Tag Archives: Five Book Friday

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy August to all of you, beloved patrons!

I think it’s very safe to say that we are in the midst of the “Dog Days of Summer”, that period of hot, sultry weather that are frankly, perfect for little else but finding a good book to read and trying to move as little as possible.  But what does the phrase actually mean?

According to National Geographic, Greeks and Romans of ancient times coined the phrase, “dog days”to refer to the period of time when Sirius, the dog star, appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July. They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year, a period that could bring fever, or even catastrophe.  In ancient Egyptian culture, the star we know as Sirius was associated with the Egyptian god Osiris, the god of life, death, fertility, and rebirth, and Sopdet, the embodiment of the star, who is pictured as a goddess who is pictured with a five-pointed star above her head (see left).  Star-gazers noted that Sirius rose just before the sun each year immediately prior to the annual flooding of the Nile River.  Although the floods had the potential to bring destruction, they also encouraged new soil and new life.  The Egyptian new year was celebrated with a festival known as The Coming of Sopdet.

So if you have a view of the night sky where you are, beloved patrons, have a look up and see if you can spot Sirius.  The image at the top of this post provides a map to help you.  Either way, you can celebrate a time of rejuvenation with a new book!  Here are just a few of the titles that have spread out on our shelves to savor the air conditioning–and to meet you!

The Seas: Samantha Hunt is a writer with one powerful imagination, and in this slim volume, she weaves one heck of a tale that blends myth, romance, and grim reality in a way that will leave you spellbound.  Moored in a coastal fishing town so far north that the highways only run south, the unnamed narrator of this tale is a misfit, and the subject of cruel local gossip. Her father, a sailor, walked into the ocean eleven years earlier and never returned, leaving his wife and daughter to keep a forlorn vigil. Surrounded by water and beckoned by the sea, she clings to what her father once told her: that she is a mermaid.  True to myth, she finds herself in hard love with a land-bound man, an Iraq War veteran thirteen years her senior.The mesmerizing, fevered coming-of-age tale that follows will land her in jail. Her otherworldly escape will become the stuff of legend.  This is an inventive, creative, and startling insightful work that has critics and fellow writers dazzled.  The Chicago Review of Books put it well in its review when it noted, “It’s hard to imagine that a book so brief could tackle the Iraq war, grief over the loss of a parent, the longing for freedom, an enthrallment with the ocean, loneliness, sexual awakening, faith, and etymology, all in less than 200 pages, but Samantha Hunt has done it, and done it well.”

Jar of Hearts: Those of you looking for a twisty, turny thriller to pass the summer days should look no further than Jennifer Hillier’s latest page-turner.  When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way.  Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.  Now, fourteen years later, Kaiser, a detective with Seattle PD, unearths a fresh–and shocking–lead: Angela was a victim of serial killer Calvin James.  But Calvin James was also Georgina’s first love .  And as a result, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death, until the day Geo was arrested and sent to prison.  While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong, it seems the past and present are about to collide in terrible ways.  Hillier is known for her surprising, emotional plots, and this book promises to show her talents off to their very best advantage.  Publisher’s Weekly praised it as “Engrossing…there’s no denying her page-turner’s grab-you-by-the-throat power.”

BelleweatherSusanna Kearsley has earned a devoted following for her stirring historical fiction, and this book offers readers the chance to explore a house with a legend of romance and tragedy, all stemming back to the summer of 1759, when the American colonies were embroiled in the Seven Years War (also known, not very accurately, as the French and Indian War).  In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.  Kearsley apparently based this novel on her own family history, and Library Journal rewarded her efforts with a starred review,  saying in part,  “Rich characterizations and vivid historical flavor will keep readers enthralled in both past and present story lines. Highly recommended for Kearsley’s many admirers and fans of romantic dual-time historical fiction.”

Northland: A 4,000 Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten Border: The United States’ northern border is the world’s longest international boundary, yet it’s a rarely discussed, and seldom explored area, but to the tens of millions who live and work near the line, the region even has its own name: the northland.  Travel writer Porter Fox spent three years exploring 4,000 miles of the border between Maine and Washington, traveling by canoe, freighter, car, and foot.  This book is the record of his journey, the history he learned on his trek, and the people he encountered on the way.  Setting out from the easternmost point in the mainland United States, Fox follows explorer Samuel de Champlain’s adventures across the Northeast; recounts the rise and fall of the timber, iron, and rail industries; crosses the Great Lakes on a freighter; tracks America’s fur traders through the Boundary Waters; and traces the forty-ninth parallel from Minnesota to the Pacific Ocean.   A marvelous, thoughtful work that explores the economy, ecology, people, politics, and history of the United States, Canada, and all those who have had dealing therein.  Kirkus Reviews gave this book a starred review, hailing, “Richly populated with fascinating northlanders, Native Americans, and many border patrol agents, this is highly entertaining and informative travel literature.”

The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies: From such illustrious titles do fascinating books emerge!  Dawn Raffel’s book tells the story of a sideshow presenter, the titular Dr. Couney, who discovered that he could use incubators (and very careful medical care) to save the lives of babies who were born prematurely.   How this turn-of-the-twentieth-century émigré became the savior to families with premature infants, known then as “weaklings”–while ignoring the scorn of the medical establishment and fighting the climate of eugenics–is a wonderfully intriguing and woefully under-explored story.  Raffel emphasized that Dr. Couney, for all his opportunistic entrepreneurial gusto, and the skeletons in his personal closet, genuinely cared for the well-being of his tiny patients, and whose work and insight continues to offer hope to families around the world.  As Publisher’s Weekly notes, “With colorful descriptions of the carnival world and the medical marvels of early neonatalogy, Raffel makes a fascinating case for this unusual pioneer’s rightful place in medical history.” 

