From the Shelf
Many people view January as a time to start fresh and make improvements in their lives. A good way to take steps toward that goal? Pick up some helpful guides to getting to know yourself and adjusting habits, career and relationships to fit your personality better.
Gretchen Rubin--the self-help maven who wrote The Happiness Project--turns her attention to self-knowledge as a path to greater happiness. The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) (Harmony, $24) offers a framework of four types based on how people respond to expectations: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner and Rebel. A quiz helps to identify your type (and that of the people around you) to enable sounder decisions about your life and interactions with others.
Gary Chapman's approach focuses on romantic relationships in The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (Northfield Publishing, $15.99). His quiz identifies how partners give and receive love, with options like quality time, words of affirmation and physical touch. Written more than 25 years ago but recently updated, this eye-opening and insightful book provides guidance to recognize what's important to your partner--and yourself--as a way to deepen and improve relationships.
The enneagram is an ancient system, dating back to the 14th century, with nine different personality types. The Modern Enneagram: Discover Who You Are and Who You Can Be (Althea Press, $15.99) by Kacie Berghoef and Melanie Bell provides an updated and contemporary guide to applying the complex personality typing system in our modern world. This process can lead to greater self-awareness (and perception of others) when navigating the choices in your life. --Suzan L. Jackson, freelance writer and blogger at Book By Book
In this Issue...
by Lauren E. Oakes
When a group of scientists study a rare tree in remote Alaska, they discover it can teach them as much about hope as science.
by Edward Humes
A mother's conviction of murdering her children by arson is reconsidered in this powerful true crime tale that questions the authority of forensic science.
Review by Subjects:
06/17/2019 - 7:00PMThe Sequel to the In The Floyd Archives Comic, a Humor Book Talk & Signing Sarah Boxer is a cartoonist, a contributing writer for The Atlantic, and a critic who writes for The New York Review of Books, The L.A. Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and more. Boxer published her first cartoon in a local Colorado newspaper at age 12. She will discuss and sign Mother May I? ($17.95 IP Books), the sequel to the comic In the Floyd Archives. Mother May I?, a comic...
06/17/2019 - 7:00PMFiction Book Talks & Signings Mark Stevens is currently president of Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America and hosts a regular podcast, The Rocky Mountain Writer, for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. He will present The Legend of Carl Draco ($14.95 Running Meter Press) for Gary Reilly. This book tells the story of a quietly fearless young man whose existence is consumed in ruthlessly dispatching nameless enemies who dog his every move. He doesn't know who these men are, but...
06/17/2019 - 7:00PMForty Seasons of Mountain Living, a Memoir Book Talk & Signing Karen Auvinen is a poet, mountain woman, lifelong westerner, writer, and the author of the memoir Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living. Auvinen will discuss and sign Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living ($17.00 Scribner). Determined to live an independent life on her own terms, Auvinen flees to a primitive cabin in the Rockies to live in solitude as a writer and to embrace all the...
06/18/2019 - 7:00PM“Wonderfully written, full of humanity and heartfelt, a potent antidote to the rising nativism that now engulfs America.” -- Helen Thorpe, award-winning author of The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship and Hope in an American Classroom Join the conversation with Connie Shoemaker, author of Taste the Sweetness Later: Two Muslim Women in America, and Nisren, one of the women featured in the book. Taste the Sweetness Later is the story of Two Muslim women from countries...
06/18/2019 - 7:00PMAn Aunt Dimity Mystery, a Fiction Book Talk & Signing Nancy Atherton is the bestselling, local author of twenty-four Aunt Dimity Mysteries. She will discuss and sign Aunt Dimity and the Heart of Gold ($26.00 Viking), in which a dreary Christmas leads to hidden treasure and new friendships. During Emma's annual Christmas bash, a car appears in the driveway and slides off the slick pavement into a ditch. Tilly, the scatterbrained driver, is unhurt and...
06/19/2019 - 7:00PMThe Vegetarian meets Heathers, a Fiction Book Talk & Signing Mona Awad is the author of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, which won the Colorado Book Award and an Honorable Mention from the Arab American Book Awards. She will discuss and sign Bunny ($26.00 Viking), a darkly funny, seductively strange novel about a lonely graduate student drawn into a clique of rich girls who seem to move and speak as one. Samantha is an outsider in her small...
