Hachette Library – Starred Reviews

Starred Reviews

New and Upcoming Releases that Have Received Acclaim!

★ THE STOLEN WEALTH OF SLAVERY : A Case for Reparations

By: David Montero

Booklist – Starred Review

Montero (Kickback, 2018), who has produced episodes for PBS’ FRONTLINE and reported for the Nation and the Christian Science Monitor, presents an unsparing account of the untold billions of dollars, ill-gotten over centuries from the labors of American enslaved people, that made their way from southern plantations to major financial institutions in the North. The huge profits made in shipping goods from the South to New York to England were then pumped back into the expansion of the slave-based agrarian system in the South, the financing of America’s industrial revolution, a surprisingly robust and organized resistance to the abolitionist movement‘s efforts to end slavery in the nineteenth century, and the creation of some of the largest multinational corporations of the twenty-first century, including Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers. Montero’s fulsome investigation limns the deep and multiple connections between southern plantations and northern boardrooms, while also citing current research into the topic as well as public acknowledgements and apologies by some entities, like Lloyd’s of London, over their historic connections to the slave trade. A book both appalling for
what it reveals of America’s deliberately hidden past and hopeful for the light now being thrown on the issue.

Legacy Lit: February 6, 2024; ISBN: 9780306827174, Hardcover

★ ORDINARY HUMAN FAILINGS

By: Megan Nolan

Booklist – Starred Review

The death of a toddler is an extraordinary loss, made even more so when it comes at the hands of another child. Such is the case when three-year-old Mia disappears from a playgroup in the company of 10-year-old Lucy Green. The suspicion around Lucy is heightened by the precarious nature of her family’s standing in the shabby London neighborhood, having just relocated from a small Irish village under scandalous circumstances. It’s a helluva story, one that tabloid journalist Tom Hargreaves hopes to exploit to jump-start his career. Sequestering the family at a meager hotel, Tom ingratiates himself as a sympathetic ear to Carmel, Lucy’s forlorn teenage mother, and an eager drinking buddy to Carmel’s brother and father, Richie and John. While troubled little Lucy lingers in police custody, Hargreaves extracts the family’s tales of unrequited romance, unrealized ambitions, and unimaginable betrayal, hoping to stoke the UK media’s penchant for nationalist outrage and seamy innuendo. Pathetic Carmel, depleted Richie, defeated John—really, Carmel asks, “who would care about a family like theirs?” Nolan’s readers, that’s who. Through her skillful exploration of the burdens imposed by inertia and inadequacy, Nolan illuminates the link to tragedies both commonplace and exceptional.

Little, Brown & Company: February 6, 2024; ISBN: 9780316567787, Hardcover

★ A LOVE SONG FOR RICKI WILDE

By: Tia Williams

Library Journal – Starred Review

Ricki Wilde’s inability to fit in with her rich, insipid family has made her doubt her ability to connect with others. Disinterested in the family business, she has a chance encounter that spurs her to move to Harlem and pursue her passion for all things floral. Not long after her arrival, she meets Ezra Walker, a reclusive musician whose talent is his primary tether to a world that has caused him much pain. Ezra and Ricki’s shared attraction is immediate, so his strong reluctance to get to know her is mystifying. Being together requires them to navigate obstacles larger and less straightforward than their past hurts. However, Ricki and Ezra’s found families provide them with the type of support and acceptance their biological families are unable or unwilling to provide. Williams’s (Seven Days in June) novel is both a love letter to Harlem and a recognition of its history that gentrification cannot erase.

VERDICT This fantastical novel, in which the past and present collide in unusual ways, is sure to be popular where romance, African American fiction, and relationship fiction circulate well; highly recommended for all libraries.

Grand Central Publishing: February 6, 2024; ISBN: 9781538726709, Hardcover

★ A FLAME IN THE NORTH

By: Lilith Saintcrow

Library Journal – Starred Review

Solveig is the eldest daughter of her clan’s leader, as well as a powerful elemental magic wielder and seer known as a volva. During a midwinter festival, Solveig uses her powers to relight the village fires, but her family are noticeably absent. When her father and brother return late, she discovers that it’s because Bjorn, her impulsive and headstrong brother, killed a visiting Northerner for some perceived offense. In recompense, the Northerners require a wergild—an exchange to come with the Northerners for one year and a day, with Solveig fulfilling the pact. And so Solveig and her shieldmaiden, Arneior, begin their journey with the Northerners. They have their strength and honor tested as they find themselves embroiled in conflict with an enemy long thought a legend, fighting alongside fae-like Elders and skin-changers.