Until next week, beloved patrons, Happy Reading!

Five Book Friday!

And for any of you night-owls out there, be sure to check out the brilliant full moon!

For those of our readers across the Atlantic (hello there!) tonight’s sky will feature the second blood moon of 2018, in the longest totality of the 21st century, according to NASA.  The moon will be obscured completely for an hour and 43 minutes, during which time the earth’s shadow will fall across it, causing the moon to appear red.    Sadly, however, by the time night falls in North America, the eclipse will already have ended. We’ll apparently have to wait until January 21, 2019, when the next full lunar eclipse will be viewable here.

So while some predict this means the end of days, we have every intention of being open at 9am tomorrow, so by all means, be sure to come by, and check out the wonderful selection of new books, dvds, cds, and more on our shelves this week!  Here are just a few to whet your appetite.

The Wrong Heaven In Amy Bonnaffons utterly wild collection of short stories, anything is possible: bodies can transform, inanimate objects come to life, angels appear and disappear. Bonnaffons draws us into a delightfully strange universe, in which her conflicted characters seek to solve their sexual and spiritual dilemmas in all the wrong places. The title story’s heroine reckons with grief while arguing with loquacious Jesus and Mary lawn ornaments that come to life when she plugs them in. In “Horse,” we enter a world in which women transform themselves into animals through a series of medical injections. In “Alternate,” a young woman convinces herself that all she needs to revive a stagnant relationship is the perfect poster of the Dalai Lama.  These stories delve into the mysteries that surround our everyday lives, relationships, and locations, making for a set of stories that manage somehow to be profound, funny, thought-provoking, and wonderfully engrossing.  This book has been getting starred and glowing reviews from outlets across the country, including from Library Journal, who said (in its starred review) “At once goofy, poignant, and edged with the fantastic, the stories in Bonnaffons’s debut collection initially surprise, then turn into one long, delicious rush.”

The Map of Salt and Stars: Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar’s debut novel has drawn comparisons to The Kite Runner in the way it captures a nation (in this case, Syria), and the deep bonds of two people who forge a life there.  In the summer of 2011, just after Nour loses her father to cancer, her mother moves Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. In order to keep her father’s spirit as she adjusts to her new home, Nour tells herself their favorite story—the tale of Rawiya, a twelfth-century girl who disguised herself as a boy in order to apprentice herself to a famous mapmaker.  But the Syria Nour’s parents knew is changing, and it isn’t long before the war reaches their quiet Homs neighborhood. When a stray shell destroys Nour’s house and almost takes her life, she and her family are forced to choose: stay and risk more violence or flee across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety—along the very route Rawiya and her mapmaker took eight hundred years before in their quest to chart the world. As Nour’s family decides to take the risk, their journey becomes more and more dangerous, until they face a choice that could mean the family will be separated forever.  This is an ambitious novel that spans time and space, and brings the devastation of the war in Syria home in a way news reports simply cannot.  Booklist recognized the beautiful balancing act that Joukhadar manages here, describing in its starred review how “Nour’s family constantly endures hardship. . . but her young, honest voice adds a softer, coming-of-age perspective to this story of loss, hope, and survival. . . This imaginative yet very real look into war-torn Syria is a must.”


Ocean Light:  Fans of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series will delight in returning to the world of this series, this time to explore the changeling group of BlackSea, which is full of ocean-dwelling changelings.  Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there’s a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment–taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he’s at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling.  Kaia Luna, a BlackSea changeling may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won’t hide the facts of Bo’s condition from him or herself. She’s suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back, even if it means giving up his mind to the enemy.  This is probably not a book for series’ newcomers, as there are a number of long-running plots threads (including a few answers for those who have been kept in eager anticipation!), but for those in the know, Kirkus Reviews promises “Another intricately plotted, vividly sensual love story from a romance favorite.”

Yes, You Are Trans Enough: My Transition from Self-Loathing to Self-LoveThis is the story of Transgender blogger Mia Violet, told in her witty, deeply insightful and wonderfully energetic style, which reflects on her life and how at 26 she came to finally realize she was ‘trans enough’ to be transgender, after years of knowing she was different but without the language to understand why.  From bullying, heartache and a botched coming out attempt, through to counselling, Gender Identity Clinics and acceptance, Mia confronts the ins and outs of transitioning, using her charged personal narrative to explore the most pressing questions in the transgender debate and confront what the media has gotten wrong.  This is a book for those looking for advice, as well as those looking to become a better ally by learning about the real experiences of transfolx.  Author and activist Christine Burns wrote a stunning blurb for this book, calling it “Honest, raw, moving: This intimate blow by blow account of a young trans woman’s odyssey to personal acceptance and authenticity really ought to be compulsory reading for anyone who ever thought in ignorance that a change of gender was a whimsical adventure.”


The Widower’s Notebook: A Memoir: On a summer day in New York Jonathan Santlofer discovers his wife, Joy, gasping for breath on their living room couch. After a frenzied 911 call, an ambulance race across Manhattan, and hours pacing in a hospital waiting room, a doctor finally delivers the fateful news. Consumed by grief, Jonathan desperately tries to pursue life as he always had–writing, social engagements, and working on his art–but finds it nearly impossible to admit his deep feelings of loss to anyone, not even his to beloved daughter, Doria, or to himself.  This is the story of Santlofer’s two-year journey of grief, acceptance, and healing, as well as his recollections of his loving marriage and memories of his beloved wife.   Though not easy to read, this is a powerfully necessary work that offers insight for those who are grieving themselves, or helping others to grieve, reminding us all that the journey is not a simple one, but that it can be done–and done with grace, honesty, and even a little humor, too.  Author Lee Child contributed a wonderful blurb for this book, praising it as a”Wrenching, heartbreaking, intense and emotional – but valuable, too: we’re all approaching the age where this will happen to us – or to others because of us – and understanding that it can be dealt with is consoling.  I don’t know how Santlofer found the fortitude to write this, but I’m deeply grateful he did. I think the world is a better place with this book in it.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Five Book Friday!

