Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Odyssey Bookshop Issue for Tuesday, May 21, 2019

From the Shelf

Polar Fever

Before space exploration and the moon landing captivated millions, earthbound explorers became famous by journeying to the coldest places on earth. The body of polar literature is vast, but a few recent books have captured the drama--and horror--of these life-and-death journeys.

Some of the most lasting and eerie images of polar expeditions are those of ships caught in the ice. In the Kingdom of Ice (Anchor, $17) recounts the plight of the USS Jeanette, which was stuck in the ice for nearly two years after failing to penetrate to a mythical "Open Polar Sea" in the late 19th century. When the ship finally sank off the coast of Siberia, the surviving crew underwent further harrowing trials before only a lucky few were finally rescued.

One of the more grimly fascinating aspects of polar exploration is the thin line between success and catastrophe. Alone on the Ice (W.W. Norton, $16.95) is a more southerly illustration of that fact, telling the story of an expedition leader named Douglas Mawson, who in 1913 plunged through a snow bridge into an Antarctic chasm. His eventual survival was as miraculous as it was gruesome, rendering him unrecognizable to fellow team members.

Dan Simmons cleverly mixes real and supernatural horror in his novel The Terror (Back Bay, $18.99). Later adapted into an equally powerful television series, The Terror provides a fictional explanation for a real-life expedition's famous disappearance in the Arctic, adding a monstrous creature to Captain Franklin and crew's many worries. These fictional and nonfictional narratives capture how quickly the promise of the poles could curdle into terrible misfortune.

--Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Liveright Publishing Corporation: Biloxi by Mary Miller


Sourcebooks Fire: Kingsbane (Empirium Trilogy #2) by Claire Legrand


Harper: The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

In this Issue...

Reviews

Karen Russell's Orange World offers a collection of magical realist short stories that will fascinate and captivate fans of Aimee Bender, Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood.

Read this review >>

Hurricane Season

by Nicole Melleby

Nicole Melleby's middle-grade debut features sixth-grader Fig, who discovers the world of art through trying to connect with her troubled father.

Read this review >>

Hybrida

by Tina Chang

Tina Chang's haunting poems explore motherhood, inheritance and fearing for the safety of one's children in a dangerous and predatory world.

Read this review >>

Review by Subjects:

Fiction Mystery & Thriller Biography & Memoir Social Science House & Home Poetry Children's & Young Adult

Atheneum Books for Young Readers: Bunnicula (40th Anniversary) by Deborah Howe and James Howe, illustrated by Alan Daniel

From Odyssey Bookshop

Upcoming Events

Murder Incorporated

05/22/2019 - 7:00PM

This event is co-sponsored by The Rosenberg Fund for Children. The prevailing myth is that America's prized possessions and greatest exports are democracy and the dream of freedom. The naked truth, according to Abu-Jamal and Vittoria, is that the American dream is illusory and America's greatest export is in fact murder—and that along the way to the kill, America thieves, suppresses, and tyrannizes. This book strives to set the record straight, to educate, to enlighten and to enliven the...

Active Citizens Group

05/26/2019 - 4:00PM

The Active Citizens Book Group! Join us to discuss current affairs in the US and around the world. Future topics will include the environment, racism, economic and gender inequality, and workers' rights. This group meets monthly on the last Sunday of the month, at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 26, 4:00pm - Falter by Bill McKibben  Thirty years ago Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about climate change. Now he broadens the warning: the entire human game, he suggests, has begun to...

Book Candy

Best Cities for Book Lovers to Visit

The I Paper showcased the "20 best cities to visit for book lovers: from Los Angeles to Lagos."

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The late poet Donald Hall's historic farmhouse will be preserved thanks to a New Hampshire couple, NHPR reported.

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"Erasure poets are turning the heavily redacted Mueller Report into art," Vice noted.

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Mental Floss posted "5 letters that changed the world."

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Author Jim Al-Khalili chose his "top 10 end-of-the-world novels" for the Guardian.