06/19/2019 - 7:00PMThe New Space Race, a Science Book Talk & Signing Leonard David has been reporting on space science and exploration for more than 50 years. His writing has appeared in the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Private Air, Sky and Telescope, Astronomy, and Aerospace America. He has been a consultant to NASA and other government agencies. David will discuss and sign Moon Rush: The New Space Race ($26.00 National Geographic). In...
06/19/2019 - 7:00PM30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, a Business Book Talk & Signing Author Scott Jeffrey Miller will discuss and sign Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow ($24.99 Franklin Covey). In this book, you'll find 30 leadership challenges, honed by Franklin Covey through years of research that illustrate how to rise when you fall and how to survive and even thrive as an unfiltered leader. ...
06/20/2019 - 7:00PMHow Dying in Prison Saved My Life, a Memoir Book Talk & Signing Author Mark Jackson will discuss and sign Greed. Survival. Redemption.: How Dying in Prison Saved My Life ($19.95 Walden Press). Written behind prison walls, Jackson takes us through his story from a greedy stock market trader making millions of dollars operating a Ponzi scheme to surviving Colorado’s most notorious and violent prisons. Jackson memorialized his prison experiences by writing in a...
06/20/2019 - 7:00PMArt Fraud, Theft, Scandal, Murder, & Revenge, a Historical Fiction Book Talk & Signing B. A. Shapiro is the New York Times bestselling author of The Muralist and the award-winning The Art Forger. Shapiro will discuss and sign The Collector's Apprentice ($15.95 Algonquin Books), a historical art thriller about a woman determined to prove her innocence and recover what was stolen from her family. Accused of helping her fiancé steal her...
06/20/2019 - 7:00PMA Collection of Stories Offering a Glimpse Into the Lives of Black Women, a Graphic Novel Book Talk & Signing Ebony Flowers, award-winning cartoonist and ethnographer, will discuss and sign her debut graphic novel Hot Comb ($22.95 Drawn and Quarterly), which offers a poignant glimpse into black women’s lives and coming-of-age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon while ladies gossip and bond over the burn. Throughout Hot Comb,...
Bustle offered "11 journaling tips for people who are absolutely terrible at keeping a journal."
"A crime reader's guide to the classics: rediscovering the queen(s) of business crime" was featured by CrimeReads.
"Find the cousins." Merriam-Webster challenged amateur lexicographers to "identify the word pairs with a common ancestor."
"This couple had the most magical Harry Potter-themed engagement that was 'riddled' with references," Buzzfeed noted.
CBC Books shared "75 facts you might not know about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and The Little Prince."
Rediscover: Amos Oz
Israeli author Amos Oz, "whose work captured the characters and landscapes of his young nation, and who matured into a leading moral voice and an insistent advocate for peace with the Palestinians," died December 28, the New York Times reported. He was 79. "Among a generation of native Israeli writers that included A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman, Mr. Oz wrote richly in modern Hebrew. The revival of that ancient language was extolled by the founders of the state as a crucial element in forging a new Israeli identity."
His many honors included the Goethe Prize; the French Knight's Cross of the Légion d'Honneur; the Heinrich Heine Prize; and the Israel Prize. He was a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Oz published more than a dozen novels, including My Michael and Black Box, as well as collections of short fiction, works of nonfiction and many essays. His work was translated into more than 35 languages. A Tale of Love and Darkness, Oz's acclaimed memoir, was first published in Hebrew in 2002 and became an international bestseller. His other books include Judas; In the Land of Israel; and Where the Jackals Howl & Other Stories. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published Oz's Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land ($23, 9781328987006) last November 13.
The Writer's Life
Amanda Bouchet: A Galaxy Far, Far Away...
|photo: Richard Beban|
Amanda Bouchet (the Kingmaker Chronicles) writes fantasy and space opera tales filled with adventure and romance. Nightchaser (reviewed below), out now from Sourcebooks Casablanca, finds Captain Tess Bailey and her ragtag spaceship crew running for their lives. Tess's only hope for survival is Shade Ganavan, whose motivations are questionable at best. Bouchet lives in Paris with her family.
Nightchaser is a departure from your earlier, critically acclaimed fantasy novels. What made you choose to write a space opera?
