Father's Day is this Sunday, so we asked one of the authors featured in our Father's Day feature to suggest three books he loves—and we got a bonus!
In Year of the Dunk, Price takes on the mission of learning how to dunk a basketball, a seemingly straightforward goal that leads to some surprisingly heartfelt moments. Our reviewer writes, "Year of the Dunk, an exploration of what [Asher] calls the 'limits of human talent,' is an informative, inspiring and often moving story of how life’s tough challenges can motivate us." (Read the review.)
Despite, or maybe because of, my being a nonfiction writer, one whose professional career is spent dealing with facts, I like reading fiction in my spare time. I recently read a galley of a forthcoming novel by my brother-in-law, Benjamin Markovits, You Don’t Have to Live Like This. It’s about a group of Yalies who decide to set up a commune in Detroit; things don’t go smoothly. As with his other novels, this one is beautifully crafted and a pleasure to occupy—even when things get uncomfortable. It’ll be published in the U.S. in early July by HarperCollins.
Most of what I read comes to me as gifts; I figure if it was good enough for a dear friend to recommend it, I’ll probably like it. My sister-in-law and her boyfriend gave me A Pale View of the Hills as my birthday gift, and I sped through it. The novel, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first, is a story of isolation and dislocation in Japan, probing at intergenerational and husband-wife relationships after the war. One thing I especially like about Ishiguro’s work is the peculiarities of his narrators; he so fully commits himself to the narrator’s character as the work unfolds.
I read my first Jonathan Lethem novel earlier this year and loved it. Dissident Gardens, largely set in Queens, tells the story of raucous family wrestling with their Communism, Jewishness and American identity over many decades. The book especially resonated with me because my own grandmother lived in Forest Hills in Queens; she was not quite a fellow traveler of the left-wing activists that populate Lethem’s novel, but she was quirky and flinty in some similar ways. I’m sometimes defeated by long novels, but in a sign of the grip this one had on me, I happily spun through to the end.
Finally, it’s not exactly a book, but my bed-side reading each night is the latest issue of American Short Fiction, which—full disclosure!—is edited by wife. I find the stories, each first-class, are just the right length to settle my mind as I drift off to sleep.
Thank you, Asher! See any books you'd like to pick up, readers?
(Author photo by Rebecca Markovits)
British author William Boyd returns this fall with his most sweeping, ambitious work since 2002's Any Human Heart. Sweet Caress, which Bloomsbury will publish in the USA on September 15, tells the story of the 20th century through the eyes of a remarkable female photographer, Amory Clay, born in 1908.
The novel is punctuated by authentic vintage photos, chosen by Boyd from thousands of images found in "junk shops, estate sales and the like," according to his publicist, Summer Smith. These images make the story feel even more real—blurring the line between fiction and reality.
Anyone else looking forward to this one?
RELATED CONTENT: Read more about this year's fall fiction releases.
From Harry Potter announcements that seem to roll out weekly (this week: American Hogwarts!) to new books, it seems J.K. Rowling never stops—and we're not complaining.
Rowling's mystery-writing alter ego, Robert Galbraith, returns October 20 with the third in the Cormoran Strike series, Career of Evil, published by Mulholland Books.
Following The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm, Career of Evil finds Detective Cormoran Strike and his girl Friday, Robin Ellacott, once again tackling a clever and unexpected mystery. From the publisher:
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.
Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible—and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them . . .
Readers: If you haven't yet checked out Rowling's traditional mysteries, now is the time. Are you looking forward to this one?
Donna Grant's Dark Kings series features a race of dragon shifters who have remained hidden in plain sight for centuries. In this guest post, Grant explains what drew her to the alluring mythology of dragons and talks about her next book in the series, Soul Scorched, out June 30.
Why dragons? I get that question a lot when I tell people my series, Dark Kings, is about dragons who have been around since the beginning of time.
I write about dragons because out of all the mythological creatures—and there are thousands—dragons are the only ones that show up in every culture around the world. From Asian and European countries to Native American folklore—everyone has a dragon myth. Some cultures revered the dragons and almost worshiped them. Other societies feared them and thought of them as bad omens.
I’ve always found that things like that don’t occur by coincidence. It got me asking, Why does every culture have a dragon myth? Why not another mythological creature, like fairies or goblins? Why only dragons?
Was it because there were dragons at one time? How else would societies across the globe have the same legends of huge beings, some with wings and some without, some that could breath fire and some that couldn’t? But if there were dragons, where did they go, and who was to blame for their disappearance? The only logical answer? Humans.
We are responsible for the dragons disappearing. It’s how each civilization knew about them, it’s how they passed down stories of the magnificent, huge beasts—or scary man-eaters—who came down from the sky breathing fire.
Was there a war? Did all the dragons leave? Or did some remain behind, sleeping deep underground, waiting for a time when they could rise once more and take to the skies. Could some be able to shift from dragon to human? Perhaps the man passing you on the street is a dragon in human form.
