Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Best Book Bets - 6/25/13

OK, Koontz' Deeply Odd drops today as does Beautiful Day by Hildenbrand but you don't need the Bookie to tell you that. The Bookie is hear to give you the dish on the best of the new releases NOT the most popular. Sometimes they are one in the same, but not usually. Enjoy this new crop of must-reads!

(Random House)
Sisterland  -  Curtis Sittenfeld   
(FICTION/CLOTH) Twins, creepy, am I right? If you're a twin, big sorry but it doesn't make it not true. Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of American Wife and Prep makes these girls psychic wunderkinds who can see other people’s futures. One girl loves this, the other, not so much. They grow up and go there separate ways. After an earthquake the happy psychic sister Vi reports on TV her premonition of any even larger disaster to hit her hometown. Kate,the other sister who just wants normalcy in her life finds her sister’s celebrity making that but a dream. She also knows that her sister’s prediction is right. Haunting at times, humorous at others (how can you write about psychic twins and not be) the novel uses this device as a way of freshening up the distant siblings who need to bury the hatchet scenario.
 
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Cinnamon and Gunpowder  - Eli Brown
(FICTION/CLOTH)  What if a feminist foodie took a stab at writing Treasure Island? This ribald adventure has it all; swashbuckling, romance, banquets… Pirate Missy Mad Hannah kidnaps a renown chef who she toys with by sparing his life as long as she has an exquisite feast each Sunday. It becomes a Master Chef mystery box challenge as the cook has to McGuiver together gourmet meals with what is at hand. For the pirate captain their back and forth is a courtship she hasn’t time for while repressing a mutineer and searching for her nemesis the Brass Fox. A rollicking good read seaside as they ship of well meaning fools bond together. One for all and to every captain a chef! Arrgg! I mean, Bon AppĂ©tit!

(St Martins/Dunne)
Reviver  - Seth Patrick

(FICTION/CLOTH) Here’s a new take on a monster. Revivers can wake the dead but they due so in a most sadistic manner; so that the recently dead only to have them witness there death once again. They are used by law enforcement to have murder victim testify during their own trials. Jonah is a reviver who is sure that he has awakened more than the recently demised. Investigating the recent murder of a news reporter he discovers the truth about his kind and the presence that watches from the shadows. An inventive mash-up of horror and crime drama that is perfect for those fascinated with the whole futuristic crime investigation wave we seem to be in as of late.

(Putnam)
Loyalty  -   Ingrid Thoft   
(FICTION/CLOTH) The bookie always takes a shine to novels set in bean town. Here we have Fina, an all but outcast member of the powerful Ludlow family and empire. She is ostracized from her family but kept on as a P.I. for the many interests of her family’s empire. Her sister-in-law goes missing and she is appointed to get her back without police or the press ever the wiser. Not too easy to do when they as thick as thieves into the abduction and subsequent cover-up. Fina makes for a feisty character and you warm up to her chip on her shoulder quickly. The novel makes for a fun and tense read;  hopefully the beginning of a new Boston crime series.
(Algonquin)
Antonia Lively Breaks The Silence  Davis Samuel Levinson
(FICTION/CLOTH)  When Catherine’s author husband died she had her suspicions as to the true cause. She stays in the college town they once lived together intent on making a new start. An old haunt arrives in town to work at the college, her old flame, a critic who single-handedly destroyed her former husband’s credibility as a serious writer. Old flames ignite but he did not come alone but with a young lady poised to be the next be thing in literature. An unlikely friendship between the two women starts until Catherine realizes the writer’s only intent is to steal the story of her husband’s death for her next novel. A weighty debut filled with an array of desires for fame, purpose and, yes, love.