Oddly enough, my intention was to continue writing fantasy, with just the very beginning of the novel taking place in a futuristic setting. I started writing a novel primarily set in Atlantis. This would have continued with the Greek pantheon I used in my Kingmaker Chronicles series, although in a different location, with plans to eventually tie the two series together. This time, however, I wanted the heroine to be truly "other" to the fantasy world in which she found herself. In my first trilogy, the main character is an integral part of her world, a key player, and has a deep understanding of the political, religious and social aspects of her kingdom. I thought it would be interesting to write about someone whose life gets completely upended--a person who needs to fight to understand and be a part of her surroundings, which are totally foreign to her.
Tess, from Nightchaser, was meant to end up in Atlantis, facing the struggle of finding and accepting her new role and home. In the end, though, my agent and editor were so enthusiastic about the opening chapters set in a far distant future with the fate of the galaxy at stake that we decided to set aside the Atlantis idea and enter the world of space opera instead. That meant leaving Tess in a situation she understands, but where she's still facing plenty of difficulties and unknowns. I'm enjoying this new setting and the characters in it immensely.
Did you research scientific space elements for the galactic world you created for Nightchaser? What sources did you find most fascinating and useful?
I think what inspired me to write in an outer space setting to begin with was Cosmos, the science documentary presented in several episodes by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It was fascinating and informative, and I found myself jotting down notes and key words to look up later. I wanted to remember what I was seeing and learning, and had this feeling that I could pull some of that material together later in some creative way if I just kept it in the back of my mind for a while. All those notes piled up as ready-made research when I decided to pursue a story set entirely in a futuristic galaxy. Bouncing off my list of terms, definitions, scientists and scientific notions and discoveries from watching Cosmos, I mainly used Google and Wikipedia to deepen my understanding of anything I wanted to integrate into my story. I read various articles, mainly about black holes, types of stars and dark matter. The information all came together for a greater understanding of the setting of my novel without necessarily getting too technical in my own writing.
Can you tell us about your writing process?
I do love using my imagination. Before I start writing a book, I invent a lot of it in my head. Vivid images or words or action sequences I have swirling around in my mind will turn into entire scenes, complete with dialogue. I usually end up with a handful of fully formed scenes before I ever sit down at the computer, which is where I link them all together with the connecting material that will turn them into a complete book. I guess this is my version of plotting. The dialogue is never quite the same as what I came up with while daydreaming, but it's usually close, and sometimes I'm organized enough to write down key words or phrases to jog my memory for later, when it comes time to write.
Once my imagination is already full of the book I want to write, with the tone, atmosphere, setting, problems, quirks and characters anchored into me from playing out parts of the story in my mind, I start writing and revising.
What's next for you? Will we see another space opera novel?
Yes, definitely! Nightchaser is the first book in a trilogy and will be followed by Starbreaker and Dawnmaker, so I have at least two more space opera adventures coming. The trilogy will follow the same main characters as they attempt to stay one step ahead of both their rebel allies and their imperial enemies while they battle to free the galaxy from a vicious tyrant. --Lois Faye Dyer, writer and reviewer
by Hideo Yokoyama , trans. by Louise Heal Kawai
Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama (Six Four) is an investigative thriller that focuses on the real-life tragedy of Japan Airlines Flight 123, a 1985 crash that left 520 dead, while drawing heavily on the author's experience as a reporter at a local newspaper in Gunma Prefecture after the passenger plane crashed into a nearby mountain range. The novel follows fictional protagonist Kazumasa Yuuki, an experienced reporter at the North Kanto Times in Gunma, as it alternates between the frenzy of the 1985 newsroom and 2003, when Yuuki attempts to climb the famously dangerous Tsuitate rock face on Mount Tanigawa. Nicknamed "Devil's Mountain," Tanigawa claimed 779 lives prior to Yuuki's attempt, and he is understandably nervous.
After the jet crashes, Yuuki moves quickly to coordinate his paper's coverage. Reporters sent to the mountain return shaken by the gruesome site strewn with body parts. Office politics become a major stumbling block in tackling the enormous tragedy, as Yuuki struggles with powerful personalities and factional divides that threaten to paralyze the newsroom. Perhaps Yuuki's greatest challenge in covering the disaster, however, is his strong sense of journalistic ethics, which often puts him at odds with employees of the newspaper operating under the sometimes perverse incentives of for-profit journalism.
