleep habits, being involved without being intrusive, helping your teen deal with peer pressure, and minimizing some of the possible risks involved for teen drivers with ADHD. Difficulties in the classroom are also addressed, with the authors offering advice for managing homework and study time, as well as working with teachers to form a written educational plan. Since half of students diagnosed with ADHD meet the criteria as young adults, the final portion of the book explores choosing the right college, finding classroom accommodations, and familiarity with the workforce. VERDICT A valuable resource and great addition to Oxford’s comprehensive series on adolescent mental health.

Serrallach, Oscar. The Postnatal Depletion Cure: A Complete Guide to Rebuilding Your Health and Reclaiming Your Energy for Mothers of Newborns, Toddlers, and Young Children. Goop/ Grand Central. Jun. 2018. 286p. ISBN 9781478970309. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781478970293. CHILD REARING

According to Australian family practitioner and debut author Serrallach, while the topic of postpartum depression has received more attention in recent years, less focus has been given to the smaller shifts in emotion and physical depletion experienced by a large percentage of women after childbirth. Baby brain—a term for the exhaustion, pain, forgetfulness, indecision, low energy levels, moodiness, and difficulty sleeping—is commonly reported by many women, asserts the author, who also reports that a mother’s brain shrinks five percent during pregnancy as infants sap vital nutrients from her body. This stimulates the growth of a healthy baby but results in residual symptoms for mothers even months or years after giving birth. Moreover, women may cave to society’s emphasis on the needs of baby first, which may cause them to feel they are selfish in spending time to ensure that their own physical needs are met by getting plenty of sleep and exercise. Serrallach states this is primarily an issue in Western cultures, pointing out that countries such as China, Korea, and Zimbabwe maintain customs that enable the physical and emotional healing of mothers and that we can learn from their practices. Additional information includes rebuilding micronutrients lost during pregnancy, balancing hormones, and healing your relationship with your partner and libido. ­VERDICT A practical volume that will be of use to mothers everywhere.

Turgeon, Heather & Julie Wright. Now Say This: The Right Words To Solve Every Parenting Dilemma; The 3-Step Approach to Effective Communication. TarcherPerigee. May 2018. 352p. notes. index. ISBN 9780143130345. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781524704018. CHILD REARING

Psychotherapist Turgeon and early childhood therapist Wright, coauthors of The Happy Sleeper and, are known for offering online consultation for exhausted parents. Here they employ the ALP method: Attune (watch, listen, and understand), Limit Set (state reasonable boundaries), and Problem Solve (engage your child in creating solutions) to a variety of parenting situations. Though the authors acknowledge that up-front communication is an art, not an exact science, and that their words are not the only words, their research shows that parents are looking for communication examples. After describing ALP, they walk readers through applying the model in challenging moments (tantrums, sibling rivalry, screen time, bedtime, etc.), including sample scripts. VERDICT Parenting styles are so individual, and this book may appeal to some (especially first-timers), but communication with children is not a simple process, and the scripts at times seem stilted. An ­optional purchase.

Richmond, VA–based freelance writer Julia M. Reffner has reviewed books and DVDs for a variety of genres for LJ. She has judged several book awards and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers

Nonfiction on Soviet & Latin American Art, Fashion Then & Now, Bruce Lee, Julian of Norwich, Omega-3s, the Soul of America | Review Alert: June 1, 2018

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 19:45

Below is a list of Nonfiction titles to be reviewed in the June 1, 2018, issue of Library Journal. These lists include pertinent publisher and bibliographic information for your convenience.

Starred reviews are indicated with **.

Publishers: Please remember to send us one finished copy of each book that is scheduled for review (i.e., all of the forthcoming titles listed below) if you initially submitted a galley or bound manuscript. Our reviewers are not paid, and we like to send a finished copy of the reviewed book as a thank you. Materials should be mailed to: Library Journal, 123 William Street, Suite 802, New York, NY 10038.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: LJ is seeking summer/fall football titles for a roundup in the August 2018 issue. Please include with your submissions the following bibliographic information (author, title, publisher, pub date, ISBN, format, price) and a brief summary of the material (catalog copy will suffice). The deadline is Friday, June 1. To find out more, contact Stephanie Sendaula at

Arts & Humanities

Fine Arts

Baskind, Samantha. The Warsaw Ghetto in American Art and Culture. Pennsylvania State Univ. Feb. 2018. 328p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780271078700. $44.95. FINE ARTS

Beckwith, Naomi & Valerie Cassel Oliver. Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen. Prestel. Mar. 2018. 276p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9783791357379. $60. FINE ARTS

Dernie, David. Victor Horta: The Architect of Art Nouveau. Thames & Hudson. May 2018. 256p. illus. photos by Alastair Carew-Cox. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500343234. $60. ARCH

Soviet Art

Moscow Design Museum. Designed in the USSR: 1950–1989. Phaidon. Apr. 2018. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9780714875576. $39.95. FINE ARTS

Promote, Tolerate, Ban: Art and Culture in Cold War Hungary. Getty. Feb. 2018. 160p. ed. by Cristina Cuevas-Wolf & Isotta Poggi. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781606065396. $49.95. FINE ARTS

Latin American Artists

Greet, Michele. Transatlantic Encounters: Latin American Artists in Paris Between the Wars. Yale Univ. Mar. 2018. 296p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780300228427. $60. FINE ARTS

Velasquez, Roxana. Modern Masters from Latin America: The Perez Simon Collection. Ediciones El Viso. Mar. 2018. 208p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9788494746666. $45. FINE ARTS

Ready-To-Wear & Ready-To-Read: books always in fashion

**Banks, Jeffrey & Doria de la Chapelle. Norell: Master of American Fashion. Rizzoli. Feb. 2018. 224p. illus. notes. ISBN 9780847861248. $65. DEC ARTS

Benaïm, Laurence. Fashion and Versailles. Flammarion. Feb. 2018. 240p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9782080203359. $65. DEC ARTS

**Burton, Roger K. Rebel Threads: Clothing of the Bad, Beautiful & Misunderstood. Laurence King. 2017. 328p. illus. index. ISBN 9781786270948. $50. DEC ARTS

**Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. Thames & Hudson. 2017. 368p. ed. by Florence Müller & Fabien Baron. illus. notes. ISBN 9780500021545. $65. DEC ARTS

Day, Carolyn. Consumptive Chic: A History of Beauty, Fashion, and Disease. Bloomsbury Academic. 2017. 208p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781350009370. pap. $31.95; ebk. ISBN 9781350009400. DEC ARTS

Fairer, Robert & Claire Wilcox . John Galliano: Unseen. Yale Univ. 2017. 362p. photos by Robert Fairer. ISBN 9780300228953. $60. DEC ARTS

Hardy, Joanna. Ruby: The King of Gems. Thames & Hudson. 2017. 268p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780500519417. $125. DEC ARTS

The Hidden History of American Fashion: Rediscovering 20th-Century Women Designers. Bloomsbury USA. Feb. 2018. 272p. ed. by Nancy Deihl. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781350000469. pap. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781350000483. DEC ARTS

Petkanas, Christopher. Loulou & Yves: The Untold Story of Loulou de La Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2018. 512p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250051691. $45; ebk. ISBN 9781250161420. BIOG

Vreeland, Lisa Immordino. Love, Cecil: A Journey with Cecil Beaton. Abrams. 2017. 256p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781419726606. $50. DEC ARTS

Short Takes

**Battaglia, Giovanna. Gio_Graphy: Fun in the Wild World of Fashion. Rizzoli. 2017. 224p. photos. ISBN 9780847858392. $39.95. DEC ARTS

Know-It-All Fashion: The 50 Key Modes, Garments, and Designers, Each Explained in Under a Minute. Wellfleet. Apr. 2018. 160p. ed. by Rebecca Arnold. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781577151746. pap. $14.95. DEC ARTS

Lynn, Eleri. Tudor Fashion: Dress at Court. Yale Univ. 2017. 208p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300228274. $45. DEC ARTS

Meylan, Vincent. Bulgari: Treasures of Rome. ACC. Feb. 2018. 296p. illus. index. ISBN 9781851498796. $95. DEC ARTs

North, Susan. 18th-Century Fashion in Detail. Thames & Hudson. Jun. 2018. 224p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780500292631. $40. DEC ARTS

**Asome, Carolyn. Vogue Essentials: Handbags. illus. index. ISBN 9781840917666.

Fox, Chloe. Vogue Essentials: Little Black Dress. ISBN 9781840917659.

ea. vol: Octopus. (Vogue Essentials). Apr. 2018. 160p. photos. $20. DEC ARTS

Asome, Carolyn. Vogue on Jean Paul Gaultier. ISBN 9781849499699.

Cosgrave, Bronwyn. Vogue on Chanel. ISBN 9781849491112.

Fraser-Cavassoni, Natasha. Vogue on Calvin Klein. ISBN 9781849499705.

Sinclair, Charlotte. Vogue on Gianni Versace. ISBN 9781849495530.

ea. vol.: Hardie Grant. (Vogue on Designers). 2017. 160p. illus. bibliog. index. $19.99. DEC ARTS


Bloom, Harold. Iago: The Strategies of Evil. Scribner. May 2018. 160p. ISBN 9781501164224. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781501164248. LIT

Theroux, Paul. Figures in a Landscape: People & Places. Houghton Harcourt. May 2018. 416p. ISBN 9780544870307. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780544866669. LIT

**Trilling, Lionel. Life in Culture: Selected Letters of Lionel Trilling. Farrar. Sept. 2018. 464p. ed. by Adam Kirsch. notes. index. ISBN 9780374185152. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780374719333. LIT

Performing Arts

Campion, James. Accidentally Like a Martyr: The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon. Backbeat. Jun. 2018. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9781617136726. pap. $24.99. MUSIC

Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion. Overlook. Jun. 2018. 336p. ed. by Barney Hoskyns. photos. index. ISBN 9781468316278. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781468316285. MUSIC

**Polly, Matthew. Bruce Lee: A Life. S. & S. Jun. 2018. 672p. photos. filmog. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781501187629. $35; pap. ISBN 9781982100087. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781501187643. BIOG

Stein, Seymour with Gareth Murphy. Siren Song: My Life in Music. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2018. 352p. photos. index. ISBN 9781250081018. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250116857. AUTOBIOG

**Suchet, John. Verdi: The Man Revealed. Pegasus. Jul. 2018. 288p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781681777689. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681778297. MUSIC

Sports & Recreation

Benedict, Jeff & Armen Keteyian. Tiger Woods. S. & S. Mar. 2018. 512p. notes. index. ISBN 9781501126420. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781501126475. SPORTS

Bercovici, Jeff. Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age. Houghton Harcourt. May 2018. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9780544809987. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780544935327. SPORTS

Ruck, Rob. Tropic of Football: The Long and Perilous Journey of Samoans to the NFL. New Pr. Jul. 2018. 320p. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9781620973370. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781620973387. SPORTS

Science & Technology


Jenkins, Steve & others. Happily Ever Esther: Two Men, a Wonder Pig, and Their Life-Changing Mission To Give Animals a Home. Grand Central. Jul. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9781538728147. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781538728123. PETS

Health & Medicine

Coomer, Sarah Hays. Physical Disobedience: An Unruly Guide to Health and Stamina for the Modern Feminist. Seal. Aug. 2018. 272p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781500857738. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9781580057745. HEALTH

Home Economics

Vetri, Marc & David Joachim. Mastering Pizza: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pizza, Focaccia, and Calzone. Ten Speed: Crown. Aug. 2018. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9780399579226. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399579233. COOKING


Broks, Paul. The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars: A Neuropsychologist’s Odyssey Through Consciousness. Crown. Jul. 2018. 304p. bibliog. ISBN 9780307985798. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780307985804. SCI

Goldfarb, Ben. Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter. Chelsea Green. Jul. 2018. 304p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781603587396. $24.95. NAT HIST

**Greenberg, Paul. The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet. Penguin Pr. Jul. 2018. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9781594206344. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698183469. NAT HIST

Hanson, Thor. Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees. Basic. Jul. 2018. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465052615. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780465098804. NAT HIST

Kinch, Michael. Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity. Pegasus. Jul. 2018. 360p. notes. index. ISBN 9781681777511. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681778204. SCI

**Ross, John F. The Promise of the Grand Canyon: John Wesley Powell’s Perilous Journey and His Vision for the American West. Viking. Jul. 2018. 400p. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780525429876. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780698409989. NAT HIST

Ujifusa, Steven. Barons of the Sea: And Their Race To Build the World’s Fastest Clipper Ship. S. & S. Jul. 2018. 448p. notes. index. ISBN 9781476745978. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476745992. SCI

**Woodhouse, Keith Makoto. The Ecocentrists: A History of Radical Environmentalism. Columbia Univ. Jun. 2018. 392p. notes. index. ISBN 9780231165884. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780231547154. NAT HIST

Social Sciences


Dahl, Linda D. Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor. Hanover Square: Harlequin. Jul. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781335017475. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488095337. MEMOIR

Delgadillo, Charles. Crusader for Democracy: The Political Life of William Allen White. Univ. Pr. of Kansas. May 2018. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780700626380. $34.95. BIOG

Guerrero, Jean. Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir. One World. Jul. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780399592393. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399592409. memoir

**Moore, Michael Scott. The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast. Harper Wave. Jul. 2018. 464p. ISBN 9780062449177. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062449191. memoir


Ambinder, Marc. The Brink: President Reagan and the Nuclear War Scare of 1983. S. & S. Jul. 2018. 384p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781476760377. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781476760391. HIST

DeFelice, Jim. West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express. HarperCollins. May 2018. 320p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062496768. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062496799. HIST

Gibler, John. Torn from the World: A Guerrilla’s Escape from a Secret Prison in Mexico. City Lights. Jul. 2018. 180p. notes. ISBN 9780872867529. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9780872867833. HIST

Jones, Seth G. A Covert Action: Reagan, the Cia, and the Cold War Struggle in Poland. Norton. Jul. 2018. 320p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780393247008. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393247015. HIST

Lehman, John. Oceans Ventured: Winning the Cold War at Sea. Norton. Jun. 2018. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393254259. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393254266. HIST

**Meacham, Jon. The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels. Random. May 2018. 416p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780399589812. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780399589836. HIST

**Mulloy, Darren J. Enemies of the State: The Radical Right in America from FDR to Trump. Rowman & Littlefield. Jul. 2018. 208p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781442276512. $34. HIST

Taylor, Cory. How Hitler Was Made: Germany and the Rise of the Perfect Nazi. Prometheus. Jun. 2018. 295p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781633884359. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781633884366. HIST

Law & Crime

Brottman, Mikita. An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere. Holt. Nov. 2018. 288p. photos. notes. ISBN 9781250169143. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781250169150. CRIME

Calls for reform

Lerner-Wren, Ginger with Rebecca A. Eckland. A Court of Refuge: Stories from the Bench of America’s First Mental Health Court. Beacon. Mar. 2018. 208p. notes. ISBN 9780807086988. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780807086995. LAW

Roth, Alisa. Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness. Basic. Apr. 2018. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780465094196. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780465094202. LAW

Political Science

Laqueur, Walter & Christopher Wall. The Future of Terrorism: ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Alt-Right. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2018. 272p. ISBN 9781250142511. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250142528. POL SCI

**McFaul, Michael. From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia. Houghton Harcourt. May 2018. 528p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780544716247. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780544716254. POL SCI

**Reel, Monte. A Brotherhood of Spies: The U-2 and the CIA’s Secret War. Doubleday. May 2018. 352p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385540209. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385540216. POL SCI

Runciman, David. How Democracy Ends. Basic. Jun. 2018. 256p. notes. index. ISBN 9781541616783. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781541616790. POL SCI

Professional Media

Applying Library Values to Emerging Technology: Decision-Making in the Age of Open Access, Maker Spaces, and the Ever-Changing Library. ACRL. Feb. 2018. 440p. ed. by Peter D. Fernandez & Kelly Tilton. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780838989395. pap. $88. PRO MEDIA

**Dowd, Ryan J. The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone. ALA. Jan. 2018. 248p. index. ISBN 9780838916261. pap. $57. PRO MEDIA

Hastings, Robin M. Planning Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery for Digital Assets: The Innovative Librarian’s Guide. Libraries Unlimited: Teacher Ideas. 2017. 130p. index. ISBN 9781440842382. $55. PRO MEDIA

Social Science

Corchado, Alfredo. Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration. Bloomsbury Pr. May 2018. 304p. notes. ISBN 9781632865540. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781632865564. SOC SCI

Crime and Social Justice in Indian Country. Univ. of Arizona. (Indigenous Justice). Apr. 2018. 216p. ed. by Marianne O. Nielsen & Karen Jarratt-Snider. index. ISBN 9780816537815. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780816538393. SOC SCI

**Duberman, Martin. Has the Gay Movement Failed? Univ. of California. Jun. 2018. 272p. ISBN 9780520298866. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780520970847. SOC SCI

Garretson, Jeremiah J. The Path to Gay Rights: How Activism and Coming Out Changed Public Opinion. New York Univ. Jun. 2018. 352p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781479850075. pap. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781479881925. SOC SCI

**Griswold, Eliza. Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America. Farrar. Jun. 2018. 336p. maps. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780374103118. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374713713. SOC SCI

Quart, Alissa. Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2018. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062412256. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062412270. SOC SCI

The Future of Flint

Clark, Anna. The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy. Metropolitan: Holt. Jul. 2018. 320p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250125149. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781250125156. SOC SCI

.Hanna-Attisha, Mona. What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City. One World. Jun. 2018. 384p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780399590832. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780399590849. SOC SCI

Travel & Geography

**Atkins, William. The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places. Doubleday. Jul. 2018. 384p. photos. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385539883. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385539890. TRAV

Mayle, Peter. My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now. Knopf. Jun. 2018. 192p. photos. ISBN 9780451494528. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780451494535. TRAV/MEMOIR

Spirituality & Religion

History and philosophy

Crooks, James. We Find Ourselves Put to the Test: A Reading of the Book of Job. McGill-Queen’s Univ. May 2018. 184p. notes. ISBN 9780773553156. $29.95. REL

Jacobs, Alan. The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis. Oxford Univ. Aug. 2018. 280p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780190864651. $29.95. HIST

O’Malley, John W. Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church. Belknap: Harvard Univ. May 2018. 320p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674979987. $24.95. REL

Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. A Palace of Pearls: The Stories of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. Oxford Univ. Aug. 2018. 456p. ed. by Howard Schwartz. illus. by Zann Jacobrown. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780190243562. $34.95. REL

Stanley, Brian. Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History. Princeton Univ. Jul. 2018. 504p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691157108. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781400890316. REL

Weil, Simone. Love in the Void: Where God Finds Us. Plough. Apr. 2018. 134p. ed. by Laurie Gagne. ISBN 9780874868302. pap. $8. REL

Memoirs & Biographies

Hall, Amy Laura. Laughing at the Devil: Seeing the World with Julian of Norwich. Duke Univ. Aug. 2018. 144p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781478000259. pap. $18.95. BIOG

Jones, Allan. Beyond Vision: Going Blind, Inner Seeing, and the Nature of the Self. McGill-Queen’s Univ. Jun. 2018. 400p. notes. ISBN 9780773552852. $34.95. BIOG

Rolf, Veronica Mary. An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich. IVP. Jun. 2018. 170p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780830850884. pap. $18. BIOG

Stone, Rachel Marie. Birthing Hope: Giving Fear to the Light. IVP. May 2018. 224p. notes. ISBN 9780830845330. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780830887019. MEMOIR

Advice & Self-Help

Kamin, Ben. The Blessing of Sorrow: Turning Grief into Healing. Central Recovery. Jul. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9781942094654. pap. $17.95. REL

LJ Talks to First Novelist Aja Gabel | LibraryReads Author Spotlight

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 09:39

Photo by Darcie Burrell

Imperious Jana, empathetic Brit, golden-boy Henry, and pugnacious Daniel: in Aja Gabel’s The Ensemble, they aren’t just friends and colleagues but the Van Ness Quartet, listening to one another every moment to create great music as one. Gabel’s thoroughly absorbing debut clarifies the special intimacy that’s inevitably a part of playing in a string quartet, but it goes a step further. As Gabel noted in a phone conversation with LJ, “This setup is ripe for plumbing human ­relationships.”

That perception came to Gabel long before she began her novel. As a young cellist, she once studied with a string quartet and was astonished when they had an argument in front of her. “It didn’t occur to me until then that they were real people who had to live together and work together,” she explains. “Their career depended on their relationship.” As with all string quartets, that relationship might have been fraught with personal tensions or financial worry, but the members had to make it work or the group would fail.