VERDICT Saintcrow (The Salt-Black Tree) steps away from her usual urban fantasy with this epic Norse-inspired fantasy, emulating the writing style of traditional epic poems and tales with fantastic attention to detail. Recommend to readers who enjoy the high-fantasy writing style of authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and those who appreciate Norse mythology.

Orbit: February 13, 2024; ISBN: 9780316440332, Paperback

★ THE HAMMER: Power, Inequality, and the Struggle for the Soul of Labor

By: Hamilton

Library Journal – Starred Review

Over the past few years, a wave of high-profile trade union actions in the United States has brought labor organizing to the forefront of the collective consciousness of the nation. Journalist Nolan, in his first book, offers a new and fresh perspective on the recent evolution of labor movements in the United States. In largely separate but thematically overlapping chapters, the book alternates between unraveling the histories of large and small unions across the country and following Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (an affiliate of the AFL-CIO), as she rises through the ranks of her union and navigates political obstacles. This important book shows how unions in a wide range of industries can utilize their inherent power and explores the complicated and necessary relationship between labor and politics, encouraging readers to examine how one affects the other.

VERDICT Well researched and reported, with a propulsive storytelling style. Nolan’s outstanding book will interest readers who follow news about equality efforts but might not be familiar with the complex world of labor organizing.

Hachette: February 13, 2024; ISBN: 9780306830921, Hardcover

★ TRUE BELIEVER: Hubert Humphrey’s Quest for a More Just America

By: James Traub

Booklist – Starred Review

Journalist Traub offers a complete account of Hubert Humphrey’s life and times, nearly in the mode of Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson, though in one volume. Humphrey’s parents, marriage to Muriel, and early life in South Dakota before he and Muriel moved to Minnesota instilled in him compassion and liberalism. These traits shaped his political career as
mayor of Minneapolis, U.S. senator, Lyndon Johnson’s vice-president, and senator again after losing the 1968 presidential election. Traub brings every detail to life, from South Dakota dust storms to the stale, cigarette-filled summer air at the 1948 Democratic convention in Philadelphia, where Humphrey’s networking and passionate speech moved the Democratic Party ahead in the struggle for civil rights. Traub frankly describes Humphrey’s liabilities: his verbosity, support for the Vietnam War, and compromises after Johnson’s many humiliations. Yet Traub also reveals that, despite Johnson’s bullying when they served in the Senate, Humphrey learned Johnson’s legislative wizardry and pushed much of the civil rights legislation that is credited to Johnson through Congress. Humphrey, not Kennedy, introduced the legislation to create the
Peace Corps. This corrective, vivid biography expands readers’ knowledge of Humphrey and chronicles how hard work and idealism can make things better.

Basic Books: February 13, 2024; ISBN: 9781541619579, Hardcover

★ THE OTHER FAB FOUR: The Remarkable True Story of the Liverbirds, Britain’s First Female Rock Band

By: Mary McGlory / Sylvia Saunders

Library Journal – Starred Review

The musical crucible that was Liverpool in the 1960s produced a four-piece band called the Liverbirds (pronounced “lie-ver birds”), one of the first all-women rock bands in the world. In alternating chapters, McGlory and Saunders—the band’s two surviving members—tell amazing and touching stories about growing up in postwar England, the club scene of the early 1960s, and their experiences at Beatles gigs. They played the Cavern Club, opened for and befriended the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, and eventually played a run of shows at the famous Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. Their time in Hamburg is the focus of the book, as the city became the home base for their touring career and personal lives. There are numerous tales of love affairs and adventures within and outside the music scene. The Liverbirds disbanded in 1968, after marriages, pregnancies, and tragedies. Afterward, they got jobs (in and out of music), raised families, and reunited briefly in 1998. Their story spawned the 2019 British musical Girls Don’t Play Guitars, and there’s a documentary film on the horizon.

VERDICT A fascinating and tender look at the Liverbirds and their extraordinary lives.

