Hachette Library – Starred Reviews

Starred Reviews

New and Upcoming Releases that Have Received Acclaim!

★ 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

★ THEN I AM MYSELF THE WORLD: What Consciousness Is and How to Expand It

By: Christof Koch

Library Journal – Starred Review

“Consciousness” implies a state of being aware of oneself and one’s place in the world. This state happens when complex bodily systems involving the brain and nerves continually work together throughout a person’s lifetime. Neuroscientist Koch (The Feeling of Life Itself) examines many angles of consciousness. For example, he discusses how emotions and perceptions begin, how humans rely on their own realities as they evolve, why near-death and mystical experiences are important, and the potential benefits of psychedelics. In one chapter, he speculates about the potential of computers to replicate human consciousness and to be programmed for use beyond a person’s death. His extensive research supports his ideas and conclusions. For readers who want to learn more, there’s a huge notes section at the end of the book that details the sources of Koch’s research.

VERDICT Easily the most current, thorough, and helpful exploration of consciousness available. Koch’s light, simple, yet authoritative writing style will appeal to general audiences as well as scientists and researchers. An essential, highly recommended purchase.

Basic Books: May 7, 2024; ISBN: 9781541602809, 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

★ THE CLEOPATRAS: The Forgotten Queens of Egypt

By: Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

Booklist – Starred Review

Cleopatra is one of the most noted women in world history, but many may not realize or remember that the most famous one is actually the seventh and final Egyptian queen with that name. Llewellyn-Jones (ancient history, Cardiff Univ.; Persians) offers the first book for general readers that includes the histories and biographies of all the Cleopatras, all of whom were strong women in their own right. He presents vivid portraits of these exceptional women, starting with Cleopatra I, who was given the nickname of Syra for her Syrian roots and was the queen of Egypt in 193–176 BCE. The book ends with the legendary Cleopatra VII, who ruled 51–39 BCE. Llewellyn-Jones shows that all the Cleopatras were astute and talented. His book deftly points out the importance of women’s power in an era when there was an overwhelming and stifling patriarchal world of antiquity. The book includes expansive genealogical charts, maps, and a bibliography, which help readers keep details and family trees straight.

VERDICT Llewellen-Jones’s extensive research on all seven of these intriguing Cleopatras is expertly presented. Highly recommended.

Basic Books: May 21, 2024; ISBN: 9781541602922, Hardcover

★ THE LAVENDER COMPANION

By: Terry Barlin Vesci / Jessica Dunham

Library Journal – Starred Review

This three-in-one home economics, cooking, and gardening guide covers all the uses of Lavandula—its cleansing, calming, and culinary properties—and details which of many varieties is best for each home project. Vesci owns and operates the Pine Creek Lavender Farm and Cooking School in Pine, AZ, but for those who cannot visit Arizona, this companion is the perfect alternative. Vesci provides recipes for using lavender topically on the skin, including a sugar scrub, a wellness soak, and a face wash. These and other recipes make use of lavender’s unique ability to moisturize skin without clogging pores. Lavender’s antimicrobial properties also make it the perfect ingredient for cleaning home surfaces—instructions for a home spray cleaner are included. Most of Vesci’s recipes, however, focus on lavender’s fragrance and taste. A third of the book is devoted to savory and sweet recipes that make use of homemade lavender sugar, jam, and seasoning rubs. In these recipes, lavender is used to flavor sweets, meats, salads, and even lattes. Growing and harvest instructions complete the volume.

VERDICT Providing over 40 recipes with accompanying gorgeous photographs, this is a valuable addition to collections.

Storey Publishing: May 28, 2024; ISBN: 9781635866841, Hardcover

★ THE BOOK-MAKERS: A History of the Book in Eighteen Lives

By: Adam Smyth

Library Journal – Starred Review

This lively and enlightening history of books and the people who made them is packed with fascinating people and facts and buttressed by a flood of informative illustrations scattered across the text and in folio. The discussion starts with the late 15th-century successor to William Caxton, Wynkyn deWorde, who was innovative both in what he published and how he did it. Across 40 years, his press published more than 800 titles, accounting for about 15 percent of the known printing output in England prior to 1550. Smyth’s book ends with an introduction to self-published zines and Nancy Cunard’s avant-garde Hours Press, which was responsible for the first separately published work by Samuel Beckett, “Whoroscope,” in 1930. Throughout this volume, Smyth (English literature and book history, Univ. of Oxford; editor, Oxford Handbook of the History of the Book in Early Modern England) conveys just how fluid book text and format has been and still is.