Not surprisingly, Van Ness Quartet members see themselves as family, something generally missing from their lives. First violinist Jana barely speaks with her alcoholic mother and shepherds her group with steely ambition; “she has the personality to be a first violinist,” concedes Gabel. Cellist Daniel’s parents are uncomprehending and his association with second violinist Brit complicated; she’s lost both parents and can be too passive, “working through a journey that makes her a good musician,” as Gabel asserts. They all fret that viola prodigy Henry will leave, but he’s committed to the group especially because of his friendship with Jana, who values him not for his talent but for himself.

Further accentuating the book’s theme, Henry’s marriage to solo violinist ­Kimiko requires some tough juggling of careers and children, and if Kimiko has some long-­suffering moments, she finally “gets to do all the things she wants to do but maybe not all at once,” observes Gabel. The author offers some especially perceptive insights into evolving human needs and desires, perhaps because of her own personal concerns.

“I am 35, and I was really troubled in the last five years thinking about the imperative for women to have children, what we give up, what we are supposed to want,” she explains, clarifying that “this is a story of love and growth over time because that’s what’s really interesting to me.” Personal loss, with both her brother and her father having died when she was young, further compelled Gabel to look squarely at “what time gives us,” and readers get a visceral sense of its gifts and burdens as the narrative unfolds over nearly two decades.

Before she began her PhD in creative writing, Gabel had written only short stories and was terrified by the mountainous challenge of long fiction. Then instructor Antonya Nelson asked what she knew enough about to write a book, and the answer was obvious. “I had just played so long, it didn’t seem like knowledge, just a piece of what I did,” says Gabel. “It was great advice for a debut novelist.”

Throughout, Gabel beautifully communicates how music is made and how it sounds. That’s a challenging task for any writer, which she accomplished by listening obsessively to each piece she describes to assure herself of technical mastery but then “connect[ing] that knowledge to the person playing. It’s not a major to minor shift but how Daniel thinks about this movement.”
In the end, Gabel hopes readers will be inspired to listen to a quartet—“especially if they’ve never done so. It’s not as big as an orchestra, or as weird and unusual as a soloist. It’s a conversation.” Like the one Gabel has with her readers.—Barbara Hoffert

Created by a group of librarians, LibraryReads offers a monthly list of ten current titles culled from nominations made by librarians nationwide as their favorites. See the May 2018 list at and contact to make your own nomination.

Graphic Novels | Best Sellers, May 2018

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 17:59

This list includes titles most in demand by libraries and bookstores nationwide from Baker & Taylor six months prior to the week ending April 14, 2018. (c) Copyright 2018 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.


RANK 1 Lumberjanes. Vol. 7: A Bird’s-Eye View. [P] Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh. illus. by Carey Pietsch & Ayme Sotuyo. BOOM! Box. 2017. ISBN 9781684150458. $14.99. 2 Ms. Marvel. Vol. 8: Mecca. [P] G. Willow Wilson. Marvel. 2017. ISBN 9781302906085. $17.99. 3 Saga. Vol. 8. [P] Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples. Image. 
2018. ISBN 9781534303492. $14.99. 4 Black Panther & the Crew: We Are the Streets. [P] 
Ta-Nehisi Coates & Yona Harvey. illus. by Butch Guice. Marvel. 
2017. ISBN 9781302908324. $17.99. 5 Batman. Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles. [P] Tom King. 
illus. by Mikel Janin. DC. 2017. ISBN 9781401273613. $19.99. 6 Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York. [HC] Roz Chast. Bloomsbury USA. 2017. ISBN 9781620403211. $28. 7 Superman. Vol. 4: Black Dawn. [P] Peter J. Tomasi. illus. by 
Patrick Gleason & Doug Mahnke. DC. 2017. ISBN 9781401274689. $16.99. 8 Lumberjanes. Vol. 8: Stone Cold. [P] Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh. illus. by Carey Pietsch. BOOM! Box. 2018. ISBN 9781684151325. $14.99. 9 The Walking Dead. Vol. 29: Lines We Cross. [P] Robert 
Kirkman. illus. by Charlie Adlard & others. Image. 2018. 
ISBN 9781534304970. $16.99. 10 Wonder Woman. Vol. 4: Godwatch. [P] Greg Rucka. 
illus. by Liam Sharp. DC. 2017. ISBN 9781401274603. $16.99. 11 American Gods. Vol. 1: Shadows. [HC] Neil Gaiman & 
P. Craig Russell. illus. by Scott Hampton & Walt Simonson. 
Dark Horse. 2018. ISBN 9781506703862. $29.99. 12 Attack on Titan 23. [P] Hajime Isayama. Kodansha. 2017. 
ISBN 9781632364630. $10.99. 13 Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition. [HC] Joshua Williamson & Tom King. illus. by Jason Fabok & Howard Porter. 
DC. 2017. ISBN 9781401276447. $19.99. 14 Black Butler. Vol. 24. [P] Yana Toboso. Yen. 2017. 
ISBN 9780316511209. $13. 15 Tokyo Ghoul:re. Vol. 1. [P] Sui Ishida. VIZ Media. 2017. 
ISBN 9781421594965. $12.99. 16 Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi佑aptain Phasma. [P] 
Kelly Thompson. illus. by Marco Checchetto. Marvel. 2017. 
ISBN 9780785194552. $16.99. 17 America. Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez. [P] 
Gabby Rivera. illus. by Joe Quinones. Marvel. 2017. 
ISBN 9781302908812. $17.99. 18 Escape from Syria. [HC] Salma Kullab. illus. by Jackie Roche. Firefly. 2017. ISBN 9781770859821. $19.95. 19 The Walking Dead: Here’s Negan. [HC] Robert Kirkman. illus. by Charlie Adlard & others. Image. 2017. ISBN 9781534303270. $19.99. 20 Justice League. Vol. 4: Endless. [P] Bryan Hitch & others. 
DC. 2017. ISBN 9781401273972. $16.99.

The GPO’s Year of Change | Notable Government Documents 2017

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 12:41

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) in 2017 saw major activity. It completed the digitization of the Congressional Record and named four new depository libraries: Zach S. Henderson Library, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro; Pope County Library, Russellville, AR; Fort Stockton Public Library, TX; and Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne. Fourteen libraries signed Memoranda of Agreement to join the Preservation Partnerships Program, in which individual depositories can pledge to retain and preserve specific documents or collections and provide permanent no-fee public access.

The GPO also saw turnover in important roles: in ­October, Laurie Hall was officially appointed Super­intendent of Documents (SD) after having served in an acting capacity since April 2016. She oversees the Library Services and Content Management Operations, which includes the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and the Cataloging and Index Program.

In November, GPO director Davita Vance-Cooks left for work in the private sector. Vance-Cooks was confirmed by the Senate in 2013 as the nation’s 27th Public Printer—the first woman and first African American to serve in the post. Her focus was on modernizing the agency. GPO deputy director Jim Bradley took over as acting director until his retirement in March 2018; he was succeeded by GPO chief of staff Andrew M. Sherman, who will serve as acting deputy director.


Throughout 2017, Vance-Cooks continued to lead ­lobbying effort to reform Title 44 of the U.S. Code, which defines the mission and responsibilities of the GPO and FDLP. Several previous attempts to legislate change were frustrated by budgetary issues and politics.

HR 5305, the FDLP Modernization Act of 2018, was introduced on March 15 and referred to the Committee on House Administration and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The legislation largely reflects recommendations of the depository library community, including strong affirmations of the public’s right to no-fee access to government information and that depository libraries are an effective means of providing that access.

HR 5305 introduces the term information dissemination products (IDPs) and affirms that any recorded information in any format falls under the jurisdiction of the Superintendent of Documents.

It authorizes the SD to establish a national collection of IDPs and provide permanent public access through an online repository established and operated by the GPO director. The national collection is also defined to include collections housed in the nation’s depository libraries and in the electronic collections of federal documents that reside on servers at academic and public libraries, museums, and digitization initiatives such as Google Books, the HathiTrust, Project Gutenberg, and the Internet Archive.

HR 5305 charges the heads of federal agencies and offices to provide electronic and tangible IDPs for inclusion in the national collection. It authorizes the SD to establish a comprehensive catalog of metadata for all historical IDPs that includes hyperlinks to those digitized by nonfederal entities. It also formalizes the Preservation Partnership Program.

HR 5305 represents the strongest congressional affirmation yet of our principles and role. Though at press time it had yet to pass a single committee, the depository library community remains hopeful and confident.

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


The al-Qaeda Organization and the Islamic State Organization: History, Doctrine, Modus Operandi and U.S. Policy To Degrade and Defeat Terrorism Conducted in the Name of Sunni Islam. by Paul Kamolnick. Strategic Studies Inst. & U.S. Army War Coll. 2017. 334p. illus. SuDoc# D 101.146:AL 7/4.

This work documents the distinct history and doctrinal beliefs of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), the transnational adversaries that conduct terrorism in the name of Sunni Islam, examines al-Qaeda’s and IS’s basic strategic concepts and terrorist methods, considers strategic implications, and offers ­recommendations for policymakers, military planners, strategists, and professional military educators.

Best Practices for Collecting Onsite Data To Assess Recreational Use Impacts from an Oil Spill. by E. Horsch & others. 2017. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Technical Memorandum NOS OR&R 54. Assessment & Restoration Div. 2017. online. 121p.

On April 20, 2010, 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, an explosion and subsequent fire aboard BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Federal and state natural resource trustees engaged in natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) to document the environmental harm and ultimately restore the gulf and compensate the U.S. public. This manual provides guidance on methods and considerations for collecting such data.

Certification Status and Experience of U.S. Public School Teachers: Variations Across Student Subgroups. U.S. Dept. of Education, Inst. of Education Sciences, National Ctr. for Education Statistics. 2017. online. 222p. illus. SuDoc# ED 1.102:C 33.

This snapshot of U.S. public school students’ teachers’ credentials and experience uses two datasets available to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The report pre­sents the percentage of U.S. public school students taught by educators with state certification, more than five years of experience, and a postsecondary degree in the subject in which they teach. Access varies among students by demographics, school settings, states, and large urban school districts.

The City Becomes a Symbol: The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Berlin, 1945–1949. by William Stivers. Ctr. for Military History, U.S. Army. 2017. 326p. illus. maps. SuDoc# D 114.2:C 67/2/B 45.

Thoroughly researched and documented, this book illuminates the development of the Cold War from the vantage of Occupied Berlin. It provides a detailed account of the army’s role in the first four years of the occupation, supplemented with maps, photographs, and an extensive ­bibliography.

Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in the Blue Mountains Region. ed. by Jessica E. Halofsky & David L. Peterson. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Svc., Pacific Northwest Research. 2017. 331p. illus. maps. SuDoc# A 13.88:PNW-GTR-939.

The Blue Mountains Adaptation Partnership (BMAP), one of the largest climate change adaptations on federal lands to date, encompasses the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National forests in Oregon and Washington. BMAP was formed to find solutions to minimize the negative effects of climate change and facilitate the transition of diverse eco­systems to a warmer climate. This state-of-the-science synthesis projects changes in climate and hydrology and the potential effect on water resources, fisheries, and ­vegetation.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Alabama Trustee Implementation Group Final Restoration Plan I and Environmental Impact Statement; Provide and Enhance Recreational Opportunities. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. 2016. online. 536p. illus.

The Alabama Trustee Implementation undertook this restoration planning effort to restore natural resources and services affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The focus is to address the loss of recreational shoreline uses in Alabama and propose compensatory restoration projects that would provide the public with additional activities.

Eclipse Kit and Activity Guide. National Aeronautics & Space Administration. 2017. 44p. illus.

This well-designed guide contains more than a dozen home or classroom activities for youngsters of all ages, including step-by-step instructions, materials lists, and background information on eclipses and our solar system. While the total eclipse of 2017 is behind us, you can get a jump on the next, in 2024.

Field Trip Guides to Selected Volcanoes and Volcanic Landscapes in the Western United States. U.S. Geological Survey. 2017. Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5022.

The North American Cordillera is home to a greater diversity of volcanic provinces than any comparably sized region in the world, owing to the interplay among changing plate-margin interactions, tectonic complexity, intracrustal magma differentiation, and mantle melting. This report links to 19 detailed guides to areas such as Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood, featuring history, maps, photos, local info, and a road log.

In Persistent Battle: U.S. Marines in Operation Harvest Moon, 8 December to 20 December, 1965. by Nicholas J. Schlosser. History Div., Marine Corps Univ. 2017. 54p. illus. maps. SuDoc# D 214.14/6:B 32.

Part of the “Marines in the Vietnam War Commemorative Series,” this document looks at Operation Harvest Moon, the marines’ last large-scale, conventional operation in country. The battle demonstrated many of the frustrations and problems faced by American forces in South Vietnam against the Viet Cong–led insurgency, including the disparity in fighting abilities between the marines and South Vietnamese Army units and lack of coordination between the Marine Corps and other U.S. forces.

Iranian Naval Forces: A Tale of Two Navies. Office of Naval Intelligence. 2017. 42p. illus. maps. SuDoc# D 201.2:IR 1.

This work offers current information on the major reorganization of Iran’s two navies and provides a brief history of Iran’s naval forces, including Iran’s Persian imperial past, the spread of Islam, and the Iran-Iraq War. Nearly a decade after the re­organization, the United States has a better understanding of Iran’s ultimate intentions for the maneuver and clearer insight into how its navies are progressing. Our authorities, the report concludes, must address each of these navies as distinct, with independent strategies, doctrines, and ­missions.

Landscapes of West Africa: A Window on a Changing World. U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation & Science Ctr., U.S. Agency for Intl. Development/West Africa (USAID/WA). 2016. 236p. illus. maps. SuDoc# ID 1.2:AF 8/2.

Beautifully illustrated with maps, graphs, tables, and images, this text describes the natural environment of 17 countries in West Africa and the impact human populations have had over the past four decades. The atlas tells a story of rapid environmental change with the hope that the data will help build a clearer picture of past and current land use and land cover and guide us in making informed choices to support livelihoods now and for future generations.

My Public Lands, Middle School Teaching Guide: Citizen Voice in Land Use Decisions. by Scott Richardson. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 2017. 26p. maps. SuDoc# I 53.7/2:P 96/4.

Three innovative classroom exercises introduce students to public land management. Working in small groups, students learn about the history of the BLM and explore the inter­connected concepts of balanced land management and public involvement.

North Cascades Ecosystem: Draft Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan/Environmental Impact Statement. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Svc., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Svc. 2017. 325p. illus. maps. SuDoc# I 49.2:B 38/8/DRAFT.

Three agencies have drafted this plan to evaluate the impacts of four possible approaches to restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades Ecosystem, a portion of its historical range. The project will seek to achieve a restoration goal of 200 bears while creating guidelines for human-­grizzly conflicts; capture, release, and monitoring techniques; public education, involvement, and access management; and habitat management. The plan analyzes the potential environmental impacts on wildlife and fish (including grizzlies), the wilderness, visitor use and recreational experience, public and employee safety, socioeconomics, and ethnographic resources.

Recipes for Healthy Kids: Cookbook for Schools. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Food & Nutrition Svc. 2017. 144p. illus. SuDoc# A 98.9:441/2017.

This colorful item is from the Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition in which school nutrition professionals, students, parents, chefs, and community members cooked up new ideas to get children excited about making healthy food choices. The recipes feature dark green and orange vegetables, dry beans and peas, and whole grains; all are low in total fat, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium. With fun names such as Porcupine Sliders, Smokin’ Powerhouse Chili, and Squish Squash Lasagna, these kid-tested and ­-approved dishes are sure to be a hit.

Responses to Climate Change: What You Need To Know. by Kailey Marcinkowski. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Svc., Pacific Northwest Research Station. 2017. SuDoc# A 13.88:PNW-GTR-955 (CD-ROM).

Based on curriculum developed by the U.S. Forest Service, this online module is useful to anyone wanting to learn more about climate change and strategies for managing our natural resources. Through the use of engaging graphics and inter­active tools, it orients users to the three principle climate change adaptation options: resistance, resilience, and transition.

Safer, Stronger, Smarter: A Guide to Improving School Natural Hazard Safety. Applied Technology Council for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 2017. 282p. illus. SuDoc# HS 5.108:SCH 6/2.

Schools can use the authoritative information here to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing natural hazards. Based on a two-year project of the Applied Technology Council with funding from FEMA, the document serves to update existing policies and provide new knowledge about natural hazard–resistant design and strategies and procedures recommended by other federal agencies.



Grizzly Bears Threatened by Trains in Banff. CBC News. 2017. video.

This video describes how efforts to understand why grizzly bears, a threatened species, are attracted to rails now when they were not during the past century. Conservationists are looking at food ­supply, climate change, habitat loss, and other societal variations while the railroad company is taking steps to provide safer paths for bears to travel.


LGBT DREAMers and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). by Kerith Conron & Taylor N.T. Brown. Williams Inst., UCLA Sch. of Law. 2017. 4p. OCLC # 974378488. PDF.

A statistical overview of the states with the largest number of LGBTQ Dreamers—California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Florida—and how enrollment in DACA helped these students pursue educational ­opportunities.


Analysis of the Economic Impact and Return on Investment of Education: The Economic Value of the Colorado Community College Systems. Colorado Dept. of Education. Colorado Community Coll. Syst. 2017. OCLC # 1009899937. online.

This expansive study examines the overall economic impact and societal benefits of Colorado’s community colleges. Correlations between education and issues such as health and wellness are assessed, in addition to economic impacts. Overall, the conclusions demonstrate a positive return on investment.

Colorado Flood Recovery: Three Years of Progress. Colorado Recovery & Resiliency Office. 2017. 60p. OCLC # 985116406. interactive videos and story map available at PDF.

This dynamic work illustrates how state resources work together to recover after natural disaster. Videos, photos, maps, charts, and illustrations help readers understand the scale of the 2013 flood, the steps to recovery, and the resilience of the people to revitalize their land.

Guide to Worker Safety and Health in the Marijuana Industry. Colorado Marijuana Occupational Health & Safety Work Group. Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment. 2017. 66p. OCLC # 973021972. PDF.

A compilation of regulations and best practices from state and federal resources in an easy-to-follow guidebook that examines the industry from multiple perspectives, including workers, employers, safety leaders, doctors, epidemiologists, and regulatory specialists.


Georgia State Park Discovery Backpack. by Raymond Leung & James Kavanaugh. Georgia P.L. Svc. 2017. ISBN 9781583554050; ISBN 9781583554456; ISBN 9781583551103. OCLC # 990339650. KIT.

Georgia residents can check out a backpack from their public library to learn about their state’s grand outdoors. It includes pocket guides detailing the birds, wildflowers, trees, and wildlife, plus a pair of binoculars! The packs are the latest additions to the state park pass for a free visit to a state park or historic site.


Building a Nation: Indiana Limestone Photograph Collection. Indiana Univ. Digital Image Collection.

Some 25,000-plus black-and-white photos were digitized and archived to create this collection of architectural history of cities and architects who used Indiana limestone in their buildings. A wonderful visual interpretation of the dynamics of the legacy of American construction.


New Mexico Wildlife. New Mexico Game & Fish Dept. 2017. interactive website.

This long-standing magazine now has an interactive website to complement its print and PDF versions. The site has a lot more photographs than the print and PDF versions; its clean layout allows users to select easily what area they are most interested in reading. The magazine still focuses on education and public interest stories about the state’s wildlife. PDFs are archived back to 2005.


In Prison: Serving a Felony Sentence in North Carolina. by Jamie Markham & others. Univ. of North Carolina (UNC) Sch. of Government. 11p. 2017. ISBN 9781560118992. OCLC# 101139448.

Students at the UNC School of Government use the format of a graphic novel to explain how a felony prison sentence is served from the moment of sentencing to supervision after release.

North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program Evaluation Key Findings (2002–16). by Ellen Peisner-Feinberg. FPG Child Development Inst., Univ. of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. 2p. OCLC # 1001572335. online. PDF.

In two pages, the author presents her findings on pre-K evaluation studies related to math, reading, literacy, language, and general knowledge.

North Carolina’s Blue Economy. North Carolina Sea Grant Coll. Program. North Carolina State Univ. 2017. OCLC # 974229064.

A marketing study showcasing the coastal areas and the variety of industries they support to fuel and shape North Carolina’s economy.