Grand Central Publishing: March 12, 2024; ISBN: 9781538739969, Hardcover

★ THE SOUL OF GIFT WRAPPING

By: Megumi Lorna Inouye

Library Journal – Starred Review

Many people dread wrapping presents for various reasons, but gift wrapping and packaging artist Inouye provides an alternative way to do it. Her book has three core parts—”Inspiration,” “Preparation,” and “Creation”—that are well thought out and flow together in the same way a novel would. The “Inspiration” section is a collection of her true stories about gift wrapping, and each is designed to prep people to embrace the concept of becoming intentional about how and why to wrap gifts. It’s an inspirational title that includes step-by-step directions, including origami techniques, with pictures for various shaped gifts or materials. None of her projects need tape. Some readers may get overwhelmed with the extra steps involved in wrapping, but that’s balanced with gentle and encouraging reminders that the wrapping is part of the fun of giving. She also gives environmentally friendly recommendations to reuse items that can be found around the home.

VERDICT A mindful option that takes back the commercialism in gift giving and makes it a personal experience again. These ideas will fit everyone’s budget, and the book is sure to be a joyful experience.

Storey Publishing: April 2, 2024; ISBN: 9781635865547, Hardcover

★ THE CEMETERY OF UNTOLD STORIES

By: Julia Alvarez

Kirkus – Starred Review

When a novelist decides to retire, she builds a cemetery for the stories she has never finished telling. Alma Cruz has had a successful career as a novelist and professor. Upon retiring from academia, she vows she’s done with writing as well. She wants most of all to return from the U.S. to her family’s homeland, the Dominican Republic, and live quietly. But what to do with those boxes full of notes and manuscripts for the books she didn’t get around to writing? Alma buys a plot of land in a working-class neighborhood in the Dominican Republic. Before she builds a casita to live in, she builds a cemetery for the stories. She burns the boxes—except for two that won’t catch fire—and inters them all. One of the intact boxes holds notes for a book about Alma’s enigmatic father, Dr. Manuel Cruz; the other is research for a book about Bienvenida Inocencia Ricardo, the forgotten first wife of the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, a real-life monster who has haunted much of Alvarez’s fiction. Alma hires a woman who lives nearby to guard and maintain the cemetery until she can move in. But Filomena will become indispensable, not just for her kindness and loyalty but because she can hear the stories Alma has buried. Filomena is illiterate, but when she sits in meditation at the books’ graves, their subjects begin to speak to her. The novel’s focus shifts away from Alma to the stories of her father and Bienvenida, and of Filomena herself. As those separate plots touch and interweave, a rich and moving saga of Dominican history emerges, embodied in the lives of irresistible characters. Alvarez returns to many of her familiar subjects: family and especially the relationships among sisters, immigrants’ experiences, the empowerment of women. Her gifts for glowing prose and powerful narrative are still strong. Buried stories find their way to the light in this finely crafted novel.

Algonquin: April 2, 2024; ISBN: 9781643753843, Hardcover

★ JUST FOR THE SUMMER

By: Abby Jimenez

Booklist – Starred Review

For the last few years, every woman who dated Justin immediately found her romantic soul mate after breaking up with him. When Emma sees a social media post about Justin, she immediately slides into his DMs since she has the same problem. Everyone Emma has dated and then broken up with goes on to find true love. But what if Emma and Justin were to date each other for a month or so? Would their quirky romantic superpowers cancel each other out, and then Emma and Justin could each finally find a lasting love of their own? It is a proposal so crazy it just might work. With a perfect sense of literary aplomb and an abundance of deliciously sharp wit, Jimenez (Yours Truly, 2023) continues on an extraordinary upward trajectory with another gorgeously crafted contemporary romance. From moments of irresistible comic charm (a date with rescue kittens from the Bitty Kitty Brigade) to a compelling and compassionate story line that deftly and delicately deals with the impact of trauma on a person’s emotional and physical well-being, Jimenez expertly balances humor and heart in this sublimely satisfying love story.