(Orbit)
The Shambling Guide to New York City  - Mur Lafferty
(FICTION/TRADE)  With all the oh-so-series zombie troupes out on the market its refreshing to find a novel that understands that if you step back for a second, zombies are kinds funny. This is one wacky, good-times zombie novel if there ever was one. Zoe finds herself writing a tour guide of New York for, you guessed it, zombies (didn’t know they read, better than a lot in our community who are dead from the neck up.) Landing the job was no easy feat do to all the human-ists out there prejudicing against her because of her living status and all. She delves deep into the monstrous city finding that her investigation has unearthed a problem that will divide the beasts from the humans once and for all. Run, Zoe, Run as the story unfolds.Even the Litchenstein-esque cover lets you know its a satire of our culture.

(Skyhorse)
Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America -   Leslie Zemeckis 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) No matter what coast you decide to be hip on, you realize that burlesque has come back big time. All the girls who practice the fine art of seductive theatricality are keenly aware of the heritage.  Back in the first half of the last century it was all the rage, a melting pot where our musicians, comedians and starlets would be forged.  While the book is a feat just as an archival work, its real charm is in the heart revealed beneath. Zemeckis loves everything about this art form’s past and resurgence and shared it in an accompanying documentary. The same warmth and adulation shared in the film comes across in book form as well as she presents the word-of-mouth tales of the heyday.
  
(White Cloud)
The Shark's Paintbrush; Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation -  Jay Harman
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) The more scientists discover and brainiacs invent the more they learn that Mother Nature has already beat them hands down. As climates change so do they creating organic modifications honed for survival. Businesses can learn a lot about evolving by such a model and Harmen goes on an exhaustive quest to prove that cost efficiency and ecologically sensitive innovation can be a win-win in business and in nature. Who knew a bumblebee is aerodynamically more advanced than a modern plane? Biomimicry may be the new business buzz word after this.

(Little Brown)
When You Were Here  -   Daisy Whitney
(YOUNG ADULT)  Here’s a powerful novel who’s moral is in a nutshell if you want to move forward after death has touched your life you do it by embracing life. Danny loses his Mom to cancer just before his graduation. He is left alone with his dog Sandy Koufax and the former love of his life. Happiness seems a lifetime away. When a letter comes from Tokyo where his mother was undergoing treatment he is privy to a side of his mother he never knew existed. Her final months appeared to be filled with joy, not grieving. Danny packs up to find the source of her happiness immersing himself in the culture of the land in hopes of connecting with his mother one last time.

(Redhook)
The Universe Versus Alex Woods - Gavin Extence
(YOUNG ADULT) Alex is like the Bizarro version of Ferris Bueller, misfortune seems to follow him. Even at ten he was struck by a meteorite. How’s that for bad luck. In this novel we get to follow this nebbish through a series of misadventures. In Alex experience cohesiveness and chaos go hand in hand and as we follow him on his trek with the seasoned widower Mr. Peterson we learn that to enjoy life you just have to buckle up and forage through to make it count. All this and references to Kurt Vonnegut? We’re on board for the ride.
(Random Hous for YR)
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library  -  Chris Grabenstein
(INDEPENDENT READER) A new town library becomes a labyrinth of clues and puzzles to challenge Kyle and his classmates during a weekend purposely locked inside by the imcomparable puzzlesmith Lemoncello. Kyle is a gamer amongst gamers but nothing compared him for the challenges ahead. This is a  highbred independent reader combing some of the favorite conventions of the classics. Award-winning mystery writer Grabenstein uses Snicket’s humor, Dahl’s glib wordplay and ads the clue structure so popular in the latest serial books to great effect maing the library a place where all adventure begins. A great read, a fun game in itself and, alas, no batteries required!

(Harper Collins)
The Wig In The Window - Kristen Kittscher
(INDEPENDENT READER)  Sophie and Grace are BFFs and PIs; best friends and spying is their game. On night they see a bloody crime at the house of Dr. Awkward from school. They are sure of it, with all that blood! It starts to turn into a junior high Rear Window or Suburbia as they girls suspicions are raised. The doctor was always awkward but now he looked awkward and guilty. Lots of suspicious characters and spooky times lie ahead for these girls. A fun, light-hearted romp for a sum.