Reducing the Burden of Cancer in North Carolina: A Data and Resource Guide for Communities To Fight Cancer. Div. of Public Health. Cancer Prevention & Control Branch. 2017. 140p. OCLC # 1011356666. online. PDF.

In 2014, North Carolina issued a plan to reduce the varying “burdens of cancer” entitled “A Call to Action: North Carolina Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan 2014–2020.” One measure of that plan was to deliver a surveillance report of the six priority cancers along with a statewide blueprint for cancer prevention and control. This is the culmination of those findings.


Chair Mark Anderson
Univ. of Northern Colorado
Federal Selector Suzanne Reinman Oklahoma State Univ.
Federal Judge
Christine Adams Youngstown State Univ.
Federal Judge Carole Spector
Univ. of San Francisco
State/Local/Selector Kathy Hale
State Lib. of Pennsylvania
Aimée C. Quinn Central Washington Univ.
State/Local/Judge Melanie Sims  Lousiana State Univ.
 Selector Hayley Johnson  Nicholls State Univ.
Judge Sonnet Ireland
St. Tammany Parish Lib.
International Judge Annalise Sklar
Univ. of California–San Diego

TO SUBMIT NOMINATIONS Please complete the online nomination form at

Titles considered for the next review should be published in 2018. The deadline for nominating a publication is January 9, 2019.


Art50! Exhibitions Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the North Dakota Council on the Arts. North Dakota Council on the Arts. 2017. OCLC # 990058357. online. 56p. PDF.

This eclectic collection of works showcases state artists representing a variety of visual media, including drawings, paintings, sculpture, photos, and pottery, exemplifying an assortment of styles and themes.

Prairie Mosaic: An Ethnic Atlas of Rural North Dakota. 2d ed. by William C. Sherman & Thomas D. Isern. North Dakota State Univ. 2017. 152p. ISBN 9780911042276. OCLC # 1003273298.

This revised 1983 atlas features a sociologist’s attempts to map and analyze comprehensively each ethnic group in North Dakota. The state is divided into six sections, and the population is mapped from each section. His analysis shows that the historical three ethnic groups from the last century still hold sway in this century despite social change.

The Windbreak Cookbook: Featuring Fruits of Prairie Forests. by Derek Lowstuter & others. NDSU North Dakota Extension Svc.; North Dakota Forest Svc. Circular F. 2017. ISBN 9781681840888. OCLC # 1004662947. 120p. book + online. PDF.

This guide features not only a recipe for acorn muffins but also an explanation of how to make acorn flour, preceded by a list of the deciduous trees in North Dakota that provide the nuts. A cross between a cookbook and a field guide to the trees, shrubs, and beauty of the Peace Garden State.


The State Library at 200: A Celebration of Library Services to Ohio. by Cynthia G. McLaughlin. Donning. 2017. 80p. ISBN 9781681840888. OCLC # 978249531. online. PDF.

In celebration of its 200th anniversary, the State Library of Ohio carefully selected photos with matching stories to regale readers as well as recall the varied transitions the state library made through two centuries of serving its citizens. Proceeds will go ­toward an LIS scholarship at Kent State University.


FAQs About the Death with Dignity Act. Oregon Health Authority. Public Health Div. 2017. OCLC # 1015390752. 6p. online. PDF.

This FAQ was updated on December 1, 2017, to ensure the Death with Dignity Act information is current for Oregonians.

Hazy, Smoky Air: Do You Know What To Do? Healthy Security, Preparedness, & Response Program. Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Div. 2017. online. PDF.

Wildfire smoke can be a significant hazard, especially for individuals with heart and lung disease. This poster advises specific steps one can take to reduce the risk. It also provides the URL of the Oregon Department of Forestry Smoke Information.

Stink Bugs of Oregon. Oregon Insect Pest Prevention & Management. Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, Plant Protection & Conservation Program. 2017. OCLC # 990145522. online. Downloadable.

Who knew stinkbugs came in such a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes? This poster depicts 20 of the 50 or so species of these critters found in Oregon, along with the Latin names of each. All that is missing is the smell. A cheerful addition to an elementary school classroom or bulletin board.


A Guide to Rhode Island Government and History. Secretary of State. 20p. 2018. OCLC # 1023510502. PDF.

This open access activity book covers Rhode Island history from Colonial times to the present, portrays the current structure, and features some state government elected officials. Written for young scholars, it invites readers to solve puzzles, color pictures, and answer trivia questions.

Rhode Island Taking Shape and Shaping History: 1600–Present. Rhode Island Dept. of State.

A web-based time line with images and embedded videos. Drop-down menus link to bonus materials, such as teacher resources.


A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migration Route. United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 2017. 20p. illus. maps. PDF. Free.

The Central Mediterranean Migration route from North Africa to Europe is used by thousands of immigrants fleeing violence, war, poverty, and climate change. In 2016, roughly 181,000 immigrants traversed this route, including more than 25,800 unaccompanied children. This study is based on interviews with migrants (82 women, 40 children) in Libya and covers abuse, exploitation, sexual violence, detention, smuggling, and the psychological and social impacts of the migration experience. UNICEF advocates a six-point plan to keep refugee and migrant women and children safe.

Forcibly Displaced: Toward a Development Approach Supporting Refugees, the Internally Displaced, and Their Hosts. World Bank. 2017. 187p. graphs. ISBN 9781464809392.

The total number of refugees and displaced persons worldwide is more than 65 million, or almost one percent of the global population. Of this group, 95 percent live in the developing world. This report examines forced displacement from a socioeconomic perspective and covers history, prevention and preparedness, managing change for host communities, reducing vulnerabilities via development support, and providing assistance in rebuilding lives.

Media Coverage of the “Refugee Crisis”: A Cross-European Perspective. by Myria Georgiou & Rafal Zaborowski. Council of Europe. 2017. 24p. REF 048517GBR. PDF. Free.

In 2015, the world saw a sharp rise in the numbers of refugees and migrants arriving on Europe’s shores: approximately one million people that year alone. Examining what was dubbed “the refugee/migration crisis” by the European media, this report looks at mainstream media’s role in framing the crisis as a means to understand the narratives surrounding it, its geographical trends, and challenges to policy­makers. The report isolates the frames through which newspapers narrate the refugee/migration crisis in order to strategize ways to create fairer ­coverage.

Syria at War: Five Years On. U.N. Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). 68p. ISBN 9789210601009.

The state of Syria five years after the conflicts begun in March 2011 is contrasted with Syria prior to the war, using economic and social indicators. The work reveals the EU’s socio­economic cooperation with Syria and the flow of refugees and migrants, along with the EU’s economic support to countries taking on that migration. Additionally, the effects of sanctions on the Syrian people, owing to the resulting blockade of humanitarian aid, are discussed. Key steps are identified to assist the population once a conflict resolution has been reached.

Terrorism and the Media: A Handbook for Journalists. U.N. Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 2017. 110p. ISBN 9789231001994. PDF. Free.

This handbook for journalists and media professionals provides information on how to report acts of terrorism and violent extremism. It offers guidelines and examples for a variety of situations, e.g., working from the front lines, covering an attack, interacting with terrorists, journalist safety, and reflection on an attack in its aftermath. It also addresses professional challenges and ethical ­dilemmas.

“This Is Our Home”: Stateless Minorities and Their Search for Citizenship. U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). 2017. 27p. PDF. Free.

Building on the UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign To End Statelessness that began in 2014, this report focuses on individual interviews with more than 120 stateless, formerly stateless, or at-risk minority groups: the Karana of Madagascar, Roma and other ethnic minorities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the Pemba and Makonde of ­Kenya. Causes and effects of statelessness among these groups is examined, while the site contains videos that detail their struggles.

The Trump Presidency: Policy, Outlook, Scenarios and Possible Implications for the EU. European Political Strategy Centre. 2017. 9p. ISBN 9789292421274. PDF. Free.

This European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) brief was written in response to the state of the Trump presidency as of February 14, 2017, and serves as an analysis of early policy pronouncements as well as offering response strategies to possible Trump administration actions. Encouraging concentration on issues of strategic importance to the ­European Union rather than focusing on “tweetstorms,” recommendations deal with Loud America, Walled America, and Trouble America and their implications for EU member nations. A useful snapshot of the European reaction to the Trump White House and its direction.

We Can! Taking Action Against Hate Speech Through Counter and Alternative Narratives. Council of Europe. 2017. 174p. ISBN 97887184450.

In an attempt to counteract hate speech, this manual is geared toward young activists, educators, human rights workers, and youth workers as a tool to confront, dismantle, and replace hateful narratives, especially in online ­environments. Numerous examples, with drawings.



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BLM Library
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Alexandria, VA 22302

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Svc.
Pacific Northwest Research,
1220 SW 3d Ave., Suite 1400
Portland, OR 97204

U.S. Geological Survey
950 National Ctr.
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr.
Reston, VA 20192
U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation & Science Ctr.

47914 252nd St. Sioux Falls, SD 57198


Banff, Alberta
110 Bear St., Box 1260,
Banff, AB T1L 1A1

Williams Inst., UCLA School of Law
337 Charles E. Young Dr. E.
Public Policy Bldg., Rm. 2381
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Colorado Dept. of Education
201 E. Colfax
Denver, CO 80203

Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Dr. S.
Denver, CO 80246

Colorado Recovery & Resiliency Office

Georgia Public Library Svc.
1800 Century Place Suite 150
Atlanta, GA 30345

Indiana University Digital Image Collection
1320 E. 10th St.
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405

New Mexico Game & Fish Dept.
PO Box 25112
Santa Fe, NM 87507
North Carolina Division of Public Health
1931 Mail Svc. Ctr.
Raleigh, NC 27699-1931

North Carolina State Univ.
News/Media Svcs.
Butler Communication Bldg.
Box 7504
Raleigh, NC 27695-7504

UNC School of Government
Knapp-Sanders Bldg.
Campus Box 3330
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330

North Dakota Council on the Arts
1600 E. Century Ave., Suite 6
Bismarck, ND 58503

NDSU Extension Svc. Publications
311 Morrill Hall, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Ohio State Library
274 E. First Ave.
Columbus, OH 43201

Oregon Dept. of Agriculture
635 Capitol St. NE
Salem, OR 97301-2532

Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Div.
500 Summer St. NE E-20
Salem, OR 97301-1097

Rhode Island Secretary of State
148 W. River St.
Providence, RI 02904-2615


Council on Europe
Avenue de L’Europe F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France
European Union

UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
1800 Massachusetts Ave NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

7 Place Fontenoy 75007 Paris, France

125 Maiden Lane New York, NY 10038

United Nations Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
PO Box 11-8575 Riad el-Solh Sq.
Beirut, Lebanon

World Bank
1818 H St. NW
Washington, DC 20433

Prepping for BookExpo 2018 | Librarian Friendly Programs

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 11:15

I spent a chilly, rainy weekend curled up on my couch, perusing some 75 advance reading copies that publishers, large and small, have sent me in the hopes that I will highlight their titles at LJ’s tenth annual “Shout ‘n Share” program at BookExpo, held May 30–June 1 at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. A Facebook friend amusingly suggested I could easily handle three or four books a day if I treated the reading like a marathon race and had liquid nutrition poured down my throat at intervals. Despite my anxiety at the sight of so many books, I am finding lots of exciting titles and it’s going to be difficult to whittle these down to a manageable ten to 12 volumes (not including the unexpected discoveries I’ll pick up on the show floor.)

The “Shout ‘n Share” panel takes place at the Javits Center’s Downtown Stage on Friday, June 1, 11:45–12:45 p.m. Joining me in the discussion will be Stephanie Anderson, BookOps/NYPL; Shayera Tangri, Porter Branch Library/Porter Ranch, CA; Jennifer Hubert  Swan, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School Director of Library Services; and Gregg Winsor, Johnson County Library, Overland Park, KS. The ever-popular event climaxes three days of librarian friendly BookExpo-related programming that launches on Wednesday, May 30, with LJ and School Library Journal‘s Day of Dialog, held concurrently in different venues. See the “BookExpo/BookCon 2018 Preview” for a listing of other panels and events that have caught our attention.

Below are LibraryReads events to add to your BookExpo schedule. Unfortunately, the May 30 LibraryReads Adult Author Dinner at the Yale Club and the May 31 LibraryReads Adult Author Lunch at the Javits Center are sold out, but you can email Tina Jordan on behalf of LibraryReads at to be placed on the waiting list.

Thursday, May 31

9:30–10:50 a.m. Writing Powerful Book Annotations, Hosted by LibraryReads. (Javits Center Room 1E11)
Join members of the LibraryReads Steering Committee in a hands-on session to learn tips and tricks to write attention-grabbing annotations that appeal to readers. Come with pen in hand.

2-3:15 p.m. LibraryReads Book Buzz—Part I (Downtown Stage Exhibit Floor, Javits Center)
Hear the first installment of what publishers are excited about for the forthcoming season, and why! Presenting are Laura Keefe (Bloomsbury); Elenita Chmilowski (Ingram); Jessica Case (Pegasus); Judith Gurlewich (Other Press); Linette Kim (Harlequin); Talia Sherer, (Macmillan); Linda Hollick (New York Review Books); Chris Vaccari (Sterling); and Michelle Leo (Simon & Schuster).

Friday, June 1

9:30–10:45 a.m. LibraryReads Book Buzz II (Javits Center Room 1E16)
This second installment of the LibraryReads Book Buzz offers more exciting news about the forthcoming publishing season. Presenters include Miriam Tuliao (Penguin Random House); Golda Rademacher (W.W. Norton); Annie Mazes (Workman); Margaret Coffee (Sourcebooks); Melissa Nicholas (Hachette Book Group); Ivy Weir (Quirk Books); Juliet Grames (Soho Press); and Virginia Stanley (HarperCollins).




Obsessions & Other Stories | What We’re Reading & Watching

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 10:17

Sometimes I don’t have a theme or genre in mind for the “What We’re Reading & Watching”  column; sometimes a theme emerges from the tangled, twisted threads woven by WWR/W contributors. This time there doesn’t appear to be too much cohesion, but there are some obsessions. Amanda’s true crime fixation is spurred by Michelle McNamara’s posthumous book (and wall-to-wall coverage of the arrest of a suspect after more than 40 years). Lisa’s love of a fist-pump ending is satisfied by Morgan Jerkins’s collection of essays; Etta’s quest for knowledge is stoked by Atul Gawande; Ashleigh’s binge reading is rewarded by Brian K. Vaughan; my enjoyment of Greek choruses (and weird cineastes) goes to the movies; and Meredith’s goal of being our A-one sf/fantasy reader gets a little bit closer. Come closer and read all about our obsessions. 

Liz French, Senior Editor, LJ Reviews
The things I’ve read and watched recently make me worried for the human race. In the 1988 (or 1989, sources differ), Martin Donavan cult movie Apartment Zero, which is set in postdictatorship Buenos Aires, after CIA-sanctioned death squads killed thousands of Argentines, a repressed cineaste meets his match. It’s not a political film per se; more like an allegory with big nods to Hitchcock, Chabrol, and Polanski. It stars a very young Colin Firth as the cineaste (resident of Apartment Zero) and a charming and impossibly handsome Hart Bochner as his new American roommate with a shadowy past. The building where Firth’s character lives is inhabited by a Greek chorus of character actors—I just realized I enjoy films with Greek choruses, that was the best part of There’s Something About Mary. Firth went on to play Darcy and King George and many other important roles. Bochner went on to direct and star in smaller films (he was particularly vile in a lil ole movie you might’ve heard of, Die Hard), but he’s mesmerizing in this film, like watching a beautiful snake hypnotize its prey.

My recent reading matter includes some fashion books for an upcoming roundup in LJ and an assignment for my Golden State Killer–obsessed colleague Amanda (see below): reviewing Francine Prose’s What To Read and Why (Harper). My admiration for Prose increases with every essay, though in the beginning it seemed to me that every chapter was a discussion of how horrible humans can be and how beautifully authors such as Dickens, Balzac, Bolaño, and Eliot convey this behavior.

Amanda Mastrull, Assistant Editor, LJ Reviews
They caught the Golden State Killer (GSK). I can’t believe I’m writing that, but I am. I’ve written before in WWR that it’s a case I haven’t been able to put out of my mind since I first picked up a galley of Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (Harper) late last year. It’s led me to watch all the television specials I can find about it and is, arguably, what’s gotten me into podcasts. The suspect—whose DNA is a match to both the northern California rapes and the southern California murders attributed to this offender—is a former cop, who worked as a cop during the rapes, and was ultimately fired after he was caught shoplifting dog repellent and a hammer. It’s incredible that he was able to stay under the radar, but his name had never before come up as a suspect. It’s been fascinating to hear retired Contra Costa County cold case investigator Paul Holes discuss how they ultimately identified GSK (this is one such interview, though Holes has also appeared on things such as this New York Times podcast, which I listened to during a recent commute). Holes, who spent decades investigating the case and was instrumental in originally linking the northern and southern California crimes, utilized an open-source DNA website, where people upload their DNA profiles to try and find relatives, to track the suspect down from distant relations. He and other investigators found a common ancestor from the 1800s and built family trees out from that relative to find someone in the family who fit the demographic (age, located in California during the crimes, etc.). The method raises larger questions about DNA and the way people freely share it to ancestry-related websites without knowing (or, perhaps, caring) how it might be used by others, but right now all I’m concentrating on is that they got him. As I read and watch the news coverage, I find myself thinking of the letter McNamara wrote to the GSK, excerpted from her book and published in The New Yorker.

The doorbell rings.
No side gates are left open. You’re long past leaping over a fence. Take one of your hyper, gulping breaths. Clench your teeth. Inch timidly toward the insistent bell.
This is how it ends for you.
“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,” you threatened a victim once.
Open the door. Show us your face.
Walk into the light. 

Lisa Peet, Associate Editor, LJ
I recently read a new essay collection, Morgan Jerkins’s This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America (Harper Perennial). It was my pick for my newish book group, which has a feminist/lefty slant, and though I hadn’t read the book at the time I suggested it, I’d heard enough about it, and follow Jerkins on Twitter, so I thought it would be a good choice. The collection juggles a lot of contrasting thought about the intersection of blackness, womanhood, and privilege, and for the most part I think Jerkins managed it well. She’s smart and thoughtful, and I’ve learned a lot from what she has to say. Her youth works both for and against her—against because sometimes it feels like all her triggers are on the surface of her writing, which doesn’t always serve her as an essayist with a point to develop. On the other hand, her enthusiasm and earnestness are very much in her favor, and keep her thoughts fresh and far away from any kind of polemics. I did wonder if the essays are presented in any kind of chronological writing order, or if it was just well edited as a collection, because her thoughts and expression progress to a triumphant note—that’s probably my secret shameful love of the fist-pump ending showing, but whatever, it worked. I’m looking forward to the discussion it will spark—not only the intersectional politics but Jerkins’s thoughts on hair, porn, and inconvenient body parts.

Meredith Schwartz, Executive Editor, LJ
I’m reading Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell’s The Tangled Lands (Saga), set in a world in which magic works—but its use causes escalating ecological disaster. I’m not far enough in yet to know what I think yet.

Henrietta Verma, WWR/W emerita
I’ve stopped reading my library copies of Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi’s Creativity and Flow (Harper Perennial). They were both excellent and I’m going to buy them and dip into them now and then as work allows. It might take a while! I got further into Flow, which taught me something about my current work endeavor, devising information literacy lessons. People experience their happiest and most productive moments, says Czikszentmihalyi, when they are challenged by figuring out something that’s a little difficult for them. So the key to engaging bored students is to make things harder…that was not intuitive for me and was helpful to learn.

Now I’m reading, also to expand my way of thinking about education, Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right (Metropolitan). I heard surgeon and author Gawande give the Benjamin Menschel Distinguished Lecture at Cooper Union recently and learned more about his work with medical checklists. He made it clear that small improvements in a process can result in big changes, and that even if the changes are small, they’re better than waiting to make a major transformation that might never happen.

Ashleigh Williams, Editorial Assistant, SLJ
I just binge read Volumes 1–4 of Saga author Brian K. Vaughan’s “Paper Girls” series from Image Comics, and I’m hooked! In this comic, four tween girls—Mac, K.J., Tiff, and Erin—start their day on their typical predawn paper route and end up plummeting through the space-time continuum into lands future and past. So far, I’m thoroughly enjoying the girls’ developing friendships and individual identities; these coming-of-age components are skillfully woven through adventures into prehistoric periods and fights with enormous future bots. The nostalgia factor is strong with callbacks to 1980s media alongside the tech-terror of Y2K, and the art feels like an homage to classic comics blended with sherbet tones and no-nonsense preteen moxie. As usual, I’m a little lost on plot logistics, such as the chronological foldings and the “time war” factions, but I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be—and it’s an awesomely wild ride.