Library Journal – Starred Review

Justin and Emma are cursed. Everyone they break up with finds “the One” soon after, going on to a life of wedded bliss. But if Justin and Emma date each other, maybe the curses will cancel each other out? That’s what Justin pitches to Emma after meeting her online. Emma, a traveling nurse who rarely stays in one place for more than six weeks, thinks it’s worth a shot. That’s how she and her best friend Maddy find themselves in Justin’s state of Minnesota, working at a hospital. It’s only for the summer and supposed to be casual, but Justin quickly falls for Emma. Unfortunately, after a childhood of neglect and abandonment, Emma’s heart is locked away. The story begins as does the relationship, breezy and easy. As the characters reveal more of themselves in alternating chapters, readers get a front-row, intimate view of each protagonist’s thoughts, feelings, and inner conflicts. Undiagnosed mental health concerns, toxic relationships, and PTSD are treated sensitively and realistically.

VERDICT This witty, emotion-filled novel from Jimenez (Yours Truly) isn’t one to just read, it’s one to sink into. Hand it to fans of Helen Hoang and Christina Lauren.

Forever: April 2, 2024; ISBN: 9781538704431, Paperback

★ PLANTYOU: SCRAPPY COOKING: 140+ Plant-Based Zero-Waste Recipes that are Good for You, Your Wallet, and the Planet

By: Carleigh Bodrug

Library Journal – Starred Review

According to Bodrug (PlantYou), up to 40 percent of the entire U.S. food supply ends up in a landfill. Focused on helping vegans change that, this cookbook offers solutions, including guidance on how to stop wasting food and a highly useful visual index listing what can be made with commonly tossed ingredients. The rest of the book is devoted to creative, deeply appealing recipes covering breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, sweets, and drinks, plus a last chapter on ways to use even more kitchen scraps in preserves, powders, and the like. Examples of the offerings include Smoothie Bombs, Scrappacia, a rustic zucchini tart, Leeky Tuscan Soup, and jackfruit bourguignon. Sprinkled throughout, “Kitchen Raid” recipes offer a last chance for almost any ingredient that’s about to go bad. An index of macros is included, all recipes are vegan, most are oil-free/oil-optional, and all are fully plant-forward. Matching the creative and thoughtful food offerings, the pages offer equally eye-catching design.

VERDICT The message is important, and well delivered, but Bodrug has also created a cookbook vegans will treasure for the wealth of “I can make this; I am going to make that!” recipes that are sure to become standards.

Hachette Go: April 2, 2024; ISBN: 9780306832420, Hardcover

★ A FIELD GUIDE TO THE APOCALYPSE: A Mostly Serious Guide to Surviving our Wild Times

By: Athena Aktipis

Booklist – Starred Review

This feel-good book about the end of human existence comes just in time to remedy the winter doldrums. The basic message is yes, we are living in apocalyptic times, but we should calm our fears and prepare for whatever comes. Aktipis (The Cheating Cell, 2020) is by turns witty, insightful, reassuring, silly, and always interesting. She brings in history, biology, neurology, and sociology as she reviews the adaptability and resilience of humans over millennia, blending together accessible science and entertaining scenarios (with a bit of a fixation on zombies). Preparation, that crucial necessity for surviving and thriving, entails developing an optimistic, action-oriented outlook; building networks of like-minded, skilled allies; and assembling personal prep kits: one per person, one for sheltering in place, another for the car, and another for surviving outdoors. There’s an awful lot of information here, and Aktipis, who teaches philosophy at Arizona State and calls herself a cooperation theorist, provides helpful chapter reviews and handy checklists. There’s information on everything from raising self-sufficient children to adopting a future-oriented lifestyle to apocalypse dating tips. There’s also a great deal of thoughtful commentary on probable upcoming realities. Aktipis’ advice seems a sensible response to it all.

Workman Publishing: April 9, 2024; ISBN: 9781523518258, Flexibound

★ FERMENTED VEGETABLES: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 72 Vegetables, Fruits & Herbs In

By: Kristen K. Shockey / Christopher Shockey

Library Journal – Starred Review

In the decade since the first edition of this book was published, the popularity of fermented food and frequency of talking about the microbiome and gut health have skyrocketed. With additions to the number of recipes, cultural views, and insights into the history and cultural importance of fermentation, the second edition of this tremendously informative book does not disappoint. Whether wondering about fermenting as a hobby, seeking suggestions for what equipment fits which fermentation style, or looking for guidance on how to safely preserve vegetables grown in their own gardens, readers will find the information and ideas they need here. Those with an interest in the science behind food-preservation will enjoy facts about different techniques and their benefits, safety, ease, and possible pitfalls. Chapters covering pickling, kimchi, sauerkraut, and more offer a nearly comprehensive overview of the most popular kinds of fermented food. There’s also a vast and helpful list of vegetables and fruits that are commonly pickled, which also gives tips on everything from selecting ingredients to using with the resulting pickles.