VERDICT A must for book lovers. Give to fans of Christopher de Hamel’s The Manuscripts Club

Basic Books: May 28, 2024; ISBN: 9781541605640, Hardcover

★ DAUGHTER OF THE MERCIFUL DEEP

By: Leslye Penelope

Library Journal – Starred Review

The town of Awenasa, founded by a formerly enslaved person, has become a thriving haven for Black people fleeing the lynchings and oppression endemic to the early 20th-century South. But prosperous Awenasa has drawn the eye of the powerful State Authority, which plans to drown their town with a dam upriver. Reliable, responsible, nosy Jane Edwards knows there’s no hope—until a mysterious stranger comes to town and shows her that instead of giving in she can call on old gods and even older legends, invoking magic that is capable of bringing the entire “chariot” of Awenasa all the way to a Black Atlantis. Deftly combining historical fantasy and magical realism with myths and legends from the African diaspora, the novel follows Jane through her dreams, fears, and failings as she does her damnedest to save her corner of the world.

VERDICT Fans of Penelope’s The Monsters We Defy will be thrilled, while readers of The Deep by Rivers Solomon, In the Shadow of the Fall by Tobi Ogundiran, and The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings will find another novel that sings of hope and magic.

Redhook: June 4, 2024; ISBN: 9780316378222, Paperback

★ THE CIA: An Imperial History

By: Hugh Wilford

Booklist – Starred Review

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has proved a lightning rod for any and all parties in the nation’s politics. The CIA’s fundamental aim for secrecy runs counter to America’s professed drive for government transparency. Wilford (America’s Great Game, 2017) charts the inexorable
growth of today’s CIA from its birth in 1947, and its role in shaping America’s vision of itself and the world’s perception of America. A cadre of nascent Cold Warriors, the founders were exclusively white, male, and trained in the Ivy League. A few “mish kids,” missionaries’ sons, also
made the cut. Simultaneously admiring British intelligence efforts and repelled by that nation’s imperial bent, the CIA was conflicted from its start. Agents soon turned to covert actions to advance America’s perceived interests, promoting anti-communism or defending U.S.
corporations’ business ventures. Wilford profiles the intense personalities of CIA founders Kermit Roosevelt, Edward Landsdale, James Angleton, and Cord Meyer, men who were equally romantic visionaries, socially adept politicos, and ruthless spymasters. Their roles in U.S. involvement in Cuba, Chile, Vietnam, and the Middle East resulted in both triumphs and debacles. Wilford’s text brims with acronyms, and his table of all those mutating capital letters proves invaluable.

Basic Books: June 4, 2024; ISBN: 9781541645912 , Hardcover

★ REDS: The Tragedy of American Communism

By: Maurice Isserman

Library Journal – Starred Review

Isserman (history, Hamilton Coll.; The Winter Army) presents a sweeping history of the American Communist Party, from its many fractious iterations in the years immediately following the 1917 Russian Revolution, to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. He expertly chronicles the many contradictions and ambiguities in the movement, while placing the party’s history in its 20th-century American context. Throughout its history, the American Communist Party attracted a variety of seemingly contradictory people. Democratic, reform-minded individuals who wanted to end racism and inequality worked alongside authoritarians and ideologues who espoused Soviet propaganda. During the Popular Front era of the 1930s, a time relatively free of internal conflict and mainstream visibility, the group fought for unemployment relief, social security, and racial equality, while communist union organizers successfully spearheaded efforts to organize millions of workers. Some of the party’s ideas became fruitful, but Isserman offers a convincing and nuanced history of the group’s failures and bad intentions too.

VERDICT This engaging history is based on a wide array of memoirs, FBI files, and other primary records that illuminate the American Communist Party’s lengthy history. Readers of U.S. history, especially about movements deemed radical, will be interested in this title.

