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Book List

Speaking in Bones.

Reichs, Kathy (author).
July 2015. 306p. Bantam, hardcover, $28 (9780345544049).
REVIEW. First published July, 2015 (Booklist). Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan has a tough decision to make. Andrew Ryan, the cop who’s occasionally her crime-solving partner, and who was once her lover, has come back into her life and, out of the blue, proposed marriage. Will she, or won’t she? Well, she’s not sure, and it’s hard to concentrate on that potentially life-altering decision when her new case, which is sparked by a visit from an amateur sleuth claiming she’s identified some remains that have been in Brennan’s lab for a few years, turns unexpectedly complicated. Reichs’ latest Brennan novel takes Tempe into the world of religious cults, a realm that other mystery writers have explored to various levels of success. Reichs appears to have done quite a bit of homework; she mostly avoids cliché and stereotyping, building her characters carefully, making sure they feel like real people (even the zealots). Another fine entry in this long-running series.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Reichs will be on the book-convention circuit through the fall, concluding with a guest-of-honor appearance at Bouchercon in Raleigh in October.

— David Pitt

School Library Journal

Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro & Daniel Kraus | SLJ Review

DEL Toro, Guillermo & Daniel Kraus. Trollhunters. illus. by Sean Murray. 320p. Disney-Hyperion. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781423125983. Gr 7 Up–Featuring plenty of edge-of-your-seat action, this offering from the director of Pan’s Labyrinth and the author of Scowler (Delacorte, 2013) won’t disappoint. In the late 1960s, eight-year-old James Sturges and his brother Jack were riding bikes at dusk, racing to get home before dark. Taking a shortcut under a bridge in the woods, they were attacked by a monstrous, shadowy creature [...]

School Librarians Want More Tech—and Bandwidth | SLJ 2015 Tech Survey
IPads, maker spaces, 3-D printers, and coding skills top the tech wish lists for 1,259 school librarians across the country, according to School Library Journal’s 2015 Technology Survey.

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers | SLJ Review

Daywalt, Drew. The Day the Crayons Came Home. illus. by Oliver Jeffers. 48p. Philomel. Sept. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399172755.

K-Gr 2–Duncan’s crayons are back in this companion to the spectacular The Day the Crayons Quit (Philomel, 2014), and they are just as forthright as ever. A stack of postcards arrive for the neglectful boy, this time written by a new batch of crayons who have been forgotten at motels, lost under the couch, or left behind in the basement. Maroon [...]

Library Journal

Lawrence Hill, Arnaldur Indridason, Darryl Pinckney, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1
Goldberg, Paul. The Yid. Picador. Feb. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9781250079039. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250079046. LITERARY Moscow-born Goldberg, a reporter and nonfiction author who immigrated to the United States in 1973, offers an imaginative and blackly funny debut novel about the Soviet Union in early 1953, around the time of the anti-Semitic Doctors’ Plot. Here, Stalin […]

From Politics (Dionne, Dyson, & Frank) to the Israeli-Palestinian Life (Kashua) to Raising a Transgender Child | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1
Dionne, E.J. Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism—From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond. S. & S. Feb. 2016. 560p. ISBN 9780062250568. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781476763811. POLITICAL SCIENCE A syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in the Washington Post and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner for Why Americans Hate Politics, also a […]

Ginsberg, Macdonald, Seidel, Young | Barbara’s Poetry Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1
Ginsberg, Allen. Wait Till I’m Dead: Uncollected Poems. Grove. Feb. 2016. 464p. ed. by Bill Morgan. ISBN 9780802124531. $22. POETRY “Rainy night on Union Square, full moon. Want more poems? Wait till I’m dead.” So proclaimed Allen Ginsberg at 3:30 in the morning on August 8, 1990. And now, nearly 20 years after his death, in […]

Kirkus Reviews

Justice for Mackenzie
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A Texas Ranger’s newly discovered romance may be threatened by a serial killer who buries women alive in Stoker’s (Protecting Jessyka, 2015, etc.) thriller, the first in a series.