Seventeen's most gripping moments come with Yuuki on the verge of enormous scoops, struggling to authenticate information while the deadline comes nail-bitingly close. It is a thoughtful take on the purposes good reportage should serve, as well as a meditation on how brief moments in time can shape the rest of our lives. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Discover: Seventeen is a thriller that alternates between a reporter covering a Japanese plane disaster in 1985 and the same reporter's 2003 attempt to climb a famously dangerous mountain.
The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding
by Jennifer Robson
It's more than a year after the Allies declared victory, and the people of Great Britain are still facing the lingering privations of wartime. Princess Elizabeth's engagement to Prince Philip of Greece gives the citizenry a celebration to look forward to. For the coterie of seamstresses working under London designer Norman Hartnell, it means something else: a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work on Elizabeth's wedding gown.
Novelist Jennifer Robson (Moonlight over Paris) stitches together the story of The Gown through the narratives of two seamstresses: the young Englishwoman Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, a French refugee who becomes Ann's colleague and friend. Woven throughout is the story of Heather Mackenzie, Ann's Canadian granddaughter, who inherits a box of elaborate embroidered flowers after her grandmother's death. Puzzled and intrigued by the flowers, which bear a striking resemblance to those on Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown, Heather hops a plane to London to trace the mystery of her grandmother's life and career.
Robson constructs her narrative with the skill and precision displayed by Ann and Miriam as they work on the gown. All three protagonists are dealing with loss and heartbreak. Ann is still mourning her brother and her parents, who died during the war. Miriam carries the trauma of her family's deaths and her own experiences at Ravensbrück. Heather's grief over losing Ann is compounded by being laid off from her magazine job, and her gradual realization that her beloved "Nan" had an entire life in England that she never shared. Like the gown itself and the tapestries Miriam creates, Robson's novel stitches together disparate components into an elegant whole. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams
Discover: Jennifer Robson's fifth historical novel unfurls the story of Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown and the women who made it.
Come with Me
by Helen Schulman
In Come with Me, Helen Schulman (This Beautiful Life) crafts a story about the desire to cheat the death of possibility. Amy Reed's tech wunderkind boss, Donny, has developed an algorithm that would allow people to explore their "multiverses"--alternative realities in which they made different choices and their lives played out in infinitely varied ways. Relying on a vaguely described combination of data aggregation, math and virtual reality, Donny wants to offer his customers "a personalized crystal ball" that lets them find out "what if." And he wants to beta-test it on Amy.
Amy is intrigued, but barely has the bandwidth for one universe, let alone an infinite number of them. She's keeping her family afloat on a part-time salary while her three sons struggle to thrive in the Stanford-dominated, capital-driven pressure cooker of Palo Alto. Meanwhile, her husband, Dan, an unemployed journalist, is trying to escape his reality in a more conventional way--by following a brilliant, incandescently sexy photographer named Maryam on an impulsive (and secret) reporting trip to Japan.
Overwhelmed and underappreciated, Amy gives in to the seductive pull of finding out what could have been, and what could have been prevented. Told from many shifting perspectives, Come with Me is more illustrative of the dramatically different universes that can exist within just one reality--or one city, or one family--than it is of technology's increasingly expansive role in our lives. It is a sharply observed, entertaining and occasionally heartrending novel that may help readers appreciate their own, singular, similarly flawed realities. --Hannah Calkins, writer and editor in Washington, D.C.
Discover: Set in Silicon Valley--an alternative reality all its own--Come with Me beckons with the alluring but dangerous promise of finding out "what if."
by Amanda Bouchet
Tess Bailey, rebel captain of the spaceship Endeavour, has run out of luck. Facing what she believes is certain destruction by the Dark Watch, she jumps her ship and ragtag crew into a black hole--and survives. The badly damaged craft limps to the nearest docks, at Albion Five, where she finds a handsome and dangerous starship mechanic, Shade Ganavan. Unfortunately, the man has as many secrets as Tess; Shade's primary occupation is bounty hunting, and Tess is the galaxy's most wanted fugitive, with an astronomical price on her head. While patching holes in the Endeavour's outer skin and being charmed by Tess and her crew, Shade struggles to decide if he will help Tess escape or turn her in to the authorities and claim the reward. The attraction between them is undeniable, but when they finally give in to the irresistible pull, betrayal quickly follows. Now Tess is once again running for her life, pursued by both Shade and the most powerful men in the Dark Watch. Will she survive or will luck truly desert her this time?