 (Philomel)
The Day the Crayons Quit  - Drew Daywalt, illus. Oliver Jeffers
(CHILDRENS)   Do your kids like to color? Of course they do, what child doesn’t? But what would happen if the crayons went on strike! That’s the premise of this cute book of bickering colors and their colorful grievances. Jeffers, gifted children writer on his own (The Moose is with Me, a classic) brings a lot to the book with his simple but humorous illustrations. Sure to have your kids whipping up puns of there own. Follow reading time up with a coloring session and you have a perfectly creative afternoon.
(Disney/Hyperion)
Count The Monkeys -  Mac Barnett, illus. Kevin Cornell
(CHILDREN) Not since 5 monkeys jumped on beds was there as much primate fun (and fear) as in this delightful counting book. Forget about the monkeys count THAT and then THAT; all the things that make the monkeys scatter. Each page is a novel reveal as we rush though the jungle with our furry friends. Filled with many a monkeyshine, just count’m all…1…2…3…4…

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Best Book Bets 6/18/2013

Hope you had a great Dad's Day. Before we dole out the best book picks of the week (and continue to celebrate the year of the Gaiman) we toss up this recommend for the Dads. It has all the makings of a summer of smiles.


(Workman)
Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff: Projects You Can Build for (and With) Your Kids!  - Scott Bedford
Secret Candy Soup Can? Check!  Bunk Bed Communicator? Check! Crocodile Toast Grabber? Check! Be the cool Dad on the block by using this book as your manual. Part Dangerous Books for.. knock-off/ part hipster designer present for his own kiddos, Bedford's book celebrates creativity with scrawling illustrations fueled by an irrepressible imagination presenting straight forward directions for one project after another. Form follows function while at the same time painting well out of the box.

(William Morrow)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane  -  Neil Gaiman   
(FICTION/CLOTH) Its been a while since Mr. Gaiman has addressed the adults in the room. He has been stellar in his efforts in children's literature (The Graveyard Book even won the Newbury Award.) Still the publication of his Anassi Boys seems an age away. If you expect another modern epic of modern folklore a la American Gods you may feel let down when you put the small, just shy of 300 page, novel in your hands. Open the book and read with your eyes and mind wide open and you will discover a far greater gift than cinematic bombast; a subtlety only a gifted storyteller with years of life experience and working his craft hard can offer. The tale of a man who returns to his childhood home to recount the fantastic mystery of his childhood only to do battle with ageless monsters is more an ode to the loss of childhood and the struggle to maintain one's wide-eyed view of the world as we get older is a macabre valentine to the legions who has already been seduced by his words. Here is a man so assured of his literary voice that he can still deliver the goods while whispering.

(Random House)
Transatlantic  - Colum McCann
(FICTION/CLOTH) His Let The Great World Spin won the National Book Award a while back. Where do you go after reaching such lofty heights? How about using the same literary bravado to sketch out the odyssey of an Irish clan that spans two centuries and crosses said great world and manage to do that with an amazing economy of words. Starting with a black farmer fighting a famine, moving on to the friendship forged in the heat of WWI to the war-torn streets of politics as others fight for peace in their homelands. Then their are the women who keep the home fores burning. It becomes a testament to the will of a people. Once books of the year dropped in the fourth quarter in anticipation of holiday sales but in this case for us readers, Christmas has come early.

(TOR)
Sea Change  - S.M. Wheeler

(FICTION/CLOTH) A tale with a kraken that isn't written for children? Count me in. Here is a powerful fantasy that confidently breaks new ground. It reads like the Brothers Grimm wrote Water For Elephants as young Lilly befriends the aquatic beast only to have it captured and taken away to a circus. Her efforts to save her unlikley friend will have her make an unholy bond with a truly wicked witch, a circus master who desires mythical powers all his own, and other sorted individuals that are all fueled by personal desire. All Lilly wants is to save her friend, alas, as we all know by now, there can be power in that asipiration.

