Booklist Reviewers Turn a Phrase
"Any last words? Yes! Very. Exciting. Book."
From the Editor
Some Things for Spring
Spring is here—at least, that's what the weatherman keeps telling us. As March winds down in Chicago, many of us are still longing for the day when we can finally put our puffy winter parkas back in storage. The moment the thermometer tops 50 degrees, you can bet that delirious Chicagoans will take to the streets in short sleeves, eager for our first sunburns of the season.
It's still a great time to make travel plans, and our Spring Travel Roundup will give you ideas of where to go and how to get there. Given my budget, all I'm likely to do is read about hitting the road, but that's better than nothing. (Those of you who prefer your travel guides in paperback, stock up now: Google has just announced that it's killing off the print form of Frommer's.)
It's also time for our spring Spotlight on Series Nonfiction. There are many things to love about this hardworking sector of publishing, from the sometimes-puzzling titles (Winter Punches to Nut Crunches) to the humorously mundane subject matter (Information Security Analyst), but what I may love most of all is that they are living proof of the adage that there is, truly, no such thing as a dumb question (How Do Hot Air Balloons Work?).
All that, and reviews of books by Neil Gaiman, Khaled Hosseini, and Joe Hill? Click the links below and read on.
And the Mountains Echoed
By Khaled Hosseini
Saboor, a laborer, pulls his young daughter, Pari, and his son, Abdullah, across the desert in a red wagon, leaving their poor village of Shadbagh for Kabul, where his brother-in-law, Nabi, a chauffeur, will introduce them to a wealthy man and his beautiful, despairing poet wife. So begins the third captivating and affecting novel by the internationally best-selling author of The Kite Runner (2003) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007).
By Joe Hill
In Heart-Shaped Box (2007) and Horns (2010), Hill showed hints of an enlarging literary toolbox. With this 700-page opus, the tool set is complete, and Hill has indeed built something very big. The story follows Vic, from 8-year-old girl to troubled teen to embattled mother, as she struggles to survive as a "strong creative"—one who has access (in her case, via a ramshackle bridge) to an alternate universe constructed from imagination.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
By Neil Gaiman
In Gaiman's first novel for adults since Anansi Boys (2005), the never-named fiftyish narrator is back in his childhood homeland, rural Sussex, England, where he's just delivered the eulogy at a funeral. With "an hour or so to kill" afterward, he drives about—aimlessly, he thinks—until he's at the crucible of his consciousness: a farmhouse with a duck pond.
Books for Youth
If You Want to See a Whale
By Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
In this gorgeous love song to the imagination, a little boy and his trusty basset hound want nothing more than to catch a glimpse of a whale. If you want to see a whale, there are certain things you'll need, like a window looking out on a vast ocean.
The Thing about Luck
By Cynthia Kadohata
Illustrated by Julia Kuo
It seems that if Summer's Japanese American family didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all. Certainly good luck (kouun) is elusive. Consider that Summer has had malaria; her little brother, Jaz, is friendless; her parents have to fly to Japan to take care of elderly relatives; and her grandmother (Obaa-chan) and grandfather (Jii-chan) must pay the mortgage by coming out of retirement to work for a custom harvesting company.
Edited by Neil Gaiman
From darkly menacing to bizarrely surreal, these 16 fantasy stories featuring mythical and imaginary creatures combine work from such luminaries as Saki, E. Nesbit, and Anthony Boucher, as well as more contemporary writers. "The Flight of the Horse" is on the sillier side of the spectrum: a time traveler is sent to the past to retrieve a horse, which he has never seen except in picture books, and he mistakenly returns with a unicorn instead.
Spotlight on Series Nonfiction
Top 10 Series Nonfiction: 2013
By Daniel Kraus
Serious international political topics make a strong showing in this list of the top 10 series launched in the past year. But it's not all spies and secrets—musical history, earth science, and writing are all part of this stellar lineup of dignitaries.
Series Roundup—New Spring Titles
By Daniel Kraus
The titles below represent additional recommended books in selected series highlighted in this issue’s Spotlight on Series Nonfiction. A citation to the featured review has been provided.
Series Nonfiction Watch
By Daniel Kraus
Another year, another few million series nonfiction titles that have covered the Booklist office like an avalanche. (Don't worry, there's a series or two about how to survive an avalanche.) Sifting through the year's trends always reveals a few no-brainers but also a few surprises. Here's what we found.
Spring Travel Roundup
Spring Travel Guides, 2013
By Brad Hooper
Blizzards here, ice storms there, and flight cancellations all around. You need to get away this spring. That's what you should tell your library patrons as you hand them one or more of the following travel guides, which have earned a place on our annual spring roundup of recommended guides published over the past six months.
The Manley Arts: Time Travel
By Will Manley
There's a couple of ways to travel: you can do it by place or by time. Lately I've been more inclined to travel through time. For one thing, it eliminates a lot of hassles. Geographic travel is such a pain. There's the outrageous price of gas, strip searches at the airport, shrinking seat sizes on airplanes being filled by bigger asses, jet lag, bed bugs, and gastrointestinal discomfort—pick your poison.
At Leisure with Joyce Saricks: Reading Doldrums
By Joyce Saricks
I read a lot, and I've always read widely across genres—when you read for story, as I do, you can tolerate a really broad range of writing styles, characterizations (sometimes the more cardboard the better), and tone. But I'll admit that even I fall into reading slumps that have me starting books and putting them aside, times when nothing satisfies, and even my favorite authors fail to please.
Read-alikes: Cuban Visions
By Donna Seaman
Relations between Cuba and the U.S. have been hostile, corrupt, romanticized, and paralyzed, while the Cuban American population has grown in size and influence. This complex entanglement, along with Cuba's rich culture and resiliency, has made the island a magnet for fiction writers.
Listen-alikes: Fast-Paced Thrillers
By Joyce Saricks
Characters, plot, and pacing are the driving force behind most thrillers, and it is critical that audiobook narrators manage the speed and intensity of the action. Good narrators know that merely reading faster through the page-turning sequences does not get the job done, and the key to a successful reading is the ability to convey urgency and suspense through vocal changes and inflections.
Focus: ABC-CLIO's Modern Genocide
By Rebecca Vnuk
Why produce a database on genocide? For ABC-CLIO—which launched Modern Genocide: Understanding Causes and Consequences in March 2013—the answer is obvious: genocide is a global issue, rooted in world and military history, and is taught in schools.