Amanda Bouchet (the Kingmaker Chronicles) fills Nightchaser with edge-of-the-seat adventure, steamy romance and warm humor. Bouchet's fans will be delighted with this first entry in what promises to be an engrossing trilogy. --Lois Faye Dyer, freelance book reviewer
Discover: Facing the dangers of outer space, two flawed but honorable people fight to save their world and each other.
How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning
by George Lakey
George Lakey (Viking Economics) has been an activist in the U.S. since he was first arrested in 1963 during the civil rights movement. In 1964, he co-wrote the widely influential Manual for Direct Action. The political environment has changed substantially since then. How We Win is a new primer that draws on Lakey's decades of experience and includes contributions from three other seasoned activists.
Lakey offers "movement-building approaches that win major changes rather than small reforms." In clear prose and well-organized chapters, he lays out practical advice on how to set goals, plan strategies, create healthy group dynamics, handle attacks and avoid conflicts with groups working toward similar goals in different ways. He addresses the question of violence, the importance of vision and the value and limitations of social media. Real change, he says, is not accomplished by protests or impulsive actions, but by sustained campaigns that build into movements. "Protests are usually organized to express grief, anger, or plain opposition to an action or policy.... Campaigners, by contrast, plan from the start to do a series of nonviolent actions and continue until the goal is reached." Readers need not agree with Lakey's politics to benefit from his advice. Anyone who hopes to change the world will want to pick up this book. --Sara Catterall
Discover: A clear, practical guide to building effective progressive movements by an activist with more than 50 years of experience.
Burned: A True Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn't
by Edward Humes
Late one April night in 1989, Shirley Robinson opened her door to find neighbor Jo Ann Parks framed by the orange glow of a fire behind her. Parks's converted rental apartment was engulfed in flames; she escaped but her three young children perished in the intense blaze. Fire investigators concluded that Parks set the fire with the intent of killing her children and she was sentenced to life in prison. But was she a monster or the victim of flawed science?
In Burned, Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Humes (Garbology, Monkey Girl) questions Parks's conviction based on flaws in fire science and in the criminal justice system. Arson is "the one criminal act that consumes rather than creates" evidence, and an accidental fire can easily be interpreted as arson. Was the fact that Parks's previous house also caught fire relevant to the investigation? Did investigators ignore the damage caused by flashover, which turns "a fire in a room into a room on fire?" Is "negative corpus," which insists on the cause of a fire when other possibilities have been eliminated, valid even in the absence of physical evidence? Did investigators ignore advances in fire science and draw biased conclusions?
These questions were enough for the California Innocence Project (CIP) to take Parks's case. In 2018, under habeas corpus, Parks and CIP were granted a hearing to challenge the initial investigators' findings as discredited "junk science" that masqueraded for forensic science (but is still widely practiced). Humes shows how the story of Jo Ann Parks wrongful conviction has the power to upend arson investigation as we know it. --Frank Brasile, librarian
Discover: A mother's conviction of murdering her children by arson is reconsidered in this powerful true crime tale that questions the authority of forensic science.
Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots
by Kate Devlin
If the title of Kate Devlin's Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is eye-catching, mission accomplished! Devlin employs a cheeky writing style to discuss the serious academic work for which she is best known: the intersection of robots and human sexuality. Turned On, far from being salacious, covers the history, psychology and philosophical underpinnings of artificial intelligence (AI) as it relates to intimate relationships. "Most of all, it's about being human in a world of machines."
In the 21st century, robots can be purchased at department stores (Roomba vacuums, for example), and AI is ubiquitous (witness Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa). Humans, with a predilection to believe that any "semblance of human-like behavior" indicates a "degree of sentience," often anthropomorphize inanimate objects. If people respond emotionally to a disembodied voice, why not add a body to it? Devlin identifies the challenges and benefits of nonhuman companions as she charts the course from sex toys to humanoid sex robots. Will sex robots with AI be designed only for physical needs, or will emphasis "be placed firmly on interactions and responses"? Throughout her book, Devlin, senior lecturer in the department of computing at Goldsmiths, University of London, introduces people with sex doll fetishes and engineers who built working prototypes of sex robots. Beyond the obvious titillation of her title, she persuasively explores the need for "a serious... conversation about what it means to be human when surrounded by machines that might one day care for us and about us." --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.
Discover: An expert in human-computer interaction explores the fascinating future of sexual companion robots.