VERDICT A thorough look at fermentation; a great book for beginners as well as seasoned enthusiasts.

Storey Publishing: April 16, 2024; ISBN: 9781635865394, Paperback

★ THE FIXER: Moguls, Mobsters, Movie Stars and Marilyn

By: Josh Young and Manfred Westphal

Library Journal – Starred Review

Young (coauthor of You’re Only as Good as Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films, and 100 for Which I Should Be Shot) and former communications/PR executive Westphal unearth the story of super-sleuth Fred Otash (1922–92), a private detective who gained the reputation of being a fixer for Hollywood celebrities during the 1950s and ’60s. The book begins with Otash’s time in the U.S. Marines and his 10-year stint with the LAPD, when he nearly arrested Liberace and verbally sparred with mobster Mickey Cohen. When Otash resigned from the police force in 1955, he established Otash Investigation, which contributed research for the scandal-mongering Confidential magazine, helped Frank Sinatra beat a perjury rap, provided security to Judy Garland, and investigated the murder of Lana Turner’s abusive mobster boyfriend. Most notably, Young and Westphal detail Otash’s longtime association with Marilyn Monroe, whose house he wiretapped during the time of her alleged affairs with John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. This segment of the book has the most revelations, though there’s plenty of new info throughout. The book concludes with the cover-up story of Monroe’s affairs with the Kennedys that was told on ABC’s 20/20.

VERDICT A fast-paced, fascinating tell-all that’s a previously untold account of the seamy side of Hollywood, politics, and mob activity.

Grand Central Publishing: April 16, 2024; ISBN: 9781538751428 , Hardcover

★ A LETTER TO THE LUMINOUS DEEP

By: Sylvie Cathrall

Library Journal – Starred Review

DEBUT Cathrall debuts with a wonderfully charming epistolary novel, the first of a series, set just over a thousand years after an event known as “the Dive,” which plunged humanity’s sky dwellers into the depths of the ocean. The ancestors of those who survived now live in the ocean and on the one small remaining land mass. The introverted and anxious E. Cidnosin lives underwater inside the “Deep House,” a marvel of architecture that her mother designed. Spying a mysterious sea creature outside her window spurs her to begin a correspondence with scholar Henerey Clel to help her identify it, beginning an extensive exchange of letters that leads to them falling in love. Then E. and Henerey disappear after an explosion at Deep House. A waterproof box of E.’s papers survives, though, and as her scholar sister Sophy and Henerey’s brother Vyerin piece together their letters and journals, an even larger mystery is revealed.

VERDICT Readers will want to savor the delightful letters that make up this cozy fantasy set in academia and an underwater world. Recommend to fans of Malka Older’s “Mossa and Pleiti” series.

Orbit: April 23, 2024; ISBN: 9780316565530, Paperback

★ COLTON GENTRY’S THIRD ACT

By: Jeff Zentner

Booklist – Starred Review

Reeling after his best friend’s death due to a mass shooting at a music festival, B-list country star Colton Gentry drunkenly rants about gun control during his opening set on a well-publicized tour and finds his life completely upended. Dropped by his record label, banished from country radio, and facing a divorce from his pop-star wife, Colton serves a stint in rehab and winds up back in Kentucky, sleeping in his old bedroom as he figures out what to do next. Feeling lost and alone, Colton struggles to cope but discovers a spark of hope when he encounters his high-school
girlfriend Luann at her buzzy new farm-to-table restaurant. Entwined through the current-day story are flashbacks to Colton’s senior year of high school, his relationship with Luann, and the beginning of his music career in Nashville. Zentner’s moving first adult novel explores many of
the same emotional themes as his well-regarded YA novels (like In the Wild Light, 2021) do—dealing with loss, finding your place in the world, and the formative relationships of our youth. Brimming with southern charm and deftly balancing humor with poignancy, Zentner’s story
of second (and third) chances is sure to win over readers who love a redemption story.