Nan A. Talese: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Great Reads

Rediscover: Herman Wouk

Historical fiction author Herman Wouk died last week at age 103. He is best known for The Caine Mutiny (1951) and the two-part World War II epic The Winds of War (1971) and War and Remembrance (1978). Wouk's first novel, Aurora Dawn, was published in 1947 and his memoir, Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-old Author, was released in 2016, the year he turned 100. The Caine Mutiny was based partly on Wouk's own experiences as a sailor in the Pacific Theater of World War II. It sold more than three million copies in the U.S., won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1952 and was adapted into a movie in 1954 starring Humphrey Bogart as Philip Francis Queeg, the incompetent leader of a destroyer relieved of command by disgruntled officers. Wouk also adapted the courtroom sections of the novel into a hit Broadway play, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, which opened the same year as the film. The Winds of War and War and Remembrance were adapted into successful television miniseries in the 1980s. Marjorie Morningstar, about a young Jewish woman who dreams of becoming an actress, was made into a 1958 movie starring Natalie Wood and Gene Kelly.

In 1995, the Library of Congress honored Wouk's 80th birthday with a symposium featuring David McCullough, Robert Caro and Daniel Boorstin, among others. Wouk received the first ever Library of Congress Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Writing of Fiction in 2008. His longevity inspired Stephen King to title one story "Herman Wouk Is Still Alive."

Franklin Covey: Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow by Scott Jeffrey Miller

The Writer's Life

Reading with... Juliet Escoria

photo: Saja Montague

Juliet Escoria is the author of the poetry collection Witch Hunt and the story collection Black Cloud. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, the writer Scott McClanahan. Her new novel, Juliet the Maniac, was just published by Melville House.

On your nightstand now:

The Bible and The Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrère.

I was raised without religion. Last year, I decided I wanted to read the Bible because it seemed negligent to be a writer and an English teacher and to not have read what is possibly the most influential book of all time. I am following a year-long Bible reading plan with some friends. Because I am incapable of having a normal degree of interest in things, I also decided that I needed "supplemental" biblical-themed readings, hence the Carrère book. It's fu*king great.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Dangerous Angels series by Francesca Lia Block. Witch Baby is my idol.

Your top five authors:

So many ways to answer this question. I'll go with the canned answer that helps explain my own work:

Mary Gaitskill
Denis Johnson
Lucia Berlin
Sylvia Plath
Joan Didion

Book you've faked reading:

Maybe this is one of the positive things about getting your GED? I don't feel the need to do this because I can always blame it on the gaps in my education instead.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan
Person/A by Elizabeth Ellen
Cherry by Nico Walker
Liveblog by Megan Boyle
Bipolar Cowboy by Noah Cicero

All of these books are completely uncompromising in portraying emotional truth, which should be the highest goal of literature (or art in general).

Book you've bought for the cover:

Young God by Katherine Faw Morris. The book is just as good as the cover.

Book you hid from your parents:

I stole a water-themed erotica anthology from Barnes & Noble that was printed on waterproof paper so you could take it in the bathtub. That book lived under my bed for years.

Books that changed your life:

I read Cruddy by Lynda Barry, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things by JT LeRoy around the same time--I was maybe 18--and it made me really want to write weird, beautiful, troublesome fiction.

Favorite line from a book:

"...and the dogs licked up his blood while the harlots bathed" --I Kings 22:38

Five books you'll never part with:

Signed galley copy of Hill William by Scott McClanahan (my husband--he gave it to me before we were even dating).

Rock Dreams by Nik Cohn, which is out of print and was given to me by my beloved dead uncle.

I'll leave it at that. All the others are replaceable.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

My Ántonia by Willa Cather. That was the dream reading experience--I laughed, I cried, I envied the beauty of the writing, I couldn't put it down.