(Crown)
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton  -   Elizabeth L. Silver   
(FICTION/CLOTH) What better way to address the pros and cons of capitol punishment that to allow the judge and jury to rest in the hands of the mother of the slain. Noa is found guilty of murder in the First Degree. She is tried in a state that enforces the death penalty so her days are numbered. She has never claimed her innocence in court. Enter Marlene, not only the mother of the murdered girl but an attorney. She wants to represent Noa in an appeal to allow her to tell what really happened the day of her daughter's murder. What follows is the legal journey of two desperate souls seeking answers or at least the solace the truth may offer. The novel is an emotional tug of war as heated as the public's opinion.
(Houghton Mifflin)
The House of Impossible Loves  Cristina Lopez Barrion, trans. Lisa Carter
(FICTION/CLOTH)  Here is a new voice that reads with the confidence of a seasoned storyteller. The women of the Laguna family have been cursed. Each have inherited residency in a romantic hell; each of their tists will end in tragedy and any resulting offspring are fated to be born women so to perpetuate the cycle of misery. Clara, daughter of who the townspeople call The Laguna Witch, may have broken the cycle. After a passionate affair and the resulting cursed female offspring Clara births a son. Is her Santiago a sign that the curse has ended or goes a cruel fate await Clara, her passionate lover, and her young family. Reads like a tale passed down through the ages full of all the quirks of humanity.

(Soho)
In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods  - Matt Bell
(FICTION/TRADE)  Here is an powerful, challenging debut by an author who refuses to limit his imagination in search of the truth of his novel. You might say the book is a meditation on just what constitutes a marriage; childbearing or a couple devoutly sharing this epic called life. Others might say its about a couple who together search for the simpler things in life and thrive to raise a family with results that are confounding and enraging. Still others won't get past the wife's gift of weaving things into being with her voice, a birth all its own. Still others will dwell on the shadow of the bear (a nod to John Irving?) and the mystery of the land the couple tries to forge their family from. Its all of this mischagaz and more. Isn't that the beauty of good writing? 

(St Martins)
The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville -   Clare Mulley 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Christine Granville was a spy. She was a spy who died in a manner one would expect of a spy but that was only after a miraculous career of cloak and dagger living throughout WWII. Never heard of her? That's kind of the point in the spy biz. Her missions spanned the globe making her a true international woman of mystery. Her missions' successes eventually recruited her behind the lines, deep undercover, a woman of Jewish descent in the belly of the Gestapo. I would say that this is the stuff that movies are made of but if you saw her life unfurl on the big screen you would scoff saying that the story lacked believability. Here is her unbelievable life, meticulously researched by a biographer who finds the person behind all the fearless deeds.
  
(Viking)
The Boys In The Boat -  Daniel James Brown
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) We have had a good share of non-fiction accounts of individuals living through the era of WWII that give us a unique take on the time; Laura Hillenbrands's Unbroken most recently, Jeremy Schaap's Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics back in 2007. Here is another tale of Everymen taking a stand in their own indelible style. This tale of triumph is pulled from the journals of the participants. Like the talented Eric Larson, Brown finds the thread connecting the stories and uses a keen narrative style to present the passion that lead to victory as USA defeated the world right under the nose of Adolf Hitler. As fiction is increasingly being weened from school curriculum we need to depend on book's with this strong sense of story such as this to provide student's with an appreciation of good storytelling.


(Little Brown)
Boy Nobody  -   Allen Zadoff
(YOUNG ADULT)  Here a novel that reads like The Bourne Identity for the young readers set. The nobody in question is just an average Joe on campus, nothing to call attention to himself. His real identity is a covert spy infiltrating subjects marked for execution, in mean, unfortunate death by natural causes. He's not the only kid nobody being manipulated by the Big Brother-esque organization know as The Program. Though brain washed the nobody learns that his parents were victims of natural causes and so begins his battle for normalcy and identity. Lots of action to follow fueled by his paranoia as he fights to be somebody.

