From the Shelf
Chillers & Thrillers
As Halloween draws near, we have some favorite chillers and thrillers, from board books to YA novels to audiobooks. The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic), debuting in a board book edition, stars a Dachshund named Oscar, teased by his canine peers for his shape, size and bun costume--until he proves to be the perfect foil to a menacing "monster."
Two beginning readers emphasize the treats of friendship: Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook) and Katy Duck's Happy Halloween by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Henry Cole (Simon Spotlight). Don't forget Adam Gidwitz's original spin on the Brothers Grimm, closing with The Grimm Conclusion (Dutton). Another book to keep readers up nights (in the best way) is Guys Read: Thriller, edited by Jon Scieszka (HarperCollins). Candace Fleming uses a real cemetery as a backdrop for her collection of spinetingling tales On the Day I Died (Schwartz & Wade); the audiobook (from Listening Library) would make a sensational soundtrack for a haunted houseparty.
The YA short stories in Monstrous Affections, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (Candlewick), include as many psychological thrillers as situational chillers. Two teenage friends drink down a petrified bat with unnerving results in Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King (Little, Brown). Hitting close to home in the wake of the Ebola virus, Love Is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic) combines spies, intrigue and a deadly pandemic. (These last two are reviewed below.)
Readers can now enjoy Neil Gaiman's Newbery Award–winning The Graveyard Book three ways (all from HarperCollins): the original novel, the audiobook (read by the author) and the new two-volume graphic novel set (adapted by P. Craig Russell). Check out Kevin Nowlan's rendering of the bloody knife that opens Volume 1, and Scott Hampton's climactic scene in the Frobisher Mausoleum in Volume 2. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness
In this Issue...
by Ruth Goodman
A fascinating and well-researched glimpse into Victorian living that will leave you especially grateful for hot showers and fridges full of food.
by Hannah Pittard
A family reconfigures and reconnects after the sudden death of the much-married patriarch.
by A.S. King
High school senior Glory O'Brien accidentally gains the power to see the future and finally confronts the trauma in her past.
Review by Subjects:
From Tattered Cover Book Store
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Books and Movies; Steve Jobs's Recommended Titles
Movie night! Flavorwire compiled "the definitive list of the 50 best films about writers of all time." And Buzzfeed offered "55 thoughts you have when you find out your favorite book will be a movie."
Business Insider showcased "9 books Steve Jobs thought everybody should read," noting that Apple's late co-founder "always tried to be at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts."
Marina Warner, author of Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tales, chose her "top 10 fairytales" for the Guardian.
"A map of Raymond Chandler's fictional L.A. in real-life L.A." was featured by Electric Lit, which noted that writer/historian Kim Cooper collaborated with Herb Lester Associates in the U.K. "to create a comprehensive map of rare points of interest from Raymond Chandler's work."
"The secret emotional lives of 5 punctuation marks" were chronicled by The Week magazine, which noted that punctuation marks "carry feelings, and they express them in subtle ways that are sometimes easy to miss."
Now in Paper: October
Starting at Zero: His Own Story by Jimi Hendrix (Bloomsbury, $17)
Starting at Zero is the story of Jimi Hendrix in the legendary rock guitarist's own words. Compiled from interviews and the lyrical content of his songs by filmmaker Peter Neal, it offers a perspective on Hendrix rarely seen in books about superstars, an intimate portrait that reveals his inner motivations.
Holding on Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore by Linda Leavell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $18)
Linda Leavell's new biography highlights Marianne Moore's eccentricities and her place in the vanguard of modern American poetry. She preceded by three decades the female icons of 20th-century American "modernism," Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. Compared to their edgy profligacy, Moore lived a rather prosaic life but still heralded the end of 19th-century poetry and the dawn of a freer, more vernacular verse.
Mud Season by Ellen Stimson (Countryman, $16.95)
Based on a single bucolic and romantic weekend in Vermont, Stimson and her family relocated from St. Louis to a small town in the Green Mountains. That decision turned Stimson's life upside down. With grit and a self-deprecating sense of humor, however, Stimson and her family learned to live a rural life.