So I started thinking about how I could turn all those questions into a world of my own. I wanted my dragons to be leaders of their people. So I made them kings—Dragon Kings. I wanted them to be the only creatures on this planet for millions of years. Ever since time began, they ruled the skies, the earth and the seas.
Because of all of the different legends surrounding dragons, I knew the dragons’ downfall had to come at the hands of humans. A war perhaps, but how would the humans win over such creatures as dragons? I decided it was because the dragons vowed to protect humans, and dragons don’t break vows.
So the world of dragons faded to myth. Yet they hid in plain sight, living on their land in Scotland where they can take to the skies at night. Their lavish lifestyle is supported by their distilling and selling of whisky. Beings this powerful, however, have enemies—the Fae, as well as one of their own: a banished Dragon King who is looking for revenge.
Soul Scorched, book six in my Dark Kings series, features Warrick, a Dragon King who finds humans extremely interesting, although he detests being with a crowd. He does better on his own—until he’s sent to the dangerous city of Edinburgh to watch over the unusual Druid Darcy as the Fae and other enemies stalk the streets.
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Dean McDermott has created a wealth of family-friendly recipes that take picky eaters into mind with The Gourmet Dad. Little ones will gladly eat their greens with this savory, smoky recipe for Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Capers.
Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Capers
Chard, like spinach and other earthy greens, is chock-full of nutrients that kids and adults need. In raw form, chard is an acquired taste (that’s a nice way of saying kids will spit it out). But braise or sauté these greens and they come to life. Any leafy greens like this need to be thoroughly rinsed before cooking—otherwise you risk a gritty mouth feel. For young chard, trim just the stems; for mature chard, discard the spines then chop and cook the stems. If larger, more mature chard leaves are all that are available, they are going to be more bitter than young chard. You might want to add about a teaspoon of sugar or agave nectar to the dish to mellow any bitterness and bring out the sweetness in the greens. For the kids, I chop the chard fine, leave out the cayenne and double the bacon.
Separate the chard leaves from the stems. Wash, rinse and dry the leaves and stems thoroughly. Slice the leaves lengthwise into ribbons, and slice the stems crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.
Cook the bacon in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it is crispy, turning occasionally. Transfer the lardons to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
Add the chard stems, garlic and shallots to the skillet, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard.
Increase the heat to medium-high, add the chard leaves and toss with tongs until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with the black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in the reserved lardons, the capers and the lemon zest, and toss to combine. Serve hot.
Reprinted from The Gourmet Dad by Dean McDermott, copyright © 2015. Recipe courtesy of Harlequin Publishing. Photography credit: James Tse Photography Inc. Read our review of this book.
Nashville, Tennessee, is the home of country stars, line dances, cowboy boots—and BookPage! So we were particularly excited to see that Loving Dallas, the latest in Caisey Quinn's New Adult romance series Neon Dreams, is set in Nashville. In Loving Dallas, a country musician is on the brink of stardom, but the love he left behind to pursue fame refuses to fade. We asked Quinn to tell us more about what she finds so special about Nashville—and got some bar suggestions, to boot!
Everyone has as favorite vacation destination: The beach. The mountains. Ski resorts. Las Vegas. Disney World.
Mine is a little different than most.
Mine is full of neon lights and street musicians and smoky bars.
Doesn’t exactly sound like a dream resort, and that’s because it’s not. It is, however, one of the fastest growing cities in America and lately one of its most popular.
I loved it even before it was a television show. (And yes, I do also love the TV show!)
Nashville, Tennessee, encompasses all of the things I love. It’s in the South, it’s constantly filled with music, and you can’t walk five feet without running into a cowboy with a guitar strapped to his back. So it’s no surprise that several of my books are set in the world of country music and many either take place in Nashville or feature characters who spend a great deal of time there.
Traditional romance heroes generally fall into one of several established tropes: athlete, billionaire, CEO, cowboy, soldier, rancher, rock star. I wanted to read about guys more like Luke Bryan, Eric Church or Brantley Gilbert. Personally, I prefer my heroes country with an edge. Mostly I began writing books about country musicians because I wanted to know what in the world happened on that tour bus between Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. I couldn’t find those books. So I decided to write them myself. Much more experienced writers than me will tell you to write what you want to read and write what you know. So that’s what I did.
Luckily, Birmingham, Alabama, (where I live) is close to Nashville, and my brother and several of my friends are musicians that were happy to answer any questions about the musician lifestyle I had along the way. And I had a lot. Each trip I take to Nashville, I find myself in a bar like The Stage or Crossroads, watching a band and wondering about their story. If I’m lucky, I get to chat with them after the show. If I’m not, I make it up. Either way, each trip provides more inspiration for future novels. So it may not be the bright lights of Vegas or the relaxing vibe of a five-star resort, but Nashville is my second home and there’s nowhere I’d rather be—or rather write about. ;)
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Rick Hoffman has fallen on hard times—he's lost his fiancée and his job, and his only option is to move into his parents' decrepit old home. But then he finds a huge pile of cash hidden in the walls of the house. His elderly father, Leonard, is still alive, but he's in a nursing home and unable to communicate, so no help there. Rick was formerly an investigative journalist, so the mystery of the cash and how it got there—and what his father knows about it—gets his full attention.