(HarperTeen)
September Girls - Bennett Madison
(YOUNG ADULT) Don't know if this is recommended because it is a superior coming-of-age novel along the lines of Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Last Picture Show or because the book is named after a song by pop music supergroup Big Star. A bit of both perhaps. Sam is lucky enough to spend a summer at the beach in a town knee deep in gorgeous blondes. Its a male teenagers dream, right? Problem is there is something odd about it all. The girls treat him like a stud. He even starts to fall for one of them, Dee-Dee. He's sure she feels the same but she grows distant as if he is getting too close to something he shouldn't know about, something intrisinctly linked to the sea. Can someone say Ariel?

(Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Kelsey Green, Reading Queen -  Claudia Mills, illus. by Rob Shepperson
(INDEPENDENT READER) An early chapter book about reading as a competitive sport? I'm all in! Kelsey can read like nobody's business but her book worm rep is threatened by the infamous Simon who she thinks is lying about his literary accomplishments. The school has a reading contest and she'll need her non-reading friend Cody and her underachieving BFFs to step up in the reading department if they are going to beat the fabricated achievements of Simon's team. What ever gets you to read works for me.

(S&S/Aladdin)
The Monstore - Tara Lazer, illus. James Burke
(INDEPENDENT READER)  When I was a kid you could order monsters and potions and x-ray glasses from the back of a comic book. Zack has it even better when he discovers a monster 7-Eleven located in the back of a sweet shoppe. Gracie has a sister who needs a little scare. He buys his monster without reading the mouse print on the store's sign: No returns. Monsters are whimsical not scary but the story is more fun than the Monsters Inc. sequel. 
 
(First Second)
Odd Duck  - Cecil Castellucci, illus. Sara Varon
(CHILDRENS)  What child hasn't felt like an odd duck, like, all the time! Theodora is normal in her own wacky little world wear its normal to wear a tea service on your head. One day she meets Chad who has his own wacky sense of normal. Asks the big question, in a world of a thousand different ways to express oneself, who is to say just what normal is. The increasing nonsense that unspools will instill titters and giggles in the little tykes as the two forge a frienship accepting each other as they are. Disclaimer: Not responsible for children wearing gloves on there feet or pizza as a hat but don't worry, its completely normal.

(Dial)
Dragons Love Tacos -  Adam Rubin, illus. Daniel Salmieri
(CHILDREN) If only R.R. Martin knew this one of his chiff-hangers could have been a fiesta! Here is another hit by the authors of the silly Those Darn Squirrels! They love all kinds of tacos and is such fun listing them. They will eat and eat and eat some more. But what goes with tacos? When dragons try salsa as hot as their own fire breath... watch out. Fun premise accompanied by cute illustrations of voracious mythical creatures makes for a book worthy of several encores. Just don't tell the Lannisters!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Best Book Bets - 6/11/13

Thugs called monkey? Monkeys in pirate hats? Ghostly lakes and things that go bump in the dark woods? Unseemly pasts that come back to haunt? BFFs forever throughout it all? Must be the beginning of the summer read season. Enjoy!

(Knopf)
Bad Monkey  -  Carl Hiaasen   
(FICTION/CLOTH) I don’t know how I like Hiaasen best; as the quirky writer of infectious independent readers for teens like Hoot and Flush or the oddball mystery writer with a treasure trove of Florida eccentrics to populate his yarns. Well this month it’s the latter. Just in time to fill my beach bag he comes up with and equally hilarious and suspenseful tale of Miami vice. Near-do-well police officer keeps a frozen arm in his freezer. He believes that if he solves its mystery and the murder he suspects his life will turn around. It’s the best appendage used as a plot driver since Bambi’s baby toe in The Big Lebowski. Yancy follows the leads and an assortment of characters only Hiaasen could dream up until he’s face to face with the bad monkey himself, a deliciously badass criminal. Put on extra sunscreen, you will get lost reading this welcomed beach read.
(Harper)
If You Were Here  - Alafair Burke
(FICTION/CLOTH) A woman saves a teenager from a subway accident and becomes this hour’s heroine. McKenna Wright is working on a feature article on the event when she swears she recognizes the woman on the security video as her long lost friend Susan who disappeared shortly after military service a decade before. Now she has two stories to uncover. What she learns about the mystery woman, her disappearance and why she’s back will have the reporter doubting everything about her life. A riveting tale of a woman lost in a mystery in The Big apple who seeks the truth no matter what the cost.