Basic Books: June 4, 2024; ISBN: 9781541620032, Hardcover

★ 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

★ ACCIDENTAL ASTRONOMY: How Random Discoveries Shape the Science of Space

By: Chris Lintott

Library Journal – Starred Review

Will humans will ever find life on other planets or make contact with entities in outer space? That is just one of the topics explored in this latest book by Lintott (astrophysics, Univ. of Oxford; The Crowd and the Cosmos: Adventures in the Zooniverse). Perhaps best known for his presenter role on the BBC series The Sky at Night, Lintott is also a leader on Zooniverse, the citizen science platform, and a passionate science communicator who studies galaxy formation. His book focuses on the inadvertent and unexpected nature of findings in the field of astronomy, and it’s a fun and engaging read. It’s brimming with fascinating tales of surprising and often unforeseen discoveries made by scientists—both experts and amateurs—who dared to investigate the fathomless mysteries of the universe.

VERDICT A captivating and approachable narrative. The book’s footnotes are a particular highlight, reminiscent of novelist Terry Pratchett’s witty and humorous writing style. This title is sure to educate and delight general readers and astronomy enthusiasts and will make an excellent addition to any science collection.

Booklist – Starred Review

Lintott’s awe-inspiring reflections on the universe’s unknowable origin and development is fused with a distinctly human idea, that many of the most profound discoveries in astronomy were not made by “deliberate moves,” but rather by “stumbling accidents.” Professor of astrophysics at
Oxford, Lintott begins by reviewing signals and the telescopes and technology engineered to capture possible alien communications, such as 1977’s ‘Wow!’ signal that remains a mystery to this day. Lintott writes about Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, where, in 2005, the Cassini probe chanced a pass so close that data gathered revealed a subterranean saltwater ocean. Water and the warmth created by tidal forces makes Enceladus a candidate for harboring life. Closer to the sun, Lintott examines Venus, phosphine, and the sliver of possibly habitable atmosphere high above its roiling surface. Expanding beyond the solar system, Lintott analyzes images from the Hubble, the JWST, and other magnificent telescopes. That we can monitor light approximately 400,000 years after the Big Bang, that we now know there are countless stars, innumerable and perhaps habitable planets and moons, that we know our sun is here due to a cascade of cosmic coincidences, is testament to human ingenuity and discoveries, many made by chance, and perhaps only the start to our understanding of the universe and possible life within it.

Basic Books: June 11, 2024; ISBN: 9781541605411, Hardcover

★ 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.

Booklist – Starred Review

Award-winning journalist Mertens takes readers on a fascinating deep dive into the myth of gender roles that set limitations on women’s participation in athletics, aptly summarized in the opening sentence, “Women have always been able to run, but men have been trying to convince us for centuries that we can’t.” Topics range from the Olympics, racism, female-specific injuries, motherhood, and hyperandrogenism and transgender athletes. One strong point here is that Mertens doesn’t try to be comprehensive; instead, she keys in on topics and pioneers like Alice Milliat, who founded the Women’s World Games; Greek runner Stamata Revithi, who ran the 1896 Olympic Marathon course “unofficially,” followed decades later by Bobbi Gibb, the first woman who “unofficially” ran the Boston Marathon. The fame experienced by Sir Roger Bannister, who broke the four-minute barrier for the mile, compared to overlooked Diane Leather, the first woman to run a sub-five minute mile that same month, provides a stark contrast. This insightful, well-researched book captures the struggles of female athletes who blazed a path for all who run in their footsteps, proving sports can, indeed, be a positive vehicle for social change.

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

★ FINDING MR. WRITE

By: Kelley Armstrong

Booklist – Starred Review

Daphne, an introverted, self-reliant architect, is frustrated when she can’t get anyone in publishing to read her adventurous YA novel featuring a resourceful girl surviving a zombie apocalypse in the Yukon. She decides to tweak her bio, using Zane Remington as a pseudonym. Instant success! She lands an agent and an amazing publishing deal. She hires accountant
Chris to be the face of Zane Remington. Debuting on the bestseller list, the author photo, instead of being on the back flap, is the entire back cover portraying the gorgeous, manly, and very photogenic Chris. When a magazine crew flies in to do a story about Zane’s wilderness life,
Daphne pretends to be his assistant at the off-grid home she built herself. Photos of an encounter with a grizzly bear go viral, and a book tour ensues. At the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Zane experiences interactions with other authors on a panel that will make readers
who attend literary events cheer. Smart characters, tender romance, outdoor adventures, and comedic moments make this delightful rom-com a sure pick. Armstrong, popular for paranormal and time-travel romances, proves she also has great comedic romance chops.