More from the Listen List Committee | The Reader’s Shelf

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 10:33

Judged by a committee of librarians, the Listen List had members narrowing a field of 58 nominated audiobooks to 12 winners. There were plenty of runner-up titles still worth attention. Here are seven of them.

Roy McMillan offers a narration master class in Conclave (7 CDs. 8 hrs. Random Audio. 2016. ISBN 9781524757311. $40) by Robert Harris. McMillan captures the cloistered tension and immoral chicanery that swirls within the Vatican walls after the Pope’s mysterious death and the election of his replacement. With a divine ability to craft accents, McMillan perfectly mirrors the emotional strain in Harris’s mesmerizing, character-driven thriller. Complex plot twists and arcane Latin rituals are clearly illuminated through the reader’s cinematic pacing and accurate pronunciations, ­resulting in an understated yet compelling ­performance.

Fredrik Backman’s Beartown (11 CDs. 13:15 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2017. ISBN 9781508230977. $39.99) transports listeners to a remote, wintry community where hope is scarce and hockey reigns absolute. A devastating assault on a teen girl rocks the town to its core, throwing long-held beliefs into doubt and pitting neighbor against neighbor. With chameleonlike fluidity, narrator Marin Ireland embodies the unique residents, from posturing youth to jaded hockey coaches. She expertly conveys the layers of the characters’ fear and anger as they desperately search for answers. Ireland’s low-pitched rasp communicates the unforgiving landscape of  Beartown, which teeters on the brink of disaster.

The Guns Above (digital download. 12 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2017. ISBN 9781427295804. $26.99), the debut steampunk adventure by Robyn Bennis, finds Josette Dupre captaining the airship ­Mistral on a test drive that turns into combat. Kate Reading’s skilled narration brings to life ­Josette’s commanding voice and sarcastic slings aimed at Lord Bernat, who replies with aristocratic snobbery and hides his uncle’s assignment to spy on her. Shouted battle instructions, whispers from cloudbound ships, and high-pitched squeaks from the crew add to the rip-roaring skirmishes, booming cannonballs, and fighting gore in the first of the “Signal Airship” series.

In Magpie Murders (12 CDs. 15:45 hrs. Harper Audio. 2017. ISBN 9780062677648. $44.99) by Anthony Horowitz, a star author hands in his ninth Atticus Pünd manuscript and plunges his editor into a plot unlike any she’s experienced. Narrator Samantha Bond captures all of editor Susan Ryeland’s curiosity and annoyance as she chases after clues—on and off the page—and grows determined to catch a killer. Reading the manuscript itself, narrator Allan Corduner subtly uses intonation and tone to evoke the German Pünd and a motley group of English villagers in Horowitz’s homage to classic British detective fiction.

Days Without End (7 CDs. 8 hrs. Blackstone. 2017. ISBN 9781504796569. $34.95), Sebastian Barry’s lyrical love story, combines boyish exuberance with the heartbreak and horrors of war. Young Irish immigrant Tom McNulty recounts meeting John Cole, the love of his life, and their service as U.S. soldiers during the Indian and Civil wars. Narrator Aidan Kelly’s voice is lilting and poetic, suited to an enthusiastic storyteller with a knack for seeing the humor in almost any situation. His rendering of Barry’s beautifully expressive language draws listeners in with excellent pacing.

Juanita McMahon brilliantly animates Sarah Perry’s characters in her narration of The Essex Serpent (12 CDs. 14:45 hrs. Harper Audio. 2017. ISBN 9781538416860. $59.99). Listeners hear newly widowed Cora Seaborne flourish in strength; sense the wonder of her strange son, Francis; and feel Cracknell the fisherman spit and sputter. Opposites attract as Cora and the pious vicar William Ransome approach the ­centuries-old mystery of the Essex serpent. Martha, Cora’s saucy friend and nanny, provides a touch of comedy to this late 19th-­century English tale. ­McMahon gives them each her full attention, creating a wholly formed listening ­experience.

In Jennifer Wright’s Get Well Soon: ­History’s Worst Plagues and the ­Heroes Who Fought Them (6 CDs. 7:45 hrs. Blackstone. 2017. ISBN 9781504798983. $76), each chapter addresses a different plague, discussing causes, reasons for the spread, the response from medical and political leaders, and its aftermath. The author’s unique style also allows for some more lighthearted moments. Narrator Gabra Zackman does a wonderful job accentuating the tongue-in-cheek aspects of these riveting accounts and will leave listeners with the impression that some ancient plagues were better handled than modern ones.

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ’s online feature Wyatt’s World and is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers’ advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader’s Shelf should contact her directly at

This column was contributed by Mary Burkey, Library Consultant, OH; Sarah Hashimoto, Jackson District Library, MI; Pam Spencer Holley, Library Consultant, VA; Lauren Kage, NoveList, Durham, NC; Lucy M. Lockley, St. Charles City-County Library District, MO; Dodie Ownes, Denver Public Library; and Christa Van Herreweghe, University City Public Library, MO. Selections and annotations are in the order given

Remembering Sue Grafton, Honoring Mystery’s Best | In the Bookroom

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 15:54

The two days preceding the announcement of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards is traditionally known as “Edgar Week” and includes a Tuesday evening cocktail party at the Mysterious Bookshop in lower Manhattan and a Wednesday all-day symposium on the state of the mystery genre before culminating on Thursday with the gala awards banquet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

The mystery community gathered at the New York Public Library’s Celeste Bartos Forum to celebrate the life and legacy of Sue Grafton.

But Tuesday, April 24, 2018, also marked what would have been Mystery Grand Master Sue Grafton’s 78th birthday, and a memorial service organized by Grafton’s publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, was held at the New York Public Library’s Celeste Bartos Forum to honor the memory and legacy of the writer, who died December 28, 2017. Attending the event was a who’s who of the mystery world, from Karin Slaughter and Alafair Burke, who wore a black dress in honor of Grafton’s iconic sleuth Kinsey Millhone, to speakers Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben, who shared a hilarious story about Grafton discovering the world’s best wine bar in Indianapolis; it featured an automated wine dispenser.

Other speakers included Marian Wood, Grafton’s longtime publisher and editor, who recalled how impressed she was by the first 50 pages of A Is for Alibi, which launched Grafton’s alphabetically themed mysteries. While her boss acknowledged that he didn’t quite grasp the manuscript, he trusted Wood’s judgment and allowed her to buy the book. While early reviews were tepid, mystery fans recognized the quality of Grafton’s work, and Wood noted proudly that none of her titles have ever been out of print.

Jamie Clark, Grafton’s daughter, offered a lovely remembrance of her mother typing into the night after she had put her children to bed. Clark would go to sleep, listening to the clacking of the typewriter. And Grafton’s husband, Steve Humphrey, shared a heartfelt story of their early romance, when Grafton was his older upstairs neighbor (her 34 to his 23) at an L.A. apartment complex, where their cats played together in the courtyard. The event ended with a toast featuring Grafton’s favorite peanut butter and pickle sandwiches and California chardonnay.

At the Mystery Writers of America’s 72nd annual Edgar Awards banquet, held Thursday, April 26, emcee Jeffery Deaver got the evening off to a touching start with a mystery writers abecedarian poem paying tribute to Grafton. It began, “A Is for Advance, which we pray to pay back,” concluding, “Z Is for Zenith, where Sue absolutely is.” Grafton was later recognized in the “In Memoriam” slide show presentation.

Attica Locke, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Photo by Aslan Chalom.

Diversity in terms of author voices, characters, and subject matter was a key theme connecting most of the evening’s winners. Taking the Edgar for Best Novel, Attica Locke’s Bluebird, Bluebird  (Mulholland: Little, Brown) features an African American Texas Ranger investigating a possibly racially motivated double homicide in a small Texas town. In accepting the award, Locke said that she’d hoped that her books—and the mystery genre—could help readers understand how people navigate shared space.

Killers of the Flower Moon (Knopf), David Grann’s shattering exposé of the greed and racism that played in the systematic murders of members of the Osage Nation, was named Best Fact Crime (also an LJ Top Ten Best Book of 2017). The Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical went to Lawrence P. Jackson’s Chester A. Himes: A Biography (Norton) the definitive take on the African American novelist best known for his mysteries set in Harlem, NY. Jason Reynolds’s Long Way Down (Atheneum: S. & S.), named a 2018 Newbery Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book for its exploration of teenage gun violence, took top honors in the Best Young Adult category.

The winners and honorees of the 2018 Edgar Awards. Photo by Aslan Chalom

Other winners included Jordan Harper’s gritty She Rides Shotgun (Ecco: HarperCollins) for Best First Novel by an American, Anna Mazzola’s The Unseeing (Sourcebooks Landmark), for Best Paperback Original, and Carol Goodman’s The Widow’s House (Morrow), presented with the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award. For a full list of winners and nominees, go to the




Audiobooks from Bohjalian, Darznik, Egan, Eggers, Double Messud, with PBS’s Little Women, Dolores Huerta, Education Equality, & More | Review Alert: May 15, 2018

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:28

Below is a list of Audio and Video titles to be reviewed in the May 15, 2018, issue of Library Journal, organized by subject. The list includes pertinent publisher and bibliographic information for your convenience.

Starred reviews are indicated with **.

Publishers: Please remember to send us one finished copy of each book that is scheduled for review (i.e., all of the forthcoming titles listed below) if you initially submitted a galley or bound manuscript. Our reviewers are not paid, and we like to send a finished copy of the reviewed book as a thank you. Materials should be mailed to: Library Journal, 123 William Street, Suite 802, New York, NY 10038.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: LJ is seeking summer/fall football titles for a roundup in the August 2018 issue. Please include with your submissions the following bibliographic information (author, title, publisher, pub date, ISBN, format, price) and a brief summary of the material (catalog copy will suffice). The deadline is Friday, June 1. Questions? Contact Stephanie Sendaula at




Boast, Will. Daphne. 6 CDs. 7:30 hrs. HighBridge. Feb. 2018. ISBN 9781684410026. $34.99. digital download. F

Bohjalian, Chris. The Flight Attendant. 9 CDs. 11:30 hrs. Books on Tape. Mar. 2018. ISBN 9780525496120. $40. digital download. F

**Darznik, Jasmin. Song of a Captive Bird. digital download. 10:52 hrs. Books on Tape. Feb. 2018. ISBN 9780525527336. $76. F

**Doyle, Roddy. Smile. digital download. 5:03 hrs. Books on Tape. Oct. 2017. ISBN 9780525499565. $47.50. F

**Dudley, Lawrence. New York Station. 9 CDs. 10:30 hrs. Blackstone. Jan. 2018. ISBN 9781538424179. $34.95. 1 MP3-CD. F

Egan, Jennifer. Manhattan Beach. 12 CDs. 15:20 hrs. S. & S. Audio. Oct. 2017. ISBN 9781442399983. $39.99. digital download. F

Eggers, Dave. The Monk of Mokha. 7 CDs. 8:18 hrs. Books on Tape. Jan. 2018. ISBN 9780735205796. $35. digital download. F

Joseph, Nic. The Last Day of Emily Lindsey. 7 CDs. 8 hrs. Recorded Bks. Nov. 2017. ISBN 9781501955037. $123.75. digital download. F

Valente, Catherynne. Space Opera. 8 CDs. 10 hrs. HighBridge. Apr. 2018. ISBN 9781681689166. $24.99. digital download. F


Benjamin, H. Jon. Failure Is an Option: An Attempted Memoir. digital download. 4:58 hrs. Books on Tape. May 2018. ISBN 9780525527749. $57. memoir

Flock, Elizabeth. The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai. digital download. 12:46 hrs. Harper Audio. Feb. 2018. ISBN 9780062799470. $26.99. soc sci

Lipska, Barbara K. The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery. 6 CDs. 7 hrs. HighBridge. Apr. 2018. ISBN 9781684412662. $29.99. memoir


Messud, Claire. The Burning Girl. 6 CDs. 6:38 hrs. Recorded Bks. Aug. 2017. ISBN 9781501958731. $72.75. digital download. F

Messud, Claire. When the World Was Steady. 8 CDs. 9:14 hrs. HighBridge. Aug. 2017. ISBN 9781681686677. $29.99. digital download. F



Humans 2.0. 3 discs. 394+ min. Lewis Arnold & others, dist. by Acorn TV, 2017. DVD UPC 054961256297. $39.99; 2-disc Blu-ray UPC 054961257591. $39.99. SF

**Masterpiece: Little Women. 180 min. Vanessa Caswill, dist. for BBC One by PBS, 2018. DVD UPC 841887036160. $24.99; Blu-ray UPC 841887036177. $34.99; digital HD. F/TV

The Old Dark House. (Classics of American Cinema). b/w. 72+ min. James Whale, dist. by Cohen Media Group, 2017. DVD UPC 741952840794. $19.99; Blu-ray UPC 741952840893. $25.99. Horror/Comedy

Rake: Series 4. 3 discs. 461+ min. Peter Duncan & others, dist. by Acorn TV, 2017. DVD UPC 054961258697. $39.99. SDH subtitles. F/TV


England Is Mine: On Becoming Morrissey. 94+ min. Mark Gill, dist. by Cleopatra Entertainment c/o MVDvisual, 2017. Blu-ray UPC 760137059288. $29.95. MUSIC/BIOPIC

Linefork. 96 min. Vic Rawlings & Jeff Silva, dist. by Cinema Guild, 2017. DVD ISBN 9780781515573. $99.95; acad. libs. $350. Public performance. Music

Somos Lengua: Fragments of Hip-Hop in Mexico. 83+ min. In Spanish w/English subtitles. Hyzza Terrazas, dist. by Kino Lorber, 2018. DVD UPC 738329227760. $29.95. MUSIC

And When I Die, I Won’t Stay Dead. color & b/w. 89 min. Billy Woodberry, dist. by Grasshopper Film, 2017. DVD $99.95; acad. libs. $375. Public performance. POETRY


**Dolores. 90 min. Peter Bratt, dist. by PBS, 2018. DVD ISBN 9781531702403. $24.99; Blu-ray ISBN 9781531703387. $29.99. SDH subtitles. BIOG

Ku¯ Kanaka/Stand Tall. 26 min. Marlene Booth, dist. by New Day Films, 2017. DVD ISBN 9781574484472. $79; acad. libs. $189; streaming 3/yrs. $350. Public performance. BIOG

Miss Kiet’s Children. 113+ min. In Dutch w/English subtitles. Petra Lataster-Czisch & Peter Lataster, dist. by Icarus Films Home Entertainment, 2018. DVD UPC 854565002296. $29.95. ED

**Most Likely To Succeed. 89 min. Greg Whiteley, dist. by Tugg Edu, 2017. DVD $95; acad. libs. $395; streaming starting at $125. Public performance. ED

Line 41. color & b/w. 96+ min. In German & Polish w/English subtitles. Tanja Cummings, dist. by Film Movement, 2018. DVD UPC 859686006420. $24.95. HIST

**A Dangerous Idea: Eugenics, Genetics and the American Dream. 106 min. Stephanie Welch, dist. by Bullfrog Films, 2017. DVD ISBN 9781941545873. $350 (Rental: $95). SDH subtitles. SOC SCI

Stopping Traffic: The Movement To End Sex Trafficking. 79 min. Sadhvi Siddhali Shree, dist. by Collective Eye, 2018. DVD $50; public performance $125; acad. libs. $295. SOC SCI

Written Off: “The Journals Will Explain Everything.” 61 min. Molly Herman, dist. by Video Project, 2017. DVD $89; acad. libs. $350 (DVD/DSL). Public performance; closed-captioned. SCI/HEALTH


Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry. 82 min. Laura Dunn & Jeff Sewell, dist. by Tugg Edu, 2017. DVD $75; acad. libs. $250; streaming starting at $75. Public performance. AGRI/LIT

Dr. Keeling’s Curve. 77 min. Kirsten Sanderson, dist. by George Shea, 4288 Klump Ave., Studio City, CA 91602; 818-980-6769, 2017. $29.95; public performance $39.95. ENVIRONMENT

Life on the Line: An Inspiring Look into the Resilience of Humankind: Season 3. 2.5+ hrs. dist. by First Run Features, 2017. DVD UPC 720229917513. $24.95. MED

Cyborgs Among Us. 75 min. Rafael Duran, dist. by Passion River, 2017. DVD UPC 602573452066. $59.95. Public performance. TECH


The Assistant (“La Volante”). 87+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Distrib Films c/o Icarus Films. 2015. DVD UPC 854565002289. $26.99.

Birdman of Alcatraz. b/w. 149+ min. Olive Films. 1962. DVD UPC 887090139816. $24.95; Blu-ray UPC 887090139915. $29.95.

Images. 101+ min. Arrow Academy c/o MVDvisual. 1972. Blu-ray UPC 760137110088. $39.95. Rated: R.

My Journey Through French Cinema. color & b/w. 192+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Cohen Media Group. 2017. DVD UPC 741952839095. $25.99; Blu-ray UPC 741952839194. $30.99.

Nowhere in Africa. 141+ min. In German w/English subtitles. Kino Lorber. 2003. DVD UPC 738329229221. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 738329229238. $34.95.


Poems, Prose, Makeup, & More | What We’re Reading & Watching

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 13:35

We’re more than halfway through National Poetry Month, so I asked the “What We’re Reading & Watching” contributors to share their poetry faves and finds. Some did. The more prosaic members in our group stuck with what they know and like best, be it movies, fantasy books, YA adventures, graphic novels, or creativity-sparking tomes. Poetry exists all around us though, if you just know where to look—it could be spliced between scenes in a movie, flowing off the page of a graphic novel, hanging on the lip of a cliff-hanger ending, or brewing in the back of a choreographer’s brain. It’s even in the New York City subway!

Liz French, Senior Editor, LJ Reviews
Last week I went to see movies new and old. One of my viewings even involved poetry, though rather peripherally. Wes Anderson’s new stop-action animated film, Isle of Dogs, is set on a fictitious island of toxic waste and junk in Japan, where an entire city’s canine population has been exiled by a dog-hating mayor. His nephew and ward, a brave young boy, flies a rickety craft to the island to rescue his beloved dog. Some of the movie’s dialog is in untranslated Japanese. There are some interstitial haikus between scenes and chapters, but they seemed like doggerel to me (get it?)

I had to drag the boyfriend to the theater—he was sure the movie was for kids and not for serious grown-ups like himself—but almost immediately he was engrossed. I was too, especially when matching the voices to the dogs’ faces. The Edward Norton dog looked like Edward Norton; the Scarlett Johansson dog looked like Scarlett; the Jeff Goldblum dog, ditto…my favorite crazy credit was “Mute Poodle: Anjelica Huston.” I’ll probably have to rewatch the film just to spot that poodle. Isle of Dogs was so much fun, I wanted to prolong my time in Andersonland. So I found my copy of Matt Zoller Seitz’s The Wes Anderson Collection: Grand Budapest Hotel (Abrams), with illustrations by Max Dalton. This book is a true confection, with photos, sketches, interviews, and a candy-pink cover. It made me want to revisit Grand Budapest Hotel (the movie) again as well.

The old movie I saw in an actual theater (New York City’s Film Forum) was 1941’s The Sea Wolf, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Edward G. Robinson, Ida Lupino, John Garfield, and Alexander Knox. It’s based on a Jack London story and is a real old-timey “boy movie,” so much so that the line for the men’s after the show was twice as long as for the women’s. It had surprising depth for its time period and a roster of amazing character actors, but the most impressive thing to me was the durability of Lupino’s hair and makeup. Her character plunges into stormy seas, survives a shipwreck and days in a lifeboat without water, and nearly dies several times, but her eyelashes and lipstick never suffer so much as a smudge or a crumple. Now that’s entertainment! 

Tyler Hixson, WWR/W emeritus
I just read Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker (First Second) and A.J. Steiger’s When My Heart Joins the Thousand (HarperTeen) in rapid succession. What a great week of reading! The Prince and the Dressmaker is a graphic novel that takes place in 1900-ish Paris and follows Prince Sebastian of Belgium, who is there on a summer holiday. His parents keep trying to set him up with various princesses as he grows closer to coming of age, but he is much too busy trying to hide a huge secret from everyone: Sebastian leads a double life as Lady Crystallia, one of the most popular models in Paris. He is aided by his ahead-of-her-time seamstress Frances, with dreams of her own. However, when you’re someone’s secret weapon, it’s hard to pursue your own dreams. Tension arises!