(Scribner)
The Silver Star  - Jeannette Walls

(FICTION/CLOTH) First came her memoir The Glass Castle, then her fictionalized account of her grandmother’s childhood, Half Broke Horses. The latter lacked the rooted-in-reality impact of her debut. Silver Star however learns how to recapture that desperate rooting for the in peril characters with her young character Bean and her older sister Liz after her flighty mother Charlotte leaves them with barely enough to get by. They wind up at at the run-down mansion of their uncle. Bean loves her sister, her smarts remind her of her mother. They start a life in a new town but eventually the bookish nature of her sister brands her as different. One day something awful happens, of course, because its Wall’s novel and Bean has to come to her sister’s defense. Tough and passionate, this is Walls finally finding her narrative voice.

(Touchstone)
Time Flies -  Claire Cook  
(FICTION/CLOTH) Summer approaches, the plovers are nesting, its time for a cozy summer read and no one out there dolls out the pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps with the help of a friend by your side and smell the sea air better than Cook. Her recipe seems similar, two friends at a crossroads, an emotional train wreck up ahead and further up the road a life lesson learned. The trick is each time out the author finds the uniqueness of her characters and allows them to find there own way. Relating with her characters and following them through their trials is like test runs for ourselves when we get to our own forks in the road. Here Melanie faces divorce, a looming high school reunion and the fantasy of a new start with an old flame. The only thing stopping her is the miles between Atlanta and New England and a fear of the highway. Enter friend by your side… Essential accessory for visiting the shores, sunglasses, sunblock, and this feel-good novel.
(Liveright)
The Last of the Camperdowns  Elizabeth Kelly
(FICTION/CLOTH)  Riddle is living out her summer in Wellfleet, MA as her father runs for office. Her family is well to do and a lot is expected from her to live up to. One day she becomes the witness to a crime that sends her inside herself. The truth of the event could jeopardize her father’s campaign and that reality reinforces her silence. The event becomes fodder for her others who wish ill will upon her family. Only Riddle can set things right if only she could muster the courage. Part thriller, part comedy of manners, you will be pleased to spend the summer with the troubled Camperdowns.

(Medallion)
Cradle Lake  - Ronald Malfi
(FICTION/TRADE)  Its perfect that this is being released in paperback rather than a more dignified cloth bound. I mean that in a good way because this novel has all the promise to be one of those dog-eared, spine curled books pasted down from one reader to the other throughout the summer. Aln and Heather Hammerstun go away to a family home in the Smoky Mountains to heal their marriage. It all starts well. The neighbors are, well, perfect, Stepford perfect. On the far end of their property they find a path adorned with strangely chiseled markers. At the end is a lake that when you immerse yourself into acts like a fountain of youth. Alan considers bringing his troubled wife to the lake, after all what could go wrong? He is warned but the potential of the lake’s restorative powers is overwhelming. Scary stuff here my friends.

(Grand Central)
The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story -   Lily Koppel 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Here’s The Right Stuff for the ladies left behind. When the space race began it was the wives of the Mercury program astronauts who became media starlets. Each became an icon, the Bettys and Veronicas of the American Dream. As years past, reality hit, divorce, depression, death, and scandal haunted them. Only acting as their own support group could they all endure the years after fame faded. It is a story of sisterhood thrush upon an unwitting group of ladies while they languished in the limelight.
  