And many very warm Free-For-All birthday wishes to Francesco Petrarca, commonly referred to as Petrarch, who was born on this day in 1304.  Quite literally the first Renaissance man, Petrarch was a scholar, poet, ambassador, professional tourist, epic correspondent, and intellectual who helped establish the period known as the Renaissance–specifically because he defined the “Dark Ages” as the period before his birth.

Petrarch himself, via Wikipedia

But despite Petrarch’s being upheld throughout time as a leading light of intellectualism, art, and the humanities, but let’s, for a few moments, focus on something a little more…human.  Petrarch loved his cat.  In fact, he loved his cat so much that when it died, he had it embalmed and placed in a glass case in his house in Arqua, Italy.  Below the case, is a marble slab with a poem written in 1635 by the next owner of the house as a joke of sorts, mocking Petrarch’s affinity for his feline friend.  Indeed, there are those who claim the whole thing, from cat to display case, is a kind of hoax meant to entice tourists.  You can still see it today if you visit Petrarch’s house in Arqua, or in the photo below (a note: we’re not sure quite why the cat is hairless.  Perhaps it’s because of the embalming process, or perhaps it’s the result of wear and tear over time.)  You are welcome to decide for yourself.

Petrarch’s Cat, via http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/literarytourist/?p=59

And while we’re on the subject, let’s have a talk about other literary matters, shall we?  Especially about the new books that have crept in, like the fog, on little cat’s feet, and are currently waiting on our shelves for your arrival!

The Calculating Stars: Mary Robinette Kowal has an imagination as wide as the cosmos, and in this new novel, she turns her talent to creating an alternate history of spaceflight that will appeal to all fans of Hidden Figures.  On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process. Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too. Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her. This is a book that is being celebrated by reviewers and readers alike, including Publisher’s Weekly, who gave it a starred review and noted “Readers will thrill to the story of this “lady astronaut” and eagerly anticipate the promised sequels.”

The Mere Wife: Maria Dahvana Headley’s book is, simply, a re-telling of the ancient epic Beowulf, about a knight who defeats a monster and his mother before being destroyed by a dragon.  However, in Headley’s capable hands, this is also a story about contemporary America, motherhood and identity that is as prescient as it is timeless.  From the perspective of those who live in Herot Hall, the suburb is a paradise. Picket fences divide buildings―high and gabled―and the community is entirely self-sustaining.  But for those who live surreptitiously along Herot Hall’s periphery, the subdivision is a fortress guarded by an intense network of gates, surveillance cameras, and motion-activated lights. For Willa, the wife of Roger Herot (heir of Herot Hall), life moves at a charmingly slow pace. She flits between mommy groups, playdates, cocktail hour, and dinner parties, always with her son, Dylan, in tow. Meanwhile, in a cave in the mountains just beyond the limits of Herot Hall lives Gren, short for Grendel, as well as his mother, Dana, a former soldier who gave birth as if by chance. Dana didn’t want Gren, didn’t plan Gren, and doesn’t know how she got Gren, but when she returned from war, there he was. When Gren, unaware of the borders erected to keep him at bay, ventures into Herot Hall and runs off with Dylan, Dana’s and Willa’s worlds collide.  Booklist is just one of the outlets to give this title a starred review, calling it “[A] stunner: a darkly electric reinterpretation of Beowulf that upends its Old English framework to comment on the nature of heroes and how we ‘other’ those different from ourselves… A strange tale told with sharp poetic imagery and mythic fervor.”

To the Bridge: A True Story of Motherhood and MurderOn May 23, 2009, Amanda Stott-Smith drove to the middle of the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, Oregon, and dropped her two children into the Willamette River. Forty minutes later, rescuers were able to save seven-year-old Trinity, but were unable to save four-year-old Eldon, whose body was recovered from the scene.   Stott-Smith was convicted and sentenced to thirty-five years in prison; but journalist Nancy Rommelmann remained convinced that there was more to the story: What made a mother want to murder her own children?  Embarking on a seven-year quest for the truth, Rommelmann traced the roots of Amanda’s fury and desperation through thousands of pages of records, withheld documents, meetings with lawyers and convicts, and interviews with friends and family who felt shocked, confused, and emotionally swindled by a woman whose entire life was now defined by an unspeakable crime. At the heart of that crime: a tempestuous marriage, a family on the fast track to self-destruction, and a myriad of secrets and lies as dark and turbulent as the Willamette River.  This is a difficult, challenging book that seeks in some way to understand that which seems incomprehensible, and to see through the eyes of one whose actions seem indefensible and unforgivable.  It’s not an easy read by any sense, but Rommelmann’s stunning insight, empathy, and journalistic excellence makes it a compelling and important work.  Robert Kolker, author of Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, wrote a beautiful blurb for this book, explaining that “Nancy Rommelmann takes what many consider the most unforgivable of crimes—a mother set on murdering her own children—and delivers something thoughtful and provocative: a deeply reported, sensitively told, all-too-relevant tragedy of addiction and codependency, toxic masculinity, and capricious justice. You won’t be able to look away—nor should any of us.”

Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet: As much as we all might enjoy the classical music that accompanies ballet, and no matter how fundamental to our humanity dancing might be, the art of ballet itself can often seem inaccessible to those not in “the know”.  In this engaging and accessible book, dance critic Laura Jacobs makes the foreign familiar, providing a lively, poetic, and uniquely accessible introduction to the world of classical dance. Combining history, interviews with dancers, technical definitions, descriptions of performances, and personal stories, Jacobs offers an intimate and passionate guide to watching ballet and understanding the central elements of choreography.  None other than Misty Copeland herself wrote a review of this book for The New York Times Review of Books, saying in part, “Jacobs’s book opens the door, offering a meticulous introduction to the art form and welcoming readers to have a seat and stay a while…. It’s from this insider’s perspective that Jacobs is able to offer an all-encompassing guided tour behind the curtain, then circling back to the auditorium where the balletomane, the occasional fan and the newcomer sit side by side as they interpret the performance according to their individual experiences and beliefs.”

Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray: From the artistic to the natural, physics researcher Sabine Hossenfelder’s newest book seeks to complicate our understanding of nature by accepting and reveling in all its messiness, rather than attempting to hold nature to our transient and shifting standards of ‘beauty’.  The belief in beauty, Hossenfelder argues, has become so dogmatic that it now conflicts with scientific objectivity: observation has been unable to confirm mindboggling theories, like supersymmetry or grand unification, invented by physicists based on aesthetic criteria. Worse, these “too good to not be true” theories are actually untestable and they have left the field in a cul-de-sac. To escape, physicists must rethink their methods. Only by embracing reality as it is can science discover the truth.  This is a book for math and science lovers, but it is also one that laypeople can enjoy, and learn from, as well.  As Popular Science encouraged readers, “Eavesdrop on accessible and frank conversations in Hossenfelder’s Lost in Math, which wrestles with big questions of quantum mechanics and beauty in a fun, fascinating way.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

Five Book Friday!

And numerous congratulations to Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, which was named the winner of the Golden Man Booker Prize!

As we mentioned here previously, The Golden Man Booker Prize put all 51 previous Booker Prize winners into competition with each other, “to discover which of them has stood the test of time, remaining relevant to readers today.”  Each of the five judges was assigned a decade, and was in charge of selecting the book which was representative of the strongest book from that decade.  After a public vote, Michael Ondaatje 1992 novel was announced as the winner on July 8.

Kamila Shamsie, who chose The English Patient, said of the novel:

“The English Patient is that rare novel which gets under your skin and insists you return to it time and again, always yielding a new surprise or delight. It moves seamlessly between the epic and the intimate – one moment you’re in looking at the vast sweep of the desert and the next moment watching a nurse place a piece of plum in a patient’s mouth. That movement is mirrored in the way your thoughts, while reading it, move between  large themes – war, loyalty, love – to  tiny shifts in the relationships between characters. It’s intricately (and rewardingly) structured, beautifully written, with great humanity written into every page. Ondaatje’s imagination acknowledges no borders as it moves between Cairo, Italy, India, England, Canada – and between deserts and villas and bomb craters. And through all this, he makes you fall in love with his characters, live their joys and their sorrows. Few novels really deserve the praise: transformative. This one does.”

We here at the Free For All send Michael Ondaatje our very heartiest congratulations–and what better way to celebrate than with more books!  Here are juts a few of the titles that made the journey onto our shelves this week and are eager to make your acquaintance!

Ayiti: We are delighted to have this reprint of Roxane Gay’s first collection of short stories here at the Library.  With her signature style, searing insight and unforgettably strong prose, Gay’s stories explore the Haitian diaspora experience: A married couple seeking boat passage to America prepares to leave their homeland. A mother takes a foreign soldier into her home as a boarder, and into her bed. And a woman conceives a daughter on the bank of a river while fleeing a horrific massacre, a daughter who later moves to America for a new life but is perpetually haunted by the mysterious scent of blood. Wise, fanciful, and daring, Ayiti is the book that put Roxane Gay on the map and now, with two previously uncollected stories, confirms her singular vision.  Kirkus Reviews wrote a lovely review for this reprint, noting “This book set the tone that still characterizes much of Gay’s writing: clean, unaffected, allowing the (often furious) emotions to rise naturally out of calm, declarative sentences. That gives her briefest stories a punch even when they come in at two pages or fewer, sketching out the challenges of assimilation in terms of accents, meals, or ‘What You Need to Know About a Haitian Woman.’ . . . This debut amply contains the righteous energy that drives all her work.”

Wicked and the Wallflower: Historical romance legend Sarah MacLean is back with the debut of a new series (The Bareknuckle Bastards) that has been getting absolute rave reviews from critics and readers–longtime readers and newcomers alike!  When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a husband, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees to his suspicious terms–on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.  Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.  But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted . . . and the only thing he’s ever desired.  This is a delightful romance that doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff, but in doing that, creates a re-affirming, deeply meaningful story–the New York Times Review of Books agrees, noting that “The Bareknuckle Bastards…promises her darkest take yet. But even when MacLean goes dark… the sparkling wit and essential goodness of her characters shine through.”

Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures: Whales are among the largest, most intelligent, deepest diving species to have ever lived on our planet. They evolved from land-roaming, dog-sized creatures into animals that move like fish, breathe like us, can grow to 300,000 pounds, live 200 years and travel entire ocean basins. But even though our fascination with whales, from the fictional Moby Dick to the humpbacks off Massachusetts’ coasts, there is still so much to learn about these wonderful creatures.  In this wide-ranging and fascinating book, Nick Pyenson, whose research has given us some powerful insight into the lives of whales, explores the world in search of a deeper understanding of the whales.  From the Smithsonian’s unparalleled fossil collections, to frigid Antarctic waters, and to the arid desert in Chile, where scientists race against time to document the largest fossil whale site ever found. Full of rich storytelling and scientific discovery, Spying on Whales spans the ancient past to an uncertain future–all to better understand the most enigmatic creatures on Earth.  Booklist gave this infectiously engrossing book a starred review, calling it “A hard-to-put-down quest to understand whales and their place on Earth.”

Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World’s Strangest BrainsFrom the sea, then to the human brain…We take it for granted that we can remember, feel emotion, navigate, empathise and understand the world around us, but how would our lives change if these abilities were dramatically enhanced – or disappeared overnight?  Helen Thomson has spent years travelling the world, tracking down incredibly rare brain disorders.  In this marvelous book, she tells the stories of nine extraordinary people she encountered along the way. From the man who thinks he’s a tiger to the doctor who feels the pain of others just by looking at them to a woman who hears music that’s not there, their experiences illustrate how the brain can shape our lives in unexpected and, in some cases, brilliant and alarming ways.  There are also some fascinating lessons here about how our brains function, what precisely they do, and how you can consciously change the way you think (should you so desire).  Even in looking at the bizarre, Thomson’s work reminds us of how fundamentally human her subjects and their perceptions of the world are, recalling the work of the great Oliver Sacks.  Library Journal, which gave this book a starred review, agreed, saying, “Thomson has a gift for making the complex and strange understandable and relatable. Oliver Sacks is noted as an inspiration and, indeed, this book will appeal to his many fans.” 

The Robots of Gotham:  Todd McAulty’s debut is a dystopian, post-apocalyptic science fiction novel that will most likely reinforce your even fear about smart devices and the pernicious power of technology.  After long years of war, the United States has sued for peace, yielding to a brutal coalition of nations ruled by fascist machines. Canadian businessman Barry Simcoe arrives in occupied Chicago days before his hotel is attacked by a rogue war machine. In the aftermath, he meets a dedicated Russian medic with the occupying army, and 19 Black Winter, a badly damaged robot. Together they stumble on a machine conspiracy to unleash a horrific plague—and learn that the fabled American resistance is not as extinct as everyone believes. Simcoe races against time to prevent the extermination of all life on the continent, and uncover a secret that America’s machine conquerors are desperate to keep hidden.  Both a techno-thriller and a medical thriller, this is a book that will have wide appeal for anyone looking to take a glimpse into a darker version of our future.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, having given this book a starred review and noting, “This massive and impressive novel is set in an America that outlawed the development of artificial intelligence and quickly lost a short and bitter war against robot-led fascist countries… McAulty maintains breathless momentum throughout. Readers will hope for more tales of this sinister future and eagerly pick up on hints that Barry and his companions may continue their exploits”.


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Five Book Friday!

And many very happy Free For All Birthday wishes to Frida Kahlo, born on this day in 1907!

Kahlo in 1932, photographed by her father Guillermo Kahlo

Kahlo was born in Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico to a German father and a mestiza mother (the word “mestiza” a term traditionally used in Spanish-speaking countries, Latin American countries, and the Philippines to refer to a person who is of native and European descent).  Though she suffered from polio as a child, Kahlo recovered, and was well on her way as a promising medical student.  However, in 1925, at the age of eighteen, Kahlo and her boyfriend were on their way home from school when the wooden bus they were riding collided with a streetcar. The accident killed several people and caused near-fatal injuries to Kahlo herself, including  fractured ribs, two broken legs, a broken collarbone, a fractured pelvis, and the displacement of three vertebrae, which would cause her lifelong pain.  During her recovery, she started to consider a career as a medical illustrator, in order to combine her love of science and art, and she had an easel made specifically for her that enabled her to paint in bed, and a mirror was placed above it so she could use herself as a model.  

By 1927, she was able to leave her bed, and Kahlo had the opportunity to rejoin her friends, who by this time had joined a number of political organizations and student groups.  She herself joined the Mexican Communist Party and, in 1928, she met Diego Rivera, whom she would marry that same year.  Both would have extra-marital affairs, Together, the two traveled around Mexico and the United States, and Kahlo began to develop her own artistic following.  Her adoption of traditional  indigenous Mexican peasant clothing to represent her mestiza heritage became a signature wherever she visited.  She taught at the National School of Painting, Sculpture, and Printmaking in Mexico City, and was a founding member of the Seminario de Cultura Mexicana.  She also held her own solo exhibition in 1953.

Although Kahlo was remembered for some time only as “the wife of Diego Rivera”, recent generations of historians have been working to reclaim her memory and her remarkable individuality, as well as her significant contributions to art, to the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, to feminism, and to the LGBTQ community.  Those looking to learn more about Kahlo’s work and life would do well to check out Frida Kahlo, 1907-1954 : Pain and Passion by Andrea Kettenmann, as well as Frida Kahlo : The Painter and Her Work by Helga Prignitz-Poda.

And now, beloved patrons, on to the books!  Here is just a small selection of the titles that have struggled through the heat to slide onto our shelves this week:

The Cabin at the End of the World: It’s here!  The latest novel from the sensational Paul Tremblay has arrived, and is already giving us nightmares.  Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.  One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen, but he is young and friendly, and Wen agrees to play with him until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”  Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined.  Tremblay’s horror asks some incredibly deep, searching questions, and while they are unsettling, they are also addictive.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, having given this book a starred review and noting “The apocalypse begins with a home invasion in this tripwire-taut horror thriller. . . .[Tremblay’s] profoundly unsettling novel invites readers to ask themselves whether, when faced with the unbelievable, they would do the unthinkable to prevent it.”