Wang’s masterly modern fairy tale is uplifting and heartening, and the art is incredible. Frances’s dresses practically flow off the page. As someone who doesn’t regularly appreciate graphic novels, I was blown away by this one.

When My Heart Joins the Thousand is the story of Alvie, who is months away from legal emancipation. She has spent years in hospitals and psychologists’ offices being told that she needs to “fit in” and “be normal” after she is tentatively diagnosed with Asperger’s as a child. But if she can make it to her 18th birthday and prove to a judge that she can be a functioning member of society, she’ll be free. Alvie finds people complicated and annoying and would simply like to do her job at the zoo and live her own life. Things get more complicated when she meets Stanley, a boy with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) whose mother just died from cancer. Alvie is drawn to Stanley, as his situation is similar to hers and he genuinely seems to want to be a part of her life. However, Alvie is constantly reminded of what happened to the last person she got close to, creating a cyclone of doubt and confusion in her head.

This powerful story addresses autism, depression, and other mental illnesses in a heavy but beautiful way. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the portrayal of autism and osteogenesis imperfecta, but the struggles both Alvie and Stanley deal felt very real, and I was completely transported by their story.

Currently I’m working through Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids (Blumhouse: Doubleday), which is loosely based on the Scooby-Doo gang, but as really messed-up adults, which causes me to ride waves of nostalgia as I cram onto the A train every day. At times, Cantero’s prose choices are strange—he sometimes switches into a screenplay format, which I’m still not used to—but it’s an engaging read so far.

Lisa Peet, Associate Editor, LJ
Tara Westover’s Educated (Random) is one of the most striking books I’ve read lately. Westover grew up in a fundamentalist, survivalist, very dysfunctional, and often violent Mormon family. The author didn’t set foot in a classroom until she was 17, barely qualifying as homeschooled—she had LDS scripture and some ancient textbooks lying around the house but mostly worked in her dad’s incredibly hazardous junkyard from age ten on—then went on to earn a PhD from Cambridge. This fascinating memoir of reinvention shows not only her transformation from unschooled to academically adept but how she forcibly reoriented her own internal world map.

The first part of the book is more of a dysfunctional-family page-turner than I’d expected after reading reviews, with a barrage of violence and mental illness and a jaw-dropping amount of physical injury. But it all serves a purpose and paints a solid picture of the emotional and psychological boundaries she had to work so hard to redraw. Westover tells her story well, and it’s all the more dramatic for not being a novel. She manages to pull no punches and at the same time not edge over into pathos. As someone who has re-created herself in comparatively smaller ways, I found Westover’s story deeply affecting and wonder if she’ll write more popular work or settle into the academic life that seems to suit her so well.

As for poetry, I tend to dip in and out, but here’s one of my very all-time favorites, “The Mystery of Meteors” by Eleanor Lerman (who, like me, is also from the Bronx!). I don’t always hold relatability up as a big criterion for liking something, but this one speaks to my heart of hearts on lots of levels.

Meredith Schwartz, Executive Editor, LJ
I just finished Vic James’s Gilded Cage (Del Rey: Ballantine), which took me a long time to get into, but eventually the threads come together and the pace picks up toward the cliff-hanger ending. I’ve just ordered the sequel, Tarnished City.

Henrietta Verma, WWR/W emerita
On a bit of a creativity kick, I’m reading The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (S. & S.) by choreographer Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter. As much a memoir of Tharp’s creative process as an instruction manual for how to kick-start one’s own imagination, it is very enjoyable. Next up are more academic explorations: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention and possibly after that Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial).


Wilda Williams, Fiction Editor, LJ Reviews
At a reading last month organized by my friend, poet/teacher Scott Hightower, I picked up a slim volume, Swift Hour (Mercer Univ.) by Georgia-based Megan Sexton. I am not much of a poetry reader, but I was moved by her elegant, incisive, and plainspoken poems that explore a wide range of subjects, from the grieving mothers of Argentina’s Disappeared (“The Meaning of Bones”) and a homeless couple (“Orpheus and Eurydice at the Greyhound Station”) to tender ruminations on marriage and motherhood. This is the perfect collection for snatching a quiet, meditative hour away from a busy life. Here’s a brief example:



Our love has
made her
pearl of our flesh,
the gift of imperfection
polished now in her,
luminous, perfect





Finding the Sweet Spot | Best Magazines 2017

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:04

The transformation of magazines continued apace in 2017, showing signs that some publishers have found the sweet spot within the print-digital mix. Successful strategies include moving to fewer print issues each year, publishing issues with deep dives into single topics, and offering content on a title’s website not available in print. Sports Illustrated will be following this script, announcing in its December 2017 issue that it was moving to biweekly issues that will have 30 percent more pages and be printed on heavier, brighter paper to show off the magazine’s “famous photography.” Often print remains a key component of a publisher’s business model. Such is the case with Harvard Business Review, which sees a strong and continuing role for print in response to the perceived desires of its readers.

MPA—the Association of Magazine Media, an industry trade association, provides some positive data on readership in its most recent Factbook. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of adults who read magazines in digital formats increased by 27 percent. Further, “devoted media usage” of print magazines when compared to the Internet, TV, radio, and newspapers enjoys modest to strong support across generations, even achieving the top score with Gen Xers. And a five-year snapshot of magazine readership by adults shows increases every year between 2012 and 2016, with the largest increase in 2016.


Not all publishers, however, have found the sweet spot for their titles. The sale of Time, Inc., to Meredith late in the year is a reflection of the financial challenges faced by many publishers as they compete with tech behemoths such as Google and Facebook for advertising dollars. As the New York Times reported after the sale, “[Time] failed to keep pace as the industrywide transformation from print to digital rendered old methods of magazine-making obsolete and publishing companies crumbled under the pressure of declines in print advertising and circulation.”

These continuing environmental challenges would seem to ensure yet another year of uncertainty for magazine publishing, with concomitant lists of winners and losers. But as these best publications of 2017 show, publishers and editors are still bringing interesting and quality titles to market. Let’s hope for more of the same in 2018.

American Affairs. q. $30. Ed: Julius Krein.

The most interesting story line among 2017 start-ups is that of American Affairs. It launched to give “intellectual heft” to Trumpism, according to the New York Times, but founder Krein soured on the president before the end of the summer, making his change of heart public by publishing “I Voted for Trump. And I Sorely Regret It” in the Times. This tack away from a firm embrace of White House policy likely will not dissuade this quarterly from its stated purpose of pushing back on the “neoliberal policy consensus” in Washington. American Affairs is a solid new title and provides a fresh intellectual voice for conservatism.

Anxy. s-a. $40. Ed: Jennifer Maerz.

Given the tenor of our national psyche in 2017, the decision to devote the inaugural issue of Anxy to anger was prescient. This issue presents a potpourri of content, from listings of personal phraseology for angry feelings to photojournalism to an analysis of Margaret Atwood’s anger—and much more. As the introductory material makes clear, Anxy is about “exploring personal narratives and mental health through an artful and creative lens.” While this exploration is more shallow than deep, it makes up for it with the breadth of treatment. The first issue is a buffet of anger, with readers quickly getting the sense through the magazine’s design, layout, and content that this is a unique treatment of an all-too-common emotional state.

BE: The Journal of the Built Environment Trust. bi-a. $18. Ed: Lewis Blackwell.

BE is a beautiful journal, a product of thoughtful and creative design, whose stated goal is to “explore what we need to do to build better.” The magazine looks and feels like quality, and reading its articles confirms these first impressions. A reader needs to know nothing of “circular economies” or “built environments” to take pleasure in reading the inaugural issue. Horace, after all, felt that poetry should “instruct and delight.” BE serves this dual function. A remarkable beginning that holds the potential to enjoy long success.

The Golfer’s Journal. q. $75. Ed: Travis Hill.

Despite its appeal to weekend duffers, golf has historically been a game for the rich. The Golfer’s Journal is a beautiful quarterly, a substantial new offering filled with exquisite photography, articles on quirky topics (Jimmy Walker’s astrophotography, Ballyneal’s first caddy), and a limited number of high-end advertisements. The Journal will not provide public course denizens with tips on improving their game, but it will afford a glimpse into how the other half live and golf.

HBCU Research. bi-m. $59. Ed: Sandra Long.

HBCU Research is an attractive and readable bimonthly that celebrates the research accomplishments of historically black colleges and universities. Its premier issue highlights the work of George Washington Carver (1860s–1943). The relatively slim issue includes a dozen short pieces that discuss both current and historical successes at HBCU. Research is a quality initiative, filling an important niche in the landscape of periodicals.

Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society. 3/yr. $80. Ed: Jared Gardner.

This new journal of the recently formed Comics Studies Society takes comics seriously, publishing peer-reviewed articles across disciplines. The inaugural issue exemplifies the mission, containing a discussion of African American character types in mid-20th century comics; a roundtable discussion of the methodologies employed in comics research; and regular sections with input from practicing comics professionals and book reviews. Issues will also include a “From the Archives” department that will highlight distinctive collections available in libraries and museums and privately held.

Internet Histories: Digital Technology, Culture and Society. q. $109. Ed: Niels Brugger.

The Internet already has a rich and deep history, four decades in the making. Internet Histories’ founders launched the publication with a view to fostering “the history of the Internet as a field of study in its own right.” This type of scholarly and interdisciplinary treatment of the Internet seems long overdue. The inaugural issue takes on such topics as “Hagiography, revisionism & blasphemy in Internet histories,” “African histories of the Internet,” and “A common language.” As a title from Routledge, ­covering an important phenomenon central to modern life, Internet Histories may well buck the trend of new journals and enjoy a long and prosperous life.

Nail. q. $20 (issue 1). Ed: Elea Carey.

The opening gambit of Nail conjures up the same sort of lovely disorientation many readers felt when looking through the first issue of Wired back in 1993. Like Wired, Nail feels different. The creative design tickles in the midst of cognitive dissonance. Notably, the title for the main article (“How Do We Survive This Bully?”) spans ten double folds, each harshly colorful with an under­lying image of Donald Trump, its political message writ large. Its stated goal is to see how “talented, committed, empathetic people get through the day,” believing such exposition can make “the world a better place.”

Resist! s-a. Free. Eds: Françoise Mouly & Nadja Spiegelman.

Arising from the “covfefe” of the 2016 election is Resist!, a freely distributed newsprint publication consisting of comics by women artists, with the motto of “Women’s Voice Will Be Heard.” Edited by Mouly, art editor for The New Yorker, and her daughter Spiegelman, a writer, Resist! has the feel and sensibility of a grassroots protest movement, manifested brilliantly in comics of every conceivable style.

Salty at Heart. s-a. Subs. info upcoming. Ed: Kirstin Thompson.

Salty at Heart is a welcome respite from the contretemps of politics that seems to have overwhelmed contemporary life. The semiannual is a bit difficult to classify. Its stated mission is to “provide a space for women to be heard and valued,” as a publication that “empowers rather than disempowers.” Among its concerns are human rights and environmentalism. The magazine includes beautiful photography, with most pictures depicting women engaged in their pursuits with enthusiasm. Among these are surfing, photographing the River People of the Amazon, running an Auckland café, and living trash-free (and saving the ocean from our plastics). The oceans and waters of the world ­appear to be the binding agent of this engaging magazine.

Mothers & Others | Memoir

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 10:30

This month, just ahead of Mother’s Day, we have memoirs about mothers and mothering. Each of these writers sheds light on a different facet of female experience, of making courageous and unconventional choices on both small and large scales. It’s also time for me to say goodbye, because this will be my last memoir column. I can honestly say that it’s been a delight to read some truly wonderful memoirs, though now I am looking forward to catching up on my fiction reading lists!

Brockes, Emma. An Excellent Choice: Panic and Joy on My Solo Path to Motherhood. Penguin Pr. Jun. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781594206634. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698402621. MEMOIR
Brockes dives head first down the fertility rabbit hole and takes readers along, voicing her frustrations, hopes, and disappointments with humor and frankness. Many women experience fertility issues; many women who attempt to conceive are in same-sex relationships; many single women pursue pregnancy; many women use donor sperm. What sets Brockes apart is that she is all of these women—her account falls into a very specific Venn diagram of human experience. As a Brit, Brockes has great insights into the American health-care system, from fertility medicine to childbirth to postnatal care. Her narrative also incorporates her unconventional relationship, which is refreshing on many levels—she and her partner live apart, in separate apartments in the same building. Brockes answers the nosy question that busybodies tend to ask gay mothers: “How did you get pregnant?” VERDICT Informative, funny, and candid reading for anyone considering an unconventional approach to parenting. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/18.]

Hanchett, Janelle. I’m Just Happy To Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering. Hachette. May 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780316503778. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316549431. MEMOIR
So often, motherhood and parenthood are held up as the things that will change your life, elevate your experience, and help you become a better person. Renegade Mothering blogger Hanchett here demonstrates how the overidealization of modern family life makes it difficult to emerge from a damaging cycle of addiction. When she gets pregnant as a college student, she and her boyfriend decide to have the baby and form a family. Things go well for a while, but as Hanchett feels increasingly isolated and detached from her support networks, she begins to experiment with alcohol for self-medication. This quickly spirals into addiction and becomes the most reliable way of coping with relationship, work, and life stress. The author eventually commits to a process of recovery, after trying several times. Her story is about self-redemption—Hanchett successfully completes recovery not for or because of her children but for herself. VERDICT An inspiring message about recovery that resonates through its emphasis on the imperfect progress of life.

Levy, Deborah. The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography. Bloomsbury Pr. Jul. 2018. 144p. ISBN 9781635571912. $20; ebk. ISBN 9781635571929. MEMOIR
London-based author (Hot Milk; Swimming Home) Levy uses themes of voice, silence, space, and names to illustrate the many ways that women’s self-expression is interrupted and overruled by the demands of spouses and children and by male privilege in general. These broad motifs are set against the events in Levy’s own life. After her divorce, Levy and her ex-husband sell their home, which had enough space for them and their daughters, and Levy moves with her children to an apartment with temperamental plumbing and drafty windows. This new arrangement doesn’t provide Levy with the space to write, a serious drawback for an author. But Levy’s network of friends bolster her confidence during this difficult time; one of them offers her a shed to use for writing. VERDICT Levy demonstrates the intrinsic need for “a room of one’s own” in this beautiful yet damning indictment of how our culture effaces women’s creative voices, both directly and insidiously.

O’Connell, Meaghan. And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready. Little, Brown. Apr. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9780316393843. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316393836. MEMOIR
Imagine the perfect New York City life: you have friends, a strong relationship, a job you enjoy, enough disposable income to dine at restaurants and bars, and you’re happy. Now imagine you find out that you’re unexpectedly pregnant. Over the course of your pregnancy and during the early days of parenthood, you come to realize that your life suddenly no longer seems perfect. In fact, parenthood and what you’ve come to relish about city living are at odds with each other. This is what happens to O’Connell, who discusses here the actions she takes to make the transition to parenthood easier and to feel like a whole human being again: yoga, day care, making friends who understand the challenges of parenthood, seeking out professional opportunities, and a drastic life change. Ultimately, O’Connell’s narrative is about the efforts required to ensure that one’s sense of self isn’t consumed by an infant’s constant needs. VERDICT O’Connell’s writing is sharp, funny, and insightful and holds wide appeal for all readers, parents or not.

Painter, Nell. Old In Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over. Counterpoint. Jun. 2018. 352p. photos. ISBN 9781640090613. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781640090620. MEMOIR
Painter (Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, Princeton Univ.) chronicles her experience of returning to art school as an older African American woman with honest and elegant prose. Her narrative weaves expertly among her art school experience, family upbringing, the loss of her mother, caring for her father at a distance, and art itself. Ever the professor, she educates readers on creative techniques, well- and lesser-known artists of note, as well as the potentially damaging subculture of art school. Painter brings her identity to bear on her story—this experience is formative, as are the generational differences between herself and her classmates. She also lasers in on the privilege of race that her fellow students and teachers enjoy. The author’s own works appear throughout, so readers see her develop as an artist. She explains the processes she employs, as well as her philosophical approach to themes and medium, providing glimpses of an artist’s internal workings. VERDICT Painter’s memoir presents her as an accessible artist, warm and inviting and keen to share her hard-won insights into her craft. [See “Editors’ Spring Picks,” LJ 2/1/18.]

L. Penelope Launches New Series with Major Publisher | Debut Spotlight

Tue, 04/10/2018 - 16:51

Photo by Valerie Bey

L. Penelope’s Song of Blood & Stone (LJ 3/15/18), winner of the 2016 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Self-Publishing Award and the first book in the author’s “Earthsinger Chronicles” series, finds a new home with publisher St. Martin’s.

This novel was originally self-published. How did a book deal occur, and how are you finding the transition to traditional publishing?
In early 2016, I received an email from Monique ­Patterson at St. Martin’s. She told me how much she loved the book. I pitched an idea for a new series, but she got back to me saying that Song of Blood & Stone was really in her heart and she felt she could bring the series to a wider audience.

The transition has been a real learning curve. Self-publishing is by necessity collaborative…but at the end of the day, it’s all on your shoulders and there are so many different skills required. I appreciate being able to rely on the expertise of the team at St. Martin’s and their access to all the avenues that aren’t available to independent authors. Ceding control is both difficult for someone who considers herself a control freak and an incredible relief. But it’s wonderful to work with people who are working to make each book a success.

How would you describe the power of fantasy as a commentary on society?
I believe the default of human narrative is fantasy. Fantasy has always been the lens we use to make sense of the world around us, so it’s naturally a perfect vehicle to explore current society. Reframing everyday struggles as epic battles between good and evil or as a heroine’s journey to discover the magic inside her gives us some distance from the mundane. That altered perspective can bring clarity or simply provide another way to attack a problem.

For black and brown people especially, I think speculative fiction gives us space to both escape and examine the painful parts of our culture, society, and history. We can find some solace in an alternate world while exploring solutions.

What led you to tackle othering in this novel—specifically when it comes to your heroine Jasminda?
To a certain degree, I think I’m always writing about identity. It’s a theme that resonates with me having grown up black in majority white spaces and really having to cultivate my own identity and carve out a place in which I could feel comfortable being myself. A fish-out-of-water story, or really, a fish with no water story appealed to me. Jasminda lives in the margins…on the border between two lands, neither of which fully accept her. It seemed like a fantastic starting place for her journey. Everyone at some point has felt left out, not accepted or included, even if not to the extent Jasminda felt it.

What has inspired your worldbuilding?
I wanted to see something different. I wasn’t interested in a medieval-inspired fantasy; I wanted to explore a different time period, one that isn’t specifically defined but contains elements of modern technology. However, I still wanted to retain that feeling of otherworldliness and wonder from historical tales. Folklore and myth are important to worldbuilding because they’re intrinsic elements of any society. I researched lore from a variety of cultures, including African, Native American, and Pacific Islander.

What is your process for writing a series?
I’m a plotter, but my road map is very loose and allows for plenty of detours along the way. Even the most detailed plot will likely change massively about 20 percent of the way through. I write very lean; my first drafts are about half the length of the finished books. I layer meat onto the bones of the story, and that’s where the real fun is for me.

It wasn’t until after I finished the first book [in the series] that I knew it would take four more to complete the larger arc. Then I was able to sketch out in a paragraph or two the necessary points to hit in each novel, where to start and end, along with ideas for possible side stories that would deepen the world.

Which books and authors excite you?
Growing up I read widely. My favorites ranged from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and A Little Princess to Virginia Hamilton’s “Justice Trilogy.” The magical realism in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day led me further into sf/fantasy. In college,

I discovered Octavia Butler as well as Nalo Hopkinson, Tananarive Due, William Gibson, and Neal Stephenson. Then…I delved into romance with favorites such as Nalini Singh, Kresley Cole, and Colleen Hoover.—Kate DiGirolomo


Crime Fiction’s “Girl” Power | Mystery Genre Spotlight

Tue, 04/10/2018 - 16:47

Spring and summer are particularly rich publishing seasons for crime fiction, which continues to outpace other kinds of fiction in popularity. According to ­Barbara Hoffert’s 2018 Materials Survey feature, “What’s Hot Now?” (LJ 2/1/18, p. 34–36), mysteries, and in particular thrillers, were cited as the top circulating print genres by fully 70 percent of the survey’s respondents, compared with last year’s 56 percent and only 42 percent in 2013. In order to assess trends and forthcoming books, we asked publishers a few questions about the state of the industry and books to look out for over the next few months and into the fall.