Grand Central Publishing: April 30, 2024; ISBN: 9781538756652, Hardcover

★ THEIR DIVINE FIRES

By: Wendy Chen

Kirkus – Starred Review

Four generations of a Chinese and Chinese American family navigate the ties and trials of kinship. Chen begins her first novel with a fairytale romance in rural pre-communist China. Yunhong, whose name translates as something like Clouds of Happy Red, is from the Zhangs, a family of modest means, and her beau is the son of a local lord. But their marriage in 1927 is short-lived. One of her brothers is among the revolutionaries who ransack the lord’s house and kill her husband. The time shifts to 1967 and Nanjing. Yunhong’s twin granddaughters march off to school carrying Mao’s Little Red Book. Children have names like Leap Forward and Resist America. One twin loses her lover when he’s rusticated, like so many during the Cultural Revolution, and dies. The other, Hongxing, dreams of “joining an art troupe” and falls into a forbidden love. The book’s last big section jumps to the U.S. in the years 2004-2009. While some family members left China for the U.S., one who remained is Hongxing. She enjoyed a successful acting career until her illicit love emerged and she was “erased from public memory by the government.” Feeling utterly alone, she visits her sister in the U.S. and hopes to persuade her to have their ailing mother buried in China. Chen’s narrative is full of poignant family moments set against the larger canvas of history, while singular and recurring images link the fragmented narrative: a birthmark carried by daughters; a silk-lined trunk and its keepsakes handed down across generations; memories that are rendered as bedtime stories with dragons and princes; an old damaged photo restored by computer to startling clarity. Throughout, the author depicts women who find in themselves the strength to be more than the times might allow and in their families a sweet solace amid that struggle. A poignant, impressive debut.

Algonquin: May 7, 2024; ISBN: 9781643755151, Hardcover

★ HUNTED

By: Abir Mukherjee

Library Journal – Starred Review

“Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries” series author Mukherjee’s stand-alone is a winning narrative that explores not only the danger of terrorist actions but also the complex motives behind such drastic acts. The novel begins with a bang and continues in a similar dramatic fashion. Yasmin trusted Jack when he told her that the bomb he was planting in a shopping mall wouldn’t hurt innocent people, but the resulting carnage is horrendous and leaves even FBI agent Shreya Mistry aghast. Shreya ventures into the unstable mall and uncovers clues to the possible identities of bombers. While she pursues leads and irritates her supervisors, Sajid Khan, the father of a suspected terrorist, is abducted and brutally interrogated in London; his captors demand to know where his daughter is. Meanwhile, Greg, a wounded veteran and ex-convict, has gotten involved with a group of people plotting actions that will have grave implications for the country and the entire world. The story unfolds through the perspectives of law enforcement, the burgeoning terrorists, and the family members caught up in a domestic manhunt.

VERDICT Mukherjee approaches terrorism and terrorist actors with a view that is more nuanced than cut-and-dried.

Mulholland Books: May 7, 2024; ISBN: 9780316260213, Hardcover

★ THE STRUGGLE FOR TAIWAN : A History of America, China, and the Island Caught Between

By: Sulmaan Wasif Khan

Library Journal – Starred Review

Khan (history and international relations, Tufts Univ.; Haunted by Chaos: Grand Strategy from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping) offers a thorough history of the China-Taiwan conflict and the United States’ role in it. His book spans from 1943, when the Cairo Declaration first mentioned Taiwan being returned to the Republic of China (ROC) from Japan, up through the present day. In 1949, Mao Zedong’s Communist forces defeated Chiang Kai-shek’s ROC and established the People’s Republic of China. Chiang and the remnants of the ROC retreated to the island of Taiwan. In the 1950s, the U.S. made the decision to prevent Mao from taking Taiwan and thus placed Taiwan under American protection. Since then, there has been a complex push and pull, in which successive U.S. administrations try to forge a good relationship with China without abandoning commitments made to Taiwan. This has ultimately resulted in a complicated U.S. position in which it no longer officially recognizes the ROC government in Taiwan but is also obligated by the Taiwan Relations Act to provide it with defensive weapons.