Other 2019 books that you're excited about:

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren
Essays & Fictions by Brad Phillips
The New Me by Halle Butler
Biloxi by Mary Miller
Meander Belt by M. Randal O'Wain
The Book of X by Sarah Rose Etter
Teenager by Bud Smith
Hard Mouth by Amanda Goldblatt

Yearling Books: The Penderwicks at Last (Penderwicks #5) by Jeanne Birdsall

Book Reviews

Fiction

Orange World and Other Stories

by Karen Russell

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Karen Russell, the author of Swamplandia!, offers eight fantastical tales in Orange World and Other Stories. In "The Prospectors," two friends must survive a night at a party of denial-ridden ghosts. In "Bog Girl," a young boy falls in love with a girl he discovers buried in peat and mud in a nearby swamp. Other standouts from the collection include the post-apocalyptic, poisonous Everglades of "The Gondoliers" and the bargain a woman makes with the devil to save her family by breast-feeding a fiend in the title story, "Orange World." These tales all capture the atmosphere of the unbelievable and ground it in the lives of startlingly realized protagonists, making a seemingly incredible situation, suddenly and unnervingly, emotionally prescient.

Hauntingly beautiful, lyrical and strange, these stories gleam with sensitive insight and intelligence. Each tale delights in the unexpected and the uncanny. Russell tips the worlds of her characters' lives just slightly off balance but never upends her readership. She continues to have a masterful sense of how the eccentric, magical elements of her stories map onto her readers' intimate, emotional lives. While none of these stories are straightforward metaphors, each one manages to tap into its audience's buried desires, fears and discomforts. Sometimes, it is the very off-kilter nature of these worlds, these people and their attachments that feel most akin to the real world. Whether she is tackling the anxieties of motherhood, the dark yearnings of first love or our desire for unity in a time of mutual destruction, Russell's stunning prose and wondrous creations never miss their mark. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Discover: Karen Russell's Orange World offers a collection of magical realist short stories that will fascinate and captivate fans of Aimee Bender, Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood.

Knopf , $25.95, hardcover, 288p., 9780525656135

Empty Words

by Mario Levrero , trans. by Annie McDermott

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Uruguayan novelist Mario Levrero's Empty Words, his first to be translated into English, documents the quest of a writer who decides to improve his handwriting in order to conquer his personal problems. This plan goes awry, yet what emerges is charming, hilarious and often insightful. Much like Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes, Empty Words is a book about writing itself and the frustrations of the creative process. Even when the narrator tries to focus on the task at hand, he inadvertently begins to document his neuroses and petty complaints. Levrero's prose is often poetic and slightly winking throughout; he knows that his hero is a bit ridiculous but likes him regardless. (And translator Annie McDermott has done an impeccable job adapting him.)

Levrero seemed to chafe at being placed in any canon of Latin American literature, and he shares the tendency of Borges and Lispector to reach epiphany through roundabouts and the gleeful embrace of the strange. It's only when the narrator writes about his weird dreams and feelings that he can actually move on from what bothers him. Empty Words does not suggest that there's an easy solution to unhappiness. But there is at least the possibility of serenity, and the sheer power that comes from creation, from putting words onto the page. Hopefully this isn't the first and last of Levrero's works to be translated. --C.M. Crockford, freelance reviewer

Discover: Uruguayan novelist Mario Levrero's first novel to be translated into English reflects on the absurdities of life and the written word.

Coffee House Press, $16.95, paperback, 152p., 9781566895460

Mystery & Thriller

If She Wakes

by Michael Koryta

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Tara Beckley, a senior at Maine's Hammel College, has one simple assignment: drive a visiting professor to a conference dinner. But Professor Oltamu insists on stopping along the way for them to step out and for him to take her picture. Before they can get back in the car, a van rams into them, killing Oltamu and flinging Tara into the cold river.

She wakes in a hospital room with her sister, Shannon, telling her mom and Mom's boyfriend that they should never give up on her. Who and what is Shannon talking about? Tara tries to communicate, with words, fingers, a blink--anything--but can't. She has locked-in syndrome--she can process stimuli but can't express herself to the outside world. If she can't demonstrate that her brain is alive, she might be taken off life support.