GIRLS, GONE AND Still Selling

In the wake of the success of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train, publishers continue to traffic in suspense novels involving missing women. Riley Sager, author of the best-selling Final Girls, gives us The Last Time I Lied (Dutton, Jul.), in which her protagonist, Emma Davis, returns to her old summer camp to look into a 15-year-old tragedy involving several of her friends who vanished without a trace. In The Disappearing (Dutton, Jul.), Edgar Award winner Lori Roy weaves a dark narrative about a single mother who comes back to her small North Florida hometown; when Lane Fielding’s older daughter goes missing, she wonders if it is connected to Lane’s father’s sinister role as the director of a boys’ reform school.

In a twist on the increasingly popular lost child theme, Lisa Jewell’s Then She Was Gone (Atria, Apr.) features a mother who meets a young girl who uncannily resembles her long- missing daughter. Holly Overton, who broke onto the psychological thriller scene with the compulsive Baby Doll, returns with her sophomore effort, The Runaway (Redhook: Hachette, Aug.); her protagonist is a psychologist for the Los Angeles Police Department who searches for her runaway foster daughter. In Still Water (Touchstone, Jul.), the sequel to Amy Stuart’s Arthur Ellis Award–nominated debut, Still Mine, Clare O’Dey is hired to track down a missing mother and son. Complicating Clare’s hunt is that the town where her targets vanished is a haven for women who want to escape their past.

Though most of these domestic thrillers are written by women, Jeff Abbott, who took a break from his “Sam Capra” series with 2017’s Blame, a female-led stand-alone, returns with The Three Beths (Grand Central, Oct.). Mariah Dunning catches a glimpse of her mother, Beth, who disappeared two years earlier. Now two other women named Beth are missing, and Mariah is determined to find a connection among all three.

“There has always been a strong element of psychological suspense in my books, whether they were more thriller or mystery,” says the author. “It’s liberating in a way to be able to go so deep into a damaged psyche—before I did it more with antagonists, as opposed to protagonists. It’s compelling to see characters strip away their own view of themselves and get closer to the truths about their own lives.”

An artist who fails to show up to her big museum opening is the subject of Maria Hummel’s Still Lives (Counterpoint, Jun.; LJ 4/15/18), a literary, feminist thriller that Counterpoint associate publisher and publicity director Megan Fishmann believes will be one of the most talked-about books of the summer. Maggie Richter, an editor at L.A.’s Rocque ­Museum, gets drawn into investigating the disappearance of provocative artist Kim Lord, whose new exhibit is a series of self-portraits depicting herself as famous murdered women.

“Maria’s intimate first-person narrator, with her seemingly off-handed observations that hint of psychological trouble beneath the surface, feel very much like reading a conventional thriller,” explains Fishmann. “But her fully formed characters, the smartly noted details about the art world’s inner workings, and the through-line of wonderfully wry humor are all elements sure to satisfy readers of Naomi Alderman’s The Power, Edan Lepucki’s Woman No. 17, or Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.”


Publishers such as Kensington Publishing are seeing more novels of psychological suspense that explore the dynamics in female relationships, which, notes Kensington communications manager Lulu Martinez, can be either a source of strength or something that turns dark and evil. She cites Kensington’s June release, Little Sister, as one example. The premise of British author Isabel Ashdown’s U.S. debut asks the question, “What if your sister did the unforgivable—but if you cannot trust your sister, then whom can you trust?” Catherine O’Connell’s The Last Night Out (Severn House, Sept.) centers on a bride-to-be when one of her friends is murdered the night of her bachelorette party, and the police suspect it was one of the guests who did the deed.

High on Little, Brown’s summer list are ­Michelle Sacks’s You Were Made for This (Jun.) and Megan Abbott’s Give Me Your Hand (Jul.). Editor Emily Giglierano points out that both titles focus on toxic women’s friendships as much as bad marriages. “This year, it feels like we’re at another moment of transition. The bad-marriage [theme of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train] has played out, so now we get to look at other relationships, like motherhood and social class.”

Hector DeJean, associate publicity director of St. Martin’s Minotaur Books imprint, agrees. “Thrillers focusing on family, marriage, and other domestic relationships have proven wildly popular, and in forthcoming books by Jennifer Hillier and Sandie Jones these intimate connections of family and friendship—beyond married couples—turn deadly.” In Jar of Hearts (Jun.), Hillier delves into the story of a woman who survived a relationship with a dangerous boyfriend and kept secrets about her best friend’s murder, while Jones, in her debut, The Other Woman (Aug.), focuses on a woman facing an increasingly manipulative mother-in-law.

Anxieties about motherhood and the parent-child relationship are driving other domestic thrillers. Inspired by the case of the New York City nanny who killed two children in her care, Leila Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny, winner of France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, became a surprise U.S. best seller when it was released by Penguin Books this past January. Coming in July from St. Martin’s is Zoje Stage’s [see a Q&A with the author below] chilling debut, Baby Teeth, in which silent and emotionally detached seven-year-old Hanna conspires to kill her mother. St. Martin’s executive editor Jennifer Weis devoured the book in one sitting. “I couldn’t look away as it exposed family truths, a child’s threat to her parents’ relationship, and a continuous feeling of impending doom with dire consequences. We Need To Talk About Kevin meets Gone Girl meets The Omen—it hits all the right notes.”

Sisterhood bonds are examined in award-winning sf/fantasy and YA author Sarah Zettel’s first foray into domestic suspense, The Other Sister (Grand Central, Aug.). Wild Geraldine Monroe runs away after her mother’s death and then returns home to her stolid sister, Marie, and their emotionally abusive father, Martin. When the siblings band together to kill Martin, the plot exposes shattering truths about the family. Crooked Lane Books’ lead fall title, Laurie ­Petrou’s Sister of Mine (Aug.), also revolves around a deadly secret that tears two sisters apart. “Psychological suspense is shifting in new directions for us,” notes senior editor Chelsey Emmelhainz. She sees a resurgence of domestic suspense “but with an increased focus on interior lives, lies, and ­secrets.”

Q&A: Zoje Stage

By Jordan Foster

SHORTLY after Talia Sherer, Macmillan’s director of library marketing, buzzed about Zoje Stage’s debut novel, Baby Teeth (St. Martin’s, Jul.; starred review, LJ 4/1/18), to a crowd of 1,000 librarians at last month’s Public Library Association (PLA) conference in Philadelphia, the title became the most requested giveaway ARC at the publisher’s booth. The lucky readers who snagged a copy discovered a deliciously creepy thriller about
a budding young sociopath who conspires to kill her anxious stay-at-home mom so she can have her father to herself.

You chose to split the narrative between Suzette Jensen and her seven-year-old daughter, Hanna. What challenges did you face in creating a voice for Hanna,
a character who chooses not to speak out loud but has a rich internal life?

Writing Hanna’s POV was, in fact, the most writing fun I’ve ever had. I loved the challenge of trying to see the world through a child’s eyes in general and through Hanna’s unique eyes in particular. I had to ask a lot of questions—from the most basic (“Would Hanna know about this?”) to the more esoteric (“How might she misinterpret this and then what conclusions would she draw?”). Even in the exposition for her chapters, I tried to think visually, because she is not confident with words but is bursting with imagery and emotions she can’t figure out how to express.

Alex Jensen, Suzette’s husband and Hanna’s father, plays a key role in the narrative, yet the reader sees him only through the dual—and often dueling—lenses of Suzette and Hanna, and they paint very different pictures.
What made you decide to make him the one major character who doesn’t tell
his side of the story?

This story is very much a battle of perception and wills between Suzette and Hanna, so while I very much wanted to make Alex an important and developed character, his perspective doesn’t drive the narrative. I also find it somehow more interesting for readers to “figure him out” through the, as you put it, dueling lenses of his wife and daughter.

Illness and the body, especially Suzette’s and her struggles with Crohn’s disease, almost seem like physical manifestations of the emotional pain that the characters suffer and also inflict on each other. How did you balance, as a writer, the world
of the body and the world of the mind?

In real life, I think there can be a very strong body-mind connection. It’s a popular self-help belief that the body can be healed through meditative thought processes. However, because I have Crohn’s myself, I view this in the opposite way. From my perspective, the body impacts the thought process more than the other way around. This is likely true for Suzette as well: part of her emotional insecurity and her doubts about her efforts to be a good wife and mother stem from a deeper sense of failing, having been unable to “rely” on her body for much of her life. Her illness also serves as a tangible vulnerability, which is something Hanna recognizes and exploits.

Truth, and the manipulation of it, are tropes that work well in your novel. How did you sustain the suspense when the reader has knowledge about Hanna’s behavior and yet Suzette’s retelling of that behavior isn’t always met with sympathy or acceptance, even from her own husband?
Many people don’t know this about me, but I am a theatrically trained actor. One of the most indelible things I learned from an acting class was in regard to playing “evil” characters. The advice we were given was to never think of a character as evil but to see their motivation as a natural consequence of their life, their experiences, [and] their desire. This changed my thinking in many areas. In regard to Baby Teeth it meant that I was always focused on each character’s truth. I think the tension actually comes from the reader and their awareness (and frustration) that there is a disconnect between one person’s truth and another’s.

Alex, a Swedish transplant in Pittsburgh, keeps much of his home country alive
by speaking bits of the language to Suzette and Hanna and, in a climactic scene, celebrating the Swedish tradition of warding off evil with bonfires. What made you decide to incorporate Swedish culture into the novel?

Writing can be the most magical process: you make a decision, and then see how it unfolds in ways you never foresaw. A few years ago I started teaching myself Swedish—partly because of a general love of languages, and partly because of an interest in Scandinavian film. When I first decided to make Alex Swedish I thought, “Oh, this will be fun—drop a few Swedish words in here and there.” But, of course, it became more than that: his heritage became an integral part of his career, which spoke to the home they live in, and various cozy family traditions. As the novel developed, and Hanna’s antics worsened, I realized I could [use] a Swedish holiday in a rather unusual way. So that initial decision impacted many levels of the story.

Jordan Foster is a freelance writer living in Portland, OR. She received her MFA in fiction from New York’s Columbia University

Photos by Karen Meyers


Female-Centric Suspense

It’s too soon to know exactly how the #metoo and #timesup movements will affect mystery and suspense writing, but plenty of strong female protagonists are headlining a crop of new titles. Zachary Wagman, an editor at HarperCollins’s Ecco imprint, notes that it takes a while for real-world events to trickle down into fiction. Still, he argues that women crime writers and female characters in crime fiction have been getting bolder and more complicated for a while now. “I suspect that the palpable anger and bravery that’s in the air will only further embolden writers and novels, which is a very good thing.” One such promising example on Wagman’s list is Christine Mangan, who debuted in March with Tangerine; set in 1956 Tangier, this literary thriller follows two former college roommates with a twisted past as they explore a beautiful and seedy Moroccan city that’s inspired so many writers.

“The resilient woman is the next unreliable narrator,” says William Morrow publicity director Danielle Bartlett. “We want courage and conviction in our female protagonists.” She credits the pioneering efforts of veteran authors such as Sara Paretsky and her “V.I. Warshawski” series for this surge of female-centric crime fiction. In Shell Game (Oct.), V.I. returns to Chicago to investigate the case of a stolen artifact. Meanwhile, Owen Laukkanen takes a break from his acclaimed “Stevens and Windermere” series to introduce McKenna Rhodes, the captain of a salvage boat in Gale Force (Putnam, May; LJ 4/15/18), who must battle a rival operator, Japanese gangsters, and a monster storm as she seeks to score a big payday for her crew and redemption for herself.

Women and Violence

Four-year-old Crooked Lane has always featured tenacious and capable female leads, and senior editor Emmelhainz is seeing that demand continue. “We’re also finding that some of the long-accepted, somewhat-sexist tropes of suspense and thrillers (i.e., gratuitous violence against women) are being challenged by readers, authors, and even award committees.” This past January, British screenwriter and author Bridget Lawless launched the Staunch book prize for the best thriller that doesn’t depict any violence against women.

The winner will be named in November, but Polis Books founder and publisher Jason Pinter questions the practicalities of administering such an award. Last fall he published Winnie M. Li’s Dark Chapter, now nominated for an Edgar for best first novel (the paperback edition releases in April). Inspired by the author’s own sexual assault, the book depicts a rape in terrifying but necessary detail. “­Winnie knew how important it was for the reader to visualize that kind of violence up close and personal, in order to truly understand it.” Going forward, though, Pinter believes crime fiction will take a larger role in examining its use of extreme violence.

In the meantime, many female characters are no longer passive victims. In The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra (MIRA: Harlequin, Oct.), a woman seeks to destroy the mean girls who bullied her in high school. Sandra Block’s What Happened That Night (Sourcebooks Landmark, Jun.) focuses on a Harvard student assaulted at a party who years later avenges herself on her attackers.

Gracie Doyle, the editorial director of ­Amazon Publishing’s Thomas & Mercer mystery imprint, has observed particular interest from both readers and writers in women who have fought back from victimhood and become warriors for justice. “Jude Fontaine, the heroine of Anne Frasier’s 2017 Thriller Award winner, The Body Reader, and the upcoming The Body Counter (Jun.), channels the trauma of her own kidnapping into a unique ability to ‘read’—and catch—killers of other women.”

The 1920s Roar Into Mystery

World War II–era mysteries remain a hot category, but Soho Press senior vice president and associate publisher Juliet Grames receives so many submissions set during this period that for her such a crime novel has to be really special to set itself apart from the ­deluge. But lately she has seen fantastic reader interest in other historical periods, perhaps especially the 1920s. Out this month is David Downing’s final volume in his espionage series, The Dark Clouds Shining (Soho Crime), which takes place in 1921 Russia, just after the Bolshevik Revolution. In May, Barbara Cleverly, the doyenne of the between-the-wars British crime novel, launches her new series set in 1920s Cambridge, starting with The Fall of Angels (Soho Crime) about the university’s first female students.

“The 1920s have been an interesting foil for our own time because of the political and social shifts the characters encounter,” says Grames. “It is also a period that makes room for fascinating, dynamic, and nuanced female characters, since women’s rights movements were in full swing all over the world, and readers are certainly hungry for more and different female leads in the crime fiction genre.”

Australian Kiki Button, the star of Tessa Lunney’s April in Paris, 1921 (Pegasus Crime, Jul.), must draw on her spycraft skills acquired during World War I to track down a double agent and a missing Picasso in Jazz Age Paris. In a switch from his technothrillers, Terrence McCauley explores the end of the Prohibition era (1920–33) in The Fairfax Incident (Polis, Jun.), set in 1933 New York City. “As shown by television [series] like Boardwalk Empire, this is a ripe time period with many stories to tell,” explains Polis’s Pinter. Meanwhile, best-selling author Andrew Gross continues his detour into the past, with Button Men (Minotaur, Sept.), a story of brothers in New York’s garment business in the 1930s, one of whom becomes involved in the Mob.

The two decades between the world wars was also ­traditional mystery’s Golden Age, and ­Sophie Hannah returns this August with her salute to Agatha Christie’s beloved Hercule Poirot, The Mystery of Three Quarters (Morrow). November sees the arrival of best-selling trivia book writer Ben Schott’s homage to English humorist P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and the King of Clubs (Little, Brown), in which Wodehouse’s iconic characters Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves become spies in service to the Crown.

The Alienist effect

The Victorian era still appeals to historical mystery fans, as best-selling authors such as Anne Perry and C.S. Harris have proven, but Kensing­ton assistant editor Elizabeth May believes the success of TNT’s television series The Alienist, based on Caleb Carr’s best-selling historical thriller set in 1896 New York City, may bring new readership to the genre. On May’s summer list is Heather Redmond’s A Tale of Two Murders (Kensington, Aug.), which she describes as a reimagining of “a young Charles Dickens as an amateur sleuth in London, during his days working as a journalist before he became a novelist, and how solving mysteries may have influenced his future writing.”

Other periods like the Edwardian era and the American Revolution are becoming more prevalent as settings for historical mysteries. “Given the success of [the Broadway musical] Hamilton, I see early American historicals becoming more popular across genres, and the wild, lawless time is ripe for historical thrillers,” explains Tor/Forge executive editor Diana Gill, who eagerly anticipates the June release of The Devil’s Half Mile (Jun.) by Paddy Hirsch. “Set in 1799 New York, this historical fiction debut by an NPR journalist has all the atmosphere and action you want. It appeals to fans of historical page-turners like those of ­Caleb Carr along with the viewers of Ripper Street and Peaky Blinders.”

Loren Jaggers, associate director of publicity for Berkley Publishing Group/New American Library, credits the strong shift in the genre to readers paying more attention to character than necessarily historical period. “Strong female characters, more often breaking the social norms of the ­period they are written in, have resonated with readers in very strong ways.” Among them is Charlotte Holmes, the star of Sherry Thomas’s “Lady Sherlock” series, who puts her powers of deduction to good use in The Hollow of Fear (Berkley, Oct.). Rhys Bowen’s Edwardian sleuth Lady Georgiana Rannoch prepares for her nuptials in Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding (Berkley, Aug.).

Recent history is also a budding backdrop for new mysteries. In Who Is Vera Kelly? (Tin House, Jun.), Rosalie Knecht introduces Vera Kelly, who in 1962 is trying to make rent on her Greenwich Village apartment and fit into the underground gay scene when she is recruited by the CIA for undercover work in Argentina. Multi-award-winning author Lou Berney’s stand-alone thriller November Road (Morrow, Oct.) is the story of a cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America in the wake of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Early enthusiastic in-house reads have led the publisher to select this title as its Lead Read pick for the fall.

CrossinG Borders

Although Nordic noir is still a strong seller, some industry professionals notice not so much a cooling as a maturing of the genre. “It is broadening,” says Elizabeth DeNoma, a senior editor at Amazon Publishing’s AmazonCrossing imprint, which is dedicated to releasing works in trans­lation. “We’re also seeing more remote locations and victims and more diverse detectives. One example is Zygmunt Miloszewski, who is writing terrific crime fiction from Poland.”

Translated mysteries are also the core business of Bitter Lemon Press, and its publisher, François von Hurter, believes international crime fiction is becoming more multicultural. “It’s just more fun to read about different underworlds, different societies, and different police and legal systems. Tell me about your crimes, and I’ll tell you about your society.” Von Hurter’s lead summer title examines the violence that broke out in southern Italy when two anti-Mafia judges and a number of police officers were assassinated in 1992. The protagonist of Gianrico Carofiglio’s The Cold Summer (Jun.) is an officer of the Carabinieri who must handle a personal crisis while dealing with the region’s new gang wars.

Compelling suspense is also coming out of Africa and Asia. This May, Nigeria-based Cassava Republic Press, which was profiled last November in the New York Times after opening UK and U.S. offices, is releasing The Carnivorous City by Toni Kan. In this noir debut, teacher Abel Dike arrives in bustling Lagos, one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, to look for his missing brother. From Japan comes Hideo Yokoyama’s Seventeen (Farrar, Nov.), a tense investigative thriller set amid the aftermath of disaster, from the best-selling author of Six Four. And China is represented with Zhou Haohui’s Death Notice (Doubleday, Jun.), the first volume in a best-selling hard-boiled trilogy.

Crossing genres

One of this summer’s most anticipated thrillers is Raymond A. Villareal’s horror-tinged A People’s History of the ­Vampire Uprising (Mulholland: Little, Brown, Jun.), in which a virus that turns people into something more than human quickly sweeps the world. “We’re seeing a really interesting trend of psychological suspense bordering on horror,” notes Sourcebooks senior editor Anna Michels, who points to her February release, Carter Wilson’s Mister Tender’s Girl, as a great example of how some elements of the horror genre can ratchet up the emotional impact of psychological suspense.

The genre-bending in crime fiction can be found in other creative and interesting ways, as in Erin Lindsey’s October debut from Minotaur. Murder on Millionaires’ Row reveals a secret branch of the Pinkertons that investigates supernatural phenomena in 1880s Manhattan.