Unbound: Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity:  In this insightful and ground-breaking work, award-winning sociologist Arlene Stein takes us into the lives of four strangers who have all traveled to the same surgeon’s office in Florida in order to masculinize their chests.  Ben, Lucas, Parker, and Nadia wish to feel more comfortable in their bodies; three of them are also taking testosterone so that others recognize them as male. Following them over the course of a year, Stein shows how members of this young transgender generation, along with other gender dissidents, are refashioning their identities and challenging others’ conceptions of who they are, despite the very real risks and dangers they face in doing so.  This is a timely book that considers not only trans-men’s identity in today’s culture, but also the political, medical, and social dimensions of their lives, making for an emotional, as well as an educational work that earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, who noted, “This significant book provides medical, sociological, and psychological information that can only serve to educate those lacking understanding and awareness of an entire community of individuals who deserve representation. A stellar exploration of the complexities and limitations of gender.”

The Secret Token: Myth Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of RoanokeIn 1587, 115 men, women, and children arrived at Roanoke Island on the coast of North Carolina with the goal of establishing the first English colony in “the New World”.   But when the colony’s leader, John White, returned to Roanoke from a resupply mission, his settlers were nowhere to be found. They left behind only a single clue–a “secret token” carved into a tree. Neither White nor any other European laid eyes on the colonists again.  For over four centuries since their disappearance, historians, archaeologists, and countless others have tried to puzzle out the story of the settlers at Roanoke.  After a chance encounter with a British archaeologist, journalist Andrew Lawler determined that solid answers to the mystery were within reach, and set off to unravel the enigma of the lost settlers. In the course of his journey, Lawler encountered a host of characters obsessed with the colonists and their fate.  This book is both his own hunt for the secrets of the Lost Colony, and the host of fascinating, erudite, and eager searchers he met along the way.  It is also a study on why Roanoke remains such an important part of the American story that continues to be referenced to this very day.  This is a book for history lovers of many stripes, and has been earning a number of very positive reviews for its accessibility and its insight, including from Publisher’s Weekly, who described it as
“Part detective novel, part historical reckoning, Lawler’s engrossing book traces the story of—and the obsessive search for—the lost colony of Roanoke…a thoughtful and timely discourse about race and identity…. Lawler makes a strong case for why historical myths matter.”

Rainy Day FriendsFan favorite Jill Shalvis is back with another story of humor, loss, love, featuring a marvelously happy doggy on the cover who is making my day.  Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing–her husband was a serial adulterer, who convinced each women in his life that she was his one-and-only wife.  Lost and deeply shaken, Lanie is desperate for a new start, and  impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery.  Though she begins by feeling like an outsider in this boisterous family, it isn’t long before the Capriottis take Lanie under their wing–particularly Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff.  But when River Brown arrives at the winery, and takes a job there, as well, Lanie finds her position and her new-found happiness threatened in ways she could have never imagined.  This book has been winning praise from many of Shalvis’ long-time fans, as well as newcomers, and also earned as starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who  declared, “With a fast pace and a lovely mix of romance and self-discovery, Shalvis’s novel is chock-full of magnetic characters and seamless storytelling, rich with emotions, and impossible to put down.”

The Secrets Between UsReaders of Thrity Umrigar’s beloved novel The Space Between Us will no doubt be delighted with this sequel, but new readers will find plenty to enjoy in this powerful and compelling story, as well. Bhima, heroine of The Space Between Us, faithfully worked for the Dubash family for more than twenty years.  Yet after courageously speaking the truth about a heinous crime perpetrated against her own family, the devoted servant was cruelly fired. A woman who has endured despair and loss with stoicism, Bhima must now find some other way to support herself and her granddaughter, Maya.  Bhima’s fortunes take an unexpected turn when her path intersects with Parvati, a bitter, taciturn older woman. The two acquaintances soon form a tentative business partnership, selling fruits and vegetables at the local market. As they work together, these two women begin confessing the truth about their lives and the wounds that haunt them, forging an unlikely, but wonderfully redemptive friendship.  Library Journal gave this book a starred review, noting that while this will hold special appeal for Umrigar’s fans, ” this title easily stands on its own. It chronicles the triumph of women’s friendships and fortitude in the face of considerable obstacles—poverty, homophobia, illiteracy, gender discrimination, ageism, and sexual assault. It further displays Umrigar’s insights into the deep resilience of the human heart.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

Five Book Friday!

We also wouldn’t want the day to pass without acknowledging the loss and legacy of Harlan Ellison, who passed away yesterday at the age of 84.  Ellison was a prolific writer of science-fiction; including more than 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays (including the Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”) and edited volumes.  He was also notoriously contentious and argumentative–a trait that made him seem unapproachable.  Twitter, however, featured a number of tributes from authors who received kindness, guidance, and honest support from Ellison, showing that all people are complex and fascinating, and often possess the potential to surprise from the better.

Via The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2018/jun/29/harlan-ellison-where-to-start-reading

If you’re looking to learn more about Ellison’s work, The Guardian has an excellent primer to get you started.

And for those looking for some more stellar reading choices, here are some of the new books that leapt onto our shelves this week, and can’t wait to share your summer adventures with you!

The Melody: On the surface, Jim Crace’s newest novel is a melancholy story about love and loss–but in short order, it opens up into so much more…a story about social issues, outsiders, poverty, class, and humanity that is both eye-opening and moving.  Aside from his trusty piano, Alfred Busi lives alone in his villa overlooking the waves. Famed in his town for his music and songs, he is mourning the recent death of his wife and quietly living out his days, occasionally performing the classics in small venues – never in the stadiums he could fill when in his prime. On the night before receiving his town’s highest honor, Busi is wrested from bed by noises in his courtyard and then stunned by an attacking intruder–his hands and neck are scratched, his face is bitten. Busi can’t say what it was that he encountered, exactly, but he feels his assailant was neither man nor animal.  As the people of the town begin to panic, remembering old stories about an ancient race of people alleged to be living in the forests, and threaten to take action, Busi, weathering a media storm, must come to terms with his wife’s death and decide whether to sing one last time.  This is a powerful and emotional story that is resonant on a number of levels.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, calling this book “Haunting and transfixing . . . Like the simple but subtle song from which the novel takes its title, The Melody’s effects linger, coloring the reader’s feelings about the thin border between the natural world and human society.”