How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit by Witold Rybczynski (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16)
How Architecture Works is a user-friendly tour of the ins and outs of great buildings by a great architectural writer. Rybczynski's voice, honed over nearly 20 books on architecture and related subjects, is eloquent and free of polemics or prejudice. His goal is simply to discover "what makes a building memorable.... Why does this building touch us?"
Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town by Mirta Ojito (Beacon Press, $18)
A Pulitzer-winning reporter turns her attention to a small-town hate crime and reveals the essence of country's immigration dispute. Hunting Season is a first-rate study of prejudice and institutional indifference. With thorough research and tight prose, Ojito asks how Patchogue, a city built by Italian immigrants, could become such a hotbed of intolerance, fear and hate.
1913: The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies, trans. by Shaun Whiteside, Jamie Lee Searle (Melville House, $16.95)
Florian Illies's 1913: The Year Before the Storm is an astonishingly rich cultural portrait of Europe just before World War I. It animates the personal and creative lives of the era's avant-garde--from Picasso and Gertrude Stein to Freud, Jung and D.H. Lawrence--while untangling the intricate webs connecting them, all in the guise of a collection of miniatures.
Jack London: An American Life by Earle Labor (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16)
After a hardscrabble youth, London (1876-1916) lived a hobo's life, worked on a schooner, then attended UC Berkeley briefly before heading off to the Klondike Gold Rush. These experiences laid the foundation for his fierce socialist outlook on life. He read voraciously and committed himself to writing 1,000 words a day, six days a week, work that eventually influenced Hemingway, Steinbeck and Kerouac.
Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins (Random House, $16)
Billy Collins's gift--a rare one--is taking the everyday and turning it like a prism, holding it up to the light to reveal its different facets. Aimless Love, a compilation of new and selected poems, is laced with Collins's signature whimsy and depth, exploring ordinary moments and touching on themes playful and profound.
The Hotel Oneira by August Kleinzahler (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $15)
Influenced by the Beats and jazz, his poetry has always been rough around the edges, off-color, loose stylistically but direct and honest. The Hotel Oneira shows Kleinzahler's age: it's more reflective, more conscious of time. There's a wistfulness here, a trace of the bittersweet, placidity. Life now is "ardent but fitful."
Vintage Attraction by Charles Blackstone (Pegasus, $14.95)
Bottoms up! There's no way to read Charles Blackstone's debut novel, Vintage Attraction, with its scrumptiously crafted details about the ins and outs of wine tasting, without craving a glass of fine vino and a hunk of aged cheese. Clearly, Vintage Attraction proves the maxim that "in wine there's truth."
The Sisters Weiss by Naomi Ragen (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99)
The Sisters Weiss is a sensitive look at a painful dilemma: the agonizing choice between freedom and family, between loneliness and an often stifling community, between a world of opportunity and a rich but demanding heritage. It is a fascinating portrait of Orthodox Jewish life in New York City, and the effects of one daughter's rebellion on her family.
The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna (Grove, $15)
An English family moving into a small Croatian village awakens long-buried anger and secrets from the town's wartime past in this slow-fuse, suspenseful masterpiece. This is literature with a punch, a perfectly contrived artifice examining unhealed festering wounds, in which Forna takes the Croatian nightmare and brings it to life as her own.
The Last Animal by Abby Geni (Counterpoint, $15.95)
The Last Animal is the rare short story collection that's as coherent and powerful as a well-constructed novel. Although each story stands on its own, as an ensemble, their brilliance becomes apparent. They build quietly on one another, examining the same dark little corners of the human experience from vastly different angles.
Starry Night: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, $5.99)
Chicago newspaper columnist Carrie Slayton longs to write "real" news, but is having trouble breaking out of the society page. Fed up with her job, Carrie gives notice. Then her editor offers her an amazing challenge: if she can interview the reclusive Finn Dalton--author of a bestselling survival handbook--he'll let her have any job she wants.
The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent (Back Bay, $16)
With The Outcasts, Kathleen Kent moves away from the New England setting of her first two novels in favor of 1870s Texas. As Lucinda Carter plots with her lover to run away from the brothel where she works, pursuing rumors of hidden gold, lawman Nate Cannon joins forces with two Texas Rangers to track down one of the worst serial killers the state has known.
by Hannah Pittard
Three ex-wives, one widow and four sets of children ranging from in age from six years old to nearly 40 are called together by the sudden death of their common husband and father in Hannah Pittard's second novel, Reunion.