And someone else might end her life in a less merciful way. Oltamu's death was no accident, and Tara is a witness. If she starts communicating what she knows, an assassin would make sure she's silenced forever.

In If She Wakes, Michael Koryta (Rise the Dark) gives readers not one or two but four formidable female leads. Besides Tara, who fights for her life with every muscle twitch, there's Shannon, Tara's fierce defender; Abby, an insurance investigator trying to overcome her own trauma while looking into Oltamu's death; and Boone, also on the case but with a mysterious agenda. Koryta writes them with confidence, and each is someone to be reckoned with. As is the assassin, who's connected to characters in a previous Koryta thriller, which should delight fans. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: A woman with locked-in syndrome--appearing comatose while being mentally awake--struggles to communicate that she's not only present but the victim of attempted murder.

Little, Brown, $28, hardcover, 400p., 9780316294003

The Favorite Daughter

by Kaira Rouda

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Jane is rising from the ashes following a year of medicated mourning for her brilliant daughter, Mary. Her husband has become distant and absent; her remaining daughter, Betsy, the "average" one, is combative and angry. Jane is determined to regain her image as a perfect O.C. wife.

As Jane narrates her "coming out" plan in the days before Betsy's graduation and a celebration of life in Mary's honor, it becomes apparent the details of Jane's "complicated grief" diagnosis have been meticulously researched, down to her fascination with death statistics ("Cows kill twenty people a year in the U.S., which seems like a low number considering what we do to those poor creatures.").

In The Favorite Daughter, Kaira Rouda (Best Day Ever) provides a front-row seat to the riveting unraveling of an unhinged narcissist who will do anything to regain a picture-perfect image. Through the conversational first-person narrative, Jane slowly reveals her true self and how far she will go to put her life right, including more than a little revenge and destruction.

Rouda's portrayal of Jane is fabulously compelling and darkly hilarious, detailing her self-obsession and conceit. (Jane re-watches news interviews from when Mary went missing, happy with how her makeup looked and proud "all of [her] acting experience shined through.") This amplifies the discomfort of witnessing Jane coming unwound, but it's impossible to look away from the wreckage. The resolution is satisfying, but the ride is so diabolically twisted and entertaining that readers will be sorry when it comes to a stop. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: As a narcissistic wife and mother tries to regain control of her image and family, the tragic and devious truths behind her plan begin to rise to the surface.

Graydon House, $26.99, hardcover, 368p., 9781525835148

Biography & Memoir

How to Forget: A Daughter's Memoir

by Kate Mulgrew

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Actress Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek Voyager, Orange Is the New Black) follows up her candid and thoughtful 2015 memoir, Born with Teeth, with an equally forthright and emotionally raw tale of caring for her parents at the end of their lives.

When her father is diagnosed with stage-four cancer that has spread from his lungs to brain stem, liver and kidneys, Mulgrew's return visit to her home state of Iowa is extended indefinitely. Six years earlier, her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and continued living at home thanks to a full-time caregiver. How to Forget tenderly chronicles Mulgrew's decision to care for her parents over the last two years of their lives.

With crystal clarity and sharp insight, Mulgrew paints a complicated family portrait as rich and complex as families in Pat Conroy's epic novels. As an adult, Mulgrew sees her parents and siblings with a fresh perspective. She realizes that one of the unspoken tenets of her parents' relationship was "they should never be emotionally vulnerable to each other, that such exposure could only lead to trouble." Mulgrew also writes beautifully of the way families are often torn apart--rather than united--by loss. "We longed to reach out to one another, but at every turn this instinct was thwarted, tangled in a web of suspicion and resentment," she writes. "As much as we had loved one another in the fullness of life, we hated what we had become when that wholeness was eclipsed by loss." How to Forget is an unforgettable, tender and loving memoir of acceptance and loss. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: Kate Mulgrew's perceptive and beautifully written memoir of caring for her dying parents packs an emotional wallop.