Forever: June 25, 2024; ISBN: 9781538742747, Paperback

★ THE ENTIRE SKY

By: Joe Wilkins

Booklist – Starred Review

Rene Bouchard is mourning his late wife, Viv, following her valiant fight with cancer. There had been hardships, sacrifices, and tragedy, but they built a successful Montana sheep farm, expanding their ranch to over six thousand acres while raising four children—Lianne, the eldest, then the three boys, Keith, Dennis, and Franklin. Now, none of them live nearby, and Rene is preparing to proactively shuffle off this mortal coil when he is given a new reason to live in the form of Justin, a 16-year-old runaway with his own tragic past. Wilkins (Fall Back Down When I Die, 2019) offers a profound meditation on family and finding one’s identity. The prose is lyrical yet economical, like an elder who dispenses nuggets of wisdom with every utterance. The skinny, guitar-playing, earring-wearing Justin bears an uncanny resemblance to his recently deceased hero, Kurt Cobain, and begins to work with Rene on the ranch. Justin has never
known love, so helping with the “bum lambs,” newborns rejected by their mother, proves to be seismically emotional. Wilkins captures with devastating sensitivity how broken people can mend one another and how acceptance and forgiveness can lead to redemption and love. Cobain
wrote, “come as you are, as you were,” a simple, plaintive reminder to love others for who they are.

Little, Brown and Company: July 2, 2024; ISBN: 9780316475389, Hardcover

★ THE HATERS

By: Robyn Harding

Booklist – Starred Review

Camryn Lane is proudest of her seventeen-year-old daughter Liza, but her recent debut novel, Burnt Orchid, comes in at a close second. And then a negative review is posted online, accusing Camryn of using personal stories from her job as a high school counselor as a basis for the main
character in her book. Way too quickly, the one review becomes a focused onslaught of negativity, and Camryn’s dream becomes a nightmare of false accusations and unreliable relationships. Now she must decide what parts of her life are worth saving from the abyss. As the threats become more serious, and the number of possible sources for the review increases,
Camryn’s looming mental breakdown becomes a tangible presence. From this narrative of an ultimate dream-come-true to one of overwhelming anxiety, there’s no downtime in the roller coaster of extreme emotions. Even with a large cast of characters, the author manages to give
each a purpose and an engaging presence. A satisfying selection for readers who enjoy unreliable narrators and plenty of suspense.

Grand Central Publishing: July 2, 2024; ISBN: 9781538766101, 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

★ A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME

By: Mary McMyne

Booklist – Starred Review

McMyne follows The Book of Gothel (2022) with a fascinating, fictional expose answering the question: Who was Shakespeare’s Dark Lady? Raven-haired, dusky-skinned Rose Rushe, a self-proclaimed wild and unruly wench, has the voice of a siren, an uncommon skill with stringed
instruments, and a prescient talent for astrology. Daughter of a wise woman and an ill-fated astrologer, she reaches maturity during the latter years of Queen Elizabeth, a time when women are particularly susceptible to any hint of scandal or witchcraft. Knowing she is good enough to
play at the Queen’s court, Rose is intent on getting to London. When her father dies suddenly and her mother is suspected of witchcraft, Rose and her family flee, seeking shelter in London with the son of a wealthy friend. Desperate for security, Rose’s mother casts a spell, coercing her daughter into marrying their host. Furious and trapped, Rose escapes but without money or noble patronage, wonders how a runaway wife can support herself. A chance encounter with the playwright William Shakespeare may be the answer to her dilemma. A touch of mysticism and an LGBTQ+ twist, intermingled with a variety of historical figures, offer a fresh take on a long-standing literary enigma.