VERDICT Highly recommended for anyone interested in China-Taiwan-U.S. relations.

Basic Books: May 14, 2024; ISBN: 9781541605046, Hardcover

★ HOW TO BECOME THE DARK LORD AND DIE TRYING

By: Django Wexler

Library Journal – Starred Review

Davi, a young woman from Earth, has a destiny on this fantasy world, and she keeps being resurrected to start over every time she fails to meet it. She’s tired of being led down the primrose path of supposed good, so she decides, on her 278th resurrection, to choose evil. She’ll be the Dark Lord Davi, and maybe, just this once, she’ll win. Or at least not die in tortured dismemberment. All she has to do is figure out how to switch perspectives and become one of the villains, even if she has to die, repeatedly and frequently, until she finally figures things out—or at least thinks she has. Sometimes, it’s good to be bad. Highly recommended for anyone who loved watching the “hero” die in Edge of Tomorrow, readers who enjoy Christopher Buehlman’s, K.J. Parker’s and T. Kingfisher’s snarky, sarcastic, and ultimately pragmatic protagonists with hearts of gold, and especially readers looking for stories where the stock villains finally get a fair shake.

VERDICT Wexler’s (Emperor of Ruin) latest is a wild ride of fake it ’til you make it, full of high adventure and low chuckles every step of the way.

Orbit: May 21, 2024; ISBN: 9780316392204, Paperback

★ SUPERCONVERGENCE: How the Genetics, Biotech, and AI Revolutions Will Transform our Lives, Work, and World

By: Jamie Metzl

Kirkus – Starred Review

A clear examination of a “transitional moment in the story of life on Earth, a new Cambrian explosion with a new biological driver—us.” Managing one technological revolution would be hard enough, but our society is now facing three at once, writes Metzl, a well-known futurist and the author of Hacking Darwin. Genome sequencing and editing, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence have all moved out of the theoretical stage and into practical reality, and navigating the mechanics and possibilities of these new technologies is a massive challenge. Metzl capably describes recent developments in genetics and biotech and looks at how AI is providing an analytical engine of unprecedented power. It is easy to get swept away by the promise of these technologies in everything from medicine to industrial productivity, but there are also great risks. Several agreements and protocols aim to regulate the emerging tech, but they are limited in scope. The author proposes a new international agency operating through the UN to provide a framework for coordinated regulation and information exchange around the world. Its role would extend to conducting exercises to test the world’s ability to respond to crises. Metzl understands that this would be difficult to create, especially when one of the major players, China, has announced that domination of these areas is a national goal—and is already charging ahead with little apparent regard for the wider consequences. Nevertheless, Metzl believes that the rest of the world should take a cooperative approach. As he notes, we must “speed up our pace of social organization to better match the speed of our technological innovation….All of this is a task greater than each of us but not greater than all of us.” An important book in which the author sets out a path for the future based on his experience and expertise.

Timber Press: June 11, 2024; ISBN: 9781643263007 , Hardcover

Book cover image of Superconvergence by Jamie Metzl

★ THE FALL OF WATERSTONE

By: Lilith Saintcrow

Library Journal -Starred Review

Saintcrow continues her Norse-inspired “Black Land’s Bane” trilogy (after A Flame in the North) with this second epic fantasy. Elemental volva Solveig and her shield maiden, Arneior, have traveled far into the North as weregild for the skin-changer wolf Eol and his friend, the immortal Elder Aeredh. Through the treacherous cold and harrowing attacks by misshapen monsters, Sol and Arn discern that the weregild pact was made deceitfully, and they will never see home again. Instead, the Northerners have always planned on taking Sol far north to the Elder haven of Waterstone, a beautiful but hidden refuge from the Enemy of the Black Land. There, a weapon created by the only other known elemental is hidden in a magical tower—and Sol is the only one who can use it. Even as Sol and Arn grow closer to their captors-turned-allies, treachery is found at every turn.

VERDICT Saintcrow’s attention to detail and fantastical worldbuilding, inspired by Norse Viking legends and places, merits her series’ comparison to classic epic fantasies like J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time.”