Essays & Criticism
by John McPhee
John McPhee was born in 1931, began contributing to the New Yorker in 1963 and is still one of its staff writers. He is also the author of 32 books, all nonfiction. In The Patch, he offers six previously published essays under the heading of "The Sporting Scene," as well as a second section he calls an "album quilt" of excerpts from uncollected longer pieces. "I didn't aim to reprint the whole of anything. Instead I was looking for blocks to add to the quilt, and not without new touches, internal deletions, or changed tenses--trying to make something, not just preserve it, and hoping the result would be engaging to read."
Fishing, football, golf, lacrosse and New Jersey bears are his subjects in the first section, all viewed from characteristically unusual angles, accented by his dry humor and exact turns of phrase. McPhee has a broad curiosity, and a love of natural beauties and fine technical details. In "The Patch," he interweaves his life in fishing--fly fishing for chain pickerel in particular--with the story of his father's death. "The Orange Trapper" tells of his obsession with picking up and interpreting lost golf balls (he does not play golf). The "album quilt" is an effective and carefully composed sampler of nearly everything that has ever interested him and includes many snippets of his celebrity profiles from the 1950s and '60s. His fans will enjoy this collection, and it is not a bad introduction to McPhee's long and stellar career. --Sara Catterall
Discover: This collection offers six of the great nonfiction writer's recent published essays and an "album quilt" of uncollected excerpts that span his career.
The End of the End of the Earth
by Jonathan Franzen
The End of the End of the Earth gathers 16 of acclaimed author Jonathan Franzen's essays into a collection as introspective in tone as it is outward-facing in content. "The Essay in Dark Times," for example, reflects on the genre of the personal essay in an increasingly individualistic and self-destructive moment politically and environmentally. To that end, Franzen considers the fallout of his essay (reproduced later in the collection) that was critical of the Audubon Society, revealing intimate and thoughtful questions of subjectivity, writing and revising.
While Franzen tends to focus on his tender obsession with birding--and by extension the world's pressing environmental concerns--the collection also covers other subjects, like his friendship with author William Vollmann and his reflections on Edith Wharton as a writer and woman. The End of the End of the Earth manages both to incite and soothe as it delves into overlooked topics. Over the course of his career, Franzen has become an expert at burrowing into moments others take for granted, a literary skill that always brings up new insights, concerns and revelations. Even in his engrossing essays on birding in Antarctica, South America and Egypt, he connects large-scale destruction with quiet, personal consideration. These essays celebrate the process of internalizing the outside concern, person or species. In this way, birds are the perfect encapsulation of the collection, rejoicing in their "radical otherness.... They are always among us but never of us." --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor
Discover: In this timely and prescient collection of essays, Franzen offers mature and trained insights on vital topics that often escape our attention.
In Search of the Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World
by Lauren E. Oakes
In the last couple years, dozens of climate change-related books have been published. Some are hopeful, some despairing, some with a more scientific bent and others of a more philosophical nature. Ecologist Lauren E. Oakes's In Search of the Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World combines all of these qualities in a magnificent tale about her hunt for the dying yellow cedar in Alaska's remote wilderness. It's based on Oakes's doctoral research project, how she came up with the topic and how she carried out her research. Such a premise may sound dry, but the scientist's breezy writing style and talent for storytelling makes this one of the most engaging climate-centered reads around.
It's also an enlightening look at how science gets done. The story begins with Oakes pondering which scientific questions to ask and the likelihood that she can answer them. It then focuses on team-building as Oakes interviews a diverse group of scrappy and determined scientists to assist her field research. The ambitious crew embarks for Alaska, where they live for several weeks among some of the world's oldest trees. Oakes gets the data she needs to finish her dissertation, but also learns a compelling lesson: "What I do matters in spite of how seemingly insignificant I am in the face of climate change." Engaging and galvanizing, In Search of the Canary Tree is about more than a rare tree--it's about nature's (and humanity's) capacity for resilience in a changing world. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor
Discover: When a group of scientists study a rare tree in remote Alaska, they discover it can teach them as much about hope as science.
Children's & Young Adult
by Constantine J. Singer
Seventeen-year-old Alex Mata lives an unexciting life in Los Angeles: he likes playing his guitar, tagging walls, skateboarding and hanging out with his friends. When he begins hearing ghostly music and a phantom voice, he is convinced these are signs he may be schizophrenic like his deceased uncle, and keeps them a secret from his parents.