Writers are also incorporating cutting-edge science into stories that appeal to fans of both thrillers and speculative fiction. For Tor/Forge’s Gill, S.L. Huang’s Zero Sum Game (Oct.) combines her two favorite genres—sf and fast-paced action thriller. Thomas & Mercer’s May release Obscura by Joe Hart takes place in a near future where the hunt for a cure for a mysterious disease leads to a horrifying discovery in outer space. “These stories work,” explains editorial director Doyle, “because they are first and foremost great thrillers; they stand out because of the ‘what-if’ scenarios they capture so vividly.”

Returning favorites

The upcoming publishing season often marks the release of favorite series titles and stand-alones by big-name writers. Jonathan Lethem’s The Feral Detective (Ecco: HarperCollins, Nov.) is his first foray back into crime fiction since best seller Motherless Brooklyn. “This is a return to form,” says Ecco editor Wagman. “Lethem’s first book, Gun with Occasional Music, was a hard-boiled detective novel. [With the new work], his comfort in the genre is on full display. It’s loose, confident, and very sharp—plus it has all the hallmarks of Lethem’s other works, too.”

After a stint away in television, George Pelecanos returns to the mean streets of Washington, DC, with The Man Who Came Uptown (Mulholland: Little, Brown, Sept.), in which an ex-con must choose between the man who got him out of prison and a woman who represents a better future. Karin Slaughter’s star has been on the rise, says Morrow’s Bartlett. “With Pieces of Her (Jul.), she delivers what is sure to be the breakout thriller of the summer, an electrifying stand-alone exploring the deadly secrets kept between a mother and daughter.”

Meanwhile, Michael Connolly makes an encore performance with the second entry in his new Renee Bullard series, Dark Sacred Night (Little, Brown, Oct.); this time out the young LAPD detective teams up with retired cop Harry Bosch to investigate a cold case. Kathy Reichs’s A Conspiracy of Bones (Bantam, Aug.) sees her forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan planning a wedding and investigating the death of a mutilated corpse (ain’t love grand?).

Other notable returnees include Lee Child with his next Jack Reacher adventure, Past Tense (Delacorte, Nov.), Amy Stewart, who continues her Kopp sisters historical series with Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit (Houghton Harcourt, Sept.), and Mark Billingham, who returns to his detective Tom Thorne series in The Killing Habit (Atlantic Monthly, Jun.).

Increased diversity?

As an indie publisher, Pegasus Books doesn’t follow trends, but deputy publisher Jessica Case is aware of an overall movement and appetite among readers as well as editors for an increasingly diverse array of voices, whether it’s international or cultural, within the thriller genre. Little, Brown’s Giglierano agrees. “In Break It Down (Mulholland, Oct.), Joe Ide’s third ­Isaiah Quintabe novel, we have a [person of color] author and a POC protagonist who share a cultural background—growing up in the same central L.A. neighborhood—although the author is Japanese American and the character is African American.”

Sheena Kamal’s It All Falls Down (Morrow, Jul.) revisits the Canadian government’s removal of indigenous children from their families and arranging for their adoption by whites, known as the “Sixties Scoop.” The biracial heroine, Nora Watts, faces violence as she investigates the history of this practice and her father’s death years before.

Still, Kensington editor Esi Sogah argues publishers could do more. “Though there is perhaps more diversity in the mystery and thriller genre than people might expect, like all genres, it could be better. Since many are set in or around big cities, it’s only natural that we’re starting to see a cast of characters who more closely reflect the reality of those areas.”

In June, Kensington is publishing Broken Places, the first entry in the “Chicago Mystery” series, which introduces Cass Raines, an African American cop-turned-PI. Debut author Tracy Clark is a native Chicagoan who has been an editor at the Tribune Company for 22 years. “She knows the city inside and out,” says Kensington’s Vida Engstrand.

The house’s communications director is also seeing more diversity in the cozy genre. Coming in June is Olivia ­Matthews’s Peril & Prayer, the second entry in her mysteries starring Sister Lou, an African American Catholic nun. “Religious diversity is another highlight of this series,” notes ­Engstrand.

Minotaur’s DeJean has been thrilled to see an increase in the diversity of voices and stories the imprint has been receiving on submission from agents, especially in the last two years. “We wish to actively bring #ownvoices to our list and seek to publish inclusively at every level—from our staff, through to our authors, and beyond into the world through the stories they write and audience they reach.”

Mystery Lineup Below are the forthcoming titles mentioned in this article. AUTHOR TITLE PUBLISHER RELEASE Abbott, Jeff The Three Beths Grand Central Oct. Abbott, Megan Give Me Your Hand Little, Brown Jul. Ashdown, Isabel Little Sister Kensington Jun. Berney, Lou November Road Morrow Oct. Billingham, Mark The Killing Habit Atlantic Monthly Jun. Block, Sandra What Happened That Night Sourcebooks Landmark Jun. Bowen, Rhys Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding Berkley Aug. Carofiglio, Gianrico The Cold Summer Bitter Lemon Jun. Child, Lee Past Tense Delacorte Nov. Clark, Tracy Broken Places Kensington Jun. Cleverly, Barbara The Fall of Angels Soho Crime May Connolly, Michael Dark Sacred Night Little, Brown Oct. Downing, David The Dark Clouds Shining Soho Crime Apr. Frasier, Anne The Body Counter Thomas & Mercer: Amazon Jun. Gross, Andrew Button Men Minotaur: St. Martin’s Sept. Hannah, Sophie The Mystery of Three Quarters Morrow Aug. Hart, Joe Obscura Thomas & Mercer: Amazon May Huang, S.L. Zero Sum Game Tor Oct. Hillier, Jennifer Jar of Hearts Minotaur: St. Martin’s Jun. Hirsch, Paddy The Devil’s Half Mile Forge Jun. Hummel, Maria Still Lives Counterpoint Jun. Ide, Joe Break It Down Mulholland: Little, Brown Oct. Jewell, Lisa Then She Was Gone Atria Apr. Jones, Sandie The Other Woman Minotaur: St. Martin’s Aug. Kamal, Sheena It All Falls Down Morrow Jul. Kan, Toni The Carnivorous City Cassava Republic May Knecht, Rosalie Who Is Vera Kelly? Tin House Jun. Laukkanen, Owen Gale Force Putnam May Lethem, Jonathan The Feral Detective Ecco: HarperCollins Nov. Li, Winnie M. Dark Chapter Polis Apr. Lindsey, Erin Murder on Millionaires’ Row Minotaur: St. Martin’s Oct. Lunney, Tessa April in Paris, 1921 Pegasus Crime Jul. McCauley, Terrence The Fairfax Incident Polis Jun. Matthews, Olivia Peril & Prayer Kensington Jun. O’Connell, Catherine The Last Night Out Severn House Sept. Overton, Holly The Runaway Redhook: Hachette Aug. Paretsky, Sara Shell Game Morrow Oct. Pelecanos, George The Man Who Came Uptown Mulholland: Little, Brown Sept. Petrou, Laurie Sister of Mine Crooked Lane Aug. Redmond, Heather A Tale of Two Murders Kensington Aug. Reichs, Kathy A Conspiracy of Bones Bantam Aug. Roy, Lori The Disappearing Dutton Jul. Sacks, Michelle You Were Made for This Little, Brown Jun. Sager, Riley The Last Time I Lied Dutton Jul. Schott, Ben Jeeves and the King of Clubs Little, Brown Nov. Slaughter, Karin Pieces of Her Morrow Jul. Snoekstra, Anna The Spite Game MIRA: Harlequin Oct. Stage, Zoje Baby Teeth St. Martin’s Jul. Stewart, Amy Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit Houghton Harcourt Sept. Stuart, Amy Still Water Touchstone Jul. Thomas, Sherry The Hollow of Fear Berkley Oct. Villareal, Raymond A. A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising Mulholland: Little, Brown Jun. Yokoyama, Hideo Seventeen Farrar Nov. Zettel, Sarah The Other Sister Grand Central Aug. Zhou Haohui Death Notice Doubleday Jun.

Lisa Levy is a freelance writer and a contributing editor at the literary website Literary Hub and its newly launched offshoot, Crime Reads

Fresh Starts, New Beginnings | Romance Reviews, April 15, 2018

Tue, 04/10/2018 - 15:49

The Promise of Spring Despite rain, mudslides, and avalanches in the West, deadly storms across the South and Midwest, and four Nor’easters in the East, spring really did ­arrive on schedule, and now that it’s here, it’s finally beginning to show, not only in nature but the world of romance as well. Just as spring is a time of beginnings, themes of hope and fresh starts are popular in the romance genre. Whether it’s a heroine running from her past toward a new life, a couple reunited after years apart, or an individual turned in an unexpected direction, the concept that change is possible, with the dream of better things to come, is irresistible—and the inherent promise of the season.

New Beginnings

Balogh, Mary. Someone To Care. Jove. (Westcott, Bk. 4). May 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780399586088. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399586095. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Fourteen years ago, Viola and Marcel fell deeply in love, but Viola was married (or so she thought), a young mother of three, and not about to have an affair—so she sent him away. Years later, thanks to a broken carriage axel, they meet by chance at a small country inn. Now both free and in vastly changed circumstances, they give in to their feelings and “run away” together—if only temporarily. But then children and assorted family members track them down, and suddenly their plans take an entirely different course. Personal, social, and familial expectations; trust and communication; and responsibility are but a few of the complex issues at the heart of this family-rich romance that features exquisite character development, tender sensuality, and a truly rewarding love story. VERDICT Two inwardly lonely people regain the love they thought they’d lost in a story that is searing in its insight, as comforting as a hug, and a brilliant addition to this series. Another gem from a master of the art. Balogh (Someone To Wed) lives in Canada.

Bell, Lenora. What a Difference a Duke Makes. Avon. (School for Dukes, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780062692481. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062692429. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Orphaned and raised in a charity school, Mari Perkins is desperate to find work as a governess. When she overhears that Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is looking for someone to tend to his nine-year-old twins—never mind that he’s lost four governesses in the last two months—Mari heads for his townhouse in Grosvenor Square. Despite reservations—Mari is too small, too cheerful, and far too pretty—Edgar agrees to give her a try and is amazed when she succeeds, simply enchanting the children. The problem is that she’s beginning to enchant him, too, and that just won’t do. An energetic and outspoken heroine, a gruff, physically imposing hero, and inventive twins who quickly steal one’s heart drive the plot of this hard-to-put-down romp. Steam engine and railway details are a fascinating bonus. VERDICT Sassy dialog, breathtaking chemistry, and a healthy dollop of hilarity result in a Mary Poppins–like success that takes the classic governess tale to a new level. Great fun! Bell (Blame It on the Duke) lives in Portland, OR.

Brown, Carolyn. Cowboy Bold. Forever: Grand Central. (Longhorn Canyon, Bk. 1). Jun. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781538744864. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781538744871. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

After taking a bittersweet three years off to care for her father and then selling the family farm and settling the estate, Retta Palmer is almost ready to go back to her high-­powered, Dallas-based banking career. She just needs a job for a few weeks during the summer to tide her over—and being a counselor at Cade Maguire’s ranch camp for inner-city kids is perfect. Still, the fierce attraction that sparks between them is not quite so perfect, especially since Retta is not planning to stay. Naturally, fate has plans of its own. A heroine who should listen to her heart and a hero who needs to let go of the past finally get things right in a story enlivened by a superb cast of vividly rendered, sometimes interfering characters and filled with plenty of Western flavor. VERDICT Lighthearted banter, heart-tugging emotion, and a good-natured Sooner/Longhorn football rivalry make this a delightful romance and terrific launch for the new series. Brown (The Sometimes Sisters) lives in Davis, OK. [More on the prolific Brown below.]

Carr, Robyn. The Family Gathering. Mira: Harlequin. (Sullivan’s Crossing). Apr. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780778330769. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488023552. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

At loose ends after leaving the army and then going walkabout for a month in Australia, Dakota Jones heads for Colorado to check in with his sister and brother before deciding on his next move. He doesn’t intend to stay long, but the long-neglected family connections, welcoming townsfolk, and stunning surroundings—to say nothing of his interest in bartender Sid Shandon, the one woman in town who won’t give him a chance—have him rethinking his plans. A footloose hero finds a place to put down roots and a brilliant heroine learns to trust again in this relationship-centered story that adds a plethora of old and new characters (Sister Mary Jacob is priceless) to the mix. VERDICT A beautifully crafted plot with multiple story lines, relatable characters, and a setting that makes readers want to head for the Rockies add up to another solid title. Like many of Carr’s books, it will appeal to romance and women’s fiction fans alike. Carr (Any Day Now) lives in Henderson, NV. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17.]

Dodd, Christina. Dead Girl Running. HQN: Harlequin. (Cape Charade, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781335144362. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488079030. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Competent, observant, and battle-hardened after serving in the Middle East, army veteran Kellen Adams has returned to the States and is settling into a job as assistant manager at Yearning Sands, an upscale, rather isolated resort on Washington’s Pacific Coast. It is safe, remote, and just what she wanted—until the mutilated remains of the former hotel manager are discovered. Now Kellen is drawn into a bizarre smuggling mystery and the hunt for the deadly “Librarian,” a killer who could be almost anyone—even vaguely familiar Max Di Luca. But Kellen has been living a lie, and with no memory of how she got a gunshot scar on her forehead, she can’t help but wonder if the past has tracked her down. Skillful flashbacks gradually reveal the nagging mysteries in Kellen’s clouded history as this haunted heroine faces her fears. A cameo by Sheriff Kateri ­Kwinault from Dodd’s “Virtue Falls” books is sure to please fans and highlight the link between these two series. VERDICT Complex, intense, and engrossing, this riveting romantic thriller has a chilling gothic touch and just enough red herrings and twists to keep readers on edge. Dodd (The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream) lives in Washington State. [Previewed in Joyce Sparrow’s “Love Is All Around,” LJ 10/15/17.]

Gracie, Anne. Marry in Scandal. Jove. (Marriage of Convenience, Bk. 2). Apr. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780425283820. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780698411647. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

After being kidnapped, Lady Lily Ruther­ford escapes her abductors in the middle of a storm on the way to Scotland and is rescued by Edward Galbraith, her brother’s friend and a noted rake. Now she finds herself in deeper trouble still—the scandal and ruin kind—and marriage is the only option. Attraction simmers between them from their first kiss, but Lily and Ned are each guarding painful secrets that must be dealt with before their “convenient marriage” can ­become the real thing. VERDICT Sly wit and heart-melting passion are front and center in a lively, insightful Regency romance from an author who knows the period inside and out and displays it gloriously. Gracie (Marry in Haste) lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Hunter, Madeline. A Devil of a Duke. Zebra: Kensington. (Decadent Dukes Society, Bk. 2). May 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781420143928. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781420143935. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Although born into a family of high-class thieves and trained in the art, Amanda ­Waverly rejects it all and has taken a position as a female secretary (unusual for the times) to an eccentric, outspoken widow. But her past returns with a vengeance when her mother is kidnapped and the only hope is for Amanda to steal some valuable artifacts the perpetrator wants. With little choice, Amanda agrees, but one of her ploys attracts the attention of Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford. Now the situation becomes romantic, a lot more difficult, and potentially dangerous. VERDICT With a delectable blend of clever ripostes, scorching sensuality, and masterly plotting, Hunter’s latest sees the most infamous of the Decadent Dukes fall head over heels in a satisfying romantic adventure. Hunter (The Most Dangerous Duke in London) lives in Pittsburgh.

Jackson, Lisa & Nancy Bush. One Last Breath. Zebra: Kensington. May 2018. 480p. ISBN 9781420136135. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781420136142. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

A masked man forces his way into Rory ­Abernathy Bastian’s hotel room and threatens her and her unborn baby right before she walks down the aisle to repeat her vows with her husband, Liam. Rory defends herself with a paring knife, panics, and flees—just as a sniper takes aim at the wedding crowd and everything erupts into bloody violence. Five years later, she has reinvented herself as Heather Johnson and carved out a life for herself and her daughter in remote Point Roberts, WA, still fearing she’s the target of a killer. But Liam is on her trail, and just when they finally connect, the murders begin again. VERDICT Combining their considerable talents, sisters Jackson and Bush have penned a chilling thriller with enough false leads to keep readers enthralled to the finish. Jackson and Bush (Wicked Ways) write books independently, too. They live in Lake ­Oswego, OR.

Jeffries, Sabrina. The Secret of Flirting. Pocket: S. & S. (Sinful Suitors, Bk. 5). Apr. 2018. 398p. ISBN 9781501144486. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501144493. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Years ago, Monique Servais’s grandmother Princess Solange was banished by her royal family for marrying without their consent. Now, after decades with no contact, they need a favor. The reclusive Princess Aurore of Chanay is gravely ill, and if Monique, who could almost be Aurore’s twin, agrees to pose as the princess during some important political negotiations, Monique’s grandmother who raised her and is now struggling with dementia will be welcomed back into the family. With many doubts but little choice, Monique soon finds herself in the crosshairs of spymaster Gregory Vyse, Baron of Fulkham, who suspects her ruse and is determined to get to the bottom of the deception. Political skullduggery, betrayal, and an attempted assassination keep the pace swift and the tension rising, while the sizzle that arcs between Monique and Gregory keeps the romance firmly on track. VERDICT Stinging wordplay, well-conceived characters, and an ingenious plot result in a story that adds another winner to Jeffries’s popular series. Jeffries (The Pleasures of Passion) lives in Cary, NC. [Previewed in Joyce Sparrow’s “Love Is All Around,” LJ 10/15/17.]

Kyle, Celia. Wolf’s Mate. Forever: Grand Central. (Shifter Rogues, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781538744529. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781538744512. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

CPA and cougar-shifter Abby Carter is furious and terrified when she discovers that the company she’s auditing has been secretly sending money to Unified Humanity, a ruthless antishifter organization. She downloads the evidence and prepares to bolt. But when the company head and his goon squad come striding through her door, she knows it’s too late—until a black-clad stranger comes to the rescue, leaving Abby to grab her tablet and run. Declan Reed, wolf-shifter and member of Shifter Operations Command Team One, has Abby in his sights, and with his group of lethal ­renegade shifters determined to track her down, he can only do so much to keep her safe. Prickly interactions among the shifter team and between Abby and Delan keep things on edge in this thriller that also explores the duality conflicts that shifters face as their inner predators clash with their outward human natures. VERDICT Nonstop action, lots of explicit sex, and smart banter add snap to this rough-and-tumble adventure that nicely launches this series. Kyle (Having Her Enemy’s Secret Shifter Baby) lives in central Florida.

MacGregor, Janna. The Luck of the Bride. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (Cavensham Heiresses, Bk. 3). May 2018. 384p. ISBN 9781250116161. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

At her wits end when her pleas for the necessary funds to support her estate go unanswered, March Lawson, who’s been caring for her younger siblings since the death of their parents eight years ago, begins making withdrawals from her own trust by forging the signature of the ogre in charge of it, whom she’s never met. ­Michael Cavensham, Marquis of ­McCalpin, is not quite the villain March believes him to be, and when he learns of her “embezzlement” and the dire straits, he petitions for guardianship and sweeps the siblings off to London for the Season and into the midst of his welcoming family. Passion wars with pride and practicality as a determined heroine who is a genius with numbers and a responsible yet mathematically challenged hero deal with the threat of scandal and vicious forces that would to anything to bring March down and destroy their newfound happiness. VERDICT Brimming with family, hope, and tender sensuality, this shrewdly plotted, gently paced romance is especially satisfying. MacGregor (The Bride Who Got Lucky) lives in Kansas City, MO.

Maxwell, Cathy. A Match Made in Bed. Avon. (Spinster Heiresses, Bk. 2). May 2018. 370p. ISBN 9780062655769. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062655776. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Years ago, the Holwells brought ruin onto the Yorks, and the families are still feuding. Now Soren York, Earl of Dewsberry, is determined to restore his family’s fortunes, but for that he needs money. Wealthy ­Cassandra Holwell, a woman he’d known as a young girl and whose land marches with his, is the ideal choice, but Cass resists him at every turn. Then fate takes a hand, and they are caught in an innocent but totally compromising situation. Soren nobly proposes. Cass’s options are ruin or her father’s fury. An independent bluestocking and an honorable peer find that marriage is more challenging—and ultimately rewarding—than either had imagined. VERDICT Sparkling badinage, unforeseen plot twists, and tender passion make this engaging romance one to savor. Maxwell (If Ever I Should Love You) lives in Virginia.