Redhook: July 16, 2024; ISBN: 9780316393515, Paperback

★ TELLTALE HEARTS: A Public Doctor, His Patients, and the Power of Story

By: Dean-David Schillinger

Booklist – Starred Review

When you imagine a doctor, your first thought is likely a stethoscope and white lab coat, maybe a scalpel or syringe. But a doctor’s ears are their most important tool, and patience is a high-ranking attribute. Schillinger, a public health leader and primary care physician in San Francisco, concentrates on the essentiality of listening in the care of patients. Regarding the usefulness of medical interviews, he wisely writes, “in the story lies the answers.” Yet doctors increasingly defer to blood tests and imaging studies rather than relying on the diagnostic value and
therapeutic power of these stories as physician’s time spent with patients is increasingly truncated. Many of Schillinger’s patients belong to marginalized populations. The waiting room of his outpatient clinic is packed with uninsured people, old folks, disabled individuals, and
substance abusers. Plentiful tales of patients and diseases (serious infections, cancer, mysterious breast pain, heart failure, diabetes, sickle cell anemia) are included. His immersion in the daily suffering and misfortune of fellow human beings exacts a heavy toll on Schillinger. He
recounts his severe episode of depression. The description of the doctor’s emotional condition and that of his patients sometimes surprisingly overlaps: frustration, traumatization, vulnerability, shame, failure. A humble and honest, heroic and heartrending account of humanistic medicine.

PublicAffairs: July 16, 2024; ISBN: 9781541704206, Hardcover

★ 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

★ WHAT WE’LL BURN LAST

By: Heather Chavez

Booklist – Starred Review

Another fast-paced and gripping thriller from Chavez (following Before She Finds Me, 2023), told in the voices of three women, each with her own secrets. “The Fire,” the ever-gaining menace, also speaks. The wildfire begins when lightning strikes a pine tree just north of the Ridgepoint
Ranch subdivision in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Ridgepoint is home to two families enduring an ongoing tragedy that began 16 years earlier when a teenage girl and boy disappeared. The two were dating, and speculation raged that they had run away together, but it was also rumored that
they were dead since no trace of them was ever found. When a stranger who looks like the missing girl shows up at the restaurant where her younger sister, Leyna, works, and then vanishes soon after, Leyna and the missing boy’s brother, Dominic, return to their unhappy homes and ask some difficult questions. As the flames move toward them, animosities also flare, and things turn deadly. What really happened is revealed amidst the choking smoke, and it is as complicated as it is compelling. Readers will have to really pay close attention with this one, and resist the urge to jump ahead to find out just what is going on. A perfect beach read.

Mulholland Books: July 23, 2024; ISBN: 9780316531658, Hardcover

★ HOUSE OF BONE AND RAIN

By: Gabino Iglesias

Booklist – Starred Review

“All stories are ghost stories,” repeats Gabe (until all truly feel its meaning), the narrator of Iglesias’ stellar horror-thriller hybrid set in Puerto Rico amidst 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria. When Bimbo’s mother is gunned down at work, best friends Gabe, Xavier, Tavo, and Paul
join Bimbo in his quest for revenge, attempting to take out the biggest drug lord on the island under cover of the storm’s aftermath. The unsettling tone, high tension, and brisk pace are enhanced by striking free verse poems at the start of each chapter that foreshadow what is coming without giving anything away. However, it is Gabe’s engaging narration and character that will hook readers. He is honest and conflicted, bursting with love despite the real-life horrors that surround him. Intricately plotted, with a strong sense of place, told with awe-inspiringly lyrical language and brutal violence, this is a remarkable novel that beams its hope into the darkness; a story that stands on its own as wholly original while confidently inserting itself into a conversation with horror’s complicated past. It’s a story that will introduce readers to a new favorite author
while they wait for the next S. A. Cosby or Stephen Graham Jones.

Mulholland Books: August 6, 2024; ISBN: 9780316427012, Hardcover

★ ANGEL OF VENGEANCE

By: Preston & Child

Booklist – Starred Review

Preston and Child return again to the wonderful world of Aloysius Pendergast and Constance Greene in this absolutely perfect thriller. Pendergast, an FBI special agent with (shall we say) a unique investigative method, and Greene, who was introduced way back when as Pendergast’s ward but has become something altogether more special to him, take one last run at the notorious serial killer Enoch Leng. But this is no ordinary good guys vs. bad guy story. Anybody can write one of those, but only Preston and Child can write a Pendergast novel. For starters, the book, like its immediate predecessors, is set in an alternate time line from the earlier novels in the series; characters who were dead in that time line are alive again in this one, which makes for a rather surreal experience for readers who know what happened to these characters in earlier novels. The story itself is less about catching a serial killer as it is about the unique relationship between the two protagonists: Greene’s rage is directed at Leng, but threatens to consume her, and Pendergast is desperate to make sure that doesn’t happen. You will rarely see two characters as complex and compelling as these two, and you will rarely see a series as consistently well written as this one.