(Bloomsbury)
The Attacking Ocean; The Past, Present, and Future of the Rising Sea -  Brian Fagan
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) What is it with the ocean? You know you’ve watched the footage day in and day out and asked that question. Here Fagan attempts to answer that question with current, disturbing findings and even more alarming prognostications. The seas have risen but not inordinately so. The oceans are warming contributing to the turmoil but the real reason is we, the people who are so set on overpopulating on its shores. The presentation of his research is an interesting take on a natural drama taking place on our doorstep. It will certainly fuel the debate on both sides when it comes to global warming and the impact of temperature change on the generations to come.

(Henry Holt)
Siege & Storm  -   Leigh Bardugo
(YOUNG ADULT)  aka The Grisha 2, Menaakle boogaloo! Alina is a Sun Summoner, a heritage she fights hard to keep a secret. When the Darkling returns emboldened and with new power she needs to return home and live her legacy. Still the darklings powers are seductive and draw her into its spell. She needs to hold strong for her people if not for her soul. Will love betray her and return her dark? The fate of the world is in the balance. Alina is a great, flawed heroine you nervously root for. And yes, there are pirates of sorts, privateers to be precise, so the novel got that going for it as well.

(Greenwillow)
Dance of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin
(YOUNG ADULT) A teen paranormal romance fueled by the dark prose of Poe? I’m in! This is actually the sequel (and conclusion, no 5 volume series here) of Masque of the Red Dance. When the readers last heard of Araby, her world had been destroyed by death and disease. Now revenge is all she can think about. Revenge best served during a minuet. She will avenge the misdeeds perpetrated against her family and her homeland at the masked ball. The finale turns into an Eyes Wide Shut for the YA crowd. She could die in the process but things need to be made right. Griffen captures the atmospheric gloom Poe so effectively conjured and gives it a modern twist of rebellious spirit in Araby.
(Knopf)
Far Far Away -  Tom McNeal
(INDEPENDENT READER) McNeal, an author already proficient in writing for young adults creates a fresh take on the Grimm fairy tales that have become all-the-vogue as of late. Jeremy has had a tough life. His parents left him to care for his family and he has become ostracized by his hometown of NeverBetter. You see he hears voices, not just any voice but the voice of Jacob Grimm as in Brothers Grimm. With him as his tour guide things could never go well. There is one person who is infatuated by Jeremy’s quirk, the infatuating Ginger. With fair maiden in hand let the fairy tales commence! McNeal’s writing style fits the yarn with clever wordplay and antiquated terms of phrase, just enough not to alienate the less efficient reader.

(Little Brown)
Pi in the Sky - Wendy Mass
(INDEPENDENT READER)  I’m first thinking that we have mixed our math up with our fantasy but save for its nods to quantum physics there is just the right amount of science in the fiction. This spacy tale follows Joss who’s Dad is the Supreme Overlord. He’s the youngest in the clan and so all he lords over is pie delivery. One morning Earth is gone and it becomes Joss’ task to find it. With earthling Annika by his side he can not fail. This easy reader has a lot of Douglas Adams intergalactic wackiness that keeps you grinning when the story gets too pat. Read on and prosper!
 
(Little Brown)
Nighttime Ninja  - Barbara Dacosta, illus. Ed Young
(CHILDRENS)  There are not enough bedtime books for dudes who will not sleep so here you go. Great pictures done with broad strokes tell of the ninja who stalks through the house after everyone else is asleep searching for treasure. It’s a fun adventure that lets the child participate in the suspense.

(Sterling)
Shimmer and Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life -  Jim Arnosky
(CHILDREN) Here is the follow-up to Arnosky's Creep and Flutter and Slither and Crawl (YUKKO!) Now here comes a kinder, gentler catalogue of critters for young ones to marvel at. The detail of the pages created by this award -winning illustrator are impeccable and the variety of animals and scales and textures is dazzling; stingrays, eels, dolphins, jellyfish to the oh-so-popular sharks. To the thrill of the read to many of the pages even fold out. Children will marvel at all the beauty beneath the waves. Who knows, the book might help breed the next Jacque Cousteau!