Beloved children’s and young adult author Katherine Paterson has won two Newbery Medals, two National Book Awards and numerous other honors. However, it was only when she realized her children had never heard family stories over the kitchen sink—they’d long had a dishwasher—that she penned a memoir.
Gina B. Nahai’s fifth novel, The Luminous Heart of Jonah S., is a book full of enchantments and mysteries. The mystery that launches her tale is a contemporary murder: On a morning in June 2013, Neda Raiis, the wife of a Iranian Jewish exile named Raphael’s Son, reports finding her husband with his throat slit in an idling car at the gate of their Los Angeles mansion. By the time the police arrive, his body has disappeared.
If the mark of a great author is not merely how much she incites the imaginations of readers but the extent to which she inspires fellow writers, then there can be no doubt that Jane Austen is the greatest author of them all. Just when you think the market for Austen spinoffs has reached capacity, a new book comes onto the scene that turns the genre on its head. Such is the case with First Impressions, Charlie Lovett’s delightful new novel.
It’s summer in 1930s England. And there’s been a Murder at the Brightwell.
In Ashley Weaver’s enjoyable debut mystery, a well-to-do group of friends has gathered for a party at the Brightwell Hotel on England’s seaside.
In mid-19th-century America, newspapers were the primary sources of information and opinion. Most newspaper publishers and editors were closely aligned with politicians and, with few exceptions, opinions were emphasized more than news and loyalty to political parties more than the public interest. It was a time of significant change for the newspaper industry with technological innovations such as steam-driven printing presses and, most importantly, the telegraph, making delivery of the news much faster.
The baffling 1922 murder of director William Desmond Taylor gets true-crime treatment in Tinseltown, a compelling interweaving of star power, the machinations of power brokers and the desperation of the wannabes and the washed up. Together they provide the book’s apt subtitle: “Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood."
Sometimes telling a story is all about retelling—tracing the thread of a long-ago series of events and finally getting it right. Minnesota student Joe Talbert discovers this when he is tasked with writing a senior citizen’s biography for a college English class. Short on options and time, Joe heads to Hillview Manor nursing home in search of potential subjects. There he meets Carl Iverson, a dying Vietnam vet who’s out on parole after serving a 30-year sentence for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Crystal Hagen.
If the picture book world has celebrities, Mac Barnett (author of Oh No!) and Jon Klassen (author-illustrator of I Want My Hat Back) are two of the biggest. So when the two of them team up, it’s kind of a big deal. The last time it happened, the result was Extra Yarn, which received a Caldecott Honor, among many other accolades. Now the two have paired up again with Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, another wryly subtle, unexpectedly funny picture book about two brothers in search of something extraordinary.
Spoiled Brats is ridiculous in the very best way. It’s a short story collection that avoids the usual pitfalls because the stories work well together and don’t lose steam as they go along. A common theme (spoiled rich kids, mostly) keeps these stories cohesive, and author Simon Rich holds our interest with a unifying style—each chapter is very funny, and they’re all based on a different outlandish premise.
Everyone has thought about what three wishes they would make if they ever found a genie in a bottle. But what if you couldn’t think of three? Or, worse, what if the genie had lost his powers and couldn’t grant them anyway? This is what happens to young Emma in Cornelia Funke’s new book for young people, Emma and the Blue Genie.