Kate is the youngest of the three children of Stan Pulaski's late first wife. Deeply in debt and desperate to save her marriage, she is en route to Chicago to attempt the latter when she learns that her father has killed himself. Her brother and sister insist that she meet them back in their hometown of Atlanta to deal with the aftermath, so Kate heads back to the city--and the extended family--that she has avoided for years. Kate's resentment of her father's philandering and dishonesty has long kept her at a distance, but what unfolds over several days with her oldest and youngest siblings will force her to face just how much like Stan she really is.
Pittard (The Fates Will Find Their Way) takes a risk by making self-absorbed, often-oblivious, admittedly dishonest Kate Reunion's narrator; Kate's narrow perspective limits the development of other, potentially more engaging characters and their stories. However, Pittard is working with a fertile premise here--a family's discovery of one another's secrets following the death of its patriarch--that bears some unexpected and affecting fruit. The framework feels reminiscent of Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You, but the messy blending of Pittard's Pulaski clan gives a familiar construction some very particular complications. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's Blog: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness
Discover: A family reconfigures and reconnects after the sudden death of the much-married patriarch.
by Colm Tóibín
Irish novelist Colm Tóibín (Brooklyn; The Testament of Mary) captures the social tumult of late-'60s Ireland in Nora Webster, but the eponymous heroine's story is age-old and resonant. She's a young widow facing single motherhood in a fishbowl of a small town, struggling to forge a new life despite sympathetic but judgmental family and friends.
Nora's husband, Maurice, was beloved by all, a teacher and community leader who rescued her from a stifling family and reliably supported her and their four children. She is just 40 when he dies after a long illness, and "the problem for her was that she was on her own now and she had no idea how to live." Her girls are away at school, but her two young sons rely on her love and care. Helpful friends and relatives consistently insinuate themselves into her days. When she is invited to interview for an office job, she wonders who orchestrated it.
The children, her work and peaceful evenings satisfy Nora, but she does love music, something she and Maurice did not share. She joins the Gramophone Society and accepts an offer of singing lessons. As she embraces experiences she has created for herself, she acknowledges her strong will and comes into her own. The Troubles erupt, a union comes to town, her children grow into young adults, and Nora handles it all with quiet grace. Tóibín's protagonist is resilient and good but never ingratiating, admirable for her self-respect. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco
Discover: A strong young Irish widow crafts her own life in a small town.
Ticket to Childhood
by Nguyen Nhat Anh , trans. by Will Naythons
Nguyen Nhat Anh's Ticket to Childhood, deftly translated by William Naythons, provides a compelling if conflicted portrait of modern-day Vietnam. As a parable "aimed at adults who were children once," the novel describes many quixotic attempts by a group of eight-year-olds to "revolutionize" their world. They rename common objects (a notebook becomes a hat, a dog turns into a banana, feet means mouth), hold mock trials of their parents and raise feral dogs as household pets. These adventures often end in parental discipline verging on abuse. In the episode involving dog training, one alcoholic parent winds up with a sumptuous canine feast.
Inspired by Robert Rojdesvensky's poem "A Town from Childhood," the novel wistfully explores the divide between expression (childhood) and censorship (adulthood). The poetic reference is telling: Rojdesvensky spoke against social realism during the Khrushchev Thaw in the 1950s, but later became an active mouthpiece for the Soviet government. Similarly, Anh's criticism of the Vietnamese government reflects a semblance of glasnost. While using allegory to voice his political dissatisfaction, Anh downplays its impact by suggesting that restless citizens are nothing but pampered children: "Children have blind spots. They take parental love for granted. The kids who complain the loudest are often the ones who are loved the best. It takes a certain security to be critical."
While Ticket to Childhood was popular in Vietnam when it was published in 2008, Anh is circumspect about its debut in the U.S. He need not worry. His acrobatic wit, even his political ambiguity, will generate many trenchant discussions. --Thuy Dinh, editor, Da Mau magazine
Discover: A startlingly vivid portrait of 21st-century Vietnam and its growing pains.