Number One Chinese RestaurantLillian Li’s debut novel is probably not one to read when you’re hungry.  The restaurant in which it’s set sound precisely like the kind of place you want for dinner.  The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is not only a beloved go-to setting for hunger pangs and celebrations; it is its own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting, loving, and aging within its walls for decades. When disaster strikes, this working family’s controlled chaos is set loose, forcing each character to confront the conflicts that fast-paced restaurant life has kept at bay.  Owner Jimmy Han hopes to leave his late father’s homespun establishment for a fancier one. Jimmy’s older brother, Johnny, and Johnny’s daughter, Annie, ache to return to a time before a father’s absence and a teenager’s silence pushed them apart. Nan and Ah-Jack, longtime Duck House employees, are tempted to turn their 30-year friendship into something else, even as Nan’s son, Pat, struggles to stay out of trouble. And when Pat and Annie, caught in a mix of youthful lust and boredom, find themselves in a dangerous game that implicates them in the Duck House tragedy, their families must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice to help their children.  This is an energetic, exuberant novel that is as tangible in its scenic details as it is honest about its human characters, all combining to make a novel that earned a lovely review from Kirkus who praised it as follows: “Evoking every detail of [this restaurant] with riveting verisimilitude . . . Li’s sense of the human comedy and of the aspirations burning in each human heart puts a philosophical spin on the losses of her characters.”

Confessions of the FoxJordy Rosenberg’s historical novel sounds like a pitch-perfect blend of speculative history, mystery, love, and identity that will make it an ideal summertime adventure-read.  Jack Sheppard and Edgeworth Bess were the most notorious thieves, jailbreakers, and lovers of eighteenth-century London. Yet no one knows the true story; their confessions have never been found.  Until now. Reeling from heartbreak, a scholar named Dr. Voth discovers a long-lost manuscript—a gender-defying exposé of Jack and Bess’s adventures. Dated 1724, the book depicts a London underworld where scamps and rogues clash with the city’s newly established police force, queer subcultures thrive, and ominous threats of the Plague abound. Jack—a transgender carpenter’s apprentice—has fled his master’s house to become a legendary prison-break artist, and Bess has escaped the draining of the fenlands to become a revolutionary…but is the manuscript an authentic autobiography or a hoax? Dr. Voth obsessively annotates the manuscript, desperate to find the answer. As he is drawn deeper into Jack and Bess’s tale of underworld resistance and gender transformation, it becomes clear that their fates are intertwined—and only a miracle will save them all.  For all the fun in this book, there are a lot of big and important questions being explored here, giving this story critical depth and emotional gravity.  Entertainment Weekly agreed, saying of it “An ambitious, thought-provoking novel [that] explores everything from gender identity to mass incarceration, moves between centuries, and even features footnotes. . . . You’ll find yourself immersed, and maybe even changed.”

Pandora’s Box: A History of the First World War: As someone who reads a lot of the First World War history, this is a good one (if a heavy one!).  It’s even more compelling because it’s written by a German historian, who offers a perspective on the global war that we English-readers don’t often get.  Jörn Leonhard treats the clash of arms with a sure feel for grand strategy, the everyday tactics of dynamic movement and slow attrition, the race for ever more destructive technologies, and the grim experiences of frontline soldiers. But the war was much more than a military conflict, or an exclusively European one. Leonhard renders the perspectives of leaders, intellectuals, artists, and ordinary men and women on diverse home fronts as they grappled with the urgency of the moment and the rise of unprecedented political and social pressures. And he shows how the entire world came out of the war utterly changed.  Combining close-source analysis as well as grand strategy, this is a book that Professor Robert Gerwarth noted “stands out as the most comprehensive recent book on the First World War in any language… From the microcosm of the trenches to the home fronts, from the big battles in the East and the West to violent upheavals after 1918, Leonhard’s treatment of the war is wide-ranging while also giving ample space to the different layers of war experiences.”

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World: If you’re like me, and never really got over your complete obsession with dinosaurs (and not really the Jurassic Park monsters, but, like real dinosaurs…), then this is the book for you.  In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has named fifteen new species in the course of his career, tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy.  In addition to tracing the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers into the dominant array of species we are more familiar with seeing, Brusatte also relays some of the tales of his fieldwork adventures, bringing readers along on the finds of a lifetime and making the world of dinosaurs startling, wonderfully real.  Library Journal gave this book a starred review, declaring it “should not be missed. Highly recommended for the dinosaur obsessed and anyone even mildly curious about the evolutionary importance of these iconic creatures.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

Six Book Saturday!

It’s always a sad day here at the Free-For-All when we can’t bring you our regular Five Book Friday review of the new books that are partying on our shelves….so in order to make things up to you, beloved patrons, we’re going to celebrate Six Book Saturday this week, providing you an extra helping of new reading material!  We hope this makes up for the lack of new books in your life yesterday!