Daxton Chambers may have found a woman tailor-made for him. Mackenzie Morgan wins the Ranger over not just with her curves, but her quirks—a tendency toward rambling and unmitigated clumsiness. Mackenzie also distracts Daxton from the case he’s working with the feds: finding the Lone Star Reaper, who’s been calling authorities to tell them where he’s buried his latest victims. The Reaper soon focuses his attention on Daxton and his new girlfriend. And the worst happens: Mackenzie calls him to say she’s somewhere underground—and doesn’t have long before she suffocates. The novel establishes its romance early and well. Mackenzie is a winsome protagonist who defies formula: she’s short, practical, and isn’t model-thin. It’s easy to see why Daxton find her so appealing, especially when she laughs after spilling a drink or food on herself. Daxton is, a little disappointingly, more stereotypical: muscular, masculine, protective, and sporting what Mackenzie calls a “fourteen-pack.” Their relationship builds naturally as they push past the initially awkward getting-to-know-you stage and inevitable sex scenes before dropping an “I love you” or two—all without ever being sappy. There’s not much thriller here. Daxton’s case steers clear of the foreground until Mackenzie is suddenly missing—her call to Daxton amping up the narrative’s intensity. Stoker ultimately reveals the Lone Star Reaper, but the killer’s identity and brief appearance are neither shocking nor particularly scary. But Daxton’s desperation to find Mackenzie is rousing and believable, and readers will have a white-knuckle read until the end.

More romance than thriller but enough of both to make this breezy read pure entertainment.

VOICES IN THE OCEAN
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Former O, the Oprah Magazine editor-in-chief Casey (The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean, 2010, etc.) takes the measure of the human-dolphin dance.

For hundreds of years, dolphins have been bestowed mythological and cultural significance, been the object of both good and bad scientific study, and been written about countless times. Why? The author gives the reason up front: they are playful, social, and intelligent. They are like us—some of us, anyway, and as Casey learns, only some dolphins as well. The author spins her wheels trying to drive home that unique interface, and some readers may roll their eyes when she waxes poetic on the animal’s profundity or how “they enfolded me into their gathering.” She nails it, however, when she discusses the shattering loss of her father, the subsequent depression, and the liberating exultation in “how ridiculously fun it was to just cruise along with them.” From there, the author runs through her experiences on her dolphin quest, from the classic scientific studies of Roger Payne to their totemic importance to the Pacific Northwest to their wild ride on TV: “After the Flipper movie grossed $8 million in 1963, the dolphin, a kind of aquatic house pet on steroids, was given his own TV show….The show’s plots were cartoonish and fantastical but they struck a booming chord.” Casey also delves into the miseries of dolphin factory farming and how other scientists have come close to realizing John Lilly’s conviction “that the dolphin in the tank is not a what but a who.” The most moving section of the book follows the author’s visit to Crete, where she viewed the ancient frescoes and mosaics (some underwater) of dolphins, demonstrating their significance across ages.

“Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine,” said astrophysicist Arthur Eddington. “It is stranger than we can imagine.” That sublime wildness is exactly what Casey, ever the adventurer, reveals in this flawed but still entertaining book.

THE PROMISE OF HOME
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A collection of Mill River residents experiences heartache and triumph as the McAllister mansion is renovated into a bed-and-breakfast.

When Emily DiSanti, who's managing the renovation, agrees to have it completed in time for Claudia Simon and Kyle Hansen’s wedding reception, she doesn’t realize how stressful the job will be, but having made the promise, she's determined to keep it. Emily finds the romantic overtures of the town’s new police officer, Matt Campbell, unwelcome, but he soon becomes a friend and valuable partner in the McAllister project. She’s not looking for romance, even if Kyle and Claudia make a perfect couple and leave her feeling a little wistful. Even more distracting is the discovery of an ancient briefcase in a secret compartment Emily stumbles upon during the renovation; inside are decades-old letters revealing the tragic youth of Mill River’s elderly priest, Father Michael O’Brien, who was a teenager during the Great Depression. Beloved Father O'Brien seems to have gone through just about everything, and Emily is alternately amazed by his story and guilty for reading about it in secret. However, she can definitely see where his wisdom and compassion come from. His pastoral gifts are a true godsend to any number of Mill River residents, particularly Karen Cooper, whose husband has disappeared in Saudi Arabia. And despite his worthy work, Father O'Brien has some dark secrets of his own and at least one mystery buried in his past that might be solved when a young journalist writes an article about his long life and service. Chan continues her Mill River series with this layered and heartwarming novel that intertwines a number of engaging contemporary storylines and intersperses them with Father O'Brien’s moving Depression-era experiences, offering some fascinating insights and historical details along the way.

A light-handed affirmation of the power of love, faith, and community.

<August 2015>
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