The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.
by Gina B. Nahai
A substantial Iranian-Jewish community grew in Los Angeles in the wake of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, leading to a daily battle between old-country culture and American ways, a common occurrence in the city where most everyone comes from somewhere else. In The Luminous Heart of Jonah S., Gina B. Nahai (Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith) explores the complicated forces holding this exile community together, sometimes in spite of itself.
Some immigrants reinvent themselves in a new country, while others remain close to their roots. The Soleymans have done both. By the time the revolution forces Elizabeth Soleyman and her daughter Angela to escape Tehran, the young mother has lost nearly everything imaginable: parents, siblings, her husband, Aaron, daughter Noor and their home. Thanks to connections in the U.S. and her own startling intellect, Elizabeth rises to the top of Los Angeles's Iranian-Jewish community. Soon, though, a man whose unlikely claim to be her late husband's nephew and heir--a claim that has long been denied by the Soleymans--brings his mother's mission to destroy Elizabeth and her family from the old country to the new, never foreseeing that the "curse of the widow's sigh" might take him down as well.
Nahai has crafted an engaging combination of family saga and murder mystery, placed it in the framework of a relatively unknown subculture, and peopled it with fascinating characters. Flavored with both elements of magical realism and down-to-earth observations, The Luminous Heart of Jonah S. brings a little-known Los Angeles community to vivid life. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's Blog: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness
Discover: The effects of a family feud and a quest for revenge on a close-knit community across decades and continents.
Mystery & Thriller
The Forgotten Girl
by David Bell
David Bell (Cemetery Girl; Never Come Back) offers up another gripping thriller with The Forgotten Girl, which describes a desperate few weeks in the life of Jason Danvers. Five years earlier, Jason reluctantly moved back to Ednaville, Ohio, with his wife after he got laid off in New York. Jason and Nora have been leading an uneventful, small-town life until Jason's sister, Hayden, turns up unexpectedly. When Jason last saw Hayden, she was struggling with alcohol addiction, so he's suspicious of her intentions.
Now sober, Hayden asks Jason and Nora to watch her teenage daughter, Sierra, for two days; she doesn't explain why, just says she needs a little time. Jason and Nora hesitantly agree, but two days pass, and Hayden doesn't return. Soon, Sierra disappears, too, and then a body is found in the woods outside of town. Jason must confront Hayden's past and hunt down her high-school drinking buddies in an attempt to find his missing sister and niece.
The Forgotten Girl is not a fast-paced thriller; it's a completely believable chronicle of a family's stress and fear when loved ones go missing. From a prosaic beginning, though, Bell slowly and steadily increases the tension as the secrets in Hayden's life (and possible death) multiply. These events seem like they could happen to anyone--particularly anyone from a small town--and that edginess will keep readers turning the pages. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm
Discover: A man and his teenage niece search for a woman who disappeared in small-town Ohio--his sister.
Sons of Sparta
by Jeffrey Siger
Sons of Sparta, the sixth book in the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series by Jeffrey Siger, focuses on Detective Yianni Kouros, scion of an infamous Greek crime family on the Mani Peninsula. The Maniots, rumored descendants of Spartan warriors, have carried on Spartan traditions of violence in their isolated corner of the Peloponnese.
Kouros's uncle is retired from his days as a crime boss, but has recently received death threats. He urges Kouros to come home, investigate the threats and prevent his cousins from continuing the cyclical vendettas that have left many members of their family dead. Before Kouros can do anything, Uncle is killed, and Uncle's daughter, Calliope, cries for her brothers to exact vengeance on their father's killer. Kouros must bring Uncle's killer to justice quickly to prevent the spread of familial reparations.
Back in Athens, Kaldis is investigating government corruption at the highest level. To their surprise, Kaldis and Kouros discover a connection between the death of Uncle and the government conspiracy, which forces them to collaborate to unravel the secrets of the Mani.
Surprisingly funny, Sons of Sparta is a raunchy romp that will leave readers chuckling at the antics of the two irreverent detectives. Thanks to his family connections, Kouros easily navigates the dark waters of Mani society, but confident Kaldis demonstrates equal ease among both gangsters and government officials. Larger-than-life characters, an intriguing setting and plenty of twists make Sons of Sparta an irresistible mystery. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm
Discover: Government corruption and murder on the Peloponnesian peninsula in an entertaining Greek mystery.