Morrow, $27.99, hardcover, 352p., 9780062846815

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

by Fredrik Backman

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Following five successful novels--including A Man Called Ove and Us Against You--Swedish author Fredrik Backman turns to nonfiction. It should come as no surprise that this collection of essays to his young son is splendidly entertaining. As Backman generously offers a peek into the wisdom he bestows on his progeny, readers will find all the humor, profound insight and compassion that make his fiction so irresistible.

Backman claims that parents "actually haven't got a clue what we're really doing--having kids is in many ways like trying to drive a bulldozer through a china shop. With broken legs. Wearing a back-to-front ski mask. While drunk." Yet, he still manages to fill the pages with a deep understanding of human nature, a savvy instinct about the world and an endearing moral compass. He wraps this complex astuteness in hilarious analogies, anecdotes and lessons: a plea for his son to love soccer, warnings about IKEA, repeated apologies, a recipe for hot dogs, a lecture about God. And tucked in between the essays are short, bonus gems, including "Notes to self," conversations and observations.

One needn't be a father--or even a parent--to treasure this collection. As with all of his previous work, Backman artfully crafts his words to touch each person both individually and universally. He tells his son, "They say that sooner or later, all men turn into their fathers. And I really hope that's not the case. I hope you become much better." If his son manages that feat, it will be quite an accomplishment. --Jen Forbus

Discover: A father's witty and profound lessons for his son offer a heartwarming education to readers young and old alike.

Atria, $24, hardcover, 208p., 9781501196867

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

by Casey Cep

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The residents of rural Coosa County, Ala., could be forgiven for being leery of Reverend Willie Maxwell. After all, five people close to him, including two wives, died mysteriously--leaving life insurance policies in Maxwell's name. In her first book, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, journalist Casey Cep explores both the strange case of Maxwell's life and death, and how famous Alabama native Harper Lee came out of seclusion and shook off her demons to try to chronicle this story of crime and vigilantism.

Maxwell collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance but, although he was investigated thoroughly, he was never charged with a crime. The entire county "knew who had committed them, they just did not know how, or how to stop him." So, after the death of Maxwell's adopted stepdaughter, Shirley, her uncle figured that he knew how to stop the man. Robert Burns shot and killed Maxwell in front of hundreds of mourners at her funeral.

Cep knits together race, superstition, law and politics to create a compelling narrative that leads up to Harper Lee's appearance in the third section of the book. Cep's candid and empathetic portrayal of a gifted author tortured by success, creatively blocked, yet who spent years researching this true-crime story, provides what may be the most comprehensive recounting of Lee's ultimately futile attempt to write a follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird. With Furious Hours, readers will conclude, Cep has written the book that Lee herself wanted to write. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

Discover: Furious Hours tells the story of Harper Lee's struggle to overcome her writer's block and tell the true story of Reverend Willie Maxwell's secretive life and bizarre death.

Knopf, $26.95, hardcover, 336p., 9781101947869

Social Science

A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time

by Antonia Malchik

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Going for a walk, or even stepping out the door on two feet, is a fundamentally human activity. But over the last few centuries, much of humanity has gradually lost, or is losing, the access and ability to walk without impediment and without fear. In her first book, A Walking Life, journalist Antonia Malchik delves into the repercussions of a sedentary life and explores the benefits--social, political, physical and spiritual--of reclaiming walking as an essential practice. "We walk," she says, "to remind ourselves that we are free."

With chapter titles like "Stride," "March," "Quest," "Pace," "Meander" and more, Malchik explores the physical and psychological processes of walking and the ways bipedalism has shaped the human experience. She examines walking as migration, as public protest, as spiritual practice, and visits cities on every part of the pedestrian-friendly continuum. (Denver, despite its reputation as a walkable city, has a long way to go--but so do most American metropolises.) She argues convincingly that walking, and easy access to safe pedestrian paths, has a powerful impact on individual citizens and their communities. It is, she says, vital for physical health, mental sharpness and connection with both nature and fellow humans. Malchik also draws on her own experience, from brief sanity-saving walks with her young children to her family's larger story of emigration from Russia to Montana.