Orbit: June 11, 2024; ISBN: 9780316440530, Hardcover

★ BETTER FASTER FARTHER : How Running Changed Everything We Know About Women

By: Maggie Mertens

Kirkus – Starred Review

A multidisciplinary study proving the capability of women as runners. Falsehoods about women runners have persisted for centuries. From the myth of Atalanta to the story of Jasmin Paris (the first woman to win the U.K.’s 268-mile Spine Race), journalist Mertens tells a host of fascinating stories about women running greats who have disproved the naysayers. These women, whether legendary or long forgotten, confronted a range of stereotypes and paternalistic reasoning from professionals who focused only on their fertility and femininity, misrepresented or belittled their accomplishments, questioned their mental health and toughness, and even debated their identities as women. Chronicling these women’s relentless pursuit of inclusion in competitive running events, Mertens regains control of the narrative of female runners—and female athletes more broadly. Combining science with sociology and history, the author applies journalistic investigation to training regimes, racism in sports, evolution-based calls for gender segregation, and debates about gender identity. She strikes an almost bitingly bemused tone to temper her outrage, taking steady aim at the maddeningly intentional attitudes and policies of medical and sports authorities who have chased research to support their claims. In a field where even Mertens has to consciously correct the temptation to make reductive assumptions, she reveals the harm caused by female runners’ detractors, who have been lazy at best. Dismantling inaccuracies about women and their bodies, the author demonstrates what we can learn about all humans, and she suggests how that has repercussions not only in sports, but elsewhere in society. “Women are speaking out about themselves, saying we don’t have to look or act a certain way in order to be accepted in society,” she writes. “Nor do we need to be defined in opposition to men. We can define ourselves, thank you very much. And, yes, we can beat men.” Illuminating, informative, and inspiring.

Algonquin Books: June 18, 2024; ISBN: 9781643753355 , Hardcover

★ DEEP SPACE: Beyond the Solar System to the Edge of the Universe and Beginning of Time

By: Govert Schilling

Library Journal – Starred Review

Award-winning astronomy writer Shilling (Constellations) updates his book initially published in 2014 with this broad-brushed exploration of the universe. He begins with a look around the earth’s planetary backyard and then takes a mind-bending journey into the realm of stars and nebulae, pulsars and stellar clusters, supernova explosions, black holes, galaxies, and galaxy clusters. Celestial cartographer Wil Tirion (coauthor, Night Sky Almanac 2023) adds a valuable atlas of known stars visible to the naked eye and a list of the 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union. This impressive book is filled with hundreds of gorgeous full-color photographs on glossy black paper that emulate looking into deep space. There are also eye-opening facts about the vast expanse of the universe—an estimated 10 quintillion stars. Astronomers speculate that most of these stars contain solar systems that likely include livable zones called “Goldilocks” planets.

VERDICT A stunning and essential coffee-table book. Targeted at amateur astronomers, the book takes advantage of today’s advanced astronomy research that provides exciting new information from the sensitive eyes of modern large telescopes, both in space and on the ground. Nicely supplements Erich Karkoschka’s Observer’s Sky Atlas and the National Geographic Stargazer’s Atlas.

Black Dog & Leventhal: July 16, 2024; ISBN: 9780762487233 , Paperback

★ LIGHT: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond

By: Kimberly Arcand / Megan Watzke

Library Journal – Starred Review

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory visualization lead Arcand and press officer Watzke (coauthors, Your Ticket to the Universe) present this extraordinary visual exploration of light energy across the electromagnetic spectrum. The authors organize the book’s intriguing information around the order of the spectrum of light, with each chapter focusing on a different type of light energy. These include radio waves, microwaves, infrared, ultraviolet, X-rays, gamma rays, and visible light. The book’s introduction explains the atomic basis for light, followed by sections that thoroughly elucidate the different frequency bands of the energy spectrum. Original illustrations and hundreds of high-resolution color photos from deep-space telescopes help this beautiful book connect with general audiences.

VERDICT An essential purchase. This spectacular examination of light will impress curious readers eager to understand how light impacts their lives, from lighting the day to enabling X-rays in medical clinics to making cell phone calls. The title includes relatable language and excellent illustrated analogies, and it will appeal to fans of To Infinity and Beyond: A Journey of Cosmic Discovery by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lindsey Nyx Walker.

Black Dog & Leventhal: July 16, 2024; ISBN: 9780762487844, Paperback