Food & Wine
The Brewer's Tale: A History of the World According to Beer
by William Bostwick
In The Brewer's Tale, homebrewer William Bostwick (Beer Craft) examines beer in history and the history in beer, brewing as he goes.
Bostwick follows the progression of human history, starting with primitive Mesopotamian bread and its immediate companion (rudimentary ale) and moving through the early European shamans who used beer (sometimes laced with hallucinogens) in their practices to the monks whose influence persists in abbey and Trappist ales. He visits the farmer who brewed with his leftover produce, and members of the London working class who passionately consumed the porters that were named after them. With each stop on this tour, Bostwick gives equal play to the past and to characters who maintain or rejuvenate these historic styles. He also attempts his own brews, with mixed results. Through grogs and meads; farmhouse ales like lambics, sours and saisons; porters, stouts and pales; and finally light (and lite) lagers, The Brewer's Tale reminds us that beer is not only the stuff of frat parties or snifter-poured snobbery; it can be experimental, fresh and fun, and has always been at the heart of the human experience.
Bostwick runs a little heavy on symbolism, but his subject is heady and intoxicating, so why not the metaphor as well? The initiate will be well served, but even a well-read beer geek can be excited anew by these reflections, and the homebrewer may well be inspired to fresh projects. The Brewer's Tale is history, a joyful celebration and a call to appetizing action in an easygoing, conversational tone. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia
Discover: The influence of beer in history, and the more and less delicious forms it's taken along the way.
How to Be a Victorian
by Ruth Goodman
In the impressively researched How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life, historian and BBC documentary star Ruth Goodman (Victorian Farm) outlines everyday life for both working-class and middle-class Victorians in Great Britain in a period of great social and economic change.
Goodman immerses herself in Victorian culture as a guinea pig to report the results of "dry washing" her body without water for months (surprisingly effective), lacing herself into corsets (supportive yet annoying) and washing her face with crushed elderflowers (very refreshing). She covers the dichotomy of the Victorian family unit, the conditions in which people cooked and slept, the fashions of the era and the subtle techniques necessary to advertise feminine-hygiene products. All of her findings on life in the 1800s are nothing short of engrossing, though some readers may be saddened or shocked by a few common practices, particularly the harsh discipline of schoolchildren and the doctor-endorsed drugging of babies all day long so their mothers could go to work.
In providing a thorough account of this era, Goodman doesn't sugarcoat the widespread hunger and poverty. Pulling source material from surviving journal accounts, she shares the hardships many people experienced along with the more charming elements such as luncheon menus of the upper class. Allow Goodman's book to transport you back to this time and you'll have a renewed appreciation for indoor plumbing and microwaves. --Natalie Papailiou, author of blog MILF: Mother I'd Like to Friend
Discover: A fascinating and well-researched glimpse into Victorian living that will leave you especially grateful for hot showers and fridges full of food.
Current Events & Issues
Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights
by Katha Pollitt
In the United States, much of the discussion of abortion frames an embryo as a person and a woman as a place for a person to grow, pushing women out of the debate. In Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, Katha Pollitt shifts the focus of the discussion away from embryos and back to women.
Pollitt makes clear she is not engaging in a debate about whether abortion should be legal. Instead, she operates from the premise that abortion is--and has been for thousands of years--a common part of a woman's reproductive health. She argues that the abortion debate is a vehicle to control women, largely because many people in this society do not value women. In a country that so fiercely rallies to cries of freedom, choice and government non-interference, many people work to undermine this when it applies to women.
Exploring the beliefs people who identify as "pro-life" have about abortion, which she sees as illogical and frequently contradictory, Pollitt argues that such groups use tactics of fear and misinformation, often stooping to lie outright to women about the procedure, such as claiming that women who have abortions will die of breast cancer. For readers who have been uncertain of their position, this book may help them see through the diatribes surrounding the subject that have obscured the real issues and realize that they support access to abortion. --Justus Joseph, bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company
Discover: In this discussion of abortion, women are at the center of the debate, giving them a voice on an issue that affects them more than anyone.