Thoroughly researched, insightful and engaging, A Walking Life will inspire readers to slip on their shoes, open the door and just go. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Antonia Malchik makes a convincing case for the physical, social and spiritual benefits of walking as a way of life.

Da Capo Lifelong, $28, hardcover, 272p., 9780738220161

House & Home

A Craftsman's Legacy: Why Working with Our Hands Gives Us Meaning

by Eric Gorges , Jon Sternfeld

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Eric Gorges describes the  television show he hosts, A Craftsman's Legacy, as "a celebration [of crafts], but it's also a demonstration, a lesson." In his book of the same name, co-written with author Jon Sternfeld (A Stone of Hope), that celebration and demonstration moves from the screen to the page, as Gorges documents the many lessons he's learned from various crafts and craftsmen (and women) across the country.

Each chapter of A Craftsman's Legacy is based on topics like focus, respect, individuality and sacrifice. Within these, Gorges explores the works of one or two master craftsmen, giving a short history of each craft (as varied as sword making, engraving, woodworking, stone carving and even jeans-making). This historical detail gives context to Gorges's argument that "a craftsman is simply a vessel for the craft--adding to it and shepherding it along across time and space," and allows him to explore the role of the craftsman in a century rife with new technology and automated processes.

"Crafts and craftsmanship can move us, help us feel alive, and restore our sense of humanity," argues Gorges. This point comes across clearly in nearly every interview, but also in Gorges's account of his own experience building a custom motorcycle business, which is woven throughout the book. Some of these stories may feel overly simplified or romanticized, but that's ultimately the appeal of handmade crafts: they seem deceptively simple, masking the skill, time, patience, knowledge, personality and energy they take to create. A Craftsman's Legacy gives tribute to that simplicity while celebrating each craft's distinct complexities. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: The host of the TV show The Craftsman's Legacy explores the benefits of working with one's hands through accounts of various crafts and the people who practice them.

Algonquin, $24.95, hardcover, 256p., 9781616208363

Poetry

Hybrida

by Tina Chang

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Tina Chang is the poet laureate of Brooklyn and, based on the content of her collection Hybrida, the title is well-deserved. This is a searing, often devastating book of poems that centers on her mixed race child, Roman, and her alarm over his well-being as black men and women are regularly killed by the police: "I envision, now, my son rising, arms above him,/ like hosanna out of a car." Yet Chang is never content to create a hundred stanzas out of a single idea. The book is a weaving of a hundred threads and motifs into a tapestry of poetic form. The poems here are restlessly, dizzyingly creative: they range from prose poetry to ekphrasis, all in the same lyrical and fierce voice. Sharon Olds or Margaret Atwood come to mind, but Chang is completely and utterly herself.

If at times the verse is so metaphorical as to be obtuse, Chang earns that with the sheer power of the emotions at play. "Bitch," the masterpiece of Hybrida, is near-horrific in its empathy for Laika, the space dog, and for the women who have followed her in lonely exploration and then persecution: "While humans went about their earth lives below, she remained/ chained but floating. Her canine self, a mortal wound." Overall this is a remarkable book by a poet who taps into the great Over-Soul, as Emerson would put it, and carries the anguish, the urgency she finds there and puts it to paper. This is one of the best poetry collections of 2019. --C.M. Crockford, freelance reviewer

Discover: Tina Chang's haunting poems explore motherhood, inheritance and fearing for the safety of one's children in a dangerous and predatory world.