The Grey Bastards: Jonathan French’s gritty, occasionally gruesome, adrenaline-fueled fantasy adventure is being hailed as an ideal escapist novel for all those pining away for further episodes of Game of Thrones.  “Live in the saddle.  Die on the hog.”  Such is the creed of the half-orcs dwelling in the Lot Lands. Sworn to hardened brotherhoods known as hoofs, these former slaves patrol their unforgiving country astride massive swine bred for war. They are all that stand between the decadent heart of noble Hispartha and marauding bands of full-blood orcs. Jackal rides with the Grey Bastards, one of eight hoofs that have survived the harsh embrace of the Lots. Young, cunning and ambitious, he schemes to unseat the increasingly tyrannical founder of the Bastards, a plague-ridden warlord called the Claymaster.  When the troubling appearance of a foreign sorcerer comes upon the heels of a faceless betrayal, Jackal’s plans are thrown into turmoil. He finds himself saddled with a captive elf girl whose very presence begins to unravel his alliances.  Not for the faint-of-heart, critics are nevertheless raving over this novel that makes the traditionally villains of fantasy into the most unlikely of heroes.  Kirkus Reviews gave this book a starred review, calling it “A dirty, blood-soaked gem of a novel [that reads] like Mad Max set in Tolkien’s Middle Earth…powered by unparalleled worldbuilding, polished storytelling, and relentless pacing. A fantasy masterwork.”

The Lost Vintage: A story about taste, memory, history, and self-discovery, Ann Mah’s book is being recommended far and wide for fans of Sweetbitter and The Nightingale.  To become one of only a few hundred certified wine experts in the world, Kate must pass the notoriously difficult Master of Wine examination. She’s failed twice before; her third attempt will be her last chance. Suddenly finding herself without a job and with the test a few months away, she travels to Burgundy to spend the fall at the vineyard estate that has belonged to her family for generations.  But no sooner does she arrive than Kate discovers a hidden room, and a long-buried secret in her family’s past.  Her investigation takes her back to the dark days of World War II and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed, a great–half aunt who was a teenager during the Nazi occupation.  As she learns more about her family, the line between resistance and collaboration blurs, driving Kate to find the answers to two crucial questions: Who, exactly, did her family aid during the difficult years of the war? And what happened to six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection? Bon Appetit magazine wrote a glowing review for this book, noting “Fans of World War II historical fiction have a new title to add to their book club reading list this summer….You’ll easily start and finish the entire book in the span of a long weekend.”

There There: Tommy Orange’s new book is making ‘Best Of’ lists across the country for its searing, emotional portrayal of an America that few of us have the chance to know–the life within Native American/Indian culture.  This book introduces readers to twelve vibrant, empathetic ‘Urban Indians’ living in Oakland, California, whose lives come together at the Big Oakland Powwow.  Orange gracefully reveals each character’s reasons for attending the Powwow—some generous, some fearful, some joyful, some violent—all while spinning the novel to a shocking, yet somehow terribly inevitable conclusion that will change each of their lives.  This is a book about identity, nature, beauty and rage, that copes with the issues of addiction, abuse, and suicide with which the Native American community is forced to grapple, as well as a searing study of their endangered and precious culture.  Library Journal was just one outlet to give this novel a starred review; in that, they called this novel “Visceral… A chronicle of domestic violence, alcoholism, addiction, and pain, the book reveals the perseverance and spirit of the characters… Unflinching candor… Highly recommended.”

Room to Dream: Fans of Twin Peaks, and David Lynch’s other challenging, beloved, and intriguing works will no doubt find something to love, question, and explore in his unexpected memoir.  Lynch’s lyrical, intimate, and unfiltered personal reflections are accompanied by biographical sections written by close collaborator Kristine McKenna.  These sections are based on more than one hundred new interviews with surprisingly candid ex-wives, family members, actors, agents, musicians, and colleagues in various fields who all have their own takes on the moment that Lynch describes.  As a result, this hybrid biography/memoir is weird, colorful, challenging, and thoroughly rewarding, especially for Lynch’s fans.  As The Irish Times noted in its review, “ultimately, Room to Dream does provoke wonder, and advocate dreaming, and further questioning, as all of Lynch’s best artistic work does.”

What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an 

American City: Flint was already a troubled city in 2014 when the state of Michigan—in the name of austerity—shifted the source of its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Soon after, citizens began complaining about the water that flowed from their taps—but officials continued to insist that the water was fine. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at the city’s public hospital, took state officials at their word and encouraged the parents and children in her care to continue drinking the water.  But a conversation at a cookout with an old friend, leaked documents from a rogue environmental inspector, and the activism of a concerned mother raised red flags about lead—a neurotoxin whose irreversible effects fall most heavily on children.  This book is Dr. Mona’ s quest to provide and release proof of the Flint water crisis to the world, of an immigrant, doctor, scientist, and mother whose family’s activist roots inspired her pursuit of justice, and a riveting, beautifully rendered account of a shameful disaster that became a tale of hope.  Booklist gave Dr. Mona’s book a starred review, celebrating its power and saying: “Told with passion and intelligence, What the Eyes Don’t See is an essential text for understanding the full scope of injustice in Flint and the importance of fighting for what’s right.”

History of Violence: On Christmas Eve 2012, in Paris, the novelist Édouard Louis was raped and almost murdered by a man he had just met.  This act of violence left Louis shattered; its aftermath made him a stranger to himself and sent him back to the village, the family, and the past he had sworn to leave behind.  This book, a fascinating non-fiction novel that explores the event, Louis’ own past, and the homophobia of the society in which the assault occurred, is drawing comparisons to Truman Capote’s In True Blood for its searching portrayal of Louis’ story, as well as the effects that his experiences had on his family and friends, as well.  Publisher’s Weekly wrote a deeply respectful review of this powerful and challenging work, describing how “In this moving autobiographical novel . . . Louis’s visceral story captures the overwhelming emotional impact and complicated shame of surviving sexual assault.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!