Essays & Criticism
The Best American Essays 2014
by John Jeremiah Sullivan, editor
In his foreword, longtime Best American Essays series editor Robert Atwan describes the 2014 collection as "impressively diverse... intense, intellectual, and inventive." In his introduction, editor John Jeremiah Sullivan (author of Pulphead, which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award) doesn't comment on individual essays but instead offers up a brief history of the essay, and notes that the form continues to flourish, which is evident from the 21 sterling selections here.
The joy of essays is that they sometimes teach us about the oddest things, as in Wendy Brenner's humorous "Strange Beads," about her passion for bidding on vintage/costume jewelry from eBay seller Bergbay310. These lessons are sometimes serious; in Leslie Jamison's "The Devil's Bait" we learn about the mysterious riddle of Morgellons disease, the key symptom of which is fibers emerging from the skin.
Some pieces are disquieting: Chris Offutt's powerful "Someone Else" deals with his childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a "fatman" and the long-term psychological and emotional effects it had upon him. Kristin Dombek's "Letter from Williamsburg" delves deeply--in few pages--into her conflicted notions of religion, God and sex and the moment she figuratively threw herself "off a cliff into an empty space."
Others strike a less dramatic note. Zadie Smith's "Joy" tries to come to grips with the subtle difference between pleasure and joy. Paul West hilariously writes about a "heroic art form": "On Being Introduced." This sumptuous collection shows us the magic a fine essay--a "loose sally of the mind," as Samuel Johnson described it--can achieve. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher
Discover: This year's finest essays, diverse in subject matter, each one surprising and elegant.
Children's & Young Adult
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
by A.S. King
In Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, A.S. King (Reality Boy) turns her piercing gaze on consumerism and feminism, as well as family secrets and depression.
Two high school seniors in a rural town find a petrified bat. When it crumbles to dust, Glory and Ellie mix it with beer and drink it down. The next morning, they wake up to find they can see the past and future of anyone they look at. Glory's mother killed herself when Glory was very young, and Glory and her father have never talked about it. As graduation nears, Glory and Ellie grow farther apart, and Glory is plagued by fears that she'll end up just like her mother. Then she finds her mother's journals, and everything changes. As she begins to understand her mother's depression, Glory also starts to understand herself. She watches Ellie throw herself at one boy after another, and examines the expectations society sets for teenage girls. As the secrets buried in her parents' past come to light, the confusions of Glory's current life begin to clear up. But Glory foresees a grim future in which women are not only banned from working, but kidnapped and controlled by a crazed rogue government.
The chapters alternate between daily life and troubled future, despair and humor, rage and acceptance. King skillfully weaves together two novels: one about a girl struggling to come to terms with her mother's suicide, and another about a future, war-torn America. Glory's ability to see a future, any future, is what ultimately helps her heal. --Jenn Northington, events manager at WORD bookstore
Discover: High school senior Glory O'Brien accidentally gains the power to see the future and finally confronts the trauma in her past.
Love Is the Drug
by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Alaya Dawn Johnson (The Summer Prince) fills her modern-day thriller with spies, intrigue and a deadly pandemic, all filtered through the eyes of a teen who's growing resentful of her mother's oppressive attempts to control her life.
After eight days in a coma, 17-year-old Emily Bird wakes up in a hospital room. Washington, D.C., is in a panic over a serious new strain of flu, released by terrorists. Tanks patrol the streets and quarantines are in place. Emily has vague memories of being drugged at a party and taken away for questioning. She has no idea what her abductors wanted. But her parents are involved, as well as the CIA and a drug company so secretive that her mere mention of its name led her into this mess.
She begins calling herself Bird, questioning who she is and how she will lead her life. Once she was good-girl Emily, who studied hard and whose biggest act of rebellion was choosing Stanford over Yale. Now she questions not only her mother's choices for her, but also why Bird feels a need to fulfill them. With the help of the drug-dealing son of a Brazilian diplomat, Bird investigates what power she may have, both in her struggles with her mother and in the bigger challenge of a Washington under siege.
This fast-moving, compelling novel is complex and smoothly written. Johnson successfully balances issues of race and social responsibility alongside the more personal concerns of a young woman verging on adulthood. --Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
Discover: This ambitious novel combines the intrigue of an out-of-control pandemic with one teen's struggle for independence from her overbearing mother.