Then, an alien murders Alex's parents in a manner similar to other recent attacks, dubbed Incursions, taking place across the world. The government denies these attacks are happening and, Alex, knowing no one will believe him, flees. Prompted by his inner voice, Alex travels to tech pioneer Jeffrey Sabazios's compound in Seattle; Sabazios believes the Incursions are real and promises security from alien hacking through his Live-Tech earpods and screens. At the compound, Alex discovers that his inner voice and music are connected to something greater: he is a "witness," a person who can move through time and change "human futures." Sabazios plans to use Alex and other teen witnesses at the compound to stop the invasion, sending them to "desired future events" where they can create the best outcome. But Alex grows suspicious of Sabazios's motives: Should he listen to those around him--or the voice in his head?
Singer's imaginative, contemporary sci-fi is perfect for fans of Marie Lu's Warcross or M.T. Anderson's Landscape with Invisible Hand. Readers will find their reality reflected in Singer's diverse cast of characters and in technology that feels authentic for use in the not-so-distant future. --Clarissa Hadge, bookstore manager, Trident Booksellers & Cafe, Boston, Mass.
Discover: After his parents' murder, Alex hones newly found abilities to prevent an alien invasion.
Twilight of the Elves
by Zack Loran Clark , Nick Eliopulos
Twilight of the Elves continues the exploits of best friends Zed, a sorcerer-in-training, and Brock, a merchant's son with a talent for theft. Their friendship has become strained, however, since they were drafted into the Adventurers Guild, the city of Freestone's last line of defense against outside Dangers. Brock is engaged in a smuggling scheme to keep Zed's infernal (and illegal) magic a secret; Zed is plagued by ominous nightmares, but is too frightened to tell Brock. Additionally, Freestone has taken in dozens of elf refugees--the elves are fleeing an army of their own undead friends and relatives, risen and led by a mysterious figure known as the Lich. The Freestoners, strapped for resources, are frustrated with the shantytown and are often hostile to the refugees. Everything collides when the elven Queen Me'Shala asks the Adventurers to free the city of Llethanyl from the Lich and his army of the dead.
Twilight of the Elves, like its predecessor, The Adventurers Guild, is great fun punctuated by increasingly scary dangers. The series continues to tackles deeper issues of inclusion and exclusion: Zed, the son of a human mother and elf father, struggles to belong with either community. And while the elves resent their treatment by the Freestoners, they, too, have a history of prejudice; night elves are viewed with suspicion by the other elven clans. Authors Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos don't preach, but instead set up tense situations and let young readers watch them play out. In the end, though, there is a firm message: "You have to work with others, people who see things differently than you do, in order to overcome life's greatest challenges." --Ali Davis, freelance writer and playwright
Discover: In this sequel to The Adventurers Guild, best friends Zed and Brock must confront a refugee crisis, bigotry and an army of undead elves.
Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote
by Kirsten Gillibrand , illust. by Maira Kalman
In her first book for children, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (Off the Sidelines) shares the history of women's suffrage in the United States, along with the narratives of 10 individuals who fought for equal voting rights.
Gillibrand introduces readers to Susan B. Anthony, who "tried to vote for president and was arrested!" But after her death, when the 19th Amendment was passed, it became known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. The senator acquaints her audience with Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, women born into slavery who both went on to join the voting rights movement, and Alice Paul, who helped organize the first national parade for women's suffrage. Also included is Jovita Idár, a teacher, journalist and founder of the League of Mexican Women, who fought for women's rights and education. Maira Kalman's (Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything) vivid, striking paintings accompany each woman's story, the full-page portraits emphasizing the pioneers' forceful presences in the country's history. Her powerful brushstrokes and eye-catching colors fittingly mirror the actions and spirits of her subjects.
Admiration and respect emanate from the pages of Bold & Brave. Gillibrand covers some women who may already be familiar to her audience, as well as some who are more obscure but equally worthy of recognition. This reminder of valiant women from U.S. history is inspiring and sure to promote interest in voting at an early age. And in a representative democracy, one is never too young to embrace a healthy respect and appreciation for voting. --Jen Forbus, freelancer
Discover: Senator Kristin Gillibrand tells 10 stories of women who shaped the United States through their efforts in the women's suffrage movement.