Norton, $26.95, hardcover, 144p., 9781324002482

Children's & Young Adult

Hurricane Season

by Nicole Melleby

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Sixth-grader Fig knows a lot about artist Vincent van Gogh now that she's studying his life in art class. Fig isn't interested in art but she enrolled because "art and music, the whole language her dad spoke and played and hummed, made very little sense to her." Fig's dad was once a famous pianist and composer; she believes that learning more about his "language" will help her connect with him. Now, though, he lives in extremes: buzzing with frantic energy, trying to create his art, or barely able to get out of bed, leaving Fig to fend for herself. When his erratic behavior leads Fig's teacher to call New Jersey's Child Protection and Permanency agency, Fig is terrified--it's the second incident in CP&P's file and they might "take him away from her." Fig knows how to take care of her dad, but as questions build, Fig wonders if her dad has more than art in common with Vincent van Gogh.

Hurricane Season, Nicole Melleby's debut, is a delicate storm. The relationship between Fig and her father is beautifully nuanced: Fig's father is sympathetic even at his most extreme; Fig often takes on the role of caregiver without realizing how heavily it weighs on her 11-year-old shoulders. While the relationship between Fig and her father is central, a moving side plot about her father's romantic life is paralleled with Fig's own first forays into love: she can't stop thinking about Hannah, the older girl who works at the library. Melleby deftly tackles weighty topics--mental illness, child protective services, single parenting, sexuality--while effortlessly weaving in elements of the life and works of Vincent van Gogh, creating a thoughtful, age-appropriate and impressive novel. --Kyla Paterno, former children's book buyer

Discover: Nicole Melleby's middle-grade debut features sixth-grader Fig, who discovers the world of art through trying to connect with her troubled father.

Algonquin, $16.95, hardcover, 288p., ages 9-12, 9781616209063

Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World

by David Macaulay

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The Way Things Work Now author David Macaulay takes readers on a transatlantic voyage in this homage to designer William Francis Gibbs's Blue Riband-winning steamship, the SS United States.

As a child, Macaulay emigrated to the United States with his family. Macaulay, his mother and his siblings journeyed to their new home on the ocean liner Gibbs spent 30 years imagining, researching and refining. Crossing on Time tells the story of both the ship's evolution and the Macaulay family's move. Accompanied by his illustrations and engineering-style blueprint drawings, Macaulay takes the audience through a brief history of the steam engine and its effect on sea travel. He depicts models and offers visual representation of the scientific concepts he explains in the text. As he continues to images of the vessels and their construction, he incorporates humans and animals to offer perspective, emphasizing the enormity of not only the craft but also Gibbs's dream. 

Macaulay includes fascinating details about the United States, sure to engage future engineers and architects, such as Gibbs's concern for fire at sea: "The only wood he allowed belonged to a couple of grand pianos and a few chopping blocks in the galleys." Macaulay also injects charming humor that keeps the narrative animated and entertaining, such as when the family sees France from the boat: "This was our first trip to France.... It looked just like England, but with different flags." Maintaining the personal nature of the story, Macauley even includes the only two pictures of his family aboard the SS United States in the book's back matter.

A stunning book befitting its magnificent subject, Crossing on Time is a blue-ribbon read. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Discover: David Macaulay takes his readers over the ocean and through the steamships for a look at the inner workings of the vessel that marked a turning point in his childhood.

Roaring Brook, $24.99, hardcover, 128p., ages 10-14, 9781596434776

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Author Buzz

Dear Reader,

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Please write to 1001DarkNights@gmail.com to win one of five copies.

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Publisher: 
Evil Eye Concepts, Inc.

Pub Date:
February 26, 2019

ISBN: 
9781948050913

List Price: 
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Dear Reader,

Did your mother hide the cookies? (Mine hid everything sweet and my aunt’s scale lived in the kitchen entryway.) Naturally, food ruled my life. In Waisted, Alice and Daphne harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives. Scales terrify them. But when they’re chosen for a documentary about women and their bodies—an endeavor that promises healing—they instead find themselves in a terrifying lock-down.

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with the subject line ‘I want to win WAISTED’ to win!

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www.randysusanmeyers.com


Buy this book

Publisher:
Atria Books

Pub Date:
May 21, 2019

ISBN:
9781501131387

List Price:
$27.00

 

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