The newest from Finder is an absolute page-turner, a fast and entertaining read.
"Let's see your hands, Dad." He took hold of Len's left hand and began to clip his father's thick grooved nails, and Brenda drifted out of the room.
Rick clipped slowly. His father held out each hand, one at a time. It felt oddly intimate. It was like taking care of a small child. He thought about how everything sooner or later comes back around. He realized with a jolt that his eyes had teared up.
He stopped clipping. "Jeff and I were doing some exploratory demolition," he said quietly, "and we opened up the wall next to your study, at the back of the closet." Len's mouth was frozen in that haughty expression, but his watery eyes seemed anxious. They followed Rick's. "There was money back there. A huge amount of money. Millions of dollars. How did it get there, any idea?" Rick swallowed, waited. "Is it yours?"
Len's restless eyes came to a stop, looked directly into Rick's.
The old man's eyes bore into his. Then he began to blink rapidly, three or four times. Nervously, maybe.
What are you reading?
First-world problems got you down? Are you bugged by Spanx? Annoyed by Pinterest? And fed up with some of your coworkers? Then you’ll identify with the stars of Penguins with People Problems, Mary Laura Philpott’s hilariously quirky new collection.
Philpott, an editor for Parnassus Books in Nashville, adapted the book from her popular Tumblr featuring the clueless but charming birds. In a Q&A, the author tells us that she never expected her sketches to lead to a book deal—but the appeal of the perplexed penguins proved irresistible.
One spread in the book shows a frustrated penguin wrestling with his laptop and crying out in frustration as his wi-fi signal flickers. "Must I struggle LIKE SOME KIND OF ANIMAL? WHAT SORT OF EXISTENCE IS THIS?" Another shows a penguin who's "about to go on a super-cute flippity-flappity rampage" because a coworker stole his best pen.
Check out the Q&A to learn how Philpott got started drawing penguins and when she first realized she had a hit on her hands.
Illustration © Mary Laura Philpott
It's tough to compete with swimming pools, lake days and bike rides in the sun. To keep kids reading all summer long, it's going to take a whole lot of adventure and magic. Fortunately, there are several new children's books that fit the bill:
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Ten-year-old Micah Tuttle has grown up listening to stories about the amazing Circus Mirandus, with its talking animals, invisible tigers and otherworldly performers. But when he discovers that magic is real, Micah and his new friend Jenny go in search of a miracle. “Once in a while, it’s good to be ridiculous and amazing," writes debut author Beasley. So true! Read more>>>
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
This enchanting story set in the Louisiana bayou explores the world of 10-year-old Maddy as she discovers her family's magical legacy. Readers will love the novel's Southern roots and African mermaid mythology, which features a uniquely heroic mermaid. Read more>>>
Grounded by Megan Morrison
The classic Rapunzel fairy tale takes off in a fun, imaginative direction, as our naive heroine discovers her safe little world in the tower may not be all it seems. She journeys into the world of Tyme with her friends Jack and Prince Frog, and their adventures make the pages fly by. Read more>>>
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
With codes, puzzles and literary references, this one will delight young readers who may already be inclined to opt for reading over swimming. The story of 12-year-old Emily as she attempts to win the great Book Scavenger game will both challenge and entertain. Read more>>>
Woof by Spencer Quinn
In the first in a new middle grade series, Birdie and Bowser form as lovable a sleuthing team as Chet and Bernie, the stars of Quinn's best-selling adult mystery series. In their first adventure, Birdie and Bowser take on the mystery of Grammy’s mounted championship black marlin, which has gone missing. Everything's more fun with a dog! Read more>>>
Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson
Plucky Tabitha Crum has been invited with a group of other children to the huge, possibly haunted Hollingsworth Hall. With her mouse sidekick, Tabitha unearths the secrets of the mansion—and makes some new friends along the way. Read more>>>
The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
Kids might not want to think about classes and field trips between the months of May and August, but they'll be laughing too hard to care while reading Pulitzer Prize winner Barry's hilarious novel about a school trip to the nation's capital. Read more>>>
Return to Augie Hobble by Lane Smith
One word to describe Smith's first novel for middle grade readers: wacky. It's all over the place—in a good way. This story of an amusement park, werewolves (possibly) and homework might not make sense to you, but kids will likely devour it. Read more>>>
Beach House by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Amy June Bates
This pleasant, gentle picture book captures the joys and rituals of the family beach trip, from unloading the car and prepping the house before all parading to the water, to relaxing at the end of an exciting day with a bonfire in the sand. Read more>>>
Pool by JiHyeon Lee
This deceptively simple picture book finds a little boy hesitating at the edge of the swimming pool, but as soon as he dives in, he makes a new friend. Together they explore an imaginative deep-sea world full of incredible creatures. Read more>>>
Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sís
A little boy reveals all the amazing things he has learned throughout the summer, but clearly he's been thinking about one thing above all else—ice cream! Read more>>>