Quick, Amanda. The Other Lady Vanishes. Berkley. May 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780399585326. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399585333. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

On the run after a narrow escape from an exclusive mental sanitarium (and the villains who put her there), Adelaide Blake takes refuge in tiny Burning Cove, a town along the California coast that is becoming trendy with the Hollywood set. Her job at the local tearoom is a good match for her herbalist skills, and after two months she is still wary but beginning to settle into a routine. She has even attracted the interest of businessman Jake Truett, the widower who is renting the sea cliff cottage near hers. But her pursuers are hot on her trail, and when a popular psychic predicts a death and then is found murdered, Adelaide and Jake are swept up in a web of lies that has Adelaide at its core. Red herrings and multiple ­baddies stir the plot in a fun-filled romp that has ties to Quick’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much. VERDICT With humorous repartee, a diabolical plot, and characters that make the 1930s spring to life, Quick’s lively story of murder, intrigue, and romance keeps its secrets until the very end. Quick (’Til Death Do Us Part) also writes as Jayne Ann Krentz and Jayne Castle; she lives in Seattle. [See Prepub Alert 11/21/17.]

Ross, JoAnn. Herons Landing. HQN: Harlequin. (Honeymoon Harbor, Bk. 1). May 2018. 416p. ISBN 9781335949356. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488079047. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Two years after his wife, Zoe, was killed during a tour of duty in Afghanistan, contractor Seth Harper is still grieving. He’s thrown himself into the family renovation and remodeling business, and his social life is nonexistent—he knows he’ll never marry again. Then hotel concierge Brianna Mannion, a woman he’d grown up with and Zoe’s best friend, returns to Honeymoon Harbor with plans to turn Herons Landing, an old Victorian mansion with a ghostly past, into a bed-and-breakfast—and the stage is set for a relationship Seth is determined to ignore. The connection between a deeply conflicted man slowly coming to terms with loss and the woman who under­stands him adds strength and intensity to a perceptive story that is more than the average friends-into-lovers romance. Vivid, detailed descriptions, real-life issues that resonate, a pair of perfect-for-each-other protagonists, and a wealth of colorful townsfolk form an emotionally compelling story in Ross’s capable hands. VERDICT An excellent start to a promising community series with a stunning Olympic Coast setting. Ross (Long Road Home) lives in the Pacific Northwest.

So Many Choices

Curran, Kitty & Larissa Zageris. My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel. Quirk. Apr. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781683690139. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781683690146. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

DEBUT Harking back to those fun-filled, choose-your-own-adventure stories beloved of kids and teens, this lighthearted book takes the reader—in this case, you, a 28-year-old penniless Regency-era heroine in search of a match—on any number of romantic escapades on her way to the requisite happy ending. Characters, settings, and situations are typical of the genre but pushed to the limit (e.g., featuring orphans, werewolves, double-dealings, Egyptian antiquities). The second-person point of view, unusual and disconcerting at first but common to this format, works as intended. ­Although not an original concept, this is nicely written and inventively done. Even the instructions are fun to read. VERDICT This hilarious, often silly, and over-the-top spoof of romance novels is in no way your typical historical romance, but the ­myriad possibilities, fast tempo, and tongue-­ in-cheek approach make it a most entertaining if somewhat page-flipping experience. Debut authors Curran and Zageris, ­who must have had a ball writing this, live in Chicago.

Second Time Around

Delinsky, Barbara. Father of the Bride. Severn House. May 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780727887719. $28.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

A couple torn apart by parental disapproval and estranged for 25 years rethink their relationship when their daughter insists that her father walks her down the aisle. This emotionally gripping story displays ­Delinsky’s exceptional character development and still rings true despite its having been first published by Harlequin Romance in 1991 as a novella in the collection With This Ring.

Carolyn Brown Celebrates a Milestone

With the publication of Cowboy Bold (see review above), romance and women’s fiction author Carolyn Brown released the 90th book of her New York Times and USA Today best-selling career. From her first title in 1999 (Love Is, Avalon) to the present, Brown has spun an array of heartwarming, relationship-centered tales, rich with quirky characters (many of them cowboys), lively wit, and small-town charm. Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, Brown lives in Davis, OK, with her husband of nearly 50 years.

Crimson Romance To Cease Publication

On March 12, 2018, Crimson Romance, the digital imprint acquired by Simon & Schuster as part of its purchase of Adams Media in 2016, announced on Twitter that it was closing its doors. The news came as a surprise to many. The Racial Diversity Study conducted by the Ripped Bodice in 2017 ( listed Crimson as a major publisher of romances by authors of color, making its shutdown especially ­unfortunate.

2018 Cathie Linz Librarian of the Year

Every year since 1995, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) has honored “a librarian who demonstrates outstanding support of romance authors and the romance genre.” This year’s Cathie Linz Librarian of the Year Award goes to Fran Cassano, Adult Reference, Romance and Genre Fiction, North Bellmore Public Library, NY. It will be presented at the Golden Hearts Award Luncheon on Thursday, July 19, at the organization’s annual conference (

Librarians’ Day at RWA

In conjunction with its annual meeting, RWA hosts Librarians’ Day, an event that targets local librarians and booksellers. This year it will take place on Saturday, July 21, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. The program kicks off at 8 a.m. with “Swipe Right: What Are You Reading Tonight,” a contemporary readers’ advisory presentation by librarians Jessi ­Barrientos, Amy Hall, and Jennifer ­Hendzlik. Next up is “The Importance of Being Humorous,” a lively discussion of humor in romance by authors Carolyn Brown, Tessa Dare, Angie Fox, Kristan Higgins, Jenn MacKinlay, and Mia Sosa; a timely panel on “Diversity in Your Romance Library Collection and Programs” (participants TBD); and the interactive “Romance Bingo,” hosted by librarians Amy Alessio, Robin Bradford, and Susan Gibberman. There will be a meet and greet for librarians and authors and a luncheon with keynote speaker Sonali Dev, a best-selling author of Bollywood-style romances. At $25, this is a bargain for professionals in the Denver area. For more information and to register, go to

RWA’s Academic Research Grant

Each year, RWA solicits proposals from scholars who are doing research on various aspects of popular romance fiction. The 2018 grant goes to Margo Hendricks, Professor Emerita, University of California Santa Cruz, to carry out field research for her book project, Heliodorus’ Daughters: Women of Color and the Romance Industry, which explores the relationship between women of color and the romance genre.

Kristin Ramsdell is Librarian Emerita, California State University, East Bay. She is the author of the romance section of What Do I Read Next? A Reader’s Guide to Current Genre Fiction (Gale, annual) and Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre. 2d ed. (Libraries Unlimited, 2012)

Madeline Miller’s Circe: Perpetual Outsider, Powerful God | No. 1 LibraryReads Author

Tue, 04/10/2018 - 13:21

Photo by Nina Subin

Like her Orange Prize–winning The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s Circe revitalizes our appreciation of ancient Greek mythology and its profound insights into human nature, never mind its basis in the antics of the gods.

Not a retelling but an enriching of Circe’s story, the novel begins with Circe as a child scorned in her sun-god father’s household, follows her into exile when her gift for sorcery emerges, then gracefully folds in encounters with mythic figures not typically associated with Circe before introducing the celebrated Odysseus.

Portraying Circe as passionate and determinedly herself, the narrative clarifies her pained role as perpetual outsider and female in a male world without ever sounding tendentious. It’s magic, too, coursing with Circe’s powers and told in language that’s river-swift, unobtrusively modern, appropriately lyrical, and polished as bronze. Here’s Circe, before she knows her powers yet eager to make a man she loves immortal:

I was too wild to feel any shame. It was true. I would not just uproot the world, but tear it, burn it, do any evil I could to keep Glaucos by my side. But what stayed most in my mind was the look on my grandmother’s face when I said the word, pharmaka.

Pharmaka are the world-changing herbs at the root of sorcery, which the gods fear as beyond their powers. Before exile, Circe had already changed the uppity nymph Scylla into a monster (“I did it for pride and vain delusion,” she later reflects bitterly) and on her lonely island she becomes a committed practitioner, with readers feeling the tenacity and vigilance involved:

Let me says what sorcery is not: it is not divine power, which comes with a thought and a blink. It must be made and worked, planned and searched out, dug up, dried, chopped and ground, cooked, spoken over, and sung. Even after all that, it can fail, as gods do not. If my herbs are not fresh enough, if my attention falters, if my will is weak, the draughts go stale and rancid in my hands.

Circe does get visitors—the god Hermes, for instance, and Daedalus, who takes her on a surprising visit to her sister. But when one rapacious crew attacks her in her own home, she enacts the revenge for which she becomes famous:

His rib cage cracked and began to bulge. I heard the sound of flesh rupturing wetly, the pops of breaking bones…. He screamed, and his men screamed with him. It went on for a long time. As it turned out, I did kill pigs that night after all.

Initially, Odysseus’s men are transformed, too, but Odysseus, perhaps less wily than thoughtful, is soon Circe’s lover; she was wrong to have said, “Apparently the market for disgraced sorceresses is thin.” He also relates the horrors of war:

You promise mercy to spies so they will spill their story, then you kill them after. You beat men who mutiny…. When the great hero Philoctetes was crippled with a festering wound, the men lost their courage over it. So I left him behind on an island and claimed he had asked to be left.

Odysseus eventually leaves Circe behind, too, but their story is beautifully expanded here. If Circe correctly observes that “mankind is spreading across the world,” Miller effectively captures that tension between humans and gods. And she captures a ­sorceress from a time not our own and makes her achingly real.—Barbara Hoffert

Created by a group of librarians, LibraryReads offers a monthly list of ten current titles culled from nominations made by librarians nationwide as their favorites. See the April 2018 list at and contact to make your own nomination.

Sayers, Superstars, Shinigamis, Slayers, & More | What We’re Reading & Watching

Mon, 04/09/2018 - 14:29

The people of “What We’re Reading & Watching” took some time off from their busy pre-spring (sure, spring’s here on the calendar, but it ain’t on the weather reports!) work schedules to report on their viewing and reading choices. We’re catching up with some idols of our youth, searching for a Sayers-alike, reading manga death notes, stalking an elusive killer, traveling with a 19th-century eccentric, and gravitating toward beauty and opulence this week. Come join us on our travels! 

Mahnaz Dar, Reference &  Professional Reading Editor, LJS
Lately I’ve been revisiting an old favorite: Death Note (Viz), written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. This 12-volume manga series follows a 17-year-old, Light Yagami, who picks up a strange notebook. Anyone whose name is written in the book will die, and Light decides it’s the perfect opportunity to create the perfect world, one free of criminals and evildoers, over which he will eventually reign as a god. The notebook comes from the realm of the shinigami (or death god); a bored shinigami named Ryuk dropped a death note in the world of humans to see what would happen. To put it mildly, chaos ensues, as Light and an eccentric detective known only as L engage in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse.

Death Note is intricate, and I usually emerge from a binge-reading session reeling from all the in-depth plotting. It’s also incredibly immersive—it’s easy to see why this one has been such a cult phenomenon, spawning an anime series, a prose novel, and a recent Netflix special, to name just a few adaptations. 

Liz French, Senior Editor, LJ Reviews
One of the many soundtracks of my youth was the cast album of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar, which I’m pretty sure was on the RCA label, because that’s where my stepfather worked as an engineer for years; he brought home many albums for us to enjoy—until the fateful year when he became yet another casualty of the RCA annual Christmas layoff. I was also a huge fan of Alice Cooper in those days, though he wasn’t on the RCA label. So while I was somewhat lukewarm about NBC’s live televised performance of Jesus Christ Superstar starring John Legend, I was interested in seeing Alice Cooper perform as King Herod. Thank you, Youtube! I watched AC taunt-sing to JC (“walk across my swimming pool”) and nothing else from the broadcast, but I would consider watching BVD aka Brandon Victor Dixon steal the show as Judas Iscariot. Back to Youtube I go….

In the reading realm, I devoured Tara Isabella Burton’s debut thriller, Social Creature (Doubleday), after reading a favorable review in LJ. Lots of readers are comparing it to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and L.S. Hilton’s Maestra and Bret Easton Ellis’s early novels—oh and Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley—but I got more of a Single White Female meets Luckiest Girl Alive vibe, with dollops of Ellis. I totally disliked all the characters, even as I whizzed through the book in a day. I could see a damn fine movie made out of this. The film rights have already been snapped up, so we shall see.

Amanda Mastrull, Assistant Editor, LJ Reviews
This week I’m watching the HLN series Unmasking a Killer, about the search for the Golden State Killer. I enjoy true crime in general, but this case in particular, which I first read about in Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (Harper), has gripped me. The Golden State Killer, or GSK, is a serial rapist and murderer responsible for 50 rapes and a dozen murders across California in the 1970s and 1980s. He was never caught. Both the HLN show and its companion podcast feature investigators who have worked on the case throughout the years, as well as victims who speak about the ways they were affected. It’s mind-boggling how brazen GSK was: he would leave precut ligatures in homes prior to attacks (one woman found them while moving a couch cushion; police did a stakeout, but he never showed), enter homes naked from the waist down, and terrorize victims with threatening phone calls. But this case can be solved. Authorities have GSK’s DNA. What they don’t have—yet—is the man it belongs to. The show and podcast are likewise examining how this case impacted future rape investigations and how victims lacked things we now take for granted, such as the 911 telephone system to call for help. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. 

Lisa Peet, Associate Editor, LJ
I spent a big chunk of my reading time this month on Jenny Uglow’s newest biography, Mr. Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense (Farrar), for an LJ review. Most folks know Edward Lear as the limerick and nonsense rhyme writer, the man who came up with “The Owl and the Pussycat”—which is no mean feat in itself. But he was also an accomplished and prolific painter and lived the mid-19th-century artist/poet lifestyle to the hilt, trekking all over Europe and Asia with his trusty manservant and his paints, writing travelogs, and putting together painting collections to sell, as well as writing and illustrating his books of verse. And ah, for the life of an itinerant artist, traveling the world with my friends and talking about painting, spending extended visits at the estates of my landed friends—marvelous English names, too: Chichester Fortescue, Franklin Lushington—not to mention a prickly friendship with the poet Alfred Tennyson and a young Queen Victoria, who was a painting student of his. Winters in Corfu, Bombay, the Levant; summers in London entertaining the children of various peers…life, or at least that life, was just so different. Uglow does a wonderful job of filling in the details of that rarefied Victorian world while focusing on her subject, the oddball and interesting Mr. Lear: a homosexual, epileptic, depressive workaholic who felt himself to be the perpetual outsider yet had a huge circle of devoted friends and a hugely successful creative life. Immersing myself in that life was an experience, in the best sense, and about as far from the #1 train (where most of that immersion took place) as I could get, happily. 

Meredith Schwartz, Executive Editor, LJ
I’ve been reading Julie McElwain’s A Twist in Time (Pegasus Crime). It’s Criminal Minds meets Georgette Heyer meets Outlander…our heroine is an FBI agent who has time-traveled back to the English Regency period, where she’s trying to solve a murder, resist a love interest that might tie her to a chauvinistic era, and somehow get back home. On paper it’s a perfect storm of my interests, but in practice I’m finding it doesn’t quite jell.

I’ve also been reading a bunch of British crime classics reissued by Poisoned Pen Press. Sadly, none so far has turned out to be another Sayers—though one, Alan Melville’s Quick Curtain, was blurbed by her (“Blows the solemn structure of the detective novel sky-high”).


Ashleigh Williams, Editorial Assistant, SLJ
I just started reading Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles (Freeform) last night. I don’t usually gravitate toward books with beauty, opulence, or royalty as major components (I’m aware this says more about me than it does about the books themselves), but I’ve heard such great buzz, and I deeply respect and admire Clayton’s work as part of #WeNeedDiverseBooks; I just had to check it out! So far, there’s a lot of fruity dessert imagery, which I can thoroughly get behind. Sixteen-year-old Camellia Beauregard is one of six Belles in the mythical kingdom of Orléans. Blessed by the Goddess of Beauty with ancient powers, Belles are young women prized for their ability to physically transform the kingdom’s cursed citizens who are born withered and gray, with red eyes and hair like coarse straw. I can’t quite gauge where the plot is headed (I’m only 29 pages in), but I’m already feeling that root of unease that usually signals a great story’s ahead!

Birds of a Feather | The Reader’s Shelf

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 15:33

The brilliance of birds has become a recent topic in literary and cultural conversation. Notable nonfiction works explore just how intelligent birds are, while novelists use them for any number of devices.

 Our feathered friends can never be referred to as “bird brains” again after reading Jennifer Ackerman’s lively The Genius of Birds (Penguin. 2017. ISBN 9780399563126. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781101980842). Ackerman presents an amazing account—supported by reams of scientific data—proving previous simplistic views of avian creatures woefully wrong. Whether illustrating the tool-­making capacity of crows, investigating the architecture of seduction created by male bowerbirds, or detailing the mastery of nutcrackers’ elaborate memory games (they remember the locations of more than 30,000 seeds), this bird’s-eye view investigation reminds us, as Aesop indicated, “it is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.”

A 19th-century pharmacist, fascinated by Shakespeare’s catalog of birds—­including the starling—introduced the aggressive, trouble-making bird to North America. Starlings are hated and considered a nuisance by some—a fact that Lyanda Lynn Haupt became aware of after adopting her own, Carmen, while researching ­Mozart’s Starling (Little, Brown. 2017. ISBN 9780316370899. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316370875). Amadeus Mozart (1756–91) also found one of these birds particularly endearing. A champion at mimicry, his pet Star became the composer’s faithful muse; Haupt and Carmen similarly develop a strong bond. With winning style, Haupt parallels Mozart and Star’s relationship with Carmen and hers in this combination memoir, history, and avian primer.

Graduate student Nathan ­Lochmueller, the protagonist of Brian Kimberling’s ­Snapper (Vintage. 2014. ISBN 9780345803368. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780307908063), is researching songbirds in rural Indiana. The story sees Nathan learning about Acadian flycatchers, wood thrushes, summer tanagers, and more, all the while searching for the meaning of life. Anecdotal, inter­connected tales tell of Nathan’s myriad adventures, on drives in Gypsy Moth, his ­sparkly painted pickup truck, and in and out of his worshipful attachment to the elusive Lola. His experience with the eponymous Snapper, a snapping turtle who loves nibbling thumbs, enriches the narrative. Told with warmth and a wry sensibility, this love letter to the Hoosier State is a soaring ­adventure.

Jim Harrison’s The English Major (Grove: Atlantic. 2009. ISBN 9780802144140. pap. $14; ebk. ISBN 9781555848293) has sixty­something Cliff also seeking life’s meaning. After his marriage crumbles, he abandons his Michigan hometown and hits the road, enhancing his appreciation of the American landscape and delighting in each state’s bird (he has a plan to rename every one—after all, Reuben is clearly a more fitting name for the robin, while the brown thrasher should become Beige Delarosa). His restorative meander morphs into a journey of epic proportions as he encounters a former student from long ago in Minnesota, joins up with an eccentric snake-loving pal in Arizona, and reconnects with his movie-producer son in San Francisco. It is a quixotic trek, penned with wit and verve.

Michele Young-Stone blends historical fiction and magic realism in her wonderfully wrought Above Us Only Sky (S. & S. 2016. ISBN 9781451657685. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781451657692), which spans the violence and mayhem of the 1863 January Uprising in Eastern Europe through the fall of the Berlin Wall and beyond. Ornithologist Prudence Vilkas, born in 1973, enters life equipped with a pair of heart-shaped wings folded into her back. Surgically removed by doctors who deem them a birth defect, the wings still leave behind a trace. Called Little Bird by her father, Prudence reunites with her Lithuanian grandparents and learns that her extra­ordinary family includes other winged women. Young-Stone’s enchanting, engrossing prose presents characters facing the challenge of finding their place in the world.

The Great Auk, a breed of flightless seabird, was prized as a food source and for its feathers. So prized that by the mid-19th century, this unusual creature was considered extinct, plundered by the millions by humans. Jeremy Page’s atmospheric novel The ­Collector of Lost Things (Pegasus. 2014. ISBN 9781605986418. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781480448261) follows distrait Eliot Saxby, a British researcher and environmentalist, who in 1845 boards the Amethyst. The hunting ship is headed for the wilds of the Arctic, having been hired out to search for remains of the Auk. Eliot’s quest, however, encompasses far more than long-lost birds. He navigates the spinning of his own moral compass and the currents of a motley crew and, as the novel unfolds, awaits some ­semblance of the great, enigmatic bird.

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ’s online feature Wyatt’s World and is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers’ advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader’s Shelf should contact her directly at

This column was contributed by librarian and freelance writer Andrea Tarr, Alta Loma, CA