Grand Central Publishing: August 13, 2024; ISBN: 9781538765708, Hardcover

9781538765708

★ BITE: An Incisive History of Teeth, from Hagfish to Humans

By: Bill Schutt

Kirkus – Starred Review

A delightful examination of teeth throughout history. Vertebrate zoologist Schutt, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History and the author of Pump and Cannibalism, teams with illustrator Wynne to create a lively, deeply informed investigation of the origin, development, and significance of teeth. “The appearance of teeth, around five hundred million years ago, and the serious remodeling that occurred after that enabled myriad forms of vertebrates to obtain and process food in pretty much every conceivable environment,” writes the author, as well as use them as defensive weapons and tools. Drawing on the findings of archaeologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, dentists, and scores of other researchers, Schutt highlights the teeth of many particular species. Adaptations of vampire bat teeth strike him as particularly spectacular, since bats need a bite strong enough to draw blood (which they lap up) but not painful enough to cause their prey to flee. The evolution of high-crowned teeth that continue to grow over an animal’s life span enabled horses to survive as soft-leaved forests changed to abrasive grasslands. Tusks are teeth used not for chewing, but as digging or scraping tools and, in some species, for visual display. Schutt considers the fangs of a variety of venomous snakes and venomous fish. Of these, the stonefish is the most lethal, administering its venom not through a bite, but by 13 “stiff, supersharp dorsal spines.” The author patiently explains what evolution means, with close attention to the initial appearance of jaws, whose function “was not to grasp and bite but to increase the efficiency of respiration by opening and closing the mouth.” Schutt’s purview is wide ranging and his curiosity insatiable; he wonders, for example, Why have toothless vertebrates evolved from ancestors with teeth? Were George Washington’s dentures really wooden? How have we come to have a tooth fairy? A fascinating romp through evolutionary history.

Algonquin Books: August 13, 2024; ISBN: 9781643751788, Hardcover

★ LONG LIVE EVIL

By: Sarah Rees Brennan

Booklist – Starred Review

Rae is dying. She was head cheerleader and head bitch in her high school, until she started to forget things and could not keep up with her classmates. Lying in her hospital bed, her only escape is a series of books that she and her sister love. The characters are all beautiful, but
complicated; the rules of the world are strict; and Rae is a bit in love with the hero. When a mysterious woman shows up at her bedside and tells Rae that she can enter the book and try to complete a mission that might mean a cure in the real world, Rae, half in a daze, wanders into the series. But when Rae wakes up, she is in the body of the main villianess of the work, due to be executed the following day. Rae decides to lean into her natural-villain powers, creates a whole team of villains, and plots to achieve the mission. Readers will laugh at the absurd situations and revel in all of Rae’s successes. Brennan’s adult fantasy debut is two great stories
in one: the romantasy in the background and Rae’s adventure in the foreground.

Orbit: August 27, 2024; ISBN: 9780316568715, Paperback

★ ALFRED HITCHCOCK ALL THE FILMS: The Story Behind Every Movie, Episode and Short

By: Bernard Benoliel, Gilles Esposito, Jean-François Rauger, Murielle Joudet

Library Journal – Starred Review

The star of this second volume (after Steven Spielberg, All the Films) in the “All the Films” series is the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. Authors Benoliel, Gilles Esposito, Jean-François Rauger, and Murielle Joudet cover all of his feature films, television productions, and unfinished works; this may be the most visually complete appreciation of Hitchcock’s career yet. Each Hitchcock project is covered with enough details to delight existing fans and entice new ones. The text is filled with hundreds of interesting anecdotes, sidebars about Hitchcock’s famous cameo appearances, and sections on key collaborators and his innovative stylistic ideas. It’s also packed with images, including publicity shots, countless behind-the-scenes photos, and storyboard art. Critical evaluation takes a backseat to how the films were cast, written, and filmed. It also steers clear of Hitchcock’s private life, leaving details of how he treated his leading actresses and descriptions of his personality and persona to other biographers.

VERDICT Readers interested in Hitchcock’s work instead of his personal life will find this an essential volume. It’s a wonderful treat for all fans of Hitchcock and filmmaking.

Black Dog & Leventhal: October 29, 2024; ISBN: 9780762488681, Hardcover